The old age of the U.S. Energy Department's highly protected atomic-transport automobiles is one of "several" major hurdles faced by its Secure Transportation Office, the department's inspector general said in an assessment issued on Tuesday (see GSN, June 28).
"Based on its own criteria, [the Secure Transportation Office's] entire fleet of armored tractors is beyond its operational life as of December 2011," the Knoxville News Sentinel quoted DOE auditors as saying in the analysis.
U.S. nuclear-warhead sustainment efforts and transfers of arms production components are set to substantially boost the need for closely guarded atomic transports over the coming 84 months, the assessment states. The Secure Transportation Office has satisfied a majority of transfer needs to date, though, and its capabilities are projected to remain sufficient, according to the findings.
Other concerns "include maintaining the reliability of existing equipment; ensuring that future federal agent overtime levels are consistent with safe operations; and, validating essential resource planning data," an assessment abstract states. "Accordingly, management attention is needed to address these challenges to reduce the risk that [the Secure Transportation Office] will be unable to meet its future mission requirements."
"[National Nuclear Security Administration] management concurred with the report's recommendations, proposed corrective actions and stated that these items will be used to continue improving NNSA's implementation of securing and safely transporting nuclear weapons," the document states (Frank Munger, Knoxville News Sentinel, July 3).