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The Alexander Hamilton Award Nominees

Nomination for FY 2003 PCIE Award

Nominating entity:       U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Inspector General
Office of Inspections
Award: Alexander Hamilton Award
Contact: Elise M. Ennis
Director, Eastern Inspection Region
Office of Inspections
(202) 586 4109
Nominee: Office of Inspections
Office of Inspector General
U.S. Department of Energy
Citation: This award recognizes the timely and outstanding efforts of the Office of Inspections in working to enhance the safeguards and security of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Nomination Statement

The purpose of this statement is to nominate the Office of Inspections, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), for the Alexander Hamilton Award based upon its outstanding contributions to enhancing the safeguards and security of DOE and, therefore, the Nation.

DOE has long played a critical role in the National security mission, particularly given DOE's role in the multifaceted nuclear arena; and the Office of Inspections has always taken an active role in reviewing the DOE's safeguards and security activities. However, since the events of September 11, 2001, the primary focus of the resources of the Office of Inspections has been on reviewing DOE safeguards and security activities to enhance their effectiveness given the new threats facing the U.S. Particular emphasis has been placed on emerging issues, such as concerns over the potential for terrorists to seek to deploy a weapon of mass destruction, e.g., a "dirty bomb." Other reviews have been initiated on varied and crosscutting topics, such as emergency cooperative agreements with other facilities, aircraft response to terrorist incidents involving nuclear weapons, protective force efficacy, high-risk property, and explosives safety and security.

Our inspection staff has exhibited thoroughness and professionalism in every aspect of their inspection efforts. There has been extensive coordination with DOE security policy makers, as well as DOE and contractor security program management officials; comprehensive review and analysis of numerous policies and procedures; and extensive coordination with Federal, State, and local officials. For each review, staff members have carefully and thoroughly sought to identify the associated criteria, condition, cause, and effect for each finding in order to craft incisive conclusions and correlating recommendations for positive change. Our findings, conclusions, and recommendations have been the impetus for critical management actions, thereby contributing significantly to strengthening numerous aspects of the Department's safeguards and security programs, including protection of the Department's workforce and the public. For example, in response to our work, DOE management has taken steps to improve the preparedness of DOE protective forces against terrorist attacks. In addition, DOE and DOD are working together to develop a coordinated response strategy for providing aircraft to respond to potential terrorist incidents involving nuclear weapons. Further, actions have been initiated that will ensure DOE has a robust explosives safety and security program nationwide. Homeland Security has been significantly enhanced as a result of our efforts. Discussion of specific exemplars of the critical work we have conducted follow.

The Office of Inspections conducted a review at DOE's West Valley Demonstration Project to evaluate the potential for nuclear material at the site to be targeted by terrorists for use as a dirty bomb. The inspection team identified critical improvements necessary to enhance the security posture at the site, the details of which are classified. The Office of Inspections also conducted a review of the handling of the apparent disappearance of a container of hazardous waste containing cyanide that originated from a DOE facility. The inspection team found that the missing waste was not appropriately reported to security officials and that this failure was apparently, at least in part, caused by a lack of recognition of the missing cyanide waste as a possible security risk. Because the missing waste container was not reported as required, appropriate follow-up actions, such as notification of law enforcement officials, were not taken. We also identified potential systemic weaknesses in the controls over the hazardous waste disposition process at the DOE facility that shipped the waste and security deficiencies at the offsite waste disposal facility to which the material was being shipped. We coordinated our findings with local FBI officials. In connection with another inspection, the Office of Inspections is currently working with DOE management to address concerns over the possibility of large holdings of a uranium byproduct to be utilized as a component of a dirty bomb.

