The NNSA Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrade Project (NMSSUP) team recently received the DOE Secretary’s Award for Project Management Improvement.  The NMSSUP project team was honored for utilizing a highly disciplined, cost-effective and integrated approach to execute capital asset projects.

NNSA Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrade Project (NMSSUP) team recently received the DOE Secretary’s Award for Project Management Improvement.

NMSSUP was completed last year approximately $2 million under its original budget of $245 million. NMSSUP upgraded security at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area-55, a facility that houses high-security plutonium assets and operations.

“By delivering NMSSUP under budget, the NNSA and the NMSSUP project team demonstrated the importance of responsibility and accountability,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management Bob Raines. “Through focused attention to detail, and top to bottom leadership involvement, even a troubled project can be righted when clear expectations are set and all parties accept accountability for their role in project delivery.” 

Read more about NNSSUP.

About the photo:
From left to right: Mike Hickman (NNSA Director of Projects), Ingrid Kolb (Director, Office of Management), Thomas Whitacre (NMSSUP Federal Project Director), Dave McDarby (Deputy Associate Administrator for Defense Nuclear Security), and Paul Bosco (Director of Acquisition and Project Management). 

Apr 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

NNSA BlogThe current Sandia Weapons Intern Program (WIP) class recently visited NNSA’s Pantex Plant as part of the six-month program curriculum. While at Pantex, participants visited several operational facilities such as training bays, pit staging sites and firing sites. Currently there are approximately 24 participants in the WIP from various labs and sites across NNSA.

Since the program’s inception, more than 300 individuals from the nation’s weapons community have gone through the program. Through a combination of classroom study taught by active and retired weaponeers, site visits, and individual and team projects, weapon interns have honed their skills, broadened their knowledge base, and expanded their network of colleagues in the nuclear weapons community.

Apr 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

At the end of March, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington delivered the 2015 Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project lecture at the University of Michigan (U of M).  Deputy Administrator Harrington’s talk focused on the need for the policy and technology communities to work hand-in-hand to confront today’s nuclear security threats and anticipate and mitigate emerging technologies that could represent future risk.  Comparing and contrasting the approaches of President Eisenhower, who served at the dawn of the atomic age, and President Obama, who serves in an era of evolving threats, Ms. Harrington drew on the programs that are securing thousands of kilograms of highly enriched uranium from around the world that were originally provided under the Atoms for Peace program, but that represent significant in a world that has to address terrorism and the ambitions of irresponsible.  She shared examples of how far these two communities have come in joining efforts to set a course towards a safer world— a task made more challenging in an age when information and technology move at astonishing speed.

The University of Michigan is also the lead institution for a recently awarded $25 million grant from NNSA to fund the Consortium for Verification Technology (CVT).  Her talk reinforced the critically important work of the CVT, which links the University of Michigan and thirteen other American universities with nine national laboratories to address technical challenges in nuclear verification and monitoring.  The CVT focuses on several thrust areas, such as fundamental data and techniques; advanced safeguards tools for accessible facilities; detection of undeclared activities and inaccessible facilities; and disarmament verification.  In each of these areas, graduate students are playing play a central role in interdisciplinary research projects led by faculty and laboratory experts who have demonstrated outstanding research capabilities and well-established collaborations.

As part of her visit, Deputy Administrator Harrington met with and observed the work of some of the more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students in CVT who perform research that will deliver new instruments and methods for nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards, and arms control treaty verification. CVT graduates will have strong ties to the national laboratory system thanks to the collaborative research projects in which they are engaging.

The CVT is one of three complementary university-national laboratory consortia sponsored by DNN’s Research and Development Office (DNN R&D), representing a total investment of $75 million (Fiscal Years 2010-2019).  DNN R&D directs an integrated research and development portfolio in support of its mission to detect signs of nuclear proliferation and nuclear detonations.  The DNN R&D-funded consortia have strong links to minority-serving institutions, are funded as five-year grants, and are viewed as important, long-term investments.

