Congress is examining an authority that allows the Secretary of Energy to cut off nuclear suppliers that pose a greater risk to the supply chain. The authority runs out in 2023, and congressional researchers are looking into the impact it’s had on procurement at the Department of Energy. Allison Bawden, director of Natural Resources and Environment Issues at the Government Accountability Office, says that the security authorities are currently limited in scope, and require some narrow use cases.
“The authority applies to one procurement at a time. Say the department was putting out a solicitation for an IT security contract that was nuclear related, some negative intelligence came to light and they were going exclude a supplier, it would apply to that particular procurement,” Bawden said. “That supplier could already have other contracts in place, they could be bidding on other contracts at the same time, and the department would have to take a case by case approach. They are interested in expanding that authority to make it a blanket type… We recommended that the Department of Energy communicate that information to Congress.”