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Department of Energy: DOE Needs to Improve Controls Over Foreign Visitors to Weapons Laboratories (Chapter Report, 09/25/97, GAO/RCED-97-229).

With the end of the Cold War, secret weapons research at the Energy
Department's weapons laboratories has waned while unclassified
cooperative research with various nations is rising.  With this research
has come an increase in the number of foreign visitors at the
laboratories.  DOE has various controls to minimize the risk of foreign
espionage, but earlier work by GAO and the U.S. intelligence community
has cited shortcomings in these controls.  This report discusses (1)
DOE's procedures for background checks on foreign visitors and
controlling the dissemination of sensitive information to them, (2)
security controls over foreign visitor's access to sensitive areas and
information within the laboratories, and (3) counterintelligence
programs for mitigating the potential threat posed by foreign visitors.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

     TITLE:  Department of Energy: DOE Needs to Improve Controls Over 
             Foreign Visitors to Weapons Laboratories
      DATE:  09/25/97
   SUBJECT:  Security clearances
             Nuclear weapons plant security
             Domestic intelligence
             Weapons research
             Foreign governments
             Atomic energy defense activities
             Classified information
             Information leaking

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================================================================ COVER

Report to the Committee on National Security, House of

September 1997



DOE Needs to Improve Controls Over Foreign Visitors


=============================================================== ABBREV

  CIA - Central Intelligence Agency
  DOE - Department of Energy
  FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
  GAO - General Accounting Office
  OPSEC - operations security

=============================================================== LETTER


September 25, 1997

The Honorable Floyd D.  Spence
The Honorable Ronald V.  Dellums
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on National Security
House of Representatives

As directed by the Committee in House Report No.  104-563, this
report addresses the Department of Energy's (DOE) controls over
foreign visitors to its three nuclear weapons laboratories. 
Specifically, the report discusses DOE's (1) procedures for reviewing
the backgrounds of foreign visitors and for controlling the
dissemination of sensitive information to such visitors, (2) security
controls for limiting foreign visitors' access to areas and
information within its laboratories, and (3) counterintelligence
programs for mitigating the potential threat posed by foreign

As arranged, unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we
plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days after the
date of this letter.  At that time, we will provide copies of the
report to the Secretary of Energy; the Director, Office of Management
and Budget; and other interested parties.  We will also make copies
available to others upon request. 

Please call me on (202) 512-3841 if you or your staffs have any
questions.  Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix

Victor S.  Rezendes
Director, Energy, Resources,
 and Science Issues

============================================================ Chapter 0

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

With the end of the Cold War, the Department of Energy's (DOE)
weapons laboratories are moving away from secret nuclear weapons
research toward unclassified cooperative research involving a variety
of nations and an increasing number of foreign visitors.  This
openness greatly benefits DOE and the United States by stimulating
the exchange of ideas, promoting cooperation, and enhancing research
efforts.  However, while foreign visitors are providing benefits to
DOE's programs, the weapons laboratories are key targets of foreign
intelligence interest, according to counterintelligence experts, thus
raising concerns about possible espionage efforts against those
laboratories, including industrial espionage. 

To guard against foreign nationals' obtaining information that would
be detrimental to U.S.  security or business interests, DOE has
established various controls to minimize the risk of foreign
espionage.  However, past work done by GAO in 1988 and more recently
by elements of the U.S.  intelligence community has shown problems
with DOE's controls over foreign visitors to its laboratories.\1
Moreover, because the number of foreign visitors to the laboratories
increased over 50 percent from the late-1980s to the mid-1990s,
additional burdens have been placed on the controls DOE has in place
to manage foreign visits.  The high number of foreign visitors, as
well as some recent investigative cases involving foreign nationals
at DOE's laboratories, have increased concerns that the laboratories
are targets of foreign espionage. 

Because of these concerns, the House Committee on National Security,
in a May 1996 report, directed GAO to determine how well DOE has been
managing foreign visits to the weapons laboratories.  Accordingly,
GAO assessed DOE's (1) procedures for reviewing the backgrounds of
foreign visitors and for controlling the dissemination of sensitive
information to them, (2) security controls for limiting foreign
visitors' access to areas and information within its laboratories,
and (3) counterintelligence programs for mitigating the potential
threat posed by foreign visitors. 

\1 Nuclear Nonproliferation:  Major Weaknesses in Foreign Visitor
Controls at Weapons Laboratories (GAO/RCED-89-31, Oct.  11, 1988). 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

Historically, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Los
Alamos National Laboratory, and the Sandia National Laboratories have
been responsible for conducting research and development for DOE's
nuclear weapons program.  The laboratories are also world-leading
centers of research in many technologies and scientific disciplines
and conduct a broad range of nonnuclear research activities in such
areas as biomedicine, high-performance computers, and environmental
restoration.  DOE's policy encourages international cooperation in
unclassified energy and science programs to obtain the benefits of
scientific and technical advances from other countries and to
minimize research costs.  Consequently, each year thousands of
foreign nationals visit these three laboratories to participate in
cooperative research or laboratory programs. 

DOE Order 1240.2b establishes controls over unclassified foreign
visits (stays of up to 30 days) and assignments (extended stays of up
to 2 years).\2 Among other things, this order requires that DOE
obtain background information on certain proposed visitors from
sensitive countries--
countries considered to be a risk to security or nuclear
proliferation.  The order also requires that DOE review and approve
visits involving information that, although unclassified, is
considered sensitive for such reasons as its potential to enhance
nuclear weapons capability, lead to nuclear proliferation, reveal
advance technologies, or have "dual-use" applications (technologies
that have both peaceful and military uses).  In addition, each
weapons laboratory has security procedures for controlling foreign
nationals' access to its facilities.  Furthermore, DOE has
established counterintelligence programs at headquarters and the
laboratories to mitigate the risk of foreign espionage, increase
employee awareness, and brief and debrief employees serving as hosts
to foreign visitors.  Counterintelligence programs have become more
important as the number of foreign visitors has increased. 

\2 For purposes of this report, we use "visit" as a generic term for
both short-term visits or long-term assignments.  However, we do make
distinctions between visits (or visitors) and assignments (or
assignees) in situations where such distinctions are significant. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

DOE's procedures for obtaining background checks and controlling the
dissemination of sensitive information are not fully effective.  DOE
has procedures that require obtaining background checks, but these
procedures are not being enforced.  At two of the laboratories,
background checks are conducted on only about 5 percent of the
foreign visitors from countries that DOE views as sensitive.  GAO's
review of available data from DOE and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation showed that some of the individuals without background
checks had suspected foreign intelligence connections.  Furthermore,
DOE's procedures lack clear criteria for identifying visits that
involve sensitive subjects and process controls to help ensure that
these visits are identified.  As a result, sensitive subjects may
have been discussed with foreign nationals without DOE's knowledge
and approval. 

DOE's security controls, such as access restrictions, in the areas
most visited by foreign nationals do not preclude their obtaining
access to sensitive information, and problems with the control of
this information--such as sensitive information being left in an open
hallway accessible to foreign visitors--have occurred at the
laboratories.  Furthermore, DOE has not evaluated the effectiveness
of the security controls over this information in those areas most
frequented by foreign visitors. 

The DOE headquarters and laboratory counterintelligence programs are
key activities for identifying and mitigating foreign intelligence
efforts, but these programs have lacked comprehensive threat
assessments, which identify likely facilities, technologies, and
programs targeted by foreign intelligence.  Such assessments are
needed as a critical component of a more sophisticated security
strategy that is consistent with the laboratories' more open
missions.  Furthermore, DOE could use these assessments to develop
the performance measures needed to guide the laboratories'
counterintelligence programs and to gauge their effectiveness. 
Currently, DOE has not developed such performance measures or
evaluated the effectiveness of its counterintelligence programs. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.1

DOE Order 1240.2b requires the laboratories to submit information to
DOE for background checks for all foreign visitors from sensitive
countries and to obtain these checks in advance for those who are on
assignment at the laboratories.  Consistent with these requirements,
Livermore obtained background checks on 44 percent of its visitors
from sensitive countries.  However, to reduce costs and processing
backlogs, the Los Alamos and Sandia laboratories implemented in 1994
a partial exception that DOE had granted to the order that largely
avoided the background check process.  Since then, DOE has obtained
background checks on about 5 percent of the visitors from sensitive
countries to these two laboratories.  GAO's review of available data
from DOE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed that, as a
result of obtaining fewer background checks for foreign visitors to
these laboratories, questionable visitors, including suspected
foreign intelligence agents, had access to the laboratories without
DOE and/or laboratory officials' advance knowledge of the visitors'

DOE's existing procedures for identifying sensitive subjects lack
clear criteria for determining which subjects are sensitive and
process controls to help ensure that proposed visits involving
potentially sensitive subjects are reviewed by officials at DOE
headquarters.  Consequently, although the laboratories identified 72
visits involving sensitive subjects during the 1994 to 1996
timeframe, GAO identified other visits that occurred without DOE's
review and approval and that may have involved sensitive subjects,
such as inertial confinement fusion (a technology with both energy
and nuclear weapons applications) and the detection of nuclear
weapons testing.  Although DOE and laboratory officials have
recognized problems with identifying sensitive subjects and are
taking actions to better identify them, their actions are not yet

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.2

The controls in the areas of the laboratories that are most often
visited by foreign nationals do not preclude their access to
sensitive information.  Foreign visitors are generally allowed into
"property protection," or controlled areas.  These areas have lower
levels of controls than do security areas in which classified work is
conducted.  For example, in contrast to the controls in place in
security areas, foreign visitors are, in some cases, allowed
unescorted, 24-hour access to facilities in controlled areas. 
Security problems and vulnerabilities involving foreign visitors and
sensitive--and in some cases even classified--information have
occurred or been identified by the laboratories.  For example, at one
laboratory, several boxes marked "sensitive materials" were left in a
hallway accessible to foreign visitors.  At another laboratory,
classified information was included in a newsletter sent to 11
foreign nationals. 

Thorough assessments and surveys of the controls over foreign
visitors' access to sensitive information have not been conducted. 
Although some security assessments of limited scope done by the
laboratories have demonstrated the vulnerability of sensitive
information to being compromised, these assessments have generally
examined specific buildings or programs and have not focused on
controls over sensitive information in the areas most accessed by
foreign visitors.  Likewise, DOE's broader security surveys of its
weapons laboratories have not assessed the effectiveness of the
controls over sensitive information, either in general or in relation
to foreign visitors. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.3

DOE's counterintelligence programs have not been based on a
comprehensive threat assessment that examines the nature and extent
of foreign espionage activities.  Such an assessment would analyze
the countries of concern and identify for the entire Department the
technologies, information, and programs likely to be targeted by
these countries.  Counterintelligence officials at both DOE and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation believe this assessment is needed as
a basis for guiding DOE's counterintelligence programs and ensuring
that their efforts are properly focused; however, DOE has not
conducted such an assessment because of programmatic priorities and
the lack of sufficient analytical expertise.  Furthermore, DOE has
not provided detailed oversight of the laboratories'
counterintelligence programs.  In this regard, DOE has not developed
expectations and performance measures for those programs or
periodically evaluated them. 

