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Award of Los Alamos Contract to University of California Comes Under Criticism

Award of Los Alamos Contract to University of California Comes Under Criticism
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The award of the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) management contract to the University of California on December 21 by the U.S. Department of Energy is being criticized by the editors of top science journal Nature in the January 5 issue. A consortium led by the University of California and industrial engineering partner Bechtel corporation beat out a challenge by a group led by the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin. In an editorial entitled "No new start at Los Alamos," Nature writes, "Once, this news would have led to celebrations among the 8,000 or so University of California staff at Los Alamos. But their mood is instead forlorn. Staff pensions and other benefits are not guaranteed under the new arrangement, and recent actions by the University of California have eroded goodwill. ... The process by which the Department of Energy awarded the contract has been murky, even by the usual standards of such exercises. Few believe that the department's grey-suited administrators really made an independent choice. Rather, the process was characterized by delays and heavyweight political lobbying from Senator Pete Domenici (Republican, New Mexico), among others. That's par for the course, as the 'management crisis' at Los Alamos has always been more about Washington politics than about actual administrative issues at the lab." This was the first time that the contract has come up for rebidding since Los Alamos National Laboratory was established in 1943 to develop the first atomic bomb and was triggered by recent security scandals and claims of espionage, which in fact aren't all that new at LANL. More on the reaction to the LANL contract decision can be found in LANL: The Real Story, an insider's blog by retired LANL computer scientist Doug Roberts.
Submitted by elementlist on Jan 04, 2006
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