July 1, 2024
Staff Accomplishment

Brooks Receives Department of Energy Award for Information Security

Recognized for his significant contributions to the derivative classifier community

Kriston Brooks

Kriston Brooks 

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) 

Kriston Brooks, a Project Management Office director (PMOD) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), was recently recognized for his performance as a derivative classifier (DC) at the Annual Classification Officers’ Technical Program Review. Brooks received the 2023 Department of Energy Office of Classification Outstanding DC Award, which is given to those in the classification community who have made significant contributions.

A DC is a person qualified to review and clear information or projects for classified information within the subject areas in which they are trained. DCs are responsible for maintaining the protection and integrity of classified material.

“As a PMOD and DC, Brooks has demonstrated exceptional commitment to protecting sensitive information and ensuring his organization is compliant with information security requirements while minimizing the impacts to the projects,” said HaliAnne McGee-Hilbert, PNNL information security professional.

Brooks joined PNNL in 1992 and became the Nuclear Science and Legacy Waste PMOD in PNNL’s Energy and Environment Directorate in 2023. In this capacity, he is responsible for operational oversight and execution of projects related to nuclear energy and legacy waste management.

“In my newer role as PMOD, I wanted to understand all the requirements for classified information. Most of our work isn’t in the secure space but I realized, after reviewing many projects, it might be beneficial to take a closer look,” said Brooks.

As a leader, Brooks was concerned with the impact of this new review process and what it would mean moving forward.

With that in mind, he decided to take it upon himself to become a DC within this space. From August 1 to December 31, 2023, Brooks and the Classification Program Office reviewed all the projects in his Project Management Office and determined which needed additional review of their deliverables.

“It can be an overwhelming process to change the way we do things and add an additional review of project products to make sure they are compliant,” said Brooks. “My goal was to make this process as easy as possible for the researchers because I know how difficult change can be.”

He continues to coordinate with researchers and managers to deepen understanding of the importance of this process and has actively recruited DCs for nuclear science projects. Brooks has quickly become a subject matter expert in his space, continuously serving as a resource for those around him, and clearly demonstrating why he is the recipient of this award.

“Receiving this award was a huge surprise to me,” said Brooks. “There are a lot of amazing people in the DC community doing a lot of good work to keep our nation safe and secure; I am honored to be recognized among them.”