Opening Statement by NNSA Administrator D’Agostino on the FY 2013 Budget Request before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

Congressional Testimony
Feb 29, 2012

Chairman Frelinghuysen, Ranking Member Visclosky, good morning and thank you for having me here to discuss the President’s Fiscal Year 13 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’ve continuously improved the way we operate, and we’re committed to doing our part in this constrained budget environment.

In April 2009 in Prague, President Obama shared his vision for a world free from the threat of nuclear terrorism and united in our approach to our shared nuclear security goals.  His FY13 request for NNSA is $11.5 billion, an increase of $536 million over the FY12 appropriation. The request reaffirms our commitment to building a 21stcentury nuclear security enterprise through innovative approaches to some of our greatest nuclear security challenges and key investments in our infrastructure.

For example, we are continuing our critical work to maintain the nation’s nuclear stockpile, and ensuring that, as long as nuclear weapons exist, they are safe, secure, and effective. The FY13 budget provides $7.58 billion for our Weapons Activities account 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. 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.

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.

For over a decade, we have been building the tools and capabilities needed to take care of the stockpile. We are now entering a time when NNSA 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.  

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. 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.

To support our stockpile and provide us with 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.

As you know, our deterrent is only one part of NNSA’s mission. FY13 will see us continue to advance the President’s four-year goal to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world, and the budget request provides the $2.46 billion we need to continue critical nonproliferation efforts. This budget also 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 incident anywhere in the world, support the nuclear Navy through our Naval Reactors program, and anticipate the future of counterterrorism and counter proliferation.

Now, I’ve told you a lot about our plans and our budget today. I want you to know that we are committed to being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. We have taken steps to ensure that we are building a capabilities-based enterprise. 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, we are adjusting our plutonium strategy by deferring construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility project 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. 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.

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. 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.  

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 have taken other significant steps to continue improving, from top-to-bottom. For example, 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 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.

I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, and I’m excited for what we’ll accomplish next. We’re dedicated to achieving President Obama’s nuclear security objectives, continuously improving the way we do business, and doing our part in this tough fiscal environment.

Thank you again for having me today, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.