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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Heather Wilson appointed to NNSA review panel

Heather Wilson appointed to NNSA review panel

By Michael Coleman 
ABQ Journal Washington Bureau 
Fri, Mar 1, 2013
POSTED: 11:59 am
LAST UPDATED: 1:29 pm


U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday appointed former Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., to a new commission that will recommend ways to improve the performance of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the federal agency that oversees Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

The 12-member commission was established late last year through legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who retired at the end of 2012. It was unclear late Thursday who the other 11 commission members will be.

The panel will “assess the feasibility and advisability of, and make recommendations with respect to, revising the governance structure of the National Nuclear Security Administration,” according to the bill that created it.

The commission will make specific recommendations, including how to improve scientific work, safety and employee retention. The panel will also explore ways to diversify the national labs’ missions and consider whether oversight of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex should “remain with the administration or be transferred to another agency.” Some NNSA critics have suggested the nuclear weapons labs should fall under the purview of the Department of Defense, not the Department of Energy

Wilson’s appoinment comes at a time when the NNSA – now part of the DOE – is under increasing scrutiny as its budgets have expanded, and some in Congress have questioned the national laboratories’ priorities and performance. Udall and some other members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation have repeatedly said the labs should adjust their mission to include more research and development of clean energy technologies.

“It (the NNSA) has had a lot of problems,” Wilson said in a Journal interview Thursday. “It cost a lot of money, it’s ineffective and it’s not working. So, in some way it has to be fixed.”

Wilson served 10 years in Congress representing the Albuquerque-based 1st District from 1998 until 2009. She ran for the U.S. Senate last November but lost in the general election to then-Rep. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat. The future of New Mexico’s nuclear weapons labs was a key issue in the Senate race.

Former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat who chaired the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told the Journal in November that simply shuttering the NNSA might not be a bad idea.

“I’ve always had problems with the NNSA as another level of bureaucracy between the secretary of energy and the labs,” Bingaman said. “It doesn’t give me any heartburn to think that we would revisit the decision to set up the NNSA. I think it would make some sense.”

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who met with NNSA Acting Administrator Neile L. Miller in Washington last month, praised Wilson’s appointment to the commission as “good news for New Mexico.”

“Heather Wilson understands the contributions of our national labs to national security, and I’m glad New Mexico will have such a great advocate at the table,” Martinez said.

In an email to the Journal today, Jay Coghlin, director of Nuke Watch New Mexico, criticized the appointment, noting that Wilson has had private contracts at Sandia in the past and said she would advocate for more bloated budgets at the labs.

“Given the long string of chronic cost overruns and security infractions, diminished federal oversight and greater autonomy for privatized corporate nuclear weapons contractors is the wrong direction,” Coghlin said. “Don’t expect Heather Wilson to help the American taxpayer correct that direction. “





Coghlin is always firing shots at the NM labs and in all the noise it is easy to ignore him one more time. He has something real this time and it could turn out to be a big headache for all involved. How much money has Wilson taken from SNL and LANL and what did the taxpayers get in return for those payments?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good chance the nuclear weapon labs will be transferred over to DoD. Not a slam-dunk but odds are at last 50-50% even if the DoD says they don't want the NNSA labs.

We've run out of options for ways to fix this mess.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if DoD has any idea how to run security for a CAT 1 nuclear facility that is not within a base? Or maybe they'll just contract it out to the same-ol' same-ol's. Another issue is clearances - the DoD doesn't do Q-type background checks for access authorization to RD, just a superior officer's signature. They also do not understand the RD classification system. Maybe DOE's office of classification will be pulled out to DoD too... This could be a major unintended mess.

Anonymous said...

Even if the review panel gets the 'right' answer, it will have the appearance of a conflict of interest. For those inclined to untangle just how conflicted Wilson is in this matter, take a look at the SF Reporter article:

http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-7028-this-is-heather-wils.html

Anonymous said...

I wonder if DoD has any idea how to run security for a CAT 1 nuclear facility that is not within a base?

March 2, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Did you just wake up from a year long coma? Seems like that there is a Congressional hearing every week to investigate Nun-gate at Y-12. It is clear that DoE does not have the correct idea how to run security for a CAT 1 nuclear facility that is not within a base.

Anonymous said...

The SF Reporter is the most biased writing as one is likely to find anywhere. To call it journalism would be tantamount to fraud.

That being said, it was the Republicans during the Bush years that gave us this hideous disaster called NNSA, and the for-profit LLC Lab management, bought and paid for by generous campaign contributions.

The winners of the contracts were winners for a reason. The losers were the employees and taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

They need to put LANL/LLNL/SNL in the DoD. We don't need to be doing clean energy research...that's what NREL is for. We need to be doing weapons work and other DoD or intelligence agency work. Leave the real science to the universities. It makes no sense for this inefficient, high-security operation to be doing stuff cheap and efficient professors can do in their labs, with the exception of fusion.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that DoE does not have the correct idea how to run security for a CAT 1 nuclear facility that is not within a base.

