The GAO released a compendium of troubles involving Los Alamos National Laboratory and its contractors yesterday.
My reaction to a quick read: Holy smokes!
Here's how it begins:
"Subject: Los Alamos National Laboratory: Information on Security of Classified Data, Nuclear Material Controls, Nuclear and Worker Safety, and Project Management Weaknesses
"The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which is operated by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), is responsible for, among other things, designing nuclear weapons. Over the past decade, we have documented numerous security, safety, and project management weaknesses at NNSA's nuclear weapons complex, including LANL. In particular, LANL has experienced a series of high-profile security incidents that have drawn attention to the laboratory's inability to account for and control classified information and maintain a safe work environment."
Government Inc. readers may recall a piece about earlier problems at the labs. The problems included allegations that thousands of classified documents were found in a trailer occupied by a former employee and allegations that a contractor operating the facility, KSL Services Joint Venture, systematically overcharged the government.
In the new 61-page report, GAO auditors document what appear to be systemic problems. From October 2002 to June 30, 2007, the laboratory had 57 reported security incidents that apparently involved "the compromise or potential compromise of classified information." There were nine other incidents that involved "the confirmed or suspected unauthorized disclosure of secret information, which posed a significant threat to U.S. national security interests."
At the same time, there were incidents in which nuclear safety standards were exceeded. Facilities were operated with proper safety documentations. "Twenty-three reported safety accidents serious enough to warrant investigation by DOE or the laboratory contractor," the report said.