The Department of Energy plans to issue the MITRE Corp.-funded JASON group of civilian scientists more nuclear security work by the end of April, according to a procurement note published last week.
The civilian agency in February announced that its semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) planned to keep JASON on the job for another year. Thursday’s procurement note provides further details about the arrangement.
NNSA took ownership of McLean, Va.-based MITRE Corp.’s contract last year, after the Pentagon on April 30, 2019, decided for the first time in decades not to renew the company’s indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) deal to manage the JASONs.
The agency “intends to negotiate and issue a new Task Order for JASON Studies under the Master IDIQ once the final number of studies are identified in the March/April 2020 timeframe,” according to NNSA’s procurement note.
The agency estimates its JASON contract with MITRE will be worth $13 million, after the NNSA finalizes its next task order this spring roughly 70 scientists.
JASON had already been working on studies about the aging of plutonium pits — fissile nuclear-weapon cores — and cybersecurity for the NNSA.
Congress, in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, ordered the Pentagon to continue using the JASON group “as advisory personnel to provide advice, on an ongoing basis, on matters involving science, technology, and national security, including methods to defeat existential and technologically-amplified threats to national security.”
The defense policy measure also orders the NNSA to use JASON to study the agency’s planned W87-1 life-extension program: a drive to modernize an intercontinental ballistic missile warhead that could be used on planned Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missiles beginning around 2030.
MITRE Corp. gets nearly all of its annual revenue by managing federally funded research and development centers. JASON is, by revenue, a tiny fraction of the company’s yearly top line.