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June 30, 2000

Natalie Wymer, (202) 586-4940
Matt Nerzig, (202) 586-4940

Secretary Richardson Announces Changes with University of California Contract

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today informed the University of California that its contract for managing the department's national weapons laboratories must be restructured in order to make much-needed improvements to security and other facility operations. The Energy Department will immediately begin negotiations with the University to bring into their operations specific security and management expertise to implement these improvements.

Secretary Richardson recognizes the University's unparalleled scientific reputation and its contribution to the scientific vitality of the laboratories, but he was sharply critical of their failure to bring the same degree of expertise to the management of security and facility operations.

"The University of California's performance in managing security at our weapons laboratories is unacceptable and must be immediately addressed," said Secretary Richardson. "Safeguarding security at our nation's weapons laboratories warrants nothing less."

Secretary Richardson has asked Under Secretary John Gordon to oversee this and to work with the University to identify new mechanisms and procedures to address the serious shortcomings of the University of California at the weapons laboratories. General Gordon will make his recommendations to the Secretary by September 5.

"Finding an effective way to improve the security and management at the laboratories without compromising the strength of their cutting-edge science and research will be one of my top priorities," said Under Secretary Gordon.

Today's announcement is the latest step taken by Secretary Richardson to further strengthen security management at the national weapons laboratories. Since the fall of 1998, he has approved 46 counterintelligence recommendations and implemented two dozen major security initiatives across the DOE weapons complex. From polygraphing of employees and contractors to bolstering cybersecurity, a series of wide-ranging steps have been taken to strengthen the protections guarding the nation's nuclear secrets.

- DOE -


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