DOE accused of undermining autonomy of nuke agency

klunney@govexec.com

Lawmakers sharply criticized the Energy Department's handling of the staffing and oversight of a new semi-autonomous nuclear security agency at a House hearing Tuesday.

Last year, Congress created the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in response to allegations that inadequate security at DOE and nuclear weapons laboratories contributed to the theft of nuclear secrets by China. Tuesday, members of two House Commerce subcommittees expressed concern that DOE was overstepping its authority and denying NNSA autonomy by seeking to control policy-making and personnel management.

"The department appears to be violating the semi-autonomous intent of the law," said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.

In his testimony before the subcommittee, Deputy Energy Secretary T.J. Glauthier defended his agency's push to manage personnel within NNSA, stating that the current legislation is not "ideal."

"The President and Congress hold the Secretary of Energy accountable for his or her actions. At the very least the law should allow the Secretary to manage personnel at the NNSA in the fashion he determines necessary."

In a prepared statement, Gary L. Jones, associate director of energy, resources, and science issues at the General Accounting Office, argued that the Energy Department needed to further strengthen security oversight and criticized the agency's penchant for "dual-hatting," or filling key positions at NNSA with DOE officials.

"In our view, officials holding similar positions concurrently in DOE and NNSA is contrary to the legislative intent behind the creation of NNSA as a separate entity within DOE," Jones said.

Under last year's Defense authorization bill, NNSA was to begin operations on March 1. But the Clinton administration waited until this month to nominate Air Force General John A. Gordon, currently the deputy CIA director, to lead the new agency.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.