Apr 27, 2007

Ex-submariner gets nuclear security job

WASHINGTON, April 27 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush has appointed a veteran submariner to a key national nuclear safety post.

Bill Ostendorff took the oath of office Friday as principal deputy administrator at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

The NNSA has been under fire for alleged laxity in nuclear security at the Energy Department's Los Alamos Laboratory last year.

The NNSA said in a statement Friday that Ostendorff would "run the agency's daily operations, serve as NNSA's top technical adviser and provide leadership and direction to NNSA's senior staff. He will also be involved in NNSA's interaction with Congress and will implement policies to shape the future of NNSA."

"We welcome Bill to the Energy Department," said Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. "NNSA has a critical national security mission and it is important to have him on the job. He brings a tremendous amount of experience and expertise with him and I have full confidence that he will be a valuable member of our team."

The NNSA said that "previously, Ostendorff served as counsel and staff director for the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee."

"From 1999-2002, he served as director of the Division of Mathematics and Science at the United States Naval Academy," the agency said. "From 1998-1999, he commanded Submarine Squadron Six in Norfolk, Virginia. From 1996-1998, he was director of the Submarine Force Atlantic Prospective Commanding Officer School. He served on six submarines."

By operational law, the NNSA's principal deputy administrator becomes the acting administrator when the administrator's position is vacant. Therefore, Ostendorff will also assume the duties of the acting administrator of NNSA.


Anonymous said...

If Ostendorff, as principal deputy administrator, is now acting NNSA Administrator, is D'Agostino still the Bush/Bodman choice for the permanent NNSA Administrator job, or now is it Ostendorff? This probably explains why the LLNL contract announcement has been delayed, since DOE can't figure out who is actually running NNSA.

Anonymous said...

Why can't NNSA get decent candidates? Another Navy guy. No experience whatsoever in the weapons labs or complex, strong need to have orders followed, not used to critical review, promoted on age, not merit. No wonder the labs have such difficulty. We get pagans to run the Ministry. It is time for the well qualifed leaders of National Labs to set aside their comfort and, like their predecessors, move to Babylon DC to protect our interests. Until well-qualifed former lab types sit atop NSF, DOE, EPA etc we are going to continue to get creamed by a system that is out of touch with what it takes to be successful. It is time for our leaders to step up. Lab directors should be younger. It should be viewed as a transitory position that is a stepping stone to leadership in DC.

Oppy's Ghost said...

When I was approached about heading up Project Y and met General Groves(with all of the military formality and arrogance and cluelessness that come with a system that rewards having "more clout than sense") I was very reluctant... I believed the nation needed to build "the bomb" before Hitler (or Stalin) did, but I didn't trust the military mind nor our imperialism.

I agreed to do the job because it needed to be done and I knew I could do it if any one could. I also knew that Groves needed me more than I needed him. His job was to give me the resources I needed to get my job done and to maintain tight security.

If his goal had been more ambiguous (as was Linton Brooks and now Ostendorff) I would not have been so willing.

Back in my day, I would have sicced my General (groves) on your Admiral (Nanos) and guess who would have kicked whose ass?

Anonymous said...

Did Ostendorff command a sub(s). Which ones for how long?

Anonymous said...

"...I also knew that Groves needed me more than I needed him...."

Times have apparently changed. It happens.

Pinky and The Brain said...


"He served on six submarines, including command of the USS NORFOLK (SSN 714) from 1992-1995."

Anonymous said...

I find it perverse to channel Oppenheimer to justify the existence of an operation whose size and growth
can best be explained by Parkinson's Law. Remember that he had no interest in running Los Alamos long before its purpose or productivity, by any measure, had degraded to today's level.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone realized that D'Agostino was the imbecile behind the moronic LANL RFP that's directly responsible for the LANS, LLC debacle at LANL. A few years from now, the postmortem on the death of LANL as the premier scientific research center in the world will point squarely to this RFP as the genesis of the cancer that killed the lab's intellectual capital and independence from the federal bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that the contributors to the blog seem so young as not to remember the abuses and corruption that represented the lab long before Nanos. Twenty years before Nanos it still depended on the likes of Domenici for scientific funding rarher than the quality of a proposal. The Jumper isotope separation program was based on LANL plagiarism of published Russion research. The Antares laser, to give another example, was dead during its research stage for reasons that were long obvious. Instead, however, the expensive development program went on and ended with a, too typical, statement that it was both successful and terminated.
LANL has many small examples of excellent research but, as a whole, is an example of scientific pork barrel when big programs were funded without peer review and development was funded even after the science, kept secret, showed that the program would not work.
In sum, it’s clear that the quality of LANL work has not been able to decline.

Anonymous said...

9:01 AM

You have a point but nothing we have done
is as bad as NIF.

Anonymous said...


My guess is that about half the current LANL employees have come to the Lab since 1/1/00.

I tried to verify the number, but was told I could not have it without a written request for the data from my GL. Just bagged it at that point. Figured everything has become a NTK thing. (My interest was pension plan related).

Anonymous said...

I've always been more impressed by the giant LLNL magnetic mirror building (they built it and it was dead from day 1) but one cannot justify LANL's failings based on other people's programs. LLNL stole laser fusion from KMS and AVLIS from AVCO-EXXON but those were
other forms of corruption, quite different from Domenici.

Anonymous said...

"My guess is that about half the current LANL employees have come to the Lab since 1/1/00." (10:38 pm)

That figure is just about right.

Take a look at the last listing of salaries (before LANS took over) and note the hire dates. Most of the people you see in the hallways at LANL came here during the last few years (i.e., they are mostly 'newbies').

During 1998-2002 we added some TSMs but during the last five years our new hires have overwhelming been in the support divisions.

Most of the huge ramp-up in new support jobs happened under Nanos.

Anonymous said...

NIF, porkbarrel science, etc.

No one in the wider world cares whether the science works. They care about having a weapons lab ready to build weapons. The rest of the science is to keep the labs on warm standby.

The wider world does care about security lapses. That is information getting leaked to adversaries.

(I would be surprised if the wider world really cared about safety lapses. That's individuals being harmed in the course of national defense. Soldiers get hurt, defense scientists get hurt. You want to minimize it, but it is part of the job. Security is another matter.)