John A. Gordon Before the Subcommittee on Military Procurement

Congressional Testimony
Jun 12, 2002

Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) weapons work and the budget needed to ensure that we can meet our commitment to provide the Nation with a safe, secure and reliable stockpile. The Committee's strong support for the President's budget is greatly appreciated by the men and women across the complex. They are producing the thousands of parts, designing the experiments, and analyzing the data needed to sustain America’s nuclear deterrent. Equally important, it sends a clear signal to our allies and adversaries alike that the United States is committed to a robust national defense. I would like to begin my testimony here today by setting a policy framework and discussing the issues and accomplishments of the NNSA.

Transforming the National Security Strategy

President Bush is transforming U.S. national security strategy to meet the threats of the 21st century. The NNSA was intimately involved in the formulation of the Administration strategy through active participation in the Strategic and Nuclear Posture Reviews. This ensured that the choices, plans, and requirements being developed were within the realm of the technical and production capabilities of the NNSA. It also increased the awareness of our issues and technical capabilities within the Administration’s national security senior management team.

We responded swiftly and comprehensively to the terrorist events of September 11th, protecting our valuable national security assets and employees, and offering our unique capabilities to the national response. We have contributed directly to the Homeland Security needs of Governor Ridge with our technology and scientific staff. This work will extend into FY 2003 and beyond.

While the policies and priorities established by the President, the Secretary, and the Congress will determine the scope of our work over the years to come, nuclear deterrence remains the cornerstone of our national defense strategy. The NNSA will make significant contributions to the Administration’s new capabilities-based national security strategy that requires us to maintain our military advantages in key areas while developing new capabilities.

The NNSA faces major challenges during the next five-year period in responding to evolving customer requirements while maintaining and improving the health of the nation's nuclear security enterprise. The expanded focus on international terrorism following the September 11th attacks underscores the importance of maintaining and enhancing the strong research and development capability in the science and technology resident within the complex. NNSA's ability to perform its national security functions depends upon revitalizing our scientific and engineering expertise to ensure the reliability, safety, and security of the Nation's nuclear weapons. Much of the physical and intellectual infrastructure of the nuclear security enterprise was built during the era of underground nuclear testing, and has eroded to the point that we are no longer able to perform some essential tasks. It is imperative that we address these issues during the upcoming five-year period. NNSA's program and budget planning emphasizes maintaining an adequate workforce of scientific, technical and business skills, and building a diverse, multi-talented leadership. We must engage the laboratories in an advanced concepts program that can provide future Presidents with the national security tools suited to the Post Cold War strategic environment. We must be able to recruit, train, and develop highly skilled employees throughout our organizations in a highly competitive employment environment. We must implement our plans to renew the physical infrastructure to ensure adequate capability and capacity, as well as compliance with environment, safety, health and security standards.

Budget Summary

By way of summary, the NNSA FY 2003 budget supports the recommendations from the Nuclear Posture Review to assure the continued safety, security, and reliability of the stockpile without underground nuclear testing, develop a stockpile surveillance engineering base, refurbish and extend the lives of selected warheads, and maintain the science and technology base needed to support nuclear weapons. The request protects the operational readiness of the nuclear weapons stockpile through surveillance, experiments, and simulations for individual weapons and weapon systems, and investment in advanced scientific and manufacturing for the future.

The President's FY 2003 budget request for Defense Programs was developed based on two primary resource drivers. First, the strategic reviews of national security-related activities conducted this past year. The NNSA actively participated in the President's Strategic Review of deterrence and missile defense policy and was a key participant in the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which lays out the direction for this nation’s nuclear forces over the next five to ten years. These reviews reaffirmed NNSA's stockpile refurbishments and the need for a robust, responsive research and development and industrial base of which the nuclear weapons enterprise is a key element. The NNSA Laboratories are on the cutting edge of technology and have a vital national security role to play in combating terrorism. The other is the President's Management Initiatives on the human capital management and competitive sourcing initiatives which serve to focus our FY 2003 activities, particularly in the NNSA restructuring of the headquarters and field offices and in the Federal Program Direction budget. Recruitment, retention, and skill mix are critical to NNSA's success in the future and are key to our plans for re-engineering the workforce.

