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Friday, April 17, 2015

Latest GAO report on NNSA: not much has changed

NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION:
Observations on Management Challenges and Steps Taken to Address Them
GAO-15-532T: Published: Apr 15, 2015. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 2015.


http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-532T

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anyone surprised by this GAO report?

Anonymous said...

Nope.

Also not surprised that Congress does nothing to fix or kill NNSA.

"Semi-autonomy" within DOE has been a complete confusing mess. Just bring back the Office of Defense Programs.

Anonymous said...

Steps that could improve the situation:

1. Move the weapons work to DOD
2. Make the lab employees federal employees
3. Move the EM work to EPA
4. Focus DOE on energy

Anonymous said...

1. Very bad idea.
2. Federal nuclear weapons researchers? Hah.
3. It will still be done by the same contractors as now.
4. Energy development requires very little basic research.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 9:26 AM that the congressional experiment that created a "semi-autonomous" agency has not worked out well. Therefore, NNSA should be folded back into DOE as the old office of Defense Programs. The DOE Inspector General has also said that, more than once.

Anonymous said...

Therefore, NNSA should be folded back into DOE as the old office of Defense Programs.

April 19, 2015 at 1:03 PM

Agree, but... Recall that when NNSA was created, the security functions for the nuclear weapon enterprise were removed from DOE and placed in NNSA ("Office of Defense Nuclear Security"). Over the years, this NNSA security function has become bloated, insular, massively bureaucratic, and generally incompetent. Also, they are now direct-funded, unlike the DOE security function in the pre-NNSA days of DP. That will be a very difficult knot to unravel.

Anonymous said...

Since DOE was created, there has seldom been a time when national security was important to the Secretary. Except for the first Secretary, and perhaps the current one, they have been uniformly absent when it comes to national security. So, those of you that keep wanting to "fold in back into DOE" must envision a completely different future. Based on the past, there will be little chance that another such experiment would work any better than the last several. The strategic nuclear deterrent needs a home in an organization that has national security as its primary focus.

Anonymous said...

The NNSA security functions often duplicate security functions that are vested in the DOE HSS office (now called the Office of Environment, Health Safety & Security because the old ES&H functions got parked there too). Point being that the taxpayers began paying twice for some of the same security functions when NNSA came into being because a lot of the security authority remained with the DOE office of Health, Safety & Security. I agree that things have become knotted over the years, but it can be untied.

Anonymous said...

Steps that could improve the situation:

1. Move the weapons work to DOD
2. Make the lab employees federal employees
3. Move the EM work to EPA
4. Focus DOE on energy

April 18, 2015 at 10:29 AM


Both 1 and 2 are good ideas.
Who cares about 3 or 4?

Anonymous said...

Steps that could improve the situation:

1. Move the weapons work to DOD
2. Make the lab employees federal employees
3. Move the EM work to EPA
4. Focus DOE on energy

------------

IMHO after 25 years at LLNL and the NWC...

1. Nuclear weapons research, science, and engineering (LLNL, LANL, SNL) should stay in DOE. Production and testing (Pantex, Y-12, NTS, KCP) could go to DOD.

2. Nope. Federal civil service system is a mess. Hiring is controlled by Congress appropriation committees, and firing nearly impossible (look at the Secret Service screw ups.

3. EPA will just contract out the cleanup work, which is what happens at DOE sites anyway.

4. DOE is focused on energy. However, "national labs" should focus on a wide array of national science issues - especially those involving high cost, large scale basic research efforts that have no immediate commercial return on investments. I actually believe that DOE should be expanded into the Dept of Science.

Anonymous said...

Since DOE was created, there has seldom been a time when national security was important to the Secretary. Except for the first Secretary, and perhaps the current one, they have been uniformly absent when it comes to national security. So, those of you that keep wanting to "fold in back into DOE" must envision a completely different future. Based on the past, there will be little chance that another such experiment would work any better than the last several. The strategic nuclear deterrent needs a home in an organization that has national security as its primary focus.

April 20, 2015 at 11:39 AM



This sums it up nicely as to why the nuclear weapons enterprise rarely has had, and (based on track record to date) is not likely to have, a good home in DOE.

One of the many proposals put forward over the years to address the situation was to create a new Cabinet level 'Department of Nuclear Security.' This might work out if it was structured along the lines of the Department of the Army or Navy, since the Secretary of one of those Departments has significant authority over how it operates.

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