SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 10658]
STATUS OF NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (NNSA)
SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY REORGANIZATION
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JULY 11, 2000
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SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY REORGANIZATION
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas, Chairman
DUNCAN HUNTER, California
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
JIM RYUN, Kansas
FLOYD D. SPENCE, South Carolina
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
NORMAN SISISKY, Virginia
JOHN M. SPRATT, Jr., South Carolina
IKE SKELTON, Missouri
Brian R. Green, Professional Staff
Peggy Cosseboom, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
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Tuesday, July 11, 2000, Status of National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Tuesday, July 11, 2000
TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2000
STATUS OF NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (NNSA)
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Tauscher, Hon. Ellen O., a Representative from California, Ranking Member, Special Oversight Panel on Department of Energy Reorganization
Thornberry, Hon. Mac, a Representative from Texas, Chairman, Special Oversight Panel on Department of Energy Reorganization
Gordon, Gen. John A., U.S. Air Force (Retired), Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC[The Prepared Statements submitted for the Record can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Tauscher, Hon. Ellen O.
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Documents submitted for the Record can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Statements by Secretary of Energy Richardson before the SASC on June 21, 1999 Regarding Dual Hatting
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers are pending.]
STATUS OF NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (NNSA)
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Special Oversight Panel on Department of Energy Reorganization,
Washington, DC, Tuesday, July 11, 2000.
The Panel met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m. in room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Mac Thornberry (Chairman of the Panel) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. MAC THORNBERRY, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS, CHAIRMAN, SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY REORGANIZATION
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. THORNBERRY. The hearing will come to order. The Special Oversight Panel on the Department of Energy Reorganization meets today to hear from the new Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), General John Gordon. I believe this is the first time that General Gordon has had the opportunity to testify before Congress since he assumed his new position and we certainly welcome him and are glad that he is on the job.
I think it is helpful to take just a second to review where we have been and what brings us to this day. Beginning really with the creation of the Department of Energy in the late 1970s, there have been studies, reports, commissions, and recommendations, which have been critical of the management of the Department, in part stemming from a number of things that were thrown together to create the Department of Energy in the late 1970s. Yet despite this regular drum beat for reform, for greater accountability and for a streamlined chain of command, not much has happened.
In 1996, this Committee began efforts to reform the management structure at the Department of Energy in the areas at least under our jurisdiction, which are the national security programs, but it was not until the revelations of security breaches last year that enough political momentum developed to make the necessary reforms. And so in last year's defense authorization bill, Congress acted upon very specific recommendations of the President's own Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board which found DOE to be, quote, ''a dysfunctional bureaucracy incapable of reforming itself.''.
That report gave Congress two options. One is that we could create a semiautonomous agency within the Department of Energy responsible for national security matters, or we could take all of that out and create a completely separate independent agency. Congress chose to take the more moderate course, believing, really, that that was the last opportunity for DOE to prove that it could manage this very important national responsibility.
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Since that bill was signed into law last October, Congress has been frustrated by the failure of the Administration to implement the letter and the spirit of the law that we passed. But one bright spot where we have heartily commended Secretary Richardson has been his decision to appoint a blue ribbon panel of top rate folks to find the best person in the country to run this new agency. Their top first choice is our witness today.
General Gordon has been Deputy Director of the CIA, he has been Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, he has been Director of Defense and Arms Control matters in the Department of State, he has been a Special Assistant to the President at the White House, he has even been a physicist and done research at Sandia laboratory. It is certainly rare to have someone bring all of these qualities together, and it is also rare to find someone in Washington who receives this degree of overwhelming support.
But I have to say, General, that you may actually be Superman, but even Superman is not going to straighten all of this out overnight. Of course, the recent headlines have all been about security lapses, which are certainly serious, but the new NNSA faces many, many other challenges which could be just as serious to make sure that our nuclear deterrent has the confidence of the American people and the respect of our allies. Some of those challenges include weapons that are aging beyond their designed life, a decision not to test nuclear weapons, a production complex which has been shrunk and not maintained, losing people because of retirements and age and other reasons, losing vital expertise, and a lack of confidence that the place is run well.
This is an enormously big job. General Gordon has not been on the job even two weeks yet. His formal swearing-in will be tomorrow, but we look forward to hearing from him today on what his hopes and aspirations are for the new agency and we look forward to working with you, sir, for some time to come, in a bipartisan way.
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With that, let me turn to the distinguished ranking member of the Panel, Mrs. Tauscher.
STATEMENT OF HON. ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, RANKING MEMBER, SPECIAL OVERSIGHT PANEL ON DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY REORGANIZATION
Mrs. TAUSCHER. I thank the distinguished Chairman of the Panel, Mr. Thornberry.
It is a great pleasure to welcome you, General Gordon, and to congratulate you on your appointment to head the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). I look forward to your testimony, General Gordon, and I look forward to working with you very closely to make sure that the NNSA gets implemented in the true letter of the law and the spirit of the law, and also to make sure that we maintain the viability of our nuclear opportunities, our secrets, and that we have state-of-the-art security for our state-of-the-art secrets.
You have only been in office for less than two weeks, and you will be sworn in tomorrow, and I know that you are just going to be making your first field visit later this week, and your initial views on the NNSA will be very helpful to this Panel in our continuing oversight capacity.
But, General Gordon, as you know, you might have parked your white horse outside and you may have a Superman outfit underneath that nice new suit, but you have one of the most difficult tasks in this government before you.
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As you know, and as my Chairman, Mr. Thornberry, has alluded to, the Department of Energy has been entangled in bureaucratic kudzus since its inception, and this Committee has seen report after report detailing the confused lines of authority, the lack of focus, and particularly the lack of regard to national security activities.
Last year in Title 32 of the defense authorization bill, Congress attempted to provide a framework for streamlining the Department of Energy by establishing the National Nuclear Security Administration. By walling off the national nuclear responsibilities of the Department, clarifying lines of authority, and establishing an Administrator to oversee the nuclear weapons operations, Congress has taken the first steps toward building an agency that runs efficiently and that effectively protects our Nation's nuclear secrets. You now have the difficult job of administrating this opportunity. And there are many many challenges that you face.
The latest incident at Los Alamos has made clear that while some improvements have been made, the security policies and procedures of our national laboratories are still inadequate. Questions remain about the structure of the NNSA, including the need for and the legitimacy of dual-hatting. I am concerned that in our attempts to correct shortcomings in the security area, we run the risk of implementing procedures that protect nuclear materials which make it very difficult to recruit and retain the world-class scientific minds that our laboratories depend upon.
And perhaps most important, I have real concerns about the financial health of our nuclear weapons complex. I am concerned that our failure to sufficiently fund our laboratories and protection facilities is quickly leading us to a point where we will be unable to meet the core objectives of our stockpile stewardship program. I would be remiss if I did not share my concerns about the funding support for our office, General Gordon. Without sufficient resources, there is little opportunity for you to develop a qualified staff with enough people to help you face the very tough job you have ahead.