DOE is now taking steps to improve its counterintelligence programs. 
The Congress provided DOE with an additional $5 million in fiscal
year 1997 to expand counterintelligence activities; DOE is using
about half of these funds for the counterintelligence programs at the
three nuclear weapons laboratories.  Also, DOE and the laboratories
are undertaking various initiatives to improve their
counterintelligence efforts, such as developing more thorough threat
assessments.  Although implementation of these improvements is
scheduled for the end of fiscal year 1997, DOE counterintelligence
officials raised concerns that the Department may not fully implement
these improvements in light of its historical lack of support for its
counterintelligence program. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

GAO is making several recommendations to the Secretary of Energy that
are designed to (1) obtain background checks on more of the foreign
visitors to the Department's weapons laboratories, (2) improve the
identification and review of visits by foreign nationals that involve
sensitive subjects, (3) more thoroughly assess the adequacy of
security procedures in unclassified areas of the weapons
laboratories, and (4) enhance the effectiveness of
counterintelligence programs at DOE's headquarters and laboratories. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6

GAO provided a draft of this report to DOE for its review and
comment.  In its written response, DOE had no comments on the general
nature of the facts presented in the draft report and concurred with
all the recommendations.  DOE believes, however, that the report
overstates the value of background checks on foreign visitors.  GAO
recognizes that background checks are but one factor to be considered
in approving foreign visits and recommends only that DOE obtain
background checks in accordance with its foreign visit and assignment
order.  DOE also suggested that GAO revise the language for one
recommendation regarding an assessment of security procedures at each
laboratory.  Although DOE suggested that GAO specify that a certain
type of assessment be conducted, GAO did not revise the
recommendation in order to avoid being overly prescriptive in how
such assessments are performed.  Finally, as DOE suggested, GAO
clarified the recommendation to focus more clearly on protecting
sensitive information. 

DOE's response also detailed a number of initiatives it has taken or
plans to undertake that address the recommendations.  DOE's comments
and GAO's evaluation are included at the end of chapter 5; the full
text of DOE's comments are included as appendix IV. 

============================================================ Chapter 1

Although the Cold War has ended, the threat of foreign espionage to
the nation still exists from a variety of countries, and recent
revelations of intelligence activities against the United States
involving Russia, China, and South Korea have raised concerns that
such activities are on the increase.  The Department of Energy (DOE)
and its facilities, especially its nuclear weapons laboratories, are
key targets of foreign intelligence interest.  Not only do these
laboratories conduct activities related to the design, construction,
and maintenance of nuclear weapons--a long-standing target of foreign
espionage--but they also conduct research into many areas of high
technology, such as laser fusion, high-performance computers, and
microelectronics.  Their research is often done in collaboration with
industry, and sometimes foreign countries, to develop new
technologies for commercial applications.  Accordingly, their work is
of interest to other countries, and thousands of foreign nationals
visit these laboratories each year to participate in such research. 
The high number of foreign visitors, as well as some recent
investigative cases involving foreign nationals at DOE's
laboratories, have increased concerns that these laboratories are
targets of foreign espionage efforts. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1

DOE's nuclear weapons laboratories--the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory in California and the Los Alamos National Laboratory and
Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico--have been the
cornerstones of the U.S.  weapons program for over 40 years.  In this
regard, they are unique among DOE's laboratories.\1 Government-owned
and contractor-operated, these three laboratories have been assigned
specific missions for nuclear weapons development as well as other
programmatic responsibilities.  Over time, the laboratories have
increasingly expanded their responsibilities in nondefense research

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is operated by the
University of California for DOE.  Established in 1952, the
laboratory occupies 1-square mile in Livermore, California.  The
laboratory's major missions include nuclear weapons research and
development to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of the
U.S.  nuclear weapons stockpile; other weapons and defense-related
activities for DOE and the Department of Defense; inertial
confinement fusion (a technology that has both energy and nuclear
weapons testing applications); and nuclear nonproliferation. 

   Figure 1.1:  Lawrence Livermore
   National Laboratory

   (See figure in printed

   Source:  Lawrence Livermore
   National Laboratory.

   (See figure in printed

The Los Alamos National Laboratory, also operated by the University
of California for DOE, was established in 1943 as part of the
Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear weapons.  Located
approximately 35 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico, the laboratory
covers an area of approximately 43 square miles.  The laboratory
conducts an array of classified and unclassified activities,
including all phases of nuclear weapons research, design, and
testing; other weapons-related research for DOE; and management of
special nuclear materials, such as plutonium.  Recently, Los Alamos
was given responsibility for the production of certain weapons

   Figure 1.2:  Los Alamos
   National Laboratory

   (See figure in printed

   Source:  DOE.

   (See figure in printed

The Sandia National Laboratories are operated for DOE by the Lockheed
Martin Corporation.  Sandia, established in 1949, is located in
Albuquerque, New Mexico, and works in conjunction with Livermore and
Los Alamos to design and develop nuclear weapons.\2 Sandia conducts
research, development, and engineering on all facets of weapons
design and development except the nuclear explosive components. 
Sandia also produces some of the nonnuclear components, such as
neutron generators, that are needed for nuclear weapons. 

   Figure 1.3:  Sandia National

   (See figure in printed

   Source:  DOE.

   (See figure in printed

Although the Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia laboratories are
involved in research and development activities related to nuclear
weapons, in recent years many of their efforts have expanded beyond
issues strictly related to defense or national security.  The
laboratories are now involved in such areas as high-performance
computers, lasers, and microelectronics.  Furthermore, they perform
research in such diverse areas as biomedicine, environmental
restoration, and global climate change.  In addition, the
laboratories are working with industry to develop new technologies
and products for the commercial market.  Such activities include work
on advanced automobile propulsion systems, medical applications, and
waste management.  Furthermore, each laboratory conducts basic
scientific research in areas of its own choosing--termed Laboratory
Directed Research and Development.  This research involves such
subjects as astrophysics and space science, particle physics,
materials science, and chemistry. 

\1 DOE has 9 multiprogram and approximately 21 specialized

\2 Sandia also has a facility located adjacent to the Livermore
laboratory in California. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:2

Because the Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia laboratories are
world-leading centers of research in many technologies and scientific
disciplines, many foreign scientists are attracted to them and
invited to come there to exchange information or participate in
research activities.  DOE's policy supports an active program of
unclassified visits to these laboratories for the benefit of its
programs.\3 In fact, DOE and the laboratories have cooperative
activities with certain countries to exchange scientists and
information and to collaborate on research in selected scientific

With the easing of global tensions since the breakup of the Soviet
Union and the changing missions of the weapons laboratories, the
number of unclassified foreign visits to the laboratories has
increased significantly.  The average annual number of visits by
foreign nationals to the laboratories has increased over 50 percent
from the late-1980s to the mid-1990s.  Furthermore, this increase in
foreign visitors is continuing.  As shown in figure 1.4, the number
of unclassified foreign visits to the laboratories has increased each
of the last 3 years, to a level of about 7,000 visits in 1996.  This
represents a significant portion of the 20,000 or more unclassified
foreign visits estimated by DOE to have occurred at all of its
laboratories during 1996. 

   Figure 1.4:  Unclassified
   Foreign Visits to DOE's Weapons
   Laboratories, 1994-96

   (See figure in printed

Source:  GAO's analysis of data from DOE and its laboratories. 

Allowing foreign nationals to visit the weapons laboratories and
participate in their unclassified activities provides valuable
benefits to the laboratories and the country, such as using the
visitors' skills to increase the chances of making significant
scientific advancements.  However, because such visits are not
without risk, DOE Order 1240.2b--Unclassified Visits and Assignments
by Foreign Nationals, September 3, 1992--establishes responsibilities
and policies and prescribes administrative procedures for controlling
unclassified visits and assignments to DOE's facilities.  Until
recently, the foreign visitor program was principally administered by
the Office of Policy and International Affairs, but in March 1997
this responsibility was transferred to the Office of Resource
Management in the Office of Nonproliferation and National Security. 
Other principal organizations involved in administering and
controlling unclassified foreign visits include the Nuclear Transfer
and Supplier Policy Division, Office of Arms Control and
Nonproliferation; the Office of Safeguards and Security, Office of
Security Affairs; the Counterintelligence Division, Office of Energy
Intelligence; the appropriate headquarters program office that is
sponsoring the visit; DOE field offices; and laboratory management. 

As defined by the order, visits are short-term stays of 30 days or
less for the purposes of orientation, technical discussions,
observation of projects or experiments, training, or discussion of
collaboration on topics of mutual interest.  Assignments are
long-term stays of more than 30 days (within a 12-month period) to
actively participate in the work of a facility or contribute to its
projects.  Assignments are limited to 2 years but may be extended. 
Assignees may include foreign nationals who are employees, as well as
those who are guests or consultants.\4 According to DOE's estimates,
over 25 percent of the foreign visitors to its weapons laboratories
are assignees. 

DOE's foreign visit and assignment order identifies several
requirements for reviewing, approving, and documenting foreign
nationals' access to its nuclear weapons laboratories.  Although the
order, in general, allows most foreign nationals access with little
oversight by DOE, the Department views some visits and assignments to
be of potential concern.  These include visits from countries DOE
considers sensitive for reasons of national security, nuclear
nonproliferation, regional instability, or terrorism support (see
app.  I for a list of these countries).  Data from DOE and the
laboratories show that almost 30 percent of the visitors to its
weapons laboratories are from sensitive countries.  DOE is also
concerned about visits involving subjects which, although
unclassified, are considered sensitive because they have the
potential to enhance nuclear weapons capability, lead to nuclear
proliferation, divulge militarily critical technologies, or reveal
other advanced technologies (see app.  II for a list of these
subjects) as well as visits to areas located within the laboratories
where special nuclear material and/or classified information and
equipment are located. 

