Governance Panel Calls for NNSA Move Back Under DOE
Weapons Complex Monitor
Dec 10, 2014
The Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise is recommending not only a major overhaul for the National Nuclear Security Administration, but a recasting of how weapons complex contractors are compensated. The panel delivered its report, “A New Foundation for the Nuclear Enterprise,” to Congress yesterday, revealing broad recommendations aimed at fixing what it called a “dysfunctional system” spoiled by “decades of neglect.” The report isn’t expected to be released publicly until later this week, but NS&D Monitor obtained a copy of the 186-page document. While it is often scathing in its critique of the failings of the agency’s current governance structure, the panel recommended that the Department of Energy reabsorb the semi-autonomous agency rather than call for a shift toward more autonomy or a move to the Department of Defense. “The nuclear enterprise would be most effective in performing its missions if it were led by a knowledgeable, engaged Cabinet Secretary and if ownership of the mission were Departmentwide,” the panel said.
More autonomy for the agency would “only further isolate” the agency from senior level leadership. As part of its recommendations, the panel called for a change to DOE’s name, to the Department of Energy and Nuclear Security, and at least a six-year tenure for the director of the Office of Nuclear Security, which is what the panel proposes calling the agency in its new spot in DOE. “It is recommended that Congress place the responsibility and accountability for the mission squarely on the shoulders of a qualified Secretary, supported by a strong enterprise Director with unquestioned authority to execute nuclear enterprise missions consistent with the Secretary’s policy direction,” the panel said.
The panel also said that award fees paid to management and operating contractors across the weapons complex have “diverted substantial energy and resources from mission execution” and it recommended award fees be replaced by “market-based” fixed fees that “fairly compensate” M&O contractors as well as award-term extensions to motivate strong performance. “The panel found that an unintended consequence of the award fee structure is that it contributes significantly to detailed, transactional oversight. It has contributed to the growth of a government bureaucracy responsible to track fee. This, in turn, has induced the M&O organizations to grow a corresponding bureaucracy to provide the assessments that justify their award fees,” the panel said.
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