Index

COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

HEARING CHARTER

for

Joint Hearing of the Committee on Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power

and

Committee on Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment

on

Restructuring the Department of Energy (DOE)

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

2123 Rayburn House Office Building

1. Purpose of the Hearing

This hearing will focus on the problems in the existing DOE organization, current proposals to restructure the national security functions in response to the security lapses identified in the Cox and Rudman Reports, the effect of such proposals on non-defense research and on environment, safety, and health protection, and any other ideas the Subcommittees’ Members should consider as they evaluate the proposals.

2. Background

Security breaches within the DOE National Laboratory system were first revealed in a series of press reports beginning in January and escalating in March of 1999, and further elaborated in the May 1999 report of the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China (the Cox Report) and in the June 15, 1999 report of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (the Rudman Report). Concern about these security breaches has led to a number of DOE restructuring initiatives, including several that were incorporated in both the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of S. 1059, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000.

2.1 The Cox and Rudman Reports

The Cox Report recommends "that the appropriate congressional committees consider whether the current arrangements for controlling U.S. nuclear weapons development, testing, and maintenance within the Department of Energy are adequate to protect such weapons and related research and technology from theft and exploitation."

The Rudman Report recommends that the weapons programs of DOE—including the DOE weapons labs (Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia) and the production facilities (Pantex at Amarillo, Kansas City, the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge, and the Nevada Test Site)—be placed within a new structure, called the "Agency for Nuclear Stewardship" (ANS) that would be responsible for all nuclear weapons activities, including safeguards and security. Two options are suggested: (1) the establishment of an independent organization within DOE—analogous to the National Security Agency or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) within DOD—that is headed by a Director reporting directly to the Secretary, who is chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate and who also serves as an Undersecretary of Energy; or (2) the establishment of an independent agency, such as NASA, whose Director reports to the President. The Report also suggests that the ANS Director serve a period of 5 years and be subject to removal only by Presidential direction. PFIAB also recommends that the ANS/weapons labs management structure be streamlined by "abolishing ties between the weapons labs and all DOE regional, field and site offices, and all contractor intermediaries."

2.2 Legislation

There are currently five separate bills that would either restructure or that could lead to the restructuring of DOE: (1) S. 896, the Department of Energy Abolishment Act; (2) H.R. 1649, the Department of Energy Abolishment Act; (3) H.R. 2411, the Department of Energy Elimination and National Security Protection Act of 1999; (4) S. 1059, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000; and (5) H.R. 2032, a bill to amend the DOE Organization Act to establish a Nuclear Security Administration and an Office of Under Secretary for National Security in DOE. In addition, Senators Kyl, Domenici, Murkowski, and Thompson are expected to offer an amendment to S. 1009, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, that would establish within DOE a semi-autonomous Agency for Nuclear Stewardship (ANS) that would be headed by an Under Secretary for Nuclear Stewardship and who would also serve as the ANS Director.

2.4.1 S. 896—Department of Energy Abolishment Act

Senator Rod Grams introduced the first bill in the 106th Congress to restructure DOE and its laboratories. S. 896, introduced on April 28, 1999, is similar to bills he introduced in the two preceding Congresses and to H.R. 1649 (see below). The bill would redesignate DOE as the Energy Programs Resolution Agency, an independent agency with a life of 3 years to "wind-up" the activities of DOE and "establish, consolidate, alter, or discontinue in the Agency any organizational entities that were entities of the Department of Energy." The General Accounting Office (GAO) is to provide a report within 6 months making recommendations on the abolishment of DOE and the termination, transfer, or other disposition of its functions. By the Act itself, certain civilian energy research and science and technology programs would be transferred to the Secretary of the Interior. Basic science research programs subsequently could be transferred by the Secretary to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill also would transfer DOE’s nuclear weapons laboratories (Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia) to the Department of Defense. The functions of DOE’s nondefense laboratories would be transferred to NSF and the Nondefense Energy Laboratory Commission would be established "for the purpose of making recommendations to Congress whether any of the nondefense energy laboratories or programs at nondefense energy laboratories or any of the basic science programs should be continued through reconfiguration, transfer, or privatization, rather than being closed ...." The bill establishes a procedure for "fast track" congressional consideration of the Commission report. The bill authorizes the President to reconfigure, transfer, privatize, or close the nondefense laboratories based upon the Commission’s recommendations and congressional resolutions about each laboratory.

