Sep 12, 2007

NNSA reforms nuke security contracting

[What if all the RFI respondents suggested the abolition of NNSA as the most effective way of improving the DOE complex's contracting structure: would NNSA listen?

Rhetorical question.

--Gussie]

UPI International

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration said Monday it wants to upgrade its contracting structure and policies.

The NNSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, said in a statement that it had "announced that it has released a request for information -- RFI -- on ways to improve its current contracting structure for the nuclear weapons complex, particularly at its production plants."

The NNSA said it had placed the RFI on the Federal Business Opportunities’ Web site, www.fedbizopps.gov. The agency said it was "seeking input and comments from the contracting community and other interested parties."

"Currently, NNSA oversees each of its eight nuclear weapons complex sites through eight different, separate management and operating contracts," the agency said.

The NNSA said it was "evaluating alternatives to this current contracting model and is seeking to identify a contract arrangement -- especially at its Kansas City Plant, Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex Plant, all of whose contracts expire in 2010 -- that will help to improve performance, reduce cost and stimulate interest and competition within the contracting community."

The agency said that responses to its RFI "could include, but are not limited to, consolidation of management and operating contracts, use of other types of contracts on a single or multiple facility basis, use of function-based contracts (e.g. construction, information technology) applicable to two or more sites, and transfer of work scope from one or more current contracts to other existing or new contracts."

The NNSA said its nuclear weapons complex was currently based at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California; Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and California; Pantex Plant in Texas; Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee; Kansas City Plant in Missouri; Nevada Test Site in Nevada; and Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which has only tritium operations.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Upgrade? When you're basically the worst in class, almost anything you do that's different will be an "upgrade.". If you really want to upgrade, get rid of those management holdouts from the old UC regiem. Now you're talking significant improvement, not just an upgrade.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine someone will suggest NNSA break out pit production at LANL for bid in 2010 along with the other facilities mentioned.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

I think 12:03 has hit it on the head. From the DOE web site:

"The objective is to create a much more responsive and affordable NWC. Strategies could include consolidation of two or more M&O contracts, transfer of discrete work scope from one M&O contract to another, and breakout of functions for special focus from existing M&O contracts into new NNSA non-M&O prime contract(s)."

One can easily see that NNSA is positioning themselves to conduct a variety of "cost savings" actions. For example,

1) Move all non Pu production work from LANL and move it to SNL, ORNL, SRL, and LLNL.

2) Create a new M&O contract specifically for pit production work at LANL.

--Gussie

Anonymous said...

If you get rid of the old UC guard, make sure you hang on to Mr. Marquez. How else are you going to keep the female employees on their toes?

Eric said...

The complex 2030 plan can be read straightforwardly as redoing the location of all DOE weapons assets just as Gussie said. No local workforces were listed as being immune to this system wide rearrangement. So, LANL could become 'pits only.'

As to contractors wanting to get rid of NNSA, various members of congress are already proposing this and have been proposing this for years. I would guess that contractors are proposing it as well.

Anonymous said...

The comments so far make sense. But let's look at this from NNSA's perspective:

1. The NNSA has come under severe criticism this past year; they probably view themselves, rightly so, as being in survival mode.
2. Their singular goal (aside from surviving) is to run the NWC. That's Nuclear Weapons Complex. They don't care about any "proud scientific heritage" that might be claimed by LANL or any other facility in their sandbox. They want to try to make themselves look good now by figuring out how to run the NWC cheaper, because if they do that, Congress might just let them continue to exist a little longer. Just the mere act of putting out the RFI might make some members of Congress less inclined to call for their disbanding.

The risk to NNSA in this apparent attempt to make their NWC operate more cost effectively is that everybody recognizes that at present, the single largest impediment to efficiency within the NWC is the NNSA itself. As someone stated in an earlier post on this blog, NNSA is not a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE, it is a semi-accountable agency within the DOE. The various M&O contractors of the NWC know this better than anyone.

