GAO Finds NNSA Lacks Security Road Map

June 30, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) today expressed concerns over the findings of a new Government Accountability Office report, “NNSA Should Establish a Clear Vision and Path Forward for Its Security Program.” The government watchdog found that despite efforts to respond to recent security failures, the National Nuclear Security Administration lacks a clear security vision going forward, which may threaten sustainability of security improvements at nuclear sites.

Committee leaders requested the GAO investigate NNSA’s security plan in May 2010 following the announcement of security reforms initiated by then Department of Energy Secretary Chu and Deputy Secretary Poneman. Committee leaders were concerned at the time that the reforms risked reducing safety and security. Two years ago, NNSA suffered one the worst security breakdowns in its history, when three protesters managed to penetrate security fences undetected at the Y-12 site in Tennessee, raising questions about the security systems, procedures, and security culture.

The report confirms the committee’s concerns that the 2009 and 2010 security reform efforts, while making some operational and efficiency improvements, may also have increased security risks. GAO also found that NNSA efforts to reform security over the past two years continue to suffer from a lack of a “road map” for NNSA’s security program. The report states, “Since the Y-12 breach, NNSA has initiated actions to improve its security performance and oversight, partly in response to recommendations of its own Security Task Force, but it did not carry out the task force’s priority recommendation that NNSA develop a security road map… Without developing a clear vision and path forward for its security program, NNSA risks putting in place another short-lived or ineffective response to its security problems…” GAO recommends that the Secretary of Energy direct the NNSA Administrator to develop and implement the NNSA security road map.

Upton and Murphy said, “Two years ago we witnessed a massive security failure at the Y-12 National Security Complex, which this committee reviewed extensively. At those hearings we urged DOE to establish and develop an effective security structure and culture that can be sustained over the long term. GAO found that while there has been some progress since the Y-12 breach, the department’s lack of a clear path forward puts recent security reforms at risk.  We will continue our oversight of DOE and NNSA’s security reforms, including GAO’s recommendations, to make sure any security improvements can be sustained.”

To view a copy of the report, click HERE.

###