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Rep. Costello Takes Action on Security at Department of Energy Laboratories

May 26, 1999
Press Release
Amendment stops "sensitive" foreign visits until the labs are certified to be safe. Additional amendment fines labs for future security violations.

The House Science Committee today approved an amendment offered by Congressman Jerry F. Costello (D-IL) to implement a moratorium on certain "sensitive" foreign visits to DOE labs until sufficient counterintelligence and safeguards and security measures are in place. Mr. Costello's second amendment, also approved by the Committee, called for civil fines of up to $100,000 for each violation of DOE rules relating to the safeguarding and security of classified or sensitive information or data.

"Nothing is more important than this country's national security, and my amendments are intended to address the long-standing security lapses at our national laboratories," Costello said. "We must fix these problems and fix them immediately."

Mr. Costello's first amendment calls for a moratorium on visits by citizens of sensitive countries to any classified facility of a DOE lab, as well as on visits that relate to subjects that DOE's guidelines on export control and nonproliferation deem to be sensitive. The Secretary of Energy can waive the moratorium if a particular visit is deemed to be necessary to US national security.

The moratorium for each DOE lab would be ended when the DOE, with the concurrence of the Director of the FBI, certifies to Congress that:

  1. all the applicable counterintelligence measures contained in Presidential Decision Directive 61 have been implemented, and adequate resources and oversight exist to maintain them,
  2. all the applicable additional counterintelligence and safeguards and security measures recently announced by Secretary Richardson have been implemented, and adequate resources and oversight exist to maintain them, and
  3. DOE's guidelines on export control and nonproliferation are being followed.

"We need to assure ourselves that visitors to and employees of our national laboratories do not pose a threat to the nation's security," Costello said, "and we should put financial penalties in place to make sure that the labs always follow the rules. We must have better oversight by the FBI and the Congress of our national laboratories, and these amendments will ensure those safeguards."

A description of the legislation follows.


COSTELLO AMENDMENT TO HR 1656
FOREIGN VISITORS AT THE LABS

Subsection (a)   Moratorium on Foreign Visitors Program

Until the appropriate conditions are met, there will be a moratorium on some visits to national labs by citizens of countries that are on DOE's sensitive countries list. The visits that will be prohibited are those to classified facilities of the labs, and those that involve topics that DOE's guidelines on export control and nonproliferation deem to be sensitive. Most visits to all labs for the purposes of doing basic research will not be affected. Examples of "sensitive topics" include military explosives technology, software codes related to nuclear weapons design, tritium production, and nuclear reprocessing technology.

Subsection (b)   Waiver authority

In recognition of the fact that some foreign visits to classified facilities and/or to discuss sensitive matters are important to US national security (i.e., US/Russia arms control and non-proliferation programs like the Materials Safety, Protection and Accounting Program, treaty verification activities, and international inspections), the Secretary may waive the moratorium if he decides that the visit is necessary for national security reasons. The amendment requires a 30-day after-the-fact notification of Congress. The Secretary's waiver authority cannot be delegated.

Subsection (c)   Conditions for lifting the moratorium on foreign visitors at DOE labs

The moratorium on a lab shall be lifted when the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with, and with the concurrence of, the Director of the FBI certify to Congress that:

  • All the applicable provisions in Presidential Decision Directive 61 have been implemented at the lab, and that adequate resources and oversight exist to maintain them.
  • All the applicable counterintelligence, safeguards and security measures announced by Secretary Richardson in March, 1999 have been implemented at the lab, and that adequate resources and oversight exist to maintain them.
  • All the guidelines contained in DOE's Guidelines on Export Control and Nonproliferation are being followed at the lab.

Subsection (d)   Report To Congress

The FBI and the DOE have to submit annual reports on counterintelligence and safeguards and security at the labs to Congress, the first of which is due 90 days after enactment. The reports have to include:

  1. a status report on counterintelligence, safeguards and security at each national lab,
  2. a status report on how the conditions for lifting the moratorium are being met, and
  3. a net assessment of the foreign visitors program.

COSTELLO AMENDMENT TO HR 1656
CIVIL LIABILITY FOR SECURITY INFRACTIONS AT DOE LABORATORIES

This amendment makes all DOE contractors, including the contractors who manage and operate the nuclear weapons labs, subject to civil penalties of up to $100,000 per violation of any DOE rule, regulation, or order relating to the safeguarding and security of restricted data, or other classified or sensitive information.

Subcommittees: 
106th Congress