Thursday, March 24, 2005

New Mexico universities join UC in possible bid for Los Alamos contract

New Mexico universities join UC in possible bid for Los Alamos contract



Associated Press

The University of New Mexico will lead a consortium to collaborate on research with Los Alamos National Laboratory that could give the University of California a boost in a possible bid to manage the lab.

The New Mexico Consortium - consisting of UNM, New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology in Socorro - could join UC to form the Institute for Advanced Studies, the partners announced Thursday.

The institute would be created if UC wins the contract to manage the nuclear weapons lab. The UC Board of Regents haven't voted on whether to bid for the Los Alamos job, but have told staff to prepare as though they will bid.

UNM President Louis Caldera called the agreement historic.

"We're just excited. We think it's a great partnership," he said.

He said the universities are interested in collaborating on scientific research and educational programs with the lab.

"It makes UC a more formidable bidder to have the New Mexico universities and (Gov. Bill Richardson) and the congressional delegation effectively supporting their position in the rebid," Caldera said.

The New Mexico Consortium would not take over day-to-day management of the lab, which was effectively shut down last summer after two classified disks were reported missing. They were later found never to have existed.

Management would be left to UC, which has run the lab since it was formed during World War II to develop the atomic bomb.

"We're not trying to take on the headaches of the management aspect," Caldera said. "We're trying to have a seat at the table about how the science that is occurring there can strengthen our research."

UC spokesman Chris Harrington said joining with the New Mexico universities does not preclude private industrial partners being added to the UC team. He also did not rule out partnerships with other institutions of higher education.

Terry Yates, UNM's Vice President for Research and Economic Development, said the universities' location would be a "huge asset" for UC in the bidding.

"Because of our geographical proximity, that opens up a lot of opportunities for collaboration on education and research," he said.

UNM officials said the joint work between the lab and the universities includes nanotechnology, cancer research, astronomy, quantum computing, materials science and environmental sciences.

The consortium also would help UC recruit and retain qualified scientists, engineers and staff, Yates said.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark welcomed the increased pool of students and postdoctoral candidates that could come from New Mexico universities as part of the consortium.

"The more (students) from New Mexico universities, the happier we are," he said.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Thursday that UC's effort to reach out to New Mexico institutions is one advantage of putting the Los Alamos lab contract out for bid.

"I only wish UC didn't tie this sort of effort to winning the contract and would, instead, pursue them as a matter of course," he said in a news release.

The federal government's final specifications for the Los Alamos contract may be released in early April; the bidding deadline will be 90 days after the release.

The UC regents may vote on whether or not to bid in late spring.

The consortium strengthens existing agreements between New Mexico's universities, the lab and UC.

"It solidifies those relationships and takes them to the next level," Roark said.

Caldera, a former vice chancellor in the California State University system and California lawmaker, said discussions about collaboration between state universities and the lab have been going on for the past two years.

Should the UC decline to bid on the Los Alamos contract, Caldera said the New Mexico Consortium would remain intact.

He said UNM has been approached by as many as a dozen private companies and other universities interested in joining forces in the competition for the lab contract.

"Many people recognized that it would be a coup to their bid to have New Mexico universities as partners in this process," he said.


Comments:
"We're not trying to take on the headaches of the management aspect," Caldera said. "We're trying to have a seat at the table about how the science that is occurring there can strengthen our research."

I'm a bit unclear on this concept.

Is this going to involve giving the Consortium funds for reasearch, say out of LDRD funds, or just telling them what science is going on at LANL, or do they want to have a say in the science that's going on at LANL?
 
I've followed New Mexico's patronage system since 1975. It's well developed and supported by nearly all seeking to feed from the public trough. (They call it public service!)

The occupants of the Capital and the Roundhouse in Santa Fe must be salivating over the possibility of NM universities becoming allied with LANL. After all, it's the politicians who appoint the university regents and the regents appoint the ... and so on down the food chain.