Certain requirements must be met if a foreign visit or assignment
involves a sensitive country, a sensitive subject, or a security
facility where classified work is conducted.  According to the
foreign visits and assignments order, all assignments and visits
involving sensitive subjects or security facilities where classified
work is conducted must be reviewed and approved by DOE.  Furthermore,
before an assignment involving a visitor from a sensitive country
begins, a national security background check must be completed to
determine if appropriate U.S.  government agencies have derogatory
information, such as an intelligence affiliation, about that

DOE also has security procedures that control the access of foreign
visitors to the weapons laboratories.  All foreign visitors--whether
on a visit or an assignment--must wear an appropriate badge to obtain
entry to various parts of a weapons laboratory.  Furthermore,
depending upon the facility involved, the days of the week and the
hours during which the foreign national can actually be on site are
restricted.  Finally, guards and other security countermeasures are
used to control access to those parts of the laboratories where
classified work is conducted.  Security forces and other
countermeasures are also used to monitor and control access to the
less protected, controlled areas known as property protection
areas--which are not open to the general public and which may contain
unclassified sensitive information--to ensure that this information
is not compromised. 

As an added line of defense, DOE and its laboratories operate
counterintelligence programs to identify and mitigate the risk that
sensitive information could be divulged to foreign countries.  Among
other things, the counterintelligence personnel conduct awareness
programs to keep employees aware of the risk of foreign
intelligence-gathering activities, brief and debrief employees who
host foreign visitors, conduct assessments of foreign visitor
activity, and disseminate relevant information throughout the DOE
community.  However, they have no approval authority for foreign
visitors.  The laboratories' counterintelligence programs do not
conduct counterintelligence "operations," such as surveillance
activities.  Situations of concern are referred to the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI), which performs counterintelligence operations
or investigations as necessary. 

\3 DOE allows classified foreign visits that relate to information on
nuclear weapons; however, according to DOE, visits involving
classified information are limited mainly to foreign nationals from
the United Kingdom and countries in the North Atlantic Treaty

\4 For purposes of this report, we use "visit" as a generic term for
both short-term visits or long-term assignments.  However, we do make
distinctions between visits (or visitors) and assignments (or
assignees) in situations where such distinctions are significant. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:3

The risk that classified or sensitive information may be compromised
through foreign espionage is real and has been long-standing. 
Espionage against the weapons laboratories occurred as long ago as
the 1940s when the Manhattan Project was developing the nation's
first nuclear weapons.  As documented in a 1996 Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) report that detailed recently declassified documents,
key information on nuclear weapons was obtained from Los Alamos by
the Soviet Union.  In the 1980s and 1990s, there have been other
espionage activities against DOE's laboratories, but information on
these incidents remains classified.  DOE, laboratory, and other
agency counterintelligence professionals briefed us on them, which
included recent cases involving the possible theft or compromise of
sensitive information in which foreign nationals at DOE's
laboratories played a prominent role. 

The large and increasing number of foreign nationals visiting DOE's
laboratories has raised concerns about the potential compromise of
classified information or other sensitive or proprietary information
at these facilities.  Counterintelligence professionals point out
that (1) the laboratories have desirable assets in the form of
classified information and unclassified but sensitive information;
(2) access by foreign nationals, even for a short time, can provide
the opportunity to identify and target laboratory information; and
(3) repeated and long-term contact between laboratory personnel and
foreign nationals can create relationships that foreign countries can
use to obtain information.  They add that the threat has become more
complex because not only is information on nuclear weapons desirable
to some foreign countries, but information and technology of economic
benefit is of great importance to all countries.  Consequently, the
laboratories face the risk of economic espionage by enemies and
allies alike. 

Past unclassified work done by GAO and classified work by others have
shown the risks of foreign visits and DOE's problems in controlling
foreign visitors' presence at its laboratories.  In 1988, we reported
that major weaknesses existed in DOE's foreign visitor program and,
as a result, suspected foreign intelligence agents and individuals
from facilities suspected of conducting nuclear weapons activities
had obtained access to the laboratories without DOE's prior
knowledge.\5 More recently, classified reports--in 1992 by an
intelligence community interagency working group and in 1997 by the
FBI--have pointed out basic problems with DOE's counterintelligence
efforts regarding the presence of foreign nationals at DOE's

DOE itself is concerned about the number of foreign visitors to its
facilities and the potential threat of espionage they pose and has
obtained additional funding to help its counterintelligence programs
respond to this potential threat.  Counterintelligence funding for
headquarters program direction and field activities in fiscal year
1996 totaled about $3.2 million.  DOE was appropriated an additional
$5 million in fiscal year 1997 to expand counterintelligence programs
at its nuclear weapons laboratories and other high-risk facilities. 

\5 Nuclear Nonproliferation:  Major Weaknesses in Foreign Visitor
Controls at Weapons Laboratories (GAO/RCED-89-31, Oct.  11, 1988). 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:4

A May 7, 1996, report of the House Committee on National Security
directed GAO to determine how well DOE is controlling foreign visits
to DOE's three weapons laboratories and to determine whether these
visits raise security or nuclear proliferation concerns.  Since that
time, we have issued to the Committee a Statement for the Record
describing the number of foreign visitors to these laboratories and a
report discussing the distribution of the fiscal year 1997
counterintelligence funds provided to DOE.\6 This report completes
our work on DOE's controls over foreign visitors and, as agreed with
Committee staff, addresses DOE's (1) procedures for reviewing the
backgrounds of foreign visitors and for controlling the dissemination
of sensitive information to them, (2) security controls for limiting
foreign visitors' access to areas and information within its
laboratories, and (3) counterintelligence programs for mitigating the
potential threat posed by foreign visitors. 

To obtain an overall perspective on DOE's foreign visitor procedures,
security controls, and counterintelligence efforts, we obtained and
reviewed pertinent DOE and laboratory orders, documents, and other
materials.  We also met with and interviewed DOE headquarters, field
office, and contractor officials, including officials from DOE's
Offices of Defense Programs, Nonproliferation and National Security,
and Policy and International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and in
Germantown, Maryland, as well as officials at DOE's field locations
in Albuquerque and Los Alamos, New Mexico, and in Livermore,
California.  We also met with contractor officials at the Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California; the Los
Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico; and the Sandia
National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Furthermore, we
met with officials from the FBI to obtain their views on the risk of,
and control over, foreign visitors to DOE's laboratories. 

In reviewing procedures on background checks for foreign visitors, we
reviewed data on visits that occurred between January 1994 and
December 1996.  We examined records on visits and background checks
contained in (1) DOE's centralized computer database on foreign
visitors, (2) the laboratories' badging office and local foreign
visitor databases, and (3) DOE's centralized counterintelligence
database.  We did not independently verify the accuracy of the
information in these databases; however, we did obtain additional
verification of visit information as necessary to complete our
review.  In particular, our analysis focused on the adequacy of DOE's
controls related to high-risk visitors (i.e., visitors from sensitive
countries who potentially could have derogatory national security
information on file).  In this regard, we tracked information on such
visitors by examining DOE's records on background checks and by
independently obtaining some background checks from the FBI. 

To examine the process used for identifying sensitive subjects and
controlling the dissemination of such information to foreign
visitors, we obtained and analyzed pertinent guidance on sensitive
subjects and discussed with DOE and contractor officials (including
some who had hosted foreign visitors) the methods by which visits
involving sensitive subjects are identified.  We examined records on
several hundred visits that occurred from January 1994 through
December 1996.  We judgmentally selected for further analysis over
150 visits that were not identified as involving sensitive subjects
and compared the visits' purpose and/or subject with those identified
on DOE's sensitive subject list.  We discussed these visits with DOE
officials in its Nuclear Transfer and Supplier Policy Division, which
is responsible for reviewing visits that involve sensitive subjects,
to obtain their perspectives on the accuracy of the identification of
sensitive subjects.  Additionally, we followed up with researchers
and managers at these laboratories who frequently host foreign
visitors concerning whether individual research projects that
involved foreign nationals involved sensitive subjects. 

To assess the security controls associated with foreign visitors'
access to certain areas and information within DOE's laboratories, we
obtained and examined security procedures, plans, surveys, and
statements of threat.  Our work included a review of laboratory
security infractions, violations, and occurrences, as well as
laboratory counterintelligence contact/incident reports. 
Additionally, we obtained unclassified program and building security
assessments that identified problems and vulnerabilities.  While
touring laboratory facilities with security personnel, we observed
the security controls in place for both classified and unclassified
sensitive research. 

To review the counterintelligence programs, we interviewed DOE,
laboratory, and FBI counterintelligence officials and obtained
pertinent documentation regarding the potential threat posed by
foreign visitors to the weapons laboratories and DOE's activities to
counter this threat.  In particular, we attended a classified
counterintelligence briefing that was held for staff of DOE's
Albuquerque Operations Office, which discussed the foreign visitor
threat.  We also examined the laboratories' counterintelligence
contact/incident reports and observed the capabilities of DOE's
centralized counterintelligence database.  In addition, we obtained
and reviewed assessments of DOE's counterintelligence programs that
had been conducted by other organizations in the U.S.  intelligence

We encountered two limitations in our attempts to examine DOE's
controls over foreign visitors to its laboratories.  First, our
request to the CIA for access to data on the backgrounds of foreign
visitors was denied on grounds of the sensitivity of the data.  As a
result, we were unable to review background information from the CIA
that was on file at DOE or to independently obtain background data
from the CIA.  Second, we requested from the FBI specific information
on possible espionage or other illegal activities at the
laboratories.  However, FBI officials told us that disclosure of such
information is contrary to FBI policy; consequently, the requested
information was not provided to us. 

We provided a draft of this report to DOE for its review and comment. 
DOE's comments and our response are included at the end of chapter 5;
the full text of DOE's comments are included in appendix IV.  Our
work was conducted from July 1996 through September 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix V. 

\6 DOE Security:  Information on Foreign Visitors to the Weapons
Laboratories (GAO/T-RCED-96-260, Sept.  26, 1996) and Department of
Energy:  Information on the Distribution of Funds for
Counterintelligence Programs and the Resulting Expansion of These
Programs (GAO/RCED-97-128R, Apr.  25, 1997). 

============================================================ Chapter 2

Although foreign visitors provide many benefits to DOE's programs,
every one of their visits to a nuclear weapons laboratory poses a
risk that sensitive information might be inadvertently or
intentionally compromised.  To minimize this risk, DOE's foreign
visitor order specifies several procedures that should be conducted
before foreign nationals are allowed access to its laboratories.  DOE
has not effectively implemented two of the key procedures at the
three laboratories we reviewed.  More specifically: 

  -- Few national security background checks are being performed on
     visitors from sensitive countries.  As a result, foreign
     nationals suspected by the U.S.  counterintelligence community
     of having foreign intelligence affiliations have been permitted
     access to the laboratories without the advance knowledge of
     appropriate officials. 

