May 10, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the wake of reports that China may have stolen U.S. nuclear secrets, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson is expected to announce Tuesday a major overhaul of how his agency handles security at the nation's nuclear labs.
Sources tell CNN the move is designed to combat flaws in security and increase accountability at the labs.
The changes will enhance physical security, as well as improve controls over classified documents and the protection, inventory and transport of nuclear materials.
Richardson plans to create a new Office of Security and Emergency Operations, which will combine fragmented divisions dealing with security affairs, the lab visitor program, cyber security and emergency operations.
To make certain that policies developed by the new office are enforced, Energy Department officials also will expand the security oversight office, which executes on-site inspections. The expanded office will be elevated in status and will report directly to the Richardson.
Richardson also will create a new office of Plutonium, Uranium and Special Materials to ensure accurate tracking and inventory.
Energy officials will seek additional funding for equipment to improve lab security, sources said.
The overhaul follows allegations of espionage and recent reports critical of lab security.
A March Energy Department report concluded that of 12 sensitive facilities and programs, nine received the highest rating of satisfactory, but three received only marginal ratings.
The three facilities receiving marginal ratings were: the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Transportation Safeguards Division.
In testimony before a House Commerce subcommittee last month, a senior General Accounting Office official found a number of major security problems, including:
The GAO official also questioned the Energy Department's ability to enact change.
Report warned of cyber attacks on nuclear labs
Los Alamos Research Library
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