September 4, 2003
12:00 AM
Washington, D.C. –– Senate Energy Chairman Pete V. Domenici this morning issued a statement commending the Department of Energy for radically revising its polygraph test policy in the wake of a National Academy of Science report questioning the reliability of such tests.
Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle E. McSlarrow will announce the changes at today’s full committee oversight hearing on DOE’s polygraph test policy.
DOE proposes a substantial reduction in the use of polygraph tests, confining the tests to employees working with sensitive information. The agency’s changes will be guided by the NAS report. DOE expects to publish a proposed rule reflecting the changes by the end of the year.
In testimony submitted to the committee, McSlarrow noted that the new policy will likely reduce the number of people subject to polygraphs from a current estimated number of 20,000 to approximately 4,500. All counterintelligence positions will still be subject to polygraph tests as will all employees filling positions in Headquarters Office of Intelligence, at the Field Intelligence Elements and in the DOE Special Access Programs. Employees at non-DOE Special Access Programs may also be subjected to the tests if it is a requirement of the program sponsor. Other groups will be screened based on continued access to all DOE-originated Top Secret information, including Top Secret Restricted Data and Top Secret National Security Information. This new policy will apply equally to federal employees, contractors and career staff. Chairman Domenici’s statement: “This is a smart decision by DOE. I’m very pleased by this announcement. DOE officials faced some harsh questions from some very unhappy senators today. Last night’s announcement has both shortened and sweetened today’s hearing. I have been appalled by the DOE’s continued massive use of polygraph tests in the wake of a national study condemning the reliability of these tests. Our national scientists deserve better. We hold our scientists’ work to the highest standard of accuracy and reliability and then we impose on them something as sloppy and subjective as polygraph tests. That practice is indefensible. I commend DOE for announcing plans to substantially reduce the number of people subject to polygraphs and to ensure that no negative actions are taken based on a single polygraph result. I look forward to learning more details of their new policy at today’s hearing, but it’s clear now that the revised policy is an immense improvement.”