Stockpile Stewardship

In spite of the many challenges we are facing, the NNSA has continued to meet the core Stockpile Stewardship mission – that is, to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile to meet national security requirements. We have done this by deploying the best science and engineering technology at our disposal across the weapons complex. The ASCI supercomputers, experiments on DARHT, NOVA, and the Z facilities have done much to improve our understanding of the dynamic nature of the aging nuclear weapons stockpile. We have put in place new manufacturing processes at the production sites which have allowed NNSA to deliver, the thousands of parts needed each year to support the stockpile. We have also delivered on time, our commitment to the Air Force to deliver a refurbished W87, more than 50 percent of the warheads have already been returned to the service. As new tools come on line, the ASCI Q machine and the second arm of DARHT at Los Alamos, the CFF and NIF at Lawrence Livermore, Atlas at the Nevada Test Site and Red Storm at Sandia should give us the ability to solve the ever more complex problems of an aging stockpile.

In addition to the deployment of new tools and technologies, the implementation of Integrated Safety Management (ISM) and Integrated Safeguards and Security Management (ISSM) is improving our operations. The core of ISM is the performance of work in a manner that ensures protection of the workers, the public and the environment. All of NNSA sites have been verified through a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of the basic tenets of ISM. Across the complex we have witnessed some remarkable improvements in the conduct of operations.

  • At Pantex, BWXT has implemented a behavior-based safety program to improve overall safety at the site and to address procedural compliance discrepancies in four areas: material transfers; authorization basis implementation/compliance; packaging and transportation; place-keeping or incorrect procedures.
  • I am also pleased with BWXTs successful re-engineering of the pit repackaging process. BWXT has been able to repackage more than 200 pits per month for over a year now. This new process has also reduced radiation exposure for our workforce by 25%.
  • The National Safety Council has awarded the National Ignition Facility project with its Perfect Safety Award for operating 1,155,930 employee hours without an occupational injury or illness.

Integrated Safeguards and Security Management (ISSM). The basic tenet of ISSM is to build safeguards and security considerations into management and work practices, at all levels, so missions are accomplished securely. It is designed to involve the individuals performing work in the process of establishing appropriate safeguards and security practices. Implementation of ISSM relies on the responsibility and accountability for safeguards and security practices in the line management.

  • Y-12 management requested federal marshals to deal with the Easter protests, a first for the site. Four protesters crossed the federal boundary and were arrested on Federal Trespassing Violations. Similar violations in the past had been handled locally under city ordinances with little or no penalties levied. The YSO Manager worked with the U.S. Attorney's Office to enforce federal trespassing laws. The individuals arrested during the April demonstration are to be tried in Federal Court beginning June 18th. I view the actions of the YSO manager as a prudent and reasoned response to the threat posed by demonstrators.

Nuclear Posture Review

While there are many important points and conclusions in the NPR including the goals to reduce operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons to between 1,700 and 2,200 by calendar year 2012 and the maintenance of a "responsive force" for use as a hedge against unforeseen problems, several points are of particular relevance to the NNSA.

First, nuclear weapons, for the foreseeable future, remain a key element of U.S. national security strategy. The NPR reaffirms that NNSA’s science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program is necessary to ensure the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing. This includes surveillance of our aging weapons, weapon refurbishment, chemistry and metallurgy of materials aging, detailed understanding of weapons physics, reestablishment of warhead advanced concepts teams, and development of additional diagnostic and predictive tools for long-term stewardship. The NPR revalidated the stockpile refurbishment plan previously developed and approved by the NNSA and the Department of Defense. The committees' support for the FY 2003 budget request for Directed Stockpile Work of $1.2 billion will allows us to support life extension activities for the W80, W76, and B61 warheads, including supporting research and development and additional hydrodynamic testing for assessment and certification. Also, $2.1 billion is requested for the 16 scientific and engineering campaigns that provide the knowledge, technologies and capabilities to address current and future stockpile issues.

