Nuclear Security:

Lessons to Be Learned from Implementing NNSA's Security Enhancements

GAO-02-358: Published: Mar 29, 2002. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2002.

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In response to persistent security weaknesses at nuclear weapons facilities during the late 1990s, the Department of Energy (DOE) undertook several initiatives and Congress created the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) as a separate entity with DOE. DOE and NNSA have made progress in implementing many of the 75 initiatives undertaken since 1998. Lessons from these initiatives could help improve implementation of future efforts. DOE and NNSA have completed 64 percent of the initiatives, and most of the rest should be completed by December 2002. NNSA has begun a security organization and program to safeguard nuclear information and materials, but several key issues still need to be addressed to ensure the new program's effectiveness. NNSA has almost completed staffing the two new offices created to lead its security and counterintelligence activities and, with DOE, is completing a detailed review of security policies and procedures. NNSA has also begun specific activities, including training, to create a security-oriented culture in its organization.

Status Legend:

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  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To ensure that the lessons to be learned from prior initiatives are incorporated into the development and implementation of future initiatives, and to better ensure the development of an effective NNSA security structure and program, the Secretary of Energy and the administrator of NNSA should clearly define roles and authorities of DOE and NNSA security counterintelligence offices to ensure that contractors and NNSA field staff understand what policies they are required to implement and which offices have authority over them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On December 10, 2004, DOE issued DOE Order 475.1 concerning DOE's Counterintelligence Program. This order addresses our recommendation by, among other things, defining roles and authorities of DOE and NNSA security and counterintelligence offices, ensuring that contractors and NNSA field staff understand what policies they are required to implement, and outlining which offices have authority over specific policies.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the lessons to be learned from prior initiatives are incorporated into the development and implementation of future initiatives, and to better ensure the development of an effective NNSA security structure and program, the Secretary of Energy and the administrator of NNSA should consider requiring NNSA field sites to develop a coordinated implementation process that would allow contractor and NNSA staff to quickly address and implement initiatives, using the team approach followed at the Pantex Plant as a potential best practice for other sites.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE reports that, as a result of its re-engineering initiative to address the security structure of NNSA, roles and responsibilities have been defined for all functions. The Security function has accountability with each Site Manager, and the Service Center provides consistent support and advice for the entire complex. Consistency guidance and program direction emanates from the Associate Administrator for Infrastructure and Security.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the lessons to be learned from prior initiatives are incorporated into the development and implementation of future initiatives, and to better ensure the development of an effective NNSA security structure and program, the Secretary of Energy and the administrator of NNSA should consider requiring NNSA field sites to develop a coordinated implementation process that would allow contractor and NNSA staff to quickly address and implement initiatives, using the team approach followed at the Pantex Plant as a potential best practice for other sites.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE reports that, as a result of its re-engineering initiative to address the security structure of NNSA, the restructure is in place and operating. DOE officials believe that the restructuring will encourage the development of a coordinated process that would allow site staff to quickly and effectively implement initiatives.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the lessons to be learned from prior initiatives are incorporated into the development and implementation of future initiatives, and to better ensure the development of an effective NNSA security structure and program, the Secretary of Energy and the administrator of NNSA should ensure that contractor and NNSA field staff are substantively involved in the development of security initiatives and that such initiatives are clearly communicated to the field.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a subsequent measure to its Strategic Plan, DOE has several re-engineering initiatives to align work processes and employees. One of the re-engineering initiatives is addressing the security structure of NNSA. The security function now has accountability with each Site Manager, the Service Center provides consistent support and advice for the entire complex, and consistent guidance and program direction emanates from the Associate Administrator for Infrastructure and Security.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the lessons to be learned from prior initiatives are incorporated into the development and implementation of future initiatives, and to better ensure the development of an effective NNSA security structure and program, the Secretary of Energy and the administrator of NNSA should ensure that contractor and NNSA field staff are substantively involved in the development of security initiatives and that such initiatives are clearly communicated to the field.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a subsequent measure to its Strategic Plan, DOE has several re-engineering initiatives to align work processes and employees. One of the re-engineering initiatives is addressing the security structure of NNSA. The Security function now has accountability with each Site Manager, and the Service Center provides consistent support and advice for the entire complex. Consistent guidance and program direction emanates from the Associate Administrator for Infrastructure and Security.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the lessons to be learned from prior initiatives are incorporated into the development and implementation of future initiatives, and to better ensure the development of an effective NNSA security structure and program, the Secretary of Energy and the administrator of NNSA should clearly define roles and authorities of DOE and NNSA security counterintelligence offices to ensure that contractors and NNSA field staff understand what policies they are required to implement and which offices have authority over them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On December 10, 2004, DOE issued DOE Order 475.1 concerning DOE's Counterintelligence Program. This order addresses our recommendation by, among other things, defining roles and authorities of DOE and NNSA security and counterintelligence offices, ensuring that contractors and NNSA field staff understand what policies they are required to implement, and outlining which offices have authority over specific policies.

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