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Thursday, January 17, 2013

An interesting item in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013

An interesting item in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 signed this month by President Obama into law. This legislation provides policy/budget guidance for the DOD and NNSA. No actual funding, which is contained in the yet to be enacted FY 2013 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. Looks there’s congressional desire to turn the Labs in to actual “national” labs.

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator for Nuclear Security shall commission an independent assessment regarding the transition of the national security laboratories to multiagency federally funded research and development centers with direct sustainment and sponsorship by multiple national security agencies. The organization selected to conduct the independent assessment shall have recognized credentials and expertise in national security science and engineering laboratories.

(2) BACKGROUND MATERIAL.—The assessment shall leverage previous studies, including—
(A) the report published in 2009 by the Stimson Center titled ‘‘Leveraging Science for Security: A Strategy for the Nuclear Weapons Laboratories in the 21st Century’’; and
(B) the Phase 1 report published in 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences titled ‘‘Managing for High- Quality Science and Engineering at the NNSA National Security laboratories’’.

(3) ELEMENTS.—The assessment conducted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall include the following elements:
(A) An assessment of a new governance structure that—
(i) gives multiple national security agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy, and the intelligence community, direct sponsorship of the national security laboratories as federally funded research and development centers so that such agencies have more direct and rapid access to the assets available at the laboratories and the responsibility to provide sustainable support for the science and technology needs of the agencies at the laboratories;
(ii) reduces costs to the Federal Government for the use of the resources of the laboratories, while enhancing the stewardship of these national resources and maximizing their service to the Nation;
(iii) enhances the overall quality of the scientific research and engineering capability of the laboratories, including their ability to recruit and retain top scientists and engineers; and
(iv) maintains as paramount the capabilities required to support the nuclear stockpile stewardship and related nuclear missions.
(B) A recommendation as to which, if any, other laboratories associated with any national security agency should be included in the new governance structure.
(C) Options for implementing the new governance structure that minimize disruption of performance and costs to the government while rapidly achieving anticipated gains.
(D) Legislative changes and executive actions that would need to be made in order to implement the new governance structure.

(b) REPORT.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than January 1, 2014, the organization selected to conduct the independent assessment under subsection (a)(1) shall submit to the Administrator and the congressional defense committees a report that contains the findings of the assessment.


Anonymous said...

Here's the summary.

It is good enough like it is currently, because,

1. As long as there are a tsunami of regulations that must be adhered to and accounted for, there will be a sea of expensive employees, ensuring complaince and accountability, all on overhead.

2. Retention and recruiting can be fixed immediateley whenever you like with simple salary, compensation, benefits and work environment improvements. It simple, pay top 10%, employ the top 10%. Turn 'em lose with resources and admire the outcome of your genius. Want Google's IT team and CIA's counterintell? Hire 'em away.

3. It ain't gonna cost less, it will cost more.

4. Being under and responsive to three line organizations is impossible. They each have different objectives and fight with each other, and have no incentive to compromise. A support organization will be the unhappy husband who must satisfy three hateful, unhappy wives. Not a chance to satify Don Rumsfeld and Colin Powell at the same time unless you lie to both. Or like a good husband, ingnore both harridans.

5. So, put a really good person in charge, give her access to whatever additional money she requests and let her focus only on putting together a top team to accomplish well the labs core missions.

Never happen.

Anonymous said...

The Stimson Center report of 2009 hit a bull's eye on targeting the growing bureaucracy, high cost, withering scientific ability, risk avoidance and CIY management style at the NNSA labs. Unfortunately, no one paid it any attention.

I doubt that is about to change anytime soon. Too many people are vested through large financial rewards in the current dysfunctional system. That includes the new lab Directors and their executive management team, in particular.

Bechtel's control over the nuclear weapons complex has only grown stronger over the last few years! They are a secretive, corrupt and highly political company that usually gets their way.

Anonymous said...

LLNL could not survive in a management regime where the customer or sponsor has ultimate say in what work gets done at the lab. They are killing off programs that have very good visibility in other agencies, but are viewed as a competitor against NIF in a zero sum game. I see HEAF dying off over time, slowly suffocated. Even WCI is getting in the way of NIF and LIFE. Status quo is the best. NNSA/congress is the customer that Ed and his lackey mouthpiece Penrose can continue to lie to and deceive and they will get away with it. They always have and they always will, and NNSA/congress can't do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

It's very disappointing that Parney chose to double down on NIF and the Moses hype. Whatever chips we have, we keep shoving them all into the NIF basket...with no exit strategy.

Baring a major breakthrough (they happen occasionally and serendipitously in science)...this won't end well.

Lucky for us: LANL and our friends in TN seem to be determined to screw up every 3-6 months and shift the scrutiny away from us for a awhile each time.

Anonymous said...

Lucky for us: LANL and our friends in TN seem to be determined to screw up every 3-6 months and shift the scrutiny away from us for a awhile each time.

January 19, 2013 at 8:30 AM

If you think for one moment that you have friends at TN or LANL, you are very mistaken. It's every rat fighting for it's life now that we've been tossed to drown on the water.

Anonymous said...

I think the previous post meant not that TN or NM were amici, rather that they put bullseyes on their own backs more often than LLNL does. It doesn't matter though 'cause Congress can't shoot straight. The first poster has it right.

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