Monday, November 14, 2005

Watchdogs: Labs 'Rewarded' For Errors, Delays

By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer

Members of Congress last week called for an independent investigation into a Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear weapons project that is 18 years behind schedule and more than $250 million over budget.

But funding for the project and others with similar troubles will continue, drawing criticism from watchdogs who say there has been no accountability for the nuclear weapons program's problems.

"They're rewarded for their failures," said Greg Mello of the Albuquerque-based Los Alamos Study Group.

In its final version of the fiscal 2006 budget, members of Congress approved $27 million for continued work on the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility. But they asked a panel of independent experts to investigate whether the long-delayed nuclear weapons X-ray machine will ever work.

Plagued in the past by cost overruns and schedule delays on a number of nuclear weapons projects, federal managers at the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration have said they believe they now have DARHT and other similar problem projects under control.

Members of Congress apparently took them at their word, providing continued funding for the projects in fiscal 2006. But they also called for a number of studies aimed at keeping a close leash on the work.


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Once again, LLNL kicks our butts. While our DARHT is 18 years behind schedule as compared to the LLNL NIF which is only four years behind schedule, they have stomped us in the area where it counts. DARHT is only $250M over budget while NIF is $2B overrun.

I think that this is another example of UC management getting more money for California than for New Mexico.
Sandia is kicking our butts too:
darhtman must realize that a more apt comparison to DARHT would be LLNL's FXR, which works just fine. FXR is the technical basis for the 1st axis of DARHT, which works, although it was over budget and late.

DARHT is $250 million over on a $30 million budget. NIF is "only" $2B over on its ~$1B budget. Clearly LANL wins the ineptness contest. And of course LANL kept funding and using PHERMEX to back fill for DARHT which added to the expense.

LANL's DARHT and TA-55 (producing promises, not pits) are in a class by themselves for ripping of the taxpayers.

The DOE is pathetic in claiming to have these projects under control, when Domenici keeps heaping money on the failures. LANL and Domenici are, in fact, utterly out of control. Needed is management that fixes the problems, and stops calling Domenici.
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