Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bid for LANL contract delayed again

Diana Heil | The New Mexican
April 26, 2005

Those keeping track of the competition for the job of managing Los Alamos National Laboratory might want to write everything in pencil.

The date for the bidding war to begin has slipped again, from late April until mid-May.

That's when the U.S. Department of Energy plans to issue its final request for proposals, Albuquerque office spokeswoman Tracy Loughead said Monday.

Since December, a draft version of the contract terms and conditions to take on management of the weapons lab has gone through a process of public review and revision. How much to pay the contractor and how to preserve benefits for thousands of existing University of California employees at Los Alamos have been major issues.

The university's current management contract expires Sept. 30. The Energy Department intends to select a contractor this summer, with the next manager taking over by Oct. 1. But with delays, those dates could slip.

Once the final request for proposals is released, bidders have 90 days to submit an elaborate proposal for running the birthplace of the atomic bomb and its ongoing weapons program.

"We're anxious to see this RFP because we want to ensure it has a strong focus on science and technology," UC spokesman Chris Harrington said. "That's our strength."

University regents said they won't decide whether to enter the competition until that time. Likely partners for UC are Bechtel National (an engineering firm); Washington Group International (an engineering and construction company) and The University of New Mexico.

Meanwhile, both Lockheed Martin Corp., which runs Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, and Northrop Grumman, have declared their intentions to compete. The two defense companies are well-acquainted with each other, having gone head-to-head for jobs and collaborated on work over the years.

In a formal statement Monday, Northrop Grumman firmed up its intention to bid for the Los Alamos management contract.

"Our ability to manage large-scale operations will allow the lab staff to concentrate on their primary mission: science," said James O'Neill, corporate vice president, in a news release.

The company runs such operations as the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's Joint National Integration Center and the Joint Forces Command's Cyber Warfare Integration Network.

With offices in Los Alamos and Albuquerque, Northrop Grumman already has 445 employees in New Mexico. A branch of the company that deals with space technology has a relationship with LANL.

Bidders will be scored, in part, on the senior laboratory leadership they propose, and Northrop Grumman has been advertising five top positions at LANL, including the deputy director's seat. Juli Ballesteros, a company spokeswoman, said officials are in discussion with a New Mexico resident for the top position, though further details were withheld.

Northrop Grumman is keeping quiet on many other points, as well.

Last month, David Amerine of CH2M Hill, said his Denver-based company will partner with Northrop Grumman and Teledyne Brown Engineering for the bid. But Ballesteros did not confirm that Monday.

"We're still talking to a lot of companies, as well as universities, to get them signed up to the team," she said.

C. Paul Robinson, who has headed Sandia National Laboratories since 1995 and once worked at Los Alamos, will step down Friday to help Lockheed Martin prepare its bid. If Lockheed Martin wins the contract, the company has said he would become Los Alamos' next director.

Team members are being recruited. "We're still talking with the University of Texas and others," Lockheed Martin spokesman Don Carson said Monday.

The board of regents of The University of Texas system will meet Thursday to discuss and hear public comments on a possible bid for the Los Alamos management contract, but no action on this agenda item is expected to occur at this meeting. Texas regents voted in February to withdraw from the bidding.

Nuclear Watch of New Mexico -- in connection with other disarmament groups -- also is gearing up for the competition.

The University of California has operated the lab since its creation during World War II. In recent years, security, safety and business management lapses at the lab prompted then-Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and the Congress to put the management contract out to bid for the first time.

The seven-year contract is potentially worth $2.2 billion per year. Extensions of the contract could raise the total value to $44 billion over 20 years.

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., on Monday reiterated his preference for the University of California to retain the contract. Noting the contract competitors may offer some surprises in their bids, he encouraged LANL workers to delay judgment until the new contract is let.

It a great feeling to be wanted!
No suprise that the RFP schedule is trashed. The DOE can't get anything done on time. The "D" in DOE stands for "D Students."
Very impressive comment at the end by the Honorable Senator.
To 09:04 you were being facetious, right? To the Honorable Senator: None of your comments on this issue lately have been informative enough to be remotely reassuring or impressive. At least a few of your constituents including cleared and HRPed have been or are being pushed to a breaking point. This is to say nothing of their families. The absence of leadership from you, NM's senior congressional delegate, to keep Lab workers and their families informed is nothing short of a disgrace. As far as I am concerned you have mouthed gibberish while a precious national defense baby is being beaten, thrown aside, and the bathwater containing a sick, floundering admiral preserved.
10:15, very.

I think Pete D's credibility has taken a real beating this year, at least among those I talk to. That conference with the Director and Sec'y Bodman pretty much put him at the "0" credibility level.

He is a politician, so the majority of his statements, such as the one here, simply carry no useful information.
"Noting the contract competitors may offer some surprises in their bids, he encouraged LANL workers to delay judgment until the new contract is let."

Delay judgment on what?

Sounds like the Senator is in competition with LANL to see who can come up with the most meaningless statement.
I think Senator Pete recognizes the bucket of **** they stepped in (all of them, Abraham, Domenici, DOE, NNSA, the lot) when Abraham decided to recompete the contract.

There is no face-saving alternative to go through with it, however ill-advised it may be. Yes, many good people will leave, and LANL will become the pit factory to replace Rocky Flats. Will the science die too? I think so.

But maybe we are the dinosaurs. The future of nuclear weapons development is in Korea, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Israel. Look how close the Kerry-Edwards campaign came to winning. Many (almost a majority of) Americans do not want a US nuclear weapon deterrent. They have been indoctrinated by the left for fifty years that US possession of nuclear weapons is a danger to life on earth.

All the Koreans need is one warhead on one missile. That's all! It doesn't even have to be targeted at anything. Just pop their nuke 100 km over LA and wipe out the US economy. We have no way of stopping it, and MAD doesn't work if the other side has nothing to lose.

I thought the Soviet Union was a much more stable and predictable adversary - they had too much to lose to launch a nuclear exchange. Korea or the Muslim terrorists don't have that restriction.
Kim Jong Il discovered Mutually Assured Destruction on the cheap. One (!!) nuke makes the American World Empire back off and scratch their heads, even though our beloved Neocons of the New American Century poise their fingers above the buttons controlling 10,000 nukes. Maybe the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea has as many as ten (!!) nukes, but the result is just the same: Fear. (Add that to Loathing, and you still get the same result.)
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