Bill would force DOE to take stock

Congress this week demanded an inventory of all documents and devices throughout

the Energy Department that contain restricted or classified data in a new

bill aimed at taking what one lawmaker called a "reasonable and valid approach

to correcting DOE's irresponsible security policies."

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved the Nuclear Secrets

Safety Act, which calls on DOE to provide a "complete inventory" of all

restricted documents and devices within 90 days of the bill becoming law.

The bill also calls for other basic security improvements, such as changing

locks on all vaults storing nuclear secrets, installing stricter identification

procedures for access to vaults and classified areas, and requiring all

personnel with access to vaulted areas to undergo polygraph examinations.

"These were simple common-sense reforms that need to be done," said a spokesman

for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), the sponsor of the bill. "It wasn't intended

to be a major overhaul."

In a written statement released prior to the markup session of the bill,

Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Floyd Spence (R-S.C.) said that "the

severity of the issues surrounding the ongoing investigation into the missing

computer drives at the Los Alamos National Laboratory" compelled the committee

to take early action.

The bill "addresses the basic problems that currently exist and requires

DOE to protect our secrets with the same effort in which they were gained,"

Hunter said.

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