2.4.2 H.R. 1649—Department of Energy Abolishment Act

Representative Todd Tiahrt introduced the second bill in this Congress to restructure DOE and its laboratories. H.R. 1649, introduced on April 29, 1999, is similar to the bills he introduced in the previous two Congresses and to S. 896 (above). It redesignates DOE as the independent Energy Programs Resolution Agency, which is to be abolished 3 years after the date of enactment of the bill. GAO is to provide a report within 6 months making recommendations on the abolishment of DOE and the termination, transfer, or continuation of its functions. The bill establishes the Energy Laboratory Facilities Commission to reduce the number of energy laboratories (defined as DOE’s nine multipurpose laboratories, including the three nuclear weapons laboratories, and a number of smaller laboratories) and energy programs through "reconfiguration, privatization, and closure while preserving the traditional role that the energy laboratories have contributed to the national defense." It also establishes criteria and a procedure for making recommendations as to the disposition of the laboratory facilities. Within 3 months of enactment, a list of energy laboratories recommended for reconfiguration, privatization, and closure shall be transmitted to "congressional energy committees" (defined as the House Science and National Security Committees and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Armed Services Committees). Unless disapproved by Congress, laboratories are to be reconfigured or closed within one year or privatized within 18 months according to the Commission’s final report recommendations. The bill also establishes the Defense Nuclear Programs Administration within DOD and transfers to it DOE’s defense-related programs and the oversight of the functions of DOE’s three nuclear weapons laboratories (Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia). It also reduces DOE’s Energy Supply R&D program funding and terminates the Clean Coal Technology program immediately and the Fossil Energy and Energy Conservation programs by FY2002.

2.4.3 H.R. 2411—Department of Energy Elimination and National Security Protection Act of 1999

Representative Ed Royce introduced the third bill in this Congress to restructure DOE and its laboratories. H.R. 2411, introduced on June 30, 1999, is similar to H.R. 1649.

2.4.4 S. 1059—National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000

Sections 3151 and 3152 of the House version of S. 1059 establishes a "Commission on Nuclear Weapons Management" to, among other things, "propose and evaluate alternative organizational and management structures, including alternatives that would transfer authorities of the Department of Energy for the defense program and defense environmental management to the Department of Defense." Section 3165 of the House-passed version of S. 1059 assigns responsibility for DOE’s nuclear weapons production facilities, the three nuclear weapons laboratories, and other national security functions of DOE involving nuclear weapons research and development to the Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs.

Section 3152 of the Senate version of S. 1059 establishes a "Commission on Safeguards, Security, and Counterintelligence at Department of Energy Facilities," which has a broad mandate to make "recommendations for legislation or administrative action that the Commission considers appropriate."

2.4.4 H.R. 2032

H.R. 2032, introduced by Representative Thornberry on June 7 is a bill to amend the DOE Organization Act to establish a Nuclear Security Administration (NSA) and an Office of Under-Secretary for National Security. The NSA would have responsibility for DOE’s nuclear weapons production facilities, the three nuclear weapons laboratories, and other national security functions of DOE involving nuclear weapons research and development.

3. Witnesses

Invited witnesses include the following:

Mr. Victor S. Rezendes, Director, Energy, Resources, and Science Issues, U.S. General Accounting Office

Dr. William Happer, Professor of Physics, Princeton University and former Director of the Office of Research, U.S. Department of Energy.

Major General George McFadden (USA, Ret.), former Director the Office of Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy

Dr. Donald F. Ketll, Professor of Public Affairs and Political Affairs, Robert M. La Follette Institute of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ms. Maureen Eldridge, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.