Magazine article Insight on the News

Subjects of GAO Critique Cry Foul over Leaked Report. (Waste & Abuse)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Subjects of GAO Critique Cry Foul over Leaked Report. (Waste & Abuse)

Article excerpt

Try as it might, it is nearly impossible for the General Accounting Office (GAO), which is supposed to serve as the nonpartisan auditing arm of Congress, to stand aloof from the political spasms that regularly rattle the rest of that institution. No matter how hard it strives for the meticulous fact-finding and judicious analysis that make much of its work authoritative, GAO reports frequently are used to advance all kinds of agendas and so occasionally themselves become the focus of controversy. It is then that the report itself, rather than its content, becomes a subject of debate.

Such has been the case with one recent GAO report on the proposed nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., a draft copy of which was leaked to the Nevada media (most likely by the office of Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, says one waste & abuse source). This occurred before the Department of Energy (DOE) and a contractor studying the feasibility of the project, Bechtel SAIC, had an opportunity to counter whatever factual errors or misrepresentations the draft version may have contained.

Reid, who leads a Nevada congressional delegation largely opposed to the project, received a preliminary draft of the report as a courtesy, as did fellow Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley, another principal player in Nevada's antirepository scare campaign. One or both could have given it to a Las Vegas newspaper, knowing the sensational, anti-Yucca headlines it would generate. …

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