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[H.A.S.C. No. 108–7]








MARCH 6, 2003

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TERRY EVERETT, Alabama, Chairman
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania

JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina

Harry Cartland, Professional Staff Member
Hugh Brady, Professional Staff Member
Dudley Tademy, Professional Staff Member
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Daniel Hilton, Staff Assistant



    Thursday, March 6, 2003, Department of Energy's National Security Programs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2004

    Thursday, March 6, 2003



    Everett, Hon. Terry, a Representative from Alabama, Chairman, Strategic Forces Subcommittee

    Reyes, Hon. Silvestre, a Representative from Texas, Ranking Member, Strategic Forces Subcommittee

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    Card, Hon. Robert C., Under Secretary of Energy, Energy, Science and Environment; Hon. Jessie H. Roberson, Assistant Secretary of Energy, Environmental Management and Dr. Everet H. Beckner, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, National Nuclear Security Administration


[The Prepared Statements can be viewed in the hard copy.]

Beckner, Dr. Everet H.
Card, Hon. Robert G., and Hon. Jessie H. Roberson
Everett, Hon. Terry
Reyes, Hon. Silvestre

[The Documents can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Oakland Tribune
Table 5, Site Funding Estimates, Total NNSA Programs (Dollars in Millions)

[The Questions and Answers can be viewed in the hard copy.]

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Mr. Everett
Mr. Spratt
Mr. Thornberry
Mrs. Wilson


House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Strategic Forces Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Thursday, March 6, 2003.

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:05 a.m., in room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Terry Everett (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.


    Mr. EVERETT. Hearing will come to order. The Strategic Forces Subcommittee meets today to receive testimony on Department of Energy's (DOE's) fiscal year 2004 budget requests, atomic energy defense activities.

    I welcome Under Secretary Card, who I believe is testifying for the first time before the Armed Services Committee, and Assistant Secretary Roberson, who I understand is from my district in L.A. And for those of you who do not know where that is, that is lower Alabama.
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    Under Secretary Card will provide testimony on the Department of Energy's request for defense environmental management. So, perhaps, that is a poor choice of words. As I understand, the department's focus is not stock management, but rather clean up and closure.

    I also want to welcome Dr. Beckner from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Dr. Beckner is the Deputy Secretary of Defense Programs. Weapons activities compose over 70 percent of the $8.8 billion request for NNSA. And I am competent that if members have questions that fall outside Dr. Beckner's expertise, he will get answers for us.

    We have a lot of ground to cover today. And I want to allow each of our members as great an opportunity as possible to ask questions, so I will be brief. Likewise, I would ask our witnesses and members also to be brief with their prepared remarks and questions. The entirety of all written testimony will be entered into the record.

    Under Secretary Card has done the admirable task of cleaning up a Cold War legacy of 114 contaminated sights resulting from more than a half-century of R&D production testing of nuclear weapons. The magnitude of the problem is apparent when one considers that 40 percent of the funds requested for atomic energy activities, $6.8 billion, support this undertaking. At a time when our armed forces are engaged all over the world, it is more important than ever to ensure the prudent use of defense dollars.

    As a result, at the beginning of last year the life cycle cost estimates for clean up of legacy sites stood at $220 billion with work at some of our most contaminated sites not reaching completion until 2070. In fiscal year 2003, the department embarked on an aggressive reform effort to refocus emphasis from risk management to risk reduction. The current plan calls for completion of all remediation efforts by 2035, at a cost savings of more than $50 billion.
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    Now the record is replete with attempts to reform our environmental remediation programs. But in this case those efforts are being led by the architects of the real success story at Rocky Flats, Under Secretary Card and Assistant Secretary Roberson. Rocky Flats is now on schedule for completion in 2006, 50 years ahead of schedule and $30 billion below the original baseline. So I am cautiously optimistic, and look forward to hearing of your progress across this complex.

    Dr. Beckner, I know you have challenges too, putting our defense nuclear complex back in order, especially our production facilities, and continuing to support certification of the nuclear stockpile without testing. We expect nuclear weapons to remain a cornerstone of our national security posture for many years to come.

    Our science-based approach to stewardship is proven a difficult technical challenge. I understand we are making progress, but uncertainty grows with the time elapsed since our last tests. As the number and variety of weapons in the stockpile come down through retirements, it is more important than ever to maintain confidence in those weapons remaining. Frankly, we are in a race against time with our science-based stewardship program, a race with an outcome that is far from certain at this point. So I look forward to your assessment of where we are today, and where we are headed in the future.

    I have to apologize. It is my fault that our ranking member, Mr. Reyes, is not here to give his opening statement. The statement will be put in the record when he arrives. He could be a little late. That is due to a rescheduling that the chairman did, and it had a conflict with Mr. Reyes.
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    Under Secretary Card, the floor is yours.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Everett can be viewed in the hard copy.]


    Secretary CARD. Mr. Chairman, members of subcommittee, as Under Secretary of Energy, Science and Environment at the Department of Energy, it is a pleasure to appear before you today to discuss the President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget request for Environmental Management (EM). As you noted, Assistant Secretary Roberson is also with me here today, to answer questions where I may have a recusal due to my previous work experience.

    Mr. Chairman, let me begin, as I have noted to you earlier, by expressing my appreciation for the hard work of this subcommittee. Both in my former life and now at DOE, I have had the pleasure of working with many members of this subcommittee on both sides of the aisle. As stated in written testimony, this subcommittee played a pivotal role in piloting the accelerated clean up approach at the closure site. And we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with you to complete the transition of the Environmental Management Program.

    To skew our tons of orphaned weapons materials, slash, decades of risk exposure to the workers in public to make available tens of billions of dollars for other safety and security priorities for the nation, we need to continue the restructuring of the EM Program that was begun with the fiscal year 2003 request. This effort has been personally called for and directed by Secretary Abraham who is committed to the safety and security of the workers and public at DOE sites.
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    Our acceleration strategy will produce unprecedented results; require substantial change in our operations to achieve it. This change is underway. We are working to focus DOE requirements infrastructure and support functions to support clean up goals. We are enhancing our clean up contracts. We changed the work logic to focus on highest risk activities first. We revised the organization, personnel and business process structure of EM Program. And we are changing responsibilities of the EM Program by reassigning program elements that are not completion oriented. And some of this evidence is in our fiscal year 2004 request such as moving the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab (INEEL) to Nuclear Energy and forming an independent office of Legacy Management to focus on long-term stewardship site where the initial, major clean up effort has not been completed.

    Much more is required, but as I noted earlier, we have also proposed a new funding structure in fiscal year 2004, and that is where this committee plays a key role. We encourage your support of that structure which will move us the next step towards reform of the program. We also, of course, ask for your support for our $7.2 billion total request for the EM budget this year. And I want to note that this request was based on substantial community support and progress that we made last year. The administration views it—a number closer to $5.9 billion is the base funding for this program, and our support for it is contingent on the continued progress that we make in the community's support towards ending the program someday soon.

    We know that the adjusted fiscal year 2003 appropriation was late in coming and came in substantially under the President's request. Because so much of the actual clean up work is in the margin, this could prove problematic for accomplishment of interim and overall program goals unless our search for a mitigation is successful. If we cannot substantially meet these goals, and as I said above, we cannot and should not count on the administration's support.
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    Finally, in addition to this committee's fine work on the program, we want to acknowledge the outstanding support we received from the communities, regulators, contractors and workforce at DOE sites. Change of this magnitude is very difficult and they are making solid contributions while helping us improve our safety record to accompany the increased risk reduction performance. By and large, they understand the unique opportunity they have to contribute toward a dramatic acceleration in risk reduction while returning tens of billions of dollars for other important activities to benefit the nation's safety and security.

    I look forward to your questions. Thank you.

    [The joint prepared statement of Secretary Card and Secretary Roberson can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you, Secretary Card.

    Dr. Beckner, would you please proceed with your testimony?

