DOE's Bodman fires Brooks as head of NNSA

Insufficient progress fixing security problems at nuclear agency

After years of security lapses and system breaches at the National Nuclear Security Administration, Energy secretary Samuel Bodman dismissed Linton Brooks from his position as administrator of NNSA late yesterday.

In a statement, Bodman said that while he believes NNSA's managers have 'done their best' to address the security problems, 'I do not believe that progress in correcting these issues has been adequate.

'I repeatedly have told DOE and laboratory employees, and in particular senior managers, we must be accountable to the President and the American people not just for efforts, but for results. Therefore, and after careful consideration, I have decided that it is time for new leadership at the NNSA, and I have asked for the resignation of NNSA administrator Linton Brooks,' Bodman said in a written statement.

President Bush today announced that he will designate Thomas D'Agostinoto to be the acting Under Secretary for Nuclear Security of NNSA.

He currently serves as NNSA's deputy administrator for Defense Programs. Prior to this, he served as NNSA's assistant deputy administrator for Program Integration for Defense Programs.

NNSA has only been in existence since early 2000, and was created by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act that year, in response to serious, ongoing security lapses at DOE.

But from its inception, NNSA has struggled in efforts to protect the nation's nuclear secrets. Responsible for the national research laboratories such as Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore, and for administering nuclear facilities in several states, the agency has had a string of high-profile security breaches.

In 2006 alone, NNSA revealed a system incursion that took place in June 2004 that stole information on more than 1,500 personnel. The agency discovered the breach in late summer 2005, but did not notify Bodman until June. A report by the DOE inspector general in September concluded that security problems continue to dog NNSA systems, and the problems are virtually the same as those the IG reported a year earlier.

In October, computer flash drives containing classified information and hundreds of pages of classified documents were found in the home of a former contractor at Los Alamos. The data was found by police officers during a drug raid.

That led DOE's inspector general, Gregory Friedman, to issue a scathing report that concluded, in part, 'in a number of key areas, security policy [at Los Alamos] was non-existent, applied inconsistently or not followed.'

In his own statement of resignation, Brooks alluded to the most recent incident.

'One reason for forming NNSA was to prevent such management problems from occurring. We have not yet done so in over five years,' Brooks said. 'For much of that time I was in charge of NNSA. Therefore, the secretary believes that new leadership is needed.'

Brooks said Brooks will submit his resignation to the president and leave NNSA in the next two to three weeks.

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