Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The $3 billion question

Doug -

Spurred partly by the comments on the blog, and partly by conversations with some lab sources, I wrote a post this morning trying to clarify the $3 billion number from the Domenici news release:


I don't have this nailed down in enough detail to write a story yet - my math doesn't line up exactly with the numbers Domenici and Brooks have given - they're close, but they don't match exactly. But given the concern, I wanted to get at least something on the record. Post a link if you feel it's appropriate, since more people read your blog than mine. :-)

Cheers, John

It really does not matter if the $3 billion cut can be explained by just not increasing the budget by as much as Bush said it would be. It's clearly not in our best interests to have a weak nuclear weapons program. This is exacerbated by the DOE which is the wrong entity to be managing nuclear weapons. There are too many DOE staff who are too politically motivated, and our safety should not be in the hands of the politically motivated. It was wrong to abolish the AEC in favor of ERDA, and the leap from ERDA to the DOE has become a nightmare, especially since the creation of the semi-autonomous NNSA. As far as I can tell Bodman has done nothing that benefits the weapons labs.

Bush seems to be more interested in DOD activities than in the pure science and research that originate within the laboratories. The DOD activities, soldiers, tanks, guns, aircraft, etc. appeal to him since he did a stint in the National Guard. And lots of little boys like to play soldier. He can't understand research and the accepted possibility of failure. He needs instant success. So he lacks the ability to comprehend funding something which could fail. Since Bodman is from MIT, I would have thought he would be more in tune with the type of funding the weapons labs need, but he's clearly not in control.
I pointed out the same thing to Bodman. AEC should not have been abolished. Unfortunately your last statement is correct. He is not in control.
As far as control goes, I'm seeing more and more indications that OMB is starting to micromanage DOE much like DOE tries to micromanage us. They are doing it at the level where they are starting to write DOE's milestones for them. This is the "golden rule" carried to one higher level. Has anyone else seen this with their programs?
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