U.S. Department of Energy
July 23, 2004

Energy Secretary Abraham Directs Complex-Wide Stand-Down of Classified Operations Using Controlled Removable Electronic Media

WASHINGTON, DC -- Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today ordered that all Department of Energy (DOE) operations using such controlled removable electronic media (CREM) as classified hard drives or computer discs conduct an immediate stand-down to improve procedures for protecting such media.

“Earlier this week, I directed Deputy Secretary McSlarrow and NNSA Administrator Brooks, in addition to their review of the problems at Los Alamos National Lab, to provide me any recommendations for improving the security of CREM at other DOE facilities,” Secretary Abraham said. “They have now done so.

“The situation at LANL suggests that we must minimize the risk of human error or malfeasance to a much greater extent. Thus, while we have no evidence that the problems currently being investigated are present elsewhere, we have a responsibility to take all necessary action to prevent such problems from occurring at all. Therefore, I have directed that we stand-down all operations involving so-called controlled removable electronic media until such time as a site or facility conducts appropriate training, reviews security procedures, ensures complete and accountable custodial responsibility, and arranges for a complete inventory.

“These procedures are designed to guarantee a complete inventory of our classified electronic holdings and make certain that specific individuals can be held responsible and accountable for future problems,” said Abraham.

Under the plan approved by Secretary Abraham, each DOE facility will conduct a stand-down of operations involving CREM beginning Monday July 26. The key aspects of this plan include:

The Department’s Office of Independent Oversight and Performance Assurance will verify the adequacy of the procedures once they are implemented.

Abraham’s new directive is an outgrowth of a problem discovered on July 7, 2004, when an inventory at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, N. Mex., revealed that two zip discs containing classified material could not be located. The laboratory is now in the process of searching over 2,000 safes and vaults in an attempt to locate the missing discs. The laboratory director has suspended all operations at the laboratory, and the Secretary of Energy has directed that classified operations will not be resumed until Deputy Secretary McSlarrow and Administrator Brooks are satisfied that the newly implemented corrective actions provide for complete and verifiable custodial control of such media.

Media contacts:
Jeanne Lopatto,
Joe Davis, 202/586-4940

Number: R-04-166