Sandia director details serious concerns with lab security force

Sandia National Laboratories President C. Paul Robinson today announced that a recent lab self-assessment and an ongoing investigation have revealed serious concerns about the management of the lab’s security force. He specified actions Sandia has taken to correct those concerns and provided information about continuing investigations into the matter.

From the Sandia National Laboratories:
Sandia director details serious concerns with lab security force, announces corrective measures

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. ? Sandia National Laboratories President C. Paul Robinson today announced that a recent lab self-assessment and an ongoing investigation have revealed serious concerns about the management of the lab’s security force. He specified actions Sandia has taken to correct those concerns and provided information about continuing investigations into the matter.

At a 3:30 p.m. MST news conference, Robinson acknowledged what he said were “some disturbing concerns about the management of our security force.”

“Let me say right off the top that these are by and large internal management issues that we are now addressing,” he said. “There is no evidence that at any time classified or sensitive material has been compromised, and our lab is secure.”

Robinson said two investigations were completed recently: an internal Sandia assessment, and an investigation by the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Sandia Site Office, which investigated allegations within the security force of a breakdown of discipline, lax security, theft of government property, threats of retaliation, inconsistent and inadequate disciplinary actions, and mistrust of management to take action when problems are brought to its attention.

The incidents investigated range from a dozen security police officers observed eating, watching TV, and sleeping on duty, to theft of government-owned computer parts and software, to disappearance and reappearance of a set of keys to Sandia buildings.

The NNSA inquiry did not find clear evidence of a broad pattern of abuse, a breakdown of discipline, lax security, attempted cover-ups, or actual threats of management retaliation. It did not bring into question the overall effectiveness of Sandia’s security operations.

However, the NNSA investigation did identify significant concerns in the way Sandia internally manages its overall security program.

Although these problems date back three years or more, said Robinson, Sandia’s management has become increasingly aware of potential problems over the past year. A few Sandia employees raised awareness of the severity of the issue. Sandia’s internal self-assessment and the NNSA site office inquiry suggest some of the problems are systemic.

In addition, the Sandia employees who raised many of the concerns felt they were not being heard by Sandia management.

Robinson said several actions already have been taken to correct the problems.

Disciplinary actions have been taken against many of the security police officers and some supervisors involved in incidents addressed in Sandia’s investigation. These actions included resignation, suspension without pay, and requests for assistance from law enforcement authorities.

“As our investigation continues, additional disciplinary actions could be taken,” said Robinson.

Robinson said he has requested the formation of a special committee of the Sandia Board of Directors to recommend necessary management changes and corrective actions at Sandia. The members of this committee will have experience in law enforcement and the military.

In August, Robinson initiated a thorough independent investigation of security issues by two former federal prosecutors. The results of this independent investigation are expected in late April.

In December, Robinson asked for assistance from the NNSA, which resulted in NNSA’s Sandia Site Office conducting its own investigation.

“The NNSA has provided recommendations, and we will be responding to them with an action plan by the end of March,” he said.

“We are eager to receive findings from the other investigations and respond quickly and positively,” he added.

“Many of the concerns we are discussing were brought forward by some of our employees,” said Robinson. “Regrettably, some of their concerns initially did not receive an adequate response when the employees brought them to management’s attention.”

“As a result, one of the employees took his concerns to Sen. Charles Grassley, who made sure Sandia management was aware of the severity of the issues brought forward.”

“I want to assure those employees, members of the public, and others who have concerns that I do take these issues seriously, and that I sincerely appreciate their efforts to bring them forward by other means when their concerns were not addressed internally to their satisfaction,” said Robinson. “Clearly the healthiest of organizations provide an environment where people know real concerns are addressed. I regret that didn’t happen in this case. We’re going to make it happen now.”

“I also want to give credit to Sen. Charles Grassley, who met with our people, and who took strong steps to assure that Sandia management was aware of these issues.”

To make sure Sandia responds to these concerns comprehensively, Sandia also has made two significant changes in its security organization, said Robinson.

Sandia’s waste, fraud, and abuse investigators will now report directly to Sandia’s executive office. This function is important because it provides independent and early warning of systemic problems and allows for robust internal investigations of problems.

In addition, Robinson named Dennis Miyoshi to lead a newly created organization within Sandia to oversee the lab’s security force and the continuing investigation. Miyoshi will report directly to Sandia’s executive office as well.

Miyoshi most recently served as director of Sandia’s Security Systems and Technology Center, a group of 200 researchers and engineers charged with helping improve the security of the nation’s assets, from nuclear weapons facilities to dams, power systems, and water supplies. For much of his 34 years at Sandia, Miyoshi has had supervisory roles in security technology.

“My job has been to develop evaluation criteria and testing protocols to determine under what conditions security works well and doesn’t work well,” said Miyoshi. “I hope to apply these same approaches to listen, learn, set appropriate criteria, and evaluate what’s going on here. Only then can I develop an implementation plan for the concerns that Paul has described here.”

Miyoshi said he will focus initially on three areas: improving communications among all levels of the lab’s security force, establishing well-defined performance expectations for all members of the security force, and developing a culture of trust, respect, and integrity within the organization.

As one of Miyoshi’s first acts, he appointed Jim Larson to manage Sandia’s Protective Force Department. Larson is a former U.S. Secret Service special agent and has been a nuclear security systems analyst at Sandia for 15 years.

A summary of the Sandia self-assessment and Miyoshi’s and Larson’s biographies are available; please call 505-844-8066.


Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia media contacts:
Chris Miller, [email protected], (505) 844-5550
John German, [email protected], (505) 844-5199

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