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Senator Jeff Bingaman
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

For immediate release:
Monday, December 4, 2000

DOE Agrees to Fund Bingaman-Urged Polygraph Validity Study

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today announced that the Department of Energy has released funding to finance a study he requested to determine the scientific validity of using polygraphs on DOE employees and employees of national defense laboratories, including Sandia and Los Alamos.

DOE will spend $860,000 to fund a National Research Council study.  The National Research Council coordinates studies for the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering the nation's most prestigious scientific and technical organizations.  The 18-month study is expected to begin early next year with the  appointment of experts to a panel, which will be charged with reviewing existing data on the science underlying polygraphy.

``The distinguished scientists and engineers who work at Sandia and Los Alamos deserve to know whether polygraphs produce valid results and this study will help make that determination.  I certainly appreciate Secretary Richardson's assistance in providing the necessary funding for this study," Bingaman said.

Bingaman first suggested a comprehensive review of the science behind polygraphs last year when he opposed DOE's plans for expanded polygraph testing of its employees.  In October 1999, Bingaman proposed and won Congressional approval of an amendment to a key appropriations bill calling for the National Academies to study DOE's polygraph rule.   Afterward, he reached an agreement with DOE Secretary Bill Richardson that DOE would fund this National Research Council study.

``A lot of people in Congress believe that polygraphs are some sort of panacea," Bingaman said.  ``The fact is, they may be useful in some contexts, but we need to find out whether applying them as a screening tool to thousands of lab employees is one of those instances."

Bingaman is the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over energy policy.

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