Thursday, January 12, 2006

DOMENICI LOOKS TO LANL FUTURE UNDER NEW CONTRACT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JAN. 12, 2006
CONTACT: CHRIS GALLEGOS (202) 224-7082

DOMENICI LOOKS TO LANL FUTURE UNDER NEW CONTRACT
Encourages Unified Transition, NNSA Reforms to Aid Scientists
(Text of Prepared Remarks Included Below)

LOS ALAMOS - U.S. Senator Pete Domenici strongly encouraged Los Alamos National Laboratory employees to be part of a unified effort to successfully transition to a new management regime, while he works to prompt reforms on the federal level to further improve their capabilities.

Domenici, chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds LANL and the Energy Department's weapons complex, today delivered an "all hands" employee address in Los Alamos as part of day-long visit to the city made famous by the Manhattan Project during World War II. In late December, DOE selected Los Alamos National Security LLC to assume management of the famed laboratory. LANS includes the University of California and the Bechtel Corp.

"We need a strong start with the new contract and the new year. It will take a unified effort among employees, the new contracting team and the NNSA to ensure there is a smooth transition period. I am confident outstanding questions about employee benefits and other issues will soon be resolved and that Los Alamos can move forward into a bright new era," Domenici said.

"We have a real opportunity with this new team to draw on its vast technical experience and new ideas to make a real difference in lab operations," he said. "Everyone must work with the new team to make a difference. Change is not easy, especially after 60 years. But it is inevitable. Every employee must do their part to suggest and implement positive reforms. New ideas and visions will sustain and challenge scientific growth at the labs and we need more of them."

Domenici and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman have conferred on obstacles posed by administration of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that impede progress by laboratory scientists at Los Alamos and throughout the national laboratory system. Domenici helped write the 1999 legislation creating the NNSA, but now questions whether its implementation is improving laboratory operations and enhancing national security missions.

"The new organization should focus on reducing bureaucratic red tape to free scientists to spend more time with experiments and less time filling out forms," Domenici said. "The NNSA might not have developed in the way we intended and as a result, makes your job more difficult. If this is the case, the act must be revisited as the NNSA must find a way to cut through the bureaucracy to free scientists to do their jobs."

In pledging to work with Bodman to address NNSA concerns, Domenici also said NNSA must better articulate a vision for LANL and the weapons complex as a whole.

"There are important questions to be answered. What investments are needed to support world-class research at the NNSA labs? When will the NNSA begin to consolidate unnecessary nuclear material so we can invest more in science and less on guarding unnecessary material? To what extent is the NNSA working with the Office of Science to leverage our resources and expertise across the department?" Domenici said.

Finally, Domenici highlighted a bipartisan legislative effort he is undertaking with Senators Jeff Bingaman and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to double federal investment in basic scientific research and education, particularly in secondary levels. The bill will follow recommendations made in a recent National Academies of Science report titled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm."

"The future success of this lab will depend on whether we successfully educate the next generation of scientists. It is clear that we do not invest enough in basic science research and we do a poor job of educating our students and teachers in engineering and science," Domenici said.

As part of his visit to LANL, Domenici also helped break ground on the initial phase of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility, an estimated $850 million nuclear facility construction project. The first phase will include Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building that will contain about 19,500 square feet of radiological laboratory space.

Finally, Domenici joined Los Alamos County officials to announced the Entrada Business Park that will be build on land transferred from DOE property-an initiative he sponsored to spur greater economic diversity and development in Los Alamos.

"This is a positive step in a process that has taken years and years to get moving. I look forward to this area growing and offering more space for Los Alamos as a community to expand," Domenici said.

Domenici is chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Both positions give him funding and oversight jurisdiction over DOE and its overall activities.



--30--

The following is the text of Domenici's prepared remarks:

LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY SPEECH
U.S. SENATOR PETE DOMENICI
JAN 12, 2006
Let me begin by thanking Director Kuckuck for his fine introduction and for taking on the duty of Lab Director during a critical time for this lab.

Bob stepped in following the shutdown and in the midst of a contract competition and did a tremendous job of getting the operations back to normal and refocused on the lab mission.

Please join me in giving Director Kuckuck a round of applause for his outstanding service.

Bob - I understand there is a lab in California in need of a lab director - are you interested? Don't worry; their contract isn't up for another two years.

Reason for Optimism

I am relieved that NNSA has finally made its decision and awarded the contract, putting and end to a very long period of anxiousness and waiting.

