UC to Lab Staff: Help Save Us!

University of California, which runs the Los Alamos Lab, pleads with staff to help rescue the contract

August 5, 2004

2 Min Read
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Officials from the University of California, trying to save its management contract with the Department of Energy, yesterday issued a plea to the staff of the troubled Los Alamos National Lab to tighten security.

The Regents of The University of California runs the top secret nuclear research site on behalf of the Department of Energys National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). However, both the laboratory and the University have come under fire in recent weeks after disks containing classified data went missing (see Los Alamos Searches for Lost Media).

Last night, UC Regents Chairman Gerald Parsky told lab staff that they hold the key to the contract, warning that the Regents "will be left with no choice but to pull back if we do not feel confident you all understand security and safety.

”If you take steps to address [these issues], we will not only endorse competing for this contract, we will compete to win the contract."

UC President Robert Dynes has admitted that the incident reflected badly on Los Alamos and the University, in a statement released today following a meeting with staff yesterday evening. "Both security and safety issues have reflected a lack of care, and there is no place [for this], especially because this laboratory is a unique and special laboratory in the world," he said. "As a scientist and as the President for the University of California, I, for one, want to continue the association we have."However, this may be easier said than done. Although UC has run Los Alamos, which is the birthplace of the atom bomb, since the site opened in 1943, recent events have prompted calls for the lab to be handed over to a new organization. Senator Wayne Allard (R-Colorado) recently introduced legislation asking the DOE to terminate its contract with the University.

Certainly, the storage snafu could not have happened at a worse time, with the NNSA recently announcing the contract process to run the lab. Draft contract terms and conditions are expected to be released in the fall.

Up to this point, UC has been bullish about its long-term prospects at Los Alamos. Last week a spokesman told NDCF that the University had already submitted an interest in the competition.

The fallout from the Los Alamos crisis has extended far beyond the research laboratories of New Mexico. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham recently ordered that all DOE operations using classified hard drives or computer disks be stood down until procedures are improved (see Abraham Orders CREM Stand Down and Los Alamos Fallout Continues).

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-gen Data Center Forum0

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