Los Alamos contract to be decided soon

November 17, 2005

The fate of U.S. nuclear exploration is waiting on the Department of Energy to decide who will get a contract to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Los Alamos has been run by the University of California since the lab's inception in 1943, but a series of embarrassing missteps have forced the contract with UC to be opened up for a bid, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is debating between two bids and said it will decide around Dec. 1, although the determination could come at any time.

UC, which ran the laboratory as, what they call it, "a public service," has never sought a profit. It was provided a $9 million annual stipend from the federal government.

UC along with partners in the private sector like Bechtel National Inc., are going toe-to-toe with Lockheed Martin Corp. and their partners of various New Mexico universities, the University of Texas and other companies for a six year contract worth $79 million annually.

The contract was opened up this year after half a decade of problems with UC, like under-trained employees, overly aggressive bosses and mismanagement of national secrets.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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