NNSA's Office of Acquisition and Project Management (APM), the community manager for acquisition professionals, hosted NNSA Contracting Officers in Albuquerque this week to align NNSA acquisition policies and procedures with Departmental goals and priorities, and to clarify roles and responsibilities among the various COs across the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
A key discussion topic was how NNSA was implementing the Deputy Secretary's policy for improving acquisition planning and contract management for capital asset projects. The primary principle behind this policy is that the Department must align contract incentives and vehicles with taxpayer interests. Each party must share the risk by bearing responsibility for its own actions. The policy includes guidance to ensure proper project planning so that requirements are clearly defined before issuing a solicitation; to first consider the use of a firm-fixed-price contract to complete work requirements; to establish objective performance measures when a fixed-price contract is not in the government’s best interest; to utilize fee strategies that assure each party in the contract bears responsibility for its own actions; and to document and stay apprised of real-time, accurate, and reliable project performance data.
With this new organizational construct in place, NNSA has delivered its $725M project portfolio $50M - or 7% - under budget during the past the three years. In 2013, NNSA was removed from the GAO High Risk list for construction projects, with a Total Project Cost up to $750 million as a result of the improvements it is making in NNSA contract and project management.
Preparing the country to respond to a large scale nuclear event is the primary function of the NNSA Office of Emergency Response. This week, Consequence Management teams from that office participated in the Vibrant Response 14 exercise at Camp Atterbury in Muscatatuck, Ind. and surrounding areas.
Taking advantage of a U. S. Army North exercise, NNSA, alongside FEMA, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and numerous other local, state, and federal agencies with civilian personnel from across the country responded to a simulated terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. NNSA deployed personnel to federal and state operating facilities to coordinate the response to the radiological aspects of this scenario. Additionally, a Consequence Management Home Team provided support from Las Vegas, NV, Livermore, CA. and Albuquerque, NM. This team provided models of fallout deposition and analysis of environmental monitoring data.
This was the most extensive exercise of this type to date, involving not only 5000+ field deployed Department of defense Military personnel in the field but also a multitude of support and coordination facilities across the country. Lessons learned during this exercise will be used to improve NNSA and other national organizations response to nuclear and radiological incidents of all scales and inform national level policies guiding that response.
More photos are available here.
Preparing students for the technological skill sets that will be required in tomorrow’s STEM related jobs in industry is an ongoing priority for the National Security Campus (NSC) in Kansas City, Mo. Last week, the NSC hosted a Model-Based Engineering Workshop for 32 college professors and students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to gain first-hand knowledge of the exciting opportunities and challenges engineering professionals tackle each day.
In 2012, the NNSA established a $4 million grant which launched the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP). This consortium based program formed two advanced manufacturing consortiums which included 8 universities and two NNSA sites (NSC and Y-12).
This year’s students and professors were from Hampton University, Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M, University of District of Columbia, North Carolina A&T, Southern University New Orleans, Lincoln University, and Howard University. The Model-Based Engineering workshop helps educators incorporate 3D modeling and advanced manufacturing into their curriculum through hands-on model-based application training and an exercise for a mock rocket assembly.
Through this public and private partnership, the HBCU teachers can better shape their curriculum and advise students on what skills employers expect from engineers and scientists and the NNSA learns about the technical strengths of the participating universities, which will help future recruiting and R&D initiatives.
Fourteen hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma will test their skills at the 18th annual Hazmat Challenge July 29 through Aug. 1 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The intent of the challenge is to provide hazardous materials responders the opportunity to test their skills, share best practices with other response agencies, and learn new techniques through realistic hazardous materials release scenarios in a safe, non-hazardous environment.
A video about the 2008 and 2012 Hazmat challenges is on the Laboratory’s Web site and on LANL's YouTube channel.
Officials from NNSA’s Uranium Processing Facility Project Office and Consolidated Nuclear Security recently signed an agreement to create a team dedicated to accomplishing the Uranium Processing Facility mission: a new UPF with Building 9212 capabilities by 2025 for under $6.5 billion.
The agreement also emphasizes a collaborative approach to problem solving and issue resolution focused on early identification and rapid communication. It was signed by 25 leaders of the project from both UPO and CNS, including UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg and CNS Project Director Brian Reilly.
Partnering is an industry best practice that has been used by DOE’s Environmental Management Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and large commercial construction projects. UPO’s partnering agreement with CNS represents the first such agreement for NNSA and serves as yet another example of the way in which NNSA is applying industry best practices to improve project management.
Shaking hands: On left, UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg; on right, CNS Project Director Brian Reilly
The Y-12 National Security Complex recently was recognized by NNSA for achieving the highest savings rate in the NNSA enterprise for fiscal year 2013.
At the recent Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC) biannual operational meeting, NNSA presented Y‑12 Procurement Operations with the award for attaining the Highest Total Strategic Savings Rate among NNSA’s seven management and operating contractors. Y‑12 achieved a total 6.51 percent savings rate of total strategic spending, as measured by the SCMC.
In FY 2014, the SCMC also accepted Y‑12’s recommendation for a regional sourcing approach. This new localized approach will award regional supplier contracts to improve lead time, reduce freight cost, and increase use of local small businesses. Sites within the same region will be served by the contracted supplier in the area instead of a national, single-source supplier.
Sandia radiation effects researcher Jim Schwank has won the 2014 IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society Merit Award, which recognizes outstanding technical contributions to the fields of nuclear and plasma sciences.
The award is based on the importance of individual technical contributions, importance of technical contributions made by teams the individual led, quality and significance of publications and patents, years of technical distinction and leadership, and service in the fields of nuclear and plasma sciences and related disciplines.
NNSA this week showcased its twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter during the Health Physics Society’s annual meeting in Baltimore. The helicopter is equipped with gamma radiation sensing technology and used to measure naturally occurring background radiation at various locations throughout the country.
Thousands of employees at the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex came together recently to celebrate the formation of a new team joining the two sites under the leadership of Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC. Both sites’ luncheons and safety fairs delivered a strong emphasis on safety. Each employee received a CNS lanyard with the Pantex, Y-12 and CNS logos, along with the slogan “One Team, Better Together.”
CNS assumed responsibility for management and operations at Pantex and Y-12 on July 1 after a four-month transition process. The two sites will be operated jointly under a unique arrangement that will allow the new contractor to focus on its main priorities of safety, security, quality, mission delivery and cost efficiency.