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Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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3

Progress and Continuing Concerns

During the recent leadership pulse checks summarized in Chapter 2, most interviewees described progress in teamwork between the government and its management and operating (M&O) partners, as well as improvement in the laboratories, plants, and sites working collaboratively when needed. The laboratory/plant/site strategic planning, even if it is still rather operational, seems to be succeeding in encouraging various entities to talk with one another and gain a better understanding of one another’s responsibilities and challenges. The site governance peer reviews also appear to be having some success in getting the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its M&O contractors to understand one another’s roles, perspectives, and constraints. The current focus on contractor assurance systems might be leading to greater transparency and partnership. These opportunities for various parts of the enterprise—government employees and contractors, program and functional staffers—to work together and get to know one another appear to be leading to greater appreciation of one another’s roles, and consequently improved partnering. The first two sections of this chapter provide the panel’s evaluation of these and other signs of improvement. Its final section contains a discussion of continuing concerns.

PROGRESS IN ADDRESSING LONG-STANDING CONCERNS OF GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT

The panel observed apparent improvement regarding the five major concerns from A New Foundation for the Nuclear Enterprise (the “Augustine-Mies” report) listed at the beginning of Chapter 1, which are as follows.

Clarity of Direction from Congress and the Administration

As noted in Chapter 1, issuance of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), with commensurate increases in budgets, is an indicator of top-level national guidance of the nuclear security enterprise, and people across the enterprise are well aware of this. Among other things, the NPR establishes clear priorities, expectations, and timelines by which the nuclear enterprise is to accomplish specific objectives. Over the years, management literature has stressed the importance to virtually any organization of having a clear purpose and set of expectations.

The Augustine-Mies report recommended that the Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary provide annual testimony on the nuclear security mission to Congress as a means of strengthening top-level oversight. DOE Secretary Perry did provide testimony in April 2018 on the FY2019 DOE budget request to both the Energy and Water Subcommittee of Senate Appropriations and the Energy Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce, and this step constitutes progress in strengthening top-level guidance.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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The enterprise receives attention from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, and the NNSA Administrator told the panel that she has made interactions with Congress a priority.

Adequacy of the Governance Structure

Under this topic, the Augustine-Mies report recommended a variety of structural and governance reforms to solidify the DOE Secretary’s ownership of the mission. These generally require revision of the NNSA Act and other actions by Congress and are therefore not under the panel’s purview. However, the panel has begun examining whether NNSA’s oversight of the enterprise is hindered or complicated by its position within DOE, and it will address this topic in 2020.

Adoption of Proven Management Practices

The third general dimension in need of attention, per the Augustine-Mies report, is improving some basic management capabilities while building a culture of performance and accountability. The Augustine-Mies report recommended some improvements in management practices that include the following:

  • Providing a clear line management structure,
  • Clarifying that functional staff should be actively supporting the mission,
  • Improving career development and rotational assignments,
  • Strengthening cost analysis and resource management,
  • Improving construction management discipline,
  • Strengthening budget and staff authority of the life-extension program (LEP) managers, and
  • Simplifying the budget structure by reducing the number of budget and reporting codes.

The panel has seen some action on all of these except for the next-to-last bullet, which it has not yet examined.

Providing a Clear Line Management Structure

The realignment a few years ago, which has field office managers (FOMs) reporting directly to the Administrator, is generally supported both by laboratory/plant/site leaders and FOMs. During its recent series of pulse checks (see Chapter 2), the panel heard that this is largely seen as a clear improvement. During its site visits in 2017–2018, the panel was told that attention is also being paid to more predictably routing information and instructions through the FOMs so that lines of communication, and responsibilities, are unambiguous. The panel has also been told that communication throughout the enterprise has improved, owing to new, or reactivated, boards, councils, and working groups, and that has in turn produced some improvements in alignment and functional integration. The relations between M&O contractors and field offices need monitoring and vigilance to ensure that any stress or deterioration is addressed proactively, because their sharing of responsibilities can produce tensions that may build over time.

