July 25, 2017
Allegations of Mismanagement of the Human Reliability Program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
The Department of Energy’s Human Reliability Program (HRP) was established to address the need for individuals involved in the nuclear weapons program to meet the highest standards of reliability including physical and mental suitability. Employees entering the program must possess a Q (which affords access up to the Top Secret level) clearance and submit to a multi-phase certification process that is designed to identify and evaluate behaviors and conditions that may disqualify employees from holding HRP positions. National Strategic Protective Services, LLC (NSPS) provides protective force services at the Department’s facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Security Police Officers guarding special nuclear material at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory are required to maintain HRP certification.
The Office of Inspector General received a complaint alleging NSPS management: (1) failed to provide employees timely written notifications when an employee’s HRP certification was removed; (2) used disparate application of discipline; and (3) did not follow proper HRP drug testing procedures by ordering drug tests without cause.
Although we substantiated the allegation that NSPS management did not provide employees timely written notifications when an employee’s HRP certification was removed, this occurred because there was no requirement for NSPS to do so in all instances. In addition, we were unable to substantiate the allegation regarding disparate discipline, nor did we substantiate the allegation that NSPS management did not follow proper HRP drug testing procedures.
We identified opportunities for improvement in HRP internal controls related to recordkeeping and access control procedures. Specifically, none of the parties involved in the NSPS HRP process maintained a complete list of all employees whose certifications had been temporarily or immediately removed, including such information as the dates of removal and any subsequent reinstatements. Without comprehensive recordkeeping, certification reviewers and management could be lacking vital information to easily trend an employee’s personnel actions when making future certification and employment decisions.
We made a recommendation and suggestions designed to mitigate the risks associated with concerns noted in our inspection. Management concurred with the report’s recommendation and provided a path forward to address the issues identified in the report. Management’s planned actions are responsive to our recommendation.
Topic: Management & Administration