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Aug 25, 2008



This excerpt from the May 2008 minutes of the University of California Board of Regent's Committee on Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories, gives a slightly different view...

"Mr. Darling (UC Executive Vice President) turned to the matter of a security audit of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that occurred in March and April. He noted that reports in the media have suggested that there were significant problems with the laboratory’s security systems. He sought to provide some context for these reports, noting that, as the systems are highly classified, the information that may be disclosed in an open meeting is limited.

Mr. Darling reported that the federal audit team spent seven weeks at the laboratory. It reviewed everything from cyber security to the effectiveness of the protective force as well as physical information and personnel security. The purpose of the reviews was to test the systems to failure. At no time were nuclear or sensitive information at risk. The auditors reviewed eight areas; four were rated as achieving effective performance, and four were rated as needing improvement. As part of the effort, the auditors included a force-on-force simulation in which federal security forces conducted an exercise to attack the laboratory as though they were invaders. The attackers in such exercises, however, are given advantages in order to stress the system and identify any vulnerabilities. In this case, they were given insider knowledge, access to the inner perimeter of the site, facilities information, and communications and personnel advantages to which, in a real-world scenario, it is highly improbable most attacking forces would have access. The initial report from the DOE is still in draft form. It identified many positive findings as well as areas needing immediate attention. The laboratory, working with the four corporate partners – the University, BWXT, the Washington Group, and Bechtel – took immediate actions to ensure that any special nuclear materials at the laboratory were safe and secure and to begin to implement any corrective actions that are needed.

UC Committee Chair Pattiz emphasized the importance of recognizing that two years ago at the Los Alamos laboratory and nearly a year ago at the Livermore laboratory the University was responsible for safety and security. These are now the responsibility of the Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) now running the labs. Within the LLCs, the University’s principal focus is on science, as well as oversight and management as members of the governing board. Those members of the LLC with expertise in safety and security have brought many of their individual business resources to bear on improving these operations. The testing is a part of the system and occurs in all the laboratories in order to make sure that security and safety systems are meeting the necessary standards. He believed that the LLC structure had freed the University to focus on the science and technology, which are its strengths, and brought the expertise of the University’s partners in other areas to handle matters such as safety and security.

Mr. Darling reported that the Livermore laboratory is facing a $280 million funding shortfall this fiscal year resulting from a variety of components. These include a $50 million increase in inflationary costs, a $100 million reduction in federal funding due to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s budget reductions for Livermore, and items associated with the awarding of the new contract, the first of which is $86 million in increases mainly for retirement and health benefits compared to the costs the laboratory would have absorbed if it had remained part of the University. The second is $44 million in increased management fees and expenses that DOE agreed to provide to the winning contractor. To accommodate the shortfall, the laboratory is reducing both its operational and labor costs, but as the majority of its budget is related to its employees, the laboratory is being compelled to reduce its workforce by 2,000 employees over a two-year period.

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