Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A scientist experiments with business

By Sue Vorenberg
Tribune Reporter

May 18, 2005

Michael Anastasio has never worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but the head of the University of California bid team says he's familiar with New Mexico.

The university announced Tuesday that Anastasio, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, will head the team from UC and Bechtel Corp. that plans to bid on the National Nuclear Security Administration contract to operate Los Alamos. The contract, up for bid for the first time in 60 years, expires at the end of September.


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Seems odd there isn't much commentary on UC's Director pick. When LM selected Robinson, the whoop was heard all the way to Santa Fe. Silence has been deafening regarding Anastasio. Is it just because you-know-who is gone? Something else?
Not odd at all. UC does not have a sliver of a chance of getting the contract. It really does not matter who they select to fill the Director slot.
Likely true; Robinson resigned but Anastasio stayed in place. Says a lot.
I don't know what the Las Vegas betting odds are for the winner of the LANL contract competition, but I wouldn't count UC out just yet... by my score card its pretty much "even" at this point;

Industrial Partnering = LM vs Bechtel/BWTX et al... winner: slight edge LM.

Management & Business Practices = LM vs Bechtel/BWTX et al... winner: even.

Employment Practices = LM vs UC... LM's hidden approach for HR/Benefits, typical of private companies vs UC open HR/Benefits policies as a public institution and driven by Calif laws... winner: none... DOE doesn't care about this...

Academic & Scientific Credentials = UT vs UC... winner: UC easily.

Management history in DOE = LM vs Bechtel/BWTX et al... winner: LM.

Political support = LM/UT vs UC/Bechtel/UNM et al... Calif and New Mexico congressional delegations and statehouses are solidly behind the UC team, LM has some baggage as a defense contractor and the White House's connection to UT is not all that influential given NNSA's semiautonomous status... so I give this to UC.

I don't know what the real RFP categories are, nor the weightings for them...but I really think this will come down to DOE/NNSA having to decide on what they want LANL to be - a premier science lab or a smoothly run engineering organization.
Good analysis on the competitors, but you forget one critical point. If
DOE picks UC, they will go through hell from Congress and the media if
any problem emerges in the next few years. Therefore, they will lean
towards a new, and safer choice - LM/UT.
Good comments by 7:37 and 9:49. I agree that, logically, UC/Bechtel should have the edge. But logic and politics are different beasts, and I can't help but think there's a lot of politics in this competition. As a side note, I once worked for UT Austin. The pay and benefits are crummy. New technical staff start with eight days of vacation a year. Health benefits, for just myself, cost me $295 a month. If LM/UT win the contract I hope the Lab employees don't end up with something similar to these benefits. Here's a naive question on my part: which part of the winning team will LANL employees fall under for pay and benefits? I no longer work at LANL, so I'm not up on these details.
If competition were honest, UC even with the luggage of Bechtel would win easily. Unfortunately it is all politics and nothing else. All the talking about business practices is just a smokescreen. It is much more important how political situation develops, and this until quite recently was strongly in favor of Lockheed, but it seems to take a turn now, so it will be very interesting to see what will happen.
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