March 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

DOE does not run Y-12 security - NNSA does. Apart from that, how does your statement provide evidence that DoD can do security at CAT 1 nuclear facilities? Try to stay focussed.

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense for this inefficient, high-security operation to be doing stuff cheap and efficient professors can do in their labs, with the exception of fusion.

March 2, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Spoken like a true NIFer. In case you haven't noticed, the claim that NIF has anything to do with fusion has been thoroughly debunked. Laughable. EoS and strength, baby!!

Anonymous said...

The SF Reporter is the most biased writing as one is likely to find anywhere. To call it journalism would be tantamount to fraud.

March 2, 2013 at 4:10 PM

True, true. A thoroughly ultra-liberal rag. With a female columnist who writes rapturously about the "taste of semen." Typical Santa Fe - the San Francisco of the southwest.

Anonymous said...

"Good chance the nuclear weapon labs will be transferred over to DoD. Not a slam-dunk but odds are at last 50-50% even if the DoD says they don't want the NNSA labs.

We've run out of options for ways to fix this mess.

March 2, 2013 at 12:47 PM"

It is not going to happen. The moment they start thinking about all the problems it is going cause. By the way DOD has just as many if not more problems than the DOE.

Anonymous said...


"
Even if the review panel gets the 'right' answer, it will have the appearance of a conflict of interest. For those inclined to untangle just how conflicted Wilson is in this matter, take a look at the SF Reporter article:

http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-7028-this-is-heather-wils.html

March 2, 2013 at 2:21 PM"

I am no fan of Heather Wilson but sfreporter is just not a series news journal. I read it myself when it is free for the smut and crazy stuff but come on, no one takes this magazine seriously.

Anonymous said...

I hope the anti-academia anti-basic reasearch pro-checklist DoD takes over. They can turn the Labs into something resembling a Kragen store. Imagine having science micromanaged by our security people - that is what it would be like. Think of the ignorant anti-science Acting for the last several months being in charge of everything. It would be the best ever!

Anonymous said...

The DoD wastes more money in Afghanistan in one day than NNSA does in one year. The security forces at bases in Iraq and Afghanistan work in difficult conditions and are heroic, but they have had some tragic situations where civilians have been mistaken for insurgents and have been killed. Say what you want about DOE and NNSA - they have a lot of problems - as do the labs and plants - but the DoD has not demonstrated the capability to run research labs (Naval Research Lab used to be a good lab decades ago but the R&D suffers when real-life operations need to be funded)- and at least the Y-12 security forces did not overreact to the security flaws by shooting a harmless nun.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Ms. Wilson one of the very people that created this insane, over-budget, do nothing, funnel money to corporations who love over-budget stuff, let old nuns and geezers run free in cat 1 nuke facilities for hours - mess we are in now. It would be like letting that 82 yr old nun run the NNSA!!!! This is the definition of crazy! If this were another time in American history .. people would lose more than their jobs for this kinda incredible shit. Welcome to the end of the Empire. We go out with a whimper.

Anonymous said...

Calm down! This is only an advisory committee, just the most recent of umpteen that have been recommending ways to "improve" NNSA for the past few years. Unfortunately, there is no way that you can "improve" dead fish once they begin to stink. Good luck to Ernie!

Anonymous said...

The Galvin commission over two decades ago never change anything at the weapon labs. There have been an endless stream of reports and commission since then and the labs have continued their slow decline.

Why believe this latest commission will be any different from the others? The stifling bureaucracy, rising cost of doing business and incredibly bloated management structure continues to increase to higher and higher levels.

Anonymous said...

Why believe this latest commission will be any different from the others?

March 4, 2013 at 9:12 PM

Why not? What do you believe is the force making them all the same? Internal or external? Without a logical basis your beief is just superstition. Or perhaps a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to argue with historical data. (Unless you work at NIF)

Anonymous said...

It's hard to argue with historical data. (Unless you work at NIF)

March 5, 2013 at 7:55 PM

No one is arguing with historical data. Just with the notion that it predicts the future.

Anonymous said...

If I hit my hand with a hammer 10 times and each time it hurts like hell then I've got a reasonable assumption that it will also hurt on the 11th try.

Only a fool ignores historical data and believes "this time it's different".

Anonymous said...

Only a fool ignores historical data and believes "this time it's different".

March 8, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Specious argument. Simple, predictable cause-and-effect is not "historical data." I guess you believe all the people on this panel are untrustworthy, devious, venal, lying idiots who don't care a whit about the task they've been asked to take on. Pretty sick approach to life and to other people's honor.

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