FBI ends Los Alamos investigation

The FBI concluded its investigation of the missing hard drives at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory without determining who moved the drives, but finding no evidence that national security had been compromised.

The investigation, which ended last week, focused on individuals who had access to the information contained on hard drives belonging to the Nuclear Emergency Search Team. The drives were reported to the FBI as missing on June 5 and were discovered 11 days later behind a copy machine in the "X" division at Los Alamos.

"The FBI investigation found no evidence of outside involvement in the disappearance of the hard drives at Los Alamos," Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said in a release. "With the closure of the FBI investigation, we are referring the matter to the department's Albuquerque Operations Office and the University of California for any appropriate personnel action."

The University of California, which holds a contract with DOE for Los Alamos, is responsible for reviewing the matter and determing possible personnel actions involving lab staff.

University provost C. Judson King said that UC completed its own investigation last summer but had yet to see the FBI report. "I can't tell you the actions [taken] or the people affected, but there were actions taken," he said.

Despite the well-publicized security incident at the lab, UC, which has managed Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory since their inception, last week was awarded management and operations contract extensions for both labs. The three-year extensions go through Sept. 30, 2005, and are valued at more than $2 billion.

The new contracts include several management improvement initiatives including:

The creation of a new UC management position of vice president for lab management. Obtaining outside expertise in security and project management. Provisions that allow DOE to deduct all or part of UC's earned fees if the school fails to meet environmental, safety and health, or safeguards and security requirements. King called the extensions a "morale boost" for university and lab personnel and said the search for subcontractors in contract management and security will start right away.

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