Lab assuming services contract, employees

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By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos National Laboratory is on track to assume the management of the services now provided by its major subcontractor KSL.

KSL Services has been LANL’s site services subcontractor since 2003, when the partnership of KBR Shaw and Los Alamos Technical Associates, was awarded a five-year contract worth about $800 million, with an option for an additional five years. KBR, Kellogg, Brown and Root, was at the time a subsidiary of oilfield services giant, Halliburton.

Currently employing some 900 people, including 650 union members, the company provides such services as facilities maintenance and repair, utility operations, roads and grounds maintenance, waste removal, and custodial services for the Laboratory.  Job skills include plumbing, carpentry and basic infrastructure maintenance.

The laboratory assumed KSL’s work-control operations with 79 employees in work planning and scheduling in April 2007.

Speaking at a Laboratory Legislative Oversight Committee hearing this week, Principal Associate Director for Operations Mike Mallory reported that the lab would begin the final transition process Dec. 1. The contract expires Dec. 31.

This is the first time since at least the days of the Manhattan Project during World War II that the laboratory will have managed its own major service functions since the Zia Company in 1946.

“Certainly in the vast majority of past situations, these functions have been carried out by one company or another” under a separate contract, said Kevin Roark of the LANL Communications Office Friday.

Mallory told the legislators that the assumption of the contract was not solely about cost savings, although some savings were expected.

The main goal, Roark said, was, “Not to impact employees, not to create job losses and not to negatively impact people’s benefits or salaries.”

The motivator was rather to improve customer service and gain other operational efficiencies, such as faster and quicker responses, which would presumably save money.

“We’ll know in the first half of this year, what sort of efficiencies it will translate into,” Roark said.

The lab is working on the contracts with the 650 union members and expects to offer them jobs next week. Of 214 nonunion management employees, 211 have accepted positions with the laboratory.

The vast majority of the 58 managers are also expected to accept continuing positions.

“About 20, or one-third of them, are doing something else or were not offered positions,” Roark said.

In a “Year in Review ’07-‘08” document, the laboratory listed the transfer as one of its achievements for business excellence for the period.

Mallory spoke to the legislative committee Wednesday.

The committee also heard a presentation from the lab’s Acquisition Division, including a report on a new telecommunication contract.

On Oct. 15, the laboratory announced an award for site-wide telecommunications support service to CNSI Inc., a small business with an office in the Los Alamos Research Park.

The subcontract is valued at $32 million, is for three years with an option to extend for another two years.

CNSI will provide lab-wide telecommunications site support services and administer lower-tier subcontract agreements with Verizon Federal Networks and several regional small businesses, taking over from Qwest Government Services, Inc.

Committee Chair Phil Griego, D-Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Mora, Sandoval, San Miguel, Taos, said he would ask for approval from the Legislative Council Services for an extra committee meeting in December to discuss the lab’s small business programs in the region.

LANL Director Michael Anastasio was scheduled to appear at the hearing this week, but was unable to attend because of illness.