Mar 22, 2009

Dear Mister President,
Please don't fix anything. Things aren't as bad as they look. Oh, and don't ask anything about bonuses.
--Anonymous

Senators Call for Keeping U.S. Nuclear-Weapon Research Under Civilian Control

Global Security Newswire
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Key U.S. senators have asked the Obama administration to cancel its planned review of whether to transfer control of nuclear-weapon laboratories to Defense Department (see GSN, Feb. 6).

The Office of Management and Budget ordered the study earlier this year, reflecting continued frustration with security and management lapses at the nation's nuclear centers at Los Alamos, N.M., Sandia, N.M., and Livermore, Calif. (see GSN, Feb. 27). U.S. nuclear-weapon research is conducted by the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration and has been under civilian control since the beginning of the atomic era.

In a letter to OMB Director Peter Orszag released yesterday, the top Democrats and Republicans from the Senate's Energy Department funding committees said the NNSA-Energy Department relationship "is in many ways dysfunctional," but nevertheless asked Orszag to hold off on the review.

"We would like to express our firm opposition to the transfer of the NNSA to the Department of Defense," says the letter by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), top committee Republican Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), that committee's senior Republican Robert Bennett (Utah), and Armed Services Strategic Subcommittee Chairman Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

The letter argues that civilian control over nuclear research offers the best results.

"Nonmilitary control over the development of nuclear weapons technology has ensured independence of technical judgment over issues associated with our nuclear arsenal, has attracted the best scientific and technical talent to these important programs, and has served to underline the crucial differences between nuclear weapons and conventional military munitions," the letter says.

Furthermore, "civilian control is the cornerstone that has enhanced the ability of U.S. funded and staffed programs to negotiate access to and trust of other nuclear nations," the letter says, citing U.S. efforts to secure nuclear sites in the former Soviet Union (Greg Webb, Global Security Newswire, March 19).

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was for change before I was against it.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with the "Key U.S. senators".

If we move our Labs to the DOD they'll miss out entirely on the "Weatherization" program and at a time when there's a growing Weatherization Gap with the Russians.

Anonymous said...

"Nonmilitary control over the development of nuclear weapons technology ... has attracted the best scientific and technical talent to these important programs, ...”

I have some breaking news for the Senators on the Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, you have already killed our ability to recruit good talent. You destroyed the appeal of the labs when you 1) privatized the labs, 2) micromanaged our work, 3) elevated compliance over product, 3) decimated our budgets, and 4) made us a work free safety zone to name a few. I wish these Senators were concerned about the recruiting the best and brightest prior to implementing the destructive policies highlighted above. It is also worth noting that one of the fundamental tenets behind stopping nuclear testing is the ability to attract the “best and the brightest”.

Anonymous said...

Observations of the Lab for-profit competition and outcome demonstrate that Senators and Congress members are not all that concerned about killing the Labs ability to function.

What they're worried about is losing plum committee authority over the Labs they have suffocated to other committees that oversee the DOD.

Less authority in DC means less power, less control, less horse trading, and fewer opportunities to be treated to nice trips by lobbyists and potential bidders on Lab contracts.

It also really reduces the number of places a retiring or deposed official can go to be a 'senior fellow' or 'special consultant' for a nice 6-figure salary.

For example, ask George Schultz about his work for Bechtel on the Board of Directors and as a 'consultant.'

Anonymous said...

If you had any notions that the current situation might have a limited chance to improve or that a highly dysfunctional NNSA might be done away with, forget about it.

This article tells you what the Congressional power brokers want and they want more of the same. LANL is headed down a one way street of scientific decline and lower staff morale.

Get out if you can, or try to find some means to mentally protect yourself from this clusterf*ck if you can't.

Anonymous said...

With Chu already in and Koonin on the way in, here is a nomination for the new LANL theme song:

"Bad Moon Rising"

Other suggestions welcomed.

Anonymous said...

Other suggestions welcomed. (12:29 PM)

"Take This Job and Shove It"
(Johnny Paycheck)

Anonymous said...

So all that concern from these same Congressman about a badly broken NNSA is just going to be ignored? We'll just continue down the road with a status quo that's destroying what's left of science at our US weapons labs?

Amazing! I guess the only thing left is to wait until budget cuts and resulting layoffs in the next few years finish off what is left at the NNSA labs.

It's a good thing that SNL has around half of their work outside of the NNSA's domain. At least they'll be equiped to handle the future nuclear weapon budget cuts much better than either LANL or LLNL.

Anonymous said...

With Chu already in and Koonin on the way in, here is a nomination for the new LANL theme song:

"Bad Moon Rising"

Other suggestions welcomed.
3/22/09 12:29 PM

Get Your Tongue Outta My Mouth ‘Cause I’m Kissing You Goodbye
>

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing that SNL has around half of their work outside of the NNSA's domain. At least they'll be equiped to handle the future nuclear weapon budget cuts much better than either LANL or LLNL.

3/22/09 2:20 PM


Here's the support for this claim:

http://www.sandia.gov/about/faq/

Also wouldn't discount the importance of leadership in this area that is viewed as being technically competent by funding organizations.

Anonymous said...

Geez, give it a break already, 5:01. We know that SNL has diversified their funding more than LANL ever will.

You do not seem to realize that LANS doesn't care if LANL becomes diversified or not -- the LANS award fee is not based on diversifying and bringing in WFO.

On top of that, NNSA doesn't want LANL doing anything other than NNSA work.

What you see at LANL is what you get.

Anonymous said...

They let you dream
Just to watch 'em shatter
You're just a step
On the boss-man's ladder
But you got dreams
He'll never take away
You're in the same boat
With a lotta your friends
Waitin' for the day your ship'll come in
'N' the tide's gonna turn
And it's all gonna roll your way

Anonymous said...

LANL is dying and the idiots in congress are fighting over the soon to be corpse!

Anonymous said...

LANL is dying and the idiots in congress are fighting over the soon to be corpse!

3/23/09 6:53 AM


To be more exact, the science at LANL is quickly dieing and the best scientists are all fleeing the "lab" (and I use that term very loosely!).

The cleanup and plant work is going stronger than ever. And pork for local politicos through efforts like the TSAY Corporation are feeding lots of juicy pork to the locals like never before. Bechtel and BWXT are also doing very well at the "lab".

What's a NM politician not to like about all the stuff that is happening at LANL? Once you understand this setup from the politician's point of view, you realize that nothing is going to change regarding LANL's "decline".

Your mileage, however, may vary, depending on where you stand in the destruction process. If possible, grab, kick, and steal your way to the top of the LANL management ladder and take your piece of the pork while it is still around. Ye-Hawwww!!!!

Anonymous said...

10:29 am: "Your mileage, however, may vary,...."

Careful, 10:29 am, your continual use of that phrase on this blog has tagged you as having a discoverable identity. Try to not be so identifiable by your personality, or you may find yourelf identified in public here.

Frank Young said...

I'm guessing Pliny the Elder.

Anonymous said...

Just imagine what LANL and LLNL will look like with a few more years of mismanagement under the profit hungry Bechtel LLCs and a badly broken NNSA.

It's almost to frightening to contemplate!

Anonymous said...

It will look like Rocky Flats. A park with no economy, a few rusting buildings, and lots of bunnies and coyotes. Maybe a few bean and squash farmers.

Oh, and Bambi.

Anonymous said...

Who cares whether DoE or DoD neglects strategic deterrence?

Anonymous said...

Well for one thing, there is no one to "strategically deter" against. Tactically, maybe.