Ten terms every POGO reader should know:
Suggest a term for the glossary by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Acquisition, Technology and Logistics — The Undersecretary of Defense office within the Defense Department that oversees matters related to defense acquisitions and technologies.
Acquisition workforce — Federal contract officers, contract representatives, contract technical representatives, and program managers with responsibilities for planning, purchasing, and/or managing federal service contracts and contractors.
Actual cost savings — The amount of money the government actually saved by having a private contractor perform a set of governmental activities.
API — Armor-Piercing Incendiary Rounds is a type of ammunition which can be fired by 50 caliber sniper rifles and is capable of knocking down hovering helicopters, piercing armored limousines, and igniting bulk fuel tanks from 10 football fields away.
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B61 — An aircraft-launched nuclear warhead first produced in 1966.
Bureau of Diplomatic Security — The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the Department of State.
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Canned Subassemblies — A canned subassembly is also known as a secondary, which is responsible for the second stage of modern nuclear weapons.
CAT I and II SNM — Category I and II special nuclear material is the most dangerous and expensive-to-guard special nuclear material, and includes plutonium and highly enriched uranium, which are used in nuclear weapons and for research and development.
Class II Medical Devices — Devices for which general controls alone are insufficient to assure safety and effectiveness, and existing methods are available to provide such assurances. Examples include powered wheelchairs, infusion pumps, and surgical drapes.
Class III Medical Devices — Devices that support or sustain human life, are of substantial importance in preventing impairment of human health, or which present a potential, unreasonable risk of illness or injury.
Closely associated commercial activity/function — An activity so integrally related to an inherently governmental function that it may be in the public interest for the activity to be performed by a federal employee.
Commercial activity/function — A recurring service that could be performed by the private sector, is resourced, performed, and controlled by the agency through a contract and is not so intimately related to the public interest as to mandate performance by government personnel.
CFTC – Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the federal agency in charge of regulating the commodity futures and options markets.
Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) — Created by Congress to “review the current state of financial markets and the regulatory system,” the Panel has the authority to hold hearings, review official data, and write reports on actions taken by the Treasury Department and financial institutions and their effect on the economy.
Contractor — A private person or entity that performs a service for or provides a good to a federal agency in accordance with a contract.
Core or critical function — A function whose importance to an agency’s mission and operation requires that it be performed by enough agency employees to ensure the agency can effectively perform the function without contractor support.
Cost estimator — A person trained in the arcane science of estimating the cost of a contract with indeterminable parameters.
Cost overrun — Funds expended by an agency for a service or product in excess of the cost estimation used to justify execution of a federal contract or task order.
Cost-reimbursement (aka "cost-plus") contract — A contract under which the government reimburses the contractor for costs incurred in providing a service.
Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) — A council that combines what were formerly known as the "PCIE" (President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency) and the "ECIE" (Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency). The CIGIE, made up of Inspectors General, has 7 committees, and also provides specialized training to the IG community
CRS — The Congressional Research Service is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS works exclusively and directly for Members of Congress, and their Committees and staff on a confidential, nonpartisan basis.
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DAF — Device Assembly Facility at the Nevada Test Site, part of the nuclear weapons complex.
DBT — see "Design Basis Threat."
DCAA — see "Defense Contract Audit Agency".
Debarment — An action taken by an agency debarring official to exclude a contractor from government contracting and government-approved subcontracting for a period not to exceed 3 years. A contractor that is excluded is “debarred.” See FAR Subpart 9.404.
Defense Intelligence Agency — The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is a major producer and manager of military intelligence for the United States Department of Defense.
Defense Legal Services Agency — The Defense Legal Services Agency (DLSA) provides legal services to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense Field Activities, and the Defense Agencies.
Defense Threat Reduction Agency — The mission of the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency is to safeguard America and its allies from weapons of mass destruction by reducing the present threat and preparing for the future threat.
Definitized Contract — A contract with agreed upon terms, specifications, and prices.
Derivative — A financial contract whose value is determined by something else (the underlying); the derivative’s value is based on the expected future value of the underlying.
Design Basis Threat (DBT) — A term to describe the level of threats a protective force is required to defend against. It includes the number of outside attackers and inside conspirators, as well as the kinds of weapons and size of truck bombs that would be available to terrorists. It is based on the Postulated Threat, which was developed by the Defense Intelligence Agency, FBI, CIA, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense.
Director of Operational Test and Evaluation — The principal staff assistant and senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense for all matters related to operational testing and evaluation of weapons systems and acquisitions. The Director provides analysis on the effectiveness of these systems to the Secretary of Defense, the Undersecretary of Defense for AT&L, and Congress.
