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‘We’re not federal employees,’ says federal spokesperson for secret Colorado lab

By   /   December 13, 2012  /   27 Comments

WHEN IS A FEDERAL LAB NOT ‘FEDERAL’? When you ask for information about employees like Kerri Ann Crosby.

Links to other articles in this series are included below. — Editors

By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org

GOLDEN, Colo. – Hidden in the mountains outside Denver, the secret National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is already hard to find. Now officials at the federal green-energy lab say they’ve got another layer of protection: they’re not subject to public oversight because they’re not — technically — federal.

“NREL staff are not federal employees,” NREL’s spokesman George Douglas told Watchdog.org. “We work for the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, and do not share the personnel information such as you have requested.”

Alliance and its parent company MRIGlobal are non-profit management groups that oversee NREL, a Jimmy Carter-era federal lab that studies energy alternatives. Together, the three organizations have received more than $1 billion tax dollars since 2010. Key NREL management earn in the mid six figures; the top official  clocks in at just under $1 million per year.

When Watchdog.org published those numbers, lab worker Kerri Ann Crosby responded via Twitter that she wanted to go on a “murderous rampage” at Watchdog offices.

“Have you ever felt like going on a murderous rampage? Start at @WatchdogCO ‘s offices. They perpetuate lies like this,” Crosby tweeted.

Asked why she advocated mass murder given Colorado’s recent history of violence in such places as Columbine High School and Aurora, she responded: “Because you deserve to die.”

Kerrilee Crosby tweets death threat in defense of NREL


When we asked the lab for information about Crosby and the lab’s employment policies, we were told it was none of our business — that NREL is really a non-profit organization and therefore not covered by the federal Freedom of Information Act.

That’s hard to square with several facts. NREL staff emails end with the federal suffix, “.gov.” And the Department of Energy (DOE) maintains a satellite office in Golden that is supposed to provide the public with documents related “to the operation of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory,” according to the DOE website.

“The lab is subject to the federal open records law,” said Chris Farrell, director of investigations for the transparency advocacy group Judicial Watch. “They can’t have secret policies. Their activities and operations are subject to public scrutiny. If they have used a non-profit management corporations as a means to try and thwart the open records law, that is inappropriate and perhaps unlawful.”

In its crusade to open government records, Judicial Watch has taken fights all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The organization is currently fighting to open records on Osama bin Laden.“Other government laboratories have relationships with universities,” Farrell said. “I am not aware of any of these organizations trying to avoid obeying the federal open records law.”

Tori Richards can be reached at @newswriter2 and [email protected]

Other articles in this series:

Secret energy lab spawns million-dollar government employee (Nov. 24, 2012)


Murderous rampage’: Gov’t lab worker threatens reporters  (Dec. 12, 2012)

‘We’re not federal employees,’ says federal spokesperson for secret Colorado lab  (Dec. 13, 2012)

SPECIAL: Watchdog’s 25 scariest people, version 2012  (Dec. 24, 2012)

Murderous rampage worker eyed by cops, off job  (Dec. 21, 2012)

Worker exploits lax DOE policy to send threats  (Feb. 11, 2013)


Tori formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Archer

    Great story! What a scandal! But dont hold your breath waiting for the Corrupt Liberal Media to pick it up. Although eminently newsworthy, this story is “politically incorrect because it exposes some of the corruption of the Messiah Obama, and therefore the ideological gatekeepers at the CLM will censor it from “the peoples right to know”

  • Agreed, what Ms. Crosby posted was way, way over the line!! However, your story though interesting seems to miss core research, such as the fact that the lab is one of several supported under several very large DOE M&O (Maintenance & Operation) contracts such as the Idaho Nuclear Research Lab, both of whom are operated through an alliance partnered by Battelle– who is a partner in the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC to whom the M&O contract was awarded for the NREL for 5 base years at $1.1B and 5 option years. If you want to obtain what the labor rates are for the employees of the NREL– it’s really quite simple— make the request of the DOE COTR who is the government’s feduciary representative for the NREL M&O contract and they will provide you information that is not otherwise classified.

  • gearbox123

    From their OWN FRIGGIN WEBSITE: “NREL is a national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.”

    Lawsuit! Can you say “lawsuit” boys and girls? I knew you could!

  • David Govett

    Lots of Obama voters there, I’ll wager. The arrogance of people unanswerable to taxpayers, whose money they burn.