Second, more than any previous review, the NPR’s concept of a New Triad emphasizes the importance of a robust, responsive research and development and industrial base. This calls for a modernized nuclear weapons complex, including contingency planning for a Modern Pit Facility, which would provide the Nation with the means to respond to new, unexpected, or emerging threats in a timely manner. The FY 2003 budget request supports our industrial base through: a request of $1.7 billion for Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities, a 10 percent increase supporting the operations of weapons complex facilities. In addition, the NNSA has requested $243 million for the Facilities and Infrastructure Recapitalization program to continue this important multi-year initiative into its third year.

Third, a study examining the aspects of reducing test readiness lead time below the existing 24 to 36 month requirement for a fully diagnosed test is nearing completion. The NPR states that the lead time needs to be shortened out of prudence, not because there is a current need to test. Pending the completion of the study, the FY 2003 request includes $15 million for Enhanced Test Readiness activities at the Nevada Test Site.

It is NNSA's judgment, at this time, that a resumption of underground nuclear testing is unnecessary, because Stockpile Stewardship is working and is on track to deliver scientific tools needed for certification into the future. Since the end of underground testing (1992), the U.S. successfully certified the B61-11 and has re-certified several warheads with components that have been modified, replaced, or in some cases redesigned. A number of problems uncovered by the surveillance program have been solved without recourse to nuclear testing.

The NPR calls for increased emphasis on the reducing the time required for a nuclear test, if directed by the President at some future date. This may call for NNSA contractors to recruit and train new staff to become skilled to support fielding and performing nuclear experiments and or tests. Additionally, NNSA would acquire specific long-lead-time equipment needed for testing, such as field-test neutron generators and certain test diagnostic equipment. Another important aspect of enhancing test readiness is to revise testing procedures to make them compliant with current safety and environmental regulations. Finally, high-fidelity field exercises would be conducted to demonstrate the ability to field a nuclear test.

The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) states that the number, composition, and character of the Nation's nuclear forces ought to reflect the reality that the Cold War is over and that required deterrent capabilities may need to be different in the future. For example, current weapons in the stockpile cannot hold at risk a growing category of potential targets deeply buried in tunnel facilities, possibly containing chemical, biological, nuclear, or command and control facilities. As a result the NPR endorsed NNSA’s Advanced Concepts Initiative that could provide the Nation with options that could be considered for future production and deployment. However language has been introduced that would require NNSA to treat these modest research and development activities as line items in the budget, greatly reducing the flexibility of the labs and plants to respond. The conduct of these studies, must be done in a manner that fosters intellectual creativity. Studies tend to beget additional studies as designers investigate and better understand what kinds of nuclear weapons are technologically possible. This greater understanding of what is possible allows designers to become more creative in their approaches to defining new concepts (for new or modified nuclear weapons) that are responsive to emerging national security needs, and provides us insurance against technological surprise by new weapons development in other countries. Unless this provision is substantially modified it could have a chilling effect on research and development activities associated with maintaining the stockpile. It will also impose additional bureaucratic burdens on the federal structure that NNSA is attempting to reduce, consistent with off stated desires of the Congress and the President's ongoing management reform activities.

By direction of the Nuclear Weapons Council, and in response to an Air Force requirement, the initial focus of the Advanced Concepts Program will be the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP). The committees’ strong and continued support for RNEP and the $15.5 million in the President's budget is vital. As this committee's report points out, "RNEP is not a new design, it is not a low yield "mini nuke"... and it is not a significant departure from current stockpile weapons." The three-year RNEP Feasibility Study will assess the feasibility of modifying one of two candidate nuclear weapons (B61 or B83) currently in the stockpile to provide enhanced penetration capability into hard rock geologies and develop out-year costs for the subsequent production phases, if a decision is made by the Nuclear Weapons Council to proceed. This work complies with existing legislation, including section 3136 of the FY 1994 National Defense Authorization Act.

Finally, the NPR calls for a stable, adequately funded Future-Years Nuclear Security Program (FYNSP). The NNSA’s costs will not be reduced in the immediate future as a result of NPR, since near-term costs are driven by restoring production capabilities and revitalizing the infrastructure, not by the number of warheads in the stockpile or even the number to be refurbished. However, we do expect that cost savings from refurbishment of a smaller number of weapons will be realized beginning about FY 2010. Also, workload analysis shows that the NNSA enterprise's capacity will be stretched, approaching maximum capacity while our systems are on the process line for refurbishment, thereby limiting our ability to dismantle significant numbers of weapons over the next ten years.

