Win the adventure of a lifetime!

UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Opening Statement by Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.

Committee on Science

Hearing on

The Rudman Report on Security Problems

at the U.S. Department of Energy


the Honorable Warren Rudman, Chairman of

the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board,

June 29, 1999

I would like to thank Senator Rudman, Chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board for testifying before the Science Committee on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board report, entitled Science At Its Best, Security At Its Worst: A Report on Security Problems at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The President, at his press conference last Friday, stated that your report was a service to the country, and I agree wholeheartedly. I am not sure which has been more grueling for you, the three months of intense research and review of the more than 700 reports and studies issued in the last 20 years on DOE security or the hours of testimony before the various Congressional Committees. With this in mind, I would commend you for your work and thank you for your willingness to testify today and address our concerns. As I have many questions for you, I will keep my remarks brief.

When Secretary Richardson testified before this Committee on his security reform proposals on May 20, 1999, I commended him for his efforts but expressed concern that these reforms would again disappear once the media spotlight was removed from DOE’s security problems. Secretary Richardson has assured this Committee and others that reforms are being and have been implemented and the problems are fixed, but your report appears to draw different conclusions and reaffirms my concern. Your report appears to echo my skepticism and concludes that the Secretary "has overstated the case when he asserts, as he did several weeks ago, that ‘Americans can be reassured: our nation’s nuclear secrets are, today, safe and secure.’" This is a very sobering statement.

While I know that Secretary Richardson opposes the creation of a semi-autonomous or autonomous agency that you recommend, many in Congress do not agree. I also believe that the vast majority of Americans agree that an overhaul of the Department of Energy is long overdue, as evidenced by the overwhelming support of your report’s recommendations by the editorial pages of newspapers across the Nation—including those with such diverse outlooks as The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Chicago Tribune, The Detroit News, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Times.

The issue I have is whether your proposal goes far enough. Your finding of "[o]rganizational disarray, managerial neglect, and a culture of arrogance—both at DOE headquarters and the labs themselves" largely echoes that of the 1995 Galvin report on the DOE labs. If the DOE and defense lab bureaucracies are "saturated with cynicism," have an "arrogant disregard for authority," and have "a staggering pattern of denial" to the point that our national security has been extensively and repeatedly compromised, I am afraid to even consider the state of the civilian labs that also work on classified scientific research and can harm as well as assist our national security. Thus, I believe the solution is not to concentrate on only the weapons labs, but to look at the entire complex. If the bath water is dirty, throwing out half the water will not clean the tub.

That could mean moving all the labs that do classified work under your proposed autonomous or quasi-autonomous agency, restricting classified work to only the weapons labs, or perhaps moving the labs that do no classified work to another agency, such as the National Science Foundation. Whatever the solution entails, I believe that it should address all the labs.

Clearly, your report is cognizant of the tension between science and security, and of the incredible scientific benefits attributable to the work at the DOE labs. We must ensure that while we safeguard the security of our Nation, we protect the scientific endeavors conducted at our DOE civilian laboratories. I know this will not be an easy task but I look forward to working with you on a balanced solution.

Join the mailing list