Mar 17, 2009

Hearing: Nuclear Weapons Complex

03/17/09
Hearing: Nuclear Weapons Complex
1:00 PM, 2359 Rayburn WEBCAST
Thomas D'Agostino, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration
Richard Garwin, IBM Labs, Former Chairman, State Department Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board
Philip Coyle, Former Associate Director, Livermore Laboratory
Everet Beckner, Former Deputy Administrator, Defense Programs, National Nuclear Security Administration
A.G. Eggenberger, Chairman, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gates readies big cuts in weapons - Boston Globe, Mar 17th

WASHINGTON - As the Bush administration was drawing to a close, Robert M. Gates, whose two years as defense secretary had been devoted to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, felt compelled to warn his successor of a crisis closer to home.

The United States "cannot expect to eliminate national security risks through higher defense budgets, to do everything and buy everything," Gates said. The next defense secretary, he warned, would have to eliminate some costly hardware and invest in new tools for fighting insurgents.

...More cuts are planned for later this year after a review that could lead to reductions in programs such as aircraft carriers and nuclear arms, the officials said.


www.boston.com/news/nation/washington
/articles/2009/03/17/
gates_readies_big_cuts_in_weapons/

Anonymous said...

| 17.03.2009 | 17:00 UTC
Russia announces plans to overhaul military

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has unveiled ambitious plans to modernise his country's armed forces, including its nuclear weapons. Speaking at an annual defence ministry meeting, Medvedev said a modern military was the best guarantee for the country's security. He pointed to NATO plans to expand the alliance eastward as well as Russia's brief war with Georgia last year as grounds for concern. Revenues from energy exports have allowed Russia to expand defence spending greatly in recent years. Medvedev told defence officials that the financial crisis would not force cuts in weapons orders. The modernisation programme is to begin in 2011.

Anonymous said...

So RRW will be back very soon after Russia's aggressive plan. Mr. Obama will find his Russia counterpart is not simple and naive.

Anonymous said...

After watching the hearing & reading the testimony I was under whelmed.

A comment by one of the Subcommittee members summed it all up for me:

$6.5 billion for weatherization but we're squeezing the Nuclear Weapons Budget?

Anonymous said...

Don´t forget the delaying of the next tanker aircraft, and canceling of the next generation bomber (NGB), previously reported by CQ Politics, the Weekly Standard, DefenseTech, and Theodore´s World, as well as, "Gates Backs Obama Proposal, Rejects Additional $57 Billion in FY-10," (Inside The Pentagon, March 12, 2009 - Vol. 25, No 10.), the weak support of nukes within The White House ("Obama Pledges ´Cold War´Weapons Cuts and More Pay," (DoDBuzz)), and his arbitrary number of "Concerns on Proposed Reductions of U.S. Nuclear Stockpile to 1,000 Weapons" (Heritage Foundation, by Baker Spring, WebMemo #2274, February 5, 2009, http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/wm2274.cfm), the Congress´further delay of the RRW, as well as the aggressive asking for that US should ratify the CTBT (=never in the future should US do an underground test, not for RRW, et cetera), but nothing of this previously mentioned cuts of US forces will gain US national security, it will be a plan for steady American decline, and the adversaries will be moving forward, and Russia and China has already started to move again.

Anonymous said...

They've been squeezing the nuclear weapons budget for at least 16 years...not just through budget cuts, but mountains of suffocating bureaucracy and for-profit management that sweeps their award fees off the top of the shrinking budgets.

The result: people who have the know-how to understand and manage the stockpile, train the next generation, and, for example, perform competent materials control and accountability, are released so their (former) salary can be used to pay the six figure salaries and bonuses, and the award fees, of the new profiteering contractors.

And Congress was *surprised* at what this cost them. Stupid.

Anonymous said...

3/17/09 3:34 PM

I think you are simple and naive. The Russians are using this opportunity to threaten increased weapons spending as a bargaining chip ( they are scared to death of the soon to be fielded anti-missile system in Europe). If I were the Russians I would do the same thing. You don't understand global politics.

Anonymous said...

3/17/09 6:19 PM
You are don't know what you are talking about. Your ignorance is embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Over $180 billion was given out to AIG with few questions asked to help "protect our financial system". AIG took this cash and used it to pay off huge executive bonuses and sent the majority of it to their counter party greed heads over at Goldman Sachs and some big European banks!

Meanwhile, cut backs are planned for the defense institutions which help defend this country.

Priceless!

It makes you wonder... who is really running this government, and for what purpose?

