The 1995 Task Force on Alternative Futures (a.k.a. the “Galvin Task Force”), believed it was not appropriate or resourceful for the laboratories to acquire new mission areas outside of their traditional ones, including developing technologies for the private sector (DOE, 1995). The Task Force observed “excessive scrambling” on the part of the laboratories in acquiring new mission areas outside of their traditional ones. While they approved of utilizing the laboratories capabilities such as “high performance computation, advanced materials, energy technologies, and systems engineering” to solve other national priorities,
These activities should be carefully managed, are not likely to evolve into “new missions” per se, and should not be a license to expand into areas of science and technology which already are being addressed effectively or more appropriately by other Research and Development (R&D) performers in government, academia and the private sector (DOE, 1995).
The Galvin Task Force expressed concern that expanding the laboratories’ roles to serve the needs of private industry was likely to distract them from their public missions, diverting both intellectual and material resources away from it. The Task Force described these activities as “add-ons;” managed on a case-by-case basis. They stated that “the laboratories might be more likely to propose industrial programs merely based on ‘make work’ criteria,” if their work expanded outside DOE mission areas. In addition, laboratory work performed for the private industry was unfocused. It was unclear to the Task Force how large and broad-ranging these activities should be, how they should be funded, and how they should relate to the primary mission areas the laboratories were involved in- “in particular, whether industrial competitiveness should be viewed as a primary or a derivative function.”
In the early 2000s, several reports, including the Report of the Commission on Maintaining United States Nuclear Weapons Expertise (a.k.a. the “Chiles Commission Report) and the FY 2000 Report to Congress of the Panel to Assess the Reliability, Safety, and Security of the United States Nuclear Stockpile (a.k.a. the “Foster Report”) stressed the need to revamp the strength of the national commitment to the stockpile stewardship mission or risk the loss of recruiting and retaining highly qualified scientists (Chiles et al., 1999; Foster et al., 2001). The 2000 Foster Panel noted that the stockpile stewardship mission was different than other nuclear weapons missions the laboratories had been accustomed to, thus requiring taking a different approach than “the continuation of past technical activities:”
It is not possible to attract or retain a world-class staff absent clear articulation of this new stewardship mission and its national importance, and without a credible multi-year program. NNSA, working with DOE leadership, DOD, the President, and Congress must restore the sense of mission, rationalize the work program, and demonstrate commitment to stockpile stewardship (Foster et al., 2001).
The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s (SEAB’s) 2005 Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure Task Force also observed a lack of integrated and coordinated set of missions, citing DOE’s lack of policy guidance and the lack of uniformity among design laboratories about requirements and regulations for the weapons development. For example, the Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure Task Force noted several occasions where a laboratory would justify the building of a new facility based on requirements that they themselves created, in order to appear superior to another laboratory. This resulted in the laboratories “competing for programmatic funds and priorities rather than relying upon their divergent and complementary strengths and thereby operating as a truly interdependent team, with shared success and rewards.” (DOE, 2005).
The 2009 Stimson Center’s Task Force Report on Leveraging Science for Security: A Strategy for the Nuclear Weapons Laboratories in the 21st Century echoed the 2005 SEAB Task Force’s concern about the lack of a unified mission. The Stimson Center Task Force found the laboratories’ research areas