Feds pick Bechtel/California team to run Los Alamos National Laboratory

WASHINGTON, 22 Dec. 2005. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman has announced that Los Alamos National Security LLC has been selected to be the management and operations contractor for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

WASHINGTON, 22 Dec. 2005. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman has announced that Los Alamos National Security LLC has been selected to be the management and operations contractor for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Los Alamos National Security LLC is a limited liability corporation made up of Bechtel National, Inc., the University of California, BWX Technologies, Inc., and the Washington Group International, Inc.

The basic term of the contract is seven years, and up to an additional 13 years can be earned through successful performance under an award term provision. The solicitation provided for offerors to propose a possible maximum fee of between $53,364,816 and $79,736,715 per year, with the decision of how much fee is paid to be dependent on the quality of performance.

Transition activities will begin upon contract award and the new contractor will take over NNSA mission activities under the new contract starting June 1, 2006.

Important goals of the new contract include the following:
* outstanding scientific research will continue in an environment of scientific skepticism with robust peer review;
* laboratory operations will become the model within the nuclear weapons complex for enabling superb science; and
* the laboratory will benchmark against best practices across the university community, private industry and government, and import into the laboratory best practices, which will make laboratory performance better and cost less, thereby freeing up resources for research and development.

The deal also calls for improved working conditions, including:
* pension and benefits provisions contained in the request for proposal have been accepted and are incorporated into the new contract, such as all current lab employees (except top managers) are guaranteed jobs at the same pay and with substantially equivalent benefits;
* current employees who elect to retire under the University of California Retirement Program (UCRP) are not guaranteed employment with the new contractor, but may be considered for employment with the same pay and benefits offered to other new employees;
* current employees who are not eligible to retire but who want to freeze their benefits under UCRP are guaranteed their job with the new contractor and will receive the benefits offered to new employees; and
* new employees will be offered a new benefits package and will be paid using the same guidelines that apply to existing employees under comparable circumstances.

The laboratory, one of three National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear weapons laboratories, performs sensitive national security missions, including helping to ensure that the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, secure and reliable.

The Los Alamos Laboratory, or Project Y, came into existence in early 1943 for a single purpose: to design and build an atomic bomb. This is the first time since its creation that operation of the laboratory has been open to competition.

"This contract marks a new approach to management at Los Alamos, one that will benefit the national security of the United States through superb science," Bodman said. "As this decision benefits the country and the laboratory itself, it will also benefit the greater Los Alamos community and state of New Mexico since it will guarantee the lab will continue its role as an anchor of America's scientific and national defense efforts. I look forward to a new era of invaluable, cutting-edge science at Los Alamos."

** The competition

A Source Evaluation Board (SEB) made up of career civil servants from throughout the nuclear weapons complex began the contract competition process in May 2004, preparing a formal request for proposal that included an unprecedented public feedback process. The SEB, chaired by NNSA's former General Counsel Tyler Przybylek, then spent five months carefully evaluating the proposals and preparing a report for NNSA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Tom D'Agostino, who made the decision as the selecting official for the contract competition.

The winning team will bring to the laboratory a first-rate combination of experience in research and development enabled by excellence in operations in nuclear and high hazard environments, together with best in class business systems. The new contractor is committed to being a good neighbor in northern New Mexico and to contributing to the economic development of the area through the commercialization of technologies nurtured by the laboratory.

** Details on the LANS team

"We are honored and excited that the Department of Energy has selected our team and given us the opportunity to lead this vital national security science laboratory," said LANS President Michael Anastasio, currently director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the designated director for Los Alamos.

"Los Alamos has the tradition for over 60 years of pushing scientific frontiers for the benefit of our nation through its unique and outstanding workforce. LANS is committed to ensuring that this tradition continues well into the future."

The LANS team was formed to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory by four entities renowned for accomplishments throughout the DOE nuclear weapons complex and beyond.

Bechtel is the largest project management contractor in the United States. The University of California is the world's largest academic research institution. BWX Technologies and Washington Group International are the top two DOE nuclear facilities contractors and between them manage and operate four of DOE's five safest sites.

The team also includes the Advanced Studies Institute at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a consortium of the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

For more information, see www.doe.gov or www.lanl.gov or www.lansllc.com.

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