UC competes for control of Los Alamos National Laboratory, home of the atomic bomb

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The University of California may place a bid to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory, or LANL, in New Mexico, running against 28 other interested parties.

According to UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez, the university has been involved in the management of the lab for more than 70 years. The Los Alamos National Security LLC, or LANS, whose partners include the UC and three other companies, has managed the lab since 2006, according to LANS website.

The LANS contract for management will expire in September 2018, however, so the National Nuclear Security Administration announced in June that it would conduct a competition for the new contract, Vazquez said in an email.

“The University of California has a tremendous track record of excellence and public service in scientific and technological management of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) over the many decades that we have been involved in its stewardship,” Vazquez said in an email.

According to the LANL website, the lab “delivers national security mission solutions using multidisciplinary science, technology and engineering.” The lab, located in Los Alamos, New Mexico, has a vast history as a institution for research.

In 1943, late UC Berkeley physics professor Robert Oppenheimer led a research team at the lab for the Manhattan project, which developed the world’s first atomic bomb within 20 months, the lab website states. Ever since, the university has helped manage the lab for the government, according to Vazquez.

“To prepare for the upcoming contract competition,” Vazquez said in an email. “The University has undertaken a thoughtful review to identify a teaming approach that will reinforce the lab’s scientific and technological excellence, drive a culture of operational excellence, and ensure the continued high quality and integrity of the Lab’s critical national security missions.”

After receiving the final release of proposals from the lab, the UC Board of Regents will make the final decision on whether to pursue a bid.

Staff writer Carina Zhao contributed to this report. 

Contact Malini Ramaiyer and Rishabh Nijhawan at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Los Alamos National Laboratory is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In fact, it is located in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

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  • Anonymous

    Why would you use the word “control” in your headline – isn’t that a little strong. It is “management” after all.

    And as an aside – I don’t think UC could manage its way out of a paper bag.

  • hoapres

    Actually it isn’t UC solely that runs LANL but it is part of a group that includes Bechtel.

  • Emilia M.

    This only works if there’s a guarantee from UC, that only STEM faculty and students have access to the facilities. If you let in UC faculty and students from the humanities, they’ll just pass on secrets to their ideological allies in North Korea and Venezuela.

    • hoapres

      Most of LANL work requires a DOE Q clearance which usually means that you have to be a US citizen.