A less obvious, but significant result of the NPR is the improved cooperation and coordination between the NNSA and DoD. The Nuclear Weapons Council is working, policy levels between the agencies are effective, and the DoD has offered strong support for needed programs in NNSA.

I would now like to turn to several specific programs that make up the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The continuing success of these programs will be central to our ability to continue to support and certify the stockpile in the years to come.

Stockpile Life Extension Program (LEP)

Our most important responsibility is to deliver on our commitments to our customer, the Department of Defense. The NNSA has a validated requirement from the Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC) to extend the service life of the W87, W76, W80, and B61. This requirement was revalidated by the Nuclear Posture Review. The life extension work will involve the entire weapons complex. The Kansas City Plant will manufacture the nonnuclear components; Y-12 National Security Complex will refurbish the secondaries; Savannah River Tritium Facility will supply the gas transfer systems; Sandia National Laboratory will produce the neutron generators and certify all non nuclear components. Pantex Plant will serve as the central point for all assembly and disassembly operations in support of the refurbishment work. Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore will continue to certify the nuclear package.


The life extension program on the W87 warhead was authorized by the NWC in FY 1994. The program achieved First Production Unit (FPU) in the second quarter of FY 1999. The ongoing work at Pantex enhances the structural rigidity of the warhead and is increasing the service life by 30 years. The warhead will be mated to the Minuteman III missile following deactivation of the Peacekeeper missile. The NWC accepted the refurbished W87 as a standard stockpile item in the first quarter of FY 2002. NNSA has completed work on over half of the W87 inventory and the remaining W87 stockpile will be refurbished by the first quarter of FY 2004.


The NWC approved the Block 1 refurbishment plan for the W76 in March 2000. The Block 1 refurbishment of the warhead (about one quarter of all W76 warheads) will focus on the high explosive, detonators, organic materials, cables and addition of a new Acorn gas transfer system. The Block 1 refurbishment will also add a new arming firing and fusing (AF&F) system. The FPU of Block 1 will be available by the end of FY 2007, and Block 1 production is planned for completion in FY 2012. During the Block 1 production, a decision will be made to either continue Block 1 retrofits on the entire W76 stockpile, change to a Block 2 retrofit that could include other options, or stop the retrofit altogether. The Block 2 effort, if approved by the NWC, would continue from FY 2012 to FY 2022 to refurbish the remaining W76 warheads.


The NWC approved the refurbishment of the W80 in the beginning of FY 2001. The Block 1 refurbishment of the warhead (about one third of the warheads in the stockpile) will focus on replacing the current gas transfer system with an Acorn design, new neutron generators, redesign of the warhead electrical system, addition of improved surety features and replacement of other associated components. The need to perform refurbishment work is driven by several factors including: age related effects that must be addressed to ensure the continued performance of the warhead, minimizing weapon movements between DoD and DOE, and infrastructure and capacities issues within the weapons complex. The FPU of the Block 1 design will be available in the second quarter of FY 2006, and Block 1 production is scheduled for completion in FY 2010. During the Block 1 production, a decision will be made to either continue Block 1 retrofits on the entire W80 stockpile, change to a Block 2 retrofit that could include enhanced surety options, or stop the retrofit altogether. The Block 2 effort, if approved by the NWC, would continue from FY 2011 to FY 2017 to refurbish the remaining W80 warheads.


NNSA and DoD are working to identify refurbishment options for the aging B61-7/11 Canned Subassembly (CSA) and associated cables, connectors, some limited life components, and foam components. The study effort is expected to be completed in late FY 2002. Development Engineering will begin following Nuclear Weapons Council approval in late FY 2002. This program will use systems engineering approaches, and the planned FPU of the refurbished B61- 7/11 will be in the third quarter of FY 2006. Production of these refurbished CSAs is scheduled to continue to the end of FY 2008. The plan also calls for some selective non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and screening of CSAs as a risk mitigation effort for other warheads during FY 2003 and FY 2004.