Clear line management is particularly important with regard to the goals established by the NPR. NNSA needs to ensure that a senior manager has responsibility for each of the key goals, especially the most challenging goals like pit production. The responsible manager ensures that plans are adequate,

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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needed resources are requested, and progress is monitored. The panel intends to review the clarity of responsibility in 2019, especially with respect to the NPR.

Clarifying the Role of Functional Offices

This topic is a priority of the current Administrator, although it is too early for the panel to be able to assess progress. At the panel’s May 2018 meeting, the Administrator said that functional offices like safety, security, and information technology are sometimes brought too late into discussions and decision making. This can cause them to be seen as disruptive when they finally get involved. She suggested that better communication and decision making that involves all relevant offices is needed in such cases, and she is encouraging program offices to involve the functional offices earlier.

As an example of a welcome culture shift with regard to the role of functional offices, the head of NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations described his approach to the panel. He noted that, for example, actions to reduce safety risks may have unintended consequences on the programs, such as upending schedules or costs. He does not want safety professionals to lose sight of the overall balance of risks. He also advocates a transition from a focus on “being safe” to one of “operating safely.” The latter keeps the emphasis on program performance, whereas the task of “being safe” is open-ended and can become a priority on its own. It remains to be seen how well these valuable messages are internalized throughout the organization and in the day-to-day prioritizations and decisions by NNSA safety professionals, and whether the influence of DOE, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, and other entities providing oversight raise complications.

Improving Career Development and Rotational Opportunities

Leaders from several sites and NNSA Headquarters (HQ) mentioned the value of rotational assignments in providing individuals with very useful understanding of the functions and priorities of different offices. This suggests that some actions may emerge in relation to this topic. The panel will follow up in 2019 and will also study other human capital initiatives in the enterprise.

Improving Cost Analysis, Construction Management Discipline, and Budget Structure

NNSA’s Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation was established in 2014, so the capabilities for cost estimation may have already improved from the time of the Augustine-Mies study. In 2019, the panel will learn more about this office and its contributions. NNSA’s smaller construction projects (i.e., those with cost estimates below $750 million) have already been removed from the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO’s) “High Risk” report1 after years of being included. Other signs of management improvement appear from the panel’s examinations of accounting codes and the annual approval process for M&O contractors’ compensation plans (see Chapter 2).

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1 Government Accountability Office, 2017, “High-Risk Series: Progress on Many High-Risk Areas, While Substantial Efforts Needed on Others,” GAO-17-317, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-317.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×

Leveraging of the Various Entities within the Enterprise

The NNSA Administrator has stated consistently that there should be no distinction between contractors and government employees in their roles to accomplish the mission of the enterprise—all should be working as a team. An example of progress in this direction is that the annual laboratory/site/plant strategic planning increasingly involves leadership from both sides. This is helping to build relationships between sites and between sites and HQ. Furthermore, the relatively small working group that was set up to draft early versions of the Administrator’s strategic vision included representatives from a few laboratories, plants, and sites, demonstrating her commitment to enterprise-wide partnership.

The Administrator has told the panel of at least three ways in which she is actively promoting a more integrated enterprise:

  1. She has asked NNSA’s Contractor Human Resource group and human resource teams from all the sites to jointly develop a strategy for enterprise-wide recruitment and retention, to share best practices and resources, and to increase the options available to attract and retain highly desirable employees.
  2. She has instituted regular meetings with the three laboratory directors, and she has weekly meetings with all of her direct reports (“Dash-1s”), both program and functional.
  3. At the May 2018 panel meeting, the NNSA Administrator told the panel that she had spoken to contractors, field offices, and HQ staff to emphasize that there should not be an “us versus them” mentality. To move in that direction, she included the laboratories, plants, and sites in the early engagement strategy for building the FY2020 budget.