  -- Because of unclear criteria regarding what constitutes sensitive
     subjects and the lack of an independent review process to
     examine the subjects to be discussed during visits, foreign
     visits involving potentially sensitive subjects--such as
     inertial confinement fusion, hydrodynamics codes,\1 and the
     detection of nuclear weapons tests--are occurring without DOE's

Without adequate knowledge about the foreign nationals who plan to
visit its laboratories and the subjects to be discussed during those
visits, DOE cannot take appropriate action to ensure that their
visits are properly controlled.  This heightens the risk that such
visitors may obtain, either directly through active intelligence
efforts or indirectly through involvement in laboratory activities,
information whose disclosure to certain countries would be
detrimental to the United States. 

\1 Among other things, hydrodynamics codes are used for computer
simulations to model the dynamic processes that occur in a nuclear

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1

Background checks can provide DOE and its weapons laboratories
advance warning of possible problems or concerns with a foreign
visitor, and DOE's foreign visitor order contains requirements for
obtaining background checks for visitors from sensitive countries. 
However, DOE granted two laboratories--Los Alamos and Sandia--a
partial exception from complying with its requirements.  As a result,
few background checks have been initiated for foreign visitors to
those two facilities. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1.1

As part of its process to approve foreign visitors, DOE requires that
national security background checks (termed indices checks by DOE) be
conducted on certain foreign visitors to its laboratories.  Under
DOE's order, background checks are required for all sensitive-country
assignees (those whose visits will exceed 30 days).  Additionally,
background checks must be proposed by the laboratories to DOE's
Counterintelligence Division for short-term visitors from sensitive
countries, but the division has the discretion to determine whether
the background check should be done.  For example, the
Counterintelligence Division may choose to request background checks
on sensitive-country visitors who will be entering security areas or
discussing sensitive subjects.  The checks are obtained from
government intelligence and investigative agencies, such as the CIA
and the FBI.  At DOE's request, these agencies review their files and
report to DOE whether intelligence information of a derogatory nature
exists about a particular visitor (e.g., that the visitor is
suspected of having ties to a foreign intelligence service or
terrorist group).  DOE's order also requires that some background
checks--those considered necessary to approve a visit or
assignment--be completed before the visit or assignment begins.  Many
other checks done on visitors need not be completed before the visit
begins--these are checks considered needed for counterintelligence
research purposes only. 

Although DOE uses the results of these background checks to approve
proposed visits and to help mitigate any risks related to them, the
existence of derogatory information about a foreign visitor does not
preclude a visit from occurring.  According to DOE officials, if a
background check reveals derogatory information about a foreign
visitor, the visit is rarely denied.  Instead, DOE allows the visit
to occur but, depending on the results of the check and other
factors, may increase the stringency of escort requirements or may
restrict the length of the visit, the buildings to be accessed, or
the subjects to be discussed.  Thus, the background check serves as
means to forewarn DOE and laboratory officials of possible national
security concerns so they may devise appropriate countermeasures
where needed. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1.2

Few background checks are performed for visitors to DOE's Los Alamos
and Sandia laboratories.  In August 1994, these laboratories
implemented a partial exception from the foreign visitor order that
was granted by DOE.  Under the terms of this exception, the two
laboratories are required to request background checks only on those
foreign visitors planning to enter a security area at the laboratory
or to discuss sensitive subjects.  According to DOE and laboratory
officials, the partial exception for Los Alamos and Sandia was
granted because of the high volume of foreign nationals desiring to
visit these weapons laboratories, which contributed to processing
backlogs, and the costs associated with processing paperwork for
foreign visitors.  Laboratory officials said the processing backlogs
caused delays that resulted in some visits having to be canceled
because of uncompleted background checks. 

The partial exception has limited the number of requests for
background checks on visitors to Los Alamos and Sandia.  As a result,
DOE obtains relatively few background checks on visitors to those
laboratories, particularly in comparison to Livermore, which did not
request an exception from the order's requirements.  Our review of
DOE's records of foreign visitors showed that, during the 3-year
period from 1994 through 1996, background checks were obtained on
only 5 percent of the visitors from sensitive countries to Los Alamos
and Sandia.  In contrast, Livermore requested checks on many more
names during that timeframe, and background checks were obtained on
44 percent of the visitors from sensitive countries to this
laboratory.\2 Table 2.1 compares the number of background checks
obtained on sensitive-country visitors for the three laboratories. 

                               Table 2.1
                Background Checks That Were Obtained on
                   Sensitive-Country Visitors to DOE
                    Weapons Laboratories, 1994-1996

                                               Number of
                                 Number of    background       Percent
Facility                            visits        checks       checked
----------------------------  ------------  ------------  ------------
Los Alamos                           2,714           139             5
Livermore                            1,602           700            44
Sandia                               1,156            53             5
Total                                5,472           892            16
Source:  Compiled by GAO from DOE and laboratory data. 

Data on foreign visitors from individual sensitive countries also
showed significant differences among the laboratories.  For example,
46 percent of the Russian visitors to Livermore were checked during
that 3-year period, compared to 10 and 7 percent, respectively, for
Los Alamos and Sandia.  Furthermore, 39 percent of the Chinese
visitors to Livermore were checked, compared to 2 and 1 percent,
respectively, for Los Alamos and Sandia.  (See app.  III for numbers
and percentages for all sensitive countries.)

By checking the backgrounds of so few visitors from sensitive
countries, particularly to Los Alamos and Sandia, DOE limits the
collection of basic counterintelligence data and may be unknowingly
allowing significant numbers of visitors with questionable
backgrounds into its weapons laboratories.  According to FBI
counterintelligence officials, the low percentage of background
checks conducted on Russian and Chinese visitors to Los Alamos and
Sandia does not constitute effective use of the background check
process.  Statistics on the results of background checks DOE did
request support this.  Of all the background checks DOE obtained on
visitors from sensitive countries to the weapons laboratories during
the 1994 through 1996 timeframe, about 4 percent of the checks that
DOE received indicated the existence of derogatory information. 

Moreover, we noted during our review that people with suspected
foreign intelligence connections were let into the laboratories
without background checks.\3 We were able to document 13 instances
where persons with suspected foreign intelligence connections were
allowed access without background checks--8 visitors went to Los
Alamos and 5 went to Sandia--during the 1994 through 1996 period.\4
Available records also indicated that 8 other persons with suspected
connections to foreign intelligence services were approved for access
to Sandia during the period; however, DOE and Sandia lacked adequate
records to confirm whether the persons actually accessed the
facility.  Although we could not confirm that any of these visits
compromised U.S.  security, at a minimum, the lack of a background
check did not provide DOE the opportunity to implement
countermeasures to mitigate the potential risk posed by these visits. 
Also, all of these instances occurred at the two weapons laboratories
that had been granted a partial exception to DOE's foreign visitor

DOE's requirements for national security background checks represent
a continuing problem that we previously identified in a 1988 GAO
report\5 and about which elements of the U.S.  intelligence community
have also expressed concern.  In discussing this problem, DOE and
laboratory counterintelligence officials said that they recognize
that the number of background checks obtained on foreign visitors has
been limited, especially at Los Alamos and Sandia, and that these
checks should be routinely requested for visitors from sensitive
countries.  They added that although data from a background
check--even derogatory data--is rarely used to deny a visitor access
to a laboratory, obtaining such information is beneficial in
identifying individuals known to be a risk.  DOE headquarters
counterintelligence officials said their long-term goal is to obtain
background checks on all foreign nationals from sensitive countries
that seek to visit any of these three laboratories.  In the interim,
according to a Sandia counterintelligence official, that laboratory
is now reporting data on all sensitive country visitors to DOE
headquarters for potential background checks. 

\2 In addition, some names reported to headquarters did not result in
checks because previous check results were on file at DOE
headquarters and still current. 

\3 Despite the restrictions on our access to information, as
discussed in chapter 1, we verified through the U.S. 
counterintelligence community that several of these visitors had
known or suspected connections with foreign intelligence services. 

\4 We also identified instances of persons with suspected
intelligence connections obtaining laboratory access before
background checks were completed. 

\5 GAO/RCED-89-31, Oct.  11, 1988. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2

DOE has little assurance that all visits during which sensitive, but
unclassified, subjects will be discussed are identified and brought
to the attention of DOE officials.  According to DOE's order, DOE
officials are to review and approve visits by foreign nationals that
involve sensitive subjects.  But DOE and laboratory personnel alike
are unclear about what constitutes a sensitive subject, and little or
no independent review takes place to assess subjects within the
context of the planned visit (e.g., taking into account the purpose
of the visit, the particular aspects of the subject to be discussed,
and the foreign country and individuals involved).  As a result,
sensitive information could be discussed or otherwise disclosed to
foreign nationals without DOE's knowledge and approval. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.1

To minimize the risk of inappropriate subjects being discussed with
foreign nationals, DOE's order requires that its laboratories
identify any visit involving a sensitive subject for review and
approval by DOE.  The order defines sensitive subjects as
unclassified subjects involving information, activities, or
technologies relevant to national security.  To facilitate their
identification, the order contains a list of sensitive subjects,
including nuclear weapons production and supporting technologies,
nuclear explosion detection, inertial confinement fusion, production
and handling of plutonium, and fuel fabrication.  Additionally, the
order contains three criteria for identifying other subjects that may
be sensitive.  Subjects are considered sensitive if they relate to
technologies under export control, "dual-use" technologies that have
both peaceful and military applications, or rapidly advancing
technologies that may become classified or placed under export
control.  Subjects in these categories include computer systems,
component development, and software specifically designed for
military applications; extremely high-energy, high-brightness lasers
and particle beams; and high energy density batteries and fuel cells. 

The responsibility for reviewing visits involving sensitive subjects
rests with DOE's Nuclear Transfer and Supplier Policy Division in the
Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation.  This division also
reviews private-sector exports of information and technology that
could be useful to a foreign nuclear or nuclear weapons-related
program.  According to division officials, while the discussion of a
sensitive subject with a foreign national is not necessarily
prohibited, DOE needs to be aware of any such discussions to ensure
their consistency with U.S.  policy regarding the transfer of that
information to the foreign national's home country.  The officials
added that the need for DOE's review and approval of the discussion
of a sensitive subject is not dependent on the visitor's home
country--the discussion of any sensitive subject with a foreign
visitor from even a nonsensitive country still requires DOE's review
and approval. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.2

DOE's three weapons laboratories have not adequately identified
visits involving sensitive subjects.  Between January 1994 and July
1996, they identified a total of 72 visits involving sensitive
subjects; the majority of these visits were related to areas
specified as sensitive in DOE's order.  For example, 5 Russian
citizens visited Los Alamos in 1994 for a 3-day visit involving
nuclear materials control, accounting, physical protection, security,
export control, and critical assembly facilities; 13 Russian
nationals visited Los Alamos in 1995 for a 1-day workshop on
plutonium stabilization, storage, and disposition; and 30 French
nationals visited Livermore in 1995 for 1- to 2-year assignments to
work on inertial confinement fusion. 

