Fate of nuke lab bids revealed soon
UT, A&M, partners vie to run Los Alamos site; cost could be $23B.
The University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System will learn by the end of May, if not sooner, the outcome of their competing bids to operate a major federal nuclear weapons laboratory.
The UT System has at least one undisclosed corporate partner in its proposal to run Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The A&M System is partnered with the University of California System and likely with one or more companies.
Purdue University in Indiana has confirmed that it also submitted a bid, and news reports say it has teamed with San Francisco-based engineering and construction company Bechtel Corp.
The lab’s current operator is Los Alamos National Security LLC, a private consortium of the University of California, Bechtel, BWXT Government Group Inc. and the URS unit of engineering design firm AECOM. The National Nuclear Security Administration signaled in late 2015 that the group would lose its contract, which expires at the end of September, because it failed to earn high enough performance reviews.
The security administration, a semi-autonomous arm of the U.S. Energy Department, estimates the cost of running the lab for 10 years at more than $23 billion. Bidders were required to propose fixed and award fees that could amount to millions of dollars a year. The administration says the government “is more concerned with obtaining a superior technical and management proposal than making an award at the lowest evaluated cost/price.”
Federal officials have not said exactly when they will announce the winning team. However, the government said in a question-and-answer document that it “is committed to ensuring a contract is awarded in time to allow a four month transition before the current contract expires on September 30, 2018.” That would mean a contract would have to be awarded by the end of May.
Secrecy has shrouded much of the bidding and review process. There could be other bidders that have not surfaced publicly, and the government has not disclosed the identities of any bidders.
UT System officials have said they established a limited liability company and a corporation