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Sunday, April 22, 2012
White House Commissions Study of Laboratory Governance Structure
Anonymously contributed: A bit more on the WH study. Koonin understands the Lab's (he also oversaw CalTech's contract to run NASA's JPL), maybe something will actually come out of this. Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor April 6, 2012 White House Commissions Study of Laboratory Governance Structure -Todd Jacobson Former DOE Under Secretary for Science Koonin to Lead Institute for Defense Analyses Study. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has tasked the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Science and Technology Policy Institute to study the governance structure of the nation’s federal laboratories... The White House is believed to be keenly interested in preserving science and technology at the laboratories, especially on the heels of several reports that have been critical of the NNSA’s weapons laboratories. Two recent reports from the National Academy of Sciences—one on management of the laboratories and another on the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty—have urged drastic changes at the weapons laboratories. The NAS study on lab management called the NNSA’s relationship with its labs “dysfunctional” and “broken,” while the NAS CTBT study recommended that the agency re-evaluate how it oversees work at the labs, suggesting that the number of requirements and directives impacting work at the facilities while shifting contract incentives toward the technical success. The White House “wants to see reform,” one official with knowledge of the OSTP’s interest in the subject told NW&M Monitor, but it also has a “strong interest in science remaining strong” at the labs and “they want to make sure that’s maintained.” OSTP Concerned With ‘Suitability’ of Governance According to information obtained by NW&M Monitor, the White House is specifically interested in the pluses and minuses involved in each governance structure used at the laboratories and the “suitability” of the governance structures for “future national security challenges.” While DOE national laboratories operate under a government owned contractor operated model, Department of Defense laboratories typically are owned and run by the government. DoD also uses research centers affiliated with universities to meet some of its research needs. Koonin has been notably outspoken about the state of the science at the NNSA’s weapons laboratories, and at a public meeting during the NAS lab management study, he suggested that the switch to private management of the labs had taken its toll on science. .... House Lawmakers Welcome Study The request for the study comes as interest in how the nation’s laboratories are managed continues to grow. In addition to the recent NAS studies, the National Academy of Public Administration is studying oversight at the national laboratories at the direction of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and leaders on the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee are expected to introduce some NNSA reform measures in the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act. The top two lawmakers on the House subcommittee, Reps. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), said they were happy to see the White House “engaged” on the governance issue in a statement issued April 4. “In our oversight of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s national labs, we’ve become concerned about a governance structure that the National Academies of Science recently called ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘broken.’ We must ensure these national labs are setup to face the many nuclear security challenges facing the nation, and we look forward to taking some concrete first steps at reform in the upcoming fiscal year 2013 defense authorization bill to improve oversight that will enable a safe, cost-effective work environment and preserve scientific and engineering excellence at the laboratories,” Turner and Sanchez said.
Posted by scooby at 7:58 AM
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