However, our review of records on 167 other visits found numerous
cases that pertained to subjects that were either specified as
sensitive in DOE's order or were potentially sensitive but were not
identified as such by the laboratories.  For example: 

  -- Sixteen visits and assignments to Livermore involved inertial
     confinement fusion, a technology specifically listed as
     sensitive in DOE's order.  These visits included foreign
     visitors who were participating in a formal bilateral
     cooperative effort, including the transfer of proprietary data,
     between the United States and France on subjects related to
     inertial confinement fusion.  On other occasions, Livermore has
     identified this type of visit as involving a sensitive subject. 

  -- A Canadian citizen was on an assignment to Livermore to discuss
     equation of state measurements\6 using laser-generated
     shock-waves--work that was acknowledged to be important to the
     inertial confinement fusion program, a sensitive subject area. 

  -- An Indian citizen from a defense-related facility in India was
     on an assignment to Los Alamos that involved the structure of
     beryllium compounds.  Beryllium metal is used in nuclear

  -- An Indian citizen was on assignment to Los Alamos for work
     related to pattern recognition/anomaly detection algorithms. 
     This work was acknowledged to be dual use in nature, with
     applications related to national security, such as
     nonproliferation and satellite image processing, as well as to
     nondefense projects. 

  -- A Russian visit to Los Alamos involved collaboration on
     processes related to detecting unsanctioned nuclear weapons
     tests.  Nuclear explosion detection is specifically identified
     as a sensitive subject in DOE's order. 

  -- A citizen of the United Kingdom was assigned to Livermore for
     3-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations for implosions. 
     Hydrodynamics and 3-dimensional calculations are important to
     simulating nuclear weapons tests, particularly in light of the
     ban on nuclear testing. 

We reviewed copies of the documentation on these visits and discussed
them with officials in DOE's Nuclear Transfer and Supplier Policy
Division to obtain their perspectives on whether they may have
involved sensitive subjects.  They said that it was not possible to
fully ascertain whether these visits did or did not involve sensitive
subjects; however, they pointed out that many of them appeared to
involve subjects that are specifically identified as sensitive
subjects in DOE's order and that others appeared to have some weapons
or dual-use applications.  The export control officials said that,
according to the stated purpose of the visits described in their
documentation, they involved subjects that should have been sent for
their review. 

\6 Equation of state measurements are used to assess how materials
interact with their surroundings. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.3

DOE's weapons laboratories have had problems identifying visits
involving sensitive subjects largely for two reasons--confusion over
how to apply the sensitive subject criteria and the lack of an
independent technical review of proposed foreign visits to identify
those involving sensitive subjects. 

According to laboratory program managers and hosts of foreign
visitors, DOE's criteria for identifying sensitive subjects are very
broad and do not clearly define which activities are covered.  The
laboratory managers added that the current list of sensitive subjects
is outdated, incomplete, and does not establish reasonable parameters
within which they could reasonably gauge a subject's sensitivity.  As
an example of the difficulty in applying the criteria, they noted
that while inertial confinement fusion is listed as a sensitive
subject because of its relationship to nuclear weapons testing, most
aspects of this technology are unclassified and widely researched
throughout the world and that the laboratory's unclassified inertial
confinement fusion work is published and freely disseminated.  They
added that without more specific criteria from DOE, they generally
view activities in inertial confinement fusion and other areas that
are unclassified, already published, or will ultimately be published,
to be nonsensitive. 

DOE officials with the Nuclear Transfer and Supplier Policy Division
acknowledged that although there are difficulties in identifying
sensitive subjects, the laboratories are interpreting the order's
criteria too narrowly.  They said that the sensitivity of a subject
may at times be subjective and it often depends on the country to
which the information will be divulged, the state of that country's
technology and research efforts, and other information on that
country's needs and intentions regarding the use of the technology. 
However, they added that hosts are not in a position to know that
information and/or whether it is consistent with U.S.  government
policy to provide that information to the country in question.  The
list of sensitive subjects serves as a guideline to identify such
visits for scrutiny by DOE officials who possess the necessary
expertise to determine whether it is appropriate to discuss a
particular subject with a foreign visitor from a specific country. 

A second problem hindering the identification of visits involving
sensitive subjects is the lack of an independent review of proposed
visits by individuals with technical expertise to help ensure
sensitive subjects are properly identified.  During the period of our
review, DOE and the weapons laboratories relied upon the host--the
laboratory employee sponsoring the foreign visitor--to accurately
identify sensitive subject visits.  Such visits were approved by the
appropriate laboratory division management and by officials in the
foreign visits and assignments office at each laboratory.  However,
little or no independent review of the subject of those visits had
been conducted to ensure that sensitive subjects were not involved. 
At Sandia and Los Alamos, officials in the foreign visits and
assignments office review requests for foreign visitor access;
however, those individuals do not have a technical background or
expertise to judge if a sensitive subject is involved.  At Livermore,
visit requests are reviewed in the office of the laboratory director,
as well as at the DOE operations office; however, this laboratory's
review has at times been delegated to individuals from the foreign
visits and assignments office.  Laboratory personnel from the foreign
visits and assignments offices told us that they are not fully
knowledgeable on activities that could be sensitive and that they
generally rely on the host to determine whether a visit would involve
a sensitive subject. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2.4

DOE and the weapons laboratories have recognized problems with
identifying visits involving sensitive subjects and have begun
actions to address them.  In the fall of 1996, DOE initiated a
multiissue effort to revise its foreign visit and assignment order. 
This effort will include examining the controls over foreign visits
involving sensitive subjects and developing a better process and/or
criteria by which to identify them.  According to officials in DOE's
Counterintelligence Division, which is involved in the effort, the
revised order is expected to be issued by the end of 1997.  However,
because revision of the criteria for identifying sensitive subjects
has not yet gotten underway and does not have a timetable for
completion, they do not know if changes to clarify DOE's criteria for
identifying visits involving sensitive subjects will be included in
the revised order. 

During our review, two of the three laboratories established interim
local processes to examine requests for foreign visitors to better
ensure that their visits do not involve discussions of sensitive
subjects.  In August 1996, Livermore began requiring that all visits
involving foreign nationals from sensitive countries be reviewed by
an official in its Arms Control and Treaty Verification Program who
has had experience with nuclear weapons and associated technologies. 
These reviews are specifically to assess the technology involved and
identify those requests that involve sensitive subjects.  According
to the Livermore official conducting these reviews, although most
visits have not involved sensitive subjects, he has identified some
visits of concern, for which actions were taken to help ensure that
sensitive subjects would not be involved.  In December 1996 Sandia
began requiring that all requests for foreign visitors be reviewed by
a Sandia official involved in export control to better ensure visits
involving sensitive subjects are adequately identified. 

============================================================ Chapter 3

Effective security controls can greatly mitigate the risk inherent
with the presence of foreign visitors at DOE's weapons laboratories. 
However, the security controls that exist in the laboratories'
controlled areas--the areas most often visited by foreign
nationals--may not provide effective protection.  The controlled
areas contain unclassified, but sensitive information, and although
security measures are used to control access, these measures are less
stringent than those used in classified areas and their
implementation varies among the laboratories.  Security problems and
vulnerabilities involving foreign nationals show that classified
and/or sensitive information has been, or potentially could be,
compromised by foreign nationals in the controlled areas. 
Nevertheless, DOE has not fully assessed the effectiveness of its
security measures to protect sensitive information in controlled

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1

To protect information from unauthorized disclosure or compromise,
DOE and its laboratories use various levels of security that permit
access for authorized individuals to certain areas.  Although some
foreign visitors are allowed access to the more restrictive security
areas where classified work is conducted, most foreign visits occur
in designated controlled areas--often termed property protection
areas--which may contain unclassified sensitive information.  A lower
level of security is provided in these areas, and the controls used
vary among the laboratories. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1.1

DOE and the laboratories use a multilevel, graded security approach
to limit access and protect information at their facilities.  Open
areas, which include locations on laboratory property to which the
general public is allowed access, receive a low level of protection. 
Open areas can include cafeterias, visitors centers, and museums. 
Controlled areas, which receive a higher level of protection, can
include small areas, such as an individual building, as well as
larger areas, such as building complexes.  Access to these areas is
controlled because of the presence of valuable property or
unclassified sensitive information, but no classified work is
conducted in these locations.  Unclassified sensitive information
includes information that has been designated Official Use Only,
proprietary, export controlled, Privacy Act, and Unclassified
Controlled Nuclear Information. 

An even higher level of protection and stricter access limitations
are maintained for security areas containing classified information
and technologies or in which nuclear weapons or other classified
research is conducted.  These areas are closely monitored and
patrolled, and controls traditionally include guns, guards, and
gates.  Specific security plans must be developed and approved before
any foreign visitor is allowed access to these areas and the visitor
must be escorted at all times. 

Most foreign visitors to the weapons laboratories are granted access
to the controlled areas.  Laboratory records show that on average
only about 5 to 10 percent of all foreign visitors are permitted into
security areas where classified work is performed, and according to
DOE and laboratory officials, such access is usually for a short
period of time.  The remaining visitors are either allowed into the
controlled areas or meet with laboratory employees in open areas. 
DOE and laboratory officials were not able to identify the percentage
of those visitors that went to controlled areas, but stated that most
were allowed into these locations. 

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1.2

Because valuable property and information that is unclassified, but
sensitive, is located in controlled areas, DOE requires the
laboratories to protect these areas through the use of a variety of
security controls.  Controls used to reduce the risks posed by
foreign nationals in controlled areas include the following: 

  -- A distinctive identification badge must be worn by foreign
     visitors at all times. 

  -- Access is controlled by automated devices or by receptionist
     staff and manual visitor logs.  Automated devices include
     equipment that reads encoded access cards and/or requires

  -- Standard or "generic" security plans are drafted for controlling
     foreign visits in the area. 

  -- A host is designated, who is a laboratory employee responsible
     for the activities of the foreign national while at the
     laboratory.  A visitor or assignee is not permitted to be a

  -- Random searches are conducted on vehicles or hand-carried items
     entering or leaving the area. 

