Despite headaches that touch, in one way or another, almost every major nuclear weapons refurbishment underway at the National Nuclear Security Administration, the agency’s big contractors generally got good reviews in the pandemic-beleaguered 2020 fiscal year, according to agency’s annual scorecards.
Below is sister publication Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor’s annual digest of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) performance evaluation summaries: the agency’s report cards for its big contracts, which explain how much management and operations entities earned for their performance.
By the agency’s account, contractors acquitted themselves well during the pandemic, despite ongoing trouble with plutonium pit programs and the catch-up work on non-nuclear components for the W88 Alt 370 submarine launched ballistic missile refurbishment and the B61-12 gravity bomb refurbishment. The weapons saw their first production units delayed more than a year, to July 2021 and November 2021, respectively, because of issues with capacitors disclosed in 2019.
Unlike last year, when Consolidated Nuclear Security’s performance fell short of what the Bechtel National-led team needed to stay on the job at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Texas, no NNSA contractor lost their spot this year, the reviews show.
Kansas City National Security Campus, Kansas City, Mo. Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technology.
- Total fee earned for fiscal 2020: $47.9 million of a possible $52 million, including $20 million worth of fixed fees.
- Total award fee earned: $27.9 million/87.4% of available/overall adjectival: very good. “Accomplishments that greatly outweigh issues.”
- 2020 was the final year of the contract’s five-year base period. Five one-year options remain.
- +Shipped out 95% of budgeted components for B61-12 gravity bomb life extension and 99% of scheduled components for W88 Alt-370 submarine-launched ballistic-missile warhead major alteration. First production units of these refurbished weapons were delayed after capacitors intended for use in the refurbs were deemed unsuitable for military use.
- -“Continued to experience B61-12 LEP and W88 ALT 370 production challenges on multiple components including high rates of nonconformance, unstable tester and gauge availability, and supplier reliability.”
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif., Lawrence Livermore National Security (University of California and Bechtel National, with AECOM and BWX Technologies).
- Total fee earned for fiscal 2020: $58 million of a possible $61.4 million, including $23.8 million worth of fixed fees.
- Total award fee earned: $37.5 million/91% of total/overall adjectival: excellent. “At least one significant accomplishment” and “no significant issues in performance.”
- Earned additional one-year incentive term, clinching labs ops through fiscal year 2025.
- +“Provided excellent support for W87-0,” the warhead for initial Ground Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missiles, which will use existing pits. “Maintained excellent working relationship with [the United Kingdom] Atomic Weapons Establishment.” Also “[m]et overall W80-4 Phase 6.3 cost and technical performance requirements and met deliverables or addressed schedule recovery.” W80-4 is the warhead for the planned Long Range Standoff Weapon cruise missile.
- -“Advanced Sources and Detectors project [instruments required for W80-4 design validation and W87-1 system certification] is over budget by $8.5M and continues to fall further behind schedule. W87-1, the second of two planned Ground Based Strategic Deterrent warheads, will use a new pit.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M. Triad National Security (University of California, Battelle Memorial Institute, Texas A&M University, with industry subcontractors Fluor Corp. and Huntington Ingalls).
- Total fee earned for fiscal 2020: $45.7 million of a possible $48.8 million, including $23.2 million worth of fixed fees.
- Total award fee earned: $22.4 million/88% of total/overall adjectival: very good. “Accomplishments that greatly outweigh issues.”
- 2020 was the second year of the contract’s five-year base.
- +“Triad supported completion of the last production unit for the W76-2 (submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead) and provided excellent support for the B61-12, the W88 Alteration 370, the W88 ALT 940 program and numerous other ALTs but COVID-19 related impacts slowed the pace of work.” Also “[p]rovided excellent support for remediation efforts in FY20 for the May 2019 release of cesium-137 in Seattle including drafting an exemplary safety plan to allow remediation to continue.”
- -“The Laboratory did not meet all scheduled Pit development builds but has improved process reliability.” Los Alamos National Laboratory is expanding its PF-4 Plutonium Facility to make multiple war-usable plutonium pits, fissile weapon cores, nominally starting in 2024. By 2026, PF-4 is supposed to make 30 war-usuable pits annually.
Nevada National Security Site, Mission Support and Test Services (Honeywell International, with Jacobs, and Stoller Newport News Nuclear).
- Total fee earned for fiscal 2020: $18.6 million of a possible $20.8 million, including $2.2 million worth of fixed fees.