The first time Manny Aragon tells Nanos what to do, national news will cover the explosion!

Think it can't happen? Just stick around.
 
This is very compatible with the goal that seems to be becoming clear: Minimize the number of "pesky" scientists while maintaining the same level of money deposited in New Mexico. The first step is to run off any scientific staff with experience as those are the "pesky" ones. The second is to drastically increase the paperwork to ensure safety and security and financial rsponsibility. Again trading "pesky" staff for comliant. Then agree to the Lab paying GR taxes, thereby sending a big chunk to the state directly. Finally involve the State of New Mexico in the operation of the Lab, opening up a whole new set of opportunities to send money to the state coffers.

This way the State of New Mexico can stay GREEN and the Lab can maintain an illusion that it ensures national security since it still spends as much money.
 
A third tier university as part of a consortium to run LANL

Get real….
 
One plaintiff's labor attorney has said that the two worst employers in the state of New Mexico are the University of New Mexico and the University of California. They found each other at last.
 
I think that this is a very positive development. It is good for the Lab and good for the NM universities to be working together in this kind of formal arrangement. In spite of the problems that we have seen with UC management, in my opinion, they remain the best steward of the national trust for LANL, and they need to engage the major universities in the state. Congratulations to them. It will increase their chances of making a credible bid.
 
One plaintiff's labor attorney has said that the two worst employers in the state of New Mexico are the University of New Mexico and the University of California. They found each other at last.
 
If this is such a good idea, how come it took the contract competition to make it so? In fact its "pork", pure and simple. You can't buy your enemies, but, in New Mexico, you can buy your friends. Cheap! First LANL "bought" the pueblos, then after the 1995 RIF, they launched the LANL Foundation and bought the schools and charities with handouts, now this. With US taxpayer funds of course, because that's the source of all this money, there is no other. Corruption squared! The stench continues to grow!
 
Clearly this is an attempt to get state of NM support for UC. And, see the next article: it was successful.

I agree with teh 7:27 AM poster. We will have the likes of Manny Arrogant telling LANL who to hire and promote.

The 10:39 AM poster is a fool. UNM is third rate at best. NMSU is a second rate university with some good technical departments. Mines is unranked. We don't need this!

This is yet another reason why UC ought to be replaced. The question is "with whom?"
 
7:27 am and 2:04 pm
Manny Aragon is not part of the state legislature anymore as he is now running NM Highlands University. From the news articles, it sounds like he is basically a "RePete" of the LANL Director. Some very unhappy people over there. NM Highlands is not part of this consortium. I'm surprised they didn't hop on the wagon. Maybe because they don't have a PhD program like the others?

8:26 am
Here's a quick plan, just give all the LDRD funds to this consortium and be done with it.

8:41 am and 2:04 pm
All 3 of these NM schools in the consortium are Tier 3 schools in the last USNWR rankings.

10:39 am
Probably will increase UC's chances, if they bid.

7:27 and 11:36 am
"Should the UC decline to bid on the Los Alamos contract, Caldera said the New Mexico Consortium would remain intact. He said UNM has been approached by as many as a dozen private companies and other universities interested in joining forces in the competition for the lab contract. "Many people recognized that it would be a coup to their bid to have New Mexico universities as partners in this process," he said."

Lends credibility to your "...in NM, you can buy your friends" comment. NG said they were still looking for an "academic" partner, well here it is - a coup no less. They don't even want to run the place, just ship down some money.

11:39 pm
Are you clearer on the concept now?


I love it, the entertainment value continues to increase.
 
The new INL (formed from INEL and ANL-West) contract was awarded to Battelle and a consortium of Idaho Universities. Clearly the same politics is at play here, the loser will be UC if they don't partner up.

I don't think LDRD funds can be raided to give to someone running a contract. Only funds subcontracted, presumably via competitive award.
 
Any particular reason LDRD can't be "renamed" by Congress and subcontracted out? Or abolished for that matter?
 