Back to the real world now, you can bet that none of the responders to the RFI will be telling NNSA to ask Congress to abolish the NNSA. The contractors (you all know who they are) will be looking for angles to take advantage of this garage sale to get lucrative bits and pieces of the complex for themselves. Pit production, for example. You can rest assured of one thing, however: with NNSA still in the loop the cost benefits of any restructuring will be a near zero sum game. Some NWC sites stand to gain work, and therefore budget (SNL, LLNL), others (You Know Who) stand to lose. But with the NNSA still planted squarely in the middle of the operation it will never run efficiently.

Anonymous said...

Laying off 2,500 LANL staff is a good start at dismantling the place. I see the plan all starting to come together.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the end is near for non-nuclear weapons related science research and WFO at the two NNSA physics labs (Los Alamos and Livermore)... NNSA clearly doesn't care about basic science work, it only cares about nuclear weapons and keeping its DOD customers happy... Congress should move both Los Alamos and Livermore Labs under the DOE Office of Science before NNSA completely destroys them.

Anonymous said...

I'm think NNSA's desire for an "affordable NWC" will eventual result in more cuts to worker benefits at some point down the road. I take it as a given that retiree medical will be done away with in the next 3 or 4 years. Vacation and sick leave accruals will also be reduced. When DOE thinks the time is ripe, they'll freeze the TCP1 pension. The freeze on TCP1 will probably take place sometime in the next 8 years.

With the close-out of the pension, reduction in benefits, and unstable job security, you are going to see more and more TSM staff at LANL and LLNL who only work there for a few years and then move on to another job, much like what you see in most of industry. The days of the 30 year TSM employee are almost over.

As far as the LANL work load, a lot of the Weapons Program research is going to be shifted over to LLNL. Their recent win of the RRW should be taken as a signal. LANL will take on Pit Factory responsbilities and the work at LANL will have a much stronger production flavor to it from that point onward. The basic science and foreign nation component of LANL's work is going to dissapear over the next decade. LANL will make limited attempts to diversify the lab but LANS heart is clearly not in it so they won't succeed. Unforunately, FTE costs will move even higher as more support and management is added in an attempt by LANS to help "manage" LANL.

Anonymous said...

Who gives a shit anymore? The whole god damn complex is screwed up thanks to the dolts in DOE and NNSA. Just a bunch of plain assholes.

Anonymous said...

Yeah sure. Break out pit production at LANL into a separate facility.
We could call it Y13, or something.

Anonymous said...

3:51, sounds better than MaRIE.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said..."If you get rid of the old UC guard, make sure you hang on to Mr. Marquez. How else are you going to keep the female employees on their toes?" 9/12/07 12:20 PM

Who says Marquez's girls are on their toes?!

Anonymous said...

"What if all the RFI respondents suggested the abolition of NNSA as the most effective way of improving the DOE complex's contracting structure: would NNSA listen?"

Wishful Thinking..............

Started looking for other private sector opportunities today. There are way too many assholes running the asylum.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the layoffs at LANL are going to occur just as the US enters into a recession. This will make it especially difficult to find replacement jobs for some who get laid off next year. The economic data will probably show we started to enter either a recession or near-recession during the last quarter of this year.

Tough times are going to be seen all around the US during most of 2008. It would be nice if things started to turn around in both the economy and at LANL by 2009. One can hope.

Anonymous said...

NNSA should be abolished, but it really won't solve some of the core issues. The same bozos will make the same poor decisions (or indecisions) wearing a DOE T shirt instead of an NNSA one.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps DOE/NNSA wants just one M&O like LANS/BWXT/etc.
for the entire Weapons Complex. We're not far from it now.

This might allow DOE/NNSA to move mission work/resources more freely and the Contractor would become the 10 ton unconquerable gorilla :)

Anonymous said...

Shorter RFI: Halliburton, pay attention!