FAS | Government Secrecy | September 1999 News ||| Index | Search | Join FAS


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 1999

NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
Matthew Donoghue, 202/586-5806

Energy Secretary Richardson Releases Results Of
Independent Security Reviews at National Labs

The first independent security reviews conducted as part of sweeping safeguards and security reforms ordered by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Bill Richardson have been completed at three Energy Department nuclear weapons laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL).

"Our reforms are beginning to work," Richardson said, "and people are getting the message that we're serious about protecting our nation's secrets."

The three reviews completed this summer at the Energy Department's LANL, LLNL, and SNL were conducted by the Secretary's new Office of Independent Oversight and Performance Assurance. The office is responsible for assessing the safeguards and security, cyber security, and emergency management postures throughout the entire DOE complex.

Los Alamos improved its security posture, receiving an overall "satisfactory" rating the highest achievable. Lawrence Livermore and Sandia were rated as "marginal." "Satisfactory," "marginal," and "unsatisfactory" are the only ratings possible as part of the safeguards and security assessments.

Secretary Richardson praised Los Alamos Director John Browne for taking aggressive corrective actions in a timely and cost-effective manner. In particular, Los Alamos has established more effective measures in cyber security, improved protection of classified parts, installed additional intrusion alarm sensors, improved systems to account for nuclear materials, and added additional protective force personnel.

Lawrence Livermore and Sandia received overall ratings of "marginal," but the oversight team noted that the two laboratories are implementing identified improvements to achieve a "satisfactory" facility rating by December 1999.

The facilities have added more armed guards to the protective force, patrols have been increased, tactical response has been improved, and short-term compensatory measures have been implemented pending installation of additional intrusion alarms.

"While we've made progress improving the safeguards and security posture at the facilities, much more remains to be done," Richardson said. "I will hold our people accountable for improving."

Richardson noted that further assessments will continue to be conducted by the Office of Independent Oversight, often referred to as the "Junk Yard Dogs" because of their mandate to "go out, get tough, and find everything."

The assessment teams include 25 security specialists including cyber security, material control and accountability, and other disciplines who perform comprehensive and rigorous reviews of a facility's safeguards and security program. Cyber security experts attempt to penetrate computer systems, adversary teams test the physical security systems in place, while other inspectors physically verify the locations of classified components and documents, and witness actual material inventories in progress.

The recent assessments are part of a series of actions initiated by Secretary Richardson to strengthen DOE Headquarters management of all safeguards and security issues. These measures include upgrades to physical security across the DOE complex, increased accountability of nuclear materials, additional cyber security improvements and training, and changes to the DOE Headquarters management structure to correct long-term bureaucratic issues and resource deficiencies.

Secretary Richardson also established a "security czar" position responsible for ensuring that safeguards and security programs are effective in protecting Special Nuclear Material as well as classified and sensitive information. The new Office of Security and Emergency Operations consolidates all security-related functions from different DOE program offices, while the Office of Independent Oversight and Performance Assurance independently evaluates security and emergency operations functions throughout the Department. Both offices report directly to Secretary Richardson.

- DOE -

R-99-253




FAS | Government Secrecy | September 1999 News ||| Index | Search | Join FAS