Just over two years ago, Los Alamos National Laboratory security officers Glenn Walp and Steve Doran were fired and escorted by armed guards from their office. The “crime” committed by these whisblowers was telling the truth to the Department of Energy Inspector General about rampant fraud and corruption at the Lab, which is run by University of California. Ultimately, their whistleblowing caused a series of Congressional hearings, a few people went to jail, and almost 20 people were implicated in the corruption and lost their jobs – including the Director of the Lab.
While the spotlight glared on that Los Alamos scandal, auditors Tommy Hook and Chuck Montano were working behind the scenes on the Lab’s finances and finding even more millions of dollars in financial irregularities. They were told to keep those findings secret since it might endanger the University of California’s $2 billion contract to manage the Lab, according to a CBS News piece that just aired Friday.
Also on Friday, at congressional hearings in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Lab’s Director Pete Nanos took heat from POGO’s Executive Director Danielle Brian for allowing retaliation against whistleblowers. Since the Walp/Doran debacle, UC has adopted more nuanced retaliation techniques. Hook and Montano endured having their offices moved to a basement and being stripped of work for nine months. On Sunday’s Face the Nation, CBS anchor Bob Shieffer closed his program with a commentary on Los Alamos which concluded: “An exasperated Congressman Joe Barton, who's been tracking this mess for years, said one solution may be to just close the place down. Congressman, I think you're on to something.”