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I don't expect to hear specifically from you today, General Gordon ,any kind of commitments as to what you may do about security, dual-hatting, budgeting, or other controversial issues. While we all understand the need for immediate relief from the unacceptable state of management, I am convinced that your response must be measured and disciplined, with the consideration of potential unintended consequences of any decision you make.
I hope this hearing will provide the members of the Panel with a sense of your priorities as NNSA Administrator, the process by which you plan to address these priorities, and more importantly, some direction as to how Congress can help you succeed. And while the challenges you face are daunting, I join with Chairman Thornberry in pledging to work very closely with you in a bipartisan way to ensure that the National Nuclear Security Administration is a true success and that our Nation's nuclear secrets are protected and that the environment of thousands of people that work at the Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory in my district is improved so that we have the opportunity to maximize 55 years of the best science in the world and the best opportunities for people to work in that kind of environment and we continue to do the right thing for the American people. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mrs. Tauscher can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you. The Chair would yield to the distinguished ranking member of the Procurement Subcommittee, Norman Sisisky, if he would like to make any opening statements.
Mr. SISISKY. Not at this time, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. THORNBERRY. The distinguished ranking member of the full committee.
Mr. SKELTON. My only comment is to welcome you, General. You do have a great challenge ahead of you, and keep in mind the words Mrs. Tauscher gave a few moments ago, to let us know how Congress can help you because all of us feel very deeply about the problems that are facing your Department.
General GORDON. Thank you very much.
Mr. THORNBERRY. General, you may proceed as you see fit.
STATEMENT OF GEN. JOHN A. GORDON, U.S. AIR FORCE (RETIRED), ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
General GORDON. Mr. Chairman, members of the Panel, thank you very much for the opportunity to be here. As you said, this is my first hearing as the first Administrator of this new agency. The members of this Panel, Mr. Thornberry, Mrs. Tauscher, yourselves, have been particularly supportive of the establishment of this Administration. You have been particularly supportive of me. And so I thank you very much on both of those accounts. And I would say that I will need your continued support very much as well for the Administration. I think I have already heard comments to that effect, so I will take you up on that as it comes along.
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I would like to spend maybe a couple minutes longer than most people would in starting, and put a few points down and then turn to any directions you would like to take.
I will tell you, first off, I have had more than a few friends question why I would be interested in taking such a job as this. They think the problems too vexing, the bureaucracy too complex, and the political support too weak for a mission that may be fading, and too draining of resources that could be spent on other priorities. So I have to admit there is some basis for skepticism, and there are certainly tremendous problems which we must address. But I think that is no reason to turn aside from this task.
And so first I want to be very clear that I absolutely support the need for the NNSA and I support each and every one of the mission statements that is in Title 32.
Perhaps most importantly what NNSA does in this regard is to create a full-time advocate for the mission, I think, most importantly for the people that accomplish the mission, and the establishment of NNSA can go an awfully long way in and of itself in convincing the people that work with us and for us that they have a long-term mission and that we are supportive of their endeavors.
Second, this is just a major challenge and with any luck it will be fun to attack, and I will try to do that. It also has the potential of being one of the very best technical management jobs in the country, so therefore a very exciting opportunity.
You do know that I have a personal attachment both to the elements of the new organization and considerable affection for the people. So that is another reason I am interested in it. I worked closely with both the organizations and the people for many years and have the greatest respect for their accomplishments, their professionalism and the dedication they have shown for all these many years. And finally, I don't accept the contention that there is little chance for success, while not underestimating the challenges in front of us, its broad support, and it is time for positive change.
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As you all said, I think, I have had four or five full days in the office and had a full-time job until the day I was sworn in. So you don't expect full perspectives of plans, but I will talk to some of the initial perspectives and some initial ideas on this issue.
First, in the environment the threat is dramatically different than it was during the Cold War. The Russian threat has changed qualitatively and quantitatively but it is certainly not gone. New nuclear states are appearing, proliferation and terrorism are quite real, yet our nuclear security enterprise has not adapted fully to this. No new weapons are being developed, no tests are being conducted, funding is very tight, and political support for the mission is not broad-based.
In this environment we have lost energy, and we have lost cohesion within the enterprise. We do not fully understand our priorities and the requirements we are trying to meet. We are not attracting the best talentwe are not attracting the quantity of the best talent that we need for continued success, and we are probably not retaining that which we need for the very difficult tasks of stockpile stewardship. The infrastructure is aging and in some cases is failing. The enterprise is not very efficient, hasn't adopted the most modern business practices, and we do not enjoy the full support and confidence of Congress, our partners, and our own employees. I think I say that with considerable understatement. For these and other reasons, there is now a significant lack of confidence in the enterprise's ability to manage itself, accomplish its missions, and prepare for a very dynamic future.
To me what really needs to be done can be encompassed in a very simple statement, one that is a lot easier to talk about than it is to actually accomplish, and that is to restore the trust and the confidence in the management and leadership of the nuclear security enterprise in this country, by the Congress, by our partners, and by the people who actually work on the enterprise itself.
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In effect, Mr. Chairman, what I need to do is regain your confidence that we can actually run the Administration, the enterprise, gain in effect your permission to run the organization on a day-to-day basis. And it is kind of hard to envision a metric for that goal, but you know in a year or two or three, one measure of some degree of success might be a significant reduction in the number of reports we have to send up here and the number of committees that we choose ourselves to come in and look at us from the outside, but without minimizing in any way the absolute need for tough congressional oversight and the insight that comes from outsiders.
Right now we are spending an awful lot of time talking about history, and we need to find a way to get moving forward and spend less time and really put our human resources to work on those issues. And I recognize that this degree of attention is largely the enterprise's own making and the result of the problems that Congress and others have identified. But if we can rebuild this trust and confidence, we are going to have a lot more energy and a lot more people to do the real work of the mission.
Beyond the key point of this restoring trust and confidence, there are several issues I want to take on as quickly and practicably as possible, and these include in very broad terms, just really quickly, to gain the agreement within the enterprise itself on the mission, the vision and the goals, if you will, the strategic plan that we are going to try to follow. We need to bring to the NNSA organization sound management, leadership, and a fiscal footing to sharpen the efficiency of the enterprise, strengthen project management in Defense Programs, Materials Disposition and Non Proliferation and National Security. This is one area where I think by putting naval reactors into this organization, we can draw on some of the expertise that Admiral Skip Bowman brings in these areas in particular. We need to ensure that we are operating in an agreed and understandable set of requirements with the Department of Defense.
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Finally, and maybe as important as any, we need to find the right balance between need and near-time stockpile work and the longer development of the tools and the techniques that will ensure the future of the stockpile. We can't let current systems atrophy, or we certainly can't fail to do the necessary maintenance, but we can't fail to be ready for the long-term issues we face.