    Dr. BECKNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. It is a pleasure to be here today to review the President's fiscal year 2004 budget request for the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP), the National Nuclear Security Administration.

    For the last seven years this Stockpile Stewardship Program has allowed the Secretaries of Energy and Defense to certify to the president that the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, secure and reliable, and that there is no need to resume underground testing. Thanks to the dedication of our 25,000 men and women across the country, using the best science and engineering tools, we have a more complete understanding of the health of the stockpile with each passing year. We annually withdraw approximately 100 weapons from the active stockpile and perform a comprehensive, diagnostic exam on those at the Pantex plants in West Texas. This examination studies the hundreds of parts that make up modern nuclear weapons. Most of the weapons are then reassembled, some are destructively tested, but the net result is that we get annually new data on the condition of the stockpile.
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    To ensure that the stockpile continues to meet its military requirements, NNSA also has a comprehensive refurbishment program known as Stockpile Life Extension. As you know, some of the weapons are now getting quite old. It is presently working on four warhead types in the stockpile, the W87, the W76, the B61 and the W80. For those of you who do not carry those numbers in your head, the W87 is on the MX Missile. The W76 is the Trident I, on the Trident submarines. The B61 is in both a strategic and tactical bomb form. And the W80 is a cruise missile. So we have quite a variety and broad program underway on Life Extension. The goal there, when those weapons are refurbished and put back into the stockpile, is to be able to do so with an expected life of an additional 30 years. Just to give you an update on that, in the case of the W87, about half of those warheads have now been refurbished, gone through the Life Extension Program (LEP) and have been returned to the Air Force.

    In response to concerns of this subcommittee, as a matter of fact, I should also state that NNSA is also restoring the full suite of manufacturing capabilities needed to respond to any stockpile contingency.

    Two years ago the administration, with the support of Congress, established a ten-year program designed to eliminate maintenance backlogs. That program is also underway and doing very well. And we can discuss that further if you would like.

    We are installing an interim pit production capability at Los Alamos. I know there is a lot of interest in this activity. Later this year, in fact, we will have delivered to us the first certifiable W88 pit from that activity at Los Alamos. This will be the first certifiable pit made by the United States since the shut down of Rocky Flats in 1989. And as a follow-on to that, of course, NNSA has begun work on design and sighting for a modern pit facility that will be capable of manufacturing all pit types for the current stockpile and any new requirements should they arise.
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    And then to complete the materials supply story, NNSA will begin producing new tritium for the stockpile by eradiation of tritium-producing rods in a TBA reactor this fall.

    Stewardship is more than just maintenance and refurbishment; it is also about the future. With the support of Congress, we are investing in leading-edge, scientific and engineering tools required to support the stockpile now and into the future. Three areas deserve special attention, first, the advanced scientific computing initiative, where we are working with U.S. computer manufacturers to acquire the world's fastest and most capable computers to address nuclear weapons performance issues. Second, we have now begun to get data from the dual-access, radiographic, hydrotest facility at Los Alamos, the finest in the world in getting CAT Scan-like images of weapons implosion processes. That is, provides us data to support the activities in the computing initiative. And then later this year, the world's most power laser, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), will begin to carry out experiments at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in support of the weapons stockpile, and if construction continues to be on schedule and on cost.

    Now, let's talk a little bit about the future. As the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) highlighted, the threats we face today are dramatically different from those we faced a few years ago. To ensure that future American presidents have deterrence options to deal with the threats, we have a modest advanced concepts program, $21 million, underway. $15 million will be allocated to the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP). That is, I think, as some of you know, a program to examine where or not two existing warheads in the stockpile, the B61 and the B83, can be sufficiently hardened through case modifications and other work to allow the weapons to survive penetration into various geologies with high reliability before detonating. The remaining funds will be divided between the weapons labs for studies of other advanced concepts.
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    Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks. Let me extend an invitation to each member of the committee to travel to one or more of our labs or plants to get a more in-depth appreciation of the science and technology that is being used to keep this nation's nuclear weapons stockpile safe, secure and reliable. I'd be pleased to answer questions.

    [The prepared statement of Dr. Beckner can be viewed in the hard copy.]

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you very much.

    I, at this point, would like to recognize my friend, Mr. Spratt, for an opening statement. And I will again emphasize that this change in time was the chairman doing that. And that is the reason that we are kind of in the situation we are in. And Mr. Reyes was previously obligated and, to be honest with you, it was one of those things that he could not change, but he will be with us shortly.

    Mr. SPRATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much. And I apologize for my tardiness. I was at another meeting preparing for a markup on another bill and could not get out in time. And I am substituting for Mr. Reyes who has an obligation of his own, although I understand he will be along soon.

    Let me quickly say that I have been following the Department of Energy for some time. And I can say from experience that with the exception of the new Homeland Defense agency, there may be no other agency in the government with the size, diversity, scope and mission responsibilities that we find in the Department of Energy. All of these responsibilities are important, but the mission with which we are primarily concerned here on this committee is stewardship over our stockpile of nuclear weapons and the complex of facilities that supports that stockpile.
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    I will be brief, but let me just touch on a few concerns I have about the fiscal year 2004 budget request. Remediation of waste is an awesome and terribly expensive task, but I understand we are about to turn the corner in terms of being able to fix both cost estimates and schedules more accurately. And I am glad to hear that, particularly with the so-called accelerated cleanup effort.

    I remain interested in hearing how we can trim decades off cleanup schedules at some of our sites with no substantial increases in funding for EM activities and no increased environmental health risk.

    I am concerned about implementation of legislation Congress approved two years ago to provide compensation for workers made ill by working in the nuclear complex over years past. I understand that the Department of Energy lags behind the Department of Labor in processing claims for assistance. And I think it would be useful if we could get an update on this vital matter.

    As to NNSA, the budget appears to be sort of a mixed bag. It appears that some of the essential elements of the stockpile stewardship are well funded. We do not have to be concerned, for example—and I think this is good—about funding for support of the National Ignition Facility or programs to keep that activity on schedule. The budget request supports continued life extension work on the four warheads critical to our nuclear deterrent, which Dr. Beckner just noted. The Navy's nuclear programs appear to be fully funded. I understand that this request supports irradiation of the first tritium-producing burnable absorber rods at the Watts Bar reactor, so that is progress on that front.
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    I am pleased to note also that additional funds are requested to safely ship nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons components and nuclear materials in a more enhanced security environment. These are positives. We had a hand in seeing it happen and I think we can all feel good about it.

    I am troubled that in some areas the budget development process seems to be getting ahead of the policy formulation process. That is what we would not expect to see in an area so critical as national and international security of—nuclear security, in particular. Specifically, this budget seems to provide funds for advanced concept work. And if that means work on new nuclear weapons, I think it opens a Pandora's box of strategic considerations.

    There is also some $15 million in the budget to request studies on the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator. Why is that level of funding needed in light of prior year funding and all of the work that had already been done? More importantly, why are we plowing ahead with this nuclear earth penetrator?

    I want to offer, for the record—I have a copy here somewhere and I will provide it for the record—I ask unanimous consent that it be included in this hearing record——

    Mr. EVERETT. Without objection.

    Mr. SPRATT [continuing]. An excellent article that appeared in Oakland Tribune yesterday by Ian Hoffman. The article ends with a quotation by Dr. Sidney Drell. Sidney Drell, as everyone knows, chaired the Commission on the safety and security of our nuclear weapons. He is a member of JASON (JASON Foundation for Education). He is a long-term advisor to the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. Here is what Sid Drell says, ''I cannot think of the mission where a low yield nuclear weapon would be useful. You should not blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons. It does not matter to me whether it is one kiloton or 100 kilotons, it is horrible thing. Once you have used it, you have crossed the Rubicon.''
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    I am also dismayed to see that the budget adds funds to reduce the nuclear readiness posture period from 24 to 18 months. This is done in spite of language that we put in the fiscal year 2003 National Defense Authorization Act directing the Secretary of Energy to submit information to the Congress on the rationale and cost for sustaining a test readiness posture at several different time intervals so we could choose among them.

