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Senate panel passes defense bill, puts $150M to CMRR for FY13

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By John Severance

If the Senate Armed Services Committee has its way, there will be no five-year deferral of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility.

As part of a $621 billion defense bill passed Thursday, the committee voted to fund the CMRR-NF project for $150 million for FY13. And it required the facility to be operational by the end of 2024.

In addition, the bill puts legislative cost caps on the CMRR-NF building at $3.7 billion.

The bill also requires quarterly reports of obligation, unexpended and expended balances of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management. The bill also is requiring regular reports to the congressional defense committees on the feasibility of consolidation in the National Nuclear Security Administration Complex. And no funds may be spent on phase CD-3 (start of construction) of the CMRR facility. The bill also earmarked $29.4 million to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

This morning, the full markup of the bill was not yet available. But in a 33-page press release, the committee outlined the highlights.

According to the release, there are a number of other stipulations for DOE.

• Repeals an annual workforce restructuring report, the DOE has not requested funds associated with this report since 2007.

• Includes a provision that, under existing hiring caps, gives the Administrator of the NNSA an increase in the number of hires from 300 to 700 akin to authorities used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for contracting, scientific, engineering and technical personnel.

• Requires the Secretary of Energy to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on actions required to transition, to the maximum extent practicable, the regulation of non-nuclear operations of the National Nuclear Security Administration over a period of 5 years to federal agencies other than the DOE. The report shall be prepared using the widest possible public input.

• Requires the NNSA to publish to the greatest extent practicable, in a common format, the performance evaluations of the Management and Operations Contractors at NNSA facilities.

• Amends section 142 of the Atomic Energy Act to restore some data that was classified as formerly restricted data to restricted data.

• Requires the Secretary of Energy to submit Selected Acquisition Reports based on DOD requirements in 10 U.S.C. 2432 and Independent Cost Estimate of nuclear weapon life extension programs before entering phase 6.2A (design engineering) and 6.4 (production).

• Requires quarterly reporting of obligation, unexpended and expended balances of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management.

• Requires the NWC to report to the congressional defense committees on the feasibility of consolidation in the National Nuclear Security Administration Complex. No funds may be spent on phase CD-3 (start of construction) of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research

Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committee unanimously backed the budget, which called for the same amount of money President Barack Obama had proposed for the military earlier this year. The total is $4 billion less than the House-passed bill, and House-Senate negotiators will have to work out the difference.

With the $4 billion difference, there is a possibility the CMRR project still might be a player in negotiations between the House and Senate. And of course, it was the decision of President Barack Obama's administration to defer the project in the first place. And Obama could veto the bill.

       

CMRR NF

Thank you for your quick response and keeping our community updated on this important issue. It seems that other news organizations forget how much this lab means to our entire state.

CMRR NF

Please update us on the CMRR project. This means a lot to all of the employees at LANL and the Los Alamos Community as you all well know.