The new head of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, in office less than a month, should direct the agency to produce an overarching plan for the future of “the entire nuclear security enterprise,” a National Academies panel said in a report published Tuesday.
“In response to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and other policy statements, the new NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] Administrator should urgently and personally lead the development of a mission-focused enterprise strategic plan that defines where the nuclear security enterprise needs to be in 10 years and what will be needed to get there,” reads the report on “Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise.”
The agency should also create formal guidelines for its “ongoing program of governance and management reform,” which could help the agency address its “history of launching actions without adequate planning,” according to the report by the prepared by the National Academies in partnership with the National Academy of Public Administration: both Washington-based, federally funded, congressionally chartered groups.
The report was published 15 days after new NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty was sworn into office, and about a month-and-a-half after the Pentagon released a Nuclear Posture Review that called on the NNSA to start developing one new low-yield nuclear warhead and studying another.
The report was researched and written by members of the Panel to Track and Assess Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise: part of the Laboratory Assessments Board within the National Academies’ Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences. This was the second report the body has produced since it convened. The first was published in 2017.
Created by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, the panel is in the middle of a four-and-a-half-year study of the NNSA nuclear-weapon programs. Among other things, the NNSA refurbishes aging nuclear warheads deployed on ICBMs in silos across the country, and on bombs and smaller missiles carried aboard Department of Defense aircraft and submarines.