Also, as mentioned earlier, various coordinating boards, councils, and working groups provide opportunities to build relationships and create a spirit of shared mission or partnership as they address their particular charges. The comments received from FOMs and laboratory/plant/site leadership during the panel’s recent pulse checks support this anecdotally, though NNSA has not tracked or measured it. The site governance peer reviews have also reportedly been helpful in encouraging better teamwork at individual sites, as explained in the panel’s 2018 report. They also create the potential for sharing best practices, although procedures for systematically sharing and institutionalizing those practices across sites are not yet established. The Administrator’s clear focus on the mission, and on aligning the various parts of the enterprise, are key to her approach to improving governance and management. The degree to which these efforts succeed depends substantially on how well those messages are accepted and ingrained throughout the enterprise—that is, whether there is true culture change. In one step toward carrying that through, NNSA has developed an online course that will be required of all federal employees and available to M&O personnel to spread best practices and elements of common culture.

Reducing Burdensome Practices and Unnecessary Oversight

NNSA leadership reports that it has reduced data calls and some other burdensome practices, including some aspects of oversight. However, there is no information on how or whether this has been done systematically or what its effect has been. The panel was told that some directives have been revised with the goal of being less burdensome, it has heard about work to streamline the approval of the M&O contractors’ compensation-increase plans, and, in one of the discussion groups, NNSA employees said that they have gone back to DOE to request that new directives be changed to eliminate duplicative data collection and reporting. However, the panel has not seen any metrics or other specific indicators of progress, and it is not clear whether any analysis was done to determine which elements of oversight are

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×

felt to be most burdensome or if some “low-hanging fruit” was addressed in hopes that an improvement would be felt.

Other steps to reduce burdensome practices include the following:

  • The Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations has begun developing a risk-based method for determining when to exercise oversight steps on safety matters, which could reduce the degree of federal intervention in managing safety or at least make its application more transparent and predictable.
  • The Site Integrated Assessment Planning process was adopted to compile audits, inspections, etc., into one consolidated list, which makes it easier to manage them.
  • The reduction in scope of DOE’s Office of Enterprise Assessments a few years ago potentially reduced the number of audits and inspections conducted by that office.
  • The panel was told that the NNSA Operations and Efficiencies Board is currently concluding a congressionally mandated survey of the sites to catalogue regulatory practices that should be changed. This could make it much easier to build the case for eliminating some layers of oversight by compiling data on their burden and value.

Relationships with NNSA’s Major Stakeholder, the Department of Defense

As noted in Chapter 2, the relationship between NNSA and the Department of Defense (DoD) at the time of the Augustine-Mies study was strained. Since then, the two organizations appear to have worked successfully to substantially improve that relationship. At present, the two organizations appear to trust one another to carry out their respective responsibilities in support of their shared mission, and the NNSA Administrator states that she is putting a priority on ensuring good relations with DoD.

The panel’s meetings with staff from DoD and NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs provided evidence of this improvement, but they also demonstrated that today’s ability to work constructively together is shaped by current leadership and guided by personal relationships and has not recently been tested by serious budgetary or programmatic stresses. Some potential concerns raised by people interviewed by the panel (as recounted in Chapter 2) include delays in building facilities, replacing obsolete components, advancing technology maturation, ensuring common cybersecurity strategies, and attaining sufficient funding for increasing workloads. The Augustine-Mies report suggested the creation of a joint DoD–NNSA roadmap through the Nuclear Weapons Council mechanism, and a step like that might institutionalize the current exchange of needed information, identify resource issues that require joint resolution, and serve to keep DoD and NNSA programs synchronized. Institutionalization of good practices is necessary to ensure a healthy and functioning relationship during times of stress.

The panel recently learned that NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs is beginning to baseline the enterprise’s current production capabilities and capacity as a necessary first step before NNSA can create reliable plans for accomplishing the ambitious goals of the NPR. The panel applauds this difficult exercise. As this baselining unfolds, NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs intends to work toward an enterprise-wide consensus about current capabilities and how they need to be extended and then broaden that discussion to include DoD as well. This could set the stage for important and productive joint planning with DoD, which could help NNSA ensure that it has a strong programmatic structure with clearly defined authorities, responsibilities, and accountability.

