For Nuclear Security, Eyes On, Hands Off Doesn’t Work

Federal personnel overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons complex must reassert the lines of authority over the contractor security forces protecting the nuclear facilities and clarify roles and responsibilities, said Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center commander. “That has been a long-standing issue that we really need to straighten out in order to create that accountability and ownership of that security mission,” Finan told the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel on Feb. 28. “We have to be very clear on who’s responsible for what,” she added. Under the policy of “eyes on, hands off,” National Nuclear Security Administration personnel were “not really to interact with the contractor in executing security duties,” she said. The policy was deficient and led to a security breach last year at a nuclear facility by a group of elderly nun protesters, said lawmakers at the hearing. “Nuclear security is absolutely critical and it is inherently a federal responsibility, and that means the federal personnel have a responsibility and a duty to be a little bit more specific and, in fact, tell contractors exactly how to do nuclear security,” said Finan. (Finan’s written statement)