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Project on Government Oversight




Energy Secretary Abraham "Deeply Troubled" Over Missing Classified Hard Drive at Los Alamos Lab

January 17, 2003 


A missing classified computer hard drive at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is "yet another example of poor management of business practices" that the lab's contractor, the University of California, "must resolve, and resolve quickly," said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. To view this DOE press release click here.

"I am deeply troubled that Los Alamos National Laboratory is unable to account for computer equipment and other materials as part of lab management's inventory control and audit program," Abraham said in a statement issued Thursday.

POGO disclosed on Wednesday that the missing computer hard drive contained classified data. LANL officials first noticed the missing hard drive in October 2002 during an annual audit of the Classified Removable Electronic Media (CREM) system. However, the loss was only reported to DOE headquarters security personnel as missing "media" in an attempt to downplay the serious nature of the loss. Sources have told POGO that DOE never investigated the loss of the hard drive and its container. At one point, LANL told DOE officials that the missing hard drive had been destroyed, but there is no evidence to support this.

While LANL has admitted to DOE this hard drive is unaccounted for, there remain 263 stolen or missing computers, which remain in question. These computers were identified as missing by the two investigators fired by LANL in retaliation for uncovering widespread mismanagement at the lab. No one outside LANL itself has attempted to determine the whereabouts of these computers.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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