DOE on hunt for funding
- By Judi Hasson
- Jun 19, 2000
Los Alamos National Laboratory
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
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.