CMRR FY2012 Budget Request – Blank Check or Black Budget?
The FY2012 budget request shows $300 million for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project, which is now estimated to cost a total of $6.22 billion. $29.9 million is requested for equipment in the recently completed first building, the Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building (RLUOB). But exactly how will the remaining $270 million be spent? That’s literally “TBD” (To Be Determined). What a great deal – receive $270 million and then decide what to do with it. How lucky the Lab must feel to get a blank check in this era of fiscal restraint.
Is the Lab planning to use some of the $270 million to begin construction of the huge “Nuclear Facility”? Because there is a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) now underway for the NF, any construction funding now could prejudice any decision, or at least would smell like prejudice. A more likely scenario is that the Lab figures that it might be able to stash funds away in some black budget to use on construction later, in effect creating a slush fund that would insulate it from and possible future budget cuts.
Perhaps going back to last year will offer some clues. The FY2011 Congressional Budget Request projected that LANL would ask for a total of $322.1 million for FY2012.
The FY2011 breakout estimated for FY2012 was:
$29.9 million RLUOB Equipment Installation (REI) [This turned out to be exactly the amount requested for FY2012.]
$3 million for Other Project Costs (OPC) [This turned out to be “TBD” for FY 2012.]
$102.8 million for NF design [This turned out to be “TBD” for FY 2012. Not counting any FY2012 funding, $419 million has been spent to date on design of the NF.]
$186.4 million for NF construction [FY2012 was to be the first year that construction funds were to be requested for the NF. This turned out to be “TBD” for FY 2012. But it really should be “0” because there is a SEIS underway.]
If all of the $270 million requested for FY2012 is not for NF design, we deserve to know what it’s for.