One story is that the evaluations for all NNSA sites are being held up over some legal protest filed by LANL.
By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board
Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 12:02am
Either the National Nuclear Security Administration is running really late in completing performance evaluations of national weapons contractors or it is stonewalling in releasing them. Neither possibility is good.
In past years, annual evaluations were made public in January. The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, and in the past the government has been able to complete the evaluations in about three months.
After the Journal in early January requested the Fiscal Year 2015 evaluation for Los Alamos National Security LLC, the contractor that operates the lab for the government, the NNSA’s press secretary responded that evaluations would be posted online when they are completed, and that was expected by middle January. Two months later, they have not been posted.
The Journal recently filed a Freedom of Information request and last week NNSA Press Secretary Francie Israeli wrote that the “situation has not changed.”
Yet in December, LANL’s contractor apparently already knew what its FY 2015 evaluation contained. LANS officials disclosed to employees that while the FY 2015 evaluation was better than the very critical FY 2014 evaluation – largely hurt by LANL’s role in a radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico in February 2014 – it wasn’t good enough to earn the contractor an extra year on its contract.
As a result of LANL’s second unsatisfactory performance rating, the NNSA announced it would put the lab contract out for bid after 2017, only the second time it has been subject to competitive bidding.
Sandia National Laboratories has been hit hard by NNSA for what the agency said were improper payments to former Rep. Heather Wilson to lobby for federal funding for the lab. Sandia’s contract expires at the end of April 2017 and a draft RFP was recently posted.
Money to run the labs comes from U.S. taxpayers, who deserve to know how it is being spent and if contractors are doing their jobs in a timely and efficient manner.
Past shoddy attention to detail by NNSA contractors and lackadaisical oversight by the U.S. Department of Energy are some of the reasons why the evaluations are critical to protecting national security. The potential search for new contractors makes the evaluations especially critical. They should be made public post haste.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
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