Skip to content

Nuclear Assets Vulnerable

Protection of critical nuclear assets at the Department of Energy has fallen short of expectations and may not meet scheduled security changes, says an internal Department of Energy report, The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Implementation of the 2003 Design Basis Threat.

According to the report, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) experienced delays in implementing recommended changes, which include new technologies that meet the specifications contained in the department’s 2003 Design Basis Threat (DBT) document. “NNSA will not meet its original FY 2005 target of completing 25 percent of its planned upgrades to meet the 2003 DBT threat and has established a new target of 12.5 percent,” the report says.

In addition, nuclear sites relied on costly interim measures, such as increased protective force overtime, to meet the security requirement, but giving high overtime rates to some officers may have lessened force effectiveness by hurting morale, states the report. The department also did not fully evaluate the effectiveness of the interim measures and did not plan measures to meet the DBT requirements, the report notes.

The delays in implementation occurred chiefly, according to the report, because NNSA “did not have sufficient time to fully integrate security planning and budgeting and execute a coordinated effort to identify and evaluate cost-effective permanent upgrades.”

Some progress has been made, however, including adding additional barriers and limiting personnel access to key areas. Several sites have also improved planning and budgeting processes for security upgrades and have integrated them with the long-term security requirements, the findings report.