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Project on Government Oversight
lydia dennett

Lydia Dennett

Investigator

ldennett@pogo.org |

Year Started At POGO: 2011

PGP Fingerprint: B11F 194E 2512 6941 DE87 7C68 6585 67A6 0B40 E003

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Areas of expertise: Nuclear Security Oversight, Foreign Lobbying, Inspectors General

Lydia Dennett investigates the safety and security of nuclear weapons and power facilities, develops POGO's Foreign Influence Database, and keeps POGO's "Where Are All the Watchdogs?" Inspectors General tracker updated. Dennett has worked with Members of Congress and the media, and has contributed to POGO's blog and letters to policymakers, to increase awareness about these issues. She earned a B.A. in English Literature and European History from Hartwick College.

POGO highlights:

Loopholes, Filing Failures, and Lax Enforcement: How the Foreign Agents Registration Act Falls Short

December 16, 2014

The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires lobbyists working on behalf of foreign interests to disclose details about their relationships with their foreign clients, but POGO found that the law is not always obeyed and the Justice Department does not always enforce it.

POGO Letter to VA Secretary About VA Employees' Claims of Fear and Retaliation

July 21, 2014

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees told the Project On Government Oversight that they have faced retaliation for blowing the whistle on problems, and many said a toxic culture discourages VA employees from openly expressing dissent.

Fear and Retaliation at the VA

July 21, 2014

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees told the Project On Government Oversight that they have faced retaliation for blowing the whistle on problems, and many said a toxic culture discourages VA employees from openly expressing dissent.

POGO Calls for Acting Chief of Defense Nuclear Security to be Replaced

February 25, 2014

Steve Asher, is the Acting Chief of Defense Nuclear Security but his most recent job was as a Target manger in Spokane, WA. Before that he was the Group Commander at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana where cheating on launch readiness tests was extensive, a culture that the Energy Department should not reward or encourage by giving Asher a permanent position in charge of defense nuclear security.

Uranium Processing Facility: When You're in a Hole, Just Stop Digging

September 25, 2013

The Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 Complex is a construction project that is vastly over budget, behind schedule, and facing serious questions about its ability to contribute to the mission of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

POGO Asks Secretary Hagel to Stop Funding B61 Nuclear Bomb Program in Europe

April 17, 2013

The cost of maintaining the B61 nuclear bomb program in Europe has increased yet again while questions regarding security and military efficacy remain unanswered.

POGO and Taxpayers for Common Sense Ask President to Cut MOX

February 5, 2013

The Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense wrote to President Obama urging him to cut funding to the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) because it's a program that is over budget, over schedule, and lacking even a single customer.

Year-End Spending Bill Loaded with Pork and Boondoggles

December 17, 2014

In its rush to recess for the year, Congress enacted a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill, called the "cromnibus," which funded gobs of pork at the Pentagon and Department of Energy.

Oversight of Foreign Lobbying Suffers From Neglect, Indifference and Lack of Transparency

December 16, 2014

A federal law meant to track U.S. political activity by foreign interests suffers from lax enforcement, shoddy record keeping, glaring loopholes and in many cases outright disregard by the firms hired to lobby on behalf of foreign entities, according to a report published today by POGO.

Nuclear Contractor Used Taxpayer Dollars to Lobby for Taxpayer Dollars

November 14, 2014

The Department of Energy Inspector General has confirmed allegations that the contractor managing Sandia National Laboratory illegally used taxpayer dollars to lobby Department officials and Members of Congress for a contract extension.

Contractor Hired to Manage Construction of UPF

November 4, 2014

The contractor currently managing the Y-12 National Security Complex just awarded a subcontract to it's parent company, Bechtel National, for the final design and construction work on the Uranium Processing Facility.

No News on the Uranium Processing Facility May Be Good News

October 28, 2014

The Government Accountability Office released its fourth report on the proposed Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 nuclear complex, and indicates that alternatives to this multi-billion-dollar boondoggle are finally being explored.

Commission on DOE Labs Looks at Interagency Work

October 14, 2014

A commission established to review the efficiency of Department of Energy laboratories met for the third time to discuss interagency work and attempt to discover any waste or redundancy in the laboratory system.

POGO Sends Letter Questioning Mission of Nuclear Facility

October 8, 2014

Today the Project On Government Oversight sent a letter to Congress questioning the continued funding of the multibillion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility, and requesting an independent study to justify the mission of this proposed nuclear facility.

POGO Letter to VA Secretary Prompts Congressional Action

July 30, 2014

The Representatives from Arizona sent a letter to Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson requesting an investigation into allegations POGO reported last week regarding the new interim director of the VA Southwest Health Care Network who allegedly retaliated against a whistleblower in her previous position.

