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Program Organization and Management

What began more than a decade ago as a political commitment by the governments of the United States and the former Soviet Union to cooperation on nuclear material-related issues has resulted in tangible improvement in nuclear safety and security across the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia. Translation of that early political commitment into successful programmatic cooperation was the task of a complex mix of ministries, departments, agencies, national laboratories, institutes, and contractors. The resulting years of joint cooperation have yielded a wealth of experience to Russian and American experts tasked with bringing projects to successful completion. Use of these experts’ valuable insights and knowledge to strengthen current efforts in the short term and to inform the evolving strategic partnership in the long term is crucial to overcoming impediments to Russian-American cooperation.

All organizations struggle with the challenges of making bureaucracies work effectively and efficiently, and cooperative nonproliferation programs are certainly not exempt from this problem. Indeed, despite considerable efforts in both the United States and Russia, bureaucratic and programmatic impediments to cooperation still remain. Overcoming these impediments will require a commitment by Russian and American experts to strengthen their working relationships with full partnership as the guiding principle. In both the short term and the long term, this principle can serve as an important foundation when addressing difficult problems of joint organization and management of programs that focus on cooperation on nonproliferation. The following section proposes specific recommendations for overcoming programmatic impediments and facilitating future cooperation in the continuing and evolving partnership between the United States and Russia.1

STRENGTHENING THE CURRENT AND FUTURE PARTNERSHIP: CONCRETE APPROACHES TO OVERCOMING ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGERIAL IMPEDIMENTS

Improving the Joint Development and Implementation of Programs

Many of the current U.S.-Russian nuclear nonproliferation programs have specific strategic plans that drive their implementation; however, few of these strategic plans are actually joint U.S.-Russian plans that reflect jointly developed program objectives and priorities. In some cases, programmatic plans are developed solely by the U.S. side and are not negotiated or discussed with Russian experts before or during implementation. This often means that Russian experts do not participate fully in the decision making regarding prioritization, equipment purchases, or training elements; nor are they aware of all long-term costs. In other cases, programmatic plans are developed jointly to various degrees, but even in the best of cases, the priorities are primarily set by the U.S. side.

One approach to facilitating greater participation and partnership is the development of programmatic “strategic master plans,” each based on a systems approach similar to that used by Russia in its development of the Strategic Master Plan for Complex Disposition of Nuclear Submarines, a summary of which appears in Appendix H.2 These programmatic master plans will complement and flow down from the joint

1  

This study draws a distinction between program organization and program management. “Program organization” refers to the actions taken to define the objectives, goals, and priorities of the overall cooperative effort, including individual programs, and the supporting structure of projects and tasks used to achieve those objectives. “Program management” refers to the technical and political actions taken to implement projects and tasks to achieve the objectives, including the oversight necessary to measure success and to ensure effectiveness.

2  

This Strategic Master Plan does not have a registration number, but it was put into effect through Rosatom Director’s Decree No. 257, dated December 1, 2004, approved by the NDEP Operating Committee on November 5, 2004, and concurred with by the Donor State Assembly on December 6, 2004.



