DoE Hits Univ. Of Calif. With $3 Million Fine For Los Alamos Security Breach

A second contractor also was fined $300,000 for its failure to protect classified information.

Sharon Gaudin, Contributor

July 16, 2007

2 Min Read

The U.S. Department of Energy slammed the University of California with a proposed $3 million fine for its failure to protect classified information as a contractor with the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The DoE also levied a proposed $300,000 fine on another contractor, Los Alamos National Security, LLC. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman also issued a Compliance Order to the same security company, requiring the contractor to take corrective actions on a prescribed timetable for the physical protection and cyber security of classified information at the laboratory. A company that violates a Compliance Order could be fined up to $100,000 per day for each violation.

"Investigations revealed that management deficiencies of both contractors were a central contributing factor in a laboratory subcontractor employee's unauthorized reproduction of and removal of classified matter from the site," reported investigators.

In April, Bodman appeared before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to explain why classified information had been leaked out of the Los Alamos National Labs.

"We are pleased that Secretary Bodman has taken some important steps to address the blatant mismanagement at LANL," said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a written statement at the time. "However, it is clear that additional actions are necessary."

There have been several publicized security breaches at Los Alamos. According to the subcommittee, there was the December 1999 Wen Ho Lee case; the disappearance and reappearance of two of the Nuclear Emergency Search Team hard drives in June 2000; nine missing classified removable electronic media devices in November 2003; unaccounted for classified removable electronic media that Los Alamos concluded probably had never been created, but which led, in part, to a 7-month stand down in 2004 costing taxpayers $370 million; and the October 2006 cyber security breach which the committee referred to as the "CREM de Meth" event.

Between 1943 and May 2006, the University of California managed and operated the Laboratory for the DoE and its predecessor agencies. On June 1, 2006, Los Alamos National Security, a limited liability corporation comprised of Bechtel National, Inc., the University of California, BWX Technologies, Inc., and the Washington Group International, Inc., took over as the new management and operating contractor.

As one of the country's three nuclear weapons laboratories, the Los Alamos National Laboratory performs sensitive national security research and tasks, including helping to ensure that the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile is safe.

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