|"Forget the Rest" blog|
For immediate release February 8, 2016
Brief Informal Budget Heads-Up
Contact: Greg Mello, firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-265-1200 or 505-577-8563
We will issue a press release tomorrow but meanwhile thought some background would be helpful.
Volume 1 of the DOE CBR (FY16’s is here) pertains to National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) programs and will supply fresh detail on the administration latest iteration of its plans to modernize and maintain nuclear warheads and the warhead complex (our somewhat comprehensive review of the whole effort is here), dispose of surplus nuclear materials, support naval nuclear reactors, and pursue related NNSA missions. Vol. 5 will address Environmental Management.
Further detail can be found in the unclassified portion of the annual Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP), due to Congress by March 15. The data-rich FY16 SSMP, which supplements the budget request in program detail, is here. SSMPs are relatively detailed in odd-numbered years and may be summary in nature in even-numbered years, per congressional requirement.
Last year’s Study Group press release on “budget day” suggested several story lines:
All these stories remain, to our eyes, quite interesting.
As we have previously we also provided inflation-corrected budget charts (NNSA Weapons Activities, Weapons Activities by NNSA site). Nota bene: official inflation is now very low indeed. Outyear increases in spending may or may not be justified by overall inflation. NNSA of course has always experienced its own special program cost inflation rates.
What will be interesting in tomorrow’s NNSA budget request?
The answers to this question will be unique to everyone. The following are among the stories that come immediately to mind:
Lab space in the $3 B modules is now expected to cost up to $300,000/sq. ft., twice the previous plan’s rate. We can all verify this estimate tomorrow.
LANL’s Radiological, Utility, and Office Building (RLUOB, also part of the CMRR project) is expected to be a $1.1 B building when and if it is ever finally finished, the most expensive building in the history of New Mexico. It may, if not stopped, be administratively converted from a 8.4 gram Pu-239-equivalent radiological laboratory (hence the name) to a 400-gram Hazard Category III Nuclear Facility, despite not meeting the construction requirements for a nuclear facility.
Of course the sole tangible purpose served by pit production assumes a new Cold War.
There are major stories in the administration’s grand plan to modernize weapons and warheads. This will be the administration’s all-but-final budget request, President Obama’s all-but-last chance to put his stamp on these programs.
 Our web page of NNSA planning and budgeting documents from the past five years is here; FY2016 NNSA authorization and appropriations legislation, including the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, is here.
 A third planning document series is the classified annual 10-year plan for the nuclear weapons stockpile, nuclear weapons complex, nuclear weapons delivery systems and nuclear weapons command and control systems (the "1043 report"). 1043 reports typically have been submitted in the spring – for example on May 7, 2014 and April 2, 2015. For background and analysis of the 2014 “1043 report” see Government Accountability Office (GAO) GAO-15-536, “Nuclear Weapons Sustainment: Improvements Made To Budget Estimates, But Opportunities Exist To Further Enhance Transparency,” July 2015.