Championing Responsible National Security Policy

Infographic: The Explosive Costs of CMRR-NF, Los Alamos' Billion Dollar Nuke Facility

infographic of Los Alamos Economics

It's hard to look into the future, but the Department of Energy (DOE) is especially bad at it. In 2001 they projected that the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility in Los Alamos would cost $375 million. After ten years of design and planning, the new projected cost for a single buildling in the facility, the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), has grown to between $3.7 and $5.9 billion.

We recently released a lengthy report describing why that one absurdly expensive buillding in the complex shouldn't be built. There are no fewer than eight readibly available reasons why the President and Congress should eliminate funding for this billion-dollar facility. A big one is that we just don't need it, but the facility's spiraling cost is also a major factor.

As we pointed out in our report, DOE has a history of allowing the costs of its projects to get out of control:

DOE has a track record of dumping taxpayer dollars into wasteful projects, having so mismanaged projects that they were completed well over budget and behind schedule. This past should not inspire confidence in the current management of plans for CMRR-NF. For example, the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site has gradually grown more expensive and less justifiable since its inception. The cost of the facility, initially estimated to be $1.4 billion, is now estimated to surpass $4.86 billion. Yet, the project continues despite the fact that the only known buyer for MOX fuel dropped the contract. One assessment indicates that this project will cost $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion, and will most likely require further exorbitant design changes.

For more than 20 years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified DOE’s contract management as a “high risk” program, noting in February 2011 that, “DOE’s record of inadequate management and oversight of contractors has left the department vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement."

CMRR-NF has already proven to be far more costly than was originally planned and with the DOE's history, any future for this project would likely be even more burdensome to taxpayers. Join POGO in calling for President Obama to cancel funding for CMRR-NF and save taxpayers billions of dollars.