After a former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist was indicted for allegedly lying about contacts with the Chinese government, the Energy Department prohibited its employees and contractors from participating in certain foreign “talent recruitment programs.”
Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette approved that prohibition Friday by signing DOE Order 486.1. The order bars agency employees and contractors from “unauthorized transfer of scientific and technical information to foreign government entities through their participation in forreign government talent recruitment programs of countries designated by DOE as a foreign country of risk.”
The order does not list countries of risk, but says DOE’s Office of Science — in consultation with the heads of the department’s science, energy, and nuclear security branches, along with the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence — will determine which nations receive that warning label.
The order applies to nearly all DOE management and operations contracts, except the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico and Strategic Petroleum Reserves, according to the order. It also applies to subcontractors.
The order broadly defines a “foreign government talent recruitment program” as a state-sponsored attempt to obtain U.S. technical and scientific expertise by plying those who have it with cash compensation, gifts, career opportunities, or other benefits.
“Of particular concern are those programs that allow for continued employment at U.S. research facilities or receipt of DOE research funds while concurrently receiving compensation from the foreign state,” the order reads.
Any DOE employee or contractor already participating in such a program must report their participation in writing to their supervisor, plus DOE’s Designated Agency Ethics Official, by Sunday, July 7. Those who do not could be fired, according to the order.
Brouillette signed the order a few weeks after former Los Alamos scientist Turab Lookman was indicted for allegedly lying to federal investigators during a routine background check about his participation in China’s state-sponsored Thousand Talents group.
Lookman pleaded not guilty to three counts of lying to authorities.