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House FY 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill: NNSA

Richard M. Jones
Number 74 - June 20, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill approved last week by the House Appropriations Committee provides funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency of the Department of Energy.   NNSA was established in 2000.

As previously noted, total proposed funding in the FY 2012 appropriations bill is down 3.3 percent or more than $1 billion from this year.  The $30.6 billion bill is approximately 19 percent less than that requested by the Obama Administration.

There are many pages of language in the committee report regarding Atomic Energy Defense Activities that accompany the committee’s bill.  This language can be found starting on page 120.

In the introductory section of the report, the committee provides its perspective on National Defense Programs:

“The origins of the Department of Energy are in the Manhattan Project and the development of the first atomic bomb, and the Committee considers the Department’s national defense programs, run by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), to be its core mandate. Although having the funding for nuclear weapons and naval reactors in the Department of Energy instead of the Department of Defense has been, at times, complicated, the Committee supports the clear civilian control of these most destructive of capabilities that this arrangement affords.

“The Committee recommendation is strongly supportive of the President’s proposals to selectively increase investments in the national defense accounts: Weapons Activities, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. Our nation’s defense rests on a strong nuclear deterrent, and as our stockpile ages, investments needed to keep these weapons reliable, safe, and secure will likely grow. At the same time, the Committee supports the Administration’s efforts to prohibit the spread of fissile materials overseas.  Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States government has made great strides in limiting the potential spread of fissile materials, but much more is left to be done. Finally, our country’s strategic triad depends on our ballistic missile submarines, which are supported through the Naval Reactors account.

“Each of these accounts is critical to our nation’s defense. However, taxpayer funding will continue to be limited, and it is incumbent upon the experts at the National Nuclear Security Administration to give their best guidance and feedback to their partners at the Department of Defense, Department of State, and other countries regarding the most cost-effective opportunities to meet these defense imperatives.

The committee proposes the following funding levels, with percentage and dollars changes as compared to current year funding.

National Nuclear Security Administration

The FY 2011 appropriation was $10,522.5 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $11,712.6 million
The House Appropriations Committee recommends $10,599.0 million, an increase of 0.7 percent or $76.5 million.

The report language includes recommendations and requirements regarding an early warhead life extension activities report, financial management, pensions, a report on the status of the contractor workforce, the reduction of the NNSA physical plant’s footprint, nuclear weapons transportation, the supply of Helium-3, and contracting reform.

Within the NNSA’s budget are the following accounts:

Weapons Activities

The FY 2011 appropriation was $6,896.4 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $7,589.4 million
The House Appropriations Committee recommends $7,091.7 million, an increase of 2.8 percent or $195.3 million.

The committee report states:

“The request for Weapons Activities is the second year of large increases requested in order to pursue the Administration’s strategy set forth in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to maintain an aging stockpile through full scope life extension activities, to modernize the infrastructure and restore capabilities, and to address the immediate maintenance and production requirements of the stockpile. Despite the economic crisis, the modernization of the nuclear security infrastructure remains a major Committee priority and, therefore, the recommendation provides a three percent increase over the fiscal year 2011 level, and an 11 percent increase over pre-NPR levels.

“While this level provides the increases necessary to stay on track with the Administration’s infrastructure modernization and stockpile initiatives detailed in the NPR, the Committee also has a commitment to ensure that all taxpayer funds are used responsibly and that only the most cost-effective opportunities are being pursued to meet defense imperatives. The two major infrastructure projects planned may now cost as much as $12 billion to construct. The full costs of refurbishing warheads remain unclear. Even without modernization, the base costs of operating and maintaining the nuclear security enterprise continue to escalate, with pension costs alone estimated to rise 90 percent.

“Therefore, the Committee recommendation also upholds the Committee’s commitment to reduce waste and make government more efficient by recouping savings in security activities that are available due to completed projects and efficiency investments, by eliminating unnecessary activities that only provide marginal benefit, and by reducing overhead accounts that are driving an escalation in the base operating costs of the weapons enterprise.”

There are many programs within Weapons Activities.  Two of them are:

Directed Stockpile Work

The FY 2011 appropriation was $1,885.4 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $1,963.6 million
The House Appropriations Committee recommends $1,909.8 million, an increase of 1.3 percent or $24.4 million.

Campaigns

The FY 2011 appropriation was $1,690.6 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $1,796.7 million
The House Appropriations Committee recommends $1,605.9 million, a decrease of 5.0 percent or $84.7 million.

In the introductory section, the appropriators state:

“The Committee commends the NNSA for its outstanding Stockpile Stewardship program and its considerable progress in furthering the science needed to maintain an aging nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing. Stockpile Stewardship has produced a more rigorous scientific understanding of nuclear weapons phenomena than was ever understood when the stockpile relied primarily on nuclear testing for certification.”

Under Campaigns is the following language on the Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaign.

“The Committee recommendation provides $471,174,000 for the Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaign, $6,427,000 below fiscal year 2011 and $5,100,000 below the budget request. Within these funds, $62,500,000 shall be for the Laboratory for Laser Energetics as requested. The recommendation includes $4,000,000 for the Joint Program in High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas, the same as fiscal year 2011 and $5,100,000 below the budget request.  The Committee continues to support the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and urges the NNSA to maintain its schedule towards achieving fusion ignition. The Committee recommendation includes the full request to pursue ignition at NIF and to perform supporting weapons-related experiments on its pulsed power facilities.  The Committee notes that NIF is already contributing to stockpile stewardship through experiments which ensure the aging nuclear weapons stockpile continues to be safe, secure and effective without nuclear testing.”

Another major account within the NNSA is

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation

The FY 2011 appropriation was $2,273.7 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $2,519.5 million
The House Appropriations Committee recommends $2,056.8 million, a decrease of 9.5 percent or $216.9 million.

The report explains:

“The recommendation fully supports the Administration’s four year goal to secure vulnerable nuclear material worldwide as an urgent national security need and priority of the Committee. These activities involve working cooperatively with countries around the world to secure at the source, remove to a more secure location, or return to the United States or Russia at-risk nuclear materials at research reactors, nuclear facilities, and other sites. The overall level recommended for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation includes a reduction from the requested amount for the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Project, transfers the costs of legacy contractor employee pensions to Weapons Activities and recoups savings in lower priority activities that seek to incrementally lower threat levels over a longer period of time.”

Another major NNSA account is:

Naval Reactors

The FY 2011 appropriation was $959.2 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $1,153.7 million
The House Appropriations Committee recommends $1,030.6 million, an increase of 7.4 percent or $71.4 million.

Also:

Office of the Administrator

The FY 2011 appropriation was $393.3 million
The FY 2012 Administration request was $450.1 million
The House Appropriations Committee recommends $420.0 million, an increase of 6.8 percent or $26.7 million.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095