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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Why is the weapons complex still under DOE?

"A prior Office of Inspector General report ... found that planning and execution of that project was not effective and resulted in a system that did not meet pre-established goals and objectives. In addition, a prior Government Accountability Office report identified NNSA project management as an area of high risk for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.

These issues were attributable, in part, to ineffective project planning practices related to the development and implementation of the 2NV initiative. For instance, essential components of a well-developed project management approach, such as charters, business cases, alternatives analyses, and implementation schedules, were often inadequate, outdated, or had not been developed in a timely manner. In addition, monitoring and oversight activities were not always sufficient to ensure success and hold project managers accountable for delivering the project within cost, scope, and schedule."


Anonymous said...

It may not be appropriate to extend this critique, possibly a widely misunderstood one genetally to all DOE operations. Thisp critique regarding alleged weak project planning of as yet unnamed projects does not necessarily apply to ongoing operations, which are the lions share of DOE work. Time-limited projects form a small fraction of any yearly budget.

Anonymous said...

Those interested in this subject should read the short study by Rand, "Why large projects fail".

Anonymous said...

Merrow EW, Understanding Outcomes of Megaprojects, Rand Corp, 1988.

Anonymous said...

And of course, the DoD and its private contractors have a superb record of bringing major acquisitions in on time and under budget.

Anonymous said...

NIF ring any bells, 10:09 pm. DARHT? How about the Antares laser?

Anonymous said...

10:09PM replies:

I didn't say Energy had no issues, just that Defense has had some whoppers, too.

Anonymous said...


The Cold War is over. Congress doesn't care about the weapons complex as long as certification occurs.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the DOE and the DOD...from the Wall Street Journal (Dec 31, 2015) "With so many lay­ers and offices needed to con­cur on every de­ci­sion, it now takes an av­er-age of 22½ years from the start of a weapons pro­gram to first de­ploy­ment, in­stead of the four years it took to de­ploy the Min­ute­man ICBM and Polaris sub­ma­rine mis­sile sys­tem in the Cold War era. Yet the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity es-ti­mates that it takes only seven years for Chi­nese and Russ­ian pro­cure­ment sys­tems to pro­duce the ad­vanced ships and fight­ers of the so-called fifth gen­er­a­tion."

Think of all the started and stopped plutonium facilities in the DOE: MPF, IESL, CMRR, PDCF, APSF, MFFF. They get written up by the GAO and the DOE-IG as Decades lost and billions spent with little to show but paper. Too big to succeed is the management mantra that underlines our nuclear security. We have lost our way as science and engineering; common sense and the acceptance of risk is replaced with design build, poor budgeting and execution, zero risk, failure to manage consequences, and a lack of leadership. Thus our security rests in a 40 year old facility that is currently paused for operations because of paper, and a workforce managed by a for profit entity that has no equity in the survival or future of the institution.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you think of DOE and NNSA, I can only assure you that management by DoD would be far worse. DoD is NOT set up to manage hard, long-term projects. They are set up to solve incremental problems related to soldiers day-to-day needs. It really would be the end of the labs as we know them.

Anonymous said...

It really would be the end of the labs as we know them.

January 2, 2016 at 3:13 PM

"as we know them"

Security failures that make the front page (and lots more that don't)
Safety lapses that put lab employees in hospitals
Cost overruns that gut the federal budget
Project schedules that expand from years to decades
Environmental destruction on a grand scale
Ethical scandals among the most senior lab leadership
Shutdowns of key nuclear facilities for years at a time

Yes, as a mater of fact "the end of the labs as we know them" would be a most welcome change.

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