  • mechanic540

    Good luck suing this outfit with all the layers of BS and protocol the can whip up at a moments notice. Probably 10 other layers to dig though before you even get to anyone on the staff of this Creep Joint.

  • nothingsosmall

    How are their employee benefits funded? Given the .gov on the email address, it’s a very good guess that they have federal benefits.

    If they look like a duck, walk like a duck and act like a duck, they are a duck. And they are subject to FOIA, regardless of the protestations of their board of directors and management.

  • Wow, great setup there. No accountability, high salaries, a campus-like workplace in a low-cost area, getting to pose as eco-heroes, and they’re never expected to accomplish a thing. The others will be telling Miss McGeeks to STFU because they’ve got a good thing going.

  • Everyone reading this story right now. SAVE IT to your Desktop, or Laptop in a directory. Spread the word, and be sure to use the words OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS used for WHAT?

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    I wonder what their attitude will be when the House drops all of their funding from the coming budget and appropriations bills?

  • juandos

    Well funny you should mention that…

    Someone e-mailed this August article from the WaPo today: Federal workers fret about jobs as sequestration looms

    Lawyer Lynnette Rodgers faced a choice last year as she weighed job offers, one from the Social Security Administration and a second from the Cuyahoga County government in Ohio, where she lived.

    The county job would keep her close to home, while moving to the Washington area would have her paying about twice as much for housing. But Rodgers took the federal job, she said, because she thought she could make a difference in the lives of more people.

    Now, with the threat of sequestration hanging over the federal government, she is worried about whether she made the right choice. (there’s more)

    Gosh! I have to tell, that brought a tear to my eye…

    Ha! Ha! Ha!

  • Bill Gryan

    Shh… if they hear you they’ll have one of their non-federal web developers modify the non-federal web page running on a non-government-owned web server.

  • jmatt55

    They’re afraid that is a little light is shined on their operation, people will learn how much money is simply being poured into salaries and benefits that deliver no tangible result. Like most government operations.

  • A Fed ‘green energy’ lab that doesn’t like transparency?

  • hoosier1234

    Not like a transparency — more like a prevarication.

  • teapartydoc

    Can you spell “slush fund”?

  • KenPrescott

    Who is the COTR? What’s the contract number? What is the Statement of Work?

    Contractors cannot legally work without government supervision & oversight.

  • Bill Gryan

    I wonder if any other government workers feel the same way: that they’re not accountable to the people who pay them. Who would have guessed?

  • Dick Beninya

    DOE is a corrupt joke. Open the books!

  • rktsci

    This looks like it is a GOCO facility – government owned, contractor operated. NASA operates JPL in California like this – most of the staff are not NASA employees, so they have some (but not all) exemption from FOIA requests. You should be able to find out what their contract number is, what the dollar value is, who supervises the contract, etc. However, you may not be able to find out details on salaries, etc. except those that are required to be published in corporate records and filings.

  • Maybe this is news to you, but there are 36 such labs and think-tanks operated by non-governmental institutions under contract to government agencies: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf02317/indffrdc.htm .

  • how much BS diversity and other worthless training do these fools get every year…like other govt workers..I bet at least a month worth

  • Naturallaw1

    The fed is not ours it is already owned by the federal reserve bank which is owned by an International Banking Cartel, no new news here, at least not to some of us.

  • KenPrescott

    Ask the COTR (Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative) if the SOW (Statement of Work) includes tweeted death threats and incitement to riot as deliverables.

  • While Ms Crosby appears to be, well, feeling entitled and rather ignorant, it needs to be noted that NREL has a real purpose and does add to the scientific / technical knowledge. They are the reference laboratory for the photovoltaic industry (rather like the National Bureau of Standards in this case). Are they well run and rational? I have no idea but they do have some good to offer.

  • NeuronMD

    Since when publicly broadcasted death threats aren’t prosecuted? What is COWatchdog waiting for before lodging a criminal complaint to the FBI? See if the NREL spokesman will try to BS the feebies like he did with Watchdog. I don’t think so!

  • KenPrescott

    Is it sufficiently well-run to justify a nearly $1M salary for the director?

    We ought to be able to run a Canyonero SUV for 500,000 miles with just a 9V battery for that kind of money.

  • lazlo

    The fact that you people are retarded is obvious, but “Hidden in the mountains outside Denver, the secret National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is already hard to find”

    I guess the signs on I-70 and Colorado Mils Parkway are too many words for you put together? Jesus Christ, it couldn’t be any more plain.