Subcommittee Reviews Espionage Threats to Federal Laboratories

May 16, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Subcommittee on Oversight today held a hearing to review how federally owned or operated laboratories balance scientific openness and international cooperation with the need to protect sensitive information from espionage.  Witnesses focused on identifying potential deficiencies, best practices and how to ensure sensible federal policies.

Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun M.D. (R-Ga.): “Finding the appropriate balance between scientific openness and security concerns is not new. But it is critical that we have this type of public discussion regularly, so as to maintain open lines of communication, and if necessary, recalibrate our strategies to respond to new threats.

“Science is a global endeavor.  International cooperation on science and technology and the open exchange of ideas has led to countless significant breakthroughs that have benefitted all of mankind.  But we can’t afford to close our eyes to the reality that there are nefarious actors – scheming insiders, business rivals, criminals, terrorists, and foreign intelligence services – who exploit our free and open society to steal the results of American ingenuity and innovation.”

The U.S. has long been the world leader in higher education, attracting many foreign scientists. Recent events have highlighted the potential for foreign scientists to exploit America’s openness and illegally obtain research. By stealing the results of costly research, foreign nations can potentially save millions of dollars at the expense of American taxpayers. Witnesses today discussed the need to better monitor information to ensure that costly or sensitive research results are not illegally transferred to foreign nations.

The following witnesses testified:

Dr. Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering;
Dr. Larry M. Wortzel, Commissioner, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission;
Hon. Michelle Van Cleave, Senior Fellow, Homeland Security Policy Institute, George Washington University; and
Mr. David G. Major, Founder and President, The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies.