DOE on hunt for funding

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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In the wake of the latest security breach at the Los Alamos National Laboratory,

the Energy Department is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in its

fiscal 2001 budget to dramatically increase security at its major facilities.

DOE's chief information officer, John Gilligan, said the request was

part of the appropriations process and came up before the recent disclosure

about the loss of two computer drives containing nuclear secrets.

Among the facilities Gilligan said should be upgraded are Los Alamos

and Sandia national laboratories in New Mexico and the department's laboratory

in Rome, N.Y.

Gilligan said the exact amount of the request is classified but that

it is not part of the so-called "black budget" for security measures. He

said the money would be used for measures such as a secure Internet link

between DOE headquarters and field offices and secure video for teleconferencing.

At the House Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee

hearing June 13, committee members expressed dismay that not enough money

had been allocated in the wake of last year's spy scandal involving former

Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, who is awaiting trial on charges that he

improperly copied secret nuclear information from a secure computer at the


Among those joining the criticism was Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.),

a former National Security Council staff member, who said the Clinton administration

sought only $7 million in the fiscal 2000 budget for security. Congress

eventually increased the amount to $65 million, but that is still not enough,

according to Wilson.

Eugene Habiger, DOE's top security adviser, acknowledged that more money

and better organization is needed to combat the problem.

"If we had received adequate funding, our performance would have been better,"

Habiger told the House panel.

Nevertheless, Gilligan said that while many security issues can be fixed

with a limited amount of money, "I still need additional funding to solve

some problems."

Among them, Gilligan said, each of the department's sites must have

a better firewall, and "that will take funding."

Lawmakers gave no indication that more money would be forthcoming this

year and continued to criticize DOE officials for poor procedures and inadequate

security measures at the entrance to the vault where the computer drives

were stored. More than two dozen people had access to the vault without

requiring an escort, and they did not have to sign in or sign classified

material out of the vault.

Despite five years of budget increases, the U.S. intelligence community

has told Congress it is starving for funds in the wake of increased terrorist

acts and threats worldwide.


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