Brain gain

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By Roger Snodgrass

Call it LANL Jr., or LANL dot Alt, an alternative laboratory.A Los Alamos group is trying once again to grow another leg for northern New Mexico’s wobbly one-legged economic engine to rest on.A petition that circulated last fall from Los Alamos County residents to members of the congressional delegation called for a number of ways to broaden LANL’s national security mission to address such matters as alternative energy sources, international nonproliferation, nuclear safety, and new economic and national health modeling.In recent months, laboratory managers have increasingly re-emphasized many of these areas as potential “new opportunities” but specific measures to reduce overhead costs have not been visible.Included in the alternative proposals floated in September was an explicit remedy for reducing overhead. Those indirect costs, tacked on as a fixed percentage to support the administrative structure, were said to have grown 30 percent in the previous two years. The proposal suggested dividing expensive nuclear work into a separate cost structure and creating a “work-for-others unit” that could contract with other U.S.

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