Nuclear Facilities Agency Releases Weapons Site Report…after being Sued

Sunday, April 15, 2012
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons complex, pays private contractors tens of millions of dollars to run day-to-day operations at top secret research labs and nuclear military facilities, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. Given that, it only made sense that NNSA made the Performance Evaluation Reports (PER), in which it grades the contractors at its eight nuclear weapons sites, available to the public. But in October 2009, NNSA decided to withhold the reports until three years after completion of contract award periods–rendering them useless for public oversight of contractors collecting public funds, and of the public officials who approve paying them.
Environmental group Nuclear Watch New Mexico (NWNM) responded by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a 2009 PER of the Los Alamos lab and then suing NNSA for the report’s release after the request was denied. Probably sensing that its case was weak, NNSA released the 2011 PERs that NWNM had also requested through FOIA. The 2011 PER of Los Alamos criticizes the contractor there, Los Alamos National Security LLC, because it did not “effectively manage CMRR NF/SFE progress in support of NNSA strategic objectives,” a reference to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), a project plagued by overspending in the billions of dollars.
What else is in the PERs that have not yet been released remains to be seen…maybe.
-Matt Bewig
To Learn More:
Nuclear Watch NM sues NNSA (by John Severance, Los Alamos Monitor)

Nuclear Complexes Could Save Billions by Shopping at Hardware Store Instead of Building New Facilities (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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