Pit Manufacturing and Certification Campaign

The reestablishment of a plutonium pit manufacturing capability, a capability that the United States has not had since the cessation of manufacturing at the Rocky Flats Plant in 1989, is a key national security challenge that the NNSA must meet. The W88 pit is a primary focus of NNSA's pit campaign because an insufficient number of W88 pits were produced to support pit surveillance activities prior to the closure of Rocky Flats.

The Pit Manufacturing and Certification Campaign is focused in the near-term on development of the manufacturing processes at Los Alamos and a certification methodology applicable to the W88 pit, with a long range goal of reestablishing the capability to manufacture all pit types within the stockpile. The program remains on track to deliver a certifiable W88 pit in FY 2003. Over the last year Headquarters and Los Alamos staffs have worked aggressively and have been able to accelerate the date for a certified pit to FY 2007.

  • Program Accomplishments in FY 2001/2002 include:
  • Accelerated the certification date for a manufactured W88 war reserve pit from FY 2009 to FY 2007.
  • Manufactured 3 development and 6 standard W88 pits in FY 2001; to qualify processes to be used for a certifiable pit.
  • Projectized W88 activities are on-track, with all major milestones for FY 2001 accomplished.
  • Reorganized W88 Pit Manufacturing and Certification Activity at Los Alamos to increase management attention and resources on the project.
  • Obtained Secretarial approval in Spring of 2002 on Mission Need for a Modern Pit Facility (MPF).

The FY 2003 budget will allow the W88 project to:

  • Manufacture additional development and standard pits and as a precursor to the first certifiable pit in FY 2003.
  • Conduct two integrated physics tests and pit engineering tests in FY 2003.
  • Establish and implement a peer process that includes at least one technical data exchange between Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in FY 2003.

While the Los Alamos facility (TA-55) for making W88 pits is adequate for the task at hand, it lacks the capacity and flexibility to manufacture pits in sufficient quantity to support the NPR requirements. Therefore, the NNSA is working on a longer term solution for a Modern Pit Facility (MPF). A project team is in place and has undertaken the required preconceptual planning work. During this phase we will carefully examine a number of issues, including technology development to ensure that the facility will meet both current and future requirements. Last month the Secretary of Energy approved Critical Decision 0 for the MPF. With this decision in hand, NNSA can start the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and conceptual design of an MPF. The NEPA process will support a record of decision on the construction, location and capacity of an MPF, as well as the steps to be taken to mitigate environmental impact. A siting decision will be made after completion of programmatic NEPA actions for the MPF.

The baseline MPF development schedule is as follows:

  • NNSA to start conceptual design and begin the NEPA process June 2002.
  • Issue Notice of Intent (NOI) in the fall of 2002 that lists sites under consideration.
  • Issue programmatic Record of Decision (ROD) in the spring of 2004 following completion of supplemental environmental impact statement process. The ROD will include a decision on host site selection.

Subcritical Experiments

The subcritical experiments, conducted at the Nevada Test Site in U1A continue to provide our scientists and engineers vital data on the performance characteristics of plutonium. Our most recent experiment, code named Vito, was successfully carried out on February 14th. Vito was the first of three subcritical experiments in FY 2002 in support of pit certification. Our next subcritical experiment, code named Oboe 9, will be conducted this month. To date, 16 subcritical experiments have been conducted at the Nevada Test Site.

Tritium Campaign

The NNSA is also proceeding with plans for producing new tritium to support the stockpile. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen which decays at a rate of about 5 percent per year. All weapons in the stockpile must have tritium to function as designed. The United States has not manufactured new tritium since 1988 and has been relying on recycled tritium from retired weapons to meet stockpile requirements. To manufacture new tritium, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will be irradiating tritium producing burnable absorber rods (TPBARS) in the Watts Bar and Sequoyah 2 reactors. Irradiation of the TPBARS remains on schedule for the fall of 2003. The rods will remain in the reactors throughout the plants’ normal 18-month operating cycles.

In order to irradiate tritium-producing rods, the TVA reactors must have approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The TVA submitted formal requests in August-September 2001 asking that the reactors’ operating licenses be amended to permit tritium production. In December 2001 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission published a Federal Register notice proposing to issue a "no significant hazards consideration determination", which means that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can issue the license amendments without first holding hearings. We expect that the Commission will issue the license amendments by this fall.

