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UC Will Bid To Continue Los Alamos Management

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-26

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Regents at the University of California voted in favor of submitting a bid to manage the nuclear laboratory.

Before a full meeting of the University's board, two of its committees voiced their approval of a new bid, according to the Mercury News. UC has managed the New Mexico based nuclear laboratory since 1943, when it began work on developing the atomic bomb.

"I'd rather be on the inside, having a voice, playing a role in the decision-making, and bringing the values of good science to the institution, than on the outside looking in," UC President Robert C. Dynes said.

The University believes it has a duty to continue managing the nuclear lab, and has partnered with a division of San Francisco based Bechtel Group for the current bid.

Competing bids from Northrop Grumman, and from Lockheed Martin partnering with the University of Texas, have been expected to be involved in the bidding process. All are bidding on a contract where they will receive from $53 million to $79 million annually to run the lab.

With more funds comes more responsibility for Los Alamos, which has an annual research budget of $2 billion. The winner will have to create a separate corporate entity to manage the lab. Also, they will have to develop a stand-alone pension plan, an issue that has many of the 8,000 lab employees concerned.

The current pension plan is that of the University of California, and employees have no desire to leave that plan. But the University said if it wins the bid it will mirror the old plan as much as possible.

The recent meeting where the voice vote was taken prior to the full board of regents meeting was disrupted briefly by student protesters.

Bids are due July 19 and the National Nuclear Security Agency, part of the Department of Energy, plans to award a new contract Dec. 1. The new contractor will take over July 1, 2006.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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