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FY 2012 Budget Hearing Testimony House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

April 05, 2011

Thank you, Chairman Turner and Ranking Member Sanchez for the opportunity to address this committee today. 

I’d also like to thank you for your continued support of the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the 35,000 men and women working across the enterprise to keep our country safe, protect our allies, and enhance global security.  We could not do this work without strong, bipartisan support and engaged leadership from the Congress.

As I come before you today to discuss the President’s budget request for NNSA, the capabilities we offer the nation – and indeed the world – are on display in real time.  As you know, the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 caused significant damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, releasing radioactive materials into the environment. 

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan during this very difficult time.

To assist in the response, the Department deployed 45 people and more than 17,200 pounds of equipment to Japan, including NNSA’s Aerial Measuring System and our Consequence Management Response Teams.  They are on the ground utilizing their unique skills, expertise and equipment to help our partners in Japan. 

While these teams are the tip of the spear, here at home, we have teams working around the clock on the Nuclear Incident Team coordinating our response. Experts at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have provided predictive atmospheric modeling of potential radiation dispersion from the reactor on an ongoing basis since the event occurred.  This information has been used to support contingency planning by the Departments of State, the Defense Department and the Government of Japan.  We continue to work with our laboratories and sites to identify equipment and expertise that can be of use to our Japanese colleagues as they continue to address this crisis. 

Everyone in the NNSA is proud of the important role we are playing in dealing with this tragedy.  It shows the commitment to service and the excellence that exists across our enterprise.  It also highlights the importance of the resources President Obama has requested for NNSA and the Department. 

This budget request seeks to make critical investments in the future of our enterprise, which will allow us to continue to implement the President’s nuclear security agenda and respond to crises like the one in Japan.

As I see it, this budget request can be broken down into three key themes.

First, we are Investing in the future. President Obama has committed to invest more than $85 billion over the next decade to assure the safety, security and effectiveness of our nuclear stockpile, and to modernize the infrastructure and revitalize the science and technology base that supports our full range of nuclear security missions.

As part of that commitment, this budget request provides $7.6 billion for our Weapons Activities account to support our efforts to leverage the best science and technology in the world to maintain our nuclear deterrent.  This will enable us to enhance our surveillance of the stockpile, proceed with key life extension programs, and continue to design the modern facilities we need to maintain the nation’s expertise in uranium processing and plutonium research.

Investing in a modern nuclear security enterprise is critical to our stockpile stewardship program, but it also supports the full range of NNSA’s nuclear security missions, which brings me to the second key theme in this budget request; Implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda.

President Obama has made strengthening nuclear security and the nuclear nonproliferation regime one of his top priorities.  As he said in his speech in Prague in April 2009, the threat of a terrorist acquiring and using a nuclear weapons is the most immediate and extreme threat we face. 

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and keeping dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists is a vital national security priority. These are without a doubt national security programs, and I hope this committee and the Congress will treat them as such.

To address that threat, we are requesting $2.5 billion in 2012 and more than $14.2 billion over the next five years for our nuclear nonproliferation programs.  This will provide the resources required to meet commitments secured during the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit.  For fiscal year 2012, it includes $1 billion to remove and prevent the smuggling of dangerous nuclear material around the world and enable NNSA to continue leading international efforts to implement more stringent standards for the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities worldwide. 

To power the nuclear Navy, President Obama has requested $1.1 billion for NNSA’s naval reactors program.  This will allow us to continue the design work on the propulsion unit for the OHIO-class replacement submarine in order to meet the Navy’s required procurement date of 2019.   It includes critical investments in a modern and sustainable spent nuclear fuel infrastructure at the naval reactors site at Idaho National Laboratory.   Finally, it seeks the resources to refuel the land-based prototype reactor in Upstate New York.

Mr. Chairman, I realize that this committee has many competing requirements.  And while I believe nothing is more important than ensuring our nation’s security, I also recognize that this request comes at a time of acute financial stress for our entire country.  It is my responsibility to assure you that we can manage those resources wisely. 

That brings me to the third key theme outlined in this budget request, and that is our commitment to Improving the way we do business and manage our resources. 

Together, we are working with our M&O partners to streamline our governance model to devote more resources to critical mission work and maximize our ability to complete our mission safely and securely, and to do that more cost effectively.

We are making sure we have the right contracting strategy in place.

We are improving our project management by ensuring we have qualified project managers leading our major projects, setting cost and schedule baselines on construction projects when design work is 90 percent complete, subjecting those estimates to rigorous independent reviews, and placing a renewed focus across our organization on sound project management. 

That is why we recently created a new policy and oversight office for managing major projects that reports directly to me. This will help ensure that project management gets the high level focus it deserves.

We are continuing to find innovative ways to save money across the enterprise.  For example, since 2007, our Supply Chain Management Center has used new technologies and pooled purchasing power to drive efficiencies across our sites.  The result has been more than $213 million in auditable cost savings.

All of this is part of our effort to create “One NNSA,” a true partnership between all of our programs and all of our partners to fulfill our common mission.

Taken together, these steps will ensure we have a modern, 21st century nuclear security enterprise that is safer, more secure, more efficient, and organized to succeed. 

That is the vision outlined in this budget request.  It supports the full range of NNSA missions. More importantly, it invests in the infrastructure, the people, and the science, technology and engineering required to fulfill our missions, and to make the world a safer place. I look forward to working with the members of this Committee. 

With that I would be happy to take any questions you have.