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with 3/17/09 7:48 PM. I never thought I'd see the day when the money used to fund people to ensure the U.S. nuclear stockpile is viable is instead being used the buy brand new black TT Audies (you know who you are Anastasio) and other luxuries (flight benefits) at the U.S. taxpayers expense. The greed and arrogance that is "coming out" at AIG is alive and well at LANS.

Incidentally, can anyone tell me why D'Agostino is still in-charge of NNSA and why Gates is still the SECDEF? Without the removal of these guys it looks like business as usual (no leadership) at the DOE Forrestal and DoD Pentagon. These mega-swamps need to be "drained".

Anonymous said...

2:09 AM

Two points, the plural of audi is audis.

Second, an audi TT is a secretaries car. It is not some big fancy sports car like is often implied on the blog. Somewhere just above a miata or a mini. So let mikey drive the TT in piece, and look for a real sports car to complain about.

Anonymous said...

When will people learn that it isn't the size that matters, ..... it's what you do with it that counts.
Speaking, of course, of the nuclear weapons complex...

Anonymous said...

D'Agostino is still in an "acting" capacity only.

Anonymous said...

There's a couple of noteworthy comments made by Everet Beckner in his testimony:

5. NNSA should re-examine and reduce the fee-structure for its Management and Operating (M&O) contracts, while simultaneously reducing the federal oversight...DOE and NNSA management and the congress have continued to insist upon endless inspections and oversight activities by the federal government.

9. The present semi-autonomous relationship (within DOE) directed by the Congress when NNSA was formed has created more problems than it has solved.

From my perspective, after reading the various testimony-the RRW is a dead issue.

Anonymous said...

"Russia announces plans to overhaul military"

That's an empty threat and we all know it. Because NATO keeps kicking sand in Russia's face Russia is responding in kind. But do they really have the means go beyond the rhetoric? Not likely. Russia is basically bankrupt, and we're nearly there as well. So of course we're going to use the heated rhetoric between two old toothless cold war advesaries to keep the money flowing to Los Alamos. Why not? It's worked before. Should would again.

Anonymous said...

Will reducing the fee structure work?

A. Without reducing micromanaging by DOE why would anyone bid on the M&O contract?

B. While the fee structure is high by traditional lab M&O standards, it is very low by managing or income standards. Even grocery stores, very low profit margin businesses, get higher returns on time and money than a potential M&O contractor would get for running a lab. Credible contractors would go elsewhere.

C. If the fee structure is lowered and the micromanaging persists, best estimate is that there will be no bidders on running the Lab. Essentially,there was only one this time.

So, what happens if the managment contract goes out to bid and no one bids.

Remember, a Lockheed Martin VP was quoted in the news as saying, 'We will only bid on managing another national lab when hell freezes over, the devil fields a hockey team and the team wins the Stanley Cup.'

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

3/17/09 9:00 PM

It is you that don't understand the global politics. To Russia (and also China), anti-missile system is symbolic and just a piece of toy. The number and quality of nuclear weapons are the keys for national security. If Obama really stops funding for new nuclear weapons while Russia and China not, then Obama is another Jimmy Cater.

Anonymous said...

Once the uproar over the AIG bonus payments slows down, how about if Congress looks at the greed going on at the Lab, including the "double-dippers" who didn't even hiccup from being a UC employee one day to being LANS the next. How can NNSA justify the government expense of relocation costs, "ROSS" agreements, which is just another way to steal money from the government by loading their overhead costs on the contract, and the expense of all the "D" students who don't contribute to the mission. All we see are a bunch of Bechtel employees who are just collecting their paycheck and their bonuses and we don't see any results. Have there been any new, improved, innovative, etc. processes except for the no-slip hoodies for the shoes? How different is Bechtel's greed and legal thievery any different than the individuals who are making headlines? How can NNSA justify Bechtel's contract bonuses when nothing of importance is being produced? As someone stated, it is still a scientific lab, not a construction lab.

Anonymous said...

3/18/09 11:11 AM

Ok, if I don't understand then can you tell me why Bush failed to get RRW implemented even when he had both houses of congress in his pocket. This should be good! Ready...GO!

Anonymous said...

3/18/09 10:50 AM writes - While the fee structure is high by traditional lab M&O standards, it is very low by managing or income standards. Even grocery stores, very low profit margin businesses, get higher returns on time and money than a potential M&O contractor would get for running a lab.
-----------

You must be a LANS manager to have come up with such an ignorant argument. It's the return on assets invested (ROAI), profit divided by investment, that's the deciding factor, not the profit margin. The idea is that capital investments can earn profit elsewhere and if the ROAI isn't high enough it would be better to commit that capital to something else.

