Nuclear-arms officials said a Los Alamos National Laboratory security update was done under budget, despite millions of dollars in unplanned costs.
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration on Thursday said it spent $1 million less to improve protections at a sensitive area of the New Mexico site than its “original budget” had allocated.
However, the picture is a bit more complicated than that; program costs went down in April 2011, only to skyrocket anew later on as security boosts were installed at aging Los Alamos lab facilities that handle plutonium usable in nuclear arms.
Fixing the issues ultimately required tens of millions of dollars in unplanned expenses and more than a year of additional work, the Associated Press reported.
A nuclear agency official acknowledged in a Thursday statement that the effort to upgrade defenses at Technical Area 55 — the country’s sole site for manufacturing plutonium nuclear-bomb triggers — was a “troubled project.”
The comment by NNSA Associate Administrator Bob Raines was an allusion to flaws discovered in the late stages of the new system’s delivery. His agency — a semiautonomous branch of the Energy Department — revealed the problems in late 2012, several months before the project was originally slated for completion.
The nuclear agency could still say that the project wrapped up “under budget,” though, because its earliest cost estimate was far greater than a projection it adopted later on.
“Due to favorable contract bids in April 2011, NNSA reduced the estimated total project cost from $245 million to $213 million,” Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman said in a report earlier this year.
The cost of fixing the system’s problems apparently eliminated most of the earlier-anticipated savings. Still, the project came in just short of the initial $245 million estimate, according to an NNSA news release.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."