    The intent of last year's language was that the department would provide the requested information and Congress would then be allowed time to have an informed debate on what our test readiness posture would be. I understand that there may be a trade off here. But to the extent we compress the period for test readiness, we may be actually encroaching upon talent needed to have a robust Stockpile Stewardship Program. We need to very carefully weigh that trade off.

    I understand that the committee's leadership wants to reserve debate on nuclear policy matters for the full committee. I do not disagree with that. But this subcommittee has a particular obligation to look at the programmatic implications of the budget requests and that is why I raise these questions here.

    Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for this opportunity to pose these questions to our witnesses.

    And thank you, all of our witnesses, for your presentations this morning.

    [The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]
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    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you very much.

    I will now begin the questioning. Of the members who I have not discussed this with, I am pretty strict on the five-minute rule for both the questions and answers. We will have as many rounds as the members would like to make sure they get all of their questions in. And I will begin.

    Dr. Beckner, this is for you. On December the 17th, 2002, Acting Administrator Brooks announced a reorganization of NNSA's field structure that will streamline management and clarify lines of authority and accountability by eliminating one layer of management by the end of fiscal year 2004. Can you provide an update on your progress? And is there anything that Congress can do to help?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, first as—an update on progress—the plan is being executed. That layer of management has already been removed. The changes have occurred in the field, as well as at headquarters. The new sites office structure is in place and operating. The new service center fully reorganized and functioning and the headquarters, tied together with it all, as well.

    We have begun a program to reduce staff. And we have a target to get that staff down by about 25 percent by the end of next fiscal year.

    So it is up and running. And at this point in time, I would say we think it is occurring pretty much as we expected it to. We do not have any hurdles that we do not understand how we are going to get across right now. But it is too soon to say how easy or, perhaps, difficult it may be to reach our manpower reduction targets. So we will probably want to keep you informed on that as the year goes on because by this time next year it will be fairly critical that we have a large number of people off roll who are presently making decisions as to what they want to do about that.
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    Mr. EVERETT. Can you give me any figures as to where you are at this moment?

    Dr. BECKNER. Actually, I cannot because we could not get it underway—we could not get the action underway to offer buyouts for employees to make it a bit more attractive until about two weeks ago.

    Mr. EVERETT. Okay.

    Dr. BECKNER. We finally got authorization from OPM (Office of Personnel Management) to proceed so I do not actually have the numbers, but we could certainly do that, I would say, in another month or so and give you an update if you would like.

    Mr. EVERETT. I would appreciate it.

    Dr. BECKNER. Okay.

    Mr. EVERETT. The United States is the only nuclear power without the capacity to produce all the components of nuclear weapons. Production complex has not produce a certifiable plutonium pit since 1989 or tritium since 1988. The pit, as we know, is required to initiate a thermal nuclear explosion and tritium and is necessary to boost the performance of the pit.

    Can you describe for us progress toward restoring these capabilities to the defense nuclear complex? At what point does the absence of these capabilities become a serious critical nuclear—national security concern?
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    Dr. BECKNER. Yes, I can answer that question. Last year we produced five pits in the program, which is moving forward to provide a certifiable pit this year. I think we are within one or two months of having a certifiable pit in hand. We have it targeted for, more or less, summertime this year. I think we will beat that date.

    And, as such, we will then be moving forward to actually provide a certified pit in 2007. So the work at Los Alamos, I would say, is now moving smoothly.

    As to your question as to at what point in time this might be a critical shortcoming if we do not have a fully functioning production capability, I think that is really hard to say. We do not have any requirement right now, other than a rather small one associative with the W88, which causes us to require new pits anytime soon. So mostly this is a matter of having a capability in hand as a hedge against unforeseen difficulties that may show up in the future.

    I think we all agree it is a very important hedge against unforeseen future events, so we are pushing very hard on it. But I also believe it is coming along rather nicely.

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you.

    Secretary Card, concerns have been raised about the accelerated cleanup, that it might mean cleanup to a lower standard. How do you address that?

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    Secretary CARD. Well, first, let me just say that that is not our plan. The key thing that we are trying to look at is what are the chemical and physical properties of the material and address them in a risk-based standard. So where some of those comments may come is where we see a process in place that tends to treat material in a different risk category than physicists and chemists would put it, then we want to have a dialogue with the stakeholder to determine a path forward on that. But we are not compromising the cleanup levels to accelerate the cleanup.

    Mr. EVERETT. I see my time is up.

    Mr. Thornberry.

    Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    And I appreciate our witnesses being here.

    Dr. Beckner, my questions and comments are going to be directed to you. Like Mr. Spratt, I have some concerns about this budget, although some of my concerns are a little different than his.

    When I look at not just this year's budget, but the program over the longer term, I am concerned about how we keep our nuclear deterrent credible because what we have are Soviet Cold War era weapons. And as more and more countries and groups develop or obtain Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), the concern is that they will not see our nuclear weapons as a credible deterrent—that in some ways we will be self-deterred and in other ways, they will not see that as something serious to them. So not to look ahead and think how we keep our nuclear deterrent credible in a changing world full of proliferation seems to me to be short-sighted.
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    So from that perspective, my concern is that your budget request only includes $21 million for advanced concepts, $15 million is a slight alteration of an existing weapon. That—if my math is correct, that leaves $6 million out of this huge defense budget, which you are part of, which is looking ahead to how a nuclear deterrent can be credible in the future. And I am concerned about that. I do not think it is nearly enough.

    Let me ask about some specific areas. One of the things we asked for in last year's bill was some specific time frames to shorten the nuclear testing preparation time. And, as I recall, you were to—the NNSA is to give us a report about how long it is going to take to be ready to test with a variety of things. Where is that report?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, an early version of that report was prepared last summer. And we can certainly be certain that that report is in your hands in the near future. I would prefer not to specify exactly the time, but we will give you a more specific time shortly because we do have the information in hand.

    We have been structuring a program, which you refer to, for how we would shorten the time. And it is a part of that, of course, to understand the costs associated with that. You will note in the material that we have submitted with our budget that we are targeting 18 months—that appears to us to be an optimized plan—and to get ourselves into that configuration within 36 months. But the report, in its entirety, does look at other options—six months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months.

    So we have started to put together our own plan for that and we will give you that report.
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    Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you.

    The chairman asked you about some of the management restructuring within NNSA. The last part of his question that I did not hear an answer to is have you identified any additional authorities that Congress needs to give or could give that would help make that go smoother—speed it up—be an improvement in the management problems that you have identified?

    Dr. BECKNER. As of yet, we have not.

    Mr. THORNBERRY. Good.

    Is there a review about continuing to have the University of California manage the Los Alamos contract? And where is that?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, Mr. Card can speak to this, as well. The Secretary has instructed Mr. Card and Ambassador Brooks to report—I am sorry—he has instructed Deputy Secretary McSlarrow and Ambassador Brooks to report to him by the end of April with a recommendation on the next steps that should be taken with regard to that contract.

    Mr. THORNBERRY. Okay.

    And let me ask about this area—you mentioned in your statement that working together, Congress and the administration has developed a facilities and infrastructure recapitalization program to try to make up some of that gap that has grown in facilities all across the complex. As I have tried—I have not talked with the labs. I have checked with some of the plants. And it seems that they are concerned that their requests for maintenance—operation of facilities budget has been lessened. And the concern is that basically it is—they are losing here, gaining here, we are not making any progress.
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    Are we making progress?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, I believe we are. I have not heard that complaint myself. We do have two elements that support the infrastructure and maintenance activities. One is the one that is traditionally within defense programs called—it goes by the acronym RTBF (Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities)—it is a specific budget line that I am sure you are aware of. The new budget line that now appears is this one called FIRP (Facilities and Recapitalization Project), which is the facilities and infrastructure. So you have to look at the combination of those two lines to see the total amount that we are spending on infrastructure and maintenance.