- Total award fee earned: $16.3 million/88.1% of total/overall adjectival: very good. “Accomplishments that greatly outweigh issues.”
- 2020 was the third year of the contract’s five-year base.
- +“Engaged with LANL, LLNL, and SNL to validate the appropriate design requirements for the U1a Complex Enhancements Projects (UCEP) project and minimize impact to the Enhanced Capability for Subcritical Experiments/Advanced Sources and Detectors (ECSE/ASD) program.” U1a is the underground testing facility where the NNSA does subcritical experiments to verify nuclear weapons have retained their designed destructive potency as they age. The agency is expanding U1a, with an eye toward using new sensors there to verify that future refurbished nuclear weapons perform as the military requires.
- -“Submitted [U1a Complex Enhancements Project] Subproject 020 60% design multiple times without incorporating all review comments.” This is the construction and mining portion of the U1a expansion.
NNSA Production Office. Pantex Plant, Amarillo, Texas, and Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, Tenn. Consolidated Nuclear Security (Bechtel National, with Leidos, Northrop Grumman, and SOC).
- Total fee earned for fiscal 2020: $36.6 million of a possible $41.4 million, including $1.5 million worth of fixed fees.
- Total award fee earned: $35.1 million/88% of total/overall adjectival: very good. “Accomplishments that greatly outweigh issues.”
- The contract will expire after Sept. 30, 2021, with a transition to a new management and operations contractor set to begin around June, NNSA has said. CNS will remain at Y-12 to continue building the Uranium Processing Facility, scheduled to be completed by December 2025.
- +“Completed 99% of FY20 weapon deliverables, and exceeded deliverables for Canned Subassemblies (CSAs) while successfully mitigating COVID-19 impacts at both plants.” “Completed the B61-12 First Production Capability Unit that successfully demonstrated assembly activities.” Canned subasemblies are nuclear weapon secondary stages. A first production capability unit in a proof-of-concept version of a weapon’s non-nuclear components. It is not a full first production unit, which is a theoretically war-ready weapon.
- -“Behind baseline schedule slightly for some Pantex activities that included dismantlements and W76 rebuilds due to resource availability.” “Continues to struggle with production modernization small projects, Calciner project, Direct Chip Melt furnace delays, and the Material Conversion Equipment Refurbishment project.” These projects are part of the NNSA’s drive to move uranium processing for canned subassemblies out of legacy buildings and into the planned Uranium Processing Facility.
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif. National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia (wholly owned Honeywell International subsidiary).
- Total fee earned for fiscal 2020: $38.6 million of a possible $39.6 million, including $31.5 million worth of fixed fees.
- Total award fee earned: $7.1 million/88% of total/overall adjectival: very good. “Accomplishments that greatly outweigh issues.”
- 2020 was the third year of the contract’s five-year base.
- +“Successfully supported the W88 Alt 370 and B61-12 LEP First Production Capability Unit builds at Pantex, enabling NNSA to achieve FPCU and reduce risk to First Production Unit and follow-on rate productions.”
- -“Did not adequately manage specific production streams for the B61-12 and W88 Alt 370 programs, resulting in cost overruns.” “Experienced multiple B61-12 component baseline production delays, increasing risk to meeting fullrate production.” “Encountered production issues during the Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) packaging process for the Mk21 Fuze.” The Mk 21 fuze is for intercontinental ballistic missile warheads.
Savannah River Site, Aiken, S.C. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (Fluor, with Honeywell International and Stoller Newport News Nuclear).
- Total award fee earned for NNSA work in fiscal 2020: $2 million. There is no fixed fee for the contractor’s NNSA’s work at the site. Overall adjectival: excellent. “At least one significant accomplishment” and “no significant issues in performance.”
- DOE’s Office of Environmental Management owns the contract, which has been extended beyond its intended end date while the office finishes a recompete. The incumbent’s deal expires Sept. 30, 2021 but DOE holds one more one-year option.
- +Site prime Savannah River Nuclear Solutions “is on track to provide Critical Decision (CD)-1 Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF) deliverables on schedule.” SRPPF is Savannah River Site’s planned plutonium pit plant. It is supposed to come online in 2030 and produce at least 50 war-usable pits annually. NNSA has said it will be a challenge to meet that date. Critical Decision-1, the milestone in which the agency formalizes a design choice, was scheduled to be complete by March, the NNSA has said.
- -“There continue to be inefficiencies within SRNS’s team supporting SRPPF due to the lack of experienced project personnel and project centric systems, processes, and procedures.”