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Strengthening U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Nonproliferation: Recommendations for Action Program Organization and Management What began more than a decade ago as a political commitment by the governments of the United States and the former Soviet Union to cooperation on nuclear material-related issues has resulted in tangible improvement in nuclear safety and security across the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia. Translation of that early political commitment into successful programmatic cooperation was the task of a complex mix of ministries, departments, agencies, national laboratories, institutes, and contractors. The resulting years of joint cooperation have yielded a wealth of experience to Russian and American experts tasked with bringing projects to successful completion. Use of these experts’ valuable insights and knowledge to strengthen current efforts in the short term and to inform the evolving strategic partnership in the long term is crucial to overcoming impediments to Russian-American cooperation. All organizations struggle with the challenges of making bureaucracies work effectively and efficiently, and cooperative nonproliferation programs are certainly not exempt from this problem. Indeed, despite considerable efforts in both the United States and Russia, bureaucratic and programmatic impediments to cooperation still remain. Overcoming these impediments will require a commitment by Russian and American experts to strengthen their working relationships with full partnership as the guiding principle. In both the short term and the long term, this principle can serve as an important foundation when addressing difficult problems of joint organization and management of programs that focus on cooperation on nonproliferation. The following section proposes specific recommendations for overcoming programmatic impediments and facilitating future cooperation in the continuing and evolving partnership between the United States and Russia.1 STRENGTHENING THE CURRENT AND FUTURE PARTNERSHIP: CONCRETE APPROACHES TO OVERCOMING ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGERIAL IMPEDIMENTS Improving the Joint Development and Implementation of Programs Many of the current U.S.-Russian nuclear nonproliferation programs have specific strategic plans that drive their implementation; however, few of these strategic plans are actually joint U.S.-Russian plans that reflect jointly developed program objectives and priorities. In some cases, programmatic plans are developed solely by the U.S. side and are not negotiated or discussed with Russian experts before or during implementation. This often means that Russian experts do not participate fully in the decision making regarding prioritization, equipment purchases, or training elements; nor are they aware of all long-term costs. In other cases, programmatic plans are developed jointly to various degrees, but even in the best of cases, the priorities are primarily set by the U.S. side. One approach to facilitating greater participation and partnership is the development of programmatic “strategic master plans,” each based on a systems approach similar to that used by Russia in its development of the Strategic Master Plan for Complex Disposition of Nuclear Submarines, a summary of which appears in Appendix H.2 These programmatic master plans will complement and flow down from the joint 1   This study draws a distinction between program organization and program management. “Program organization” refers to the actions taken to define the objectives, goals, and priorities of the overall cooperative effort, including individual programs, and the supporting structure of projects and tasks used to achieve those objectives. “Program management” refers to the technical and political actions taken to implement projects and tasks to achieve the objectives, including the oversight necessary to measure success and to ensure effectiveness. 2   This Strategic Master Plan does not have a registration number, but it was put into effect through Rosatom Director’s Decree No. 257, dated December 1, 2004, approved by the NDEP Operating Committee on November 5, 2004, and concurred with by the Donor State Assembly on December 6, 2004.

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Strengthening U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Nonproliferation: Recommendations for Action strategy to be developed by the High-Level Commission proposed earlier. The program-level strategic master plans would then be used to bridge the gap between overall program goals and project definition and implementation. In the joint committee’s view, increasing Russian participation in project definition and planning is vital to both the short-term and the long-term successes of these programs. The joint committee recommends the development of joint U.S.-Russian program-level strategic master plans under the authority of the implementing agencies or ministries. The inclusion of Russian experts in the strategic planning stages of the programs is critical to their becoming full partners in the entire process of program organization and management, from the initial development through project implementation and evaluation and to maximizing the long-term sustainability of nonproliferation goals.3 The jointly developed strategic master plans could provide the following: Clearly articulated program objectives, goals, strategies, and priorities that are clearly derived from the U.S.-Russian nuclear nonproliferation strategy to be developed by the High-Level Commission; Meaningful and achievable metrics that can be used to determine how successfully specific objectives and goals are being met; Program effectiveness evaluations based on the metrics mentioned above; Strategies for greater implementation effectiveness, with full recognition and leveraging of the various roles that can best be played by national laboratories and institutes, nongovernmental organizations, and industry; Detailed estimates of the life cycle costs for implementation, together with identification of the available and promised funding from all sources; Analysis and description of current and future U.S. and Russian funding commitments, with recommendations for funding that are in keeping with the goal of a stronger partnership between the United States and Russia, to clearly reflect any in-kind contributions; Review of the legal and regulatory basis, at both the governmental and the programmatic levels, required for efficient implementation, including the sharing of sensitive information and data when it is required; and Sustainability plans, including training programs, to ensure the availability of trained personnel to develop and sustain a robust nonproliferation culture. In addition to physical security and materials accounting, training should be provided for individuals in program management, systems engineering, cost accounting, and other supporting disciplines. Project plans are most effectively developed by small technical teams composed of U.S. and Russian experts who are responsible for identifying and describing the project parameters. The technical group could generate a project plan that includes the following elements:4 Clarification of the task, that is, identification of the overall goals of the project and determination of whether funding, relevant contractual frameworks, and other relevant structures are in place; Assessment of local, bilateral, bureaucratic, legal, organizational, political, and other potential hurdles that are peculiar to the specific circumstances of the project; Joint selection of the technology appropriate to the application and the operating conditions or, at a minimum, evaluation of the relevance of the technology chosen for the project and examination of the local and national political and economic implications of its installation and use; Clarification of the legal, regulatory, licensing, and approval procedures that will be required to complete the project; Determination of the staff resources and training that will be required and identification and building of relationships with key organizations and individuals in Russia; and Clarification of the assumptions, goals, and linkages required for implementation of the program. As Russian and U.S. experts tasked with implementing joint nonproliferation programs work toward full partnership, the inclusion of both groups of experts from the earliest stages of program design and development, through implementation and sustainability, will strengthen the programs’ short- and long-term effectiveness. Improving the Balance Between Central and Local Control The importance and high degree of visibility of the U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation to the respective governments and the need to balance nonproliferation objectives with other national security objectives, such as homeland security, often translate into a perceived need by central agencies and ministries to closely control all details of program implementation. Such tight central control, however, has several negative ramifications. These include inefficiencies in implementation because of the additional layers of agency or ministry review and approval of technical decisions; limited creativity in technical problem solving and a growing sense of risk aversion; the need for government program managers to accompany all delegations on travel; and the diversion of agency or ministry resources 3   M. S. Elleman and W. D. Smith, Overcoming Impediments to Cooperation Between the United States and Russia: Improving Communication During Project Definition (Appendix I). 4   M. S. Elleman and W. D. Smith, Overcoming Impediments to Cooperation Between the United States and Russia: Elements of Successful Project Preparation (Appendix J).