Recommendation 1. DoD and NNSA leadership should continue to promote transparent exchange of information about program plans and operations and to encourage teamwork at all levels, and they should institutionalize the current practices that are contributing to a healthy relationship.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×

OTHER SIGNS OF PROGRESS

Employee Engagement

Based on publicly available results from the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey,2 overall morale (satisfaction and engagement) among NNSA federal employees improved from 2015 to 2016, and again from 2016 to 2017. In the 2018 results, improvement was seen in 71 measurements—almost every metric. While morale and employee satisfaction of NNSA employees was not raised as an issue by the Augustine-Mies report, employee satisfaction and engagement are generally seen as important indicators of organizational health. Thus, this improvement is an encouraging indication of chances of success for change initiatives.

This survey covers only federal employees, but most NNSA employees work for the M&O partners. In its 2018 report, the panel recommended that NNSA survey employee engagement (or leverage results from the M&O partners’ ongoing surveys where they exist) throughout the enterprise, and the panel reiterates the value of obtaining survey data on the total workforce. The FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (Section 3136) calls for NNSA to study the feasibility and benefits of such a step. The panel has been told that NNSA’s report to Congress is in preparation.

Infrastructure Rebuilding

The head of NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations told the panel in September 2018 that NNSA’s rebuilding of infrastructure across the enterprise continues to enjoy congressional support. Congress gives NNSA some latitude for spending decisions in this area, which may indicate increased congressional confidence in NNSA’s handling of these projects. NNSA now uses a risk-based process to prioritize its many deferred maintenance and construction projects, and the panel was told that the resulting decisions are widely accepted across the laboratories, plants, and sites.

Sharing of Best Practices

As mentioned in Chapter 2, NNSA’s Chief Learning Officer told the panel in September about two training courses in the late stages of development that are aimed at disseminating best practices for site governance and partnering and promoting the culture desired for NNSA. One course is required for all federal employees and is available to M&O personnel. It will be available online and will be part of the training for all new hires. The other course is designed as executive training for M&O personnel, parent organizations, and FOMs. Through face-to-face instruction, this training aims to impart best practices and the Administrator’s major messages around trust, respect, accountability, and transparency.

Annual Laboratory/Plant/Site Strategic Planning

The pulse checks summarized in Chapter 2 revealed fairly strong support for the annual laboratory/plant/site strategic planning. The process used has helped improve information sharing and communication. M&O leaders and FOMs interviewed by the panel noted that they particularly value the

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2 Survey reports are available at https://www.opm.gov/fevs.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×

opportunity to make a coherent, complete presentation about their operations and their futures to functional leaders and personnel from HQ, many of whom did not have a big picture perspective on the sites. It is also notable that the process has been improved over the past 3 years as lessons are learned, and interviewees had several suggestions about how these planning sessions could be more valuable and strategic. Overall, these strategic planning exercises are a promising step toward developing and institutionalizing an enterprise-wide shared vision and trusting relationships. It should not be forgotten, though, that part of the process of institutionalization is to formalize roles, responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities to the degree that best enables accomplishment of the mission.

Enterprise Strategic Planning

The panel’s 2018 report argued that “it is essential for NNSA to shift from a tactical to a strategic focus,” and it recommended that “the new NNSA Administrator should urgently and personally lead the development of a mission-focused enterprise strategic plan that defines where the nuclear security enterprise needs to be in 10 years and what will be needed to get there.”3 The panel explained at that time that such a step would naturally identify governance and management challenges that impede progress, but that an enterprise-wide strategy “needs to go further and articulate an effective concept of operations for addressing the mission—a clear picture of how roles and responsibilities, functions, and processes will work within the enterprise. This picture enables NNSA to delegate authorities, through rules and processes, for carrying out its mission while maintaining its accountability.”4

The panel’s staff was told that this message was heard and accepted by NNSA leadership and that the panel’s concept will be reflected in three interrelated planning documents—a strategic vision, an integrated strategic roadmap for the nuclear security enterprise, and a governance and management framework—that, as of this writing, are still under development.

