New management takes over New Mexico-based national lab

Scientists and researchers at the federal government's largest national laboratory will continue to focus on national security and work related to the proliferation of nuclear weapons despite the first management change in decades at New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories, officials said Monday.

Director Stephen Younger discussed the lab's future during a news conference that marked the official takeover by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, a subsidiary of Honeywell International.

The U.S. Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration announced the $2.6 billion management contract in December. Officials have spent the last few months working on a smooth transition for the lab's thousands of employees and operations.

Lockheed Martin had operated Sandia, located in Albuquerque, for the past two decades and was among bidders that lost out to the Honeywell team.

Younger said his team has centuries of combined experience when it comes to issues and while the core mission of Sandia will not change, Honeywell, Northrup Grumman and other partners will be looking for ways to do more work and do it faster.

"The government understands the importance of these institutions, and the institutions understand they have to be accountable for the money and the information they're providing. It's a different world today," Younger said.

With an annual budget of close to $3 billion, Sandia is one of the Albuquerque area's largest employers with more than 10,500 workers. Most are based in Albuquerque, but Sandia also operates sites at Lawrence Livermore lab in California and testing facilities in Nevada and Hawaii.

Its Albuquerque campus spans more than 21 square miles. A recent report by a coalition of local governments found that Sandia's partnership with private organizations through a science and technology park has generated more than $315 million in economic impact across the state over two years.

Sandia will continue to work with local and small businesses, Deputy Director Dave Douglass said Monday.

The bulk of work at Sandia centers on the research, development and maintenance of , but scientists there also have worked on energy and climate projects.

Younger, whose background is in nuclear weapons, said microelectronics, large-scale computing and on high-energy physics will continue to be focuses at Sandia.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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