During her visit, Deputy Administrator Harrington also visited with additional researchers funded directly by the DNN R&D Program, including Professor Zhong He. Professor He is working to improve Special Nuclear Material monitoring and characterization with CZT, a radiation detection material that DNN has worked to develop for several years.  CZT’s main advantage is that it can detect gamma rays with good energy resolution at room temperature, free of often-operationally-prohibitive cooling systems. Professor He’s work seeks to apply and extend the principles of nuclear medical imaging for national security applications.

Deputy Administrator Harrington noted in her speech that as we look towards the emerging technologies that will revolutionize the future, we must “develop and support the mechanisms that allow the policy and technical communities to work together creatively, to steer their application toward the beneficial, and minimize their harmful application.” The CVT is exactly one such mechanism, charting a path towards a safer, more secure future.

CVT Focus & Thrust Areas



Thrust Area

Consortium on Verification Technologies

New Technical Approaches to Address Gaps and Emerging Challenges

  • Fundamental Physical Data
    • Data Acquisition
    • Data Analysis Techniques

This thrust area focuses on the physics of fission, data analytics, and data acquisition for high-throughput systems.


Physical data (like nuclear cross section measurements), and improved data acquisition and analysis techniques, are needed across the breadth of applications in treaty verification and other nuclear security applications. 



Advanced Safeguards Tools for Accessible Facilities

This thrust area focuses on improved safeguards techniques.


 Special emphasis is on neutron multiplicity counting (requires understanding physics of fission as above), developing hand-held gamma imagers, stand-off measurements using laser interrogation systems, and chain of custody detectors.


Detection of Undeclared Activities and Inaccessible Facilities

This thrust area concentrates on the non-cooperative side of arms control. 


Research aims to improve our understanding of seismic signatures for nuclear detonation detection as well as infrasound (high frequency sound associated with nuclear explosions – even underground) and radionuclide signatures. 


Additional work focuses on identifying and modeling signatures from undeclared fuel cycle activities.


Disarmament Verification

This thrust area includes several approaches to disarmament verification. 


Some techniques are focused on radiation detection, managed access simulators, zero-knowledge protocols, and limited knowledge transmission nuclear resonance spectroscopy (NRF).

Apr 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

Ahead of the upcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, NNSA’s Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories hosted 12 nonproliferation and disarmament officials to discuss NPT-related issues and infrastructure, the week of March 23.  Dr. Don Cook, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, and Ambassador Adam Scheinman, Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, joined the representatives from the various NPT non-nuclear-weapon States and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs on the 2-day visit.

Led by Dr. Cook, the presenters discussed various NNSA programs and nuclear nonproliferation topics, including arms control verification technologies, transparency, the necessity of infrastructure modernization and life extension programs amid declining stockpile numbers, efforts to sustain the nation’s deterrent without testing, and IAEA safeguards training and technology development work.

Sandia President and Laboratories Director Paul Hommert and LANL Director Charles F. McMillan also joined the meetings, presenting overviews of the laboratories’ missions and activities.

In addition to the productive discussions, the officials visited Sandia’s Z Pulsed Power Facility, the Integrated Security Facility, the Thermal Test Complex, and the Training and Technology Demonstration Area.  At LANL, they visited the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility (DARHT) and the new Nonproliferation and National Security Center. 

The visitors also toured the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque and LANL’s Bradbury Science Museum.

Apr 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

For more than 22 years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has consistently ranked as the top blood donor west of the Mississippi River, according to the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross honored LLNL this week with a special award for its volunteer efforts and the number of lives saved as a result. Since Laboratory employees began donating through the Red Cross, the Lab has tallied more than 25,000 units of blood, for an estimated 75,000 lives saved.

Read more.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Jan Siva, chief executive officer of the Northern California Blood Services Region, presented Tom Gioconda, deputy director of LLNL, with a special award for the Lab's volunteer efforts. Photos by Julie Russell, LLNL.

Apr 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm

When the Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was in Tennessee last week, she took time to meet two Calutron Girls at Y-12. 

Peggy Stuart and Ruth Huddleston both arrived at Y-12 when they were 18 years old. They were recruited to join the war effort when they were seniors in high school.

The Calutron Girls, who were known as Cubicle Operators at the time, are getting fewer and fewer as even 18-year-old girls from the 1940s are now approaching their 90s. 

