Opening Statement by NNSA Administrator D’Agostino FY2012 Budget Hearing Testimony Senate Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, Senate Appropriations Committee

Congressional Testimony
May 4, 2011

Madame Chairwoman, Ranking Member Alexander, thank you for the opportunity to address this committee today.  But more importantly, thank you for your continued support of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the 35,000 men and women working across our enterprise to keep our country safe, protect our allies, and enhance global security.  We could not do this work without strong, bipartisan support and engaged leadership from the Congress.

As I come before you today, the capabilities NNSA offers the nation – and indeed the world – are on display in real time.  Just last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Nevada to visit our Remote Sensing Laboratory. For seven weeks, the talented and dedicated men and women at RSL have been working with their colleagues from across the enterprise to support the response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.  They have been providing critical information to our interagency colleagues, and to our partners in Japan.

Of course, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan during this very difficult time. But I was honored to have the opportunity to personally thank our team for their outstanding work. 

Our ability to respond to this crisis is the latest example of the vital and diverse role we play in implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda, and of the need to invest in the future of our enterprise.  This budget request seeks the funds required to make those investments.  

As I see it, this budget request can be broken down into three key themes.

First, we are investing in the future. President Obama has requested $7.6 billion for our Weapons Activities account to support our efforts to leverage the best science and technology in the world to maintain our nuclear deterrent.  This will enable us to enhance our surveillance of the stockpile, continue to design the modern facilities we need to maintain the nation’s expertise in uranium processing and plutonium research, and proceed with key life extension programs.

A critical part of that is the life extension program for the W78 warhead.  Consistent with the policies outlined in the President’s Nuclear Posture Review, we have submitted a request to this Committee and the House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee to begin studying the requirements for the W78 LEP, including options for interoperability of the nuclear explosive package with the Navy’s W88 warhead.   I strongly encourage this committee to approve that request as soon as possible. 

Investing in a modern enterprise is critical to our stockpile stewardship program, but it also supports the full range of NNSA’s nuclear security missions, which brings me to the second key theme in this budget request: we are implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda.

As President Obama said in his speech in Prague in April 2009, the threat of a terrorist acquiring and using a nuclear weapons is the most immediate and extreme threat we face.  

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and keeping dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists is a vital national security priority.  To address that threat, we are requesting $2.5 billion in 2012 and more than $14.2 billion over the next five years for our nuclear nonproliferation programs.  This will provide the resources required to meet commitments secured during the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit. 

To power the nuclear Navy, President Obama has requested $1.1 billion for NNSA’s naval reactors program.  This will allow us to continue the design work on the propulsion unit for the OHIO-class replacement submarine in order to meet the Navy’s required procurement date of 2019.   It includes critical investments in a modern and sustainable spent nuclear fuel infrastructure at the naval reactors site at Idaho National Laboratory.   Finally, it seeks the resources to refuel the land-based prototype reactor in Upstate New York.

Madame Chairwoman, I realize that this committee has many competing requirements, and that this request comes at a time of acute financial stress for our entire country.  While I believe nothing is more important than ensuring our nation’s security, It is my responsibility to assure you that we can manage these increased resources wisely. 

That brings me to the third key theme outlined in this budget request, and that is our commitment to Improving the way we do business and manage our resources. 

For us, improving our project management is a part of implementing achieving our mission and implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda. To better ensure we bring these major projects to completion on time and on budget, we will ensure that we have qualified project managers leading our major projects. We will set cost and schedule baselines on construction projects when design work is 90 percent complete, and we will subject those estimates to rigorous independent reviews. 

We are partnering with our M&O partners to streamline our governance model to devote more resources to mission work while maximizing safety and security at sites.

We are making sure we have the right contracting strategy in place.

We are continuing to find innovative ways to save money across the enterprise.  For example, since 2007, our Supply Chain Management Center has used new technologies and pooled purchasing power to drive efficiencies across our sites.  The result has been more than $213 million in auditable cost savings.

All of this is part of our effort to create “One NNSA,” a true partnership between all of our programs and all of our partners to fulfill our common mission.

Taken together, these steps will ensure we have a modern, 21st century nuclear security enterprise that is safer, more secure, more efficient, and organized to succeed. 

That is the vision outlined in this budget request.  It supports the full range of NNSA missions. More importantly, it represents a critical investment in the infrastructure, the people, and the science, technology and engineering required to fulfill our missions. I look forward to working with the members of this Committee to help make that vision a reality.  With that I would be happy to take any questions you have.