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Examples of Fellow Assignments

Past NGFP Fellows have conducted a broad range of activities and assignments. These examples are intended to give candidates an idea of the types of assignments they may experience, but is in no way exhaustive of Fellow responsibilities. Work assignments are based on program needs and may vary from year to year.

Examples include:

Policy Emphasis

1. Office of International Material Protection and Cooperation (NA-25), Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NA-24)

Primary location: Washington, D.C. area

Need: Support for front office operations and collaboration with the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. This office works closely with a wide range of international partners, key U.S. federal agencies, the U.S. national laboratories, and the private sector to detect, secure, and dispose of dangerous nuclear and radiological material, and related weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technology and expertise

Solution: Past Fellows have supported the drafting, compilation, and editing of various reports to Congress, and helped with preparations for policy meetings. Fellows have contributed to and coordinated outreach materials such as press releases, website updates, and fact sheets about this office’s accomplishments to important stakeholders. A NGFP Fellow participated in the U.S.-U.K.- Russia Trilateral Nuclear Security Best Practices Exchange, a workshop focused on overcoming challenges associated with securing nuclear materials worldwide. The Fellow engaged in interagency coordination and policy analysis. Each country made presentations on best practices for securing nuclear material, followed by discussions that helped further develop solutions to prevent the theft or seizure of nuclear material.

2. Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NA-24), Office of Nuclear Controls (NA-242)

Primary location: Washington, D.C. area

Need: Mitigate the risk of nuclear expertise proliferation through science and technology collaboration and partnerships.

Solution: Engage with international nonproliferation agencies (as well as other NNSA staff) to coordinate outreach efforts such as preparing nuclear nonproliferation workshop curricula and making arrangements for international workshops on nuclear controls. Workshop topics range from nuclear forensics to export controls. An NGFP Fellow coordinated a two-week technical workshop on nuclear forensic methodologies for 25 participants from a dozen International Atomic Energy Agency member states.

3. Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NA-24), Office of Nuclear Controls (NA-242), Export Control Review and Compliance Program

Primary location: Washington, D.C. area

Need: This office requested assistance in the development and issuance of the Export Control Review and Compliance Handbook for the Australia Group (AG). The Australia Group is an informal forum of countries which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.

Solution: An NGFP Fellow helped complete the Australia Group's Export Control Review and Compliance Handbook. This is a reference tool for export control and licensing groups in AG-participating countries to evaluate and reduce the risk of proliferation technology and information being intentionally or unintentionally released. With DOE taking the lead authorship role, the handbook is expected to provide risk reduction as well as efficiency for regime members. The Fellow contributed by attending weekly interagency meetings in the D.C. area which required close collaboration with the Department of State, DOE (including Argonne and Savannah River National Laboratories), and the Department of Commerce. In addition to using her background in biology, the Fellow developed skills in interagency collaboration and project management, particularly in developing/maintaining a project schedule for the international effort.

Technical Emphasis

1. Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NA-24), Office of Nuclear Safeguards & Security (NA-241), Next Generation Safeguards Initiative’s Safeguards Technology Development Team

Primary location: Washington, D.C. area

Need: Development of new and/or improved technologies and methods to aid International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in the detection of undeclared nuclear activities.

Solution: NGFP Fellows have helped develop technologies and methods to aid IAEA inspectors in the detection of undeclared production or processing of nuclear materials. Technologies include highly portable, multifunctional tools, with rapid and basic analytical capability, designed to detect and identify signatures indicative of nuclear activities. Fellows have provided technical expertise in laser sensing, portable mass spectroscopy for inspectors, and nuclear detector testing. While helping develop these technologies, NGFP Fellows learned the team’s budget process, reviewed project proposals, drafted background papers and talking points for team and office use, and interacted with other headquarters and Laboratory personnel on safeguards technologies.

2. Office of the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Major Modernization Programs (NA-19), Office of Ballistic Missile Systems Acquisitions (NA-192)

Primary location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Need: Interdisciplinary engineering experts are needed to research and recommend life-extension options and major modifications to submarine ballistic missiles. This office provides support for clients including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.

