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Cheating on Security Tests at Y-12 is Nothing New

Shortly after the security breach at Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28, the Independent Oversight Program at the Department of Energy (DOE) headquarters sent a team to Y-12 to conduct performance tests on the effectiveness of the Wackenhut Services Inc Oak Ridge guard force, according to a POGO source at the DOE. Two days ago, The Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor reported that a federal inspector discovered copies of questions and answers from the written portion of the performance test in a guard force vehicle. The newest security director of Y-12, John Garrity, who took over the position after the break-in a month ago, has now been administratively re-assigned.

This incident of cheating on a performance test at Y-12 is nothing new for Wackenhut. Prior to the break in at Y-12, POGO had received an anonymous tip voicing concerns about cheating on security tests that sounded credible. We could not verify the allegation so were not able to release it at the time. But after another source contacted POGO and the latest revelation about guards with test questions and answers, there is certainly justification to do so now.

The source stated that “Wackenhut has a history of cheating on performance tests at Y12 and other locations. All of the in house testing that is scheduled to occur is relayed in advance to the security personnel so they always do a great job. All drills and tests done for the occasional outside agency are relayed ahead of time as to what they will be. There is no honest testing taking place. The security force cannot do any response without practicing and rehearsing ahead of time as they almost always do. Even though Wackenhut was caught cheating during an IG investigation in 2004, they were allowed to not only keep their contract, they were allowed to continue testing themselves. This is clearly a conflict on [sic] interest as it has been and it continiues [sic] to go on.”

And in June 2003, a test using four different force-on-force scenarios was conducted at Y-12 to determine the effectiveness of the guard force. It turned out that the guard force performed too well on all four scenarios. An Inspector General (IG) investigation of the 2003 incident found that the tests had been compromised when leaders of the guard force gained access to the attackers’ plans:

Several individuals told us, for example, that controlled (test-sensitive) information was shared with SPOs [Security Police Officers] prior to their participation in a given performance test. These concerns paralleled our findings regarding the June 2003 performance test. When queried as to the nature of the information that had been shared with SPOs in prior years, they provided a number of examples, including the following:

  • The specific building and wall to be attacked by the test adversary;
  • The specific target of the test adversary; and
  • Whether or not a diversionary tactic would be employed by the test adversary.

In a memorandum attached to the IG report, Inspector General Gregory Friedman said, “We found that shortly before the test, two protective force personnel were inappropriately permitted to view the computer simulations of the four scenarios. This action compromised controlled (test-sensitive) information. As a consequence, the test results were, in our judgment, tainted and unreliable.”

Additionally, the 2003 IG review stated that inspectors were provided with information that inappropriate actions had occurred going back to the mid-1980s in connection with performance tests at the department’s Oak Ridge Complex.

In the last month, dozens of officials at Y-12 have either been transferred or allowed to retire as a result of both the break-in and the cheating debacle. This is nothing short of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Merely firing a single low-level guard, Kirk Garland, is hardly enough to address the larger issue of Wackenhut cutting corners on security. Garland was like a canary in a coal mine—in a real attack he would have been the first victim. His bravery was rewarded with a termination letter while those truly responsible for the break-in and cheating remain gainfully employed.

Each performance test costs the better part of $100,000. Wackenhut has now been caught cheating twice and there are additional reports of cheating from sources like our anonymous whistleblower. How many more times will DOE allow Wackenhut to waste taxpayer money on tainted and unreliable tests before it terminates the security contract and provides adequate security that is tried-and-true?

By: Peter Stockton
Sr. Investigator, POGO

Peter Stockton, Sr. Investigator Peter Stockton is a senior investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Peter's investigations include security and safety issues at the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and nuclear power plants.

By: Lydia Dennett
Investigator, POGO

lydia dennett Lydia Dennett is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Lydia handles whistleblower intake and works on nuclear safety and security at the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

Topics: Contract Oversight, National Security

Related Content: Contractor Accountability, Homeland Security, Nuclear Weapons Complex Oversight, Y-12 /Oak Ridge National Lab

Authors: Lydia Dennett, Peter Stockton

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