We cannot remain static in pushing for the deeper understanding of the underlying physics and chemistry of engineering so that we can continue to ensure a safe and secure and reliable stockpile for as long as America requires nuclear weapons. We cannot continue to let our infrastructure decay. It is unprofessional, it is inefficient, it is wasteful of resources, it is potentially dangerous, and it sends exactly the wrong message to the professionals we want to attract and keep in this endeavor.
Mr. Chairman, let me take a second just to tell you what my starting point is. First, I need to get this organization on a sound operating footing with a degree of flexibility and speed in which it can act. I plan to bring in as soon as practicableand I hope very soona couple of senior advisers on a temporary basis. It would be senior people that would hopefully be known to you. I also expect to bring in a number of individuals, many as detailees, to begin to fill the functional roles outlined in Title 32. Since dual-hatting of individuals is not going to be a problem, I hope to be able to move very rapidly on these positions as soon as we can identify individuals and get them into place.
Secondand several of you alluded to this in the beginningI need to come to my own conclusions on the state of this enterprise. I listen to many people describe the problems we face and their ideas on solutions. I hear problems of culture and of morale and infrastructure and lack of mission and lack of resources. There are problems in program management and prioritization and confusing reporting structures and lack of accountability. I hear that everyone is in charge or no one is in charge.
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The picture that is painted for me is not very pretty, but I would like to be able to assess it for myself, and I start tomorrow, immediately after the public swearing-in, with a trip to Los Alamos. I intend to visit each of the major facilities over the next couple of months, trying to take one trip a week and spend a couple of days at these sites. The visits will permit me to see firsthand the conditions, meet with the employees and the managers, and look at the programs and infrastructure. Frankly, I will use those trips as a beginning to tell the folks that there are changes afoot and to play the point that the establishment of NNSA itself sends a strong signal to the folks that we do support them, we do support the mission, and that there is a long-term future in this business.
Now, it seems to me this enterprise is measured now not by its accomplishments, but more by its failures and its shortcomings. That is something I am little bit familiar with from my old job. But I intend to leave the message the establishment itself is an important measure of the value the government places on the mission and the value they place on people. When this is done, then I will have a clearer sense of the baseline from which I have to work, the problems that really need to be addressed and in what priority. I hope, Mr. Chairman, you understand this will take at least some time.
There are a couple of issuesbut I don't want to leave the impression that I am just going to sit back for two months and go touring. There are a couple of issues I want to start on right away, in addition to the very important mechanics of getting the organization staffed and functioning.
That is, the first, security. The PFIAB report was a very important bell ringer for the enterprise. Frankly, much has been done to address individual and specific shortcomings that were identified, and my sense is the physical security seems strong and tremendous steps have been taken to strengthen the system across the board. But my assessment is we need to make these individual steps set up in a cohesive whole, to build on them and better inculcate the security into the system at all levels.
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Some say the problems are a matter of culture. I am frankly not entirely sure what that means. I think we haven't explained as well as we should out in the field. We haven't gotten full buy-in from all, and we haven't established proper accountability in this system.
Our security systems clearly have not kept pace with the changes in information technology and the pace and methods by which teams do science in America. One of the measures of science in America is team science, but it cannot be as simple as saying that scientists don't care about or accept the need for classification, although they may be more demanding and more questioning. It is just the same way it is not as simple as making more and more regulations and rules. It has something to do with the acceptance and with management and with leadership.
I have asked my staff and the folks who make up NNSA now to begin to develop a program that I will call ''integrated security management,'' modeled very roughly after a program that the enterprise actually has begun to accept over the last couple of years called ''integrated safety management.'' This is an idea to put the entire enterprise into the equation to work with the leaders at all levels and parts of the organization to achieve this degree of buy-in, and to build it into the very nature of what and how people plan to do their work, while making very clear where authorities and responsibilities and lanes in the road are. More to follow on that.
Second, I would like to start as soon as practicable on a multiyear budget and program plan. There is a crying need for a better multiyear planning, programming and budgeting plan. As I see it, today we are really operating on almost 1-year budgets, with little effort placed or little belief placed in what is done in the outyear planning. I can't do business this way and I don't think you can either.
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We need to define our needs and requirements out for several years. We need to budget to that and we need to execute to that budget. You need to see where I want to go and how we plan to get there, you need to understand what additional resources you will give us, and you need to understand what cutbacks or reductions would affect.
Now, General Tom Gioconda in Defense Programs has actually made real progress in building a foundation for this. I hope to accelerate that work and move towards a real bi-depif that is the right termin NNSA, and I would hope to plan and form a task force to do this. And I am still looking for the right individual with considerable DOD and planning and budgeting systems to come in and lead this work.
Mr. Chairman, I really don't think I underestimate the difficulty of the task ahead of us, but the conditions really may be right to give us a chance at rebuilding the nuclear security enterprise and reinvigorating the enterprise with pride and energy. Congressional support is strong. Leaders from the enterprise realize it is time to pull together to attack the problems that they face, and I think we all know that failure in this endeavor is simply not acceptable.
With that said, I have to admit I do worry about the white horse syndrome that you mentioned. Too many articles here lately have said, well, there is a new problem at the labs, or someplace else, and General John Gordon will be in soon to go fix them. The problems faced by the enterprise are not simple to solve. They don't lend themselves to simple fixes or simple changes in the rules and regulations. They go to the core of how we manage and lead from Washington. They go to the core of how we organize and how the chains of command work. They go to the core of issues of accountability, responsibility, and authority. They go to the core of defining our requirements and priorities. They go to the core of how we budget, plan, program, and prioritize. Working closely with the program managers of NNSA, we will tackle all these issues with considerable energy, and we will make real progress in each of the areas, but it won't be quick, it won't be without setbacks, and it probably will entail some broken china.
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One more comment about what gives me hope for this entire enterprise though, and that is what I am absolutely convinced about is the superb quality of the people who make it up, Federal employees and contractors alike. The very greatest majority are hugely talented, they are strongly committed, they want to succeed, they want to help maintain the security of our Nation, and they want to be proud of what they do and they want to be appreciated. They want our trust and our confidence.
And we must keep faith with them as well. We need to give them clear statements of our mission, of our priorities, and must provide them with the resources to do what we ask of them. We owe them leadership and we owe them support. With that, I believe they will deliver.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my opening remarks. I will be glad to take the questions on any line you like.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, General. I think the outline you have given us so farto first address the security issues, get a hand on multiyear budget, take care of our peoplecertainly helps all of us feel better about the direction we are going.
I want to step back for a second and ask you to comment. You mentioned at the beginning of your statement that there is some perception out there that the mission of our nuclear weapons complex is fading. In other words, nuclear weapons are not as important as they used to be, it is kind of a dying industry.
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From, really, more from our past lives, can you comment on what role nuclear weapons play now and what role they are likely to play in the future? In other words, why should Congress think that this is important and why is it deserving of taxpayer dollars to try to deal with some of the challenges we face?