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Strengthening U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Nonproliferation: Recommendations for Action from core missions, such as strategic program direction and coordination with other stakeholders. The joint committee recommends that relevant U.S. and Russian government agencies and implementers work together to establish and maintain a clear division of responsibility between those managing the program (central control) and those implementing the program (local control) while working together to achieve the objectives of U.S.-Russian cooperation. Furthermore, the joint committee recommends that, to the extent possible, federal authorities in both countries give primary problem-solving responsibility for projects to program managers and implementers and reward them for the good results that they produce by being creative and taking responsible risks. By more clearly delineating the responsibilities of the central and local levels of program organization and management, managers and implementers will have more effective guidance and support to mutually reinforce program objectives, which will work toward achieving the overall goals of the partnership. In the joint committee’s view, it is the role of the central agency or ministry to ensure that Necessary agency-to-ministry and agency-to-agency (or ministry-to-ministry) agreements are in place to enable work under the partnership consistent with the shared U.S.-Russian vision and strategies and with those of other affected agencies or ministries within the United States or Russia; Each program or project advances the shared vision, strategies, and priorities defined in the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Nonproliferation Strategy and is implemented in accordance with the associated government- or program-level agreements; All programs are effectively coordinated and integrated to implement U.S.-Russian strategies to achieve their shared objectives; An agency’s programs are effectively coordinated with the programs of other agencies (or ministries); The roles and responsibilities of agency and ministry managers and staff and those of the implementing organizations (laboratories, institutes, and contractors) are clearly and appropriately defined and executed; The implementing organizations (not individual staff) are selected and held accountable for meeting all the program management commitments (cost, performance, and schedule) to the agency or ministry and the associated implementation authority and responsibility are clearly established; Mechanisms are in place to protect and share sensitive information and data when such activities are required to achieve programmatic objectives; Personnel training requirements are identified and programs are put in place to ensure common implementation of best practices and lessons learned; Bureaucratic obstacles are removed or minimized; and Each agency’s or ministry’s fulfillment of commitments is monitored and reported; best practices and opportunities for improvements are noted and communicated. In the joint committee’s view, it is the responsibility of those charged with local implementation to ensure that Program management accept responsibility for assigning the appropriate individuals to lead or participate in joint U.S.-Russian project teams, based on their capability and availability, and holds its staff accountable for meeting all program management and implementation commitments; Jointly established project goals and expectations are defined; Personnel are assigned on a long-term basis, with a minimum number of changes during the lifetime of a project; Personnel have the necessary infrastructure, e.g., training, financial systems, and foreign travel support, available to more effectively meet all of their implementation responsibilities; The management process is transparent, with project information easily available to both Russian and U.S. project teams; and Coordination and teaming with other implementing organizations are effective. Improving the Balance Between Managerial Flexibility and Structural Consistency Another factor essential to removing impediments to U.S.-Russian cooperation, as noted in the previous report, is the need for balance between managerial flexibility and the structural consistency that is necessary for institutional stability.5 This becomes less of an issue if the recommendations discussed in this report are implemented. Joint strategic objectives should lead to better-defined goals and priorities. The availability of better-defined goals and priorities, together with clearly defined and respected roles and responsibilities and an understanding and acceptance of each partner’s national constraints or requirements, should result in a program of cooperation that demonstrates consistent and defensible decisions and actions across all of its component programs and projects. One example of the need for greater balance between managerial flexibility and structural consistency is the current process of contracting. At present, a great deal of time, effort, and resources is spent on administering small contracts between Russian and American facilities, agencies, contractors, and others. If teams working on particular sites are given greater flexibility and discretion in the drafting of contracts and task orders—including flexibility on their size, 5   See also NRC, Overcoming Impediments to U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Nonproliferation, p. 32.

