Security Company Accused of Falsifying Training at Nuclear Facilities
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Wackenhut, the largest private security contractor to the federal government, is under investigation over allegations they falsified training records at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation, according to the DOE Assistant Inspector General. A conviction or civil judgment for falsification of records may be grounds for suspension or debarment of contractors under the US Government's Federal Acquisition Regulations.
Wackenhut's contracts at Oak Ridge, including nuclear weapons plant and the Oak Ridge laboratory, are currently out to bid. A decision on the anticipated $100 million contract is expected in mid-May.
Wackenhut Services, Inc., the security contractor at Oak Ridge Reservation, is a subsidiary of the Wackenhut Corporation, which is owned by the British company Group 4 Securicor.
News of Wackenhut's suspected falsification of training records comes quickly after the Department of Homeland Security dropped Wackenhut's $9.6 million per year contract to protect its headquarters. Also, the Department of Defense cut short contracts to protect U.S. Army bases -- including those where Wackenhut is eligible to receive an estimated $47 million per year as a subcontractor -- to put them the contracts out for competitive bidding.
"If Wackenhut falsified these training records, it would appear to have knowingly tricked the DOE into thinking these [security officers] were more prepared than they apparently were and that's a problem not only for Oak Ridge but for all Wackenhut-guarded sites," said Stephen Lerner, SEIU Director of Property Services.
"How can Americans be assured that our nation's sensitive sites are competently protected and that security forces are adequately trained unless the DOE holds their largest security contractor to account?"
A DOE Inspector General's investigation of protective force overtime and training at Oak Ridge conducted between November 2004 and March 2005 revealed several instances of falsification of signatures on Wackenhut training rosters at Oak Ridge. Wackenhut allowed officers to sign the training attendance form -- and be given credit for training -- without receiving any training or demonstrating their proficiency in the training topic if officers indicated that they did not need training, according to the IG.
The matter was referred to the Office of Investigations which launched the law enforcement investigation.
The Inspector General's office also found that Wackenhut reported planned rather than actual training time for some personnel in its reports to DOE. More disturbing are the allegations that Wackenhut spent about 40% less time on combat readiness refresher training than was specified in the approved annual training plan.
Wackenhut routinely worked officers in excess of the 60 hr/week maximum at the National Security Complex and some worked more than 72 hours per week in some cases. Working excessive overtime affects the ability or willingness of some officers to complete required physical fitness training.
The DOE investigation is separate from ongoing or recently concluded Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigations into security at Wackenhut-guarded nuclear facilities.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.