April 30, 2009

Internal Controls over Accountable Classified Removable Electronic Media at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) conducts cutting edge scientific research. ORNL utilizes removable electronic media, such as computer hard drives, compact disks, data tapes, etc., to store vast amounts of classified information. Incidents involving breakdowns in controls over classified removable electronic media have been a continuous challenge for the Department. The loss of even one piece of such media can have serious national security implications. In 2004, the Department had a complex-wide “stand-down” of all activities using classified removable electronic media, and such media containing Secret/Restricted Data or higher classified data was designated “Accountable Classified Removable Electronic Media” (ACREM). As part of the stand-down, sites were required to conduct a 100 percent physical inventory of all ACREM; enter it all into accountability; and conduct security procedure reviews and training. Further, the Department implemented a series of controls, including conducting periodic inventories, utilizing tamper proof devices on ACREM safes, and appointing trained custodians to be responsible for the material. After performance testing and validation that the required accountability systems were in place, ACREM operations at ORNL were approved for restart on August 10, 2004.

Topic: National Security and Safety