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NNSA’s Defense Programs Announces Reorganization, Forms New Science Council to Explore Cross-Cutting Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced a reorganization of its Defense Programs office aimed at creating a sustainable organizational structure that maximizes NNSA’s ability to address the future of the nuclear weapon deterrent in an effective manner. As part of that reorganization, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook also announced the formation of a new Defense Programs Science Council that will be responsible for investigating and exploring cross-cutting science issues and opportunities across the nuclear national security enterprise.

“I am pleased to announce an organizational structure for Defense Programs that increases the visibility of science in our mission, provides a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, increases attention to infrastructure and major construction needs, and operationalizes the inherent link between delivering on our mission and ensuring safety and security at our sites,” said Deputy Administrator Cook.

“Our new Science Council affirms Defense Program’s focus on promoting the best science and technology across the enterprise, and the leadership team in place across our programs will ensure that NNSA is best positioned to promote and strengthen NNSA’s mission. I look forward to working with the talented team we have here at NNSA to implement the President’s nuclear security vision.”

In April 2009, President Obama articulated the importance of a global vision in his first major address to scientists: "Science, technology, and innovation proceed more rapidly and more cost-effectively when insights, costs, and risks are shared; and so many of the challenges that science and technology will help us meet are global in character.”

For years, NNSA and the Department of Energy have leveraged some of the best science and technology in the world to promote game-changing innovation. The supercomputing capabilities developed to enable researchers to simulate nuclear explosions as part of the stockpile stewardship program have also proven valuable in modeling climate change, tracking the spread of pandemic diseases, and bringing new products and technologies to market faster. Research into fusion – which was also developed to support stockpile stewardship efforts – may hold the potential to promote clean energy and to unlock the secrets of the stars.

The new Defense Programs Science Council seeks to continue that tradition. It has representatives from each of the national security labs and one person representing the production sites. Members of the council include Dr. Alan Patterson from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Greg Simonson from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Dr. John Maenchen from Sandia National Laboratories, and Brenda Hunter from the Y-12 National Security Complex, who will be representing NNSA’s production sites on the Council. Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov from NNSA headquarters serves as the chairperson of the council.

In addition to creating the Science Council, the reorganization plan announced by Deputy Administrator Cook also includes the creation of six offices headed by Assistant Deputy Administrators who will report to Dr. Cook:

  • Dr. Chris Deeney, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Stewardship;
  • W. Steven Goodrum, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Management;
  • Phil Niedzielski-Eichner, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Planning, Resources and Integration;
  • Jeff Harrell, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Secure Transportation;
  • Mike Thompson, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Infrastructure and Construction; and
  • Jim McConnell, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Operations, and Governance Reform.

In a departure from recent practice, NNSA’s Site Office Managers will also report directly to the Deputy Administrator.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.