Jeffrey LewisLibby Turpen on NNSA's Future

The wolves are at the doorstep of the National Nuclear Security Administration. Several months into the Obama Administration, we still don’t have a new Administrator.

Part of the issue is that, in a few years, NNSA may no longer exist. The OMB “passback” raised the possibility of moving NNSA into DOD:

DoD and DOE, to include the NNSA, are being requested in their respective passbacks to assess the costs and benefits of transferring budget and management of NNSA or its components to DoD and elsewhere, as appropriate, beginning in FY 2011.

The Strategic Posture Commission, on the other hand, proposed establishing NNSA as a separate agency reporting to the President through the Secretary of Energy…”

What to do?

To consider some of these questions, we’ve invited Libby Turpen to brief the study she recently directed, Leveraging Science for Security: A Strategy for the Nuclear Weapons Laboratories in the 21st Century:

Who Should Own Our Nuclear Weapons?

Dr. Elizabeth Turpen
Co-director, Cooperative Nonproliferation Program, Stimson Center

Thursday, May 28, 2009
12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

New America Foundation
1899 L St NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20036


Dr. Turpen, Task Force Project Director and Co-director of Stimson Center’s Cooperative Nonproliferation Program, will present the Task Force’s findings and discuss how a restructuring of the nuclear weapons complex will help to resolve the tension between President Obama’s commitment to the vision of a nuclear free world and his assurances of maintaining a robust deterrent until such a world is attainable.


  1. Dave

    As a long time employee at a NNSA national lab, I can say firmly that NNSA is a mess and needs to be done away with. Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore labs are dying under NNSA and the change from public “not for profit” University of California management to private “for profit” companies. These two labs need to be moved back to DOE under the Office of Science – at least Lawrence Livermore, which has a dramatically shrinking role in nuclear weapons design.

  2. magisterdale (History)

    The National Labs are being slowly strangled by excessive DOE/NNSA oversight. DOE/NNSA regulatory oversight goes well beyond industry standards used to regulate refineries and other moderate risk activities that pose a far greater risk to the public. It’s interesting to note that while the contrator numbers at the NNSA labs has shrank 15% over the last 5 years the number of NNSA Feds have increased 7%.

  3. Clark (History)

    If the NNSA experiment has failed, it should be put back in DOE proper. That would force us to confront, rather than run from, the underlying bureacratic and regulatory problems. This administration does not have the time and energy to start reorganizing departments, and if it did, the NNSA isn’t neccessarily where it would start.

  4. magisterdale (History)

    Dept of Energy IS the problem. The purpose of the NNSA experiment was to isolate it from inept DOE management. The real problem is that the DOE regulatory oversight Offices have no stake in getting work done or science advanced. The NNSA legislation fail to shield the Laboratories from overzealous Federal oversight that does not add commensurate value.