Today's Ask the Administrator Question

From: Konstantin Penanen (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Date: 17-Aug-2007

Question(s): Mike, During your recent all-hands meeting at JPL a number of employees raised their concerns about the implementation of HSPD-12 and the resulting intrusive investigations. While you expressed your own basic comfort with the directive, you emphasized that the process is government-wide and your hands were tied.

We at JPL have the privilege of hosting a number of students and postdocs conducting long-term research projects. The Lab also has the privilege of hiring many highly-qualified, creative, and often nonconformist individuals. Some of these, as well as some of the current employees will make a career choice which will spare them repeated, intrusive background checks that include interrogations of friends and neighbors, credit checks and in some cases medical and financial history search. As you may have recently learned, the Department of Energy interprets HSPD-12 not to cover contractor employees without secret clearances at DOE National Labs (Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell memorandum, October 13, 2005). Employees at FermiLab, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and other FFRDCs will be issued site-local badge and no additional background investigations will be forced on them. Would you be satisfied with a similar approach for JPL, NASA's only FFRDC, if asked by JPL and Caltech leadership? Thanks for your answer.

Response: I cannot speak about the actions of other agencies regarding HSPD-12. OMB has approved and is overseeing NASA's implementation of HSPD-12 and NASA is doing what it needs to do to be compliant. I will not make an exception to our previously announced position regarding HSPD-12 implementation for JPL, its students, post-docs, or on-site contractors, nor for on-site contractors at other Centers, who - as it turns out - are equally "highly qualified" and "creative".

Reader note : Keith: Re: Ask the Administrator; JPL HSPD-12

I can't find any reference to DoE's 2005 exception for FFRDCs to not comply with HSPD-12. To the contrary, I find these websites which seem to indicate that their policy is the same as NASA's policy. Both of which are trying to comply with the federal mandate which makes no exceptions for "uncleared" personnel or FFRDCs.

Reader note : The memo is linked at

(see the link to the memo, )

The link you found appears to be old, posted before the memo. It refers to N206.2, which was issued in Sep. 05 and expired in 06. The new notices, superseding N206.2 are N206.3 and the current version N 206.4

N206.4 states:


a. All Departmental Elements. Except for the exclusion in paragraph 3c, this Notice applies to the badging of all DOE Federal employees, all contractor employees with an L or Q access authorization, uncleared contractor employees servicing the DOE Headquarters complex and applicants for employment in the populations described above within all Departmental elements who require a DOE security badge.

Oak Ridge newsletter, (scroll down) from Nov. 2005 says:

DOE has scaled back many of the require ments of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, giving the order much less impact on the Lab than earlier thought (see Reporter No. 71). Per an Oct. 13 memo from DOE Headquarters, uncleared contractor employees will no longer be subject to a Personal Identity Verification process. Only Q- and L-cleared contractor staff, who have already undergone much of that process, will be required to comply with the PIV order.

It appears that HSPD-12 implementation stopped abruptly after the memo, and at many sites the old information remained orphaned.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 21, 2007 8:34 AM.

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