Because of the existence of radioactive and hazardous materials at DOE sites and the possibility of the release of this material due to industrial accidents or terrorist activities, DOE has established memoranda of agreement (MOAs) with offsite local emergency medical providers. The MOAs detail the mutual understanding between DOE and the offsite emergency medical provider regarding capabilities and procedures for an integrated and effective response to incidents, including specific procedures for treating radiation exposure victims. We conducted a review of an MOA for emergency medical response between DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University Hospital. We found that, despite the potential impact on worker and community safety, Brookhaven had not fully implemented the terms of the MOA regarding the provision of training and decontamination equipment/supplies needed for the care of victims of radiation accidents. We also found that the MOA contained incomplete and outdated information and that the MOA and other key emergency response documents had not been reviewed and approved by DOE officials. Because the inspection findings at Brookhaven had crosscutting, DOE-wide emergency preparedness implications, parallel inspections were initiated at other DOE sites and expanded beyond emergency medical coordination to include emergency MOAs in law enforcement, security, and fire related areas.

DOE, as well as the Department of Defense (DOD), play a key role in the National strategy for responding to potential terrorist incidents involving nuclear weapons. The Office of Inspections conducted a review to determine whether DOE was able to meet its aircraft requirements for the response strategy. We found that DOE was not prepared to meet its aircraft requirements. For example, DOE aircraft were not always available to support a mission that might arise; there had been no formal contingency planning for occasions when DOE aircraft were not available; DOE and DOD officials expressed significantly differing views regarding DOE's intent or obligation to provide aircraft support to DOD for certain types of missions; and, if DOE is responsible for providing aircraft support to DOD for certain types of missions, DOE's aircraft may not be capable of satisfactorily supporting these missions.

Other reviews have examined certain aspects of the Department's protective forces to determine their efficacy. For example, several reviews have examined the topic of force-on-force exercises, which have historically been used as the basis for assessing protective force response capabilities. Another review evaluated whether the Department's "fresh pursuit" policy had been appropriately implemented. (Fresh pursuit is the immediate pursuit for the purpose of preventing the escape or effecting the arrest of fleeing suspected criminals who are in unauthorized control/possession of nuclear weapons, weapons components, or special nuclear material.) Based upon the four National Laboratories reviewed, we determined that there were significant differences in the implementation of fresh pursuit policies and practices amongst the four sites and that there were serious questions as to the potential effectiveness of DOE's strategy for planned response should containment or denial protection strategies fail. A separate review of protective force capabilities at a National Laboratory concluded that it was questionable whether the Laboratory could comply with some aspects of the DOE approved Site Safeguards and Security Plan to ensure that DOE assets, including Special Nuclear Material, were adequately protected.

The Office of Inspections also conducted several reviews of exploitable property issues. For example, the Office conducted reviews of inventory controls over firearms and classified and unclassified computers at multiple DOE sites. Areas for improvement were identified at each of the sites reviewed. The associated corrective actions should help ensure that the loss of such high-risk property is minimized, but also that when it does occur, it is quickly identified and promptly acted upon.

In addition, the Office of Inspections completed multi-site reviews of the safety and security of DOE explosives while in storage and in transport. The safety and security of explosives has the potential to significantly impact personnel on DOE sites, as well as in the surrounding communities. Safety-related findings involved safety procedures, fire safety, and lightning safety. Specific security findings included an explosives magazine that was not properly secured; the lock on another magazine not being uniquely keyed, as required; and a lack of adequate controls to ensure that explosives inventories were kept to a minimum in support of the current mission, which unnecessarily increased such risks as malevolent diversion or detonation in the event of a fire.

It has always been of concern to the Office that DOE is getting value in return for its dollars. In keeping with its emphasis on security, the Office of Inspections reviewed the management of grants a DOE site office awarded to two States for emergency response and law enforcement-related activities. These grants are intended to enhance safety and security in the communities surrounding the DOE site, given their proximity to the sensitive and potentially dangerous activities of the Department. These grants fund activities such as training for State and local emergency response personnel who may be called upon in the event of a site emergency, e.g., a radiological accident or a terrorist incident; operating a State emergency operations center; and maintaining a mobile radiation laboratory to be used in the event of a radiological release. The inspection team found that DOE officials were not adequately managing the grants and, therefore, could not be assured grantee performance was meeting established objectives and taxpayer funds were being appropriately used. Specifically, the site was not receiving many of the deliverables specified in the grants, was not following up on the delinquent deliverables as required, and did not have a formal system for tracking grant deliverables.

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