cies to implement the program. Thus, much of the project definition is conducted by the implementer, a body often inadequately familiar with the project’s terrain, key players, risks, and political constraints. The implementing agencies are also often unaware, or poorly informed about, similar projects being pursued by other U.S. agencies or international entities. Thus, when project definition is conducted in a partial vacuum and simultaneously with implementation, many of the initial steps taken in the project must later be altered at higher cost and with corresponding schedule delays. Similarly, poor project definition can lead to confusion at the political or diplomatic level, as the host nation is sometimes left unaware of its obligations and later fails to satisfy them. As such, enhanced project definition would warrant several considerable advantages.
First, projects would be implemented more quickly. For example, projects driven prematurely to implementation may require one year or more to complete conceptual designs for potential destruction facilities, to only later understand that the design would not be accepted by Russian regulatory and implementing agents. Or, being unaware of local technical norms or political sensitivities, the implementing contractor may provide an unusable design. Instead, a well-managed project definition phase would engage and build partnerships with key Russian entities, including regulatory agencies and local representatives, to deliver a defined and actionable project to implementers in a shorter amount of time. On the basis of our experience, we estimate that following this model could reduce the time required to define program requirements from the typical 8 to 12 months to 4 to 6 months, depending on the complexity of the project.
Second, overall program costs would be reduced if agile entities focused on risk management and the sustainability of the defined projects. The definition of program requirements through large U.S. national laboratories or Cooperative Threat Reduction Integrating Contractors can add millions of dollars to the project cost. While these bodies are irreplaceable in project implementation, they are not focused on cooperatively engaging Russian partners to define project goals. In the short time identified above, a more refined and agile entity could define program requirements with far less than the multiple millions of dollars currently required to sustain the implementation contractor’s team. Most important, implementing a more clearly defined project would reduce costs not only for program definition but also, more dramatically, for program implementation.
The third advantage of improved project definition—enhanced communications and trust—represents the strongest potential benefit to project implementation and long-term nonproliferation success. Successful project definition, conducted in a way that asks, assesses, and integrates host nation concerns and goals, would enhance communications during project implementation and would strengthen program sustainability. The multiplicity of U.S. government contractors, subcontractors, government teaming partners, policy makers, congressional delegations, and other bodies perceived to be implementing nuclear nonproliferation programs can be confusing and perplexing. Especially because many aspects of the program involve sensitive information and controlled access to facilities, such confusion can cause host nation partners to become frustrated and disinclined to remain engaged. A better model would be to invite a single, small team composed of integrated in-country and U.S. personnel who possess cultural familiarity to define the program. Sensitivity to and awareness of multiple stakeholder concerns and goals would reduce confusion, build trust, and enhance clarity in program implementation for host nation and U.S. agency and congressional partners.
Finally, improved project definition would significantly mitigate project risks. One of the key products of project definition and an aspect that is essentially overlooked in current nonproliferation models is the identification of project risks across the gamut of political, fiscal, engineering, environmental, and other factors. Conducting project definition would identify risks as well as potential mitigating options, thereby reducing negative impacts on program cost, schedule, and performance. This advantage is discussed in more detail below.
Conducting robust project definition would improve interagency and U.S.-Russian communications, build trust, and strengthen program sustainability. Beyond this, however, more robust project definition could enable funds dedicated to U.S.-Russia nonproliferation to be expended more confidently. Below, we outline recommendations that will yield these results.
First, policy makers must take a comprehensive look at U.S. nonproliferation goals in Russia. The disconnect between various nuclear threat reduction programs is compounded by a lack of integration within nuclear initiatives, not to mention integration with chemical or biological nonproliferation initiatives. Through the National Security Council or another appropriate body, the U.S. government needs to identify and prioritize what it believes are the proliferation threats. As part of this effort, the United States should ask Russia to do the same: establish a prioritized list of nuclear nonproliferation goals from the Russian perspective.
Second, U.S. and Russian policy makers and implementing partners should discuss these perceived threats in an open dialogue. It may be true that long-negotiated arms control treaties are no longer required, but the dialogue that these elicited is still essential. For years, many academicians and policy makers have called on the United States to engage Russia not as an aid recipient but as a partner. Mutual agree-