Read more.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Two of the Calutron Girls met with Deputy Security Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall during her recent visit to Y-12. Seated, left to right, is Patty Stuart and Ruth Huddleston. Standing, left to right, is Kathryn Grant, special assistant to Sherwood-Randall; Commander Wayne Smith, senior military assistant; Sherwood-Randall; and Timothy McClees, chief of staff.

Apr 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm

NNSA BlogNNSA BlogNNSA has announced the recipients of the 2014 Bradley A. Peterson Federal and Contractor Security Professional of the Year Awards.

Pamela Valdez from the Los Alamos Field Office will receive the federal award and Randy Fraser from Los Alamos National Laboratory will receive the contractor award.

The awards recognize one federal and one contractor employee whose contributions to security programs within the NNSA enterprise exemplify the excellence and commitment for which NNSA is known.

Read more.


Apr 1, 2015 at 8:00 am

NNSA BlogMore than 275 individuals from NNSA and its laboratories, and academia attended this year’s Stewardship Science Academic Programs Annual Review Symposium held in Santa Fe, N.M., earlier this month. The symposium featured overviews of work to date from ongoing grants and cooperative agreements from NNSA’s Stewardship Science Academic Alliances Program, the NNSA-supported grants from the Joint Program for High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas, and grants awarded under the National Laser Users’ Facility.

Some 100 posters were on display during this year’s session on topics including low energy nuclear science, properties of materials under extreme conditions, high energy density physics, and predictive science. Poster session winners are:

Patricia Kalita, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, High Pressure Behavior of Mullite-Type Oxides: Phase Transitions, Amorphization and Microstructural Implications
Keith Loebner, Stanford University, Plume Characterization of a High Directed Energy Plasma Source for Material Interaction Studies
Mindy Lorance, University of Nevada, Reno, Spectroscopic Modeling of the First Planar Wire Array Experiments on the LTD Generator at the University of Michigan
Amy Lovell, National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory/Michigan State University, Reaction Theory/VANDLE Simulations
Mark Mikhaeil, Georgia Tech, Dynamics of Rayleigh-Taylor Driven Flows
Tane Remington, University of California, San Diego, Spall Strength Dependence on Strain Rate and Grain Size in Tantalum
Nathan Riley, University of Texas at Austin, Magnetized Radiative Blast Waves
Daniel Sneed, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Forcing Cesium into Higher Oxidation States Using X-Ray Induced Photochemistry at Extreme Pressures
Bryan Wiggins, Indiana University, Measuring the Position Resolution of Low Intensity Signals using a Resistive Anode Microchannel Plate Detector
Willow Wan, University of Michigan, Observation of Single-Mode, Kelvin-Hemholtz Instability in a Supersonic Flow
Eloisa Zepeda-Alarcon, University of California, Berkeley, Visco-plastic Modeling of MgSi03 + Periclase Aggregates

View the 2015 SSAP Annual here.

Mar 31, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), managing and operating contractor of NNSA’s Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex, this week donated $10,000 to Bushland Independent School District (ISD) in Texas. The donation will help create a multi-level robotics program for the school district. The donation also serves as an investment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and helps encourage the next generation of scientists, engineers and technical professionals.

The district plans to form elementary, middle and high school teams to participate in FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competitions. CNS also helped Bushland ISD form a mentor-protégé relationship with Oak Ridge Schools in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Read more.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Don Wood (left), Bushland ISD Superintendent, discusses how the CNS donation will help the Bushland robotics program with Savannah Gates, a CNS Pantex engineer and 2008 Bushland graduate.

Mar 27, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Sandia National Laboratories has begun making silicon wafers for three nuclear weapon modernization programs, the largest production series in the history of its Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) complex.

MESA’s silicon fab in October began producing base wafers for Application-Specific Integrated Circuits for the B61-12 Life Extension Program, W88 Alteration 370 and W87 Mk21 Fuze Replacement nuclear weapons. Planning and preparation took years and involved more than 100 people.

Read more.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Sandia’a Dana Pulliam enters information before running an operation in Sandia’s MESA complex. The fab has begun making silicon wafers for three nuclear weapon programs in the largest production series in MESA’s history. 

Mar 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm