WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Martin Heinrich, Rep. Ben Ray Luján and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, are asking President Obama to nominate a candidate to lead the Nuclear National Security Administration (NNSA) who will work with Congress to reform the agency and maintain the highest scientific and technical capabilities at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories.
In a letter to President Obama, the federal lawmakers who represent the two labs say, “The NNSA has recently suffered from a series of ongoing management, security and budgetary problems and effective new leadership is needed now to restore the confidence of the public and of their representatives in Congress.”
“We believe there is an opportunity now to make substantial improvement in NNSA’s management and oversight responsibilities and we urge you to nominate someone with the leadership ability to help guide the transformation.”
In their request, they emphasize the need to maintain adequate budgets for LANL and SNL in light of current federal budget constraints to support and grow the missions of the labs, maintain a strong employee workforce and complete environmental cleanup.
“In particular, we expect the new administrator will share our commitment to maintaining the National Security Laboratories’ lead role in our nation’s weapons and national security programs,” they wrote. “In the face of growing fiscal constraints we believe it will be essential that the labs continue to diversify their efforts, especially in the area of advanced energy and environmental technologies. Finally, the new administrator must share our commitment to assuring resources are available to meet all obligations and deadlines for environmental cleanup.”
In December 2012, Udall and former Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., gained passage of an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to establish an advisory panel that will make recommendations to Congress on how best to reform the NNSA’s organization and examine its relationship to the Department of Energy and other federal agencies.
In the House, Luján successfully offered an amendment to the NDAA that called for a study of a new governance structure that would broaden the ownership of the NNSA national laboratories across multiple federal agencies and expand the scope of their national security mission.
A new NNSA administrator must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Acting Administrator Neile L. Miller took over the position following Thomas P. D’Agostino’s retirement in January.