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Project on Government Oversight




POGO Calls for Immediate Competition of Los Alamos Contract - New Documents Show Safety Violations Sugar-Coated

April 29, 2003 


The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) called for the immediate competition of the contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory, in a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Abraham today.

POGO urges immediate competition of the contract because "It is time to hold the managers of our national labs accountable." New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici issued a statement April 22nd saying, "at the end of the current University of California contract, I will support an effort by the Secretary to conduct a competition to solicit the very best proposals on how the laboratory could be managed." The contract will end in 2005.

According to the letter, "scandals that have already been publicized are far more serious than reported." Safety violations revealed earlier this month are the most recent example of this. Documents posted from the letter at POGO's website show that DOE redacted words like plutonium before publicly issuing its notice of violation to Los Alamos. The redactions appear to be aimed at sugar-coating an incident where workers were contaminated with the most dangerous plutonium isotope, PU-238.

Secretary Abraham will be briefed by DOE officials on the results of an evaluation of management of the lab tomorrow. In addition, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold its third hearing on management failures at Los Alamos on Thursday, May 1.

Click here to view POGO's letter and the corresponding documents.

In October 2001, POGO released a report co-authored with more than a dozen DOE insiders and security experts concerned about lax security at our nation's nuclear weapons facilities (Click here to view U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Security at Risk). POGO staff member Peter Stockton, a former special advisor to Secretary Bill Richardson on security, has spearheaded the investigations. Since the release of the report, POGO has worked with numerous whistleblowers in the weapons complex to bring their concerns to Congress and the public including Los Alamos investigators Steve Doran and Glenn Walp and the Department of Energy's top safety engineer at Los Alamos who has repeatedly raised concerns about safety violations. 

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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