With two years left in office, President Obama still has time to shape his legacy. Given the challenges presented by a Republican-controlled Congress, further legislative success is unlikely. But that still leaves lots of opportunities to act without Congress, as we are witnessing with climate change and immigration. There is another area where the president could enhance his legacy dramatically. It is also an issue to which President Obama has a deep personal commitment, where the authority is in his hands, and where he could direct changes that would make every American safer. Read More
December 15th, 2014
August 11th, 2014
As has happened far too often in recent years, the appropriations process in Congress is a shambles. There is no chance that any of the thirteen annual bills that fund the U.S. government will be signed into law by the end of the fiscal year on September 30th. Instead, there will be a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government at the same level as the current fiscal year. The only question is how long a time period the CR will cover.
Among the many reasons that this is unfortunate are the sound decisions on nuclear weapons programs that populate the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development appropriations act and its accompanying report, including well-considered funding levels, that may never become law. Read More
March 24th, 2014
On March 26, the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to have a hearing to receive words of wisdom from a Congressionally-mandated “Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” which is government-speak for trying to fix the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Read More
February 28th, 2014
With the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations bill finally passed in January, and a new budget proposal for FY15 coming up next week, now is a good time to take a look at where the FY14 chips have fallen, and what the approaching budget cycle may hold for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Our previous post covered weapons programs, while this installment will look at the agency’s funding for nonproliferation programs.
February 27th, 2014
On January 16th, two weeks after the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2014 began, Congress passed the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act that will fund government operations through September 30, 2014. That action finally freed the government from a series of short-term funding measures and, it is hoped, will pave the way for a more normal budget process for FY 2015. This massive bill lumps together all eleven annual appropriations bills to cover funding for every federal agency, including the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). With the administration scheduled to put out its budget proposal for FY 2015 next week, we can now see where the FY 2014 chips have fallen, and get some idea of what the future may hold. Read More
February 19th, 2014
In January of 2013, the Air Force announced that it was conducting a “ground-based strategic deterrent analysis of alternatives,” which is military-speak for looking at options to replace the current silo-based, long-range Minuteman III missiles, which are armed with one to three nuclear warheads and deployed across the central plains of the United States. Read More
November 18th, 2013
Congressional Response to the NNSA’s Budget: Part 2
The second in a two-part series on the nuclear weapons budget. Click here for Part 1.
The Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel project at the Savannah River site—part of an agreement with Russia to dispose of excess plutonium extracted from dismantled nuclear weapons—saw a significant drop in funding in the NNSA’s FY14 budget request. The $503 million request for fissile materials disposition, of which MOX is a part, was down $219 million, about 30 percent, from FY13. Within this, funding for construction of a MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) dropped from $438 million to $320 million. The NNSA says this is because it wants to slow the MOX program while the administration conducts an assessment of alternative plutonium disposition strategies. We understand that the assessment has been completed and is in the hands of DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, but it is unclear if they will announce the results soon or wait until the release of the FY15 budget before they reveal any conclusions.
The program is certainly ripe for reevaluation. Read More
October 18th, 2013
The U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories have a program that allows their scientists and other researchers to conduct independent research and development (R&D) on subjects unrelated to the primary missions of the labs. This program—the Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program—allows the labs to set aside up to 8% of their budgets each year for such R&D. Grants are awarded competitively, and funded by overhead charged by each laboratory to both its DOE and non-DOE sponsors. Read More
October 17th, 2013
Today we released our report Making Smart Security Choices, which takes a broad look at the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and assesses what is going well and what needs improving, what there is too much and too little of, and how to make its work consistent with the U.S. commitment to further reducing its arsenal.
In part, the report looks at current plans for building new facilities and argues for cancelling or postponing some of them. Read More
October 3rd, 2013
Back in the spring, we posted our analysis of the NNSA’s FY 2014 budget request, which sought to reduce funding for nonproliferation programs while increasing funding for nuclear weapons activities. Since then, much has happened, but not much has been finalized. While the House has passed both authorizing and appropriations bills, the Senate still has not passed either, and with the ongoing battles over government shutdowns and debt ceilings, it doesn’t look like an agreed budget bill will happen any time soon. Read More