Maria Cranor reports for the Albuquerque Tribune. Excerpt:
U.S. Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman have introduced legislation to reform current Department of Energy polygraphing practices at the agency’s national laboratories.
Domenici was a vocal opponent of Congress’ decision to expand polygraph testing in the DOE’s nuclear weapons labs last year. The expanded program, introduced to strengthen security at the labs, will require administering the tests to 5,000 or more DOE employees. In the aftermath of that decision, critics inside and outside the labs have increasingly questioned the scientific validity of the tests.
“Morale within the DOE nuclear laboratories and plants is declining, in part because of the implementation of the polygraph policy,” Domenici, an Albuquerque Republican, said. “These tests are simply not viewed as scientifically credible by many lab employees.”
The bill authorizes the DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to develop an interim polygraph program which would remain in effect until the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) completes its analysis of the scientific validity of polygraphing. The NAS study, initiated last year at the request of the Clinton administration, is scheduled for completion in June 2002.