Grocery store chains have capital invested in buildings, warehouses, trucks, distribution networks etc., their ROAI is small but still high enough to stay in business. What does LANS have invested? Nothing. Zero. Nada. They have no capital invested, none whatsoever. DOE provides the buildings, the facilities, everything. DOE even pays the LANS manager's salaries. LANS justs skims off the top. What's LANS' ROAI? INFINITE!

You might argue that LANS has intellectual capital invested. So what's LANS' ROAI, counting intellectual capital? Still INFINITE. You figure it out.

Anonymous said...

From this blog, it looks like the place is boiling over! I have one suggestion for fixing up what is wrong with LANL. You must figure out what it takes to succeed in open competition for research/development monies. The Domenici years leave behind an institution that never had to compete. Your bosses don't understand the competitive process and don't help with real proposals that are subject to peer revue before and after the monies are rewarded. Take a look at the programs that were "successful". Do they get recognition or even acceptance from the rest of the scientific world? Take a carefull look, for example, at the programs that brought Paul Weber to prominence.

Anonymous said...

"You must be a LANS manager to have come up with such an ignorant argument." - 7:06 PM

I agree with you 7:06 PM. From talk about what a good deal the LANS "small" profit fee is for NNSA to the talk of how Mikey's sweet little LANS supplied Audi TT is really just a poor man's car... the Bechtel boys and their good friends up in the LANS executive suite are hitting this blog hard of late in their defense.

As usually, their arguments are: (a) extremely lame, and (b) very transparent.

Good try, Mikey, but it won't work.

Anonymous said...

10:47 am: "Russia is basically bankrupt, and we're nearly there as well. So of course we're going to use the heated rhetoric between two old toothless cold war advesaries to keep the money flowing to Los Alamos."

Wishful thinking. Look at it this way. Russia is willing and able to threaten us to a higher degree than we are willing and able to threaten them. Doesn't that scare you? "Bankruptcy" isn't relevant to either nation. Make up another argument to hate LANl - this dog won't fight.

Anonymous said...

3/18/09 10:50 AM

From LANL: The Real Story, Wednesday, June 22, 2005:

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Robinson Wants to Rejuvenate LANL

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

If he were director, C. Paul Robinson would seek to rejuvenate Los Alamos National Laboratory´s research programs, reconnecting them to advances in science and technology across the nation.

The head of the Lockheed Martin and University of Texas team vying for the future management of LANL, Robinson said the team is more than halfway through developing its proposal to manage the lab in a more streamlined and efficient way.

"We have a plan and we´ve analyzed what the most serious problems are and how we´d go about solving them," said Robinson, the former president of Sandia National Laboratories, which is managed by Lockheed.

[...]

Asked what he perceived were the most serious problems facing LANL, including a labwide shutdown last summer that cost at least $100 million, Robinson said he believes a lack of ownership for the lab´s future topped his list.

"It is just very difficult to find people taking ownership for the future of the institution," he said. "There has not been a cohesive force trying to integrate the laboratory for some time."

Having spent the first 18 years of his career at LANL as a weapons physicist, Robinson said he understands some of the problems and concerns facing lab employees and their research.

He said that Lockheed, as manager of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, has always put national interests before its corporate concerns and would do the same at LANL.

"This is all about the national interest," Robinson said.

# posted by Doug Roberts: 6/22/2005 07:49:00 AM

(http://www.parrot-farm.net/lanl-the-real-story/2005/06/robinson-wants-to-rejuvenate-lanl.html)

(I agree in the remarks by Dr. C. Paul Robinson.)

Anonymous said...

"It is just very difficult to find people taking ownership for the future of the institution," he said. "There has not been a cohesive force trying to integrate the laboratory for some time."

from the earlier Paul Robinson quote

The current administration has stated that it will decrease weapons funding each year.
The congress sugar-daddy for LANL has retired.
Other recent conversations on this blog have shown there is no data to support that LANL is among the top science institutions in the US.
So, where are 'the people taking ownership for the future of the institution'?

Anonymous said...

They aren't going to send my bonus to Paul Robinson are they?

Mikey & the gang.

Anonymous said...

"The current administration has stated that it will decrease weapons funding each year."

Ok, but try to look at the bright side - "Weatherization"!

Anonymous said...

"Ok, if I don't understand then can you tell me why Bush failed to get RRW implemented even when he had both houses of congress in his pocket. This should be good! Ready...GO!"

I'd try to explain it to ya but, I have to get on over to CA to have my tattoos removed.

Anonymous said...

So, where are 'the people taking ownership for the future of the institution'?

Those people retired or left for academia. The only ones willing to stay are Bechtel cronies. There is little left in terms of science at the lab (i.e. LDRD produces little, if anything, for the money "scientists" receive) and Bechtel is successfully turning this place into a clean up facility.

