DOE's One-Night Standard

David is a Deputy News Editor specializing in coverage of science policy, energy and the environment.

One night of passion with that seductive foreigner you can keep to yourself, but two and you've got to tell--even if you can't remember their name. That is the gist of a recent Department of Energy (DOE) security memo that has some researchers amused.

Last month's counterintelligence directive spells out when DOE staff and scientists have to report "close and continuing contact" with citizens of "sensitive" nations, such as China, India, and Russia. It notes that employees can stay mum about one-night stands, so long as the pillow talk avoids secret subjects. But "if personnel have sexual or otherwise intimate contact on more than one occasion with the same foreign national ... the relationship must be reported" to security officials. And a lust-clouded mind is no excuse: "Such contact must be reported regardless of whether the foreign national's full name and other biographic data are known."

DOE officials say the policy is nothing new and is designed to avoid unnecessary intrusions into privacy. But one of the agency's globetrotting researchers says it is "a bit more explicit" than past guidance. In particular, he jokes, "it's a relief to know you don't have to remember your bedmate's name to comply."

Posted in Scientific Community