    The other thing that is occurred is we now have a working activity within NNSA to be sure that we are getting those two activities tied together properly because the intent when this new budget line for facilities and infrastructure was set up was that it would last only 10 years. So we are now structuring the plan so that that transition occurs. We are now into the second year.

    Mr. EVERETT. The gentleman's time has expired.

    Mr. Bishop.


    Mr. Rogers.
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    Mr. Franks.

    Mr. FRANKS. Dr. Beckner, I just had two questions and I certainly appreciate your presence here today. But related to recovering as much as possible weapons that were a product of the old Soviet Union, I see that there is some indication here—can you just expand a little bit on your efforts in that regard?

    Dr. BECKNER. I really cannot. I think we need to take that question for the record. The person who could handle that better would be either Ambassador Brooks or one of the members of the nuclear nonproliferation part of the NNSA, I believe. I do not normally have responsibility for activities inside the Soviet—or the former Soviet Union (FSU).

    Mr. FRANKS. All right, sir, thank you.

    Seems to me that one of the most fundamental paradigm changes in the entire strategic nuclear circumstance would be related to missile defense—our ability to deal with incoming missiles because of the offensive capabilities certainly are there and just one deliverable nuclear weapon represents a profound threat to a society of our type. And I just am wondering what is the emphasis on your program?

    And, you know, forgive the freshman naivete if this is not an area that you deal with a great deal. But that seems to me to be one of the most critical elements that we could give our president would be the ability not to have to respond in a more escalating fashion if, indeed, either a rouge missile or some terrorist or some outlaw state were to try to launch a missile against us.
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    Dr. BECKNER. As yet, there has been no requirement from that program for missile defense for any type of nuclear weapon to be used as a part of that defensive system. So, as yet, we have no program activity in support of that. I agree with you, it is an important element. But, as yet, they do not indicate to us that they would anticipate any requirement to have a nuclear component as a part of that defensive system.

    Mr. FRANKS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you.

    Mr. Spratt.

    Mr. SPRATT. Thank you, again, for your testimony.

    Let me ask about the nuclear earth penetrator.

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Mr. SPRATT. Have you seen the article in the ''Oakland Tribune''?

    Dr. BECKNER. Actually I have not, although I heard it was being written, so I think I probably know what is in it.

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    Mr. SPRATT. Pretty good article, I mean, it does not—it is not one of these frightened pieces that——

    Dr. BECKNER. Right.

    Mr. SPRATT [continuing]. Claims the sky is falling, but it raises some serious technical points and backs them up with some serious people in this field.

    Among other things, it says, ''Computer simulations show low-yield nuclear weapons can collapse shallow buried bunkers that survive conventional weapons. And they will cause less collateral damage than normal strategic nuclear weapons that are thousands of times more powerful. But unless an adversary can be counted on to design the bunkers for easy annihilation with few thin walls and simple geometrics, nuclear weapons, even neutron bombs, will not guarantee destruction of anthrax, nerve gas or other lethal contents.''

    ''Instead, scientists say even a low-yield nuclear strike on a biowarfare storage bunker will dig a large, hot crater and blast a witches brew of weaponized germs and radioactive fallout into the air.'' Someone who used to be at Lawrence Livermore, Michael May, said, ''It all vents to the surface.'' And I think people are coming to this conclusion more and more.

    Bob Plurafoy, who has been around for a long time—has been effective on a lot of these issues said, ''More research is not likely to lead to any real breakthroughs. The dirt is not going to get any softer.''

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    Professor Nelson at the Counsel on Foreign Relations as a physicist says, ''You end up deploying the very stuff you are trying to destroy. It could actually go a long ways downwind and affect your own populations. It produces so much fallout that if you use it near a city, instead of killing 150,000 people, as in Hiroshima—100 to 150—you would kill 40 or 50, still a substantial number.''

    Do you take issue with any of those descriptions of this potential weapon?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, I might not say it quite the way they have said it. But it is my view that this is an extraordinarily difficult problem that we are now beginning to understand we have to deal with. There is a lot of intelligence, as I am sure you are aware, that there are buried facilities which this country will be increasingly concerned about in the future.

    I think we have to explore all the options available to us to deal with those potential targets. And obviously nuclear weapons cannot be viewed as a trivial or as a simple solution to those problems.

    We do not know whether there will be a scenario which the DOD will conclude calls for them to ask such weapons be developed, but I think we have to study the problem and really, at this point in time, this $6 million which representative Thornberry referred to earlier for concept studies and the $15 million that is specific to the RNEP program is a level which allows us to begin to understand the problems.

    I would agree, this is an extraordinarily difficult problem. And it will be quite some time, I think, before we would be able to sit here and recommend to this committee that specific weapon development should be undertaken.
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    Mr. SPRATT. Well, let me ask you this, is it necessary at this time for you to complete the work or to carry out the work that you would propose to undertake under the advanced concept funding provided by this budget request? Is it necessary to repeal the limitation on testing the prohibition on testing below five kilotons?

    Dr. BECKNER. In order for us to conduct the program that we have outlined in fiscal year 2004, the answer to that is no.

    Mr. SPRATT. Thank you very much.

    Let me ask you one other question about pit production. The department—I believe this budget request includes funds for an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for a pit production facility. We have building TA55 at the Los Alamos right now, which can do limited production and I suppose Los Alamos is one of the sites that you will examine.

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Mr. SPRATT. Years ago when Rocky Flats was shut down I suggested, ''Well, you can put the work in TA55 in the interim until you restart the building at Rocky Flats.'' And I was an instant sensation on New Mexico television. [Laughter.]

    I had the Santa Fe reporters calling me. Have not heard from them since. But anyway, if you want to know how you get your name in the paper——

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    Dr. BECKNER. There you go.

    Mr. SPRATT [continuing]. Talk about TA55.

    I know you cannot prejudice the selection process. I would think that Savannah Riverside, in my state, is probably the leading choice for that particular facility. But the question I have to ask you is—is it really needed? Have we come to the point where we have concluded that we have to have this facility? Has that decision, itself, been made?

    Dr. BECKNER. No, that decision has not yet been made. The Secretary is—will be asked to make that decision next year, as we proceed with the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process and reach the point in time where it is appropriate to make a site selection and for him to make the decision to proceed with the project. All that is ongoing at this time is the study to understand the environmental situation at each of the candidate sites and—for us to do the conceptual design for the facility so that you can do a proper analysis. That will be provided to the secretary and he will make that decision.

    Mr. SPRATT. How far off is a decision as to whether or not a production facility is actually needed?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, that will be a part—I——

    Mr. SPRATT. Yes.

    Dr. BECKNER [continuing]. As I see it, that will be a part of that decision next year.
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    Mr. SPRATT. Of the EIS itself? Or——

    Dr. BECKNER. Well——

    Mr. SPRATT [continuing]. On the EIS is just a——

    Dr. BECKNER [continuing]. If, you know, if we are going to proceed with the project, which will be the proposition that will be put to the secretary—if we are going to proceed with it, then, obviously, we will have to have the justification for the facility.

    Mr. SPRATT. Is part of this decision-making process you are looking at what went wrong with the last building you built? I know the labs, Los Alamos in particular, felt that they were excluded from the design process. And——

    Dr. BECKNER. Well I think that problem has been cured. Los Alamos is, obviously, now heavily engaged in all of the technologies required to make pits. And they are very much in the middle of this conceptual design activity as we try to decide what size and what the configuration would be for that facility.

    Mr. SPRATT. Could I ask one more question?

    Mr. EVERETT. All right.

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    Mr. SPRATT. With respect to the time frame for resumption of testing, how much lead time do you need to actually design the diagnostics and make the preparations, ask the right questions and so forth? As I understand it, you will still submit the information to us that we have requested——

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Mr. SPRATT [continuing]. Even though the funding sort of prejudges the outcome.

    I was told last year by your associates at the labs that there is a tradeoff here—that you have finite resources of truly qualified physicists and if you go with a speeded up testing—preparation schedule that you will be taking people out of the Stockpile Stewardship. And to some extent, it will suffer if you favor this speed up acceleration of the test ban preparation.

