The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said last week that his committee does not have the resources to investigate allegations of hiring and promotion discrimination at the National Security Agency, but that he would support such a probe spearheaded by the Pentagon inspector general's office.
"I take any allegations of this nature seriously," said Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., in a letter to the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "I pledge the full support of the Senate Intelligence Committee to a successful resolution of the allegations that have been raised."
Mr. Chavis suggested last month that the Senate committee look into the charges against the nation's largest and most secretive spy agency.
Mr. DeConcini wrote a letter similar to the Chavis letter to Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md., who also called for an investigation.
FTC Mr. DeConcini said that, while his committee does not have the staff or other resources needed to undertake such an investigation, he supports a call by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., to have the Pentagon inspector general's office head the probe.
Minority and women workers have told The Sun that they have experienced discrimination at NSA, which said in internal documents that it lags behind other government agencies in hiring minorities.
Ms. Mikulski said in a letter late last month to the Pentagon's deputy inspector general, Derek J. Vander Schaaf, that constituents have complained not only about discrimination but also about reprisals for filing employment complaints.
Susan Hansen, a spokesman for the Pentagon inspector general said Friday that she has not received word about whether an investigation will be mounted.
One former NSA employee said that the Pentagon inspector general examined the agency two years ago. But Ms. Hansen said that visit concerned a routine "overall review" of the agency, not one looking for discrimination. The report of that review is classified, she said.
NSA officials could not be reached yesterday. But they have told congressional staffers that they would make a renewed push to attract minority workers.
The Fort Meade-based NSA is involved in ciphering and electronic surveillance from satellites and has listening posts around the world.
It is thought to be the state's largest employer, with a work force estimated at 38,000 to 52,000.