Morning Briefing - January 25, 2018
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January 25, 2018

UC Regent Praises ‘Clever’ Bid for LANL

By Dan Leone

The University of California and its mystery teammates have submitted a “clever” bid to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for the next 10 years, the regent in charge of the institution’s national lab activities said in a public meeting late Wednesday.

“We do have the most excellent bid,” Ellen Tauscher, the incoming chair of the University of California Board of Regents’ national laboratories subcommittee, said in a regents meeting Wednesday in San Francisco. “It is significant in its creativity, in its innovation. It’s clever. You’ll find out what ‘clever’ means later on.”

Tauscher is a former seven-term congresswoman who once chaired the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee: the panel with jurisdiction over U.S. national labs such as Los Alamos.

“I think if it’s on the merits, then we will get the contract,” Tauscher said. “We do deserve the award.”

Bidding on the next LANL management contract closed Dec. 11. The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which owns the lab, is expected to provide feedback on the bids in February ahead of oral discussions with bidders. The agency expects to make an award in April or May.

The University of California managed LANL for most of its 70-plus-year history. For just over a decade, it has been a senior partner on incumbent lab prime Los Alamos National Security.

That team, which also includes Bechtel National, BWX Technologies, and AECOM, is being forced out by the NNSA after a series of nuclear safety lapses, including failing to properly seal a drum of radioactive waste that in 2014 blew open and leaked radiation into DOE’s deep-underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

The University of California, the University of Texas, and Texas A&M University are all in the hunt for the next Los Alamos lab management contract. The public universities have not identified their teaming arrangements.

The Department of Energy estimates the lab-management portion of the next Los Alamos prime contract will cost more than $20 billion. The deal includes a five-year base and five one-year options. The winning bidder could collect up to $50 million per year in lab-management fees over the life of the contract. Los Alamos National Security’s contract is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2018.

Wednesday’s meeting was webcast from San Francisco. Weapons Complex Morning Briefing has prepared a transcript of the exchange between Kimberly Budil,  the university’s vice president for national laboratories, and Tauscher during the meeting.