May 6, 2009


Final Report

The final report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States provides over 100 findings and recommendations on critical issues related to U.S. nuclear strategy. Key themes on which recommendations are focused include (1) challenges and opportunities inherent in the current security environment; (2) the roles, functions, and projection of U.S. nuclear forces, including missile defense; (3) the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile; (4) the state of the nuclear weapons complex; (5) arms control and nonproliferation; and (6) additional steps for the prevention of proliferation and the protection against nuclear use.

PDF Download the Executive Summary (0.5MB .pdf)
PDF Download the Final Report (2.9MB .pdf)


Anonymous said...

Frank, thanks.

Frank Young said...

Thank you. Now, let's see who actually reads it.

Anonymous said...

This key finding cannot be repeated enough

The intellectual infrastructure is also in serious trouble. A major
cause is the recent (and projected) decline in resources. A significant
additional factor is the excessively bureaucratic management
approach of the NNSA, which is antithetical to effective research
and development.

Anonymous said...

It's like the movie Groundhog Day. Everything in this report has already been said in several other reports many times in the last few years. Nothing is ever done about it and the identified problems only get worse. It's very disheartening to watch.

Congress will just order those involved in analyzing this fiasco to "go bring me another rock". The weapon labs will sink deeper into the abyss of neglect and even higher overhead costs. Will see more of NNSA's destructive micro-management. Lab morale will sink a little lower and the best and brightest will continue to flee a dysfunctional institution. I would love to be proved wrong in all of this but the trend is becoming set in concrete.

Anonymous said...

Chapter 6 on the Nuclear Weapons Complex is the chapter to read for those working at LANL. Look over the section titled "The Intellectual Infrastructure".

Some quotes:

"..intellectual infrastructure there is in serious trouble -- perhaps more so than the physical complex itself. It (the Commission) strongly recommends that significant steps be taken to remedy the situation." (Pg 51)

"..the best of the younger staff are seeking employment elsewhere and some of the best of the older staff are taking early retirement. Morale and, with it, the capability have declined and seem likely to drop further unless steps are taken to remedy the situation." (Pg 52)

And how about this from Page 56 (sound familiar?)...

"The second unhelpful attitude is the tendency of government to respond to problems by imposing new rules that will 'guarantee' the the problem does not recur. This is particularly noticeable in the area of security."

And of course, we hear that...

"..the NNSA has failed to meet the hopes of its founders. Indeed, it may have become part of the problem, adopting the same micromanagement and unnecessary and obtrusive oversight it was designed to eliminate."

Congress, as before, will now play the part of the three monkeys and pretend to hear, see, and speak no evil about the intellectual destruction that is clearly taking place at this nation's once great weapon labs. It will be very interesting to hear what Anastasio has to say about the contents of this report at his Thursday All-Hands meeting. Does he still believe that morale at LANL is good (as he once told Congress)? Does he have any idea what's really going on down in the trenches? Any idea at all?

Anonymous said...

I finished reading the entire report. An impartial reading contains dozens of items of interest to Los Alamos, and nearly every one of them are amazingly direct and of game-changing status.

Among these items:

Strong endorsement of the need to retain science at the lab, to expand the lab to a "national security" laboratory, and about a dozen recommendation for Congress and the administration to ensure that scientific skills are tracked and senior government cabinet secretarys are charged with ensuring that these skills are retained. Much language about providing a stable funding base and tasking DOE, DoD, DNI, and DHS with providing this support. One memorable quote regarding access to the lab's breadth of expertise: "everyone want to drink wine by the glass; no one wants to pay for the vineyard".

Strong support for CMR-R, given as the #1 priority for the weapons complex upgrades, and it makes clear that CMR-R is needed no matter what decisions are made regarding future stockpile composition or size. Similarly, amazingly strong support for RRW, given this was a bipartisian commission. The answer to the RRW critics in this report was basically, "you're confused about the program, the benefits are compelling and it doesn't necessarily meet the definition of a new nuclear weapon".

A drubbing of NNSA and their micromanagement. Some bombshell recommendations to turn all regulatory authority over to OSHA and the NRC, literally removing DOE regulations and the DNFSB from any oversight over the labs.

By any standard, this report is very good news for LANL. The question now becomes, will Congress take this report seriously and implement any of the recommendations?

Some hope for this actually, compared to other studies that just gathered dust. 1) members of this commission are exceptionally senior and bipartisian with continuing influence today over strategy and policy making; and 2) for the last year, various Congressional oversight committees have punted on NW questions, saying "waiting for the strategic posture report". Well, you've now got the report. Time to fish or cut bait.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is time to create a commission to study the relative benefits of 'fishing' or 'cutting bait.' ROTFL

Anonymous said...

Simply amazing. Here we have a report from congress (which funds the NNSA ) which focuses on every major bitch I have read on this blog. Consequently, we have the usual group of gadfly's bitching about the report. Gadfly's are never happy unless they have something to bitch about.

I see this report as a positive.

Anonymous said...

The report is positive only in its honest appraisal of the stunningly bad and rapidly worsening condition of the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories. Actions by Congress and the administration to reverse this decline would be positive.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.

Unfortunately, I gave up after reading 70 pages out of 360. I could hear the gears grinding and knew where the report was going many pages before it got to a conclusion that might have been valid in the 1970s but has not been valid for decades.

