H.R. 5636, National Institute of Standards and Technology Campus Security Act

H.R. 5636

National Institute of Standards and Technology Campus Security Act

Date
July 11, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, July 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5636, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Campus Security Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5636 was introduced on July 6, 2016, by Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) and was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5636 is an effort to increase the effectiveness of and accountability for maintaining the physical security of National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) facilities and the safety of the NIST workforce. Specifically, the bill:

  • Directs the Secretary of Commerce’s Office of Security to directly oversee the law enforcement and security programs at NIST by establishing an assigned Director of Security for NIST.
    • The provision does not allow for an increase in the number of employees.
    • The Director of Security will be required to report on NIST activities and security to the Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and to Congress.
  • Directs the GAO to conduct a study evaluating the performance of the NIST Police Services Group and security contractors as well as provide recommendations on how NIST should move forward with security on its campuses to ensure that they are protected.

Background

The National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) is a laboratory and non-regulatory agency under the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC). To support its work, NIST handles and stores dangerous materials, chemicals, and substances. Founded in 1901, the NIST now employs over 3000 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel. The goal of the NIST is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. Recently, the NIST has suffered a series of security threats and instances of waste, leading to calls for reform and oversight. Specific instances of waste, abuse, and security lapses include:

  • Violations of notices issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) following a plutonium incident that discovered from the 1980’s to October 2014, NIST failed to keep adequate records regarding all special nuclear material in its possession.[1]
  • On Saturday, July 18, 2015, a now former NIST senior security officer attempted to manufacture methamphetamine while on duty and on NIST property, which caused an explosion and damaged government property. The individual was prosecuted for this.[2]
  • According to the Committee and a Department of Commerce IG report, an Investigation discovered that same security officer committed time-and-attendance fraud by claiming hours that he did not work.
  • According to the Committee, on Saturday, April 16, 2016, an individual with no identification who was not an employee of NIST, was found inside a building on the campus. The incident required a summons to county firefighters because of concerns that the individual may have been exposed to chlorine gas stored in the building’s “clean” room.
    • The individual was transported to the hospital and is now part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

In response to these incidents, Chairman Smith of the House Science, Space, and Technology and Senator Thune of the Senate Commerce Committee have conducted multiple inquiries and investigations into the security of the NIST.

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[1] NRC Inspection Report No. 07000398/2014001, (June 3, 2015)
[2] Ben Nuckols, “Former Officer Plans to Plead Guilty to Manufacturing Meth.” AP News. Aug. 18, 2015.

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.