050 National Defense:Focus the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Spending on Weapons Programs

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings are expressed as budget authority and were calculated based on estimated spending levels from the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s “Fiscal Year 2015 Congressional Budget Request“. Estimated spending is provided through FY 2019. Heritage analysts applied the average growth in baseline defense spending from 
FY 2015–2024 to FY 2020–2025 spending levels. Savings equal the combined total of placing a hard cap on FY 2014 funding levels for 10 budget components, plus cancelling the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration should halt growth in its programs that do not directly contribute to the country’s nuclear weapons programs. This proposal saves $529 million in 2016, and $11.3 billion over 10 years.


DOE’s Nuclear Security Admin should focus their $ on weapons & save billions

The Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for the nuclear reactors and weapons that are operated by the Defense Department. Each year, the DOE is allotted about $16 billion to $17 billion to fund defense-related activities. The recent negative review of U.S. nuclear forces has now driven the Administration to increase spending in the coming years. While this increase is entirely necessary, it is important that the resources are going to weapons programs, or those directly supporting weapons activities. Heritage recommends returning the following programs to their FY 2014 budget levels:

  • Material Recycle and Recovery
  • Storage
  • Containers
  • Secure Transportation Asset
  • Environmental Projects and Operations
  • Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program
  • Information Technology and Cyber Security
  • Warhead Dismantlement and Fissile Materials Transparency
  • International Nonproliferation Export Control
  • Nuclear Safeguards and Security Programs
  • Defense Environmental Clean-Up
DOE’s Nuclear Security Admin should focus their $ on weapons & save billions

Contributing Expert

Diem Nguyen Salmon is the Senior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting in the Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. Intimately familiar with both U.S. defense platforms and government contracting practices, she brings special expertise to questions of defense hardware investment.

See publications by Diem Nguyen Salmon

Diem Nguyen SalmonSenior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting

Heritage Experts

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, is The Heritage Foundation's Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, E. W. Richardson Fellow, and Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.

See publications by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

Steven Bucci, who served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Steven Bucci

Steven BucciDirector, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

Additional Reading