Lab signs custodial deal with pueblo company

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By Roger Snodgrass

There were affirmations and exclamations of approval Thursday at the signing of a custodial subcontract involving Los Alamos National Laboratory and two neighboring pueblos.

On hand for the signing ceremony, Sen. Jeff Bingaman said, “This is great news!”

Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio said, “It’s an exciting day!”

Los Alamos Site Office Manager Don Mitchell said, “This is truly a great event.”

The subcontract with TSAY Construction and Services, LLC, a tribal enterprise owned by Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo) was said to be worth $65 million over five years.

Ohkay Owingeh Gov. Earl N. Salazar called it an “historic event.”

 “It is the first of its size and type that has ever been awarded in New Mexico,” he said, which was also notable because it was a firm fixed contract over the duration.

San Ildefonso Gov. Leon Roybal expressed appreciation, as well, for the part of the subcontract that his pueblo would share under a mentoring arrangement with Ohkay Owingeh.

The deal was foreshadowed last year when Ohkay Owingeh signed a mentor-protégé agreement with the laboratory, said Kevin Chalmers, director of the lab’s acquisition service.

“At their request, we’ve taught them some of the things we’ve learned, like how to use the reverse auction to drive costs down,” he said.

Reverse auctions use real-time bidding to get down to “best price,” for products and services.

Chalmers said this and three other small business contracts announced Wednesday for New Mexico companies were part of an ongoing campaign that has targeted small, local businesses.

“It’s not over yet,” he said. “We have a lot more teed up and in the process.”

Ron Lovato, CEO of TSAY,  the tribal corporation that also owns the Ohkay Casino Resort Hotel, north of Espanola, said the jobs were all unionized jobs.

Donn Wiese, general manager of the construction and services subsidiary, said the company has expanded its scope over the last year, adding a new Navy contract in Southern California, state, along with a Corps of Engineers contract in South Carolina and a Commerce Department contract to work on hurricane preparedness in a 20-state area. That’s in addition to its base operations support contract in Washington State.

He said the LANL contract would mean a 10-15 percent increase for the company in new jobs from Northern New Mexico.

Bingaman said the contract was doubly good.

“It not only get us through the election, but it gets us through the next election,” he said.