By H. JOSEF HEBERT
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
July 20, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has reprimanded a senior
official because 1,502 nuclear weapons workers were not told for nearly 10
months that their Social Security numbers and other information had been
stolen by a computer hacker.
The action came as the department's inspector general blamed a breakdown
in communications and poor management judgment for the failures to
properly respond to the theft.
The IG report also said there was a "lengthy delay in the department's
assessment of the impact" of the improper penetration of the National
Nuclear Security Administration's computers at a service center in
Albuquerque, N.M., last September.
The incident was not made public, nor were the individuals whose
information had been compromised informed, until June.
"These employees were not well served this department," said Bodman, who
apologized to them.
The senior official who was reprimanded was not identified.
NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks, who was interviewed extensively by the
IG investigators and named in the report, has acknowledged that he learned
of the computer file theft last September but did not tell his superiors
at the DOE.
The IG report said Brooks, a former ambassador and nuclear arms
negotiator, "took full responsibility" for the failure to inform Bodman
and his deputy about the theft and acknowledged that he was the most
senior official responsible for not following up to ensure the workers
were notified of the theft.
The IG investigators identified seven other senior officials "who shared
some level of responsibility for the way in which the matter was handled,"
said a summary of the report.
Bodman said there may be further disciplinary action, but he added that
with the changes he has ordered - based on the IG's recommendations - "the
department is putting this incident behind it and moving forward."
The NNSA is a semiautonomous agency within the department and oversees the
nuclear weapons programs. The workers whose information was compromised
worked for contractors at NNSA facilities around the country.
The incident was first made public at a June 9 congressional hearing.
Bodman has said he and his top deputy first learned of the theft two days
before the hearing.
At the time, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the Energy and Commerce
Committee, demanded that Brooks, the No. 3 official at the Energy
Department, be fired for not promptly informing his superiors of the
The IG report said the "department's handling of this matter was largely
dysfunctional" and blamed the communications breakdown on "questionable
management judgments" and confusion among some managers about lines of
authority as they involved the semi-independent NNSA and other DOE
It's not known whether any of the information on the files has been used
improperly. Nor has there been a great deal of information made public
about the theft. Although the theft occurred from the NNSA's unclassified
computer system - and not the weapons-related classified system - the full
IG report remains classified and only a brief summary was released.
Brooks told the congressional hearing in June that the file contained
names, Social Security numbers, date-of-birth information, a code where
the employees worked and codes showing their security clearances.
The IG report called on the department to establish a clear and
unambiguous policy on notifying employees of such thefts in the future.
It also said it needed to more clearly define who among various DOE
offices - some of which are duplicated within NNSA and other parts of the
DOE - is responsible for briefing the secretary and deputy in such
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