Director of National Intelligence — The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) serves as the head of the Intelligence Community (IC). The DNI also acts as the principal advisor to the president; the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security; and oversees and directs the implementation of the National Intelligence Program.
Disclosure, or Whistleblower Disclosure — Statements made regarding a violation of law, rule or regulation, mismanagement or waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a danger to public health or safety.
Dismantlement — The National Nuclear Security Administration’s four-step nuclear warhead dismantlement process: retirement, return and storage, disassembly, and disposition.
DHS — Department of Homeland Security.
DNI — See "Director of National Intelligence".
DOD — Department of Defense.
DOE — Department of Energy. It deals with all energy and power related issues in the U.S., but its most important functions involve nuclear weapons missions, which use 67% of the DOE’s budget.
DOI — Department of the Interior.
Downblending — The process of reducing uranium enrichment levels from 80-90% to less than 20%, a Low Enriched Uranium (LEU), which is of no interest to terrorists and is suitable for use in commercial nuclear fuel.
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Earmark — A legislative mandate of how an executive agency must expend a specific funding authorization.
EIS – An Environmental Impact Statement is a document which is required by the government to accompany proposals for projects that will have an impact on the surrounding environment.
EPA — Environmental Protection Agency.
Estimated or projected cost savings — The amount of money the government expects to save by having a private contractor perform a set of governmental activities.
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FACA — Federal Advisory Committee Act, a law which aims to make federal advisory committees open, transparent, and objective by requiring them to open their meetings and activities to the public and appoint members representing a wide range of viewpoints.
FAR — see "Federal Acquisition Regulation."
FDA — The Food and Drug Administration is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) — a rulebook for awarding and administering government contracts. The FAR centralizes all federal regulations concerning acquisitions. Most of the regulations can also be found in Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Agencies also have FAR supplements.
Federal Advisory Committee — An independent panel of experts that provides advice and recommendations to the federal government.
Federal agency — A department of the executive branch of the U.S. government, a sub-unit of the federal department, or an independent governing unit created by Congress.
Federal Register — The daily publication for Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government.
Federal workforce — the totality of federal employees and private sector employees who perform federal government services.
FFRDCs or Federally Funded Research and Development Centers — Organizations that are sponsored under a broad charter by a government agency (or agencies) for the purpose of performing, analyzing, integrating, supporting, and/or managing basic or applied research and/or development. FFRDCs receive 70 percent or more of their financial support from the government. See FAR Subpart 35.017.
FINRA — Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a private self-regulatory organization in charge of overseeing the securities industry.
Fissile materials — Refers mainly to plutonium-239 and uranium-235, which are composed of atoms that can release enormous amounts of energy from a self-sustaining chain-reaction when split by neutrons. The fission process is controlled in nuclear reactors to harness the energy for the production of electricity, and is released all at once for nuclear weapons to produce a violent explosion.
Fixed-price contract — A contract under which the government and contractor decide on a price to which the contractor is bound even if costs run over. It provides for a price that is not subject to any adjustment on the basis of the contractor’s cost experience in performing the contract.
FOIA — see "Freedom of Information Act."
Force-on-force — Tests on the performance of protective guard forces at nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons labs and production plants, as well as any facilities that store nuclear weapons.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, generally provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All agencies of the U.S. government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request, except those records that are protected from disclosure pursuant to nine exemptions and three exclusions.
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GAO — The Government Accountability Office (previously the General Accounting Office) is an independent, nonpartisan congressional agency. It conducts research, investigations, and analysis for the legislative branch, and is often referred to as the "investigative arm of Congress."
Good Laboratory Practices — Regulations put in place in the 1970's that establish standards for the conduct and reporting of nonclinical laboratory studies and are intended to assure the quality and integrity of safety data submitted to FDA.
Government Auditing Standards — These are frequently referred to as the Yellow Book, and are issued by the Comptroller of the United States to provide government auditors "a framework for performing high-quality audit work with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence."
Graded Security Protection — The Department of Energy has replaced its Design Basis Threat Policy with the Graded Security Protection Policy, which is classified but is used as a standard by which the nuclear weapons facilities are to base their security requirements and by which DOE is to measure the effectiveness of the facilities’ security.
GSA — The General Services Administration (GSA) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops government-wide cost-minimizing policies, among other management tasks.
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HEU — Highly enriched uranium.
HEUMF — Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility is located at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN.