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Strengthening U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Nonproliferation: Recommendations for Action scope and scale—both American and Russian experts would be more free to pursue serious substantive work. The issue of better balance between central and local control and the issue of better balance between managerial flexibility and structural consistency are closely coupled. The joint committee recommends that U.S. and Russian program managers work toward achieving a more effective balance between managerial flexibility and structural consistency by considering and adopting the relevant ideas proposed in this section—for example, development of joint strategic master plans, implementation of appropriate roles and responsibilities, and rewarding creativity and risk taking that produce good results—to improve the balance between central and local control. By balancing these two aspects of project organization and management, U.S. and Russian experts will be able to allocate more time to substantive cooperation, gain mutual trust, and more fully maximize their resources. Structural disincentives greatly exacerbate inefficiencies in joint cooperation. If flexibility on the managerial level is increased wherever possible and the level of support offered to staff who demonstrate initiative in effectively and quickly solving problems is also increased, then program implementation will be less constrained by bureaucratic and procedural problems. Improving the Consistency of Personnel on Project Teams Better balance between flexibility and structure (as well as between central and local control) should also address an ever-growing problem that is in part because of the long period of time required to successfully accomplish U.S.-Russian nuclear nonproliferation objectives and specific program goals. This problem is one best described as absorption of limited staff both at the governmental levels and at the implementing institute levels, which results in significant personnel turnover. The joint committee recommends that U.S. and Russian agency leaders and program managers create greater incentives to retain and support quality personnel who will remain committed to joint cooperation. When a personnel change is anticipated, preemptive steps should be taken to reduce the disruption to cooperation. The problem of turnover cannot be avoided, but it can be better managed. One approach is to communicate to all affected parties as early as possible that a change in personnel is anticipated and to begin a transition with the replacement if at all possible. One factor that strongly contributes to turnover is the burnout that results from long work hours, frequent and lengthy travel, and the resulting impacts on health and family life. The right balance in control, together with effective delegation of responsibility and authority, should decrease the number of meetings and trips that each individual must take and the detailed oversight that must be provided. Another measure that could alleviate this work burden is the proactive planning for and training of successors, whether they are project team members or government program managers. This last point is particularly important if it is considered more strategically. There is an immediate need to begin identifying and training future program leaders. This can be done through workshops, assignment of student interns, and other activities specifically targeted toward creating sustainable leadership in nuclear nonproliferation. A critical ingredient is still needed to allow the managerial flexibility that can lead to the most efficient and effective implementation of tasks and removal of barriers; that ingredient is trust. This trust evolves primarily through long-term personal relationships both at the governmental level and at the implementation level.6 In cases in which the risks, e.g., political reaction, are perceived to be too great to allow the needed flexibility, it may be useful to allow such flexibility for a smaller subset of the overall problem and to allow it to increase over time. Enhanced Communication Across and Within Agencies The previous report described the observed need for improved interactions at all levels, from individual project teams to the international community. At the highest level, within the international community, nuclear proliferation is clearly a widely shared concern. Although its implementation requires improvement, the nuclear nonproliferation regime has had a history of some success. The pivotal role played by IAEA continues to be critical. Once the United States and Russia have defined a joint strategic vision for the current and future stages of the cooperation, it would be beneficial to explore the role that IAEA can best play in supporting the achievement of that vision. The role of the G-8 partnership is another key element to be integrated. In each case, a range of potential actions, such as meetings, workshops, and bilateral or multilateral initiatives, can be identified and implemented. An example is the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, held in March 2005. U.S. and Russian participants in the bilateral MPC&A program considered this event extremely informative and helpful.7 These international interactions can provide significant opportunities to leverage networks, resources, and experiences (both successful and problematic), particularly if they are focused on shared objectives and priorities. These interactions also ensure that duplicate and even conflicting activities are not ongoing. Interactions at the lowest level—within the project teams—can be improved if the composi- 6   On the basis of conversations with senior Russian MPC&A experts, the consistency of personnel on both sides builds trust. High levels of trust can be important in overcoming challenges of cooperation, such as issues of access and efficiency. 7   For more information, see http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Meetings/Announcements.asp?ConfID=136 online. Accessed May 8, 2005.

