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Monday, September 17, 2012
Interesting comments in the Nuclear Weapons & Material Monitor
Anonymously contributed: ======================================================================================== Interesting comments in the Nuclear Weapons & Material Monitor (Todd Jacobson - 9/14/12) on last week’s Congressional Y-12 hearings… ======================================================================================== The Department of Energy has not gone far enough in its response to the July security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle argued this week, with some suggesting at a pair of hearings that more accountability is needed within the top ranks of DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The impacts on the NNSA could be felt in both the short and long-term, with several lawmakers pushing—albeit indirectly—for the removal of key DOE and NNSA officials and House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio) suggesting more drastic changes may be needed to the structure of the agency itself. Beyond leadership changes, Turner suggested that he wants to explore more radical efforts to reform NNSA, including changes that could involve removing the agency from under the umbrella of the Department of Energy or moving it to the Department of Defense. “I think next year we’re going to have to have a serious conversation about whether NNSA and DOE should remain responsible for some core functions of NNSA,” Turner told NW&M Monitor. “They cannot and will not do the job. We have absolutely seen it. This is no longer my opinion. This is hard, cold fact. They can’t modernize our weapons. They can’t build and undertake new facilities. They can’t even budget. And they can’t even protect our nuclear weapons. I know of no other agency so absolutely critical to our national security that is so broken.” The NNSA is currently the target of reform provisions authored by Turner in the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act (see related story), but he suggested to NW&M Monitor that those provisions might not go far enough. “Next year, this is going to give us the impetus to be much more proactive in our reforms,” he said. During the hearing, he noted that the NNSA was created by Congress in 1999 in response to security problems and mismanagement at DOE. “This Y-12 incident is just one more indicator that the creation of NNSA has not fixed the problems—12 years later and the entire nuclear weapons enterprise, from the budget process to facilities construction and now even basic security, is fundamentally broken,” he said. Turner and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, also suggested in a Sept. 13 letter to President Obama that the security problems at Y-12 exist across the weapons complex. “We write to share our deep concerns that the security at DOE-NNSA facilities is inadequate and the facilities could be gravely at risk,” Turner and Sanchez wrote. The lawmakers said that “lapses at every level in terms of process, personnel, and accountability could have allowed a disaster. We believe these issues may not be limited to Y-12. We ask your personal attention to this matter. We further ask that you take decisive action to ensure that in the aftermath of this incident the highest standards for accountable leadership and tough oversight are put into place at the DOE-NNSA.” After a brief public hearing Sept. 13, the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee convened for a classified briefing with Poneman and NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Neile Miller. While Turner did not disclose information that was talked about during the briefing, he said the private details did little to quell the anger among lawmakers. “I would say as a result of the classified briefing every member who was present was even more concerned and shaken as to the level of incompetence and insufficiency and security—on a bipartisan basis,” he told NW&M Monitor.
By scooby at September 17, 2012
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