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Friday, April 27, 2012

House Panel Seeks Sweeping Changes to Make NNSA More Independent

Anonymously contributed: From Weapons & Complex Monitor April 26, 2012 House Panel Seeks Sweeping Changes to Make NNSA More Independent In an effort to increase the National Nuclear Security Administration’s autonomy from the Department of Energy, the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee is set to approve sweeping changes to the agency that would distance itself from its parent organization. The subcommittee will mark up its portion of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act today and NW&M Monitor has learned it will authorize $7.9 billion for the agency’s weapons program, a massive increase over the Administration’s $7.58 billion request (though the panel has thus far been mum on the deferred Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement- Nuclear Facility, which Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) plans to address at a full committee markup in early May) that mirrors the Administration’s previous modernization plan. Most notably, documents released yesterday indicate that the panel will move to create more autonomy for the agency, giving NNSA’s Administrator full responsibility for all NNSA programs, policies, rules and regulations and “complete authority to establish and conduct oversight of policies, activities and procedures of the NNSA without direction or oversight by the Secretary [of Energy].” The bill would leave the Secretary of Energy only with disapproval authority of the agency’s decisions, while revamping and streamlining work within the NNSA with a host of other provisions. Includes language that would: * Shift health, safety and security oversight from the Department of Energy to NNSA while requiring the NNSA to adopt Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for non-nuclear operations and establish its own policies to ensure the protection of special nuclear material, sensitive assets and classified information; * Require the NNSA to revise its regulations, rules, directives, orders, and policies in order to streamline the agency’s operations; * Establishing a new system of governance, management and oversight of NNSA M&O contracts that transitions from transaction-based oversight to performance-based oversight that uses national and international standards and best practices where applicable; * Gradually decrease the number of employees in the NNSA’s Office of the Administrator to 800 by Oct. 1, 2014 (and 1,300 180 days after the enactment of the bill, and 1,000 starting Oct. 1, 2013) to help propel the transition from transaction-based to performance based oversight; * Require the NNSA to prepare a cost-benefit analysis prior to any management and operating contract competition during Fiscal Years 2012 to 2017, which would be reviewed by the Government Accountability Office; * Create a National Nuclear Security Administration Council that would include the heads of the agency’s nuclear weapons laboratories and production facilities in order to establish a communication pipeline for mission and operational concerns; and * Allow the NNSA to authorize weapons complex officials to design and build prototypes of nuclear weapons “to further intelligence assessments of foreign nuclear weapons activities” while helping to maintain the proficiency of current weapons designers.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will this cause NNSA to grow? If they are sharing a set of people within the DOE/NNSA partnership will this split cause NNSA to go on a hiring spree?

Will NNSA come up with their own version of the DOE Inspector General? Does congress have a guess as to the eventual outcome or is it another stab in the dark such as the creation of the NNSA in the first place?

Just get the wooden stake and the silver bullet and end NNSA, with either a bang or a whimper, whichever is quicker.

Anonymous said...

The morons in congress simply don't get it. The problem is that NNSA is already too autonomous. Those cowboys need adult supervision in the worst way to prevent future NIFs from deflecting the meager budget from the real work -- it's the stockpile, stupid.

Anonymous said...

I thought the point of the NAS report was to get rid of NNSA?

Anonymous said...

“The subcommittee will mark up its portion of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act today and NW&M Monitor has learned it will authorize $7.9 billion for the agency’s weapons program, a massive increase over the Administration’s $7.58 billion request…”

A 4.2% increase is a “massive increase”? NNSA & the weapons program are at best small potatoes.

Anonymous said...

Okay, let me see if I can get this right:
The NAS report comes out with the conclusion that NNSA is basically dysfunctional and then the GOP's logic is to give NNSA even more power.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to understand where this leaves the science at the NNSA labs. At present, there is a connection to the DOE Office of Science. Would there be the corresponding Office at the New and Improved NNSA? Or would scientific research that's not immediately relevant to pit production be simply identified as wasteful and trimmed? Has anyone in congress even given this any thought?

Anonymous said...

The bill also makes huge cuts to the NNSA headcount. Seems the idea is to make NNSA independent of doe GC, IG, HSS, and the rest, but also cut way back on Site offices and oversight.

Anonymous said...

No matter what is done, NNSA will screw it up.

The best thing to do is cut DOE and NNSA employee total compensation to 80% of current values, with 5% reductions per year.

This is a good idea for most state and federal employees and contractors.

Little would happen.

Anonymous said...

* Allow the NNSA to authorize weapons complex officials to design and build prototypes of nuclear weapons “to further intelligence assessments of foreign nuclear weapons activities” while helping to maintain the proficiency of current weapons designers.

What weapon designers? The only weapon designers are those "that played a significant role in the design of a stockpiled weapon or underground nuclear weapon test". I got news for NNSA. I would consider the remaining "designers" as "simulators" just like they codes they run.

Anonymous said...

House Panel may want "sweeping changes" in the management of the nuclear weapons complex but it's not gonna happen. Bechtel likes it just the way it is.

Anonymous said...

No one cares. It's already a dead issue. Things will continue just as before and the inane policy "beatings" from the NNSA will continue until the morale improves.

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