Among the three laboratories, however, the security controls
associated with foreign visitors in controlled areas are not
consistently applied.  In particular, each of the laboratories has
different requirements for allowing foreign visitors after-hours
access.  At Livermore, foreign visitors are not allowed unescorted
after-hours access to controlled areas without the specific written
approval of laboratory security officials and the concurrence of the
local DOE field office.  According to Livermore security officials,
while they have granted such access for some foreign visitors, they
do not approve unescorted after-hours access for visitors from
sensitive countries. 

At both Los Alamos and Sandia, unescorted after-hours access to
controlled areas has been permitted.  These laboratories have
required the host to monitor the foreign visitor--that is, be aware
of the foreign visitor's location and activities--but not necessarily
be physically present.  Recently, Sandia revised its after-hours
access policy.  In November 1996, Sandia no longer allowed foreign
nationals to have unescorted after-hours access to controlled areas
without the approval of its counterintelligence office.  According to
Sandia and DOE officials, this change was made because of the
potential for security problems that could result from unescorted
access.  Los Alamos, however, continues to allow unescorted
after-hours access to preserve what one official described as an open
"campus atmosphere" for researchers at its facilities. 

Laboratory policies also vary regarding random searches in controlled
areas and the appearance of foreign visitor identification badges. 
While all of the laboratories officially permit random searches in
controlled areas, at one of the laboratories such searches are
discouraged during normal work hours.  Additionally, the distinctive
color and wording of badges for foreign visitors differ among the
laboratories.  For example, at Livermore those badges are white (for
visits) or red (for assignments), at Los Alamos badges for foreign
visitors are red, and at Sandia those badges are gray.  Furthermore,
unlike the badges at the other laboratories, Sandia's badges contain
no wording pertaining to the visitors' countries of citizenship or
indicating that the wearers are not U.S.  citizens. 

Finally, neither Los Alamos nor Sandia has developed security
plans--even generic ones--for foreign nationals who will be in
controlled areas.  The DOE order governing unclassified foreign
visits and assignments identifies security plans as the basic means
by which vital information is protected and requires they be
developed.  However, DOE and laboratory officials told us that
because of the exception granted by DOE to these two
laboratories--which also streamlined requirements for background
checks and visit approvals--security plans are no longer required for
visits to controlled areas.  Livermore has not sought such an
exception and requires a generic security plan for all foreign
visitors to its controlled areas. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2

Available data from the weapons laboratories showed that the
sensitive information in controlled areas has been vulnerable to
compromise.  Between 1991 and 1997, laboratory security assessments
and records identified vulnerabilities and problems involving foreign
visitors, and in buildings and programs to which those visitors had
access.  Records of vulnerabilities and problems included improper
releases of information and failures to follow security controls and

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2.1

Assessments and records from all three laboratories indicated
vulnerabilities and problems involving the improper release of
unclassified sensitive information and classified information in
unclassified settings.  In most of these cases, the information was
actually or potentially available to foreign visitors.  Whether or
not a laboratory employee personally hosts a foreign visitor, all
laboratory employees must adequately protect classified or
unclassified sensitive information and not disclose it unless
authorized.  However, examples of improper releases included the

  -- Unclassified sensitive documents and materials had been
     improperly discarded in trash, recycling bins, or hallways.  At
     one of the laboratories, six boxes of papers marked "sensitive
     material" in red letters on the outside were left in an open
     hallway in an area accessible to foreign visitors. 

  -- At one of the laboratories, a division's open-access newsletter,
     which was accessible to the foreign visitors it was hosting,
     provided information on corporate and laboratory research
     agreements, the development of certain computer codes, and DOE's
     nuclear program. 

  -- Classified information had been inadvertently divulged by
     laboratory employees during unclassified workshops or
     conferences to foreign visitors, some of whom were from
     sensitive countries. 

  -- A departmental newsletter containing classified information was
     sent to 24 uncleared individuals, 11 of whom were foreign
     visitors.  Some of the foreign visitors were from a sensitive

-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2.2

Vulnerabilities and problems associated with employees' failures to
follow security requirements and controls were also identified in the
laboratories' records.  The following are several examples: 

  -- In one case, a laboratory employee in a building to which
     foreign visitors had access failed to question the unauthorized
     removal, by members of a security assessment team during a test
     exercise, of a complete computer system from a controlled area. 
     The employee did not challenge the team's activities despite the
     fact that its members were not wearing identification badges and
     were openly discussing plans to remove additional machines and
     equipment in an effort to appear suspicious. 

  -- On 10 separate occasions, a laboratory employee hosted visitors
     from sensitive countries without following visit approval
     requirements or gaining appropriate authorizations prior to
     those visits.  Another host at the same laboratory met foreign
     visitors off-site without proper approval after a laboratory
     official advised him that he could "receive a reprimand, but it
     would not jeopardize his security clearance."

  -- In another case, a host, when confronted with a requirement to
     limit after-hours laboratory access of certain sensitive country
     assignees assisting him with his research, moved the visitors
     and his research to an off-laboratory location. 

  -- On several occasions, there were miscellaneous failures to
     follow security procedures, including computers left on and
     unattended without password protection, improper escorting of
     foreign visitors who required such oversight, and unauthorized
     back door entry to controlled areas where many foreign visitors
     had access. 

DOE and laboratory security officials told us that they are concerned
about, but not surprised by, vulnerabilities and problems in
controlled areas.  The openness under which unclassified research
programs operate poses a dilemma in an age of economic
competitiveness.  DOE's own security awareness literature states that
although many employees realize the importance of protecting
classified information, few are aware of the significance of
unclassified sensitive and proprietary information.  Furthermore, DOE
and laboratory security officials told us that the security
consciousness of employees working in controlled areas is more
relaxed than in security areas where classified research is
conducted.  While some security officials said that they would like
to see a stronger emphasis on security in controlled areas at the
laboratories, others said that some technical and research staff do
not place a high priority on security and actually see it as an
impediment to their work. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3

Neither the laboratories nor DOE has fully assessed the controls over
unclassified, but sensitive information.  At the laboratories,
operations security (OPSEC) assessments are performed to identify
vulnerabilities.  However, only at Sandia has there been an
assessment that specifically focused on controls over unclassified
sensitive information in controlled areas to which foreign visitors
have access.  Furthermore, while DOE has assessed overall laboratory
security operations on a regular basis, its assessments have not
addressed the protection of unclassified sensitive information in
controlled areas. 

DOE requires the use of OPSEC techniques and measures to help protect
information and activities related to national security and
government interests.  The purpose of OPSEC is to disrupt or defeat
the ability of foreign intelligence or other adversaries to acquire
sensitive or classified information and to prevent the unauthorized
disclosure of such information.  Each of the laboratories has an
OPSEC program and uses OPSEC assessments to identify security
vulnerabilities associated with specific laboratory facilities or
programs.  To identify vulnerabilities, OPSEC personnel assess
various practices, including physical security and access controls;
visitor log and escort procedures; availability of sensitive
information on bulletin boards, in meeting rooms, and in offices;
document disposal and destruction methods; and computer access

While all three laboratories have performed OPSEC assessments, only
Sandia has conducted an assessment specifically focused on controls
over unclassified sensitive information in controlled areas to which
foreign visitors have access.  Sandia's assessment was completed in
March 1997, and although it found no indication that the laboratory
had allowed foreign visitors to compromise proprietary or sensitive
information, it concluded that Sandia needed to define a policy
concerning areas and information sources to which foreign nationals
should have access.  Subsequently, Sandia changed the process for
controlling foreign visitors' access to, and work in, controlled
areas.  Foreign nationals visiting Sandia for more than 30 days now
work in "export controlled zones"--locations within controlled areas
where they can work with their respective project teams but are
restricted from unauthorized access to research in the surrounding

OPSEC assessments at Livermore or Los Alamos have not yet examined
foreign visitors' access to sensitive information.  Livermore's past
OPSEC assessments have dealt with visitors in general, but have not
specifically addressed foreign visitors and the potential for them to
access sensitive information.  Livermore's OPSEC manager said that
the laboratory plans to conduct two such assessments before the end
of 1997.  Similarly, Los Alamos' OPSEC assessments have included some
issues related to foreign visitors, such as their access to open and
secure areas, but they have not focused on assessing whether foreign
visitors could obtain sensitive information. 

In addition to the laboratories' OPSEC assessments, DOE does broader
periodic surveys of their security operations, including visits and
assignments involving foreign nationals that are intended to be
comprehensive assessments of each laboratory's security operations. 
Generally, DOE's surveys are performed every year or two, depending
on the findings of the previous survey for a specific laboratory. 
The most recent surveys at Los Alamos and Sandia were completed in
March and April of 1997, respectively.  The most recent survey of
Livermore's program was completed in August 1996.  In these surveys,
each of the laboratory's foreign visits and assignments program was
rated satisfactory.  However, the primary focus of these surveys was
on the program's organization, management, and operations, and not on
information protection.  As a part of DOE's past surveys, each
laboratory's program was evaluated by conducting interviews,
reviewing documentation, and testing performance.  The surveys did
not address protection of unclassified sensitive information in
controlled areas--in general or in association with foreign visitors. 
For example, while several sections in the survey report on security
at Livermore addressed the effectiveness of its controls over
classified information, none addressed the adequacy of protections
for unclassified sensitive information. 

