Testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Water

Congressional Testimony
Mar 4, 2010
Administrator Thomas D"Agostino

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you Mr. Chairman.  I am Tom D"Agostino, the Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security, and the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration.  I am pleased to appear today to discuss the Department of Energy’s FY 2011 Budget Request for the NNSA.  I am accompanied by Admiral Kirkland Donald, the Deputy Administrator for Naval Reactors, and General Garrett Harencak, my Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application.

Mr. Chairman, under your leadership, the Committee has been a proponent of NNSA’s programs and initiatives, and I thank you for this support.  The Committee’s backing will become even more critical as we seek to move our programs forward to address the essential components of the President’s nuclear security agenda.

Last year when I appeared before you, the focus of my testimony was the continuing transformation of an outdated, Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st Century Nuclear Security Enterprise, and our initial efforts in implementing the President’s announcements on securing the most vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide. 

Since that time, we have defined a portfolio of programs to meet the President’s emerging nuclear security agenda.  Our FY 2011 Budget Request for these programs is $11.2 billion, an increase of more than 13% from last year.  In developing this portfolio, Secretary Chu and I worked closely with Secretary Gates to ensure that we remain focused on meeting the DoD’s requirements. 

Within our overall funding request, Weapons Activities increases nearly 10% to a level of $7 billion, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation increases nearly 26% to a level of $2.7 billion, and Naval Reactors increases more than 13% to a level of $1.1 billion. 

Our request can be summarized in four components that, collectively, ensure we implement the President’s overall nuclear security agenda, as outlined in his April 2009 Prague speech and re-enforced during his State of the Union address.   

First, our request describes NNSA’s crucial role in implementing the President’s nuclear security vision and his call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.  The $2.7 billion request for our nonproliferation programs includes key programs related to the Presidents’ agenda, including:
• Nearly $560 million for GTRI to secure all vulnerable nuclear material as part of a comprehensive approach to deny terrorists access to nuclear and radiological materials at civilian sites worldwide;
• Over $1 billion for our Fissile Materials Disposition program to permanently eliminate 68 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium and more than 200 metric tons of surplus highly enriched uranium; and,
• Over $350 million for the Nonproliferation and Verification R&D programs to provide technical support for the President’s arms control and nonproliferation agenda, including a new capability at our Nevada site to fully integrate treaty verification and arms control experiments.

The second component is our investment in the tools and capabilities required to effectively Manage the Nuclear Weapons Stockpile.  Based on a preliminary analysis of the draft Nuclear Posture Review, we concluded that maintaining the safety, security and effectiveness of the enduring nuclear deterrent requires increased investments to strengthen an aging physical infrastructure and sustain a depleting technical human capital base across our Enterprise. Our request includes more than $7 billion to:
• Ensure the capabilities required to complete ongoing weapons systems Life Extension Programs;
• Strengthen the Science, Technology, and Engineering base; and,
• Reinvest in the scientists, technicians, and engineers who perform the mission.

These activities are consistent with NNSA’s stockpile stewardship and management responsibilities as outlined in the FY 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.
 
Vice President Biden recently noted the need to invest in a modern, sustainable infrastructure that supports the full range of NNSA’s missions – not just Stockpile Stewardship.  He stated that “This investment is not only consistent with our nonproliferation agenda; it is essential to it.”

And, there is an emerging, bipartisan consensus that now is the time to make these investments to provide the foundation for future U.S. security.  A key example of that consensus was reflected in a January Wall Street Journal article by Senator Sam Nunn, and Secretaries George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, and William Perry.

That leads me to the third component, our investment in Recapitalizing our Nuclear Infrastructure and Deterrent Capability into a 21st century Nuclear Security Enterprise.  As the Vice President said last month, “some of the facilities we use to handle uranium and plutonium date back to the days when the world’s great powers were led by Truman, Churchill, and Stalin.  The signs of age and decay are becoming more apparent every day.” 

Our request includes specific funds to continue the design of the Uranium Processing Facility at our Y-12 facility and the construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility at Los Alamos.

With respect to the Naval Reactors’ infrastructure request, Admiral Donald will discuss later the content of the Naval Reactor request, including the DoD decision to address the sea-based strategic deterrent -- particularly the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines -- and the impacts on reactor plant development, manufacturing technologies, and the need to refuel the land-based prototype reactor.

Mr. Chairman, investing now in a modern, sustainable Nuclear Security Enterprise is the right thing to do; the investment will support the full range of nuclear security missions to ensure future U.S. security.  The range of missions include stockpile stewardship, nonproliferation and disarmament, arms control and treaty verification, counterterrorism and emergency response, nuclear forensics, and Naval nuclear propulsion.

Finally, the fourth component – one that ties all our mission efforts together -- is our commitment to aggressive Management Reforms across the NNSA.  With the increased resources you provide us comes our increased responsibility to be effective stewards of the taxpayer’s money and to ensure the NNSA is an efficient and cost effective enterprise.  We take this responsibility very seriously.
 
Take, for example, the costs associated with our physical security posture.  As you are well aware, each year, the costs of these efforts have risen significantly.  We initiated a Zero-Based Security Review to implement greater efficiencies and to drive down costs while sustaining security capabilities.  We recently concluded a review at our Nevada site and identified potential savings.  Reviews at other sites will begin soon.

Next, our Supply Chain Management Center has already saved taxpayers more than $130 million, largely through “eSourcing” and “Strategic Sourcing.”

And, you may be aware that our Kansas City Plant recently won a Malcolm Baldrige Award for their innovations and performance excellence.  We are working to implement that “Kansas City” model of best business practices across the Nuclear Security Enterprise. 

Finally, we emphasize performance and financial accountability at all levels of our operations.  In 2009, our programs met or exceeded 95% of their performance objectives.  And, over the past two years, NNSA successfully executed consecutive, large funding increases in several nonproliferation programs while reducing the percentage of carryover, uncosted, uncommitted balances.  Importantly for the Committee’s consideration, we have the people and processes in place to initiate immediately the increased mission work included in this budget request. 

Mr. Chairman, we will ensure that our stockpile, our infrastructure, and our missions, are melded into a comprehensive, forward-looking strategy that protects America and its allies.  The investments in nuclear security are now providing the tools to tackle a broad array of nuclear security challenges.  Now, we must continue to cultivate the talents of our people to use those tools effectively, because, people are the key to our success. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I would ask your permission to allow Admiral Donald to give his remarks, and then we will be pleased to respond to your questions.

Read the full written testimony.