Triad National Security remains on course to take over management of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico on Nov. 1, the president and chief executive office of the incoming management contractor told regents of the University of California last week.
Thomas Mason, who will also be lab director, reaffirmed his stance that restoring Los Alamos to nonprofit management — the status quo for most of the storied nuclear-weapon lab’s 75-year history — will be crucial to avoiding the sort of mistakes that prompted the Department of Energy to yank the for-profit incumbent’s contract about decade before its final option period would have expired.
“That’s probably, I think, the most important element: is making sure that we do everything we can to have the team function as a team without being pulled apart by conflicting corporate allegiances,” Mason said Wednesday in response to a question from Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley during a meeting of the Board of Regents’ National Laboratories Subcommittee.
Triad is led by nonprofit partners Battelle Memorial Institute, the University of California, and Texas A&M University, with integrated industry subcontractors Fluor and Huntington Ingalls Industries. The University of California managed Los Alamos solo for most of the lab’s existence and is part of the team on outgoing contractor Los Alamos National Security (LANS), with Bechtel National, AECOM, and BWX Technologies.
The Department of Energy awarded LANS a lab management and operations contract worth about $2 billion a year in 2006. The deal had options that would have taken it to 2026, but safety and security lapses prompted the agency to put the management contract back on the street. The LANS years were marked by nuclear-security and waste-management problems. The company took over the lab after the Department of Energy decided to privatize operations in the wake of managerial shortcomings on the University of California’s watch, including an espionage scandal that became public in 1999.
Triad’s contract is worth more than $20 billion over 10 years, with options. The five-year base period is worth about $10 billion, and the deal allows for up to $50 million in annual lab-management fees.
Editor’s Note, 10/01/2018, 8:45 a.m., Eastern: The story was corrected to show that the espionage scandal at Los Alamos National Lab happened before Los Alamos National Security managed the lab.