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Project on Government Oversight




Man Who Holds Purse Strings Declares: "..glory years for the nuclear weapons complex are over"

August 11, 2004 


On August 11, 2004, Representative David Hobson who is the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development made a searing speech to the National Academy of Sciences declaring that the nuclear weapons complex was antiquated and mired in its own management failures. To view a full copy of the speech, click here.

Key excerpts of the speech include:

"I certainly do not want to belittle their dedication and commitment since they were key in helping us win World War II and eventually win the Cold War. However, I also saw a weapons complex that could be viewed as a jobs program for Ph.Ds - the ultimate in white-collar welfare - where the federal oversight organization did not demand accountability for performance and where the business practices were two decades behind the times."

"Visiting the nuclear weapons complex is like stepping back in a time capsule. It is not just that some of the facilities date back to the early Cold War years, but some of the staff and certainly much of the thinking is of the same vintage."

"In last year's fiscal year 2004 bill, we started the modernization process by requiring the Department compete its laboratory contracts that had not been competed in over 50 years, including the two weapons laboratories, Los Alamos and Livermore. You may not realize this, but these laboratory contracts were never competed...Nothing ensures beneficial change as much as true competition."

"...the current problems that plague the nuclear weapons complex are not budget-related, they are management problems: recurrent security failures; continued delays in achieving program milestones; construction project schedule delays and cost overruns."

"For me, the greatest threat to our stockpile is the erosion of the competence and credibility of the nuclear weapons complex to do its job. The continued security lapses and the business management failures that prompted my action to require DOE to compete its laboratory contracts, including the two weapons physics laboratories, erodes the confidence the nation must have in the competency of the DOE complex."

"The national laboratory cultural attitude of 'we-know-best' exhibited by many of the long-time employees threatens the reputation of the entire enterprise....the continuing problems at the labs and plants are a more serious national security concern than the existence or nonexistence of a robust nuclear earth penetrator."

"I don't believe that pursuing new weapons initiatives contributes anything to our national security in the near future."

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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