Sandia LabNews

Security team upgrades travel processes, earns NNSA coin

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TRAVELING A NEW PATH — NNSA Sandia Field Office Manager Daryl Hauck, left, presents an NNSA Enhanced Mission Delivery Initiative coin to Bernardo Diaz in recognition of improvements that Bernardo and the International Security & Risk Management program helped make to nuclear security enterprise processes for traveling to foreign nations on behalf of NNSA and other U.S. government agencies. (Photo by Bret Latter)

Bernardo Diaz has been part of a few big changes.

He and his team from Sandia’s International Security and Risk Management were recognized by NNSA on March 12 for improvements that make it faster and easier for Sandians and other nuclear security enterprise contractors to travel to foreign nations on behalf of NNSA and other U.S. government agencies.

“Thousands of travelers will benefit from these improvements, enabling us to more effectively accomplish NNSA’s mission with our international partners,” said NNSA Sandia Field Office Manager Daryl Hauck, who presented Bernardo an NNSA Enhanced Mission Delivery Initiative coin in appreciation of his effort to help nuclear security enterprise processes move quicker and more efficiently. “He showed persistence in making it happen. He didn’t take no for an answer.”

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NNSA’s Enhanced Mission Delivery Initiative aims to improve efficiency, productivity and collaboration across the nuclear security enterprise.

Bernardo worked with NNSA officials to reduce the number of approvals needed for these types of trips.

“I know what a pain it is to cut red tape,” he said. “I think my previous experience told me, ‘We can change it.’”

Bernardo’s “previous experience” includes reestablishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Havana was his first assignment as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed in 1961 and remained so when Bernardo arrived in 2014.

“It was a hardship post,” said Bernardo, who moved there with his wife and dog. “The Cuban people are incredible, but the work was hard. The country was stuck in the 1950s. Not much has progressed in terms of infrastructure.”

Bucking 70 years of history, Bernardo was part of the team that carried this international effort across the finish line. The Department of State Superior Honor Award hangs in his Sandia office, recognizing his “Outstanding sustained performance and significant contribution in support of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.”

Years later, Veronica Robles, a member of his staff who helped lead the project, credited Bernardo with driving the improvement in the travel process.

“Bernardo really took the time,” Veronica said. “Our travelers go through a lot. The biggest thing I always go back to is to reduce the human stress of it all. How can we make it a little bit better? How do we get them out the door to do that mission work?”

“This award is satisfaction we’re doing what’s right to serve the mission,” Bernardo said.

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A COIN FOR EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE — Stephen Neidigk holds a coin presented by NNSA’s Sandia Field Office to the Transportation Safeguards & Surety Program for delivering a mobile high-security vault in just six months. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

NNSA awards coin for quick delivery

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SPEEDY AND SECURE — Members of the Transportation Safeguards & Surety Program were recognized by NNSA for delivering a mobile high-security vault in six months. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Neidigk)

Coin presentations like the one to Bernardo are a new way the NNSA is recognizing Sandians who cut red tape and speed innovation and product delivery.

The second coin in this series went to manager Stephen Neidigk and his team from the Transportation Safeguards and Surety Program, which delivered a mobile high-security vault in just six months.

To meet a national security need on this tight timeline, the team used several forms of advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing, technical embroidery and model based systems engineering, to move from concept to construction without formal drawings.

Stephen’s team delivered models and manufacturing specifications that allowed several vendors to construct major components of the vault that were subsequently assembled at Sandia.

“Typically you spend 75% of your design time on the drawings,” Stephen said. “When you’re budget- and time-constrained, it forces you to figure out solutions within those constraints … This work required a functional prototype. It was a build-to-think exercise. Let’s build it, learn, adjust and do it again.”

This drastically different approach, which included Stephen carrying a 1/20-scale model of the vault to meetings to convey the concept and support design discussions, delivered a full scale prototype in about a quarter of the time usually required for this type of project. The solution was a 20-foot shipping container with a 30,000-pound vault inside.

“We didn’t recreate the wheel,” Stephen said. “Completing the prototype vault was an excellent example of Sandia’s ability to deliver at the speed of relevance. We utilized experience and technology developed over the last 40 years to save time and completed an 80% solution in six months as opposed to 100% solution in five years.”

“While other recent innovations have focused on process improvements, this project uses the Labs’ know-how in system integration, working with partners to meet a national security need,” Labs Director James Peery said during the coin presentation on March 18. “This is one of the areas where Sandia excels.”

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