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Strengthening U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Nonproliferation: Recommendations for Action tions of the teams are better managed to ensure that qualified, knowledgeable staff who are available for the long term are assigned to teams, that upcoming staffing changes are communicated early, and that transitions of responsibility are planned to minimize the impact of staffing changes on the team’s effectiveness. The joint committee recommends that U.S. and Russian program managers and experts enhance communication across and within all levels by employing a broad range of tools available to enhance communication. Enhanced communication is a requirement that underlies a strengthened U.S.-Russian partnership at all levels. Program websites, newsletters, workshops, and working groups and regularly scheduled telephone conferences are examples of means by which communication can be enhanced. The lessons that are learned and the best practices that are identified in connection with the web-based management systems in use by programs such as CRDF, Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP), and ISTC should become the basis for a more standard web-based management and communication process. Sharing and Protecting Sensitive Information An essential element of enhanced communication that requires special attention is the ability to share and protect the sensitive information needed for effective planning and implementation. This requires each party to define “sensitive” information to distinguish between classified information and information that is proprietary to a country, and to obtain clear direction from its government that provides limits and guidelines for the sharing and protection of this type of information. This direction enables the participating parties to negotiate information boundaries and related processes that then must be observed. Currently, with a few exceptions, U.S.-Russian cooperative programs operate formally in the regime of “unclassified, nonsensitive.” This does not imply any lack of discretion among Russian or U.S. participants or any lack of understanding of the intrinsically sensitive nature of much of the work. Rather, it is indicative of a missing and needed framework for the formal sharing of sensitive information between the two countries in areas of mutual benefit. Several areas of U.S. and Russian nuclear information could also usefully be examined to see if they actually continue to serve a tangible security benefit by being kept secret. Therefore, the joint committee recommends that the governments of the United States and Russia revisit the question of signing a General Security of Information Agreement. Such an agreement does not require that classified information be shared; it merely permits the sharing of information under certain strict conditions, subject to policy direction from the U.S. and Russian governments. The joint committee also recommends that the governments of the United States and Russia each undertake an examination of the nuclear information currently kept secret to determine if this continues to best serve U.S.-Russian cooperation. One controversial but relevant model is the “openness” initiative under U.S. Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary, which helped build trust with Russia by increasing the amount of information that could be shared by the U.S. side. Given the growing partnership between the United States and Russia in nonproliferation and the war against terrorism, common objectives might better be served by more openness between the two countries in certain areas.