U.S. Department of Energy taking steps to limit unauthorized transfers of scientific and technical information.

Back on 1 February 2019 it was reported in the Wall Street Journal, that Dan Brouillette, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy had notified DOE staff that they were banned from taking part in foreign recruitment programs out of concern that certain countries were gaining access to sensitive research. In a follow-up article this past Monday, the WSJ reported that the ban was formalized and expanded to include all DOE personnel and nearly all contractors.

This new policy is covered in a new DOE Order that was approved last Friday. The stated purpose of the new order is to “ensure the continued flow of scientific and technical information consistent with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) broad scientific mission, while also ensuring protection of U.S. competitive and national security interests and DOE program objectives; and limiting unauthorized transfers of scientific and technical information.”

By way of enforcement, DOE “will take appropriate actions to prohibit DOE employees and DOE contractor employees, while employed by DOE or performing work under a contract, from the unauthorized transfer of scientific and technical information to foreign government entities through their participation in foreign government talent recruitment programs of countries designated by DOE as a foreign country of risk.”

The DOE Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence has been assigned the responsibility of developing and maintaining a list of foreign government talent recruitment programs that will be covered by the new order and based on sponsorship by a “foreign country of risk”. Unfortunately, it is a simple matter for these countries to create new recruitment programs and disguise their true affiliation.