GAO: Nuclear Budget Estimates OK

The Government Accountability Office has found that the 10-year budget estimates for sustaining and modernizing America’s nuclear weapons submitted in May 2014 by the departments of energy and defense have generally improved from last year, when auditors found significant underestimations. But, the GAO said there are still more opportunities for transparency, and recommended that future joint reports do a better job of documenting the methodology used to make estimates. According to the joint DOD-DOE estimates, it will cost $34.6 billion over the next 10 years to sustain and modernize the nuclear command, control, and communications system, $100.1 billion for the nuclear stockpile and nuclear security enterprise, and $163.4 billion for nuclear delivery systems—a total of nearly $300 billion, up from the estimated $264 billion provided by the DOD and DOE in 2013. The report notes that the Pentagon estimates for nuclear delivery systems increased by about 40 percent from 2013 estimates, partially because of a change in methodology, but that the DOD did not provide enough information about the changes.