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Report faults LANL classified officer for release of info

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By The Staff

A recent report from the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General said there were potential problems concerning the lab’s classification program.
The report, dated Feb. 11, noted that the IG “substantiated certain allegations” regarding Los Alamos National Laboratory’s controlling of sensitive information. The report further went on to say that lack of oversight by management from Los Alamos National Security, the corporation that runs LANL for the DOE, contributed to problems with sensitive information handling.
Prompting the report by the IG’s office was a complaint alleging “multiple problems” with LANL’s classification department and that senior lab officials hadn’t addressed reported violations by its classification officer.
Problems cited by the IG’s report included that the classification officer had not always ensured derivative classifiers had up-to-date bulletins, including interpretive guidance, properly classified certain documents or adequately reported security incidents.
There were six specific instances the report acknowledged.
One incident the report documented involved a LANL employee who submitted a presentation to his manager for approval. According to the report, because the manager hadn’t received the most recent classification bulletin at that time, erroneously approved the presentation.
The LANL employee unwittingly presented classified information at a large public function due to the error. The error ultimately wasn’t identified by lab classification analysts for roughly two months afterward and was determined to be classified.
In that incident, as well as another “significant” incident found by the IG, the classification officer said he had put the bulletin on a shared drive and notified staff about it the following day.
However, the IG said that, according to other analysts, the bulletin was neither distributed or discussed. The report stated the contrary statements couldn’t be rectified one way or the other.
Another incident cited by the IG included a “white paper” being sent to Sandia National Laboratories using an unclassified system — the paper itself was encrypted — and the classification officer failed immediately to report the incident to LANL’s security incident team.
According to the report, LANS management “failed to take action once they became aware of the issues” related to the classification officer. It stated “management indicated that the concerns were not worthy of action and that they were raised by disgruntled employees within the classification office.”
The IG said that more timely distribution of classified bulletins and related documents would help alleviate “confusion among classification analysts” abut what should be classified prior to material being “inappropriately disclosed.”
Recommendations in the report included providing more adequate oversight, ensuring the classification officer distributes guidance within established time frames and conduct a review to determine of other classification issues exist.
Officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration concurred with the IG’s recommendations.
According to the report, a federal oversight manager said he wasn’t made aware of classification issues by LANS.