Report: security contractor at nuclear complex breached by nun helped guards cheat on tests
By End the Lie
The security contractor responsible for protecting the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oakridge, Tennessee, the same complex seemingly easily breached by an 82-year-old nun and two others earlier this year, now stands accused of cheating on tests, according to the Department of Energy’s Inspector General.
Keep in mind, the Y-12 National Security Complex is the United States’ most major storage and processing site for weapons-grade uranium, so these problems are hardly negligible.
Wackenhut was purchased by G4S and boats a quite troubled past with what can be fairly described as a quite checkered history.
When the Department of Energy’s Inspector General (IG) visited Y-12 to investigate the state of security at the facility, the IG discovered that indeed Wackenhut had been cheating on their security performance tests.
According to the IG, company supervisors handed out the actual questions and answers on the test to the guards before the exam was given, an action the IG described as “inexplicable and inexcusable.”
It is especially inexcusable since just eight years ago Y-12 guards were told in advance when mock assaults – supposedly aimed at testing their readiness and response – would take place.
This advance notice obviously allowed the guards to prepare in ways which they would not otherwise be able to and thus the guards “responded in impressive fashion to the fake attacks,” according to Noel Brinkerhoff of AllGov.
R. Jeffrey Smith of the Center for Public Integrity points out that this was not an isolated case but in fact, “for years they obtained advance word of mock assaults meant to test their capabilities, and carefully redeployed their forces to produce impressive but faked results.”
Perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of this report is that the superiors at Wackenhut are clearly involved in the systematic cheating.
“As Friedman explained in his 14-page report, the guards there got advance copies of the test from their superiors at the contractor that provided site security, WSI-Oak Ridge, who in turn got it from an official at Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Y-12, LLC, the main contractor responsible for all the operations there,” according to Smith.
It gets even worse when we realize that the test was originally obtained from an official with the Department of Energy’s Health, Safety and Security Office who had asked Wackenhut to review the test for “accuracy.”
Glenn S. Padonsky, the chief health, safety and security officer for the Department of Energy said that he agrees “that using contractors as trusted agents should be minimized where possible, and we have already changed our inspection practices” regarding the rules for test copies.
That being said, he added, “there are circumstances where it is necessary to have a contractor act as a trusted agent in order to ensure the safe and effective testing of site security performance.”
In other words, the Department of Energy solicits advice from contractors as part of what the Center for Public Integrity calls “a laid-back style of overseeing contract work in which DOE officials are not burdened with the responsibility of knowing how things should be done and are barred by their agreements with the contractors from saying so even if they did know.”
“The issue is not the release of the testing material to the contractor’s Trusted Agents, but the abuse of discretion […] on the Contractor’s part,” claimed Thomas D’Agostino, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
D’Agostino flatly rejected the IG’s suggestion that the government should actually rely on “Federal officials who are knowledgeable of contractor operations.” D’Agostino went as far as to recommend that the IG’s critical mention of the Department of Energy’s “eyes on, hands off” approach be dropped.
Thankfully, the IG seems to be one of the few people in government that is actually doing their job and not kowtowing to demands of others and thus refused to follow D’Agostino’s “recommendation.”
“Security of the Nation’s most sensitive nuclear material storage and processing facilities must not be left to chance,” the IG’s report concluded.
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