A sort of communications breakdown between the Sandia National Laboratory and the Kansas City National Security Campus led to the Missouri manufacturing facility accepting 20 faulty flex cables that were not built to spec, the Department of Energy’s inspector general reported recently.
“We substantiated that the [Kansas City National Security Campus] KCNSC had part 3A3917 rigid-flex cables manufactured in a manner that did not conform to the design’s specification,” the inspector general wrote in a report published March 22. “We attributed this to the poor communication between the design and production agency regarding the change to a copper foil construction.”
Despite reports to the contrary, the inspector general said that Kansas City did attempt to contact Sandia for clarity. Someone tipped off the internal watchdog about the cable issue in September 2019, according to
the report. The subsequent investigation wrapped up in February 2021.
The cables at issue “are produced for KCNSC by Printed Circuits, Inc.,” the inspector general wrote. PCI subcontracted continuity testing of the parts to a company called Gardien, according to the inspector general.
KCNSC manufactures the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons for the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which runs the civilian nuclear programs responsible for upkeep of all U.S. nuclear bombs and warheads.
The inspector general’s report did not say which weapon or weapons the faulty flex cables were to be used in. Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies [HON] manages KCNSC for the NNSA under a 10-year contract that includes five years of firm money and five one-year options. The NNSA last year picked up the first option period on the deal.