Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Statement of Representative Tom Udall

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Statement of Representative Tom Udall
H.R. 2419
May 24, 2005
Mr. Chairman:

I rise today to speak about a matter of great concern to me and to many of my
constituents. The Los Alamos National Laboratory, in my district, is one of the largest
employers in the state. Two years ago, the Secretary of Energy determined that after more than
60 years of management by the University of California, the contract for the management and
operations of the Los Alamos National Laboratory would be opened to a competition.
We are all aware that there have been problems concerning the security of classified
materials handled at the lab and questions about safety practices. It is important to note,
however, that statistically the incidences of injury and illness at Los Alamos are well within the
range of both comparable DOE facilities and major chemical and manufacturing industrial
complexes. Still, I have consistently supported the competition in the hopes that the best
management team wins so the scientists and employees at Los Alamos can continue to contribute
to our national security and conduct world-class strategic science.

Last Thursday, the National Nuclear Security Administration released the final Request
for Proposals, or RFP, for the Management and Operating contract of the Los Alamos National
Laboratory. In December, the NNSA released a draft of this RFP. What concerns me is that
these documents were substantially different in two very fundamental ways.

First, the draft RFP did not indicate a requirement for the establishment of a separate,
dedicated corporate entity; the final RFP does. Because this requirement was not included in the
draft RFP, the public was never given the opportunity to comment on it. While that structure
may have emerged from the competition as the best design for the management of LANL, we’ll
never know. By mandating a specific corporate structure from the outset, the NNSA has
eliminated the proposition of an entirely different, and perhaps more creative and effective,
management structure. That appears to me to severely constrain, rather than promote, true
competition.

Secondly, the NNSA has taken the surprising step of dictating that the new management
entity must establish a stand-alone pension plan, one that would serve the employees of Los
Alamos only. Again, that requirement was not included in the draft RFP so the public never had
the opportunity to comment on it. The potential changes to the pension plan under a change of
management have been of the utmost concern for the vast majority of Lab employees who have
contacted me regarding the competition.

Currently, the employees of Los Alamos benefit greatly from being included in the
University of California Retirement Plan, which covers more than 170,000 employees. The
major organizations that have expressed the intent to bid for the Los Alamos contract already
employ in excess of 100,000 people. Obviously, a pension plan designed to cover that many
employees generates significant leveraging power.

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The Los Alamos National Laboratory alone currently employs only 8,000 people directly.
There is no way that a stand-alone pension plan designed to serve only 8,000 employees could
offer benefits as great as one that serves five, ten or, in the case of the University of California
Retirement Plan, 17 times that many. Shouldn’t the decision for how to best manage a financial
matter as significant as that of a pension plan be left to the discretion of the new managing
entity?

Furthermore, approximately 60 days ago, the NNSA completed the competition for the
management of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The University of California, which
has managed Lawrence Berkeley for 74 years, was awarded the contract. As such, Lawrence
Berkeley will continue to be managed as a non-profit entity, and its 3,800 employees will
continue to be included in the generous pension plan offered by the University of California.
The design of the final RFP for the management of Los Alamos National Laboratory
ensures that a non-corporate management structure cannot even be considered in the
competition. That is, the type of management structure that has very successfully served
Lawrence Berkeley for 74 years and Los Alamos for 62 years is not even on the table.
In conclusion, while I strongly support this competition, I do not see how it is in the best
interest of this country that a competition for the management and operation of a national
security complex as important as Los Alamos has been so greatly narrowed.
I would like to thank Representative Visclosky for affording me this opportunity to
speak, and with that, I yield back my time.

Comments:
Although I have never previously been much of a fan, I have to admit that Rep. Udall at least seems to be concerned about the future of Los Alamos, and even managed to make a logical statement without referencing employee whining and griping --- St. Pete, you might take a few notes.
 
I have to agree, Rep. Udall said everything that I thought about the final RFP. Basically DOE/NNSA did a slick slide of hand trick (major changes between the draft and final with no public comment period) and gets away with a double standard for the national labs. The way this RFP is crafted the losers are the US taxpayers and employees at LANL, while the winner will be LM when its able to rake in the intellectual capital from within LANL.
 
So Udall finally said something. Where has he been for the past year?
 
Damn! That last comment really fries me! Udall was the FIRST Congressional delegate from New Mexico to state that the shutdown was a fraud. The goddamn in-denial Republicans in this county are truly pieces of work!

You vote against your own self interests and then have the GALL to ask where Udall has been!

You Republicans fully deserve the fucking that your President and his minions (Domenici included) have administered to Los Alamos County!
 
used to be 14,000 where the hell they all go?
 
The question I have is how can our collective congressional delegation sit idly by while persons with obvious bias agaist LANL and LANL staff sit on the source evaluation board? This whole rebid is a thinly disguised way to "lose" 2500 employees without a RIF. Why else require a new separate pension plan? I'll remember.
 
The comments from Rep. Udall are right on the nose. The changes in the final RFP are clearly aimed at eliminating key UC advantages. A fair competition would allow each bidder to bring its strengths to the table and provide the best deal for the country. Instead this RFP is structured to put UC at a disadvantage, to the overall detriment of both LANL employees and the country as a whole.
 
I think 5/25/2005 08:24:10 PM may be on to something. Why is a promised contract extension taking so long? Could it be that the longer they wait, the more people will leave and the less to deal with? Easy way to deal with tight budgets without any obligations to personnel issues. Only problem is they can't control the mix of capability leaving and are now scrambling to fix the problem with retention, "critical skills", and recruiting as the new super-high priorities.
 
a stand-alone pension plan seals the lab's fate..... GET REAL

why would anyone come here to work aside someone get a fat pension while you get zip?

the fix is on---welcome LOCKHEED
 
It remains a mystery to me. Some posters think that reverting to vulgarities that once were considered evidence of ignorance somehow elevates their contributions to any discussion. Believe me it doesn't because it still only provides the aforementioned evidence.
 
Good job on screening the obscenities Doug!
 
Yep, A stand-alone pension plan is the worst possible thing, other than shutting this place down, that could have happened to most of us. So much for employee retention, and good luck with recruitment, I don’t see why anyone would be interested in working here anymore. Anyone need a house?
 
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