University of California submits bid for LANL contract

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By Tris DeRoma

The University of California was the only organization to confirm Monday it had submitted a bid to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory for the next five years.

Bids were due to the National Nuclear Security Administration Monday. The NNSA would not release information about the contractors that submitted bids and would not say when bids would be opened.

The UC system confirmed its submission in an email to the Los Alamos Monitor.

“I can confirm that UC submitted a proposal today for the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract. We aren’t confirming or discussing any of our bid partners at this time,” UC Spokeswoman Stephanie Beechem said.

UC is a managing partner in Los Alamos National Security LLC, the consortium operating the lab.

Retired lab employee and current Los Alamos County Council Chairman David Izraelevitz wrote a letter to the UC Board of Regents in late November, urging the board to consider including in its bid language that promotes the idea that not-for-profits like the UC system should be taxed for their gross receipts, just like the for-profit companies are that do business in New Mexico.

State law allows only for the gross receipts tax of for-profit companies to be taxed. LANS LLC, the consortium of which the UC system is a partner, is considered a for-profit company, and proceeds from the tax on its gross receipts has brought millions of tax dollars to the county, since LANS acquired the management and research contract in 2005.

According to the latest data provided by the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, $76 million in gross receipts tax was paid to the state in 2015. Los Alamos County received $34 million of those taxes, and the state received $41 million.

Izraelevitz has also met with UC system representatives when they have come to the county on fact-finding tours of the lab leading to their announcement and is so far pleased with UC’s intentions when it comes to community support.

“They seem to me to be very receptive to the letter that we sent,” Izraelevitz said.

Many contractors on a list of possible bidders reached out to the Los Alamos Monitor Tuesday. While none that responded indicated they sent in a bid, many gave reasons why they did not bid. Many said after considering the issue carefully, that their companies would be better off in a support role to the companies that did put in a bid and later won the contract.

“Keystone has not committed to a team and does not have a plan to do so,” Keystone International President Michelle Detry said. “We believe our long-term options are best served by supporting whichever team wins.”

Bechtel, a for-profit company that is also in the LANS consortium, was also on the list of prospective bidders.

“We won’t be commenting on the procurement process right now. We’re concentrating on managing the Lab safely and efficiently as part of the LANS team,” Bechtel Nuclear, Security and Environmental Manager of Public Affairs Fred deSousa said.

Other potential bidders said they thought that on further examination, it just wasn’t the path they wanted their companies to take at the time.

“Advanced Insights Group decided not to bid on the LANL management contract,” AIG President William M. Knauf said.

“We explored the available potential opportunities to team with one of the primes; but determined that because smaller businesses were not going to be able to provide a significant value add to any of the larger companies, it would not be worth our investment to partner with any of the primary bidders.”

The UC system also manages the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and is also a partner that manages Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

The University of Texas system, which was expected to submit a bid to the NNSA, did not return requests for comment about whether the system submitted a bid.