General GORDON. One of the main points I made in the statement was that the Russian threat, while it is different in numbers and quantitatively, it is far from gone. They, the Chinese, maintain significantly sized nuclear arsenals that actually can pose a threat to the United States. Deterrence has worked well in the past. There is no reason to believe, at least for those nations, that it won't continue to work. But what we cannot do is maintain a nuclear deterrence that we don't have full confidence in, both in its safety and its security, but also if it is ever called upon, that it would actually function. I believe that so long as the government policyas long as this Nation's defense depends upon even a single nuclear weapon, we need to be able to maintain that and have the same confidence we had in it, or better than we had when we had significantly more numbers.
Mr. THORNBERRY. It is also true that a number of our allies rely on confidence in our nuclear deterrent, don't they? And the countries of Japan or Germany might have a different view of acquiring nuclear weapons on their own if they doubt in some way whether our nuclear weapons might function properly.
General GORDON. I think that is exactly correct. You would add to that, then, the possibility of other new nations coming on with nuclear capabilities; what it would mean to the United States if, as other countries come on and make their systems more robust, for us to not have any or not have the confidence in the ones that we did have. And even to the point of it doesn't play quite as strongly in that argument on the nuclear terrorism side but it is not unrelated.
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Mr. THORNBERRY. Let me ask one other question before yielding to Mrs. Tauscher. You mentioned you are going to leave tomorrow to go to Los Alamos. Obviously, security is a key priority and very much in the headlines. And you talked about trying to create integrated security in the way that the complex has been working on integrated safety, and that is one of the things specifically called for in the PFIAB report, but how are you going to do that? Are you going to go out to Los Alamos and tell them to change these locks in this way? To what extent are you going to get into the details to tell them how to sign in, and specifically what procedures to follow?
Mr. SISISKY. We did that already.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Well, that is one of the reasons I asked the question, because we considered a bill last week that got into enormous level of detail. But as you approach this problem, I guess to what extent are you going to make decisions on your own? To what extent are you going to expect people to make decisions and hold them accountable for them?
General GORDON. I hope that I have enough things to do that I don't have to personally check on when safe combinations are changed and some of those procedures come out. We have got to find a way to convince the folks to take this upon themselves as their own burden. As an individual who is working on it, that they have a personal responsibility to the security of it, to the information itself, and to the employees who are with them.
Security, like almost all the functions out there, has to be in the line of the organization. The folks who are in the line of that organization have to make it happen, and they have to be accountable for their actions. We need to hold them accountable. We need to set the standards and we need to set the policies.
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There are some casesand perhaps we are in that case nowwhere there was enough done that someone had to step in from the outside and secure the rules. We need to get away from that in the organization, as defining every single thing that is done out there, and make it a responsibility that comes fromalmost from within the people who are doing the work. You need to do it. We can't take any shortcuts in it. I don't want to apologize for it from that standpoint. What we want to do is set the standards and hold people accountable to the standards that are there.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you. Mrs. Tauscher.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Well, General Gordon, I was very heartened to hear your comments and I am very impressed, too, about your commitment to the people working at the labs and throughout the complex. I believe I think, as most people do, that they are hardworking, excellent scientists, patriotic Americans. I think that they are demoralized beyond belief. And I think that one of your earliest opportunities to help right things in this new Administration is to work with all of us to try to do what we can to make sure that first and foremost the people who are part of the NNSA, those people who on March 1st got new badges and became employees, one to whatever number they are, that they understand that they are not being abandoned or scapegoated.
In California, at the two labs in my district, Livermore and Sandia, we have a disproportional number of Asian Americans. It is a wonderful part of the diverse culture in California and it is, I think, some of the best parts of California that we have such diversity. But I speak to many of my constituents and they are very concerned about the sense that Asian Americans are targeted or scapegoated as potentially coming to work at the labs because they can spy.
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So I want you to know that this is an issue for us in California, and I think throughout the country, and it is certainly something that I think has a deleterious effect on our ability to recruit and retain. That is really what I want to talk to you about, this issue of recruiting and retaining in a virtual unemployment for people who have these kinds of advanced degrees in physics and science and math and engineering. What can we do in the short and medium term to make sure we are finally able to recruit and retain the best-quality minds in this country, and that as we look at the aging not only of the complex and the deferred maintenance, but as we look at the aging of the scientists at the complex, we will over the next five or six years lose most of the people who have designed weapons and who have seen tests. And there is not a lot we can do about the actuarial tablesI am trying to stop them myselfbut there is an issue here of tremendous brain drain in the sense that we are not going to be able to replace people with like skills and like experience.
So I would like to hear what your initial comments are. And what I would like to encourage the Chairman to do is to try to set a time in September perhaps, when we are still in session, to have you come back and give us not an interim reportbecause you won't be anywhere near the midtermbut some kind of impressions when you come back of what you have seen and what your impressions are.
General GORDON. Let me do the last part first and say if the Chairman wants to do that, I would be delighted. Maybe the sort of scheduleafter I have had a chance to get to all the fundamental places, we will then have at least a number of the folks in the NNSA up and running and we will be able to put some mass behind our work.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What I will do on the first part, Mrs. Tauscher, is agree with you that this is a significant problem, both from the issue of Asian Americans and other ethnic groups, that we cannot allow that to get in the way of our business. It is self-defeating. For all the moral and other reasons, frankly, it is self-defeating. If we can't attract the best minds of the best Americans to this business, whatever their ethnic background, we are in the wrong business.
I don't think I have the answer yet, and maybe never will, exactly on how to go about the recruiting and the retention in the best way. But it has to resolve around such simple ideas as pride in what they are doing in terms of finding the people who do want to contribute to national security.
You know, in my last business at the CIA, people said, why would anybody want to go work for the CIA? We have people standing in line to go to work for the CIA, because not everybodybut even when you go out to a place like Sun or Microsystems or other organizations like that, you find some of those folks want to come and do this because it is interesting, because it is different, because it is creative, and because it is contributing in some way to this country.
I suspect we have to find a way to make that the core in this area. And, no great secret, is that it revolves around the quality of science that we allow the folks to do and how they are allowed to interact with the people who do that science. An important aspect of my interest in this position in the first place was the nonnuclear science that goes on at the laboratories as well, that that provides not only a draw but it provides enrichment for all the folks who are there, and it provides also the technology to put back into the programs. There is something about using that to continue to attract people which says we need to put money and resources and facilities in to where we can attract people to come and do that kind of work. If they are on the cutting edge of work that can be done, be it in lasers or in computing or in hydro, these are first-line physics and computational areas that people will come to. We don't have to make it that attractive to them. The science itself will draw a lot of people in. What we have to not do is put up so many walls that they can't get in or see out.
