Energy Department IG urges tighter security at labs

Energy Department Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman has recommended that the department's national laboratories tighten security over classified projects, including advanced computer research, in the wake of an audit that found gaps in the labs' security controls.

DOE officials in the Offices of Science and Security generally agreed with the recommendations but said that the department, as a whole, had adequately controlled sensitive technologies.

The IG's Audit Report, Safeguards Over Sensitive Technology, posted here reflected reviews of the Sandia, Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. It focused on almost 200 cooperative research and development agreements and so-called work-for-others projects that that the labs carried out with outside organizations.

According to the audit, officials at Sandia had failed to carry out security classification reviews for six classified projects. Officials at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge assigned foreign citizens who were permanent resident aliens to seven projects involving sensitive technology, even though three of the researchers were from 'sensitive' countries such as Russia and China.

'Sandia had not conducted required intelligence reviews on CRADAs,' according to the report. 'In contrast, we found that Oak Ridge was conducting counterintelligence reviews, as required. We were not able to reconcile the reasons for the inconsistent applications of department policy.'

The department has tightened security oversight recently following a series of controversial security lapses dating back to 2000, and has detected some other security lapses in recent months see GCN story.

The IG's report called for clarification of security procedures, an action that the department's Counterintelligence Office endorsed.


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