“New Bill Would Limit DOE Polygraphs”

Steven Aftergood of the American Federation of Scientists’ Secrecy in Government Project writes in today’s edition of Secrecy News:

NEW BILL WOULD LIMIT DOE POLYGRAPHS

A bill introduced in the Senate yesterday by Sen. Pete Domenici and Sen. Jeff Bingaman would reduce the number of Department of Energy (DOE) employees and contractors who are subject to polygraph testing, thereby reversing congressional action taken last year.

“The effect of past legislation was to require polygraphs for very broad categories of workers in DOE and in our DOE weapons labs and plants,” said Senator Domenici. “But the categories specified are really much too broad, some don’t even refer to security-related issues.”

Senator Domenici noted further that “Polygraphs are simply not viewed as scientifically credible by Laboratory staff.”

Senator Bingaman echoed that observation: “I’ve heard directly from many laboratory employees who question the viability of polygraphs and who have raised legitimate questions about its accuracy, reliability, and usefulness.”

“It has become clear that the [existing] provision has had a chilling effect on current and potential employees at the laboratories in a way that could risk the future health of the workforce at the laboratories,” Senator Bingaman said.

The new bill would reduce the number of DOE employees and contractors subject to the polygraph, limiting testing to those who have access to “the most sensitive” nuclear weapons secrets.

Senator Bingaman stressed that the proposed legislation is an “interim” measure and that further changes to DOE polygraph policy would be expected after a National Academy of Sciences study is completed next year.

See the July 31 floor statements of Senators Domenici and Bingaman introducing their new bill (S. 1276) here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2001/s073101.html

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