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They are called the investigative arm of Congress and they are not happy with what they have found at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before Congress that the agency running the Hanford nuclear cleanup is not keeping track of the money being spent there.

There s Hanford, the big nuclear clean up and then there s Hanford, the big business.

READ: GAO report on DOE's management of nuclear cleanup contracts

Dozens of contractors, big corporations and small companies surround the sprawling reservation. They re specialists in handling the most deadly materials on earth in the nation s most contaminated site - all operating under the watchful eye of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE is not in a position to manage the work of its contractors - that assessment came from the General Accounting Office during a U.S. Senate committee hearing Wednesday. It is based on a GAO report highly critical of DOE s money management on construction of overdue, over budget projects like the stalled plant to turn radioactive waste into stable glass.

It puts DOE on GAO s high risk list for those vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement.

GAP says the DOE s trust in its contractors minimized the need for formal review.

On Thursday, Department of Energy officials at Hanford said they were not authorized to respond to the report and referred KING 5 to the Washington D.C. office.

KING 5 received a statement from them saying, in part, they have taken GAO s recommendation to adopt policies and practices to support cost estimating and continues working to improve these.

In defense of the Department of Energy, the GAO accountants compliment it in the report for their innovation in tackling big projects, but not when it comes to managing tax payer dollars.

Related links:

GAO report on DOE's management of nuclear cleanup contracts


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