Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on Thursday announced the dismissal of the head of the U.S. nuclear weapons program because of security breakdowns at weapons facilities including the Los Alamos laboratory in the western state of New Mexico.
Linton Brooks is to submit his resignation as chief of the National Nuclear Security Administration this month, the department said.
Bodman said the NNSA under Brooks, a former ambassador and arms control negotiator, had failed to adequately correct security problems, so "I have decided it is time for new leadership at the NNSA."
Brooks was reprimanded last June for failing to report to Bodman that computers at an NNSA facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had been breached resulting in the theft of files containing Social Security numbers and other personal data from 1,500 workers.
In a statement, Brooks said "this is not a decision that I would have preferred, but it was made by a thoughtful and honorable man and is based on the principle of accountability that should govern all public service."
Last fall, security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory again came into question when during a drug raid classified nuclear-related documents were found at the home of a former Los Alamos lab employee with top secret clearance.
A department inspector general said that security breach was especially troubling because tens of millions of dollars had been spent to upgrade cyber security at the Los Alamos facility, part of the nuclear weapons complex that NNSA oversees.
"These management and security issues can have serious implications for the security of the United States," said Bodman in a statement announcing Brooks' resignation. While "NNSA management has done its best to address these concerns, I do not believe that progress in correcting these issues has been adequate.
"Therefore, and after carful considerastion, I have decided that it is time for new leadership at the NNSA," said Bodman "... Ambassador Brooks will tender his resignation to the president, and depart later this month."
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that "it will take more than a new boss to fix the problems, which are far more systemic and pervasive in nature."
Bodman said an acting head of the agency, which is a semi-independent part of the Energy Department, will be named soon.