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FY 2010 Senate Appropriations Bill - NNSA Weapons Activities

Richard M. Jones
Number 90 - July 10, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The Senate Appropriations Committee has sent to the Senate floor S. 1436, the FY 2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. Senate Committee Report 111-45 provides budget and policy recommendations for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons activities.

The bill makes the following funding recommendations:

Weapons Activities - Total:

The current budget is $6,410.0 million.
The Administration requested $6,384.4 million, a cut of 0.4 percent or $25.6 million.
The Senate appropriations bill recommends $6,468.3 million, an increase of 0.9 percent or $58.3 million.

Senate Committee Report 111-45 can be read here. Report language budget and policy recommendations regarding the weapons activities of the National Nuclear Security Administration follow:

“Directed Stockpile Work:

“Life Extension Programs- The Committee recommends $209,196,000 for the Life Extension Program, the same as the budget request.

“Stockpile Systems- The Committee recommends $390,300,000, the same as the request.

“Weapons Dismantlement- The Committee recommends $84,100,000, the same as the request. The funding for the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility has been moved from this program to the Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities (Construction) program.

“Stockpile Services- The Committee recommends $844,055,000. The Committee recommends an increase of $30,000,000 to support experimental activities at the Nevada Test Site needed to support subcritical experiments in the Science and Advanced Simulation and Computing Campaigns. No funding is provided to support the transition of the tritium design and gas transfer R&D mission as proposed in the Complex Transformation plan. An independent study found there was no compelling economic or programmatic justification for this move and the transfer fails to deliver any amount of budgetary savings. In fact, NNSA's preferred alternative would cost an additional $86,000,000 above the no action alternative. The NNSA has a poor record of transferring mission responsibilities without considerable disruption to the mission. Until the NNSA is able to provide both an economic or programmatic justification, the Committee will not support the transfer of tritium design and gas transfer R&D missions.

“Campaigns:

“The campaigns support scientific research, experimental activities and advanced computation, which make up the core of the science-based stockpile stewardship program. This program has enabled the U.S. Government to ensure the safety, reliability, and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile without underground nuclear testing for the past 15 years. However, due to declining investment in the core scientific capabilities, a Task Force Report by the Defense Science Board found the lack of funding in the Advanced Computing program will not allow the NNSA to meet its nuclear weapons milestones. At the same time, the existing stockpile continues to age presenting new scientific challenges as required modifications move each system further and further away from its test validated state, further taxing the scientific capacity of the complex to accurately predict the expected margins and reliability of the aging stockpile. The Committee does not believe this level of funding is adequate to support modernization of the complex including critical investment in infrastructure and scientific capabilities. The Committee recommends additional funding for both categories. The Committee recommends $1,589,230,000 for NNSA Campaigns, which is $29,500,000 above the request, but $34,120,000 below current year levels.

“Science Campaign- The Committee recommends $319,690,000, an increase of $3,000,000 which is added to Primary Assessment Technologies.

“Engineering Campaign- The Committee recommends $150,000,000, consistent with the budget request.

“Inertial Confinement Fusion Ignition and High Yield Campaign- The Committee provides $453,415,000, an increase of $16,500,000 to restore operation to current year levels for Sandia's Z machine and the University of Rochester Omega facility. The Committee is frustrated with NNSA's inability to provide a balanced program to support full operations at each of the facilities which are each critical to understanding the complex high energy density science. The Committee provides $54,000,000 to Sandia to operate full shift operations and $55,000,000 to the University of Rochester to support Omega operations.

“The Committee understands the NNSA is preparing to establish an advisory board for the National Ignition Facility experimental program, as recommended by the JASONS, and is considering the establishment of a national ICF/HED advisory committee. The Committee strongly supports the creation of an independent advisory board over the national ICF science and HED physics research. This panel should review the program strategy to ensure the experimental program appropriately manages the facilities and make recommendations on the appropriate scientific and technical aspects of the experimental program.

“The NNSA is to be commended on completing construction of the NIF and the Committee encourages the NNSA to focus on the goal of ignition, for which this facility was built.

“The Committee is concerned by the sole-source award of target development, which is inconsistent with its own policy guidelines. The Committee recognizes that competition will drive innovation and savings into the program. The Committee expects the NNSA to ensure that all future target fabrication solicitations be competitively bid.

“Advanced Simulation and Computing- The Committee recommends $566,125,000 for the Advanced Simulation and Computing [ASC] Campaign, an increase of $10,000,000. The Committee is frustrated with the continued inconsistency in funding requests between the Office of Science and the NNSA ASC program and believes the Department has not done enough to integrate the cooperation and research and development between the two programs.

“The Defense Science Board produced a report on Advanced Computing in March 2009. The report outlined five primary conclusions, which this Committee is in full agreement: (1) The advanced simulation and computing program is the ‘principal tool’ for assuring the safety and surety of the nuclear deterrent without underground nuclear testing; (2) The NNSA advanced computing program has enabled the United States to be the leader in high performance computing; (3) This program has also advanced the science and development of advanced computing which has broad applications in national security, energy and the environmental research within the Department of Energy, but other agencies and commercial enterprise as well; (4) The `ASC program needs significantly more resources in the future to achieve the goals stated in its roadmaps and planning documents. At currently projected levels of funding it will not meet its nuclear weapons milestones in a timely manner and perhaps not at all.'; and (5) The program requires additional resources if the program hopes to achieve the next level of high performance computing capability. The Committee expects the Department to provide sufficient resources to address the concerns raised by the Advanced Computing Task Force report and improve its cooperation between other offices within the Department of Energy to apply these advanced computational, visualization and simulation capabilities to solving other complex science and energy applications. This point was specifically endorsed by the Defense Science Board Report as well.

“The Committee also urges the Department to continue to support the development and collaboration with the Office of Science in development of advanced algorithms and architectures in high performance computing systems.

“The Committee has provided an additional $10,000,000 in this program of which $5,000,000 shall be applied to a joint program with the Office of Fossil Energy and the Office of Science to work in collaboration with universities and industry to improve our capacity to produce domestic unconventional oil and gas resources and minimize environmental impact through by utilizing high performance computing capabilities.

“As the demands of stockpile stewardship continue to push the limits of parallel computing, power consumption is becoming untenable. While the industry focuses on power-efficient processor technology, there are additional opportunities to increase computational performance and optimize energy savings through improvement in storage systems. The ASC program is directed to allocate $5,000,000 to explore aspects of cost-effective, power-efficient storage systems.

“Readiness Campaign- The Committee recommends $100,000,000 for the Readiness Campaign, consistent with the budget request.”

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