    Dr. BECKNER. I do not think so. Most of the activity is one of being sure that we have the crew available and trained at the test site to proceed with the actual physical installation. The other side of it is to have the laboratories think ahead of what they would need in the event that such a test was required. But I do not see that as a conflict. It causes you to think through problems that have been thought through in the past and need to be thought through again. There is a lot—you know, a long time has passed now. We have gotten a lot of people who were not even around the last time—the last test.

    Mr. SPRATT. Okay. But the lab director has not expressed concern to you that if you take personnel out of Stockpile Stewardship and put them in the test ban——
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    Dr. BECKNER. No, they have not.

    Mr. SPRATT [continuing]. Testing readiness——

    Dr. BECKNER. They have not—not to me.

    Mr. SPRATT. Okay. Thank you very much.

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you.

    Mr. Meek.

    Mr. MEEK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Dr. Beckner, I guess I wanted to kind of follow Mr. Spratt here today about are you confident that the Stockpile Stewardship Program investments will yield the results that we would like to have right now? Because I think that is a very important point and I want you, if you could, elaborate more on that.

    Dr. BECKNER. Okay. Well, first, the lab directors—all three of them—developed a letter which eventually gets conveyed to the president annually, certifying that the stockpile is safe and fully reliable. That is been supplied every year now since the last tests were conducted.

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    We have added a large number of bigger computers, bigger experimental facilities, and we continue to do that. The assurance, I think, will be on a year-by-year basis. I do not know any way that anyone will ever be able to sit here and say, ''Well, I am sure that for the next 20 years everything is fine.'' What we are going to do is continue to monitor the stockpile as thoroughly as possible with all the best tools we possibly can and to study with computers and experimental facilities, other than full-scale nuclear testing, of course, and tie that all together.

    And I think the best description for it at this point in time is ''so far, so good.''

    Mr. MEEK. I am sorry—so you feel that at this time, we really do not—you do not see any more enhancements that we can put towards the program? You are comfortable with it? If you had any ideas as it relates to enhancement, you can share them with us now?

    Dr. BECKNER. That is correct. We have submitted this budget. It is a five-year budget, as we provided, as a matter of fact. And we believe this program is fully contained within that request.

    Mr. MEEK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Turner.

    Mr. TURNER. Thank you.
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    Secretary Roberson, I appreciate the information that you provided us concerning the environment remediation efforts that you are undertaking. And I understand, of course, the issues of the need to make these sites safe and also for cost containment because we know that cost containment in these activities results in an ability to enhance the other activities at the Department of Energy.

    In my district is the Miamisburg Mound.

    Secretary ROBERSON. Yes.

    Mr. TURNER. And the Miamisburg Mound has been somewhat a model, from what I understand, as to cooperation between the community and the Department of Energy in that the facility is being made available for the community for economic development purposes.

    Of course the issue of the speed at which the facility is decontaminated has had an impact both in the Department of Energy for cost and on the community's efforts in transforming that site for economic development purposes.

    And I have two questions for you—one is which—as that process of making the facility available to the community has been slowed, monies that are available to the community for the redevelopment of the site have been—of course, been withheld by the Department of Energy. And there is a concern that those funds may be lost because the community has not been able to use them and access them while the project has been slowed to the Department of Energy's efforts.
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    Could you talk about those funds and how they might be able to be available to the community still?

    Secretary ROBERSON. Thank you, Mr. Turner.

    We have, indeed, had a very active and positive relationship with the city of Miamisburg and I expect that that relationship will continue. It is one of our model communities and one of our model projects. And I am pleased to say that we have—I believe that we have demonstrated our commitment and ability to fulfill our obligation both safely and in the essence of time.

    The department, as I have expressed to the mayor and others, is committed to fulfilling its obligations as previously committed to the city as we proceed with the work. We are in the process of reevaluating the timing of both commitments, in light of our new contract and our accelerated schedule for fulfilling that work. But we are committed to fulfilling our obligations and commitments made to the city.

    Mr. TURNER. That is excellent. They will be glad to hear that.

    I have a second follow-up question.

    Secretary ROBERSON. Thank you.

    Mr. TURNER. They also have a concern because apparently the site office that is located at Miamisburg is being considered for relocating. And in discussing with them the process by which that review is occurred, I do have some concerns. It is my understanding the site office relates both to the Miamisburg Mound operations and Fernald.
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    Secretary ROBERSON. That is right.

    Mr. TURNER. And the site office is going to be moved to a location that is not in either of those communities. Obviously, there is a financial impact to the community that you are partnering with when you move from them during a process of decontamination and transition.

    But in my discussions with them, it sounds as if the Department of Energy is making a decision that is not financially in the best interest of the Department of Energy—that there were offers that were made and that the specifications of the type of office—class A, largest cubicle space more than is commercially readily available in that area—might cause the Department of Energy to needlessly spend additional funds in moving to a different community than Miamisburg.

    Could you review that issue for me and get me information on it? Because, obviously, there are two aspects to it—one, when you are partnering with a community, it is best to work so that the resources are available with that community. And the second is that, as we just indicated, as you have more funds available for defense activities, the less you are spending in the contamination process. And if you are overly spending in relocating this side office, this could be money that could be saved.

    Secretary ROBERSON. Mr. Turner, I would be pleased to follow up with you. I can assure you that I am intimately familiar with each step and we have carried this out in a very objective and thoughtful way. But I would be glad to follow up with you.
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    Mr. TURNER. Great. Thank you.

    Mr. EVERETT. Ms. Wilson.

    Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Thank the gentlemen for being here today.

    I wanted to follow up on this question of the advanced development program because I am supportive of your efforts to reinvigorate that program so that we are looking at what other countries are doing and constantly thinking and getting our best scientists minds around some of these new challenges. But I note as my colleague, Mr. Thornberry did, that you have put in your budget $21 million, of which $15 million is for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, and you are going to divide the other up among the labs, which means that kind of a $2 million effort at each of the labs.

    Back when you had the advanced development program active in the 1970s and 1980s, what was your budget for it then?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, it certainly was larger than this, without going into the details. We do not see this as the steady state configuration for the activity. We are trying to get things restarted in a way that makes sense. And, quite honestly, it has been long enough since we had people working in this area that our view was we needed to spend probably most of the first year really thinking hard about what needed to be done, as opposed to spending more money, perhaps, on ideas that might be the first ones that you might think about, but perhaps would not be the most important things that you would eventually want to do.
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    So our view here, really, is tempered by where we have been in the past and not so much by where we think this program will be in the future. Certainly, looking to 2005 and 2006, it will have to be larger than this. How much larger, though, I think will be determined by what we work out here in the first year.

    I should add, as a follow-on to the question that Mr. Spratt asked me earlier about whether we need the repeal of PLYWD (Precision Low-Yield Weapons Design) in order to conduct this program—my answer to him was specific for 2004 for just that reason—because we really are only going to be thinking about the problem, for the most part, in 2004. In later years, we will need that repeal, I believe, because of the nature of the work that is likely to come along. I cannot say that with certainty because I do not know what the answers will be, but I think it is the prudent thing for that legislation to be repealed.

    Mrs. WILSON. Following up on that, then, because I did want to address that issue, as well, you do not think you will need the repeal this year, but you do believe that you are going to need it as you get the advanced development program going?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, you come back to this very difficult problem that we all know we now have to work on and that is the question of how best to attack targets that have never been analyzed previously. And certainly the early answers that are coming out of those analyses make the problem look, indeed, very difficult. And whether that would cause you to want to have a weapon with a yield under 5KT (five kilo tons), I think it is just too soon to say. But I would agree that for many of the things that people have looked at so far, the suggestion is if anything it needs to be substantially higher yield than five. But that is not to say there might not be reasons why you would like to have that yield available.
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    So there is a point where you really are going to run up against a boundary as long as that legislation is on the books.

