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book coverPeer Review and Design Competition in the NNSA National Security Laboratories   (LAB)
Released 2015-12-07

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is responsible for providing and maintaining the capabilities necessary to sustain a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear weapons stockpile for the nation and its allies. Major responsibility for meeting the NNSA missions falls to the three NNSA laboratories: Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). The NNSA National Security Laboratories contribute to that goal by maintaining the skills and capabilities necessary for stewardship of a reliable nuclear stockpile and also by maintaining a high level of technical credibility, which is a component of the nuclear deterrent. Since 1992 it has been U.S. policy not to conduct explosion tests of nuclear weapons. The resulting technical challenges have been substantial. Whereas a nuclear test was in some sense the ultimate "peer review" of the performance of a particular NEP design, the cessation of nuclear testing necessitated a much greater reliance on both intralab and interlab expert peer review to identify potential problems with weapon designs and define the solution space. This report assesses the quality and effectiveness of peer review of designs, development plans, engineering and scientific activities, and priorities related to both nuclear and non-nuclear aspects of nuclear weapons, as well as incentives for effective peer review. It also explores how the evolving mission of the NNSA laboratories might impact peer review processes at the laboratories that relate to nuclear weapons.

book cover2013-2014 Assessment of the Army Research Laboratory   (LAB)
Released 2015-04-16

The National Research Council's Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board (ARLTAB) provides biennial assessments of the scientific and technical quality of the research, development, and analysis programs at the Army Research Laboratory, focusing on ballistics sciences, human sciences, information sciences, materials sciences, and mechanical sciences. This report discusses the biennial assessment process used by ARLTAB and its five panels; provides detailed assessments of each of the ARL core technical competency areas reviewed during the 2013-2014 period; and presents findings and recommendations common across multiple competency areas.

book coverAligning the Governance Structure of the NNSA Laboratories to Meet 21st Century National Security Challenges   (LAB)
Released 2015-03-13

Aligning the Governance Structure of the NNSA Laboratories to Meet 21st Century National Security Challenges is an independent assessment regarding the transition of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) laboratories - Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories - to multiagency, federally funded research and development centers with direct sustainment and sponsorship by multiple national security agencies. This report makes recommendations for the governance of NNSA laboratories to better align with the evolving national security landscape and the laboratories' increasing engagement with the other national security agencies, while simultaneously encouraging the best technical solutions to national problems from the entire range of national security establishments. According to this report, the Department of Energy should remain the sole sponsor of the NNSA laboratories as federally funded research and development centers. The NNSA laboratories will remain a critically important resource to meet U.S. national security needs for many decades to come. The recommendations of Aligning the Governance Structure of the NNSA Laboratories to Meet 21st Century National Security Challenges will improve the governance of the laboratories and strengthen their strategic relationship with the non-DOE national security agencies.

Report in Brief
book coverAn Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Material Measurement LaboratoryFiscal Year 2014   (LAB)
Released 2015-01-15

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) is our nation's reference laboratory for measurements in the chemical, biological, and materials sciences and engineering. Staff of the MML develop state-of-the-art measurement techniques and conduct fundamental research related to measuring the composition, structure, and properties of substances. Tools that include reference materials, data, and measurement services are developed to support industries that range from transportation to biotechnology and to address problems such as climate change, environmental sciences, renewable energy, health care, infrastructure, food safety and nutrition, and forensics. This report assesses the scientific and technical work performed by NIST's Material Measurement Laboratory. In particular, the report assesses the organization's technical programs, the portfolio of scientific expertise within the organization, the adequacy of the organization\'s facilities, equipment, and human resources, and the effectiveness by which the organization disseminates its program outputs.