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Mrs. TAUSCHER. I want to ask one more quick question. General Gordon and Mr. Chairman, you both talked about the new threat and this issue of relevancy of the weapons complex. Have we made''we,'' meaning Congress and the political will, the political arm of the American peoplehave we made the political case for why we need to have a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile?
General GORDON. I suspect that among the knowledgeable aficionados of that area, we sort of all understand it, but I suspect we don't have a good elevator speech that would convince some of the folks in our district when we are running up in the elevator for a couple of minutes. We need to work on it.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. I think we should work on that together. I think there is a disconnect between the American people and what the threat is, what the emerging threat for the 21st century is, what kind of armaments we are going to need, how you right size it, how you fund it, what it all means. And I think it is a failure on our part, not solely on our part, not to really be out there explaining to the American people why this is important, and so that they can understand the context for a lot of these things about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the ICBM Treaty and national missile defense. I think all these things out there swirl, but I don't think we have made the case out there on the underlying issues about why it is important to have a safe and reliable stockpile. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. THORNBERRY. I thank the gentlelady. The other part is that we haven't made the case on how difficult it is to keep it safe and reliable without testing. That is an enormous challenge.
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Mr. SISISKY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, General, for being here. I am often amazed, as I travel around the country and the world, to meet our young service people and old service people who take jobs, how fortunate we are, and for you to take the job like this. You are right. I went to CIA training camp, and to see these young people in training was just unbelievable, the quality of the people who could go out and make a lot more money, MBAs, lawyers, but who just want to be of service to the country. I thank you because you are doing the exact same thing.
I am a dual-hatter, as you may know. I had all the hearings I want to have on Los Alamos both in Intelligence and here. And I come to the conclusion it really isn't a difficult problem to solve, believe it or not. The stupidity of some of the things that I heard on the missing hard drives is just unbelievable. I mean, if I told you I had a credit cardI mean a bank ATM cardand I put my password on the card, if I lose it somebody else can have a good time. That is exactly what happened there. The password was in the bag with the hard disk found behind a copy machine.
So I don't really think these problems are hard. I like what you say, because you can't check the locks every time. You have got to have people who want to do it and really want to make things secure.
Having said that, I also came through last year, as you know, the commission that really wanted to go to the Department of Defense. And we took the middle ground and said let's try it one more time at DOE. And what really happened is that we passed a bill. I tried to assure the Secretary as I talked to him that we were willing to change the bill any time. If it didn't work out, then we as a Committee would do anything we can to make it right. But the truth of the matter is that he did not follow through in the letter of the law.
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I hope you will follow the letter of the law. I have a transcript here from the Senate where Secretary Richardson did say that he would follow the law. I hope that will be your area of doing it, too.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix.]
Mr. SISISKY. The one real question I have to ask you that really bothers me is funding for your staff, which may be of concern. I understand that some reprogramming has been approved to provide for a small headquarters staff for the remaining part of this year, but not much else. What is your understanding of the flexibility you will have in establishing your staffing needs and where will the money come from to pay for them? Have you gotten that far yet?
General GORDON. I haven't gotten into it in great detail, Mr. Sisisky. I think with the reprogramming, there is probably enough money to get through the next couple of months until the fiscal year starts without any serious problems.
In speaking with the fiscal folks at the Department, they assured me, just in the last couple days, that they knew they would have to be stepping up to this issue and there would have to either be some reprogramming or some additional money put forth. It will require several millions of dollars, but not many, maybe $10 million, over the next year to staff up what we are talking about, something on the order of probably $10 million that will either have to be made available from existing funds or we will need an authorization and appropriation that allows us to spend additional money. Again I have received assurances from the folks at DOE that they know this is an issue that has to be sorted out, but I don't have any details to offer.
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Mr. SISISKY. You are talking about the $10 million just for this fiscal year.
General GORDON. No. No. No. There are several hundred thousand dollars which, frankly, because we will probably fill most of these positions with detailees, I don't expect any major problems between now and the end of the fiscal year. In the next fiscal year there is a budget for DP, there is a budget for NN and NR. What we need to be able to do is run a front office; and several millions of dollars, but not huge amounts of money, should be more than adequate for the next year. Then we will have to get it into the normal budget cycle.
Mr. SISISKY. Thank you.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Gibbons.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General, welcome. I know you are going to be facing some important decisions now as you take over your new role in the NNSA, and some of those decisions of course, as you have already pointed out, will lead to prioritizing some very important issues. Number one, of course, as you have already said, is the issue of security. I know you have said that the culture of the laboratories is one which is vague and often times ill defined. It seems to be a culture that is resistent to change. What are your thoughts with regard to reconciling the cultures between science and security? How do you manage to see those two reconciling each other so you can improve upon this issue of security in our Nation's labs?
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General GORDON. It is hard to be very specific on that one, and yet you put your finger right on the pulse of it. I think people are trained today differently than when I grew up. Before we had Internets and all this, you did your little science project, you had a couple of people around, you brought people to your lab, and you did it all in your lab in one location. American science today, people are trained from the day they come out of grad school, to virtual teams, to reach out and consolidate and coordinate issues.
I don't have a magic answer on how to do that, but I just can't accept the premise that it can't be done. I can't accept the premise that a scientist, because they were trained that way initially, can't understand that a secret or that a classified issue needs to be maintained in a different way. Actually, the people who work around me now don't agree with me, but I just don't accept the fact that if we sit down with these people and show them the right example and work with them to do thatI think what has happened, at least in this decade, is that we kind of turned our back on these issues. There is a period of time when the wall came down and the nuclear weapons were less important than the management and the leadership of the organizations. Maybe ''turned their back'' is too strong of a word, but failed to keep pushing for the standards that we need.
And I am going to answer this without a solution to the way you've asked the question, but if we have to accept the idea that they can't do science and keep secrets, we are in a world of hurt.
There has to be a way that they can understand what is classified and what is unclassified, what is sensitive and what is not sensitive. There has to be a way that they can consult with people where there are common interests and common goals, but protect the security issues at the same time.
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I don't know what the answer is, but it has to be leadership, it has to be management, it has to be involvement, and it has to come not so much from Washington, but it has to come from the lab directors and the first-level managers out there who make that a part of their everyday life.
Mr. GIBBONS. General, I can appreciate your candor and your approach to this. It is a perplexing question, one which I, like many of the many members of this Panel, see as the biggest obstacle to improving the problem that we have seen over the past years lately. And the culture, of course, doesn't have an easy answer, as you have said.
One of the things I see as the resistance to change, of course, is management's resistance. And we have seen that all the way to the top. When we passed the bill which required the NNSA to take over the security issue, we ended up getting into a conflictnot a conflictbut a disagreement with the Secretary over the dual-hatting issue. Some of those positions, of course, are under your jurisdiction and some still remain under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Energy. For example, General Habiger is dual-hatted under your's and his position.
Do you feel comfortable today in your ability to reclaim any of those positions in your new position so that you can be assured that there is a defined bright line of responsibility and authority in security issues within the Department of Energy or within the laboratory structure and test facilities around this country?
