The DOE/NNSA defined purpose of the LANL and LLNL contractors (LANSLLNS) is to move forward defined Lab missions in a manner that promotes science and engineering in support of continuing national need. For doing so, LANSLLNS are paid.
In fact, LANSLLNS are paid more (profit) and accomplishing less than when LANL and LLNL were managed under UC. This has created a move within DOE/NNSA to restructure and significantly reduce your "profit" and self-defined primary purpose of LANSLLNS to a "public interest model" in the attempt to rectify the failed contractor to mission relationship. I'm sorry but your profit focused view of LANSLLNS is out of sync with DOE/NNSA Lab expectations and Lab results. Go figure?
"...Associate Deputy Energy Secretary Bruce Held has been questioning whether what he describes as "large fees" currently paid to manage the weapons sites are the best way to motivate all players involved.
Performance at the national labs might actually improve, the former CIA officer says, if less money went toward the fees meant to motivate the management companies that run the sites, and if more funds went directly to the scientific work that the facilities conduct.
"What motivates the people at the national laboratories is excellence in science and bringing excellence in science to the interest of the nation … They're not motivated by profit incentives," Held told Global Security Newswire in a recent interview. "They're human beings, they need a salary -- you can motivate them at the margins by giving them a pay raise or a pay decrease or something like that -- but their core motivation and what makes them tick is scientific excellence.
"So if I have a choice between a dollar of fee for the … contractor that runs it, or a dollar in lab-directed research and development and I want to motivate scientific excellence, I'd go with" the dollar in lab-directed research and development, Held continued.
It is not completely clear, however, how Held, who says he was coaxed out of retirement from federal service specifically to work on the contracts question, would reconfigure the current for-profit approach.
Held, who completed a 10-month stint as acting head of the Energy Department's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration last month, advocates for moving toward a "public interest model." He suggests, however, that he and other officials working for Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are still wrestling with exactly what that means.
One significant change that appears to be in the works is an effort to make the maximum fee potentially available to the contractor smaller, and to have much of that fee be based on a fixed amount.
For example, in fiscal 2012, Los Alamos National Security, a limited liability company formed by Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox, URS Corp. and the University of California, had the potential to earn up to $74.5 million for its management of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, roughly 3 percent of the facility's $2 billion budget for that year.
Based on an annual performance evaluation, the government ultimately paid the company $59.7 million, 80 percent of what it could have earned with a perfect performance rating.
In the future, however, a facility like Los Alamos might be paid a fee that is only 1 percent of the site's budget, or closer to $20 million, an NNSA official explains. Most of that fee -- say, $18 million -- would be a fixed, guaranteed payment, meaning only a $2 million portion could be reduced due to less-than-stellar performance..."
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Monday, December 29, 2014
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