The Department of Energy's national laboratories and various Federal officials interact with thousands of foreign national visitors and assignees every year. Visits and assignments are for a variety of purposes, including research collaborations and access to scientific user facilities. While the Department reports that these interactions stimulate ideas and foster research, they also carry inherent security risks. The Office of Foreign Visits and Assignments and the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence help the Department ensure that security risks are addressed while fostering collaboration with foreign nationals.
In our report on The Department's Unclassified Foreign Visits and Assignments Program (DOE/IG-0579, December 2002), we observed that the Department had not adequately controlled unclassified visits and assignments by foreign nationals. That audit identified issues such as admitting visitors prior to receiving required approvals, not completing background checks, and neglecting to enter appropriate and accurate information into the Department's Foreign Access Central Tracking System (FACTS). Management agreed to take corrective action and has since issued a new Department order to govern these activities. Due to the sensitivity of the program and the potential for harm, we initiated this review to determine whether the Department had improved the management of its
Foreign Visits and Assignments Program.