June 4, 2014
Allegations Regarding Personnel Security Concerns at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy (Department). UT-Battelle, LLC manages ORNL and, as of October 2013, has over 6,000 employees, including subcontractors. We received a request from the Office of Science to review a complaint alleging that: (1) a senior ORNL employee continued to maintain access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) after changing employment status from full-time to casual employee without proper justification; and (2) ORNL declined to implement a recommendation to conduct criminal history background checks on all subcontractors working on-site for more than 30 days.
We did not substantiate the access to SCI related allegation. However, we identified several weaknesses regarding processes used to debrief individuals with SCI access and to report overseas employment of those holding active security clearances. Further, we substantiated the allegation that ORNL declined to implement the recommendation to conduct criminal history background checks on all subcontractors working on-site for more than 30 days. However, we determined that background checks were not required for subcontractors working in an unclassified area.
Improper administrative debriefings occurred because management officials at the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (Headquarters Intelligence) did not fully implement the Sensitive Compartmented Information Debriefing Policy No. 001-06, Sensitive Compartmented Information Debriefing Policy. Headquarters Intelligence officials told us they were unaware of the policy and that more needs to be done to ensure Special Security Officers properly conduct SCI debriefs. We are troubled that Headquarters Intelligence officials were not cognizant of existing policy requirements, especially when a number of Department Office of Inspector General inspection reports over the years have highlighted problems regarding administrative debriefings. We believe improvements are warranted in these areas and have made recommendations designed to assist management in ensuring that classified information with restrictions is properly protected.
Topic: National Security & Safety