While the recent Nuclear Posture Review reduces the number of active, deployed nuclear weapons, it also requires that NNSA support a responsive reserve of warheads. This support would include maintenance of tritium inventories for the reserve. When all these factors are considered, the impact is small on the date when new tritium will be needed.

While the civil/structural portion of the Tritium Extraction Facility is well along, it is several months behind schedule. In addition, the bids on the Rest-of-Plant (installation of all the equipment) contract came in well above the baseline estimate. As a result of these and other factors, NNSA is currently reviewing and revising the cost and schedule baselines for the facility. We expect to be coming to the Congress with a reprogramming letter following the completion of these cost and schedule reviews. We have asked the Department’s Inspector General to review this program and ensure that we have taken all the necessary corrective actions to get this program back on track. We are still aiming for its completion in FY 2006.

Advanced Simulation and Computing Campaign

The Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASCI) campaign is developing the simulation capabilities, based on advanced weapon codes and high-performance computing, that incorporate high-fidelity scientific models validated against experimental results, past tests, and theory. The long term ASCI objective is to provide the validated three-dimensional, high-fidelity physics, full system simulation codes required for engineering, safety, and performance analysis of the stockpile and to develop the computing resources with sufficient power (speed, memory and storage capacity) to support stockpile analyses.

The schedule for developing three-dimensional weapons simulation capabilities is tightly integrated with the certification of the refurbished W87, W76, W80 and B61 warheads. Requirements for predictive weapons simulations determine the acquisition strategy for increased computing capability and capacity.

Program Accomplishments in FY 2001/2002 include:

  • Three dimensional simulations of key mechanical responses of a re-entry vehicle system to normal flight environments, and of the performance of a full weapons system. Being able to simulate a complete weapon system allows laboratory researchers to examine key physics issues through a combination of simulation, precision experiments, and analysis of data from past nuclear tests. These codes are playing a major role in the plans for the remanufacture of the W76 AF&F.
  • Dedication of the Strategic Computing Complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory in May 2001. This new facility, deliver 3 months ahead of schedule and $13M below budget provides new office space for some 300 scientists and engineers and the facilities to accommodate the 30-teraOPS Q supercomputer. The Q machine is now being delivered to Los Alamos. We expect to have the first portion of the machine running by this month with the full system operational by the end of the 2002.
  • A comprehensive external review of all five Alliance Level 1 Centers was completed in October 2001. Accomplishments include the development of scalable, multi-physics codes, successful advanced degree programs and graduates, as well as world-class science measured through peer-reviewed publications.

The FY 2003 budget will allow the program to:

  • Release enhanced ASCI 2-D primary design capability,
  • Demonstrate three-dimensional safety simulation of a complex, abnormal explosive-initiation scenario,
  • Demonstrate three-dimensional coupled electrical response of a weapon system in hostile (nuclear) environments.

High-Energy-Density Physics

The High Energy Density Physics Campaign advances U.S. capabilities to achieve high-energy-density physics (HEDP) conditions, including inertial confinement fusion ignition and thermonuclear burn in a laboratory setting, to support Stockpile Stewardship Program science and engineering requirements. The capability to achieve physical conditions nearing those produced during nuclear weapons detonations, including extremely high temperatures and pressures, is critical for conducting experiments to verify physics theory underlying nuclear weapons design code predictions, to validate advanced computer models being developed for stockpile stewardship, and to more accurately characterize the performance of materials exposed to a nuclear environment.

The program is carried out at the three weapons laboratories as well as the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester, and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Existing major facilities for conducting HEDP research are the OMEGA laser at LLE, and the Z pulsed-power facility at SNL, the Trident laser at LANL, and the Nike laser at NRL.

The most important new facility for the HEDP is the National Ignition Facility (NIF), under construction at LLNL. NIF will provide the capability for weapons scientists to undertake experiments to address high-energy and fusion aspects that are important to the primaries and secondaries of nuclear weapons. Several important milestones for the NIF program were met on, or ahead of, schedule, including completion of conventional construction and positioning and seismic tie down of the target chamber. The program remains on track to begin Stewardship experiments in 2004 with 8 beams, and by the time all 192 lasers beams are brought up in 2008, some 1,500 stewardship experiments will have been performed on this important, one-of-a-kind tool.

