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12/23/2005
02:52 PM
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Los Alamos Employees Critical Of Lab Decision

One retired lab worker has started a blog with responses he's gotten to the lab's move to bring in an outside firm to help manage the facility.

Two days after the federal government awarded the University of California and others a contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory, employees are griping over the decision.

Doug Roberts, a retired lab staff member, has received mostly complaints from people submitting comments to his blog about the new management contract awarded to the university and its partners. The decision was announced Wednesday by the Department of Energy.

Observers are wondering whether long time lab employees will leave and whether the problems over the past few years – including fraud, mismanagement, accounting problems and security breaches – have any chance of improving. The University of California has run the lab since it opened in 1943 with the mission of creating an atomic bomb.

This year marks the first time the government has requested proposals for managing the lab. Los Alamos National Security LLC, a partnership uniting the university and Bechtel Corp., beat out Lockheed Martin for the contract.

The corporation will earn up to $80 million to run the lab for the next seven years, with the possibility of renewing the contract for another 13 years. Lockheed Martin can protest the decision but has not done so yet.

The lab is charged with protecting the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile and is also an incubator for scientific and technological achievements.

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