From: Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor
July 12, 2010
Lawrence Livermore Backs off Plans to Subcontract for Pro Forces
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has scrapped plans to open up security work at the lab to subcontractors for the first time, saying that the fixed price contract approach favored by the National Nuclear Security Administration wouldn’t give the lab the flexibility and cost savings it was seeking. The lab said in May of 2009 that it was considering subcontracting for security work, moving away from years of protective force management by the M&O contractor.
The move drew interest from protective force companies eager to compete for security work at one of the two NNSA sites that have kept protective forces work in-house. Security at the Pantex Plant is also performed by the M&O contractor, B&W Pantex. The lab’s plans hit a snag when the NNSA balked at its push to utilize a time-and-materials contract, and it canceled the planned procurement in June—13 months after issuing a Sources Sought notice for the contract. “The fixed price contract would potentially cost the laboratory a lot more money,” lab spokesman Jim Bono said last week. While time and materials contracts can sometimes be less expensive than fixed price contracts, the fixed price approach is often favored by the government because of the certainties involved in the cost. The protective force contract up for bid at Los Alamos National Laboratory is of the fixed price variety, as is the contract envisioned at the Nevada Test Site. “It shifts the risk from the government to the contractor,” one industry official said. “But I think it results in higher bids, because you don’t know what you don’t know and you have to account for lots of contingencies.”
‘We Won’t be Able to be As Flexible’
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. When lab management shifted to a Bechtel-led team in October of 2007, officials began considering a shift in the way it handled its protective forces. “It was scalability that we wanted,” Bono said. “A time and materials contract would’ve given the laboratory the ability to scale up and scale down. We won’t be able to be as flexible.”
That flexibility might have come in handy over the next few years as the lab completes the removal of all special nuclear material requiring Category I/II security, a move that will allow for a decrease in security requirements. Lab officials have denied that the change was related to a high profile security slip-up in 2008 that led to dozens of changes in the way the lab’s protective forces guard the site. In April of 2008, the lab was the site of an embarrassing security blunder during which 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. The lab has since implemented dozens of corrective actions and has performed well in follow-up reviews and exercises.
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