Bill Would Force DOE to Take Stock

The US Congress has demanded an inventory of all documents and devices throughout the U.S. Department of Energy that contain restricted or classified data in a new bill aimed at taking what one lawmaker called a "reasonable and valid approach to correcting DOE's irresponsible security policies."

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved the Nuclear Secrets Safety Act, which calls on DOE to provide a "complete inventory" of all restricted documents and devices within 90 days of the bill becoming law.

The bill also calls for other basic security improvements, such as changing locks on all vaults storing nuclear secrets, installing stricter identification procedures for access to vaults and classified areas, and requiring all personnel with access to vaulted areas to undergo polygraph examinations.

"These were simple common-sense reforms that need to be done," said a spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, the sponsor of the bill. "It wasn't intended to be a major overhaul."

In a written statement released prior to the markup session of the bill, Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Floyd Spence, a Republican from South Carolina, said that "the severity of the issues surrounding the ongoing investigation into the missing computer drives at the Los Alamos National Laboratory" compelled the committee to take early action.

The bill "addresses the basic problems that currently exist and requires DOE to protect our secrets with the same effort in which they were gained," Hunter said.

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