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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Heckuva job, Nukie

If you don’t pay attention to nuclear weapon security, you may not know about Pantex. Located in Amarillo, Texas, Pantex’s mission is straightforward: “Maintaining the safety, security and reliability of America’s nuclear weapons stockpile.’’

Turns out they’re doing that, well, not so good anymore. Pantex, an arm of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is itself nominally part of the Department of Energy, is plagued by senior management that is blind to problems, deaf to criticism and unwilling to change in the face of serious security concerns raised by Pantex staff.

Stubbornly, willfully ignorant leadership? In this administration? Shocked, shocked, etc., etc…

A letter delivered to Pantex’s board Nov. 10 -- after the election, to avoid any allegations of 11th hour political point-scoring, according to the authors -- raises serious concerns about Pantex’s performance of late. The authors are anonymous but claim to represent some 189 years of Pantex experience. A copy of the letter was provided to CHB via a contact who occasionally works with the staff at the Project on Government Oversight.

Senior management suffers ``a failure to be self-critical, reinforcing the message that problems do not exist or are being adequately addressed. Organization oversight weaknesses with a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities contributing to most events and, most deadly of all, there is a belief that plant performance is good even when this is no longer true, creating complacency, over-confidence, and isolation.’’

The allegations include increased work loads on smaller, less trained staff -- supervised by management that sometimes lacks the training to even understand precisely what they're supposed to be managing. Alarmingly, one claim alludes to product being shipped to the Pentagon before all Pantex procedures are completed -- it's alarming largely because the letter is silent to what isn't being done before powerfully dangerous stuff is sent to the rational, sane folks over at DoD.

The nation’s first MBA President long ago forgot the business school dictum that the bar of professionalism is set at the top.

This is serious, even if it is something like Chapter MMMCLXVII in the epic book of Bush Administration Incompetence. As we all begin digesting more and more pre-2008 presidential hoopla, remember how deep the whole W dug is -- and how much time and effort it will take to fix this mess that has spilled across virtually every government agency.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt about it, we are all doomed!!

12/14/2006 3:22 PM  

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