Tuesday, December 20, 2005

DOE to announce LANL contract

By Sue Vorenberg
Tribune Reporter

December 20, 2005

The wait to find out who will run Los Alamos National Laboratory is almost over.

The Department of Energy announced this morning it will reveal the winner of the contract to operate the lab on Wednesday at 12 p.m. in Washington D.C.

The news will come through a press conference with Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman.

The announcement was originally scheduled for Dec. 1, but was put on hold to give the National Nuclear Security Agency more time to review the paperwork.


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1) Whoever gets the contract, there will be big changes at LANL. All of the attention LANL has had will highlight areas for change, whether for political or operational reasons.

The new contractor will have wide latitude in making changes. Do not expect a lot of questions to be asked. Expect a Nanos-like attitude restructuring/house-cleaning, though less abrupt. There will be an obligatory restructuring, but there will also be strategic refocus on the LANL approach.

2) The contractor has strong political support. The details of the award have been hashed and ratified to a high degree within Washington. They will have specific direction and will have discussed responsibility and oversight in detail.

3) Most folks (inside and out) will see the change as a defeat of LANL, with a takeover by LLNL management or SNL management. A bitter pill indeed.

4) Do not be surprised if there is not unanimity on the DOE staff. They probably were told to match their answer with a political reality.

5) Expect some appreciation for the LANL managers who have been riding out this difficult storm. If they leave, it will not be with a boot in the rear.

6) Expect more attention to compliance and safety. The new guys will need to prove they are better.

7) The problem with DOE inability to manage their responsibility has NOT escaped high level attention. The fact that the creation of the NNSA with a touch of autonomy (deeply undermined by Bill Richardson under Clinton's specific instruction) is still flawed is likely to lead to another run at improved government management of the US nuclear weapon establishment.

8) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of your friends in Washington!

The Mountain
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