CONTINUING CONCERNS

Although there has been some apparent improvement in governance and management of the nuclear security enterprise, this section explains what the panel sees as gaps that must be addressed in order for helpful changes to spread and take root. The current state of improved governance and management is fragile, depending greatly on the NNSA Administrator and her team, as well as on recent support from Congress and the Executive Branch. Key individuals will inevitably move on, and stresses will tax today’s progress. The changes made to date must be institutionalized with speed and on a regular cadence. While the panel is encouraged to see some progress since the release of the Augustine-Mies report, and especially over the past year, it worries that the window of opportunity may close.

The Continuing Need for Data and Other Objective Evidence

The purpose of improving governance and management is to enable program success. NNSA’s Acting Deputy Administrator told the panel recently that the ability of the enterprise to meet its work requirements is one of the proxies that NNSA leadership relies on to evaluate how much progress is being

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3 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration, 2018, Report 2 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise, Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, p. 10-11.

4 Ibid., p. 10.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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made to reform governance and management. While successful accomplishments by the program do not necessarily mean that governance and management are trouble-free, trends in measures of accomplishment—for example, improvements in meeting milestones, or reductions in surprises or deviation from expectations—could be useful indicators. In that light, the completion of an important milestone in the B61-12 LEP four months ahead of schedule5 and completion of the W76-1 LEP “under budget and ahead of schedule”6 are encouraging signs and could indicate important management change if similar accomplishments follow.

NNSA tracks many aspects of program accomplishment, including through such means as quarterly program reviews and reviews of M&O performance. Experienced managers may be able to gain insight about the levels of operational efficiency from such information, and they can certainly discern if efficiency takes a downward turn. The panel is not charged with assessing the enterprise’s performance against its mission, and so it has not asked to see measures of program accomplishment. But because the panel has repeatedly urged NNSA to measure its progress in reforming governance and management, and NNSA has said that program accomplishment is a proxy for management effectiveness, it is puzzling that the panel has not been told (in cases where unclassified measures are available) about trends in program accomplishment or other analyses derived from program reviews. The tentativeness with which the panel has to speak in this report—as evidenced by the frequent use of words like “apparently” and “seems” or the phrase “the panel was told”—is indicative of how little hard data has been shared with the panel. The panel’s primary concern is that these data—these reliable measures of progress—may not exist or are not analyzed with a focus on enterprise efficiency and effectiveness.

As a rule, though, NNSA does not gather data to inform its management processes. As the panel wrote in its 2018 report,

Data and other objective evidence . . . are necessary in order to (1) effectively characterize situations that need corrections and (2) track whether changes under way are producing the desired effect. There is a fundamental need for NNSA to characterize its progress and demonstrate success in addressing the serious problems raised by the Augustine-Mies report and other reports. Currently this need, however, is often thwarted by a lack of data and other objective evidence needed . . . . Absent a solid base of evidence, NNSA appears to be relying on piecemeal and anecdotal information.7

That section of the 2018 panel report contains other suggestions about data and metrics that are still timely.

The panel is not alone in its emphasis on evidence and documentation. For example, the following quote from a recent GAO report about NNSA’s oversight of the MOX project also recommends that NNSA needs to do more to document lessons learned as management practices are improved and to develop ways to evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions:

GAO is making three recommendations, including that DOE and NNSA develop requirements for defining how and where project management lessons learned for capital asset projects should be documented and shared routinely and in a timely manner, and for

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5 NNSA, 2019, “Major milestone achieved for B61-12 Life Extension Program,” press release, https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/articles/major-milestone-achieved-b61-12-life-extension-program.

6 DOE, 2019, “DOE AND NNSA Celebrate W76-1 Life Extension Program,” press release, https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-and-nnsa-celebrate-w76-1-life-extension-program.

