appeal to top-quality scientists and engineers while also serving important national missions. Thus, the quality of S&E, being preconditioned on attracting high-quality people, depends in the long run on successfully making this transition to national security laboratories.

It is for this reason that the study committee was pleased to see that a governance charter was established in June 2010 among the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, and Defense, plus the Office of the Director of National Intelligence9. Many of the challenges facing these agencies are synergistic with the capabilities of these NNSA laboratories, and they can, and do, benefit from the large investments that NNSA and its predecessors have made in S&E capabilities. In a time of constrained budgets, broadening the mandate to a national security mission at the NNSA laboratories helps preserve S&E expertise by providing opportunities to work on problems posed by partner agencies. The fouragency charter recognizes the value of the laboratories to broad national security research activities, and that this broader work is synergistic with the laboratories’ core nuclear weapons mission. The transition from nuclear-weapons-only laboratories to national security laboratories is well underway.

Finding 3.1. All three laboratories and the NNSA have strongly emphasized that their core mission is to assure a reliable, safe, and secure nuclear weapons stockpile, and that all other research activities contribute to the development and maintenance of the scientific and engineering capabilities required to effectively execute this mission.

Finding 3.2. NNSA leadership has expressed a compelling vision for the laboratories as national security labs, maintaining nuclear weapons as the core mission while also contributing importantly to other national security areas.

Finding 3.3. Work for Others at the three national security laboratories benefits the nation in two ways. It produces valuable research and technology for the national security efforts of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and for the Intelligence Community; and it provides a mechanism to help sustain some of the people and capabilities for the nuclear weapon program. It also strengthens the laboratories’ broad S&E capabilities.

Recommendation 3.1. The study committee recommends that Congress recognize that maintenance of the stockpile remains the core mission of the labs, and in that context consider endorsing and supporting in some manner the evolution of the NNSA laboratories to national security laboratories as described in the July 2010 four-agency Governance Charter for an Interagency Council on the Strategic Capability of DOE National Laboratories.

Conducting applied program work outside the nuclear weapons program for agencies other than DOE, however, does not encourage those other sponsoring government agencies to contribute to the longterm institutional support needed to maintain the laboratories. Work for agencies other than DOE (which is referred to as Work for Others, or WFO), is conducted under task-order contracts. The contracts specify and fund specific work and deliverables, but rarely contribute to the construction of facilities and purchase of major equipment. These other agencies are exploiting the infrastructure that has resulted from NNSA’s investment, and are by and large not contributing directly to the building and maintenance of that infrastructure. This causes problems not only for NNSA and ultimately for the laboratories, but also for the other agencies, because the NNSA cannot provide long-term institutional support for programmatic work that is not theirs. This situation limits what the laboratories can do for the other agencies, since it limits them to using what they have without acquiring facilities, equipment, and skills specifically to support their work for these other agencies. The four-agency agreement does not solve the


9 See Appendix A, “Governance Charter for an Interagency Council on the Strategic Capability of DOE National Laboratories as National Security Assets.”

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