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Richardson Reverses Course on DOE Reorganization

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Science  16 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5426, pp. 306
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5426.306a

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In a switch that surprised supporters and opponents alike, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson last week endorsed a controversial proposal to reorganize the Department of Energy's (DOE's) nuclear weapons program into a semi-independent agency. But it's not yet clear where this change of heart will lead, as lawmakers and DOE officials continue to joust over key details of the plan, which was prompted by allegations of Chinese spying at DOE's weapons laboratories. Although proponents say the changes are needed to prevent future espionage, critics charge they will harm the labs' extensive civilian research programs and allow officials to hide environmental and safety problems from the public.