Review of UPF Project Finds Common Ground with POGO Proposal: Further Consideration of Alternatives Necessary

May 28, 2014

A Department of Energy review team has released its report on the Uranium Processing Facility, recommending alternatives to this costly nuclear construction project.

Energy Secretary Announces Commission to Study National Labs

May 22, 2014

The Secretary of Energy has announced nine scientific experts who will spend the next year reviewing the effectiveness of Department of Energy laboratories.

Senate Subcommittee Slams Former Acting Homeland Security IG

May 1, 2014

A Senate Subcommittee recently released a report on their investigation into allegations of misconduct against Charles Edwards, the former Acting Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. The report illustrates the importance of IG independence.

Congress Slams Nuclear Agency for Recent Failures

April 14, 2014

According to two experts, the National Nuclear Security Administration has failed, which is no surprise given the recent cost overruns and schedule delays on several multi-billion dollar projects.

Congress Calls for Action After Whistleblower Retaliation

April 2, 2014

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Oversight Subcommittee has called for the Department of Commerce Inspector General to fire two managers who were found to have retaliated against whistleblowers.

Department of Homeland Security Finally Has a Permanent IG

March 13, 2014

John Roth was confirmed at the permanent Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security last week, filling a position that had been vacant for over three years.

Outsmarting the MOX

March 7, 2014

The President's FY 2015 budget has put the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) at the Savannah River Nuclear Site on "cold-standby," a victory in eliminating waste and mismanagement on nuclear construction projects.

Y-12 Protestors “Destroyed the Mystique” of Nuclear Security

February 19, 2014

A group of protesters who broke into the Y-12 Nuclear Complex in 2012 were sentenced yesterday and will face jail time for their crimes, though significantly less than expected.

Energy Department Looks for Alternatives to UPF

January 16, 2014

The Department of Energy has begun looking for cheaper and faster alternatives to the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12, a muti-billion dollar boondoggle construction project with no end in sight.

EPA Inspector General Uncovers Employee’s Million-Dollar Fraud

December 19, 2013

The EPA Inspector General found one employee defrauded the government out of almost $1 million over 12 years, and identified the agency problems that allowed in to happen.

DoD Analysis Reveals Cost Jump at New Nuke Facility

December 11, 2013

A new analysis from the Department of Defense reveals cost increases and schedule delays continue to plague the Uranium Processing Facility construction project at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex.

New Documents Show Former Rep. Ran Through Revolving Door

November 6, 2013

Former Representative Heather Wilson has come under fire for her close relationship with U.S. nuclear labs, including negotiating her lucrative contract while still in office, receiving almost half a million for questionable consulting work, and accepting a position on an NNSA review panel.

Congressional Members Question Need for B61 Refurbishment

November 1, 2013

The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing this week to ask if the U.S. truly needs the $12 billion life extension program for the B61 nuclear bomb.

New Report Offers Smart Choices for Nuke Weapons Complex

October 21, 2013

The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a report that comprehensively reviews the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and identifies several concerns in the modernization programs, construction projects, and stockpile surveillance and stewardship programs.

A Radioactive Poster Child for Government Waste

October 16, 2013

In 2005, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) persuaded Congress to approve a new uranium processing facility. They pitched it as a $600 million facility, but today, the cost of the project has ballooned to as high as $11.6 billion.

Nuclear Contractor Mismanagement at Livermore Lab

October 2, 2013

A San Francisco Chronicle article highlights the problems with Department of Energy contractor management at nuclear labs, particularly the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The Uranium Processing Fiasco

September 25, 2013

The Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration have birthed another boondoggle—a Uranium Processing Facility projected to run billions of dollars over budget and 20 years behind schedule. It’s long past time to see if there isn’t a better solution.

Report: Nuclear Power Plants Vulnerable to Terrorist Attacks; POGO Work Cited

August 16, 2013

Echoing the same concerns POGO has made over the years, a new study from a University of Texas research group says the nation’s commercial nuclear reactors are not prepared to defend themselves against “credible” terrorist threats.

Y-12 Security: Time to Give Federalized Guard Force a Shot?

August 6, 2013

A recent accidental firearm discharge at the Y-12 nuclear facility has injured two security officers, and raises questions about just how much has been done to improve safety and security at the site since the break-in one year ago.

Nuclear Site Unable to Protect Bomb Material in Recent Tests

July 25, 2013

POGO has learned that the Savannah River Site in South Carolina failed its recent security test.

Sen. Boxer Calls for EPA Action on Chemical Regulations

July 2, 2013

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held an oversight hearing last week on preventing and addressing chemical threats, focusing on the recent ammonium nitrate fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 and injured hundreds more in West, Texas.

Dangerous Chemical in Texas Explosion Poorly Regulated

June 21, 2013

Ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the suspected culprit behind the April factory explosion in West, TX, has a deadly history well known to government agencies. Despite that, the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to add it to the list of Extremely Hazardous Materials.

