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News from the National Academies
Date: May 17, 2004
Contacts: Patrice Pages, Media Relations Officer
Megan Petty, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail <news@nas.edu>

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Coordination of Science Programs Should Be a Priority When Deciding
Who Should Run Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Labs

WASHINGTON -- The competitions for contractors bidding to run either Los Alamos or Lawrence Livermore national laboratories, or both, should occur at the same time, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council. Simultaneous competition should enable the agency that oversees the selection -- the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) -- to consider which contractors are most likely to maintain the coordination between the labs that is vital to their mission, said the committee that wrote the report. Using a single review board to evaluate the contract proposals, with the assistance of experts in science and technology management, also should help ensure that the coordination of science and engineering at both labs is thoroughly considered, the report adds.

The report says there is a strong opinion at the labs that the important interplay between them is facilitated by their being managed by the same contractor. While the committee did not conclude that a single contractor should necessarily manage both labs, it did emphasize that this interplay of science needs to be preserved under any contract arrangement.

Management of the labs was opened to competition following congressional concerns about security and operations management under the current contractor, the University of California. The report notes, however, that the quality of the science and technology programs at the laboratories was not in question. Any attempt to address security and management concerns should be balanced and integrated with actions to preserve and improve what is working well -- namely the scientific programs.

NNSA should select contractors that have experience running a large science and technology organization; that are able to plan, construct, and operate major facilities; and whose management team members have credentials comparable to individuals in similar positions at other national laboratories, the report says.

The contractors chosen to run the labs in the future should ensure that they continue to attract, retain, and nurture world-class science and technology staffs, the committee said. Also, the contractors should foster interactions with the outside technical community as well as reward innovations by the laboratories' staffs, the committee added.

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The National Research
Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows.

Copies of Maintaining High Scientific Quality at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories will be available later this year from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or order on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Committee on Criteria for Management of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories

Paul C. Jennings 1(chair)
Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena

David K. Campbell
Dean of Engineering
College of Engineering
Boston University
Boston

Philip E. Coyle III
Consultant
Science Strategies
Los Angeles

Robert F. Curl Jr. 2
Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences
Rice University
Houston

Larry N. Dumas
Deputy Director
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (retired)
Pasadena, Calif.

Lloyd A. Duscha 1
Deputy Director of Engineering and Construction
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired), and
Consulting Engineer
Reston, Va.

Paul A. Fleury 1, 2
Dean
Faculty of Engineering
Yale University
New Haven, Conn.

Edward B. Giller
Major General
United States Air Force (retired)
Albuquerque, N.M.

James Glimm 2
Professor
Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics
State University of New York
Stony Brook

Arthur H. Guenther
Research Professor
Center for High Technology Materials
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque

Alan J. McLaughlin
Assistant Director
Lincoln Laboratory (retired)
Bedford, Mass.

Cherry A. Murray 1,2
Senior Vice President
Physical Sciences Research
Lucent Technologies
Murray Hill, N.J.

Thomas A. Saponas
Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Agilent Technologies (retired)
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Harvey W. Schadler 1
Technical Director
GE Corporate Research and Development Center (retired)
Niskayuna, N.Y.

John C. Sommerer
Director, Research and Technology Development
Applied Physics Laboratory
Johns Hopkins University
Laurel, Md.

RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF

Scott T. Weidman
Study Director


(1) Member, National Academy of Engineering
(2) Member, National Academy of Sciences