General GORDON. I know there has been a lot of controversy building up to this in the dual-hatting issue, and full of press and hearings and everything else. My discussion with the Secretary and with the Deputy Secretary suggests to me thatand as I mentioned in the opening statementwe are going to proceed ahead, we are going to fill those positions from within NNSA. There remains in the Secretary's purview the establishment of policy and some oversight issues that will fall in the areas of security, fall in the areas of counterintelligence, but I don't expect any difficulty in setting up an organization within NNSA where the policy comes down through the Administrator to the field, through my security chief.
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Mr. GIBBONS. So you feel very confident, you are telling this Committee, that you will have clear and defined lines of responsibility for the security within NNSA.
General GORDON. That is my intention.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you. Mr. Spratt.
Mr. SPRATT. General Gordon, let me thank you for taking on this assignment. We have spent, in my opinion, an inordinate amount of time on this Committee wiring the diagram for the organization. I differ slightly with the rest of the Panel about how impervious to outside oversight the NNSA ought to be, but I have always felt that the key to it was getting someone of your caliber, your ability, your broad experience. And I think that resolves all the other issues I have got about how this organization is wired.
I would say, reiterating what Norm just said, if you have problems with the organization, you ought to bring them back to us. I think everybody here has confidence in you, and we are willing to listen to what you have got to say about what is necessary to run the organization.
Some time ago when these issues first began to surface, I had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Johnny Foster and asking him for his insight into it, and he sort of echoed what you just said, or said what you just said; namely, that this can't be a line management responsibility alone. Everybody in the organization has to understand the security responsibilities and take it as his responsibility, not as somebody else's oversight responsibility, but as his responsibility. You have to imbue and inculcate this ethic in this organization for it really to work.
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I think we probably spend an inordinate amount of time, too, looking at the labs. Lord knows, they have had enough problems, and that has focused our attention on them, but there are lots of other places in the complex where you could have security problems that have gone unnoticed, where indeed we could have lost some of this material. It doesn't necessarily have to come from the labs, it could from Kirtland, your old laboratory. There is information in all of these places. We may be fooling ourselves by looking so exclusively at the labs and overlooking the fact that there could be leaks and security breaches at these other places as well.
On the issue of dual-hatting, as I take it we are going to resolve that by not having dual-hatting, and you are going to get the money from one place or another, the few million dollars that it will take to have your own people who won't have joint responsibility.
General GORDON. That is the direction we are headed.
Mr. SPRATT. Let me say we are glad to have you. I think the key problem for national security purposes is attracting scientists of top quality for the next generation of maintaining our nuclear stockpile. And we don't want to bear down on this problem in such a hardfisted way that we turn off those top-quality scientists and end up with second-best scientists who handle one of the toughest requirements in our national defense system.
General GORDON. It is attracting them and then training them and giving them the experience with the folks who have actually done it and been there, and having the real work that they can do.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SPRATT. And then retaining them because they are excited about the work.
General GORDON. Because you give them good, meaningful work. And we put some trust in them as well. We don't break faith with them. It has to be a two-way street.
Mr. SPRATT. Thank you again for taking on this assignment.
General GORDON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope you can say the same kind words when we come back six months or a year from now, along those lines.
The one question that was asked, and you alluded to as well, what I would like to do is in the right period of timeand it is not the September time frame, it is probably next sessionis come back and say, okay, we have been at it for nine months, a year, pick some reasonable period of time. What do you need? How is it going? What changes do you need in the legislation? What more, what less? I would like to be able to come back and do that.
Mr. THORNBERRY. So, at this point you haven't been there long enough to give us specific additional authorities you need, specific changes in the law yet; is that right?
General GORDON. No. I suspect I have all the authority I need right now.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. THORNBERRY. I just want to reiterate what Mr. Spratt said. I think all of us are interested in doing whatever we need to do to make it work right.
General GORDON. I would just add that since I have been there, I have had no hints or anything other than support from the senior leadership over there that that is going to go well.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Great. Thank you. Mr. Ryun.
Mr. RYUN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General, I feel like I am probably going to be the tail end. I want to talk a little bit about this dual-hatting issue. From time to time, the Administration has proven through its approach to the labs that maybe security isn't one of its top priorities there. We have discussed the dual-hatting issue quite a bit. How do you see, as a result of when this transition is made with dual-hatting, that it will improve security and truly making it a semiautonomous entity there?
General GORDON. I am not sure that dual-hatting itself is a root cause certainly to any of the problems. But what we need to be able to do is not just in the dual-hatting, not just in the security area, but we need to be able to set one set of policies, one set of principles that are interconnected in a whole, reach down into the organization, and not have a lot of inputs from the sides. So we try to build an integrative whole of which security is part, but morale and retention and recruitment is also a part of that.
So I think what we want to do by eliminating that sort of dual-hatting, is just to have a clear chain of authority, control, responsibility and accountability. And again what we are going to do in Washington is set the policies and set the directions, do some oversight, maybe have to go in and do the inspections afterwards, but we need to find a way, the right way, that will keep this in square, in the line, and it goes right down to the individuals.
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There was talk early on, well, should we bring in another agency to do security and impose that? I think that is exactly the wrong point, the wrong way to do it. Security, like safety, needs to be a line of responsibility for which you hold people accountable and which has to be, as you know, a significant major portion of how they think about their mission. It is getting the work done in a safe way and in a secure way. They go hand in hand.
Mr. RYUN. I will follow up just a little bit. I don't sense that you are really battlingI mean, I know we have worked through here a sense of wanting to eliminate dual-hatting. Secretary Richardson sort of fought us on that but he has recently said at the Senate hearings he would be happy to do whatever and support you, and however we could improve security there. So having said that, I am sensing and you are saying yes, I think from what you just said, that you are going to do that. But how quickly will it take place when you replace these roughly 18 individuals?
General GORDON. I don't have a precise or even a really good estimate of time for you, how long it will take to find and put in the right people. My intention is to fill as many of those, the right positions, fairly quickly. I really don't know what that means, but to do it perhaps by detailees where they can come in from other parts of the organization and fill that, and that we can get started. Those people may or may not prove to be the ones we want to put in the long-term position, but I want to get the organization up, running, and started in those areas; get me a head of a security and head of a couple of those other positions and let them start to design that part of the organization. And I can't sit down and do each and every one of those pieces. I need to get a person in who works for me, who takes it on as their job to build that portion of the organization properly. If I give you a date, you will hold me accountable for it. But I am talking not very many months, and hopefully not very many weeks.
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Mr. RYUN. I appreciate your attitude. I sense a willingness to want to work with us and that is really what we want to do to make sure we have a good security system here. I thank you for your coming here and look forward to the follow-up response we have later.
