DOE seeks comments on Los Alamos management contract

The Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory, recently shaken by scandals over computer security and espionage, soon could be under new management.

DOE today released a draft proposal request as part of its plan to open to competition the laboratory's management contract, which the University of California has held since the 1940s.

The university's current contract expires Sept. 30 next year.

DOE will accept comments on its draft RFP through Jan. 7. After the department evaluates comments, officials expect to launch a full and open competition with a presolicitation conference in Albuquerque, N.M., to be followed by release of a final proposal next summer.

The winning vendor will receive a five-year initial contract that could be renewed for up to 15 years, according to the draft RFP. DOE wants the contractor it selects to retain the lab's current workforce, except for the highest-level managers.

The draft proposal would require the vendor to form partnerships with northern New Mexico institutions. It also lays out a different set of rules for the relationship between the contractor and the department, which would increase contractor accountability, adopt private-sector expertise and align the lab's standards with those used in other top-flight research institutions.

Computer security problems at Los Alamos prompted its managers to stand down laboratory operations for weeks last summer (see GCN coverage).

Lab critics, including the Project on Government Oversight, based in Washington, have cited lapses in computer security and nuclear safety at Los Alamos. Computer security and espionage scandals reaching back at least four years prompted repeated internal and external investigations by lab officials, law enforcement and other agencies (see GCN coverage).

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