Statement on the FY 2013 President’s Budget Request before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

Congressional Testimony
Mar 6, 2012

Chairman Frelinghuysen, Ranking Member Visclosky, good morning and thank you for having me here to discuss the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request.  Your ongoing support for the men and women of NNSA and the work they do, and your bi-partisan leadership on some of the most challenging national security issues of our time, has helped keep the American people safe, helped protect our allies, and enhanced global security.

Earlier this month, President Obama released his budget for FY13.  As you know, due in part to the constraints established by the Budget Control Act, this is a time of fiscal austerity.  I want to assure you that NNSA is being thoughtful, pragmatic, and efficient in how we achieve the President’s nuclear security objectives and shape the future of nuclear security.  We have continuously improved the way we operate, and we are committed to doing our part in this constrained budget environment.

ACHIEVING THE PRESIDENT’S NUCLEAR SECURITY OBJECTIVES, SHAPING THE FUTURE

In April 2009 in Prague, President Obama shared his vision for a world without nuclear weapons, free from the threat of nuclear terrorism, and united in our approach toward shared nuclear security goals. The President’s FY13 request for NNSA is $11.5 billion, an increase of $536 million, or 4.9%, over the FY12 appropriation.  The request reaffirms the national commitment to his vision, applying world-class science that addresses our nation’s greatest nuclear security challenges and building NNSA’s 21st century nuclear security enterprise through key investments in our people and infrastructure, including the revitalization of our existing facilities.

We are doing this in a number of key ways.  We are continuing our critical work to maintain the nation’s nuclear stockpile, and ensuring that, as long as nuclear weapons exist, the stockpile is safe, secure, and effective.  The FY13 budget provides $7.58 billion for our Weapons Activities account, an increase of 5% over FY12, to implement the President’s strategy in coordination with our partners at the Department of Defense. 

The President continues to support our Life Extension Programs including funding for B61-12 activities in response to the Nuclear Weapons Council’s (NWC) anticipated approval and entry into Phase 6.3 Development Engineering.  He has also requested increased funding for our Stockpile Systems to support the W78 and W88 life extension study, which I discussed with you last year. 

The President’s budget also reflects his commitment to completing key dismantlements, with $51.3 million requested in FY13 to continue reducing the number of legacy nuclear weapons retired from the stockpile.  NNSA has previously committed to completing the dismantlement of all warheads retired as of FY09 by FY22, and we continue to be on a path to do that.  In fact, in FY11, NNSA completed the dismantlement of the last B53 nuclear bomb, one of the largest ever built, ahead of schedule and under budget.  We also eliminated the last components of the W70 warhead which was originally in the U.S. Army’s arsenal. 

Our request for investments in the science, technology, and engineering that support NNSA’s missions will ensure that our national security laboratories continue to lead the world in advanced scientific capabilities.  $150.6 million is requested for our engineering campaign, which reflects the need for validation-related testing and surety options required for current and future refurbishments; $350.1 million is requested for our science campaign, expanding and refining our experiments and capabilities, which coupled to simulation, improves our confidence in and broadens the national security application of our predictive capabilities; and $460 million is requested for our inertial confinement fusion and high yield campaign, to operate NNSA’s suite of world-leading high energy density facilities -- National Ignition Facility (NIF), Omega, and Z -- to support stockpile stewardship in a safe and secure manner. 

The Advanced Simulation and Computing campaign’s request of $600 million is required for the continued improvement of full system calculations and metric suites that are essential to annual assessments and also to future stockpile changes.  Our capabilities directly impact our stockpile by generating incredibly sophisticated models against which we can validate our nuclear weapons codes.   Not only has supercomputing helped us solve some existing questions such as energy balance, it also allows us to plan for issues that impact the future health of our deterrent: aging, component lifetimes, and new models for abnormal and hostile environment certification.  Supercomputing is critical for LEPs and stockpile modernization:  the implementation of various concepts such as reuse and enhanced multipoint safety are only possible with the power of ASC platforms. 

