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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.
Posted by scooby at 10:53 AM
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