============================================================ Chapter 4

DOE's headquarters and field counterintelligence programs are an
important part of its defense against foreign espionage efforts at
the nuclear weapons laboratories.  Foreign visitors to these
laboratories have open, often long-term, access to personnel with
detailed knowledge and expertise in classified and/or sensitive
matters.  Although this situation is viewed by counterintelligence
experts as an ideal opportunity for foreign intelligence-gathering
efforts, DOE has not comprehensively assessed the threat of foreign
intelligence against the laboratories.  A thorough assessment that
identifies countries of concern, the technologies and the information
these countries are seeking, and the programs that are likely to be
targets of foreign intelligence, is important for DOE and its
laboratories to understand and reduce the dangers posed by foreign
visitors.  Furthermore, DOE has not developed any meaningful
programmatic measures by which to evaluate the effectiveness of the
laboratories' counterintelligence programs nor has it periodically
evaluated them.  Recently, DOE initiated several actions to
strengthen the counterintelligence programs, both at headquarters and
at the laboratories. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:1

The mission of DOE's counterintelligence programs is to implement
effective defensive efforts departmentwide to deter and neutralize
foreign government or industrial intelligence activities in the
United States directed at or involving DOE.  DOE's headquarters
Counterintelligence Division, within the Office of Energy
Intelligence, has overall responsibility for this mission and
counterintelligence activities throughout DOE.  Staffed with seven
DOE employees and seven contract employees, DOE's Counterintelligence
Division is responsible for such activities as conducting various
threat assessments and identifying foreign intelligence activities
directed against DOE as well as overseeing each laboratory's
counterintelligence program.  DOE's threat assessments can vary from
a comprehensive threat assessment DOE-wide to a narrowly focused
threat assessment that examines a specific issue, such as a
particular foreign country's interest in DOE's assets.  DOE's
Counterintelligence Division is responsible for implementing
counterintelligence policies and procedures throughout DOE.  This
responsibility includes (1) developing and implementing methods,
techniques, standards, and procedures for DOE's counterintelligence
activities; (2) establishing a briefing and debriefing program for
foreign travel and contacts; and (3) monitoring visits and
assignments of foreign visitors to all of DOE's facilities.\1

Each laboratory has its own counterintelligence program, which is
conducted in compliance with DOE's requirements, and laboratory
counterintelligence officers report directly to laboratory
management.  The laboratories' programs emphasize employee briefings
and debriefings as well increasing employees' awareness and knowledge
about counterintelligence.  Briefings and debriefings of employees
take place prior to and/or after an event (e.g., when hosting a
foreign visitor or when taking a foreign trip).  In briefings,
counterintelligence officers provide information to employees on such
concerns as the types of subjects to avoid discussing with foreign
visitors.  In debriefings, these officers obtain information from the
employees that can help DOE determine if there are indications that
intelligence services are trying to target that laboratory or its
staff.\2 Additionally, counterintelligence activities at each
laboratory include initial investigations of possible foreign
intelligence efforts to determine if referral to appropriate federal
agencies would be warranted, liaison with federal agencies, and
gathering and recording such basic counterintelligence information as
foreign visitors' activities at a laboratory and persons contacted. 

DOE officials estimate that operating the headquarters
counterintelligence program costs about $1.8 million annually.  For
fiscal year 1996, DOE's three weapons laboratories had a total
counterintelligence program funding of $905,000 and 9.4
counterintelligence staff years--funding of $552,000 and 5.5 staff
years at Livermore, funding of $100,000 and 1.1 staff years at Los
Alamos, and funding of $253,000 and 2.8 staff years at Sandia.\3

\1 In addition, DOE field offices have counterintelligence program
managers who are responsible for conducting a counterintelligence
awareness program and providing briefings and debriefings related to
foreign visitors and foreign travel. 

\2 Briefings and debriefings are not conducted for all events;
counterintelligence officers judgmentally sample from the universe of
events, according to such factors as the visitor's country of origin
or the subjects to be discussed. 

\3 Numbers for Sandia include its laboratories in New Mexico and

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:2

To understand the dangers posed by foreign visitors, DOE needs to
perform a comprehensive assessment of the threat to its laboratories
by foreign intelligence services.  According to DOE and the FBI, the
operation of an effective counterintelligence program is predicated
upon a realistic and comprehensive examination of the foreign
intelligence and insider threats.  For example, according to the FBI,
only a comprehensive threat assessment can address the issue of
whether foreign intelligence services are making a concerted effort
to target DOE laboratories, and if so, how they can work together to
counter the threat.  This threat assessment can also provide senior
managers with an analysis of the global threat and the information
and technologies at DOE and the laboratories that are most at risk. 

Specific assessments, which are targeted studies that focus on
country-specific issues, and annual foreign visitor statistical
studies are also important because they can inform the laboratories
about items of counterintelligence concern.  This information can
then be used by counterintelligence officers at each laboratory to
mitigate the potential risk to that laboratory and its employees. 
For instance, information contained in these studies can be used to
alert a laboratory's senior management and staff during briefings. 

While DOE officials recognize the importance of both types of
assessments, DOE headquarters' counterintelligence analysis has
focused on the specific-type assessments and has not addressed the
overall threat to its facilities.  In recent years, DOE has done
about 25 specific assessments, which have examined specific threats
or, in some cases, have been statistical studies.  For example, DOE
has assessed the threat of Russian organized crime to DOE and
Pakistan's access to DOE's resources.  In many cases, such studies
were based on the work of other agencies, such as the CIA or FBI, or
were contracted out.  While these studies can be useful in
identifying a threat on a single issue, they do not relate the global
foreign intelligence threat to the local situation at a specific
weapons laboratory. 

DOE counterintelligence officials at headquarters said that they need
to do a comprehensive threat assessment that relates the global
foreign intelligence threat to the laboratories, but they have been
limited in their ability to do so.  They said that specific threat
assessments have had a higher priority because these studies meet the
more immediate needs of the laboratories.  Moreover, DOE's
Counterintelligence Division has not had the staffing or analytical
expertise required for this effort.  In this regard, DOE's
counterintelligence officials said that they will need to rely on
information from other agencies to do a comprehensive threat

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive threat assessment, in the
fall of 1996 the then Deputy Secretary of Energy directed each of the
weapons laboratories to conduct its own threat assessment, which DOE
would then use to develop an overall, comprehensive threat
assessment.  Although the laboratories are in the process of
completing their site threat assessments, according to a DOE
counterintelligence official, the Department may not be able to
develop a comprehensive assessment unless its priorities change and
DOE receives assistance from the U.S.  intelligence agencies in
obtaining the sensitive intelligence information that is critical to
develop this assessment. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:3

Oversight of the laboratories' counterintelligence programs and their
activities--particularly setting expectations for program performance
and periodically evaluating it--is one of the major responsibilities
of DOE's Counterintelligence Division.  However, DOE has not
developed meaningful performance measures or expectations for the
laboratories' counterintelligence programs or conducted periodic
evaluations of them.  DOE's oversight, however, has been hampered, in
part, because the funding for their programs has been through
laboratory overhead accounts instead of directly from DOE. 

Meaningful performance measures for the laboratories'
counterintelligence programs are important because they would help
gauge whether or not those programs are achieving their intended
purposes.  According to DOE Order 5670.3, Counterintelligence
Program, DOE is responsible for developing and implementing
performance measures for counterintelligence activities throughout
the Department.  However, according to a counterintelligence official
at headquarters, DOE has not developed any performance measures or
expectations to evaluate the laboratories' counterintelligence
programs because DOE's contracts with the laboratories do not
obligate their counterintelligence programs to follow any such
measures DOE may develop.  According to this official, DOE is
considering both amending those contracts to address this problem and
issuing guidance and policy to define performance measures and
expectations for the laboratories to follow and be evaluated against. 
This will be done after DOE completes its comprehensive threat

DOE's periodic evaluations of the laboratories' counterintelligence
programs are also important because they help provide assistance to
each laboratory as well as determine the effectiveness of their
programs.  DOE's counterintelligence order requires that the
headquarters Counterintelligence Division oversee the implementation
of counterintelligence policy and procedures at the laboratories. 
However, officials from that division could identify only one review
it has conducted at the weapons laboratories, which occurred in 1996
in the form of a "staff assistance visit" conducted at Los Alamos. 
DOE concluded from this visit that because of inadequate staffing,
Los Alamos' counterintelligence program was not comprehensive and
only minimally accomplished the requirements of DOE's
counterintelligence order.  At that time, Los Alamos had one
counterintelligence officer. 

Livermore and Sandia have not had their counterintelligence programs
reviewed by DOE headquarters.  According to a DOE official,
evaluations at Livermore and Sandia have not occurred because of
other higher-priority work, such as the specific type of threat
assessments mentioned earlier.  In addition, they said that DOE
cannot require its laboratories to implement any recommendations that
might result from such evaluations.  Without periodic evaluations of
all their counterintelligence programs, assessing their effectiveness
and objectively comparing one program with another will be difficult. 

One factor that makes control by DOE headquarters over the
laboratories difficult is that the counterintelligence programs are
not funded directly by DOE's Counterintelligence Division.  Until
recently, each laboratory's program has been funded entirely from
that laboratory's funds and, consequently, each laboratory operated
its program autonomously.  Accordingly, each laboratory's commitment
to its program has differed, as illustrated by the difference in
staffing levels.  For example, while Livermore's counterintelligence
program had 5.5 staff years in 1996, Los Alamos' program had only 1.1
staff years, despite having almost twice as many visitors from
sensitive countries.\4

According to the FBI, which has examined DOE's counterintelligence
program, the structure of DOE and its relationship with
contractor-operated laboratories have resulted in their having
assumed a high degree of autonomy.  This has resulted in a gap
between authority and responsibility, particularly when national
interests compete with the specialized interests of the academic or
corporate management that operate the laboratories.  Furthermore, the
FBI found that this autonomy has made national guidance, oversight,
and accountability of the laboratories' counterintelligence programs
arduous and inefficient.  Moreover, DOE's Counterintelligence
Division lacks direct management oversight and control to ensure the
laboratories comply with its policies.  This frequently puts the each
laboratory's counterintelligence staff in an awkward, if not
difficult, situation of dividing their loyalties between the
interests of the laboratory in pursuing cutting-edge research and
development and the need to safeguard U.S.  national security

\4 Although both laboratories had equivalent numbers of foreign
visitors (about 2,800), Los Alamos had nearly 1,000 visitors from
sensitive countries, while Livermore had about 550 such visitors. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:4

DOE has recently recognized that its counterintelligence program has
been inadequate and has taken steps to strengthen it.  The Congress
appropriated $5 million to DOE in counterintelligence funding for
fiscal year 1997 in addition to its budget request, and DOE has used
much of these funds to support the counterintelligence programs at
the weapons laboratories.\5 In November 1996, DOE's Deputy Secretary
expressed concerns about the presence of foreign visitors at the
laboratories, and as a result, several departmentwide corrective
actions are now underway. 

In the spring of 1996, the director of DOE's Office of Energy
Intelligence briefed the staff of several congressional committees
about the concerns raised by the increasing number of foreign
visitors to its laboratories and the threat they posed.  In the fall
of that year, the Congress provided DOE with an additional $5 million
for fiscal year 1997 to expand counterintelligence activities at its
weapons laboratories and other high-risk facilities.  Of the $5
million, about half--$2.47 million--went to the three nuclear weapons
laboratories.\6 The additional funds were used to increase the number
of counterintelligence staff at those laboratories and for
counterintelligence-related analyses.  As a result, DOE has increased
the counterintelligence staff at the weapons laboratories. 

On November 21, 1996, the then Deputy Secretary of Energy initiated
several corrective measures to improve DOE's foreign visitors
program.  The Deputy Secretary met with officials of five DOE
facilities:  the three weapons laboratories, the Oak Ridge National
Laboratory, and the Pacific Northwest Laboratory.  Among the
corrective measures the Deputy Secretary and these officials agreed
to complete during fiscal year 1997 were the following: 

  -- Develop training in export control and provide that training to
     laboratory staff at those five facilities. 