For over a decade, NNSA has been building the science, technology, and engineering tools and capabilities needed to take care of the stockpile.  We are now entering a time when we will fully utilize these analytical tools and capabilities towards the mission of maintaining a safe, secure, and effective stockpile and performing the necessary life extension work.  These capabilities also provide the critical base for nonproliferation and counter-terrorism work, allowing us to apply our investments to the full scope of our mission.      

To support our stockpile and to continue producing the world-class capabilities we need to modernize our Cold War-era facilities and maintain the Nation’s expertise in uranium processing and plutonium research.  This budget includes $2.24 billion to maintain our infrastructure, and execute our construction projects. 

The President also requests support for infrastructure improvements necessary to maintain the stockpile well into the future.  Major efforts include extending the life of enduring facilities needed for Directed Stockpile Work (DSW) and ST&E program requirements, construction of the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12, and construction of the TRU Waste Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Funding will also provide for the start of construction of the Electrical Infrastructure Upgrades project at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and continued construction activities for various projects at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, the Y-12 National Security Complex, and Pantex. The budget request also includes the resources we need to ensure a comprehensive physical and cyber security posture that provides strong security to support NNSA missions -- protecting our nuclear materials, facilities, and information.

However, our nuclear deterrent is only one part of NNSA’s mission.  Our nonproliferation programs perform an equally critical function.  One of our most important missions has been to support the Administration’s commitment to secure the most vulnerable nuclear material across the globe in four years. Our accomplishments in securing plutonium and highly enriched uranium around the world have made it significantly more difficult to acquire and traffic the materials required to make an improvised nuclear device, and I am proud to say that we are on track to meet our goals to remove or dispose of 4,353 kilograms of highly enriched uranium and plutonium in foreign countries, and equip approximately 229 buildings containing weapons-usable material with state-of-the-art security upgrades.  

The Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation budget request provides the $2.46 billion to continue these and other critical nonproliferation and nuclear security efforts.  Our continued focus on innovative and ambitious nonproliferation and nuclear security efforts is vital.  The threat is not gone, and the consequences of nuclear terrorism and state proliferation would be devastating.  Detonation of a nuclear device anywhere in the world would lead to significant loss of life, and overwhelming economic, political, and psychological consequences.  We must remain committed to reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism and state-based proliferation.

But there is no silver bullet solution, which is why we will continue to implement a multi-layered strategy to strengthen the security of nuclear material around the world by removing or eliminating it when we can; consolidating and securing it if elimination is not an option; reducing the civilian use of highly enriched uranium particularly for research and medical isotope productions where low enriched uranium options exist of can be developed; and maintaining our commitment to detecting and deterring nuclear smuggling.  Many of you are familiar with the significant contributions NNSA’s Second Line of Defense program has made to the worldwide effort to combat nuclear trafficking.  In light of the constrained budget environment that we find ourselves in, NNSA has initiated a strategic review of the program to evaluate what combinations of capabilities and programs make the most effective contribution to national security.   

We will continue to research and develop tools and technologies to detect the proliferation of nuclear materials as well as nuclear detonations.  We will provide technical support and leadership to our interagency colleagues during the negotiation and implementation of arms control treaties, as we did with NEW START.  We will expand on our ongoing efforts to strengthen the capabilities of our foreign partners to implement international nonproliferation and nuclear security norms, and support the critically important work of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  We will continue to play a supporting role in the negotiation of Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreements  (so-called 123 Agreements), which are so crucial for achieving our nuclear nonproliferation and trade objectives. 

