FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2000
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
Tamara Hamilton, 202/586-5806
Speaking to Energy Department employees and top management in Washington, D.C., and around the nation, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today vowed to continue to fight racial discrimination at the Department of Energy (DOE) and announced eight immediate actions the department is taking to ensure that racial profiling is not used at any DOE facility. He made the announcement after receiving a report and recommendations from the Task Force Against Racial Profiling that he established last June to investigate the climate at the Department's facilities and make recommendations to ensure that the Department's policies against racial profiling are carried out effectively.
"The Department will neither commit nor tolerate racial profiling," Richardson said. "I formed this task force because I was concerned that Asian Pacific Americans at our labs were feeling their patriotism and loyalty questioned in the wake of allegations about Chinese espionage. As a Hispanic, I know firsthand the damage of racial stereotyping, and I'm worried that this kind of atmosphere can foment a dangerous ‘brain drain' where we lose our best scientists, hobbling our research quality, our leading edge science and ultimately our national security."
The actions outlined by Secretary Richardson include:
The Task Force made several general observations, including noting an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion with employees feeling their loyalty and patriotism questioned because of racial factors. Asian Pacific Americans also cited a hostile work environment and speculated that their opportunities for promotions, choice job assignments and developmental training have been greatly reduced as a result of this atmosphere of distrust and suspicion.
The Task Force observed that the heightened security posture created a perception of ambiguity over the definition and treatment of both foreign nationals and naturalized U.S. citizens, resulting in increased anxiety at all levels of the workforce. In addition, it was believed that this atmosphere was hurting the Department's ability to recruit and retain highly qualified employees from all ethnicity groups. The Task Force also observed that while lab directors and other senior leadership embraced Secretary Richardson's stated policies of nondiscrimination and fairness, middle and lower-level management were less consistent and energetic in embracing and implementing those policies. The Task Force also reported that some employees believed that counterintelligence efforts were targeting employees of Chinese ethnicity.
"Looking at the Task Force's findings, I deeply regret that some employees lost their trust in the United States government," Secretary Richardson said.
The Task Force, comprised of 18 senior Department of Energy and contractor employees and Commissioner Yvonne Lee, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, visited Department sites around the country. At Richardson's invitation, five Asian Pacific American leaders observed and actively participated in additional fact-finding delegation visits.
"I'm pleased that Dr. Wu will be joining the Department. This Ombudsman position is unique, and the person who occupies it will speak with my authority. When this guy knocks on your door, it's as if I'm knocking, so you better open up." Dr. Jeremy S. Wu, the new National Ombudsman and Director of the Office of Ombudsman for the Department of Energy will have direct access to Secretary Richardson. Prior to joining the Department of Energy, Dr. Wu served as Deputy Director, Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he was responsible for administration, information technology, and complaint processing. Dr.Wu is the current President of Asian American Government Executives Network, an organization of top government officials, and the current Executive Vice President of the DC Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans.
In announcing that Daphne Kwok would join the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Richardson said, "Daphne's connection to the Asian Pacific American community will be invaluable in ensuring accountability. If the community has suggestions on what steps we should be taking, I trust that Daphne will let me know." At the Organization of Chinese Americans, Ms. Kwok coordinates programs and represents over 10,000 members of the Asian American community. She has testified before the congressional Asian Pacific Caucus on the impact of federal counter-intelligence and security investigations at the Department of Energy on Asian Pacific Americans.
After he established the Task Force on Racial Profiling last June, Richardson held meetings with Asian Pacific American employees at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Sandia National Labs, to hear their concerns about racial profiling directly. He also sent memorandums to all employees, encouraging them to bring any issues and concerns to the attention of the Task Force. Finally, he sent directives to all managers throughout the Energy Department complex to say that the Department will not tolerate racial profiling and has held several meetings with leaders from the Asian Pacific American community on these issues.
The Task Force Against Racial Profiling Final Report is available on the Department of Energy's web site, rprofilerpt.pdf.