It was sad that the writers do not seem to understand the messages contained in this blog (low morale, little science, few young people coming or staying, decade long training times for new nuclear scientists, etc.)

The writers also do not seem to know that the Cold War has been over for 20 years, that the Internet has been invented,that there are undeterrable non-state actors, and that an important world and culture exist outside of the limits of Washington, D.C.

Surprisingly lacking in the report was an understanding of science, various cultures and world views, and any finance numbers at all.

Other than that, good report, slightly better than DHS's report saying that all Republicans and ex-members of the military are credible recruits to terrorism.

Anonymous said...

5/7/09 9:04 AM
Typical gadfly response. I suppose if the report suggested everything was hunky-dory you would bitch that congress was going to just let the labs wither and die. Instead, you bitch because the report supports the arguments gadfly's like you have been making on this blog. Like I sad, gadfly's need some thing to bitch about.

Anonymous said...

Based on my reading of the full report I don’t see anything new – It’s a good report but, it’s just a rehash of what we’ve seen in other recent reports.

Yes, I agree the report recognizes concerns with NNSA management failures but, there are portions of this report that make me skeptical toward any real improvement in NNSA management performance. For example:

“In considering a recommendation for making organizational changes, the Commission considered a broad set of options:

1. Strengthen the NNSA within DOE through legislation

2. Make the NNSA a Defense Agency

3. Transfer the production complex to DoD while retaining the weapons laboratories and the Nevada Test Site within the NNSA

4. Establish the NNSA as an independent agency reporting to the President through the Secretary of Energy

5. Establish the NNSA as an independent agency reporting to the President with a “Board of Directors” composed of the Secretaries”

“Option 5 is the most appealing as a reflection of the broader national mission of the laboratories. It is also the option that comes closest to the model that worked for decades: the Atomic Energy Commission. From 1946 to 1975, the AEC provided a clear reporting line: the laboratories and plants reported to the Commission and the chairman reported to the President. It was disestablished when priority was given to the energy crisis of the early 1970s. But option 5 does not appear to be politically practical at this time.”“But option 5 does not appear to be politically practical at this time.” ??? Hmmm…how convenient for the report writers. The best alternative is not “politically practical” so we’ll just pick another that appears to be the same as the current situation. Is it because the report writers are less than intellectually honest enough to define what is meant by the term “politically practical”?

NNSA today is considered to be a semi-autonomous agency that reports to the DOE secretary. If NNSA is not totally exempt from DOE policies under this new Option 4 organization how will this correct the poor management/over bureaucratic organization that exist today? As is noted in the report,

“During the first term of the Bush administration, the DOE General Counsel effectively prevented any NNSA actions exempting the NNSA from any DOE regulations, arguing any such action required DOE staff concurrence.”

IMO, Option 4 smacks of the “Do Nothing Option” – aka, leave as it is today but spin it to sound like we’re making the needed changes.

This coupled with the next fairy tale also contributes to my skepticism:

“The NNSA’s problems will not vanish simply by implementing a new reporting structure.”

“Those NNSA employees who transfer to the revised organization should be selected, in part, based on their understanding and acceptance of the need to reduce Federal micromanagement and on their commitment to the distinction between the government’s duty to determine what is to be done and contractor responsibility to decide how to do it.”

Pardon me but that’s just total BS. NNSA employees will be there in full force with their new old culture.

When it comes time to pass out Performance $$$ for PBIs, the Contractor will not only let the Feds tell them “What” to do but, also the “How” to do it, just like it’s done today. That’s how the Contractor maximizes his $$$. After all, that’s what he’s in business for.

Nice report? Yes, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing.

And for the record, I'm not a LANL employee and for those of you posting about "gadfly's need something to bitch about", I'm sure the Report writers expect and welcome both positive and critical comments of their opinions.

Apparently you Obama folks are just too thin skinned.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say gadflies, not gadfly's. It comes from an over reliance on spell check routines. You get the point though.

Anonymous said...

5/7/09 5:01 PM

I think you are dead wrong regarding the notion that Congress will not act on this report. They, along with the administration, have an ethical and moral responsibility plus, above all, a strong political motivation to pay attention to and act on this report.

Change is in the wind. Thank God.

Anonymous said...

"Change is in the wind. Thank God." - 6:49 PM

Geeze, give me some of that spiked Kool-Aid you're drinking. You haven't been around LANL for very long, have you, 6:49 PM?

Nothing will change and LANL will continue to go downhill. The trend over the last few years is clear and unwavering.

Congress will continue to neglect the damage that is being done and both LANS and NNSA will give out cheery metrics that tell Congress they are "Getting the job done", as Tom D'Ag is found of saying. If that job involves destroying what's left of the scientific integrity of the weapon labs, then it's Mission Accomplished.

This latest report will be ignored just like all the others that have been issued of late all saying the same things (i.e., NNSA is horribly dysfunctional, the best and brightest are fleeing, costs are way too high, risk aversion and bad policies are killing off the labs, etc.).

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting to read over the names of the “Expert Working Groups members”, especially those listed as Consultants.

If you do a little research you’ll find a list of the companies for whom they do consulting work.

But, I guess there’s not a lot of difference in a “Consultant” or “Lobbyist”.

Oh, and I’m sure they’ve had no influence on this distinguished Report Panel.

Move along folks, there's nothing here to see.