DOE Contracting Mismanagement Cost Taxpayers Over $450,000

June 21, 2013

The Department of Energy has mishandled yet another nuclear lab contractor, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars without requesting or recording a single deliverable.

Lost? The Guards at Y-12 Can Help

June 13, 2013

Yet another security breach at the Y-12 nuclear complex highlights the need for meaningful security changes.

Y-12 Protestors Exposed Security Failures, Found Guilty

May 9, 2013

Three protestors responsible for breaking into the Y-12 nuclear facility face up to 30 years in prison despite shining a spotlight on several security failures.

POGO Asks Defense Secretary to Cut B61 Bomb Program Funding

April 18, 2013

The cost of maintaining the B61 nuclear bomb program in Europe has increased yet again while questions regarding security and military efficacy remain unanswered.

FOIA Failings Continue

April 17, 2013

POGO continues to struggle with FOIA requests for three letters sent to Energy Secretary Chu on the status of nuclear security across the weapons complex

MOX Costs Spiral Further Out of Control

April 9, 2013

The much beleaguered Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) has increased in cost to $7.7 billion dollars, making this unnecessary facility 381 percent over it's original budget.

Energy IG Pushes to Consolidate Nuclear Labs, Again

April 3, 2013

Department of Energy Inspector General once again recommends establishing a commission to assess and consolidate nuclear labs around the country.

Exploring the Lived Experiences of Inspectors General

March 19, 2013

Matthew Harris, University of Maryland University College, explores the experiences, challenges, and recommendations of 18 Inspectors General in his doctorate dissertation.

Commerce Inspector General Faces Allegations of Misconduct

March 11, 2013

After several disturbing allegations of serious misconduct, Ranking Members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and three of its subcommittees sent a letter to the GAO requesting an investigation into the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General.

House Report Highlights Need for Inspector General Nominations

March 1, 2013

The watchdog office overseeing the department that manages the nation’s public lands and natural resources has been rendered toothless for over 1,400 days.

GAO Report Reveals $2 Billion Cost Jump for MOX

February 20, 2013

A recent GAO report has revealed that the projected cost of the Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) nuclear facility has increased by $2 billion, another in a long line of NNSA projects that are behind schedule and vastly over budget.

FOIA Foiled Again

February 7, 2013

POGO filed a FOIA request for three letters written to Secretary Chu by security experts with recomendations for strengthening nuclear weapons security, but a thorough search of Secretary Chu's correspondance produced no responsive documents, even though POGO obtained copies of the letters weeks ago.

Former Target Manager Now Acting Chief of Defense Nuclear Security

January 31, 2013

Retired Air Force Colonel Steve Asher has been named acting Associate Administrator for Defense Nuclear Security/Chief of Defense Nuclear Security at the NNSA.

Experts: Now is the Time for Nuclear Security Changes

January 17, 2013

Three experts—Norman Augustine, C, Donald Alston, and Richard Meserve—reviewed the physical security of the nation's nuclear weapons facilities and made their recommendations to Secretary Chu in recently obtained letters.

Energy IG Finds Security Contractor Cheated

November 2, 2012

The Department of Energy Inspector General released a report revealing the security contractor for Y-12 National Security Complex cheated on a security performance test.

Washington Post Series on U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Requires Closer Look

October 2, 2012

POGO provides needed context and clarification to the Washington Post's series on the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Cheating on Security Tests at Y-12 is Nothing New

September 10, 2012

The DOE's Independent Oversight Program recently tested security at the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility, but a federal inspector found evidence of cheating--something the security contractor has a history of.

Guard Scapegoated in the Y-12 Security Debacle

August 28, 2012

After an 82-year-old nun and her companions broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex, who was held accountable for the security breach of the nuclear weapons facility?

Gingrich Advisor's Ties to Foreign Interests

March 2, 2012

An investigation by POGO has found that one of Newt Gingrich's advisers, Robert McFarlane, covertly lobbied for interests in southern Sudan and reportedly on behalf of the Sudanese government—without properly disclosing his activities to the U.S. government.

December 16, 2014

Foreign lobbying oversight found lax

Politico | By Philip Ewing

December 16, 2014

Watchdog’s Foreign Lobbying Audit Finds ‘Lax Enforcement’

Legal Times | By Andrew Ramonas

December 16, 2014

Foreign lobbying enforcement 'lax'

The Hill | By Megan R. Wilson

December 16, 2014

Lobbyists For Foreign Interests May Be Violating U.S. Law [REPORT]

ValueWalk | By Michelle Jones

July 23, 2014

Veterans Affairs News

Federal News Radio | By Tom Temin and Emily Kopp

October 16, 2013

A Radioactive Poster Child for Government Waste

Other Words | By POGO's Lydia Dennett