    Mrs. WILSON. With respect to a program that does relate to the modernization of the U.S. nuclear stockpile—the MESA (Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications) project at Sandia—I noted in your budget that the amount requested was less than half the amount we were expecting to be in your budget for this year to keep the construction on schedule. I wondered if you could talk a little about that. We may need to go into some detail about that later. But I wonder if you can give us a general sense of what is going on at the MESA project. And why is this going to be delayed?

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes. I think I will take for the record, the opportunity to give you the details, because they are fairly lengthy. But let me say, the project is moving along very well. It is on schedule. We are pleased that the funding profile has turned out to be a little bit more aggressive than we originally anticipated.

    The request we have is one which reflects more upon our earlier plans than, perhaps, the way the project has turned out to be funded.

    On the other hand, with our request, we certainly believe we can bring that facility in the operation in time to maintain all of the critical outputs that we require from it. I would have to say the sooner, the better. But we believe we can conduct the program as presently proposed.

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    Mrs. WILSON. One final question—laboratory-directed research and development has often been a controversial issue on the Hill, although certainly not with me, because of the innovative technologies that have come out of that program and the flexibility that it gives the laboratories for research. But I understand there was a report recently that was due to the Congress that was delayed for some reason and some people were justifiably upset by that. I wonder if you can explain why the report on lab-directed research and development was not up here on time and what was going on.

    Dr. BECKNER. These reports turn out to be difficult to complete and get cleared, as you might imagine. The work is finished. And, you know, it will be delivered. And I think it will contain the information that you request. It is surprising how some topics are of particular difficulty in getting them completed and cleared. About all I can say is this is one of those reports that is hard to get out, but you will get it.

    Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you.

    Now my friend and our ranking member, Mr. Reyes.


    Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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    And I apologize to the witnesses for not having been here. But I do not know if you knew or not—our hearing start-up was changed and I had a commitment.

    Mr. Chairman, General Jumper sends his regards to you.

    And I want to thank my colleague for filling in for me. And in the interest of not having, perhaps—repetitious answers to questions that have already been asked, I think I will just sit and listen.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you.

    Ms. Tauscher.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Good to see everyone.

    Dr. Beckner, I am really concerned about this draft legislation that accompanies the fiscal year 2004 DOD Defense Budget—that the Pentagon asked for the repeal on the ban of research and development on low-yield just for the weapon. This ban has been a pillar of arms control efforts, in my opinion. I consider it to be completely irresponsible for us to be asking for this now, considering the fact that we are attempting to disarm other people around the world. And I think it has great potential to do harm to what little is left of this administration's credibility.
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    Now, nuclear policy falls under full committee consideration and I would like you to answer a question. I do have the only congressional district with two national nuclear labs in it. And it appears that there is a theory floated about that in order to justify the repeal of this ban, DOD argues that we need to do that because it is vital for the United States to train the next generation of nuclear weapons scientists and engineers. And without removing this ban, we will be unable to do that.

    Do you, at the NNSA, support lifting the ban—the first question? And second is finding employment for young scientists and engineers the only reason that you would support lifting the ban? Are there other—any other reasons that you think it is a good initiative to do now?

    Dr. BECKNER. Okay. First, I do support repealing the legislation and the reason for that is primarily one of it causing us to stop some analyses from occurring which are natural extension of work that you would do at higher yields, you know, to be able to study things down to 5KT and then have a sharp cut off to scientists and engineers prevents you from completing the work.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Dr. Beckner, may I interrupt you for a second? I understand that, but has the ability for us to do that research ever endangered the national security of the United States?

    Dr. BECKNER. I think to date it has not, but looking to the future, I am not so sure.
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    Ms. TAUSCHER. But you can understand, Dr. Beckner, that there are things that people like to do and would love to do that, frankly, are not always good to do. And the difference between what you might like to do and what scientists would think would be really neat science to do is the fact that those of us that sit in these chairs and take the oath of office that we take to protect the American people have bigger context and different context to look at, including the political considerations of doing.

    What do you think the ramifications would be if we repealed this ban to our credibility in the world that we are actually committed to arms control; to removing weapons systems, not increasing them; and that we are not, kind of, talking out of both sides of our mouths as we are attempting to prevent other people from securing nuclear weapons that now we have gone off on this new junket that we are not only going to go get some more, but we are also going to get some that we previously said no one should have? How does make us look?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, I think you have asked me to venture into territory that is not properly mine. It is my job to assess the threat to the country and to propose solutions, I believe. And when that encounters legislative barriers, there comes a time when I have to recommend that we try to remove those barriers.

    I think it is the job of the Congress, now, to make the decision whether you are going to allow that to occur or not.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. But just be clear, we have never had a situation, up until now, and when—I think what your answer was just a moment ago is that in the short term, you do not expect that this ban endangers American national security.
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    Dr. BECKNER. In the short term, that is my answer. For the long term, I have to say it precludes work which I think this country should conduct.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. But that does not deal with the political ramifications.

    Dr. BECKNER. It does not. I am dealing with it as an engineer or a scientist, which happens to be what I am.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. And a good one.

    Dr. BECKNER. Thank you.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Ms. Roberson, can I ask you a question about the EM issues at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories? How are you?

    Secretary ROBERSON. I am fine. How are you?

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Good.

    There is a significant shortfall in the 2004 baseline budget for work that we are supposed to cover the cost of generating and treating and disposing of newly generated waste at Lawrence Livermore. And how do you expect Lawrence Livermore to manage the hazardous mixed and radioactive waste in a safe and compliant manner and finally get rid of those legacy waste drums that are sitting in tents and on the outsides instead of being on the inside if they do not have the money to do it? Isn't it creating a situation where Lawrence Livermore is actually going to be in violation of the law because they do not have the money to do what they are told to do?
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    Secretary ROBERSON. Ms. Tauscher, I am not aware of a shortfall in the budget request for 2004 for Lawrence Livermore. As you are aware, in our previous interactions, we have actually developed a waste disposition plan that accelerates disposition of those wastes beyond where we had planned before. This may be a remnant of the proposed budget structure for 2004. And what I would like to do is to look at that and provide you details because I am fairly sure there is not a proposed budget shortfall to implement the accelerated remediation of the legacy waste.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Well, why don't you take a look at it, your increase may be my shortfall. So why don't we try to figure out how we get these numbers to mesh?

    And I thank you all for being here. I think it is safe to say that these are very important issues for us to look at. They are very complex. Your context is a different context than, necessarily, we have to look at them because of our different intermingling responsibilities.

    But I thank you for your service and I thank you for your hard work.

    And I yield back the balance of my time.

    Mr. EVERETT. The lady's time has expired. [Laughter.]

    Mr. Ryan.

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    We will start a second round. I think in exchange for the members' cooperation holding it to five minutes, I have promised that we will be here as many rounds as we need to be. And I will start off—for Dr. Beckner.

    Dr. Beckner, you seem to be getting the majority of the questions and, in my opinion, you are doing very well in answering them.

    Dr. BECKNER. Just a good day. [Laughter.]

    Mr. EVERETT. The first of many, I hope.

    The United States has not conducted an underground nuclear test since September of 1992—instead, relies on science-based techniques to continue to certify the safety, reliability and performance of the nuclear stockpile. The lead time for the United States to conduct an underground test, should the President determine that such tests are necessary, is currently assessed at an unacceptable three years. What progress has NNSA made towards enhancing test readiness in determining an optimum test readiness posture?

    Dr. BECKNER. A substantial amount of work was done last summer and the report prepared at that time, in draft form, which we have now been in the process of finalizing, which allows us now to know the cost and tradeoffs associated with shortening that time.

    I believe General Gordon, last year when he testified as administrator for NNSA, made the position that he felt it was unacceptable that the time remained as long as 24 to 36 months, which is where it has been until now. And until we spend some more money on it, that is where it is going to stay.
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    But we do now have in our proposal to this year—in the budget request—reducing that time. And we have suggested to bring it down to 18 months. We will provide you the analysis in this report which shows the other options—six months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months. And you can conclude whether you think our recommendation is appropriate or not.