Mr. THORNBERRY. General, if you look at a number of the reports, not just the PFIAB report but others, one of the features that comes through over the past number of years is that reforms get started but then they fade away. And you have read or heard about the seeming attitude that the bureaucracy will be there after the top management has come and gone.
Now, hopefully you will be there awhile and can follow these things through, but I guess one of the questions I have is, if you go out and visit all the sites and decide this needs to be changed, how do you make it happen? How do you overcome this resistance that seemingly has eaten up the reform attempts over the past 20 years?
General GORDON. Well, the first part is that I think people need to realize the leadership is going to be around to make it happen and watch it for enough period of time and hold the individuals accountable. Mr. Chairman, I really have spent some time in preparing for this with the directors of the labs and some of the other senior folks out there, and I think they have finally reached the point where they know that we are in trouble and that there has to be some change. And they profess the willingness to build a team to where we run down that road together.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Again, there is no magic solution to this. It is leadership and management and follow-up that tries to bring the folks together, and you just have to sit down and make it happen. You are trying to make your mark on the world and there is somebody running behind you with an eraser. But you need to secure it, I think as one of these areas and how fast we are going to go on these issues, my approach to most of these kinds of issues is a fairly go-slow approach, but with every step locked in place. We can make a lot of flashy changes and break some china now and think we have done something, but if we haven't brought the managers in, the folks who are going to do that, they don't take that on in some way as their own. When I leave, or somebody leaves, it is back to where we were.
I really would rather go off at a much more gradual approach as long as we are making positive progress in those areas and secure each piece of ground as we move forward.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Let me just add to that.
From my perspective, one of the reasons that the employees, the Department, the public, and Congress have a lack of confidence is because there is a perception that it has been more about press releases than it has firm action that you do lock in. And I just want to support what you said. I think taking it a little slower, worrying more about doing the right thing and locking it in, rather than a perception of activity that really doesn't match more than press releases, would be helpful.
Let me ask you to comment briefly on any impressions you have about the other two elements under your jurisdiction, namely the nonproliferation programs and naval reactors. They are also part of NNSA. They also have very important missions for the country's security.
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You mentioned naval reactors. Maybe we could learn some management lessons there and impart it to the rest of the complex. But do you have any impressionsfor example, the nonproliferation programs, have they been useful in working with the Russians and others? What would you like to share with us on those areas?
General GORDON. Probably my opening statement just didn't address that issue. I don't mean that we haven't spent some time thinking about and working with the acting chief of that organization now. I think there has been some really good progress made in that area. What we need to do is to continue to move down that road, to work reactor and weapon safety and security, and secure what has been done.
I am going to ask you for some time to reach my own conclusions as we get into this area. But my senseeven whether we are invested right or not, I just don't know. But the questions arewe are making good progress, but are we making enough progress? Are we securing the progress we make? And what kind of cooperation are we getting from the other side? That seems to be very much an issue, how we saw it in other lives as well. How confident are they and how willing are they really to play this out or are they just sort of taking the money?
So I need to come back after a little bit of time and talk about it. I think the goals are exactly right. We are trying to strengthen security and safety in all areas, but we are watching our deterrent and seeing what happens with theirs.
So the programs are good. The question is, how much progress are we making and at what price?
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I know there has been some criticism that it is too expensive for the progress we have been making. I think in one sense the reports have underestimated some of the very good work that was done to go in and do some of the quick fixes. Where the NN has been doing some of the work with the Russian facilities, they have gone in and sort of fixed the most broken things and get the fences and the lights and some of the very simple things done. I really don't think they have gotten full credit for that.
It is very correct, as the GAO and others have pointed out, that only a small percentage of the sites they have been working at have had the full suite of work that has been done to them. But I think it is a very important part, and I think by bringing these three organizations together there is a chance to build some synergy off of them. The expertise that is in these areas can help in the nonproliferation area.
Naval reactors, I've got to tell you, is running like a clock. It is running like a clock. And Admiral Bowman and his predecessors are superb. That has a flat management organization. Folks are charged up with their mission. They don't get a lot of outside help. They don't get a lot of outside interference. We can learn from those lessons there. I don't think they have a lot to do. There is nothing that I have to go fix in naval reactors that I am aware of. Maybe they can help me fix some stuff. I had actually talked to Skip Bowman about that.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Great. Thank you.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. TAUSCHER. General, the state of the security issues have had me concerned for quite a long time. I guess I have been concerned that for a long time we have been unable to wrap our brains around the changes that you alluded to in your opening statement of information technology, the miniaturization of computing, the fact that it is ubiquitous, every wall has a modem, every desk has a computer on it, and that we were standing outside of the labs waiting for somebody to walk out of the front door with a three-ring binder that said ''secrets'' on it, going to meet Mr. Big. And the truth is they were on little computer disks and hard drives and things. I think we all kind of found our own way of saying that the disappointments we have about the Los Alamos hard drive disasterthat Target Retail Store can protect $12.99 CDs, and why can't we figure out how to protect our secrets?
What are you thinking about doing over the next 4, 5, 6, 7 months to really shake the cage of the so-called experts in security that we see on the government side and kind of make them look a lot like the people on the outside in the private sector who seem to be able to protect the socks at The Gap and understand how to do it in a way that is not offensive to people shopping and take very low wage workers and not make them feel as if they are being questioned for their patriotism and not break faith with them when we can't seem to do that with very smart people at the labs?
General GORDON. You have given a suggestion that there is a guy in one or more of these organizations who can give us some pretty good insight. I think I need to take you up on that idea. The scientists have been working in a secure environment for 50 years. And they are bright, smart people, but, you know, we haven't set up the right standards for them, and we haven't set up the mechanisms, as you point out, are straightforward and easy to do in theserelatively easy to do. They need to be done professionally without huge interference in how people can go about their life. Conceptually, it doesn't seem like it should be that hard. But I need to take up your idea. Maybe there are a couple of outsiders who understand some things that we don't understand, that we ponder these momentous ideas of security as opposed to socks.
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Mrs. TAUSCHER. The loss prevention business of the United states is a multibillion dollar business. They grapple with a lot of the same challenges that we do trying to create state-of-the-art nuclear security secret protection. And they have another piece of it which is called the customer. You know, you don't want to have a customer walk out of Neiman Marcus with a $2,000 something and have the bells go off and feel as if they are now going to have all their neighbors say you were trying to steal that coat. So I think that there is a lot of stuff about this that has been worked on in the private sector and, not surprising, the private sector has a lot of things that those of us in government haven't been exposed to or don't have the money to pay attention to.
That is the second part of this question. I think it is about the money eventually. I hope you know that the chairman, the rest of this Panel, and I are very interested in hearing, as soon as you start to understand that this is a big number or a number that you need to address sooner than later, that we want you to feel comfortable coming to us and starting to talk about that. Because this can never be about the money as far as I am concerned. This is a priceless set of secrets that we are attempting to secure; and I think that if we have to spend money to do it, I think we need to do that.