Highly Enriched Uranium — Highly enriched uranium is predominantly uranium-235 that has been enriched to a level of 80-90 percent, so that it is composed of atoms that can release enormous amounts of energy from a self-sustaining chain-reaction when split by neutrons.
HHS — Department of Health and Human Services.
Human capital — The stock of knowledge, acquired skills, and personality traits that are economically valuable in a workforce.
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IG — see "inspector general."
Improvised Nuclear Device — An improvised nuclear device can be created using a critical mass (approximately 100 pounds) of HEU and far less of plutonium to trigger a detonation of a magnitude close to that which devastated Hiroshima.
IND — An improvised nuclear device can be created using a critical mass (approximately 100 pounds) of HEU and far less of plutonium to trigger a detonation of a magnitude close to that which devastated Hiroshima.
Indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract — A contract which provides for an indefinite quantity, within stated limits, of supplies or services during a fixed period. The government places orders for individual requirements. Quantity limits may be stated as number of units or as dollar values.
Inherently governmental function — A function that is so intimately related to the public interest as to mandate performance by federal employees. It includes activities that require either the exercise of discretion in applying government authority, or the making of value judgments in makings decisions for the government. See FAR Subpart 2.101 [48 C.F.R. §2.101]. Compare OMB Circular A-76, Attachment A (“activities require the exercise of substantial discretion in applying government authority and/or in making decisions for the government”)
Insourcing — Transferring performance of a government function from the contractor workforce to the government workforce.
Investigational Device Exemption — Permission from the FDA to test an investigational device in humans.
Inspector General (IG) — An investigator charged with examining the actions of a government agency, military organization, or military contractor as a general auditor of their operations. The IG’s role is to ensure that the agency is operating in compliance with general established policies of the government, to audit the effectiveness of security procedures, and to discover the possibility of misconduct, waste, fraud, theft, or certain types of criminal activity by individuals or groups related to the agency’s operation, usually involving some misuse of the organization’s funds or credit.
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JASON — A highly respected advisory panel of scientists run through the MITRE Corporation.
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KUMSC — Kirtland Underground Munitions Storage Complex.
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Lead systems integrator — A contractor or team of contractors hired by the federal government to execute a large, complex, defense-related acquisition program.
Life Extension Program — According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Life Extension Program is "a systematic approach that consists of a coordinated effort by the design laboratories and production facilities to: 1) determine which components will need refurbishing to extend each weapon’s life; 2) design and produce the necessary refurbished components; 3) install the components in the weapons; and 4) certify that the changes do not adversely affect the safety and reliability of the weapon.”
Logistic Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) — A Department of Defense program to preplan for the use of private contractors to perform selected services in wartime as an addition to Army forces.
Los Alamos National Laboratory — The Los Alamos National Laboratory is a nuclear weapons facility located in Los Alamos, New Mexico, that is considered the birthplace of the thermonuclear bomb, and is managed by the Bechtel Corporation, the University of California, the Babcock & Wilcox Company, and the Washington Group International.
Low Enriched Uranium — A safer form of uranium which has less than a 20 percent concentration of uranium-235. Low enriched uranium is not weapons capable, but can be used as fuel for nuclear power plants and nuclear reactors.
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Metric Tons — A unit of weight in the metric system equivalent to 1,000 kilograms, or 2,204.6 pounds.
Mighty Guardian — A special unit in the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command designed to mirror as closely as possible the size, armament, and tactical operations expected to be used by terrorist organizations. They conduct security tests of the Department of Defense’s nuclear weapons facilities.
Minerals Management Service (MMS) — The Department of the Inteiror’s agency that manages the nation’s oil, natural gas, and other resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. Since the 2010 deepwater horizon oil spill, it has been renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, and some of its duties have been given to other agencies.
Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility — A facility under construction at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site intended to help the U.S. and Russia meet an agreement to dispose of 68 metric tons of surplus plutonium by turning it into a fuel for nuclear reactors.
Monitoring and management oversight — Federal acquisition workforce activities designed to ensure contractor compliance with federal service contract provisions and applicable legal and ethical standards.
MOX – Mixed-Oxide Fuel, nuclear fuel containing more than one “oxide” (molecule containing oxygen) of fissile or fertile material (usually refers to some mix of of Plutonium and Uranium oxides).
MSPB — Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the executive branch that serves as the guardian of federal merit systems.
MT — Metric Tons.
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NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
National Ignition Facility — A facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory which has the goal of achieving nuclear fusion and energy gain in the laboratory for the first time. As of 2009, the National Ignition Facility was more than 600 percent over budget and at least 8 years behind schedule.
