The U.S. nuclear weapons program has been plagued by failings such as misplaced weapons, drug abuse and a cheating scandal. And now, the Energy Department's Office of the Inspector General tells us, some federal employees who transport these weapons have engaged in "unsuitable behavior" such as "uncontrolled anger."
The new report focuses on the Office of Secure Transportation, which is managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration. OST is responsible for "the safe and secure transport in the contiguous United States of government-owned special nuclear materials":
These classified shipments can contain nuclear weapons or components, enriched uranium, or plutonium. The cargo is transported in highly modified secure tractor-trailers and escorted by armed Federal Agents in other vehicles who provide security and national incident command system response in the event of emergencies.
The full text of the Inspector General's report is not available, since it's been labeled "for official use only," but a one-page summary of the findings has been posted online:
We received an allegation that an Operations Squad Commander: (1) was engaged in unsuitable, reportable behavior and even though management was aware of the problems, no disciplinary action was taken; (2) forced a medically restricted agent to participate in physical training; (3) falsified Federal documentation related to a work injury; (4) threatened to pull agents' HRP access rendering them unable to train or perform their duties....
We found that the Squad Commander, along with other agents, engaged in unsuitable, reportable behaviors, such as uncontrolled anger, hostility, and aggression toward fellow workers and authority figures. These incidents were not reported as required….We confirmed seven separate incidents that took place over a span of 10 years, with the most recent occurring in early 2013. Senior OST officials told us that none of the incidents were reported to them, so they were unable to take disciplinary or other action.
Even though OST had a number of internal controls in place designed to prevent the type of problematic behavior we substantiated, we found them not to be completely effective.
Gee, ya think? And, you'll be further comforted to know that all these agents had participated in the Energy Department's "Human Reliability Program," which was created "to ensure that individuals in positions requiring access to certain materials, facilities, and programs meet the highest standards of reliability as well as physical and mental suitability."