Solution: NGFP Fellows have provided technical insight and design input to the engineering efforts of missile modifications for the Department of Defense. In addition to technical skill development, NGFP Fellows broadened their skill sets into program oversight of budget, project planning, execution, and integration of activities. Fellows in this office have worked with DOE clients including NNSA national laboratories (e.g., Sandia), other contractors such as Lockheed Martin, as well as DoD customers including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. With a strong technical background in fields such as mechanical engineering (and fluid mechanics and microelectromechanical systems/nanoelectromechanical systems), Fellows have made technical recommendations to NNSA clients after hearing and understanding national laboratory testing and design conclusions. The end result of this work is to sustain an effective nuclear deterrent.

3. Pantex, NNSA Production Office

Primary location: Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas

Need: This position provides oversight for the safety systems and nuclear explosive safety (NES) at Pantex. The primary focus is on reviewing contractor NES activities to ensure they are complying with DOE regulations and directives in their contract.

Solution: Pantex Production Office staff perform safety oversight to help ensure the sustainability of the nuclear deterrent, that no problems occur, and that operations function properly.

NGFP Fellows at Pantex work in the Federal oversight office and also engage in daily activities at the Pantex nuclear weapons facility. Fellows placed here support contractor NES assessments, conduct and complete independent assessments, and perform safety system oversight duties at Pantex. In addition to observing plant operations, reviewing NES study reports, and meeting with contractor and headquarters NES personnel, Fellows identify opportunities for improvement in weapons safety operations and help develop solutions that will improve safety and security at the site.

Fellows at this location need to be self-reliant to find answers in the quest to solve problems. Although an applicant might have a technical background, Fellows may be providing oversight rather than doing the technical work themselves. Fellows then add insight at policy meetings for problem solving and daily communication of technical issues between the contractor and the Federal oversight staff. To perform this role, Fellows may need to communicate with other DOE agencies (e.g., Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Albuquerque Complex, and NNSA Headquarters staff).

Operational Emphasis

1. Los Alamos Field Office

Primary location: Albuquerque Complex

Need: Support for the global security/nuclear nonproliferation enterprise at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. An important objective is to cultivate the optimal environment between the Laboratory and NNSA to meet U.S. national security science needs.

Solution: The Los Alamos Field Office oversees the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). NGFP Fellows have provided technical expertise in evaluating the Laboratory’s nuclear nonproliferation programs and activities. Past NGFP Fellows have attended facility inspections and meetings with Los Alamos Field Office and LANL staff in becoming familiar with the Lab’s nuclear safety activities and to help improve how the organization does business. The Field Office brought aboard an NGFP Fellow for technical evaluation of the Los Alamos Field Office Performance Evaluation Plan (evaluation of Los Alamos National Security’s performance).

Fellows have applied the following skills: Understanding of organizational behavior, technical and informational interviewing, integrative and distributive negotiation, understanding engineering specifications and technical standards, various analytical techniques for nonproliferation, policy analysis, and educating oneself on a diverse set of scientific and engineering disciplines in order to communicate insights to a variety of stakeholders (e.g., coming from a physics background and learning about metallurgy or analytical chemistry).

2. Office of the Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Program Management (NA-APM)

Primary location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Need: Procure products and services that NNSA needs to carry out its missions.

Solution: Provide contracting expertise for acquisition and procurement administration support to the Office of Chief Information Officer, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative Office, and within the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. Tasks include special projects such as assisting with strategic planning; acquisition planning; and assisting with Foreign Ownership, Control or Influence/Facility Clearance Security requirements. Staff in this office engage with many branches of government including NASA, FBI, CIA, and the U.S. Forest Service. Fellows are responsible for coordination and negotiation between venders and customers, technical evaluation of options of products and services, and balancing procurement budgets. Policy and strategic planning play a large role in making sure all regulations, laws, and DOE orders are followed while arranging product delivery. On the technical side, the Fellow must understand how a product is engineered in assessing its relevance of use or for product comparison.

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