VIII. Summary of Recommendations

For detailed versions of the following recommendations please refer to the body of the text.

A. National Security

  1. The primary mission of the weapons laboratories must be a safe, secure and reliable nuclear stockpile in the absence of explosive testing. Science-based stockpile stewardship is the approach chosen be the Department to achieve this mission. It requires the following rank-order priorities:

  2. Non-proliferation, counter-proliferation, verification, and intelligence support have become a major mission along with stewardship of the nuclear stockpile. The Task Force notes that organizational compartmentalization within the Department complicates and makes difficult the appropriate inter-relationship and funding balance between support and non-proliferation, and recommends that the Department's organization reflect their importance and interdependence.

  3. The Task Force believes Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory should retain enough nuclear weapons design competence and technology base to continue its activities in non-proliferation, counter-proliferation, verification, an intelligence support, to provide independent review for several years while alternative approaches to peer review are developed, and to participate in weapons relevant experiments on the National Ignition Facility (NIF). Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory would transfer as cost-efficiency allows over the next five years its activities in nuclear materials development and production to the other design laboratory. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory would transfer direct stockpile support to the other weapons laboratories as the requirements of science-based stockpile stewardship, support of the DoD nuclear posture, and the status of the test bans allow.

  4. The Task Force recommends continued funding support for the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Testing (DARHT) facility; continued near-term support for the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Experiment/Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility (LANSCE/LAMPF); continued pursuit of advanced computing, including computing through workstation networks; and proceeding with the National Ignition Facility (NIF) as a research facility, balanced with respect to other major investments.

  5. The Task Force recommends that future production needs should be based on residual capabilities of Pantex, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories, and believes that no further investments in production capability are needed at this time.

B. Energy, Environment, and Related Sciences and Engineering Role

  1. The Department should organize itself to achieve greater integration among its applied energy programs, between these programs and industry, and between the applied energy and basic energy research work performed at the laboratories.

  2. The integration of energy and environmental considerations should be a fundamental organizing principle for much of the Department's activities.

  3. The Department and the national laboratories should move promptly to establish clear mission statements for the laboratories which will be utilized as tools for budget decisions and long-term strategic planning.

  4. Mechanisms should be established to enhance the management of the multi-program laboratories as a system.

  5. The Department should establish lead laboratories according to mission assignments and programmatic strengths.

  6. The Department should establish Centers of Excellence within the laboratory system.

C. Cleanup of Radioactive and Chemical Wastes

  1. Sustained improvements in DOE management and leadership are needed both at senior levels in the Department and in positions below the Deputy Assistant Secretary level.

  2. A comprehensive remedy to the array of problems plaguing the EM program can only be achieved by a substantial commitment and high priority addressing the challenges of this program.

  3. Closing the science/engineering - applications disconnect should be dealt with by the establishment of an "Environmental Advisory Board (EAB)," reporting to the Under Secretary.

  4. The national laboratories together have a critical role to play, a role very much larger than at present, in performing high-quality science and engineering for the Environmental Management program.

  5. The Department must take positive steps to make the national laboratories available to the entire government system as a powerful environmental technical resource.

  6. DOE must address more forcefully the task of renegotiating the unrealistic or unfeasible elements of the cleanup compliance agreements that it has made with State and Federal agencies.

  7. Much more comprehensive involvement by members of the affected public in decision making should be employed to reduce the bitterness, distrust and distress that continues to provide a troublesome element in DOE's conduct of its affairs.

  8. The bulk of the EM environmental challenges, although presenting no immediate threats to public health or safety, still should be addressed with a heightened sense of urgency.

D. Science-Engineering

  1. The Department of Energy should move to strengthen its efforts in fundamental science and engineering, both at the laboratories and in the universities.

  2. The DOE should pay close attention to ensuring that a proper balance is maintained between the universities and the national laboratories in the performance of DOE-related basic research, both now and in the future.

  3. Support for operating and maintaining large facilities in the DOE's Office of Energy Research should be budgeted separately from funds for specific programs.

  4. The DOE should redouble its efforts to achieve better integration of basic research, technology development programs, and their applications, particularly in the area of environmental remediation.

  5. Basic research at the laboratories should be more fully integrated into the national and international research community.

  6. There should be additional stimulation of laboratory-university cooperation in basic research.

E. Economic

  1. The government-funded technology transfer/industrial competitiveness activities of the national laboratories should be focused on industries and areas of technology that contribute directly to the DOE's primary missions in national security, energy and environment.

  2. Laboratory directors should have the flexibility to initiate or to approve new technical projects at the periphery of current laboratory activities.

  3. Competitive selection and more rigorous technical and merit review by external experts should be applied broadly within the Department's CRADA activities.

F. Governance

  1. Over a period of one to two years, the Department and Congress should develop and implement a new modus operandi of Federal support for the national laboratories, based on a private sector style - "corporatized" - laboratory system.

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