Excerpted from the conclusion of Hecker's testimony before the 30 April 2008 Senate Committee on Appropriations, Energy and Water Subcommittee hearing. The video quality is poor, but it appears that Senator Domenici was shocked to hear Hecker say this.
When we went the direction of contractorization we made a grievous error pushing the laboratories in a direction that simply isn't right for this country and we've suffered from that. The whole environment at these laboratories has changed.
Secondly, over the last... I would say now sixteen years, the regulatory environment at these laboratories ha become so risk averse that we essentially can't get work done anymore. In 1965 I came to Los Alamos as a young student because it was the best place to go work. Unfortunately, these laboratories today are not the best places to go work anymore. And we need to make them such. And just more money doesn't do the trick. We have to change the working environment to allow people to get their work done. These places nowadays look more like prisons than they do like university campuses or something in between, which is what we tried to make them. Attract the best, protect the most important. We've lost a sense of all that. That's one of the reasons why these laboratories are suffering today.
Mr. Chairman, when you say the system is broken, it's broken in many different ways and we should fix it, I agree.