NEW NAME: Los Alamos Clean up Facility.
We just need a slogan.

Anonymous said...

Holy Audi TT, Batman! I didn't know that a LANL secretary made enough to afford a 40K$ auto!!

Anonymous said...

"It is just very difficult to find people taking ownership for the future of the institution," he said. "There has not been a cohesive force trying to integrate the laboratory for some time." (Robinson)

How very true. Robinson made this insightful comment back in 2005. Four years have passed and this problem at LANL has only deepened and spread.

LANS upper management is making it worse, with their "us" (LANS executives) vs. "them" (the rest of the staff) attitudes. And to think they are getting paid almost $80 million per year to help snuff out what little morale is left at this lab!

Anonymous said...

Hey 3/19/09 5:47 PM, next time you trol for a spot in the lots and structures, check out all of the $50k pickup trucks!

Anonymous said...

5:47

Here are six possible slogans.

'Envisioning the future'

'Los Alamos: Where discoveries in pollution are made.'

'Where procedure trumps product.'

'Second best and third brightest.'

'LANS: After AIG, next whipping boy.'

and the ever popular

'Where's the beef.'

Choose your favorite or contribute another.

Anonymous said...

7:44 PM, you forgot, "Plutonium's a treasure, learn to measure"

Anonymous said...

Some classic and new slogans:

"Work-free Safety Zone"

"Compliance Serving Society"

"Plan of the Day: CYA!"

"LANL Science, the last 10 percent"

"LDRD: Now with half the fat!"

Anonymous said...

It's very interesting to look at the way the world has acted over the last few months, or even years. Russia has been giving off a message of strength and military growth - ranging from recent rumblings to the pre-Obama Georgia ordeal, and the activities after Putin. If I recall, there was also that unusual little Russian plane issue with Canadian airspace when Obama made his trip north. And China has been doing what China usually does. It's weird to watch those two nations posturing the way they are, and to see the way US policies are changing (e.g.: lack of support for RRW, continuing decay of n.w. stockpile support). Do these other countries see weakness and have decided to play posturing games? Is the previous commenter right about Obama being a modern day Carter?

Anonymous said...

"It's weird to watch those two nations posturing the way they are, and to see the way US policies are changing (e.g.: lack of support for RRW, continuing decay of n.w. stockpile support). Do these other countries see weakness and have decided to play posturing games? Is the previous commenter right about Obama being a modern day Carter?"

Yes, and Obama has made it clear to our adversaries that our Missile Defense program will be bargained away for a few cheap short term promises.

Anonymous said...

"Do these other countries see weakness and have decided to play posturing games? Is the previous commenter right about Obama being a modern day Carter"

I think more like Reagan who is responsible for the huge stockpile reductions.

Anonymous said...

'Where procedure trumps product.'

That one's already been adopted by Pit Manufacturing.

I vote for Compliance Serving Society. It's got that special bittersweet quality over the others, with its allusion to the Sig Hecker era (IIRC).

Anonymous said...

LANL has had problems since long before Nanos or Bechtel. We used to have our own shops. Their motto was similar to what could be posted at many of today's organizations. It was "We'll keep charging you until we do it right!"

Anonymous said...

My recollection from Shops is that posted everywhere was a sign that said, in essence, "We appreciate your business. Our work is 1)fast, 2)cheap, and 3)good. Pick two of the above."

Anonymous said...

The criticism of the LANL Shops is a bit unwarranted. Yes, there did seem to be a succession of incompetent and often asshole managers. But, the machinists and inspectors were first-rate.

Anonymous said...

I also think the shop criticism is misplaced. I've personally had hundreds of parts manufactured by both the main shop and the branch shops. The machinists in Los Alamos have always been first rate by any measure. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Scott W.

Anonymous said...

"TEHRAN, March 20 (Reuters) - Iran has shown world powers they cannot block its nuclear progress, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Friday."

But, but Non-Proliferation is working, right? ... Yes, among our allies.

Looks like Israel is on their own now.

Obama is certainly no Winston Churchill. More like a combination of Neville Chamberlain & Jimmy Carter.

Anonymous said...

What shop criticism? That was the way it was, that's why there is no "Shops." It's the same old Dominici-enabled deal that makes the whole place unproductive. The failure to deliver by the scientists and engineers at the lab was SOP because Dominici would come through with funding an idiot beam/laser scheme. Take a look at LLNL! They have ongoing programs!
They've succeeded in projects and are probably still making jokes about the LANL isotope separation or CO2-laser fusion. Both these programs were doomed in or even before the research phase but the lab went ahead and spent every cent of the much larger development budgets.
The LANL institutional memory, disabled by secrecy, allows this sort of failure to be forgotten and, of course, they reappear. Unfortunately, now, peer review is much more likely.

