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Energy and Water Development: FY2017 Appropriations for Nuclear Weapons Activities
The Nuclear Security Enterprise
Responsibility for U.S. nuclear weapons resides with both the Department of Defense (DOD) and
the Department of Energy (DOE). DOD develops, deploys, and operates the missiles and aircraft
that can deliver nuclear warheads. It also generates the military requirements for the warheads
carried on those platforms. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is a
semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy, oversees the research, development,
test, and acquisition programs that produce, maintain, and sustain the warheads. Moreover, DOE
is responsible for storing and securing the warheads that are not deployed with DOD delivery
systems and for dismantling warheads that have been retired and removed from the stockpile.
Congress authorizes funding for both DOD and NNSA nuclear weapons activities in the annual
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While Congress considers appropriations for
DOD's nuclear weapons activities in the Defense Appropriations bill, however, it funds the
NNSA budget through the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. This report
focuses on the portion of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill that funds
NNSA's nuclear weapons activities.
Reorganization of the Nuclear Security Enterprise
During World War II, when the United States first developed nuclear weapons, the Army
managed the nuclear weapons program. In 1946, Congress passed the Atomic Energy Act of 1946
to establish the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The AEC was an independent civilian agency
tasked with managing the U.S. nuclear weapons program. In the Energy Research and
Development Act of 1974, Congress dissolved the AEC and created the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission and the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), which among
other functions managed the nuclear weapons program. That program was moved again by the
Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977, which dissolved ERDA and created DOE.'
Congress, in passing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 (PL. 106-65,
Title XXXII), established the National Nuclear Security Administration. NNSA is a semi-
autonomous agency operating within DOE. In addition to managing the nuclear weapons
program, NNSA also manages the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation and Naval Reactors
These reorganizations stem, in part, from long-standing concerns about the management of the
nuclear weapons complex. Many reports and legislative provisions have been written over the
past several decades to address this issue. Most recently, in the National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (P.L. 112-239), Congress established the Congressional Advisory Panel
on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise and directed the panel to make
recommendations on "the most appropriate governance structure, mission, and management of
the nuclear security enterprise." In its report to Congress, the panel stated:
The panel finds that the existing governance structures and many of the practices of the
enterprise are inefficient and ineffective, thereby putting the entire enterprise at risk over
the long term. These problems have not occurred overnight; they are the result of decades
1 For a history of the nuclear weapons program and related topics, 1939-2010, see U.S. Department of Energy, National
Nuclear Security Administration, "NNSA Timeline," http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/aboutus/ourhistory/timeline.
Congressional Research Service
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Woolf, Amy F. Energy and Water Development: FY2017 Appropriations for Nuclear Weapons Activities, report, May 10, 2017; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1020848/m1/4/: accessed November 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.