The President’s FY13 budget request also keeps focus on our commitment to eliminate U.S. excess weapons materials and supports the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and Waste Solidification Building at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.  The $569.5 million committed to the MOX and related activities this year will lead to the permanent elimination of enough plutonium for at least 8,500 nuclear weapons, which will be matched by similar commitments by the Russian Federation.  We have eliminated the line item for a Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility for the MOX program, opting instead for a preferred alternative approach to producing feedstock that is much less costly by utilizing existing facilities at the Savannah River Site and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In addition, the FY13 budget request gives us the resources we need to maintain our one-of-a-kind emergency response capabilities, which allow us to respond to a nuclear or radiological incidents anywhere in the world.  In FY11, we were able to assist the US military, military families, and the Japanese people by deploying our unique emergency response assets in the aftermath of devastating tsunami that affected the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.  

In response to the President’s concern regarding the threat of nuclear terrorism, which is also a key goal within the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, we have established a new organization that is now the focal point for all counterterrorism and counter proliferation activities within NNSA.  This organization, the Office of Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation, not only provides unique technical contributions based on NNSA’s core nuclear science and technology expertise, but also is designed to coordinate all nuclear counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and post-detonation nuclear forensics related efforts without drastic restructuring.

In addition, NNSA’s Naval Reactors program directly supports all aspects of the U.S. Navy's nuclear fleet, which encompasses the Navy’s submarines and aircraft carriers, over 40 percent of the U.S. Navy’s major combatants.  Currently, the nuclear fleet is composed of 54 attack submarines, 14 ballistic missile submarines, 4 guided missile submarines, and 11 aircraft carriers.  Over 8,300 nuclear-trained Navy personnel safely operate the propulsion plants on these ships all over the world, and their consistent forward presence protects our national interests.   Our $1.1 billion FY13 request will support the refueling overhaul for the S8G Land-Based Prototype reactor, the design of the OHIO Replacement reactor plant, and recapitalization of our naval spent nuclear fuel infrastructure. 

Each of the projects is critical to fulfillment of the Navy’s longer term needs.  The S8G Land-Based Prototype Refueling Overhaul reactor plant has served Naval Reactors’ needs for research, development, and training since 1978, and the reactor provides a cost-effective testing platform for new technologies and components before they are introduced.  To continue vital research capabilities, as well as train sufficient operators to man the Fleet, the S8G Land-Based Prototype Refueling Overhaul must begin in 2018.  The OHIO Replacement reactor plant design continues and the FY13 requested amount supports continuing this work to meet the Navy’s revised schedule and procurement of reactor plant components in 2019 (to support a 2021 lead-ship procurement).  We need to recapitalize its naval spent fuel infrastructure in a cost-effective way that does not impede the refueling of active ships and their return to operations. The existing facility is more than 50 years old, and was never designed for its current primary mission of packaging naval spent nuclear fuel for permanent dry storage.

And finally, $411 million is requested for NNSA’s Office of the Administrator account. This funds federal personnel and provides for resources necessary to plan, manage, and oversee the operation of NNSA missions which strengthen U.S. security. 

DOING OUR PART

We are committed to being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.  We have taken steps to ensure that we are building a capabilities-based enterprise focused on needs and solutions.  We view this constrained budget environment as an additional incentive to ask ourselves how we can re-think the way we are operating, how we can innovate, and how we can get better. 

For example, in close consultation with our national laboratories and national security sites, we are adjusting our plutonium strategy by deferring for at least five years construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) project at Los Alamos National Laboratory and focusing instead on how we can meet our plutonium needs on an interim basis by using the capabilities and expertise found at existing facilities.  Utilizing existing facilities will allow us to meet anticipated near term requirements for plutonium operations while focusing on other key modernization projects.   Deferring CMRR-NF will have an estimated cost avoidance from 2013 to 2017 that totals approximately $1.8 billion, which will help offset the costs of other priorities such as Weapons Lifetime Extension programs and other infrastructure needs. 

We have also updated our strategy to stop the spread of dangerous nuclear material as we meet the President’s four-year lockdown goal.  We have developed an innovative approach to scientist engagement tailored for an age when knowledge spreads effortlessly through Google, Facebook, and Twitter.  

