Normal Topic DOE Polygraphers Pressured to Pass Everyone (Read 1802 times)
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DOE Polygraphers Pressured to Pass Everyone
Apr 3rd, 2001 at 8:28am
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In a 16 July 2000 article by Washington Post staff writer Vernon Loeb entitled "Polygraph Program Underway at Energy," then Department of Energy (DOE) counterintelligence chief Edward J. Curran is reported to have claimed that all 800 DOE personnel polygraphed up to that point under the Department's new polygraph regulation had passed, although he admitted that some 20% had initially showed "signs of deception." Curran quipped, "These are not bank robbers or embezzlers. These are patriotic American citizens who already have clearances--you expect them to pass."

Actually, based on the average false positive rate obtained in three laboratory studies of the Test for Espionage and Sabotage polygraph screening format adopted by DOE, one would have expected some 9.4% of truthful employees to fail. (See pp. 21-22 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.)

Dr. Alan P. Zelicoff, a senior scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides some insight into how DOE achieved its remarkable 0% false positive rate. Speaking at the first public meeting of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council polygraph review panel on 26 January 2001, he revealed that DOE polygraphers are under pressure to pass everyone:

Quote:'ve heard there have only been one or two people at Los Alamos, one or two people at Sandia, perhaps a small handful more at Lawrence Livermore, who have had "problems" with the counterintelligence -- counterintelligence screening test that has been administered as part of the DOE program over the past six months. It is common knowledge that one of the dirty little secrets about the implementation of the polygraph program at the DOE national laboratories is that each laboratory director, or one of the senior vice-presidents of the laboratory, has personally intervened to interview each and every polygrapher and to say to those polygraphers that he, the vice-president or he, the director, will not be satisfied until and unless everyone passes the test. Looked at from the standpoint of decision theorists, what this is doing is merely shifting down the receiver-operator curve, and I'll illustrate that in a moment. But being under no illusion that the current implementation of polygraphs at the national laboratories is similar to the way polygraphs have been admitted -- administered in other counterintelligence settings, polygraphers -- and make no mistake about it -- are under pressure from the senior manage -- the senior leadership at the laboratories to pass everyone, which of course, reduces the sensitivity of the test and makes you wonder what the purpose of the test is in the first place.

Dr. Zelicoff's entire presentation may be listened to in RealPlayer format begining at about 23 minutes into the following file:

and continuing at:
« Last Edit: Apr 3rd, 2001 at 12:23pm by George W. Maschke »  

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DOE Polygraphers Pressured to Pass Everyone

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