7 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration, 2018, Report 2, p. 20.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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evaluating the effectiveness of corrective actions taken in response to lessons learned. DOE agreed with GAO’s recommendations.8

The panel agrees with NNSA that it can be difficult to measure the efficiency of governance and management of the enterprise. But quantitative metrics are not necessary; the goal is to better characterize processes, identify root causes of problems, and not be satisfied with unverified assumptions or piecemeal tracking of progress.

Culture Change

The Augustine-Mies report found that “a major cultural overhaul will be needed [at DOE/NNSA] to align the structure, resources, and decision processes with mission priorities.”9 While the panel has seen some signs of positive change, as discussed in Chapter 2, NNSA still appears to tackle issues and tasks tactically and opportunistically, and a sustained, methodical push to change culture is essential.

The panel, based on its experience carrying out the current study and the past experience of many of its members, has the sense that many of NNSA’s management processes take longer than they should. This may be indicative of a pervasive aspect of NNSA’s culture: that “it takes too long to do anything,” as expressed with frustration by one of the panel’s pulse-check interviewees. Other aspects of NNSA culture that may limit its ability to evolve its practices to meet current demands include a limited sense of urgency, a tendency toward overly bureaucratic processes, and risk aversion. The panel has observed that while NNSA follows the good practice of assembling a mix of staff to work on management changes, it is not evident that these staff groups follow a methodical process for planning improvements. In order to improve any management process or system, the following attributes are needed:

  • Identification of the outcomes and outputs desired from the process, and agreement that change is necessary;
  • Sufficient transparency so that managers and staff can see how well a process is functioning and discern any problems that develop;
  • Diagnostic measures so that problems and inefficiencies can be characterized, and their manifestations, magnitude, and root causes can be understood properly;
  • Analysis to develop options for amelioration and to prioritize among them;
  • Metrics and feedback loops to monitor progress and improvement; and
  • Clear accountability so that responsibility for improvement of the process is clearly allocated.

These steps are not evident in most of the individual actions NNSA has undertaken to improve governance and management of the nuclear security enterprise. In the experience of panel members, NNSA’s culture tends toward limited transparency, lengthy processes, and a lack of metrics—which are antithetical to good management. The improvements cited in this report do not give the panel confidence that there is a systematic, strategic plan to promulgate them, and there is certainly a lack of metrics to document the improvements attained.

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8 GAO, 2018, “Project Management: DOE and NNSA Should Improve Their Lessons-Learned Process for Capital Asset Projects,” report GAO-19-25, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-25.

9 Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise, 2014, A New Foundation for the Nuclear Enterprise: Report of the Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise, http://cdn.knoxblogs.com/atomiccity/wpcontent/uploads/sites/11/2014/12/Governance.pdf?_ga=1.83182294.1320535883.1415285934, p. 37.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×

One of the Administrator’s strengths seems to be her ability to talk credibly and in a relatable fashion to a wide range of people across the enterprise. She uses this ability to implant key messages that are memorable, and that action is apparently increasing the common awareness of mission and also clarifying roles. For example, one aspect of the culture change desired for NNSA is for each worker to know why and how their work contributes to the overall mission, and attention to this has been one of the Administrator’s emphases. But institutionalization of individual improvements and overall culture change are necessary so that the state of the enterprise is not dependent on individuals.

In its 2018 report, the panel wrote that foundational elements of change management were in place at NNSA, but that it “has become increasingly concerned about other important foundational elements of change management . . . which have not been established and promulgated.”10 Those seven elements are

(1) A well-articulated statement of the intended concept of operations and goals . . . and what the intended result will be; (2) A plan for how to achieve the goals and intended results; (3) Active commitment to the goals and vision by senior-most leadership . . . ; (4) A plan for how to accomplish the change . . . ; (5) Active involvement and engagement of personnel across the enterprise in planning and achieving the change; (6) Regularly scheduled reviews of progress against predetermined measures of effectiveness—with a visible cadence and a sense of urgency—that are conveyed across the enterprise and course corrections to be made as needed to accomplish the pre-set goals; and (7) A plan for communication and reinforcement of the desired attributes of the change . . . .

