Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Does LANL spend in New Mexico?

Does LANL spend in New Mexico?

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Bruce Norman for his very well-written letter (Sunday, March 20, 2005). It is important for the business community to acknowledge how the last almost three years have affected all LANL employees, be they UC or contractor. However, it is also important for the business community to describe the effects on them.

It is interesting that, after several posts to http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com that reference how little LANL is spending in northern New Mexico, LANL is now extolling how they are supporting northern New Mexico businesses to the tune of $398.5 million. However, that includes labor contracts with KSL, PTLA, the bodyshop contractors, the task order contractors whose offices are spread throughout prime retail space downtown, construction, etc.

All PC and Mac desktop computer purchases come from Just-in-Time (JIT) contracted Albuquerque companies. All printer purchases come from a JIt-contracted company in Albuquerque. All stationary comes from a JIT-contracted company in Albuquerque. Most book purchases are done online.

Many computer and printer repairs go to a contracted company. Small northern New Mexico companies are no longer awarded contracts such as air conditioner maintenance after they have gone to the expense of getting Q clearances for employees unless those contracts are over $500K. KSL gets first bid on the contracts as well as the first right of refusal, and if they refuse a contract, it's placed with a company made up of all-union members, not a small non-union northern New Mexico company.

What's wrong with this picture? Probably computers, printers, books, and stationary comprise a fairly large percentage of the goods purchased by LANL. Right now the stationary stores in Los Alamos have higher prices than WalMart, Office Depot, etc. because they sell so little and have higher markups. If they sold more to LANL, LAPS, the county and LAMC, the markups would be less, and folks would purchase more locally. The same reasoning can be applied to computers, printers and their supplies and books.

Now LANL is trying to figure out how to set up procurement contracts with multiple companies. And some of those companies are concerned that if these contracts are established, they still will not get any business. And, of course, they can't compete because they are small; they have been driven out of the marketplace by LANL's exclusive JIT contracts just as Mom and Pop stores have been driven out by Wal-Mart, Sam's, Office Depot, etc.

One way to help out northern New Mexico is to allow competition between KSL and companies that provide electrical work, air conditioner maintenance, etc. because that will put more purchasing power in the hands of the small companies' employees. Second, LANL should make it very easy for folks to purchase computers, printers, books, etc. from whoever offers the the best prices and service. Purchase stationary from local stores in northern New Mexico. Open up the market, rather than artificially manipulating it, and let everyone compete.

Patricia Max

Los Alamos

Worth noting also that in a recent meeting a friend of mine attended (sorry this is secondhand, but I don't get to attend meetings with the high and mighty) Director Nanos asked why the Contingent Worker Project was moving along so slowly. When he was told that New Mexico small businesses had expressed concern about negative impacts of converting the contract positions to UC positions he thundered, " I don't give a damn about small business in New Mexico," and ordered someone to go tell Rich Marquez to get moving. A few weeks thereafter the Lab issued some news about the progress/success of the CWP.
The Laboratory is here to perform a National Security Mission, not to provide welfare to Northern New Mexico. Regional economic benefit is a valuable by product, but the overriding priority has to be to perform our national mission in a resonably cost effective manner.

As far as the Contingent Worker Project is concerned, converting long term contract positions to UC positions is the right thing to do. Too bad the reality of the effort has not lived up to its advertisements.
I agree with the 10:13 PM poster: LANL is NOT a welfare agency. My attempts to procure computers locally (Espanola vendor) showed a price 30% higher than DELL or GATEWAY and really no technical support at all. There are some areas where local vendors can compete (win) and others where they have no business attempting to compete.
JIT/LVA and most of the other LANL vendors are outrageously over priced. I purchased as much as possible on the purchase card through vendors on the internet (and not ever anything I wasn't supposed to like a Mustang). They were 50% lower in price, including shipping costs. JIT vendors do not give LANL a price break and I had to wait much longer to receive my items. Internet orders came within a couple of days. I saved LANL thousands of dollars this way. JIT/LVAs are crooks for what they charge. I always found the same items half the price from CDW-G, Provantage, Dell, etc., hundreds others. Thank God for the purchase card program, but then again, this program is not what it used to be.
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