Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Private firms interested in U of C’s Argonne

By Isaac Wolf
October 11, 2005 in News

WASHINGTON, D.C.-—Defense firm Northrop Grumman is considering making a proposal for the Argonne National Laboratory East as the October 14 deadline to express interest in managing this University of Chicago-run research center draws near.

Argonne—a non-weapons facility that focuses on theoretical work including physics, computing, and math—is one of five national laboratories put up for competitive bidding by the Department of Energy, following widespread mismanagement of the Los Alamos National Laboratory by the University of California system.

Problems at Los Alamos included security and safety breaches, prompting the Department of Energy to put the labs up for competitive contracts in January 2004. While forcing universities to improve their management practices, the competitive bidding process allows commercial defense groups with strong political alliances—such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop—to jockey for the labs.

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