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Subcontractors score a win in D.C.

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LANL > Environmental cleanup deals will remain in effect for 18-24 months

By Arin McKenna

Coordinated lobbying by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Major Subcontractors Consortium (LANL MSC), a collaborative of the 35 largest LANL Subcontractors, and the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has achieved a victory for local contractors.
Pete Maggiore, assistant manager of the Environmental Projects Office at the NNSA Los Alamos Field Office, announced during the Feb. 19 Energy Technology and Environmental Business Association meeting held in Santa Fe that “the DOE EM got the message that the LANS ADEP MTOA contracts will be utilized for environmental cleanup work under the DOE EM Bridge contract with LANS, LLC.”
The bridge contracts will be in effect for the next 18 to 24 months until a new prime contractor is selected.
The consortium and the coalition traveled to Washington, D.C. as separate entities the week of Feb. 9 in order to meet with New Mexico’s congressional delegation and Department of Energy leadership.
The coalition included the subcontractor’s concerns as part of their larger agenda.
One of the consortium’s two major issues was the environmental clean-up transition from the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) to DOE’s Environmental Management (EM) division following the Feb. 14, 2014 waste release incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project.
The subcontractors faced the possibility of having to rebid contracts they had already secured, due to the transition to a different agency. Nearly half of the coalition’s members currently hold EM contracts.
“These companies went through the bidding process. It’s a very, very costly process, and they were selected from a national pool of companies. LANL selected the very best EM companies in the nation to do this work, and they are currently contracted at Los Alamos,” Liddie Martinez, secretary/treasurer of the LANL MSC executive committee told the Regional Coalition in January.
Contracts were awarded for a period of up to five years and were valued at several hundred million dollars each.
Those who secured contracts had to make additional investments in a local office, hiring qualified/cleared personnel, securing equipment and developing required quality assurance and safety programs.
“Because they have invested so much already in securing the contracts that they hold, when these contracts are rebid by EM, the likelihood of them being in a financial position to be able to rebid the work they’ve already been awarded a second time is most unlikely, because they’re still in the red. They have not been able to recoup the initial investment,” Martinez told the coalition. “So that means that other, perhaps less qualified companies, may be the ones that are going to be bidding and thereby selected.”
Those subcontractors can now breathe easy at least until the end of the transition period.
“This is a great victory for the LANL MSC, and all of New Mexico. This shows that collaboration between communities, the public and private sector can have an impact,” Martinez said. “The MSC is very proud to work closely with our partners including the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities and the Regional Development Corporation on this initiative and for increasing clean up funding at the lab.”
Martinez also said the MSC was thankful for the efforts of state representative Stephanie Garcia Richard for sponsoring House Joint Memorial 9, which she said is helping to bring state and federal attention to the issues.
Losing those contracts would not only have had a major impact on the contractors but on local communities. Contracts currently held by consortium members total almost $1 billion. The 35 consortium members employ 2,000 people in Northern New Mexico, equating to $110 million in payroll annually.
Regional Coalition Chair, Mayor Alice Lucero of Española, said losing those contracts would have a major impact on local and state gross receipts tax revenues.
The ripple effect would have included the loss of community reinvestment funds, which support education and technological development.
Contractors are not out of the woods yet. Once the prime contractor is selected, that entity may choose to rebid all the contracts or — as the consortium hopes — may continue to honor and maintain existing contracts. Some of the smaller consortium contractors may form a coalition to bid on the prime contract or one of the organization’s larger contractors may submit a bid, as well.
The consortium has not received any word on the other major concern it brought to Washington, which is a new directive for the labs to utilize strategic sourcing via nationwide vendors.
Although the consortium will be doing everything in its power to avoid reassignment of the environmental cleanup contracts after the bridge period, the more immediate concern is getting contractors working again.
Environmental cleanup at the lab has been on hold since the WIPP incident.

“The next step is to try to get an audience with the governor and her staff to talk about the importance of getting contractors back to work and starting on the legacy work while we’re waiting for WIPP to open,” Martinez said.
“Since all of the transporting of the barrels has stopped because of the incident at WIPP, right now these contractors are just in a holding pattern. So we need to get these folks back to work.
“The governor is very, very interested in making sure that the cleanup work is done and it’s completed in a timely fashion. She’s been very vocal about that.
“We just feel that we have to bring the urgency of it to her attention and have the option of being able to make this happen much more quickly, rather than waiting and having several hundred people laid off because they’re waiting for this work to start.”