The FY 2003 budget will allow the program to:

  • Operate the NIF Optics Assembly Building
  • Demonstrate multiframe backlighting capability on Z,
  • Install the NIF target positioner in support of first light to the target chamber center and start of stewardship experiments in FY 2004
  • Utilize radiation transport experiments on Z and OMEGA for validation of specific aspects of Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASCI) radiation transport and hydrodynamics modeling,
  • Demonstrate filling of prototype NIF indirect-drive ignition capsules and quantify key characteristics.

NNSA Organization Standup

NNSA's organizational objectives are to improve effectiveness and efficiency. We approached the NNSA organization standup by implementing a two-phase plan. The first phase, essentially complete, focused on creating an integrated Headquarters organization, and defining the structural relationship between the Federal elements at Headquarters and the Field locations. The second phase, now underway focuses on realigning our field structure and improving efficiencies by eliminating overlaps in responsibilities within the Federal structure and reducing unnecessary administrative burdens placed on those performing the mission.

The recently released report summarizes our first-ever NNSA Strategic Plan, provides a detailed plan for assigning roles and responsibilities between Headquarters and field elements, and discusses our objectives for FY 2002 and beyond. We will eliminate a layer of management and oversight over the nuclear weapons complex by removing the Operations Offices from the NNSA chain of command and converting these offices to service centers that provide support services such as, procurement and human resources. Each of the eight NNSA M&O contractors will report to its respective site offices which will, in turn, report to the Administrator. This locates NNSA formal contract direction closer to the contractor, consolidates service functions, and allows staff reductions downstream.

The new conceptual model for the NNSA complex can be described in general terms as follows. The Headquarters organization will establish policy and develop program requirements. The Site Offices will ensure that these program requirements get directly transmitted to the contractor through the existing contracts. Site Offices will also have expanded programmatic roles and as well as direct contractual authority over the contractors that execute the NNSA programs. The Service Centers will support both Headquarters and Site Offices to ensure that the mission programs are successful; they will no longer have program responsibilities.

NNSA will launch a systematic re-engineering effort to reduce the number of separate offices and layers of Federal management, reduce the overall number of Federal employees, and identify and correct skills mismatches. Federal staff not performing core functions will be redeployed and retrained as necessary. We intend to use incentives to encourage higher-than-average attrition, career development, and retention of highly skilled employees to right size and reinvigorate our staff.

NNSA has instituted an Administrative Workload Reduction Initiative using comprehensive input from the laboratories and plants, with task forces identifying specific improvements and reducing administrative burdens. As a result, NNSA contractors will be given clearer and more consistent responsibilities and authorities. They will also continue to comply with all environment, safety, and health, and security policies.

When these changes are fully implemented, we will realize the goals set by Congress in establishing the NNSA. By clearly defining roles and responsibilities, we will increase accountability and reduce duplication. By reducing administrative burdens on the NNSA contractors, we will operate more effectively and efficiently.


This concludes my written testimony on the policy framework and issues that shaped the formulation of the unified NNSA budget request for FY 2003. When the Stewardship program began almost a decade ago, there were many skeptics, including some inside the program that thought stockpile certification without underground nuclear testing was simply impossible. We have proved our skeptics wrong. The advances and numerous accomplishments of the Stewardship program, some of which I have detailed in my testimony are due to the hard work, ingenuity and creativity of the thousands of men and women across the country working in the weapons complex. Without them we could not have certified the stockpile as safe, secure and reliable to the President for 6 years. The laboratories are wrapping up the 7th certification cycle. Looking to the future, the flexibility to sustain our nuclear weapons stockpile, to adapt current weapons to new missions, or to field new weapons, if required, depends on a healthy program for stockpile stewardship and peer-review-based certification as well as a robust infrastructure for nuclear weapons production. As numbers of nuclear forces are reduced, it becomes even more important to maintain high confidence in the safety and reliability of remaining forces. Achieving these goals will require a strong commitment to the recapitalization of the nuclear weapons infrastructure—one that is sufficiently modern and capable to fully support our nation's defense strategy.