Feb 11, 2008

Los Alamos National Laboratory: Security of Classified Data, Nuclear Material Controls, Nuclear and Worker Safety, and Project Management Weaknesses

GAO Briefing to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation

We requested comments on a draft of this report from LANL, DOE, and NNSA. In response, we received oral comments from LANL officials, including the Deputy Division Leader, Environment, Safety, Health and Quality; the Deputy Division Leader, Office of Safeguards and Security; the DARHT Second Axis Project Director; and the Deputy Division Leader, Technical Cyber Security. Although LANL officials generally agreed with the facts as presented in this report, they noted that the new management and operations contractor—LANS—has taken actions to improve security at the laboratory since June 2006, including reducing the number of individual classified items at the site and consolidating classified material and classified operations. We added this information to our report based on these comments. In addition, LANL officials noted our report showed that the number of security incidents that compromised or potentially compromised classified information had declined from fiscal year 2006 through June 30, 2007, thus demonstrating progress in improving the security of classified information at the site.

In our view, this short period of time is not sufficient to provide a basis for meaningful trend analysis. Consequently, it is too soon to tell if this decline in security incidents is more than temporary. LANL officials also provided technical comments, which we included as appropriate. We also received oral comments from DOE’s Director, Office of Security Evaluations, and NNSA’s Director, Policy and Internal Control Management. These comments were technical in nature, and we incorporated them in the report where appropriate.

[Download the entire briefing at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08173r.pdf]


Anonymous said...

LANS has done wonders regarding computer security. I mean just look at the hits from LANL on this blog today: 0!

They've added a blog filter to their security package -- no more reading LTRS from lanl.gov. I feel more secure already.

Anonymous said...

From the Washington Post

Federal agents today arrested four people on espionage charges, including a Defense Department employee from Alexandria, and accused them of passing classified information to China that included details about the Space Shuttle and U.S. military sales to Taiwan.

The DOD employee, Gregg William Bergersen, 51, was charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria with conspiracy to disclose national defense information. He is a weapons policy analyst at the Arlington-based Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Also charged in federal court in Alexandria were Tai Shen Kuo, 58, and Yu Xin Kang, 33, both of New Orleans.

Court documents said that Kuo obtained classified documents from Bergersen, often in exchange for cash, at a series of meetings across Northern Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina and Las Vegas. Much of the information was about U.S. military sales to Taiwan, the court documents said. Kuo and Kang face up to life in prison if convicted. Bergersen, of Alexandria, faces up to 10 years in prison.

In a separate case also linked to China, a former Boeing Co. engineer was arrested on charges that he stole Boeing trade secrets related to the Space Shuttle and other programs, including the C-17 military transport aircraft and the Delta IV rocket. Dongfan "Greg" Chung, 72, of Orange, Calif., faces charges of economic espionage, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

It was not immediately clear how much, if any, damage the alleged espionage did to U.S. national security. Justice Department officials are planning to discuss the cases at a news conference this afternoon, and the four defendants are scheduled to appear in federal courts. It was unclear if lawyers for them had been appointed.

But DOJ officials said the cases reflect the determination of China's government to penetrate U.S. intelligence and obtain vital national defense secrets.

"Today's prosecution demonstrates that foreign spying remains a serious threat in the post-Cold War world,'' Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said in a statement.

"The conspiracy charged in this case has all the elements of a classic espionage operation: a foreign government focused on accessing our military secrets; foreign operatives who effectively use stealth and guile to gain that access; and an American government official who is willing to betray both his oath of public office and the duty of loyalty we rightly demand from every American citizen.''

They should shut down the Pentagon

Anonymous said...

"They should shut down the Pentagon."

Why? Does the Pentagon have some "missing" CREM that never existed?

Anonymous said...

No one surpasses the GAO at reporting old news. Mustn't wake the slumbering Congresspersons.

Anonymous said...

"They should shut down the Pentagon" (3:16 PM)

Only if POGO first tells Congress that it's OK to do so.

Anonymous said...

We're forgetting the keystone that holds the LANS cyber security plan together - lots and lots of JB Weld.

Anonymous said...

In an effort to get these comments back on track, the following was noted on page 48 of the linked document.

"A March 2005 NNSA study of the DARHT Construction Project, which included the redesigned second axis, found, among other things, that:

Senior LANL officials did not treat DAHRT as a priority.

DOE did not require clear project definition and performance requirements.

DOE rescoped the project using unproven technology.

DOE failed to establish clear completion criteria.

DOE used poor design practices for the second axis."

Other comments could be made about each of the "findings," but, of course, unproven technology was used. One would hope that that is what a "laboratory" would do.

It is interesting that NNSA (the "autonomous" part of DOE) is finding fault with DOE, and not LANL.

At the top of each briefing sheet is "GAO Accountability Integrity Reliability." In this case, they should have added "Irrelevance."

This is a good example for developing nations to have as an example of how not to allow their bureaucracies develop.

It is no secret that some of the problems associated with DARHT were due to work farmed out to California entities in order to get California support for funding. It is somewhat remarkable that the people actually doing the real hands-on work appear to be finally achieving some success, in spite of all the obstacles that have been put in their way. Doesn't mean that LANL is a good place to work, just that there still are some good people there.

Anonymous said...

Ooh! We're the best and brightest! Ooh, ooh! GAO doesn't know what they're talking about. Ooh, ooh, blame POGO. Ooh, ooh, those liberal anti nuke radicals in Santa Fe are the problem. Who cares about clean water anyway? Ooh, ooh...Car 54 where are you?

Yes dear Labbies, hang on to your 1950 views and sitcoms.

Anonymous said...

But, but what about the recycling award we just got from No Nothing See naAthing (NNSA)?

Anonymous said...

"In our view, this short period of time is not sufficient to provide a basis for meaningful trend analysis."

Translation: My good bud Richard Marquez will guarantee me a great paying job at LANL if I do like he did when he was with the DOE--down play problems at LANL. Us future. double dippers of the DOE/LANL revolving door world must stick together!

Anonymous said...

"2/12/08 5:37 PM"

I am calling troll on 5:37PM.

Anonymous said...

Hey 5:37pm poster, you seem to be utterly obsessed with saying "the best and brightest" over and over in an attempt to insult the people at LANL.From your rampant hatred of LANL I would bet that you are just some disgruntled former LANL employee. I do not think you are part of the Santa Fe activists groups. I have had an occasional interaction with them and see what they write. They do
not have a problem with the people at LANL. They disagree with SOME of the kind of work done at LANL, with LANL polices, or with LANL management. They do
not hate the people at LANL the way you hate the people at LANL. Other lab critics also do not hate the people who work at LANL. Your kind of hatred is a personal thing not a based on any rational arguments. Perhaps it is time for you to move.