Northrop seeks pact on Los Alamos lab

Management of DOE site worth $2.2 billion a year

April 26, 2005|By DOW JONES

McLEAN, Va. - Northrop Grumman Corp. plans to bid on a seven-year contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory, a Department of Energy facility now run by the University of California.

The contract is worth about $2.2 billion a year and has extension options that could add 13 years to the management deal, putting the total value at about $44 billion over a 20-year period, the Los Angeles-based aerospace and defense company said yesterday.

Northrop, with $29.85 billion in sales for 2005, said it has experience with many of the scientific areas under research at Los Alamos.

Northrop noted its experience in managing large-scale operations such as the Joint Base Operations and Support Contract for the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's Joint National Integration Center and the Joint Forces Command's Cyber Warfare Integration Network. The company's Electronic Systems unit is based in Linthicum.

The DOE decided to put the contract up for bid after a series of management and security lapses at Los Alamos in recent years. UC's contract expires in September.

The lab, a center for nuclear weapons research, essentially shut down last July because of security and safety concerns raised after two classified computer disks reportedly had disappeared and an intern had been injured in a laser accident. An investigation revealed the disks never had existed, but some high-risk work at the lab didn't resume until Jan. 31.

The lab has estimated the final price tag of the shutdown will be about $100 million, lab spokesman Kevin Roark said yesterday.

The University of California's regents have not announced whether the school will bid on the contract, said Chris Harrington, a Washington, D.C., spokesman for the university.

Harrington said the school is preparing as if it will compete but is awaiting details of the final request for proposals.

UC hopes the request for proposals "will have a strong emphasis on scientific and technological research, which we think is critical to the lab and its mission," Harrington said.

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