The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (the Act) directs the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration to develop and carry out an implementation plan to reform the governance and management of the nuclear security enterprise. The plan will address recommendations—except those requiring legislation—from the November 2014 report of the Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise, entitled “A New Foundation for the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” as well as recommendations from an October 2015 study by the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories and a June 2015 report of the Secretary of Energy Task Force on DOE National Laboratories.
NNSA is working to remedy the governance and management problems that have been flagged by so many reports and the panel sees promise in several areas. For example, the Administrator has initiated an enterprise-wide push for healthier relationships between DOE and NNSA, an emphasis on improving strategic planning practices, and a strong focus on partnership and mission throughout the enterprise. However, progress is heavily dependent on the individuals involved and initiatives lack urgency, metrics, and institutionalization. This report calls for NNSA to follow two recommendations to constitute lasting culture change: (1) DoD and NNSA leadership should institutionalize the current practices that are contributing to a healthy relationship, and (2) NNSA should quickly designate a senior executive as the accountable change management leader for the next few years. The emphasis in both cases must be on putting in place the institutional structures needed for further progress and to sustain success.
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.
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.