Friday, April 08, 2005
Los Alamos lab bid rivals may join forces
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Two of the University of California's biggest potential rivals for the contract to run Los Alamos Laboratory are considering joining forces for the competition. The University of Texas and Lockheed Martin disclosed Wednesday they have agreed to discuss a possible bidding partnership.
The announcement was made by UT chancellor Mark Yudof at a press conference in Washington, D.C., after signing an agreement with Sandia National Laboratories, run by Lockheed Martin, to collaborate on unclassified research.
"We're interested in talking to them about what role, if any, we might be able to play in a proposal" for Los Alamos, said UT spokesman Michael Warden.
Both Lockheed Martin and UT had dropped out of the competition to manage the New Mexico nuclear weapons lab. But after Lockheed Martin announced last week they were back in the running, UT responded by saying it would reconsider its decision to withdraw, as well.
UC had been in talks with both UT and Lockheed about potential bidding partnerships before they backed out of the competition, according to UC spokesman Chris Harrington, but those talks have not resumed.
"Our discussions with Lockheed Martin ended some time ago when their board of directors decided it was not in the best financial interests of their company to compete."
Harrington said UC is still open to partnering with UT. "We have a very high regard for the University of Texas and we would welcome continuing those discussions."
In August, Lockheed Martin said it was no longer interested in Los Alamos because it wasn't a good business proposition and the company wanted to devote its resources to current projects. UT cited difficulty finding a suitable partnership as one of the reasons it dropped out of the competition in February. Texas A&M and Battelle Memorial Institute also bowed out.
The Department of Energy responded by proposing some changes to the contract, including increasing the manager's fee from 0.6 percent of the lab's $2 billion annual budget to 3 percent, requiring a separate corporate entity to oversee lab management, and creating a new stand-alone pension plan for lab employees.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Don Carson said the proposed changes had brought the company back into the competition, and a separate pension plan was key. Picking up UC's generous pension plan would have been too costly, he said.
Lockheed Martin's re-entry was the biggest factor in UT's decision to reconsider bidding, said UT spokesman Anthony de Bruyn, but all the proposed changes would be weighed at a special meeting of UT regents on April 28. A decision on bidding is not expected that day.
UC has not yet said whether it will compete for the Los Alamos contract but is still in discussions with potential industry partners.
UC has managed Los Alamos since the lab opened its doors in 1943. But a series of security, safety and accounting issues prompted the DOE to put the contract up for bid in 2002 for the first time. The contracts for Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley Labs, both run by UC, are also open for competition.
A final request for proposals for Los Alamos is expected by late April, after which bidders will have 90 days to submit a proposal.
UC submitted a proposal for Berkeley Lab in February. The DOE has said it will extend the Livermore Lab contract for at least two years to keep the bidding process separate.
Look at the Morale-O-Meter (i.e., visits to The Blog).
Everyone who is capable has come to The Only Conclusion about The Contract--it will be LockMart+UT (even the Office of the President of UC/Bechtel knows it).
Nanos is here to the bitter end.
Read 'em and weep: aces over eights.
In a completely coincidental conversation with a DOE-ABQ employee (at a gas station on I-40 outside of NM!), the phrase. "I'd put my money on Bechtel" was used.
Aces & Eights... the "dead man's hand". Hope that turns out to be merely colorful imagery and a convenient gunfighter era allusion.
cowboy boats with the "GWB" logo. Now might be an excellent time to order a
pair. That, along with a noticeable Texan drawl might be just the ticket
to help you move up the management chain in the "new and improved" LANL that
is apparently coming our way. You've got to admire the way that both UT and
LockMart have played out this round of Texas Hold'em. They held their cards
back till the very end. Those latte-drinking Californicators won't know what
hit them by the time this thing is over. Too bad about the science, though.
It will soon be gone. Bushies don't care much for pointy-headed scientists.
Scientists tend to stray from the hard-right GOP party line that now rules
By the way for all of you folks that think the pension funds for UC are a government benefit think again. About the only thing that the UC has done right is to have Fidelity Investments administer the retirement fund. They did such a good job of it that the value of the fund became astronomical. These are private investment funds that have done extremely well over the years not government tax dollars. That is a good reason why
This type of system is substantially better than Social Security. Now that the private sector has done such a good job the government(Democrats and Republicans) wants to come in and raid the funds. Like I said they're all thieves from Kennedy to Domenici and every one in between. That whitewash of an "investigation" we saw where Linton "babbling" Brooks well, just babbled, and Nanos outright lied is proof that Congress doesn't care about the money wasted here. What's a billion wasted when the end result is gaining control of multiple billions in retirement funds.
Pete's done his job. I wonder what his cut will be?
The UC faculty senate and hordes of their fellow politically correct fruitcakes have spoken countless times about how UC should get out of the National Labs business. Now that their wish is coming to pass, suddenly they're worried that they've killed the goose and all the privs that come with it. Doom on you.
This sophomoric ranting about who is the better person, a graduate from UT vs. UC is stupid. Smart students will do well regardless of which college they attended. The UC alumni attitude that the rest of the world is inferior because it didn't graduate from the UC system is childish and stupid.
I'm reminded of the MIT ring - before you graduate, you're supposed to wear it with the beaver facing outwards, because the beaver sh*ts on you (the student). After you graduate, you turn the ring around so the beaver sh*ts on the world.
Will it make a difference which university system runs the lab? Only on the margins.
Will we see an improvement in the performance of our staff and overhead people? I sure hope so, as the obscene overhead rates and administrative featherbedding are cleaned up.
Will getting rid of the "tenure" system for everyone improve employee performance? You bet it will. Those people who are performers will be rewarded, and those who are not will be encouraged to leave, opening up opportunities for others.
Unlike LANL, their LDRD is not hidden from the public, so check it out on their web page. In a recent DOE IG report on LDRD funds, guess whose reporting of fund expenditures and results obtained was exemplary? Sandia of course. And guess whose accounting for LDRD funds was totally inadequate? LANL and LLNL of course, with LANL worst of all.
LANL has a long, and black, history of corruption in the LDRD program, esp under Miller. Bowles mentioned recently reform of the LDRD program, yet again. It is needed of course; but will it happen? History says no.
Perhaps LANL science would actually improve under new management? To further improve LANL science, fire the clowns who came up with "world's greatest science ..." and use the salaries for science. LANL does far too much yelling about how great they are.
I despair of UC ever cleaning up this mess, as they show no interest in LANL problems.
"Bush won - get over it!"
From the Left (Dawn calls them the "California liberal fruits and nuts"):
"The Bush administration is 100% about rewarding its allies and cronies."
What we have here is--Convergence!
It's a miracle! And it happened right here on The Blog!
Now what happens at LANL is--LockMart+UT!
You can cry "conspiracy" or you can cry "just desserts."
But nothing will be the same at LANL since The Shutdown. -Our own micro version of 9/11.