I recognize there are a number of details that are still unresolved, including the employee benefits, but those answers will be coming soon.

We need to get on to a strong start with the new contract and a new year.

It will take a unified effort among employees, the new contracting team and the NNSA to ensure there is a smooth transition period.

The new contracting team, Los Alamos National Security, LLC, has a big challenge ahead.

NNSA has selected the LANS team because they bring together scientific and operational excellence.

We have a real opportunity with this new team, to draw on their vast technical experience and new ideas to make a real difference in lab operations.

I can't tell you how many scientists have asked me to find a way to let them do their job. The new organization should focus on reducing bureaucratic red tape, freeing scientists to spend more time with experiments and less time filling out forms.

It is encouraging that later today; we will break ground on the new $850 million CMR building to replace the existing 53 year facility. The existing lab is long past its prime and it is high time to replace it with a first class facility from science to safety.

Employees must work to implement positive change.

Everyone must work with the new team to make a difference. Change is not easy, especially after 60 years, -- but it is inevitable. Every employee must do their part to suggest and implement positive reforms.

New ideas and visions will sustain and challenge scientific growth at the labs and we need more of them.

Job safety must be a priority. It should be your goal to make operations at LANL on par with the scientific excellence for which this lab is known.

I also challenge the young scientists in this room to become the next leaders. Who among you will be the next Director of Los Alamos? We need to develop young managers and scientists to accept responsibility for the future of this lab.

NNSA must be part of the solution as well.

While we are celebrating this new era, we also need to examine NNSA's role. Congress created the NNSA to improve operations and better execute the national security mission. However, it might not have developed in the way we intended and as a result, makes your job more difficult.

If this is the case, the Act must be revisited. NNSA must find a way to cut through the bureaucracy to free scientist to do their job.

I have shared my concerns with Secretary Bodman and I will work with him to ensure that NNSA does a better job of executing its national security mission.

It is also important for NNSA to articulate its vision for the future for Los Alamos and the complex as a whole.

o What investments are needed to support world-class research at the NNSA labs?
o When will the NNSA begin to consolidate unnecessary nuclear material so we can invest more in science and less on guarding unnecessary material?
o To what extent is the NNSA working with the Office of Science to leverage our resources and expertise across the Department?
I believe the success of this laboratory and the NNSA is critical to our country.

This laboratory was critical in World War II, and it continues to protect this country today.

We cannot allow people like you, or institutions like this, to become endangered species.

Let me explain what I mean by this.

The future success of this lab will depend on whether or not we are successful in educating the next generation of scientists.

Science Funding / Science Education

It is clear that we don't invest enough in basic science research and we do a poor job of educating our students or teachers in engineering and science.

Today, the U.S. is a net importer of high technology products. The U.S. share of high-technology exports have fallen over the last two decades from 30 percent to 17 percent.

In Japan, 66 percent of undergraduates receive degrees in science and engineering. In the U.S. it is only 32 percent.

We need to do a better job of educating our children.

A recent National Academy of Sciences report entitled "Rising above the Gathering Storm" recommended that we make a greater investment in basic sciences research and education in order to remain economically and scientifically competitive.

This year, Senator Bingaman, Senator Alexander and I will introduce legislation that doubles funding for science research and improves scientific education in secondary schools.

You can be sure that the labs will play an important role in this endeavor. The legislation bill will strengthen and extend activities at the DOE to support math and science education.

It will create summer institutes at the national laboratories to enhance the skills of current math and science teachers from around the country.

We will also establish a competitive, merit-based scholarship program to support 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students in math, science, and engineering fields.

The report also recognized that laboratory directed research and development funding is an essential tool to permit scientists to pursue promising scientific discovery.

Norm Augustine, the Chairman of this NAS report and former CEO of Lockheed Martin, noted that lab directed research funding was the most important investment we can make in support of scientific discovery.

The NAS report recommended that all federal research institutions be authorized to direct up to 8 percent of their budgets to LDRD research projects. I concur with this recommendation and I will continue to fight to ensure that we have a healthy LDRD program.

Conclusion

I am pleased that we are able to put the competition behind us and get on with our work.

Clearly, we will all be very busy this year in our joint effort to ensure a successful transition for Los Alamos.

I would like your input on the progress and direction of the transition, to ensure that we are on the right track.

I hope that everyone at the lab will take it upon themselves to do their part to guarantee the success of this great institution.

END


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