Thursday, January 20, 2005

Senator Domenici News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRIS GALLEGOS
JANUARY 19, 2005 202-224-7082

DOMENICI GAINS COMMITMENT FROM DOE SEC.-NOMINEE
TO MAINTAIN LANL BENEFITS IN NEW CONTRACT PROCESS

Bodman Says Makes Commitment, Wants to Enhance Laboratory

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today gained a commitment from Samuel W. Bodman, the President's nominee to be the new Secretary of Energy, that no Los Alamos National Laboratory employee or retiree will lose an existing pension or health benefit as a result of this competition.

Domenici as chairman of the Senate Energy Natural Resources Committee that today conducted a confirmation hearing on Bodman, who is currently Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. If recommended by the committee and confirmed by the Senate, Bodman would replace Spencer Abraham as head of the Department of Energy.

Domenici questioned the nominee on issues ranging from a national energy policy, to the science capabilities of the national laboratories, to plutonium disposition and nonproliferation. He also pressed Bodman on his commitment to fully implementing the law that established the National Nuclear Security Administration.

From the start, Domenici addressed the ongoing process to award a management and operation contract for LANL, and concerns being raised by LANL employees and retirees. The contract for management of Los Alamos National Laboratory is being competed for the first time in over 60 years.

"The outcome of this competition, as you might suspect, is causing concern among a number of superb scientists at the lab to the point that some are indicating that they may be considering retirement rather than trusting the outcome of the competition. I have tried to assure them that they should not do that, and that the process will protect their interests and benefits," Domenici told Bodman.

"Do you share the commitment made to me by Secretary Abraham that the Department fully intends to maintain and even enhance the scientific capabilities of Los Alamos, and; that no Laboratory employee or retiree will lose an existing pension or health benefit as a result of this competition?" Domenici asked.

"I am happy to make that commitment, sir," Bodman told Domenici. "I would go on to say that I consider Los Alamos to be among the crown jewels really, I guess a phrase perhaps that is overused, but the crown jewels of this nation's technological effort. And anything that I can do to enhance that-not just leave it the way it is but enhance it, I will do. I remain very enthused and frankly humbled at the opportunity."

DOE is currently receiving public comment on its draft request for proposals through Friday, Jan. 21.

Bodman previously served as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce, beginning in 2001. He is a financier and executive by trade, with three decades of experience in the private sector. An engineer by training, Bodman had specific oversight over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the Commerce Department.

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