Testimony of Elizabeth A. Moler
Deputy Secretary of Energy
Subcommittee On Military Procurement
Committee On National Security
United States House of Representatives
October 6, 1998
I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss with you our foreign visitors and assignments programs and policies at our three weapons laboratories.
I am joined today by the Directors of the Department of Energy's three weapons laboratories: Paul Robinson from Sandia National Laboratory, John Browne from Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Bruce Tarter from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
First, I would like to assure the Subcommittee that we at DOE are fully aware of our responsibilities as stewards of the nation's preeminent national security laboratories. More specifically, we are as committed to protecting classified and sensitive information as we are to maintaining the scientific excellence of the laboratories. We and the Congress are in agreement that DOE must have a robust system for tracking foreign visitors and assignees to our weapons laboratories, and for ensuring the security of classified and sensitive information during their visits.
We and the Congress are also in agreement that the Department has, in the past, done an incomplete job of establishing and implementing effective procedures for handling foreign visitors. Over the years there have been a series of recommendations and reports to the Congress -- most notably by the GAO and the FBI -- that highlighted the need to improve our systems for tracking and controlling foreign visitors. In some cases, frankly, these reports languished for years with little or no action.
Since coming to DOE last year, I have been personally and continuously involved in the development of a sound and practical approach to resolving this issue.
The Department has two different needs that must be balanced. First, we are entrusted with world class scientific institutions whose continued scientific leadership requires extensive interactions with leading scientists and institutions from around the world. Central to our requirement to maintain scientific leadership in pursuit of critical national security and related missions is the requirement to foster open exchanges of information. Second, DOE's laboratories also house some of our nation's most sensitive secrets. Balancing the need for openness with the need for protecting vital secrets is a difficult challenge. Although there is certainly room for improvement, this is a challenge I believe we are meeting.
As you are aware, we have been working actively with members of the intelligence community to develop a comprehensive counterintelligence program. The tracking and control of foreign visitors is but one piece -- one important piece -- of this larger initiative.
You will hear from the three laboratory directors themselves about some of the measures they have taken, and will be taking, to strengthen their foreign visitors programs. Later this morning, you will hear from Ed Curran, our new Director of the Office of Counterintelligence, about his assessment and recommendations regarding foreign visitors.
Without wishing to steal their thunder, let me highlight the key elements of our improved program.
1. We have recently established an Office of Counterintelligence at headquarters. Our counterintelligence efforts have been focused and strengthened in the process. The office reports directly to the Deputy Secretary and its budget has been increased significantly by the Congress.
2. The Counterintelligence Offices at each of the laboratories are also in the process of being strengthened. They will have more resources, more highly qualified CI professionals, more direct access to the laboratory director, and more active involvement in foreign visitor programs at the labs.
3. Background checks will be required as a precondition for all foreign visitors at the weapons laboratories.
4. The headquarters counterintelligence office will be working with each of the laboratories to ensure that they have the necessary and appropriate procedures in place for controlling the access of all foreign visitors.
5. All DOE and laboratory personnel holding security clearances will be required to report all contact with foreigners from sensitive countries, so that our counterintelligence officers will have the opportunity to debrief them. Although this requirement already exists, it has generally not been followed, in part because counterintelligence offices have not had the necessary resources.
6. Counterintelligence analysis capabilities will be enhanced significantly. This includes need for more and better threat assessments.
7. Counterintelligence and security awareness efforts will be improved, so that our scientists and other employees understand fully the threats we face and the importance of sound counterintelligence and security practices.