Nov. 30, 2001

Latest review finds NIF continuing to make 'excellent technical progress'


"The National Ignition Facility Project is making excellent technical progress," said Willie Clark, the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Limited Technical Status Review Team Executive, speaking at the summary and closeout session after three days of intensive review.

Twenty-five experts from throughout the DOE complex were on site earlier this month to conduct a technical review of the NIF Project. Their goal was to determine the technical progress of the project, whether it has continued to meet all associated milestones and to assess the project’s performance regarding its cost and schedule objectives since the previous review last February. The review team was especially interested in optics development and manufacturing, and installation of the beampath infrastructure system.

The three-day review began with a plenary session and a tour of NIF. The next two days consisted of smaller breakout groups, which allowed the reviewers to "dig down into the details" to provide as thorough a review as possible.

"All the team members are very impressed," Clark said. "NNSA milestones are being met on schedule, if not earlier. Costs are under control. Regarding the schedule, NIF is well ahead of many DOE/NNSA milestones. The optics group is making excellent progress in both the research and development efforts and in manufacturing. And the installation of the Cluster 3 beampath in the laser bay was incredibly well organized."
Clark complimented the NIF Project’s strong management team and its effective organization. He also complimented NIF for being so responsive to the recommendations of the two previous DOE/NNSA review teams.

"We recognize that the project is funding limited over the next few years," Clark admitted. "But given that, you’re still showing excellent results."

And while he said significant safety improvements have been made, he stressed that management needs to continue paying attention to safety. "Don’t drop your guard," Clark said. "Keep up the good work."

Finally, Clark will be recommending that NNSA "plans and fund all activities needed to make the NIF Program successful, including cryogenics and diagnostics to support the experimental program."

Jim Anderson, director of the Office of the NIF Project, DOE/NNSA, said in closing the review: "NIF staff, your efforts are appreciated by the NNSA. Your work is outstanding. You’re doing great things. Keep up the good work."

And though the audience moaned when Anderson said: "We’ll be back in six months." All agreed when he said: "Just think how exciting it’ll be in a year and a half when we have first light."

Mike Anastasio, Deputy Director for Strategic Operations, thanked the DOE/NNSA review team for their constructive comments.

NIF Project Manager Ed Moses responded to the review comments saying: "This is our third review. We take your recommendations very seriously. We study them and incorporate them into how we will execute NIF in the future."

Then Moses thanked "Team NIF for allowing us to make this impressive progress. I’m proud to be a member of NIF. I’m proud to be a part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and I’m thankful for all its resources that have contributed to NIF’s success. I’m also pleased that Jacobs Engineering, Parsons Engineering and all of our vendor community have teamed with us to make this project successful."

To the government officials conducting the review of NIF in mid-November, the experience was well organized, efficient, and jam-packed with information. To the technical presenters, scientific & engineering, administrative, TID, and facilities staff working behind the scenes, the review represented weeks of effort. "We have very well trained, hardworking, and dedicated people," said Sherry Graham, NIF Programs administrator. "It takes an incredible amount of coordination and support by the multi-disciplinary teams from throughout the Lab to successfully pull a review of this size off."

Clark closed the session saying: "Excellent results! You’re doing an incredible job."