    But we have completed that work. We now have a larger budget request in front of you to begin to shorten that time. And I think we are ready to move forward with that plan.

    Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Card, can you provide us with an update on the defense side—assimilation, completion—specifically, what progress has been made in terms of signing letters of intent with federal and state regulatory agencies in the development of site performance of management plans?

    Secretary CARD. Sure. Let me say here——

    Mr. EVERETT. I do not want to leave you out, so I am going to come back with a question here.

    Secretary CARD. I do not mind being left out of the hearings, actually.

    We are making great progress on our program management plans. And I am going to let Secretary Roberson give you the specifics. But, just in general, I am only aware of one or two sites where we have, in my opinion, a philosophical disagreement. The plans that have not been signed or—due to people getting together or various other issues, but we are proceeding with the community, based on those plans.
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    So I am actually quite encouraged about our progress. And based on my experience of getting through this transition time at Rocky Flats, we are working much faster than I imagined that we would.

    I would also like—before seeing if Secretary Roberson wants to elaborate on that, though—just elaborate a bit on the answer that I gave you to your question earlier. When you look at the overall benefit to the community of this cleanup strategy, I think it is got to be perceived as, in order of magnitude, better from an environment risk perspective than the track that we were on before because we are addressing the key risks so much earlier and we are completing it so much earlier.

    And I think, clearly, if there are disagreements over end state cleanup levels, that this committee and the Congress and Senate will get involved in that at that time and when you look at the amount of resources that we are saving through the acceleration to apply to that, other things for national health and safety, there is no question in my mind that the public is far better off with this than they would be under any other strategy.

    Thank you.

    Secretary ROBERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    We have proposed performance management plans for every one of our sites. And at two of our sites, we continue to work through the details of those with our regulators in the communities.
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    I would like to emphasize that these performance management plans establish a new floor for our cleanup, not a new ceiling. And so our intent is not to just change the way the program looks and then in two years to be in front of you again because we have not made improvement. Our goal is to continue to improve upon that and we do, both in reducing the cost and reducing the amount of time at our site.

    I would also like to emphasize that these plans are two which will focus all of the parties. The work is still there to be done and we are making great strides in the actual physical elimination of risk at our sites. We have provided in the written testimony specific examples of that. But the key success from this program is actually what gets done on the ground. And the work is being done on the ground.

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you very much.

    Mr. Thornberry.

    Mr. THORNBERRY. Dr. Beckner, you have been asked to venture into some policy issues. It is my hope that we will ultimately decide to remove any blinders on what we allow those brilliant people at Livermore and Sandia and elsewhere to think about. It does not seem to me to be productive that we would say, ''Yes, you can explore this option, but once you get to this point, you must stop immediately. You cannot think about it. And you cannot consider it even if the security of the United States would be improved.'' I do not see how that is helpful for us.

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    At some point, they need to bring us options and we want to encourage that. And I want to get to a point that Ms. Tauscher just eluded to, but to get an update on it because you have not been asked about the different—where we are with getting and keeping top-quality scientists and engineers and other skilled folks at labs and plants.

    I think it has been encouraging to all of us that since September 11, particularly, there has been more interest of people to help contribute to our national security. And whether it is homeland security or nuclear deterrence, we want to encourage that. We want to unleash people's minds to explore options to make us safer. We will never be able to prove that if we restrict what they can think about, we got this many fewer people. But it seems to me to be something we all ought to strive for.

    But in the interim, where are we as far as recruitment, retention at the complex?

    Dr. BECKNER. I think the results are really quite good. And you are right—the interest in national defense work has gone up on the part of graduating college—both graduate and undergraduate students since September 11. I heard recently from one of the lab directors that their acceptance rate for new hires was well above 75 percent, in fact, I think it was nearly 90 percent.

    So I think we are hiring people where we, you know, where we can, due to the budget that we are working with and with great success. But one area where we continue to have difficulty, in fact, is in the security force. Now, this is a different part of our work population, but a very important one.
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    And quite honestly, we continue to run behind there. And it is one of these things where the faster we run, it seems at least, we are not catching up very fast because we continue to lose people from that work force into other areas. Because, as I am sure you are aware, the——

    Mr. THORNBERRY. High demand.

    Dr. BECKNER [continuing]. Civilian requirements for security forces has gone up, as well.

    So we—particularly in the area that I am aware is the one involving the workers that are the backbone of our transportation element. And we continue to have training classes—either two or three a year. And within a year's time, typically, we have lost about a half of those people. But, you know, our only alternative is just keep hiring.

    Mr. THORNBERRY. Yes.

    Let me ask about one other area while I have time. Report after report, before the creation of the NNSA, talked about the concern of not having long-range planning. You referred earlier—now we have a five-year budget. It was required in the law. That is a step in the right direction.

    Do you have or do you hope to have, at some point, a long-range plan to deal with personnel issues—the number of people who are of a certain age that are expected to retire and how we are going to deal with that loss, not only of people, but of knowledge? Is there a long-range plan? Or will you have one to deal with that?
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    And will we have a long-range plan on facilities—not just patching up the roofs, but thinking if it is so hard to get something that is underground, maybe we ought to, at some point, have some of our things underground?

    Without getting into specifics over each of them, are we having this five to 10-year plan complex wide on personnel and facility issues?

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes—the answer is yes. Specifically, we are in the process of completing a 10-year plan at each site we are requiring a 10-year plan from each site so that we can integrate it together. That becomes our 10-year plan for facilities.

    We are well along——

    Mr. THORNBERRY. When will that be integrated?

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, I do not know that I have a specific date for completion, because it will be an ongoing thing that we will update year to year. We have input on that already. So we are working with that now, as we provide this five-year funding profile to the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and then to Congress. So that is feeding our present five-year plan that you see in the documents that we have given to you. I think we are in pretty good shape on our plans, to be perfectly honest.

    Now, let's talk about people. In the case of people, I think the labs and the plants probably are in a position to do a better job and are doing a better job than we are with the federal work force. The constraints on us with the federal work force are really rather substantial.
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    They are aggravated by the fact that we have restructured NNSA so that we can operate with fewer federal employees. And we have got to go through this agony—I think that is the right word for it—of getting down to the level of—for our operational purposes before we can then begin to deal with the future.

    So a year from now, I think I can give you a better answer on that than I can today. But that is a problem that is difficult.

    Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Franks.

    Mr. FRANKS. No more questions, sir.

    Mr. EVERETT. No more questions.

    Mr. Spratt.

    Mr. SPRATT. No questions.

    Mr. EVERETT. No other questions.

    Mr. Meek.

    Mr. MEEK. No questions.

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    Mr. Turner.

    Mr. TURNER. No questions.

    Mr. EVERETT. No questions.

    Ms. Wilson.

    Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I just had two things that I did want to follow up on. And I do not have two labs in my district.

    And Los Alamos is not even in my district, Mr. Spratt, so I guess I can say anything I want to the Santa Fe papers when they——

    Mrs. WILSON [continuing]. Be that as it may, I do think that this whole issue of what we allow people to think about and what restrictions we put on research—the only security that it undermines is our own. And I think it is an illusion to think that we will be safer if we do not let people think about and explore things that we may find frightening because they will never be able to come to us with options. And that is what we want you to do.

    So it may not be necessary this year because you are getting this—you have got the tinder that you are trying to spark for a renewed advanced development program. But I think we are going to have to make some hard decisions. And I think they are important decisions for the security of this country. And I wanted to thank you for being willing to come forward and discuss those, at least in a preliminary way this morning.
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    One thing that I did want to ask you about, finally, had to do with this streamline management and the restructuring that you are going through and whether you see, with respect to oversight of our labs and weapons complex, any risks of this—whether they are in the transition or in the end state—of changing to this new structure and how you have mitigated those risks.

