Managing DOE:

Further Review Needed of Suspensions of Security Clearances for Minority Employees

RCED-95-15: Published: Dec 8, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 9, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) security clearance program, focusing on: (1) whether racial or ethnic disparities existed among those employees who had their security clearances suspended; and (2) actions DOE needs to take to respond to these disparities.

GAO found that: (1) between fiscal years 1989 and 1993, DOE suspended 425 security clearances for contractor employees; (2) African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian contractor employees had their security clearances suspended more often than would be statistically expected when compared with the majority of the workforce; (3) DOE was not aware of the statistical disparities because it did not monitor or track the suspension of clearances by racial/ethnic group; and (4) DOE needs to further evaluate why disparities in security clearances are occurring to ensure that discrimination is not occurring.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE tasked the Center to review the disparities noted in the report and found that, although the disparities were significant, a cause and effect relationship could not be proved to exist between discrimination and the disparities. DOE considers its response to the recommendation complete.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should investigate the reasons for the disparities in the number of security clearances suspended for contractor employees in the locations and years identified by the GAO review and take action to correct any problems that this investigation identified in the DOE security clearance procedures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE has established a process to obtain data on the racial and ethnic background of all employees whose clearances have been suspended, but has no further plans to determine whether disparities exist or the need for corrective actions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should require that data on the racial and ethnic background of contractor employees whose clearances are suspended at all locations be compiled, monitored, and reviewed to identify any statistical disparities in the number of clearances suspended for minorities, and investigate and take appropriate corrective action if such disparities occur.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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