Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002
Michael Reese (510) 987-9179


President Atkinson calls for immediate action by national laboratory following review by UC senior officials

A special review team of senior University of California officials today (Dec. 10) released a letter to President Richard C. Atkinson recommending nine actions that Los Alamos National Laboratory should take regarding allegations on the loss or theft of government property and other business practice issues.

The recommendations were developed following a Nov. 25 on-site review that was ordered three days earlier by Atkinson, who has pledged to take decisive action to address allegations regarding financial activities at the UC-managed Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

"Prompt action on these recommendations, together with efforts already underway at the initiative of director John Browne, represent an important step in assuring confidence in the business practices at Los Alamos," said Atkinson. "I remain concerned about issues related to purchasing and property management and expect that they will be addressed in a timely manner."

The special review team summarized their findings in nine observations and recommendations. They range from ways the national laboratory can strengthen its financial management controls to encouraging the U.S. Department of Energy Inspector General to review the termination of two investigators who allege they were fired in retaliation for their role in the investigations.

The full text of observations and recommendations are contained in the attached letter to President Atkinson.

In response, LANL Director John C. Browne noted that, beginning in August 2002, a number of actions had already been taken in response to apparent irregularities in laboratory business practices. "I am confident that the present recommendations will enhance the actions already underway at the laboratory to strengthen internal controls, clarify roles and responsibilities, and improve the effectiveness of our communications," said Browne.
The director will provide Atkinson with regular progress reports.

Meanwhile, the University of California and the Los Alamos National Laboratory are cooperating fully with the Department of Energy Inspector General's reviews related to purchasing and property management, as well as anonymous allegations of improper activity by laboratory senior management.

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