  -- Develop new guidance on unclassified, but sensitive, subjects
     (i.e., matters unsuitable for discussion with a foreign

  -- Develop laboratory threat assessments of foreign visits and

  -- Develop a DOE-wide comprehensive threat assessment of foreign
     visits and assignments. 

However, counterintelligence officials at headquarters expressed
concerns about DOE's ability to complete these initiatives because
DOE has historically given its counterintelligence program a low
priority and the tendency for the laboratories to resist headquarters
management.  They said that they are hopeful that DOE's current
Secretary will support these initiatives in the counterintelligence

\5 On April 25, 1997, we reported to the Committee about DOE's use of
the $5 million.  Department of Energy:  Information on the
Distribution of Funds for Counterintelligence Programs and the
Resulting Expansion of These Programs, GAO/RCED-97-128R. 

\6 An additional $1.27 million went to five other facilities; the
remainder ($1.26 million) was spent on counterintelligence analysis
and assessment studies.  When the $5 million was made available,
however, some facilities reduced or eliminated the funding they had
previously provided for counterintelligence and over $1 million was
allocated to facilitywide support costs. 

============================================================ Chapter 5

With the end of the Cold War, DOE's nuclear weapons laboratories have
been moving away from secret research toward more open and
cooperative research with a variety of nations and an increasing
number of foreign nationals.  Open collaboration can greatly benefit
DOE and the United States by stimulating the exchange of ideas and
promoting cooperation.  This in turn can lead to more efficient
research and increase the likelihood of important scientific
discoveries.  While recognizing that such cooperation is beneficial,
it is important to note that foreign espionage efforts against DOE's
weapons laboratories may be more active than ever.  Furthermore,
these efforts may have expanded to include industrial espionage.  All
of this puts new burdens on DOE's security. 

To respond to these challenges, DOE cannot entirely rely on systems
left over from the Cold War.  For a long time, DOE's security
controls have emphasized "guns, guards, and gates," as well as strict
control over anyone, including foreign visitors, allowed to enter the
weapons laboratories.  Where visitors went, whom they talked to, and
what they saw were more carefully controlled than they are today. 
These controls, while still necessary in some places, cannot be
expected to work in locations where openness, collaboration, and free
access to information and ideas are encouraged.  In these places, DOE
needs a more sophisticated security strategy that is consistent with
the laboratories' more open missions and includes a greater role
played by DOE and laboratory counterintelligence programs. 

Now more than ever, effective counterintelligence efforts must be
central to DOE's security strategy.  Greater counterintelligence
program effectiveness can be achieved through the development of a
comprehensive threat assessment to determine the nature, extent, and
targets of foreign espionage efforts against DOE's weapons
laboratories.  Such an assessment could also form the basis for
developing counterintelligence program performance measures as well
as periodic headquarters evaluations of each laboratory's
performance.  These evaluations would determine how effectively each
laboratory is addressing the established performance measures and how
their counterintelligence programs can be improved. 

In addition to establishing performance measures for DOE's
counterintelligence program, other parts of the overall strategy
could be improved by clarifying what constitute sensitive subjects,
tightening procedures for background checks, and reassessing
procedures for foreign visits to controlled areas.  For example,
clarifying what subjects are sensitive and requiring an independent
review by technically qualified personnel of all subjects proposed
for discussion during a visit would help ensure that researchers,
program managers, and DOE headquarters officials would have the same
understanding of what needs to be protected so discussions of
sensitive subjects would not occur without the knowledge of DOE.  DOE
and laboratory officials recognize the problems with identifying
sensitive subjects and have established internal review processes to
better focus on those foreign visits that involve sensitive subjects. 
However, without a clear understanding of what information DOE
considers sensitive, these improved review processes cannot provide
adequate assurance that foreign visits involving sensitive subjects
are appropriately identified and reviewed. 

Increasing the number of background checks on foreign visitors from
sensitive countries will enable DOE to better assess individual
situations from a security point of view.  When necessary, actions
can then be taken to mitigate the risks of a particular visit.  While
background checks cannot identify all foreign visitors who pose a
risk, they are a valuable tool for alerting DOE and the laboratories
of situations that may warrant more attention and control.  DOE's
current foreign visitor order contains requirements that would
increase the number of background checks obtained; enforcing those
requirements at the laboratories, especially at Los Alamos and
Sandia, should enable DOE to expand its advance knowledge of risks
associated with the visits and, if necessary, mitigate those risks. 

Finally, a specific assessment of vulnerabilities related access to
unclassified, but sensitive information in controlled areas is
needed.  This assessment will help ensure that procedures for these
areas are consistent from laboratory to laboratory and security
vulnerabilities and/or problems are identified and corrected.  In
addition, this assessment could identify best practices that DOE
could disseminate for use to all laboratories for improving the
protection of sensitive information that may be exposed to foreign

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:1

We recommend that the Secretary of Energy: 

  -- Direct DOE's Counterintelligence Division to perform a
     comprehensive assessment of the espionage threat against DOE and
     the weapons laboratories to serve as the basis for determining
     appropriate countermeasures and resource levels for laboratory
     counterintelligence programs.  To the extent possible, this
     assessment should include the laboratories as well as other
     agencies with appropriate expertise, such as the FBI and CIA. 

  -- Establish appropriate program performance measures and
     expectations for the laboratories' counterintelligence
     activities and require periodic performance reviews to help
     determine if their activities are effectively preventing foreign

  -- Revise DOE's foreign visitor order to (1) clarify to all DOE and
     laboratory contractor personnel the specific types of
     unclassified, but sensitive, subjects that require protection
     from compromise by foreign nationals and (2) require that the
     subjects of visits be independently reviewed by experts with
     appropriate technical backgrounds--such as laboratory
     individuals involved in export control issues--to verify that
     visits involving sensitive subjects are adequately identified
     for DOE's review. 

  -- Require that DOE and the weapons laboratories comply with the
     current foreign visitor order by obtaining background checks on
     all assignees from sensitive countries.  Further, require the
     laboratories to inform headquarters of the names of all other
     proposed foreign visitors from sensitive countries so DOE's
     Counterintelligence Division can obtain additional background
     checks at its discretion. 

  -- Require that security measures at each laboratory's controlled
     areas--those most accessible to foreign visitors--be assessed to
     ensure that the controls over persons and information in these
     areas are effective.  This assessment should also identify the
     best practices at each laboratory to improve protection of
     sensitive information that may be exposed to foreign visitors. 

---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2

DOE had no comments on the general nature of the facts in the report
and concurred with our recommendations.  The Department, however,
believes that the report overstates the value of background checks on
foreign visitors.  DOE believes that foreign intelligence services
increasingly rely on "non-official collectors"--who would have clear
background checks--instead of intelligence officers.  We do not
believe we are overvaluing background checks.  We recognize that
these checks are but one factor DOE considers in approving foreign
visits.  Nevertheless, the information obtained through background
checks can be of importance in determining if additional risk is
associated with a foreign visitor.  Consequently, we are recommending
that DOE complete background checks in accordance with its foreign
visits and assignments order. 

DOE also suggested that we revise our recommendation on the
assessments of information security in controlled areas.  A key point
in DOE's suggested revision was to have the recommendation specify
that an operations security assessment be done of each laboratory's
controlled areas, whereas we recommended only that an assessment be
done.  We did not revise our recommendation to specify this type of
assessment because, while we believe that operations security
principles and personnel must be part of any assessment of the
laboratories' controlled areas, other elements of DOE's security
programs can also provide value in an assessment.  We do not want to
be overly prescriptive on how and/or by whom these assessments be
done.  DOE also suggested that the wording of the recommendation more
clearly focus on protecting sensitive information.  We revised the
recommendation to clarify that the assessments should identify the
best practices to improve the protection of sensitive information. 
Finally, DOE's response detailed a number of actions it has taken or
plans to take to address the recommendations.  We did not address
these actions as part of our work.  The full text of DOE's comments
are included in appendix IV. 

=========================================================== Appendix I

Georgia (Republic of)
North Korea

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix II
=========================================================== Appendix I

(See figure in printed edition.)

========================================================= Appendix III

    Country\a            Livermore               Los Alamos                     Sandia
-----------------  ----------------------  ----------------------  ---------------------------------
                                   Percen                  Percen                             Percen
                   Visits  Checks       t  Visits  Checks       t  Visits       Checks             t
-----------------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------  -----------------  ------
Algeria                 8       7      88       6       0       0       2          0               0
Armenia                 1       0       0       6       0       0       1          0               0
Azerbaijan              0       1      \b       1       0       0       0          0               -
Belarus                12       7      58      13       0       0      15          0               0
China                 474     185      39     746      12       2     244          2               1
Cuba                    4       1      25       0       0       -       0          0               -
Georgia (Republic       0       0       -       0       0       -       4          0               0
India                 193      85      44     407       5       1     214          7               3
Iran                   26      11      42      20       0       0      19          0               0
Iraq                    2       1      50       3       0       0       4          0               0
Israel                 60      27      45     114       0       0      58          2               3
Kazakhstan              8       2      25      37       0       0      15          2              13
Kyrgyzstan              0       0       -       1       0       0       0          0               -
Libya                   2       0       0       0       0       -       0          0               -
Moldova                 0       0       -       3       0       0       0          0               -
Pakistan                6       2      33       8       1      13      16          0               0
Russia                653     302      46   1,110     116      10     474         33               7
Syria                   2       3      \b       5       0       0       0          0               -
Taiwan                 65      33      51      97       3       3      43          1               2
Turkmenistan            0       0       -       0       0       -       7          0               0
Ukraine                47      22      47      69       0       0      38          1               3
Uzbekistan              0       1      \b       0       0       -       2          0               0
\a The following countries that changed status from sensitive to
nonsensitive during 1994 are not included in this table:  Argentina,
Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Cambodia, Chile, El Salvador, Ethiopia,
Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia. 

\b According to DOE, background checks outnumbered visits for
Azerbaijan, Syria, and Uzbekistan because checks may have been
obtained for planned visits that were later canceled. 

Source:  GAO's analysis of data from DOE and the weapons

(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix IV
========================================================= Appendix III

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

(See figure in printed edition.)

=========================================================== Appendix V


Gary L.  Jones, Associate Director
William F.  Fenzel, Assistant Director
Dave Brack
John R.  Schulze


James C.  Charlifue
Frank B.  Waterous

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