National Reconnaissance Office — The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is a joint organization engaged in the research and development, acquisition, launch, and operation of overhead reconnaissance systems necessary to meet the needs of the Intelligence Community and of the Department of Defense. The NRO conducts other activities as directed by the Secretary of Defense and/or the Director of National Intelligence.
National Security Agency — National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) is the United States government’s cryptologic intelligence agency, administered under the Department of Defense.
Nevada National Security Site - Formerly known as Nevada Test Site, the Nevada National Security Site was established in 1951 to test nuclear weapons. The site was renamed the Nevada National Security Site in August 2010.
NFS — Nuclear Fuel Services, located in Lynchburg, VA is a National Nuclear Security Administration contractor owned by Babcock and Wilcox.
NIH — National Institute of Health.
NNSA — see "National Nuclear Security Administration."
No-Bid Contract — A commonly used phrase to describe a sole source contract (i.e., a contract awarded without competition). See FAR Subpart 6.3.
NRC — see "Nuclear Regulatory Commission."
NTS – Nevada Test Site.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) — The government agency in charge of regulating commercial and other non-military use of nuclear energy.
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Offeror — Private entity that submits a procurement proposal to a government agency in response to a Request for Proposals.
Office of General Counsel (OSC) — The Office of the General Counsel is responsible for providing legal advice, counsel, and support to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and all Departmental elements of its agency.
OMB — The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a Cabinet-level office, and is the largest office within the Executive Office of the U. S. president. OMB is tasked with giving expert advice to senior White House officials on a range of topics relating to federal policy, management, legislative, regulatory, and budgetary issues.
OPR — The Office of Professional Responsibility, which reports directly to the Attorney General, is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving Department attorneys that relate to the exercise of their authority to investigate, litigate, or provide legal advice, as well as allegations of misconduct by law enforcement personnel when they are related to allegations of attorney misconduct within the jurisdiction of OPR.
Organizational conflict of interest (OCI) — When the interests of a contractor are inconsistent with the interests of the federal government as embodied in the terms, policies and regulations governing a contract to which the contractor is a party.
ORNL — Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
OSC — The Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency whose stated mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.
Outsourcing — Having a private contractor perform services Congress authorized the federal government to perform.
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Pantex Plant — The U.S. government’s facility for assembling and disassembling nuclear weapons, located 17 miles from Amarillo, Texas.
Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) — a web-enabled, government-wide application that provides timely and pertinent contractor past performance information to the federal contracting officers for use in making source selection decisions. This information is not publicly available and has been questioned as an actual indicator of a contractor’s performance.
Performance delay — A contractor’s failure to provide a service or product in the time projected and established by contract.
Performance Evaluation Plans (PEPs) — These plans define the performance measures and expectations by which the Department of Energy will evaluate the contractors managing the laboratories and production facilities that comprise the national weapons complex. Around 90 percent of the Department of Energy's budget goes towards these contractors.
Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs) — The National Nuclear Security Administration's annual assessments of the performance of the contractors who manage the laboratories and production facilities that comprise the national weapons complex, and which reflect the fixed and incentive fees awarded. Around 90 percent of the Department of Energy's budget goes towards these contractors.
Personal conflict of interest — When the interests of a contractor employee are inconsistent with their duties and responsibilities to the federal government in accordance with the terms of a contract on which they are assigned to work.
PIDAS — Perimeter Intrusion Detection Assessment System, a security system employed to prevent the entry of unauthorized individuals into secure areas.
PMA — Premarket approval is the FDA process of scientific and regulatory review to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Class III medical devices. PMA is the most stringent type of device marketing application required by FDA. The applicant must receive FDA approval of its PMA application prior to marketing the device. PMA approval is based on a determination by FDA that the PMA contains sufficient valid scientific evidence to assure that the device is safe and effective for its intended use(s). An approved PMA is, in effect, a private license granting the applicant (or owner) permission to market the device.
Postulated Threat — The Postulated Threat is the intelligence community's best estimate of the threat faced by nuclear facilities. This includes the number of adversaries, lethality of their weapons, and the size of a truck bomb that terrorists might use.
PPIRS — see "Past Performance Information Retrieval System."
PPP — Prohibited Personnel Practices: twelve actions, outlined in 5 U.S.C § 2302(b), that cannot be made against an employee of the government. Reprisal for Whistleblowing, or retaliation for whistleblowing, is one of the twelve PPPs, and includes any adverse action taken due to an employee’s whistleblower disclosure.