General GORDON. I think the money issue will come to us from several fronts. The securityobviously, we cannot let this kind of data slip out. We just can't. It is a pass/fail test for the organization. Money will come at us from many fronts, too. I don't know whether the amount of money we have now is right. Most people tell me it is not. This program was scoped internally at sort of $5 billion and a few5 billion and a little more. It was never funded at that level. But I don't think the $5 billion was done with a lot of detailed assessments either.
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There were decisions madeand you all know this better than I doto fund the front end of the science front end of it, hold back on the infrastructure side of it. That probably was almost certainly the correct decision at the time. Somewhere along the line we have to come back and address not only the security side of it but the full infrastructure side of it.
We have wood buildings with nuclear materials in it, fire safety issues that need to be thought about through these areas, systems that we pay a lot of money for that are not even used simply because we have to keep the lights on. And what is going on inside them, I need that money for something else. And we need to come to grips with that. I don't know whether there is enoughmy sense is there is not enough efficiencies in the rest of the system to fund that. That is one thing we want to come back to you on in significant areas.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Sisisky, do you have additional questions?
Mr. SISISKY. Just a couple of comments.
I jokingly said, when the chairman said about the locks, we have already taken care of that. And we already basically took care of the polygraph, too. I think. I think we took care of that.
What do you think of polygraph? Because you are going to be questioned when you go out, and it has been a big issue here.
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But, before you answer, I have been here a good number of years, and I have watched the micromanaging of things, and it usually comes about out of frustrations up here. Most Members do not want to run agencies, but the frustration and the bureaucracy that happens is when the micromanaging comes in. I am not saying it is right. I am just saying what really happens. But polygraph is going to be a big issue for you. I don't know whether you want to make a comment now or not.
General GORDON. I would like to beg off on the polygraph question, if I could, for today until I can get into a little bit more detail simply because it is such a sensitive issue. I came out of an environment where polygraphs are used regularly, and they work when they are used as a tool to help get at issues. But certainly a degree of caution needs to beas it comes up. I would like to give you a more thoughtful answer later on.
Mr. SISISKY. Also a comment about the nuclear naval reactors being in an area that probably has more nuclear reactors than any place in the whole world, Norfolk, Virginia. I was remarking here, coming to Washington yesterday, there were four nuclear carriers in port. You know the amazing thing? People have such great confidence and satisfaction in these reactors. I never hear a complaint or anything. Now I hear plenty about airplanes, but I never hear anything about the naval nuclear reactors. I mean, it is a tribute of how it got started, as you know, and they just kept adding to it. And they still keep that discipline that they have had from the first day they developed a nuclear reactor.
General GORDON. It is a little-known fact, at least when you get outside the society in which we run day to day here in Washington, that that portion of NNSA NR actually runI think the last day I looked into itexactly the same number of nuclear reactors as in the civilian. There were 103 or 106 or something, and it happened to be that day the same number of licensed civil reactors. It is a massive program from that standpoint with tremendous success, as you pointed out, tremendous success. And they do it with a relatively small organization, well-run, well-directed, but with that excitement and energy that we want to get back into the rest of the system.
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Mr. SISISKY. If you don't think times have changedI think I am correct in thisthe boomers, the SBNs are down in Georgia, but they do not tie up in Norfolk. One came into Norfolk for a couple weeks, and they let the public on them. I have never known them to do a Trident submarine. But that is how the times have changed. That used to be our absolute most secret weapon. Nobody could even get on that thing. But I think they open it up to the public.
General GORDON. I have had some real privileges to operate in that business back when I was a missile commander, to go off on a couple of days. And then I have been off with Admiral Bowman on attack submarines as well, again trying to understand this operation very carefully. And it is fun to go down and visit those folks and see the excitement in which they operate.
Mr. SISISKY. And to see the youth and the experience that they have all together. It is amazing.
Mr. THORNBERRY. But it is also an organization that does some good science and research. And so it is not just a bunch of engineers out running submarines. That is why I think the gentleman is correct. If we could take the confidence in that organization and in their product and impart it to the rest of the complex, it would be an enormous achievement; and that is why I think all of us want to learn some lessons from there.
Let me ask about a couple of other areas we hadn't really touched on. One of the recommendations of the PFIAB was for some sort of accepted service like a number of the intelligence community elements have, where you have a greater flexibility in personnel decisions. The law that we passed created some number of accepted service positions. Is that something that you have taken a look at yet? Do you think it would be applicable or helpful for you in running this place to have some accepted-service-like positions?
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General GORDON. I don't have a highly informed answer on that, but you assigned 300 such positions. I fully expect to be using a number of those. I can't tell you the number or even how we are going to run into it. But the one thing I have learned over therethat everyone has cautioned me aboutis the personnel system is very lengthy to pull those people out. I would like to have the ability to bring people in more quickly and with some greater ease and some fewer restrictions in those areas. I have a little bit of experience again from previous life, but let me say, in principle, this is a great idea. We want to be able to do it. I don't know exactly how we are going to take advantage of it yet.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Okay. Another area of great interest and concern throughout the complex are the number of contracts that are coming up for decision. There was a decision I think last week relating to the University of California contract with the labs with some changes there, but a number of the other facilities have contracts that are up. Have you had a chance to look into that process at all yet?
General GORDON. I don't have any comment.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Are you even involved in it?
General GORDON. I am going to get involved in it. I haven't had a chance to make an informed statement in those areas.
With respect to the University of California contract, the intent there is simply to find a mechanism that allows them to bring more security expertise into their fold, not to have a huge redoing or anything but to find a mechanism that allows them to reach out, bring more security expertise in to help with this management structure.
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Mr. THORNBERRY. Is it more security expertise or also more management? There was also a discussion.
General GORDON. We talked about security, and we talked about project management, yes.
Mr. THORNBERRY. General, thank you for being here. We realize that it is early on in your tenure. We appreciate you being here. As every Panel member has said, we appreciate your willingness to take this job.
At the same time, I think we realize that it is entirely possible next week or next month we will open our papers and see some other episode that confounds us all. These problems are not going to be fixed overnight. It has taken us 20 years to get to this point, and all of us have to try to dampen expectations a little bit that they can be fixed overnight, and no mortal will be able to do that.
But what we can do is promise to work with you in any way we can, whether it is changes in the law, whether it is funding issues or even letting the folks out there know that we appreciate what they do, that they play an important role in the country's security. Whatever it takes to make this enterprise a success, we want to work with you to do that.
General GORDON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I intend to take you up on that. And I thank you very much for this opportunity to come to chat today. I know we are not very precise on many issues as we go into this. What I will pledge back is not immediate and fast responses on these things, but I will pledge a lot of hard work and a lot of energy and, hopefully, a lot of clarity and direction. Thank you very much.
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Mr. THORNBERRY. That is what we are counting on.
The hearing stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:21 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
July 11, 2000
[The Appendix is pending.]