Laboratories' Contracts up for Renewal
Michael K. Robinson
WASHINGTON -- The US Department of Energy (DoE) and the University of California are negotiating new contracts for the management of Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos national laboratories. The current contracts, worth a total of $25 million per year to the university, expire Sept. 30, and officials hope to complete the new ones before the deadline.
DoE sources said the negotiations have focused on several key areas: setting clear performance goals for the laboratories; improving environmental safety and health; and implementing the Off-Ramp Provision, which allows the DoE to conduct a special performance assessment during the contract period. These items stem from the DoE's nationwide efforts to tie payments to results and performance.
According to Rick Malaspina, National Laboratory liaison for the University of California, the negotiations are going well.
"The teams [of scientists and researchers] have done their work ... [the negotiations are] now at the administrative level," Malaspina said. "There are two continuing areas for negotiations. The fee structure in general is a matter for discussion for all three labs. The second area is special provisions being discussed for Los Alamos alone."
Community relations were a major provision for the Los Alamos contract renewal because of the region's economic dependence on the lab. The university is working to establish a nonprofit foundation that would contribute to local charities, provide scholarships and fund community service projects. Malaspina said the lab is already contributing in these areas, but it must pay for these contributions out of the budget for unallowable costs, money that usually funds discretionary research.
"There is a desire on the part of the community, the DoE, the university and the laboratory to do more in the areas of corporate citizenship, community relations and development of the regional economy in New Mexico," Malaspina said.
The DoE is working on contracts for at least four other national laboratories. The EG&G Mound Applied Technologies Inc. in Miamisburg, Ohio, is under competition for a new contractor, and the DoE is readying a competitive solicitation for environmental restoration at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. In May, Energy Secretary Federico Peña terminated Associated Universities' contract to operate Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island because of an apparent decade-long tritium leak and other environmental health issues. Peña is also deciding whether to extend the contract for the Hanford Environmental Health Foundation in Richland, Wash. or to open it to competition.
The contract for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., expires September 1998, and DoE sources said that the review process has begun but has not reached the extend or compete stage.
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