FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2000
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
Stu Nagurka, 202/586-4940
The Department of Energy today took two additional steps toward establishment of a new semi-autonomous agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today met for the first time with the panel charged with conducting a search for a qualified Under Secretary for Nuclear Security. In addition, Secretary Richardson delivered to Capitol Hill the Department of Energy's Implementation Plan for the NNSA.
"We are committed to implementing the NNSA and ensuring that the national security mission of the department is met," said Secretary Richardson. "A key step is identifying a candidate with the right experience and background to lead this agency. Today, the search committee and I discussed the type of experience and leadership qualities we would like to see embodied in the Under Secretary. A strong national security background is essential as a qualification."
Richardson named the search committee after Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) said that he would help with a legislative change that clarifies the Secretary of Energy's authority over the new agency. By statute, the new Under Secretary for Nuclear Security also serves as the Administrator of the NNSA. The search committee is chaired by former Deputy Secretary of Energy Charles Curtis and its members are former Secretary of Energy Admiral James D. Watkins, Admiral Henry G. Chiles and Andrew Athy, Chairman of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. Its work will aid Secretary Richardson in identifying a qualified candidate, who would thereafter be nominated by the President.
The NNSA's Implementation Plan which was delivered to Congress today lays out the approach the department intends to take to implement the new agency. Under the statute, the National Nuclear Security Administration is established on March 1, 2000.
"Recognizing our critical national security mission and the importance of establishing a workable, efficient NNSA, we have spent three months carefully developing a plan which outlines the core principles on how we will set up this new agency," explained Richardson. "This plan will help guide us as we work to ensure that the weapons laboratories continue to perform scientific research for non-defense Energy Department programs and other government agencies, and that the NNSA operate in a manner that protects the environment and the health and safety of workers and the public."
The plan details the program offices and national security functions which will be part of the agency, clarifies those departmental functions which are not functions of the new agency and discusses how the Office of the Administrator will be staffed and organized.
Specifically, the NNSA will include the current Offices of Defense Programs, Nonproliferation and National Security, and Naval Reactors. Each of these offices -- Defense Programs, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors -- will be headed by a deputy administrator. In addition, the current Office of Fissile Materials Disposition will be incorporated into the new Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation and will be headed by the Assistant Deputy Administrator, who will also serve as the Special Secretarial Negotiator for Plutonium Disposition. The Albuquerque and Nevada Field Operations Offices also will be transferred to the NNSA. The employees of these field operations offices, with the exception of those that are accountable to non-NNSA program offices, will become employees of the NNSA. At other department field operations offices with responsibility for NNSA activities, those employees who directly oversee these activities will become employees of the NNSA.
The plan also provides for support functions within the NNSA encompassing legal, security, counterintelligence, legislative affairs, public affairs, intergovernmental liaison, budget and procurement. Due to a number of factors cited in the plan such as importance of program continuity, shortness of time for implementation, as well as the scheduled change in executive branch administration next January, the plan calls for certain DOE officers to serve concurrently in some of these support function positions. The field managers at selected field operations offices also will serve concurrently in dual positions.
"As the department implements this plan, it is very important that our across the board scientific work and collaboration, which encompasses all of the department's research facilities, not be compromised by the NNSA's creation," said Richardson. "We must work to ensure that all of the missions of the department have access to the technical expertise and specialized facilities at all of the laboratories and sites."