Change in approach recommended for NIF

Feb. 21, 2000
Criticism of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), common in recent months, reached an even higher pitch in January, when a federal advisory panel issued a detailed report blasting both NIF management and its overseers.

Criticism of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), common in recent months, reached an even higher pitch in January, when a federal advisory panel issued a detailed report blasting both NIF management and its overseers. Because of the project's management problems, the panel suggested that the US Department of Energy (DoE) should delay its completion by five years, that is, to 2008, to allow more time for interim tests at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL; Livermore, CA). The panel also said that the project's cost will increase, although it did not provide a specific estimate of the extra expenses beyond the original $1.2 billion estimated budget.

Last fall, officials notified the DoE that NIF was behind schedule and $350 million over budget. A review commissioned in late November 1999 by the University of California, which operates LLNL, criticized the laboratory's management. However, the new report from the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board went much farther, strongly criticizing the DoE and the University of California, in addition to LLNL officials. The panel was headed by John P. McTague, former vice president for technical affairs at Ford Motor Company. The report, released in January, pulls no punches: "No one gets a passing grade on NIF managementnot the DoE Office of Defense Programs, not Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and not the University of California."

About the Author

Vincent Kiernan | Washington Editor

Vincent Kiernan was Washington Editor for Laser Focus World.

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