Possibly with enough shared attractive research opportunities, New Mexico universities might actually move up the tier ladder. Besides, we do not hire universities anyway. We hire people. While the first tier universities certainly may have the most super stars, they do not have a monopoly on intelligence. In fact, many tier-one institutions are riding the waves of their past greatness. Many no longer even grade their students because, I suppose, grades are not politically correct. Their engineering and science departments are in decline especially if one subtracts the foreign-born components most of which were undergraduates from less than top tier universities but which intellectually can hold their own against any competition they might face.
 
9:11

I think you have a point.

Your description of first tier universities sounds frighteningly similar to the Lab itself in many ways.
 
Some amusing tidbits from the INL website.

1) Leading a senior management team of eighteen will be Laboratory Director John J. Grossenbacher, a Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (ret.), a Naval Academy graduate and one of the nation’s most respected leaders.

2) The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the world’s leading nuclear science and engineering university, will help INL create the atmosphere of scientific inquiry and lead a National University Consortium as well as the three Idaho research universities in support nuclear research and related education programs.
 
I'm sure that VADM John J. Grossenbacher is a wonderful manager and one of the nation's most respected leaders. But I never heard of him, an unforgivable faux pas for a military historian. However, I have heard of other military leaders who were admirals. Even the best of them had a few bad days; the worst of them had nothng but bad days.

On 18 December 1944, a very small but violent typhoon named Cobra overtook Admiral Bull Halsey's Task Force while many of the ships were in the act of taking on fuel oil. Many of the ships found themselves near the center of the typhoon where they faced extreme seas and hurricane force winds. By trying to outrun the typhoon instead of doing the smart thing and turning squarely into it, the Task Force stayed in the typhoon for about five days. Three destroyers capsized and sank losing practically all hands. A cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three additional destroyers suffered serious damage. Over 790 officers and men were lost or killed. Another 80 were seriously injured. Fuel fires occurred in three carriers caused by loose planes smashing into maintenance-deck bulkheads. Approximately 146 planes were lost or damaged beyond repair by impact damage, fire, or being swept overboard. Butthead weathermen were blamed for the disaster and not the Admiral's seamanship.

It's amazing how disastrous things keep repeteing themselves over and over again.
 
I'm sure that VADM John J. Grossenbacher is a wonderful manager and one of the nation's most respected leaders. But I never heard of him, an unforgivable faux pas for a military historian. However, I have heard of other military leaders who were admirals. Even the best of them had a few bad days; the worst of them had nothng but bad days.

On 18 December 1944, a very small but violent typhoon named Cobra overtook Admiral Bull Halsey's Task Force while many of the ships were in the act of taking on fuel oil. Many of the ships found themselves near the center of the typhoon where they faced extreme seas and hurricane force winds. By trying to outrun the typhoon instead of doing the smart thing and turning squarely into it, the Task Force stayed in the typhoon for about five days. Three destroyers capsized and sank losing practically all hands. A cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three additional destroyers suffered serious damage. Over 790 officers and men were lost or killed. Another 80 were seriously injured. Fuel fires occurred in three carriers caused by loose planes smashing into maintenance-deck bulkheads. Approximately 146 planes were lost or damaged beyond repair by impact damage, fire, or being swept overboard. Butthead weathermen were blamed for the disaster and not the Admiral's seamanship.

It's amazing how disastrous things keep repeteing themselves over and over again.
 
Remember the famous UNM statement on 9/11: "Anyone who bombs the Pentagon gets my vote." What we really need is Ward Churchill and Manny Aragon overseeing LANL - then we'll REALLY be world class.
-Dawn-
 
Whats the deal with all these Navy guys getting anointed to run DOE labs?
 
Look at the Admin building replacement. It has the shape of a ship at sea.
 
10:34PM...Where's the Poop-Deck? I understand its at the Director's office. "Loose-cannon on the 'Poop'"!

My roof leaks and I have mice.
 
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