After years of maintaining an internal protective force, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is planning to open up its security work to subcontractors for the first time. The lab was the site of an embarrassing security blunder in April of 2008, when a team of mock terrorists were able to steal a cache of special nuclear material during a force-on-force practice exercise, drawing criticism from Congress and government watchdog groups. A spokesman for Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, the Bechtel-led consortium that assumed management of the laboratory in October of 2007, said the potential change had nothing to do with the recent security problems, however. The lab announced its intentions to solicit protective forces bids in a May 12 notice. "This has been under discussion since the contract to manage the lab was put out to bid," LLNL spokesman Don Johnston said.
“The thinking is that having a contractor would provide business advantages and flexibility in terms of being able to bring in people when you need them when the security requirements change.”
The University of California, which was the sole manager of the lab up until 2007 and remains a part of the LLC, provided security for the laboratory for decades, leveraging assets across the entire UC system for equipment purchasing, training and staffing. That changed in October of 2007, and the lab's transition to private management was partially blamed for the security slip-up last April, according to the Government Accountability Office. The lab developed a corrective action plan to address the 54 security deficiencies identified after the Department of Energy's Office of Independent Oversight and completed 74 percent of the milestones included in the plan as of December, including the institution of more extensive and more frequent force-on-force exercise.
RFP Slated for June
Without revealing details, Johnson said the lab performed "quite well" in a follow-up review by the Office of Independent Oversight last month, but he conceded that the protective forces change could lead to security improvements. "We're hoping that over the long term it'll strengthen our security," he said. "All of the areas that were pointed out [in the review] have been addressed. Of course it takes some time to complete all of those. We hope to have all of that done by the time a new [security] contractor comes in."
According to the solicitation, work will be performed at the lab's main campus in Livermore, Calif., as well as at its Tracy, Calif., testing site, and security services for Sandia National Laboratories' Livermore site could also be included in the scope of the contract. Sandia's California campus shares a border with Livermore's main site. The services that will be provided include the monitoring of alarms and dispatch of security personnel, tactical response to alarms, traffic safety, law enforcement services, explosive detection, vehicle searches, site-wide access control and security personnel training. Johnson said a Request for Proposals is likely to be released in June with an award scheduled for October.
May 18, 2009 1:17 PM
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