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Project on Government Oversight




Head of Nuclear Weapons Complex Government and Lab Employees: "It's all a misunderstanding"

June 19, 2003 


In the course of a January 2003 Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General investigation of illegal activity at LANL, the IG discovered that lab management had admonished the employees to "resist the temptation to spill your guts" during questioning by Energy Secretary Abraham's investigators.

The IG was severely critical of this directive as potentially obstructing the DOE investigation. POGO has obtained a June 19, 2003 internal DOE directive signed by Linton Brooks, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, saying that this Los Alamos directive was a good idea after all.

Brooks oversees the expenditure of nearly $8 billion annually at the nuclear weapons complex. Here's how Brooks explains the "misinterpretation" in his memo (click here to see the memo), obtained by POGO:

  • When the lab managers instructed employees to "resist the temptation to spill your guts," they really meant to "caution against providing information in areas beyond an individual's responsibility."

  • When lab workers were told that "handwritten notes can be especially damaging...they are not easily disavowed," the management meant to "stress the importance of proper classification."

  • And instructions that "finger pointing will just make the program look bad," were really intended to "discourage blaming others for shortcomings uncovered in an audit."

"He should want employees to spill their guts during these investigations so that he doesn't have nearly weekly scandals at the labs," said Danielle Brian, POGO's Executive Director. "In fact, the opposite has been true. We know for a fact that lab whistleblowers are routinely fired, punished and harassed."

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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