2004 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 9 May 2004 17:45:38 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: CW Demil Delays and Cost Growth - GAO
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Chemical Weapons: 
Destruction Schedule Delays and Cost Growth Continue to Challenge
Program Management  

U.S. General Accounting Office, GAO-04-634T  
April 1, 2004

Official Summary

Since its inception in 1985, the Chemical Demilitarization (Chem-Demil)
Program has been charged with destroying the nation's large chemical
weapons stockpile of over 31,000 tons of agent. The program started
destroying the stockpile in 1990. As of March 2004, the program had
destroyed over 27 percent of the stockpile. The program has recently
reorganized into the Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) to manage seven of
the nine sites. There are five sites using incineration to destroy the
agent and two bulk agent only sites using neutralization. The Assembled
Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) Program, in the Department of
Defense (DOD), manages two sites using neutralization to destroy agent
in weapons. This testimony updates GAO's September 2003 report and
October 2003 testimony. As requested, it focuses on the following
issues: (1) changes in the status of schedule milestones and costs at
the sites, (2) recent developments that impact the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC) deadlines, (3) the challenges associated with managing
the program, and (4) an update on the status of the Chemical Stockpile
Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP).

Since GAO testified in October 2003, the Chem-Demil Program continues to
fall behind its schedule milestones, which were last extended in 2001.
In the last 6 months, very little agent has been destroyed. While one
site has closed, no new sites have started destroying agent (two were
scheduled to start by March 2004). The delays stem from incidents during
operations, environmental permitting issues, concerns about emergency
preparedness, and unfunded requirements. If these delays persist, GAO
continues to believe that program costs will rise substantially higher
than the October 2003 estimate of more than $25 billion. These rising
costs have led to the need to reallocate funds within the program's
fiscal year 2005 budget. Due to schedule delays, the United States will
not meet the CWC April 2004 deadline to destroy 45 percent of the
stockpile. Although it has received an extension for this task to
December 2007, it is questionable if the program will meet this
deadline. DOD has said it will ask for an extension of the final
deadline to destroy 100 percent of the stockpile beyond 2007. Unless the
program resolves the problems causing program delays, the United States
risks not meeting this deadline, if extended. One positive development
in the program is that the leadership has been stabilized for over a
year since the program was reorganized. However, several long-standing
organizational and strategic planning issues remain. One problem is that
the program's new management structure is complex, with multiple lines
of authority within the Army and the separation of ACWA from the rest of
the program. These complexities raise concerns about the roles and
responsibilities of the different parts of the program. Program
officials also told us that they are developing strategic and risk
mitigation plans, as GAO recommended. Since GAO testified in October,
there continues to be improvement in the preparation of state and local
communities to respond to chemical emergencies. As of January 2004, 6 of
10 states near the stockpiles report they are fully prepared. This is a
marked improvement from the status we reported in 2001 when three states
reported they were far from being prepared. However, CSEPP costs
continue to rise because some states have expanded their preparedness
requests beyond their approved budgets.

for the original summary and a link to the full report, see


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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