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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Security Clearances at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory-California

A new 22 page Inspection Report (INS-O-09-01) is available at the DOE Office of Inspector General website. Here is a summary of the findings from the accompanying memorandum:
We concluded that Livermore and Sandia officials did not fully adhere to Department requirements regarding security clearance justifications. Specifically, we found that Livermore and Sandia officials requested and retained security clearances inconsistent with Department policy. We determined that this issue went undetected by Livermore, Sandia, and Service Center personnel security officials because there were no internal controls in place to validate the justification of need as stated on the security clearance requests. We made three recommendations to management designed to ensure that future security clearance request justifications are subject to improved internal controls.

In responding to a draft of this report, the Office of Health, Safety and Security (HS) strongly concurred "with the need for increased oversight of the process for justifying access to classified information within the Department." HS stated it has taken or initiated several actions to enhance oversight of access authorizations.

NNSA's comments on the draft report did not specifically state whether management concurred with the findings and recommendations. NNSA interpreted our report as stating that clearance justifications should be challenged in every case. This is not what is stated in the report, nor is it our intent. Rather, we believe there should be internal controls in place to ensure compliance with Department requirements pertaining to clearances and clearance justifications. Management's comments are discussed in further detail in the report. Management's verbatim comments are included in Appendix C.


Neko said...

You think??? I know people that have had Q's for more than a decade that have never come close to anything classified.

Anonymous said...

From the report;

"... Livermore and Sandia management officials indicated that due to the unpredictable, lengthy security clearance process, they believed it necessary for employees to possess security clearances in anticipation of future classified duties rather than applying for a clearance once the work was identified. The officials also stated that by establishing a pool of individuals with security clearances, it was easier to move employees around as needed."

And remember that DOE is the sole controller of the security process and how long it takes, not the Lab.

However, one of the problems at LLNL, clearance level is used as an access control mechanism to physical areas/buildings. How many employees housed in buildings in the Q area (B131, B132, etc) actually deal with classified materials. How many support personnel (maintenance staff, etc) have clearances just so they can go into a Q/L area.

The process could be strengthened if the question on the initial justification form was changed to require the person to provide some limited description on the specific type of classified information that they need access to, and not just the frequency of the access. I bet that many would be hard pressed to do this. I know a lot of people with Q/Ls that have never set eyes on a classified document or received classified information - and never will.

Anonymous said...

Well, that may be because they are mowing the lawns, fixing HVAC systems, cleaning roads, making building modifications, the Limited Area. Or are part of the matrix that represents assignment flexibility if needed for programs in the Limited Area.

Anonymous said...

Yeah just what the lab needs - more rules and regulations to make the overheads even higher!

The lab is one big overhead!

Anonymous said...

Raising the overhead rates is what it's all about. You just have to make sure that you are part of the "protected class" at LLNL that lives off overhead and controls this lab. Haven't you learned that by now?


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