Anonymous said...

March 20, 2009

Obama Administration Offers $535 Million Loan Guarantee to Solyndra, Inc.
Investment Could Lead to Thousands of New Jobs

Washington, DC – Energy Secretary Steven Chu today offered a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, Inc. to support the company’s construction of a commercial-scale manufacturing plant for its proprietary cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels. The company expects to create thousands of new jobs in the U.S. while deploying its solar panels across the U.S. and around the world.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it odd that Chu just happened to make the first loan guarantee for a product that has the same technology being pushed by Alivisatos? Let's see: Chu leaves LBL, Alivisatos replaces Chu, Alivisatos pushes his pet technology, Chu dumps $500+M in that technology. Could all be innocent, or not.

Anonymous said...

President Obama made the following announcement today:

Dr. Steven E. Koonin, Nominee for Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy
Dr. Steven E. Koonin is currently Chief Scientist for BP, plc, where he is responsible for guiding the company's long-range technology strategy, particularly in alternative and renewable energy sources. Koonin joined BP in 2004 following a 29-year career at the California Institute of Technology as a Professor of Theoretical Physics, including a 9-year term as the Institute's Provost. He has served on numerous advisory bodies for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy and its various national laboratories. Koonin's research interests have included theoretical and computational physics, as well as global environmental science. He did his undergraduate work at Caltech and has a PhD from MIT.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3/21/09 9:13 AM says:

"...Take a look at LLNL! They have ongoing programs!..."

Does this person know about NIF?

Anonymous said...

"Holy Audi TT, Batman! I didn't know that a LANL secretary made enough to afford a 40K$ auto!!" (5:47 PM)

The "cheap" version of the Audio TT is only about $40 K. That's one with a small 2.0 liter four cylinder engine and a few upgrades.

Mikey would never put up with that car. Only the best will do for our LANS Director. That means an Audi TT 3.2 with a much bigger six cylinder engine and price tag approaching $50 K with basic upgrades. Leased and totally paid for by LANS LLC, of course.

The amazing thing is the number of high end sports cars that are now routinely seen around LANL. I'm talking about brand new high end Porsche Carreras that go for almost $100K.

Lots of money has clearly been flowing into executive salaries since LANS took over the lab. Too bad these executive salaries are now consider to be top secret LANS proprietary information. However, if some nice person over in HR would like to go ahead and secretly leak them, we'd all be obliged. :-)

Anonymous said...

Shit!!!
LANL is now good and truly f#ck%d with Koonin coming in.
He was a big supporter for getting a real scientist to lead STE when Terry became PAD. Back then Dominici was the lab's pork provider and people wanted to stay in his favor. Mommie stoked the fear that if Terry didnt get the PAD job then Dominici would cut back on the pork for the lab and so Koonin's buddy didnt get the offer.
Now LANL will suffer from the consequences of that selection made to gain political favor.

Anonymous said...

Where is the main stream media on this Solyndra - Alivisatos - Chu story? Every time Halliburton got a contract they claimed that Cheney was dirty, even when he had been gone for years. Now that is change you can believe in!

Anonymous said...

Why is it necessary to provied a $535 Million Loan Guarantee to Solyndra, Inc.?

Other solar photaic companies are doing just fine without loan guarantees?

Is Chu on the take like Dodd?

Anonymous said...

That was the way it was, that's why there is no "Shops."
3/21/09 9:13 AM

Errrr... what? "No shops"?

You don't work around here, do you.

Anonymous said...

The NNSA is labeled as being "dysfunctional", but US Senators say, "What the hell, let's just keep it the way it is."

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

Global Security Newswire
March 19, 2009

..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.


www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/
gsn/nw_20090319_1479.php

Anonymous said...

3/21/09 3:41 PM
You called that one right. Look out for the move to have DOE Science start reviewing STE efforts at all labs - DOE & NNSA. Anyone care to bet on how the scorecard will look for LANL? (Warning: this time points may not be added for family political connections)

Anonymous said...

3/21/09 9:03 AM

Yep. I want George Bush back... A combination of a sock puppet with der Fuhrer Cheney's hand up his ass.

Anonymous said...

6:58 pm: You're just never going to get over the whole Bush/Cheney thing, are you? So sad. You could be having an actual life...

Anonymous said...

3/24/09 8:24 PM
So what is the "whole Bush/Cheney thing"? What does it mean to you? Am I missing something?