WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 9 -- US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson has ordered a series of actions in response to scheduling delays and projected cost overruns in the construction of the National Ignition Facility at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Expressing concern over what he deemed to be significant problems, Richardson has directed a multi-step approach to get the project back on track. Elements of this plan include outsourcing major projects, appointment of an independent panel to examine options, a mandate to observe budget limits, and more accountability by management and outside contractors. Richardson confirmed his support for the NIF program, stating, The problems with the NIF are not technological -- the underlying science of the NIF remains sound. These are project management issues, and we will get ahead of these problems and turn them around with aggressive and tighter management action from this department.