    Dr. BECKNER. Well, when we say that we are going to reduce the total number of federal employees by 25 percent, I think obvious concerns follow as to whether that might cause us to not have as much oversight of the activities as might be advised. So that is a question that we are worried about. We believe we can do it because of the way we have reorganized—putting more authority at the site offices where they are immediately adjacent to the contractor activities.

    And so far, I would say every indication is that that is right. You know, I have no higher level of concern today than I did, for instance, six months ago when we were operating in the old way. In fact, I think I have a little less because I do think we have a good relationship developing between the site offices and the contractor management teams.

    The secret is there, though, and it is in the fact that the intent here is to be sure that the contractors realize that we are depending on them, first and foremost, to do the job that they are under contract to do. And we are going to oversee that contract so that they do what they are under contract to do because we cannot manage those sites. Those contractors have to manage the sites. And I think we have good contractors. And for that reason, I believe we have got the right plan in place.
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    But you are right, we are reducing the number of feds—or federal employees and we would better keep an eye on it.

    Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. EVERETT. Certainly.

    Mr. Reyes.

    Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Dr. Beckner, I heard you talk about that—the report on test readiness is completed. Do you know when we are going to be able to get a copy of that—when it is going to be delivered?

    Dr. BECKNER. I had—before you got here, I was asked that question and I had to say that I was not quite prepared to give you a firm date. But the draft report has been completed for some time. We have been getting it in final and—form so that we could get it out. And I am going to have to take it for the record to give you a firm date.

    Mr. REYES. Okay. Thank you.

    The other question that I have is in light of the questions on being able to hire and retain security personnel, what is the state of effectiveness of the secure transport activity? And in the budget I note that there is a slight increase in that——
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    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Mr. REYES [continuing]. In that area. And I was wondering is that commensurate with the task? Is that not enough? Or what is your take?

    Dr. BECKNER. The way we are handling it now is we have those personnel working a lot of overtime—more than we feel we would like to sustain. They do like to work some, you know, they are—these people just live that life, you know? They are perfectly happy working 50 hours a week instead of 40, for instance. But when you get much beyond 60 hours a week, it does become a situation where you feel like you have gone too far. So we are trying to hire more people so that we can work some less overtime.

    The other thing you observe is we are trying to build up the total number of employees—part of that so we work less overtime and also part so that we can have a little more time for training. We have a situation now where we run about 15 to 20 percent of time is in training. We would like that to be more like 20 to 25 percent for these forces, because these are the people who carry guns and are authorized to use them.

    So we are trying to increase the work force and that is what most of that money there is for. At the same time, we do continuously have to upgrade the transportation fleet in sort of a normal way.

    Mr. REYES. Has this work force been affected much like others around the country in terms of the mobilization of the Reserves because we have noticed a definite impact on police departments—on sheriff's departments. And——
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    Dr. BECKNER. I asked that question just a week ago of Steve Affner, the fellow who is responsible for this. And, as yet, I think the number was fewer than a half dozen that we have had called up. But we have lost a few.

    Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. EVERETT. Ms. Tauscher.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I want to get back to this issue of the five kiloton limit because, you know, with all due respect to my colleague from New Mexico, I do not think it is as benign as it has been portrayed that this is just about letting people think and letting scientists, kind of, do their thing, because if you read the draft of the defense authorization bill submitted by DOD, it says that the reason why we need to look at repealing this is because this legislation negatively affects or affected U.S. government efforts to support the national strategy to counter WMD and uncuts efforts that would strengthen our ability to deter or respond to new emerging threats.

    That sounds pretty strong. Actually, it sounds as if this stops us from protecting our country. And I do not think that is exactly true. I think that that is a ideological position. And a political position, perhaps, but not a fact-based position.

    And I just want to reiterate for the record, Dr. Beckner, you have just told me that the lack of the ability to do research on low yield—below five kiloton weapons has not damaged the security of this country as of yet and you do not think so in the short term.
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    Dr. BECKNER. The problem is the enemy fortifications, if we want to describe them that way, we now realize are changing with time. And as we get more information, we realize the difficulty of dealing with those targets. And that is what I believe is causing the DOD to give you the language that they have given you.

    We know that we have to understand much better in the future how you destroy chemical and biological agents, as opposed to disbursing them, which Mr. Spratt eluded to earlier, because we all agree that is a bad idea.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Yes.

    Dr. BECKNER. As we study that problem, and this is probably a discussion that we could have more fully if we were in a classified setting. And I would volunteer—to the extent that I have that information—to provide it in that setting. But as we study the problem more fully, we realize how difficult it really is, particularly to kill biological agents. It takes either very high temperature for some period of time or a lot of ionizing radiation for some period of time or a combination of the two. And there—we know there is a tradeoff. And we have now studied—''we'' I say in the community—the scientific community, broadly, not just the NNSA labs, there are other labs involved in this.

    It is now been studied enough to know that it is quite challenging to first of all model the likely configuration that you would be attacking and to then convince yourself that you can get an extremely high kill level for those viruses or bacteria, as the case may be. And unless you can, then what are you going to do?
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    So you are driven to work that problem until you can put in front of the president or in front of the Secretary of Defense, as the case may be, a solution, if you can possibly find a solution. Otherwise, you are left with the problem and you just say, ''I cannot do anything about that.'' And I do not think that is acceptable. That is the problem.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. But it still could be that there are other reasons small yield nuclear device could not be used because proximity to populations, collateral damage, the inability to actually go in and assess what exactly the damage was——

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Ms. TAUSCHER [continuing]. And whether you actually——

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Ms. TAUSCHER [continuing]. Had done what you thought you——

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. —were going to do.

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

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    Ms. TAUSCHER. And then there are, obviously, the proliferating challenges of actually disbursing——

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Ms. TAUSCHER [continuing]. The bad stuff as opposed to containing it.

    Dr. BECKNER. Yes.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. I am—I just—as I have said, I am deeply concerned about the—what I appear to—what I think is an ideology in search of a justification. And, you know, I am all for people just thinking and thinking big. And I am all for protecting national security. But since we do not appear to have an agreement that there is a threat to national security right now and that this is about potentially having an issue, I think we should be very serious about thinking about whether we remove this ban now.

    Dr. BECKNER. I understand. Let me suggest one other line of thinking, since—and that is any weapon that would subsequently be developed, obviously, has to come back to the Congress for authorization. So thinking about these things and devising proposed solutions seems to me to make sense. And then bring it back and let the Congress act on it at that time. But to cut it off and tell us, ''Do not ever do that,'' is not something that I like to recommend.

    Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you.
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    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. EVERETT. Thank you Ms. Tauscher. Go ahead Mr. Spratt.

    Mr. SPRATT. Did you say that you have information that 5KT may be insufficient then—that a larger weapon may be needed for this mission?

    Dr. BECKNER. I do not have that much certainty about the answers because I do not have that much certainty about the targets yet. But as we have begun to see some of these analyses, you quickly conclude that this is a very tough job. And I think beyond that we ought to get ourselves into a classified setting for the discussion.

    Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Chairman, I would just request that at some appropriate time we could have that classified briefing on this subject. I think——

    Mr. EVERETT. I think that would be very helpful.

    Mr. THORNBERRY [continuing]. That would be very supportive and helpful to us.

    Mr. EVERETT. Yes. We will have staff get in touch with you and try to make arrangements for that.

    Dr. BECKNER. I would say we should plan to bring DOD into this request——
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    Mr. EVERETT. We would request you bring whoever you think is necessary.

    Dr. BECKNER [continuing]. Because much of what I have talked about is, in fact, not entirely NNSA work.

    Mr. EVERETT. Fine.

    First of all, I want to thank the panel and the members for cooperating on the five-minute rule as I had promised we would have as many rounds as was needed.

    And I also want to thank all of you for taking time to be with us today. Your statements and comments will be very helpful as we consider the administration's budget request.

    I also might add that I know that there are questions going to be submitted for the record and I would ask for your response to those in 30 days.

    This hearing is adjourned.

    [Whereupon, at 10:38 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]