NNSA is working on most of these elements. The strategic documents nearing release are meant to address numbers 1 and 2, and the new training courses that are being rolled out partly address number 7. But a good deal of work remains. The panel raises this topic now because NNSA currently lacks a senior executive who can provide sustained, concentrated attention to change management, and change will not happen without stewardship. The change leader, who should report directly to the Administrator, would be responsible for ensuring that management and governance reform is focused on mission success and spread successfully throughout the enterprise with urgency and a clear cadence. This person needs access to key staff and data, and a budget that can support meetings, travel, and the development and execution of initiatives to implement and sustain change, such as communication plans and training. The change leader should also have access to adequate resources to develop and monitor metrics and other measures of improvement and identification of remaining challenges. The full range of elements above must be accomplished in order to institutionalize management and governance changes, embedding those changes in the culture so that the enterprise can better withstand stress.

Recommendation 2. NNSA should quickly designate a senior executive as the accountable change management leader for the next few years. The change leader should drive management and governance reform with urgency and a cadence focused on mission success. The time, resources, and authority needed to fulfill that responsibility should be provided and not be underestimated.

It is particularly important to governance and management reform that a Deputy Administrator be brought on board.

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10 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration, 2018, Report 2, p. 14.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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The two recommendations in this report complement, but do not supplant, the recommendations contained in the panel’s previous reports (see Appendix A for the precise wording). Those latter recommendations are still relevant and timely. It is hoped that Recommendation 2.1 from Report 111 and Recommendations 2.1 and 3.1 from Report 212 will be addressed by several documents that NNSA is developing, as discussed in Chapter 2 of this report. The continuing and troubling lack of measures of effectiveness necessary to define, track, and guide progress toward governance and management reform is discussed in this chapter and echoes Recommendation 3.2 from Report 2.13 Recommendation 2, above, ties in with Recommendation 4.1 in Report 1.14

The panel has seen little or no action on two of its other past recommendations: (1) characterizing “burdensome” so that mitigation steps can be well targeted (Recommendation 3.1 in Report 1), and (2) surveying the workforce across the entire enterprise to gain a fuller understanding of attitudes and engagement (Recommendation 3.3 of Report 2). Congress subsequently charged NNSA with preparing a report on the latter topic, although it has not yet been delivered.

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11 Calling for the Administrator to demonstrate urgency in clarifying roles, responsibilities, authorities, and accountability.

12 Calling for a mission-focused enterprise strategic plan and an associated implementation plan to guide governance and management reform.

13 Calling for measures of effectiveness to be defined and tracked, and using the site governance peer review process to communicate and reinforce desired values, behaviors, and processes.

14 Calling for the development of an operating model to guide improvements to governance and management.

Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
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Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
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Page 18
Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
Page 19
Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
Page 20
Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
Page 21
Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
Page 22
Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
Page 23
Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
Page 24
Suggested Citation:"3 Progress and Continuing Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25392.
×
Page 25
Next: Appendixes »
Report 3 on Tracking and Assessing Governance and Management Reform in the Nuclear Security Enterprise Get This Book
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The congressionally mandated report A New Foundation for the Nuclear Enterprise (the "Augustine-Mies" report), released in November 2014, concluded that "the existing governance structures and many of the practices of the [nuclear security] enterprise are inefficient and ineffective, thereby putting the entire enterprise at risk over the long term." Following the release of the Augustine-Mies report, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 called for DOE to develop an implementation plan for responding to the recommendations in that and similar reports. The NDAA also called for a 4 1⁄2-year study, joint between the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration, to evaluate the implementation plan, to track the actions proposed in that plan, and to assess progress. This report is the third in a series of reports to be issued over 2017–2020 as part of that study.

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