We are not resting on old ideas to solve tomorrow’s problems – we’re shaping the future of nuclear security, and we’re doing it in a fiscally responsible way.  However, I want to stress that as we make adjustments and look toward the future, our plans are based on the FY13 budget request, which give us the resources we need to carry out our mission.  Budget uncertainty adds cost and complexity to how we achieve our goals.  You have been supportive of our efforts in the past, I ask again for your help in providing the stability we need to do our jobs efficiently and effectively.  

CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVING

I would like to acknowledge that I have come before you in the past and talked at length about how NNSA has been working to change the way we do business.  I am proud of the work the men and women of our NNSA have done to come together and operate as one.  We are defining ourselves as a fully integrated enterprise that operates efficiently, is organized to succeed, that performs our work seamlessly, and speaks with one voice. 

We are improving everywhere, from our governance model to our network infrastructure, from our contracting processes to leadership and development programs.  We are improving business processes by implementing the ISO 9001 standard, looking toward the future through a workforce analysis, and improving efficiency through consolidated contracts.

We are continuously improving so we are able to do the work the American people need us to do, in a time when everyone is looking to do more with less. We are positioning ourselves for the next decade by making big decisions focused on the future. 

For example, after more than two years of analysis and outside reviews, we released an RFP for the combined management of the Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex Plant, with an option for phase-in of Tritium Operations performed at the Savannah River Site.  Combining contracts and site offices will allow us to improve performance, reduce the cost of work, and operate as an integrated enterprise.  We also decided to compete the contract for management and operation of Sandia National Laboratories, a move designed to find meaningful improvement in performance and reduce cost for taxpayers.

We have taken other significant steps to continue improving, from top-to-bottom.  We created an Acquisition and Project Management organization to help institutionalize our commitment to improving the way we do business.  This move will improve the quality of our work while keeping our projects on time and on budget.   

We awarded a Blanket Purchasing Agreement for Enterprise Construction Management Services.  The BPA will standardize our approach to project management across the enterprise and provide subject matter experts to provide independent analysis and advice related to the design and construction of facilities.

And, importantly, we have institutionalized a culture of safety.  Through a unique series of Biennial Reviews, including reviews at Headquarters, we have improved nuclear safety across our Nuclear Security Enterprise.  We have provided objective, value-added information to managers that ensure our nuclear safety oversight is consistent and effective.  Since the reviews began in 2005, we have seen continuous improvement at every site.  

We are also improving the way we work with our partners across the Department of Energy.  In my role as Undersecretary of Energy for Nuclear Security, I have made better coordination with DOE’s Office of Environmental Management and Office of Legacy Management key priorities. 

For example, by partnering with the Office of Environmental Management, we have been able to share investments in our current infrastructure at the Savannah River Site.  Using H-Canyon to eliminate surplus weapons-grade plutonium is a cost-effective approach for producing plutonium oxide for the MOX Facility that utilizes current resources and capabilities, and saves jobs.  We are also taking care to make good use of past investments.  For example, 40 grams of curium worth $8.8 million that was no longer needed for stockpile stewardship was transferred from the Los Alamos National Laboratory to the Idaho and Oak Ridge National Laboratories for use in energy R&D and for production of new isotopes.

We are also working with the Office of Legacy Management to benchmark long-term surveillance and maintenance costs.  Large closed sites with on-going groundwater issues, such as Fernald, Rocky Flats, Weldon Spring, Tuba City, and Mound, may have post-closure requirements similar to some of the Savannah River facilities, so we are learning from each other by comparing scope and cost to refine our estimates.

CONCLUSION

Our mission is vital, and your past support has been key in helping us accomplish it.  The FY13 budget reflects our commitment to keeping the American people safe while continuously improving and doing our part in a time of fiscal austerity.  We are looking toward the future and building an organization that is aligned to succeed.  I look forward to working with each of you to help us do that.  Thank you. 

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