Pseudo-classifications — Agencies have increasingly used designations such as “Sensitive Security Information,” “Sensitive but Unclassified,” “Controlled but Unclassified,” and “For Official Use Only.” These “classifications” only apply internally and do not carry the same weight regarding information-sharing as a legitimate classification. That said, tread carefully with these labels, as releasing something like the Department of Energy’s “Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information” (UCNI) can be sensitive and have greater penalties for its release than revealing even “Top Secret” information.
Purchase Cards: Government credit cards that can be used to buy supplies or services.
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Qui tam, also know as the False Claims Act — A law that allows people who are not affiliated with the government to file actions against federal contractors they accuse of committing claims fraud against the government. Originally passed in 1863 at President Lincoln’s urging as an attempt to halt the Civil War profiteering that was crippling the Union Army. Amendments to the Act in 1986, championed by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), increased the penalties for fraud and encouraged private citizens to come forward if they were aware of corporations defrauding the government. The U.S. has recovered more than $20 billion for fraud against the government since 1986. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733.
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Revolving Door — When public and private employees work for one sector and move to the other sector. For example, when a former government official goes to work for a federal contractor/lobbying firm or when a company executive leaves to take a job with a federal agency. Certain conflict of interest and ethics laws and regulations aim to protect the integrity of the government. These include laws governing bribery, representation of companies with interests adverse to the government, lobbying, and personal financial interest.
RFP — A Request for Proposals is a government solicitation for prospective contractor proposals that defines government requirements for an acquisition program.
Royalty-In-Kind (RIK) — A method of collecting royalty payments from drilling on federal lands and waters in the form of product rather than cash. The Department of Interior used this program from 1997 until DOI Secretary Ken Salazar ended the program in 2009 as its primary royalty collection program.
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Savannah River Site — A facility in the nuclear weapons complex near Aiken, South Carolina. The site was built during the 1950s to produce plutonium for deployment in nuclear weapons. The site is owned by the Department of Energy and is currently operated by a contractor, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC. The site has some downblending capacity.
Schedules — GSA Schedules (also referred to as Multiple Award Schedules and Federal Supply Schedules) are for long-term government-wide contracts with commercial firms to provide access to commercial supplies and services. The schedules are for indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts that are available for use by federal agencies worldwide. The GSA’s schedule library is publicly available.
SEC — Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency that regulates U.S. financial markets, enforces federal securities laws, and protects investors against market abuses.
Secondaries — Also referred to as a canned subassembly, a secondary is comprised mostly of highly enriched uranium, secondaries are one of two key components of a nuclear warhead (the other being plutonium pits). The National Nuclear Security Administration defines secondaries as “the component of a nuclear weapon that contains elements needed to initiate the fusion reaction in a thermonuclear explosion.”
Securities — Negotiable instruments of financial value, such as banknotes, stocks, bonds, and derivatives.
Shadow government — The workforce of contractor employees who perform federal government services.
SIGTARP — The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program was created by Congress to conduct, supervise and coordinate audits and investigations of the purchase, management and sale of assets under the TARP.
SNM — Special nuclear material, including highly enriched uranium and plutonium, is fissile material used in nuclear weapons and for research and development.
Sole Source Contract — Often referred to as a "no-bid" contract, a sole source contract is the correct name for a contract awarded without competition. See FAR Subpart 6.3.
SRO — see "self-regulatory organization."
SSI — Sensitive Security Information, a control designation that the Transportation Security Administration applies to any information regarding mode of transportation deemed sensitive. The particulars of what is covered by this designation are spelled out in 49 CFR 1520.7.
Stay — An action sought by the OSC to delay an adverse personnel action pending an investigation.
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TARP — see "Troubled Asset Relief Program."
Task order — An order for services placed against an established contract or with government sources.
Thorium — A chemical element that can be used as a source of nuclear power. According to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “there is probably more energy available for use from thorium in the minerals of the earth's crust than from both uranium and fossil fuels.”
Time and materials contract – A contract under which the government and contractor agree on an hourly rate that includes labor, materials and overhead.
Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) — Also known as the "bailout," TARP was established under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act during the 2008 financial crisis. TARP gave the Treasury Department the authority to purchase or insure up to $700 billion in “troubled assets” in order to stabilize U.S. financial markets and avoid a widespread economic collapse.
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U-235 — Uranium-235, a uranium isotope used in constructing nuclear warheads.
UPF — The Uranium Processing Facility is proposed to be constructed at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN by 2020, as a modern manufacturing and research facility for highly enriched uranium.
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WPA — Whistleblower Protection Act: law that protects federal employees that make a disclosure evidencing waste, fraud, or abuse in government spending.
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