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Los Alamos National Laboratory Contract Announcement

December 21, 2005 - 4:52pm

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Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Bodman

Good afternoon. Thank you all for coming. Let me particularly thank the employees at Los Alamos for tuning in. My remarks today are directed chiefly to all of you.

More than 60 years ago, Leslie Groves, Ernest Lawrence, and Robert Oppenheimer set off into the mesas and canyons northwest of Santa Fe. They were scouting the location for a new scientific laboratory that they hoped might give the United States a critical advantage in the war then consuming the world's great powers.

The facility they constructed at Los Alamos did far more than that. It changed the course of history. Los Alamos would not just help win the Second World War. It would kick start a new era for mankind, just as the printing press had done half a millennium before.

Over these last six decades, the men and women of Los Alamos have been at the forefront of giving shape to this new era in a manner advancing the highest ideals of peace and civilization.

We are justifiably proud of Los Alamos's illustrious history, and will continue to celebrate its Manhattan Project and Cold War legacy.

However, our immediate concerns lie elsewhere. For every one of us - from the leadership of the Department of Energy down to the most recently hired employee at Los Alamos - our concern must focus on the future of this facility, not its past.

That is what I wanted to speak to you about today.

As you know, in 2003, Secretary Abraham and Deputy Secretary McSlarrow announced the Department's intention to open up bidding for the Los Alamos contract. At that time, it was decided that the requisite fact-finding, evaluation, and the final selection would be carried out by career - and not political - personnel.   I strongly endorse that decision; there can be no hint of politics in a decision of such national significance. 

We instituted a meticulous and thorough process to choose a contractor to run the day-to-day operations of this critical facility as it performs its key roles in the areas of science, homeland security, supercomputing, and, of course, nuclear stockpile development and maintenance.

One of my first actions after being sworn in as Secretary earlier this year was to visit Los Alamos. I promised at that time that the process of choosing a contractor to run the lab would be done right. Nearly a year later, I am confident that it has.

Led by Tyler Przybylek, former General Counsel for NNSA, a team of professionals from the National Nuclear Security Administration has been hard at work weighing all the information pertinent to such a momentous decision.

This Source Evaluation Board has produced a thorough analysis of two outstanding proposals. One was from a team known as Los Alamos National Security LLC. This group is comprised of Bechtel, the University of California, BWXT, and the Washington Group International. The other proposal came from a team called Los Alamos Alliance LLC, comprised of Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas.

The Source Evaluation Board submitted a detailed report to the Source Selection Official, Tom D'Agostino, another highly qualified professional, to make the final determination. The decision on which proposal to accept was Tom's alone. He based his choice on the Board's evaluation and by studying the competing proposals.

This morning, Tom and the members of the Source Evaluation Board briefed me, Deputy Secretary Sell, and Ambassador Brooks on the selection.

Tom stressed that both proposals were very strong and of exceptionally high caliber.

However, only one could prevail.

So it gives me great pleasure today to kick off the next chapter in the storied history of the Los Alamos National Laboratory by announcing that the contract to run this facility has been awarded to Los Alamos National Security LLC - or LANS.

The initial term will be seven years, but with provisions for earning extensions of the contract up to a total of twenty years.   Thus if the new team lives up to our expectations, as I fully expect, we have set Los Alamos on a course for continued excellence for a generation.  

I congratulate the LANS team - Bechtel, the University of California, BWXT, and the Washington Group International - for their successful bid.

I cannot stress enough - and I know that Tom and Tyler will also speak to this point in just a moment - that this is a new contract, with a new team, marking a new approach to management at Los Alamos. It is not a continuation of the previous contract. That is how our Department views the situation from this point forward.

Let me also congratulate the employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory. This is an exciting day for you because it assures a robust and dynamic future for this hallowed institution. There has been quite a bit of turmoil and uncertainty over the last few years. Today's announcement is designed to relegate that tumult to the past, and to usher in a new era of invaluable, cutting-edge science at Los Alamos. So this is a good decision for the men and women who make up this lab. And let me take this opportunity to mention that this evening, Ambassador Brooks will be flying to New Mexico. He will be available tomorrow to answer your questions and to start the transition process.

Today's announcement will not just benefit the employees at Los Alamos. It is a good decision on a number of other levels as well.

It is a good decision for the greater Los Alamos community. Today's action guarantees that the lab will continue its role as an anchor of America's scientific and national defense efforts. Los Alamos is an institution that is almost synonymous with the state of New Mexico. That will remain the case.

It is a good decision for the American taxpayers. This new contract will put in place concrete measures of accountability, ensuring that the tax dollars spent at Los Alamos are well spent.

It is a good decision for the future of science in this country. The proposal put forward by LANS offers substantive ways to enhance the lab's pioneering scientific research in the 21st century.

Finally, and most important, it is a good decision for our national security. Los Alamos science is absolutely vital to the safety and security of the American people.

When I visited New Mexico in February, I told you that the great lesson Niels Bohrs and his colleagues at Los Alamos taught is that science has consequences.

Indeed, the world has probably not seen a more explicit example of that truth than with the science that has sprung forth from Los Alamos.

The work you do has consequences of potentially epic proportions.

It is of unquestionable importance . to our countrymen . to the safety and security of America and our allies . to the future of scientific inquiry and endeavor. With the announcement we are making today, Los Alamos will continue its consequential work, to the future benefit of all mankind.

Thank you.

Location: Forrestal Building, Washington, DC

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