Morning Briefing - March 21, 2019
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March 21, 2019

Nevada Site Exec Rejoins LANL, Heads to NNSA HQ to Aid Pit Mission

By ExchangeMonitor

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) tapped John Benner, who in early March returned to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, to aid the agency with future warhead core production at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The lab subsequently detailed Benner to Washington, where the longtime Los Alamos staffer will work in the office of Charles Verdon: the NNSA’s new deputy administrator for defense programs.

Benner “recently began his detail providing technical support for our growing portfolio of production activities across the enterprise,” an NNSA spokesperson wrote in a Wednesday email.

Benner’s last day at the Nevada National Security Site was March 8, a spokesperson for site contractor Mission Support and Test Services (MSTS) wrote in a Wednesday email. He had worked fewer than two years as the Honeywell-led company’s vice president and chief operating officer before decamping for Los Alamos.

Benner had also been the deputy site manager at Nevada and was one of the key personnel on MSTS’ contract, which including options is worth about $5 billion over the 10 years ending 2027. 

“As valuable as John was in his role at MSTS, a more compelling need for his expertise has been identified,” the MSTS spokesperson said by email Wednesday. “MSTS wishes Mr. Benner the best during his transition and is confident he will perform well in his new role.”

Before Nevada, Benner spent nearly 25 years at Los Alamos, including as associate director for weapon and engineering experiments and project director for the NNSA’s recently completed W76-1 life extension program.

Fred Dohse will be acting vice president and chief executive officer for MSTS while the contractor conducts a nationwide search for a permanent replacement, the spokesperson said Wednesday. Dohse was most recently MSTS senior director for mission assurance. He is a former chief operating officer for Savannah River Site prime Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.

The Donald Trump administration, as part of its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, asked the NNSA to annually build 80 fissile warhead cores called pits by 2030. The agency later decided to split the work between Los Alamos, the NNSA’s lead for pit programs, and the Savannah River Site.