UPTE meets with public about LANL contract change
By Tris DeRoma
Los Alamos Monitor
Friday, April 28, 2017
Representatives of the University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE), which has a chapter at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, urged people at a town hall meeting to help it make changes to the laboratory’s management and operations structure.
“We put together this panel to initiate this discussion, which we hope will turn into an ongoing discussion over the next number of months as the requests for proposals for the next LANL contract is being composed and created within the DOE (Department of Energy) and the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration),” said UPTE System-wide Executive Vice President Jeff Colvin.
When the lab’s operations and management contract comes up for rebid sometime this year, UPTE is hoping a non-profit entity takes it over, instead of a for profit entity, which is what the lab has now under Los Alamos National Security LLC. Representatives at the meeting told the audience the for-profit model has led to a LANL being a national lab without a sense of mission, like it had in the days of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.
“The ironic thing is that industry was brought in to organize the labs and make them more efficient,” UPTE Tri-Labs Task Force member Mike Fluss said to the audience. “The consequence has been is that industry has brought in chaos and has made the lab more expensive.”...
...“What has happened has become a place where managing the physical plant, it’s called tactical management, has been emphasized at the expense of, rather than for, the mission focus,” Fluss said. “Short term milestones and box checking have taken over, and this has resulted in a loss of focus on mission success and a focus on profit first, safety and environment second.”
Recommendations from the UPTE include the creation of a steering council that would be directly accountable to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and chaired by LANL’s director. The council would also include LANL scientists and engineers as members. Other changes include The DOE developing 10-year, long range plans for LANL, and a management structure would be built around those plans.
The plan’s more notable change would come with the millions of dollars of gross receipts tax the lab contributes to the state each year, which is then given to counties where the labs are located. If the DOE does decide on a not-for-profit contract, the state stands to lose about $200 million a year.
UPTE reps said under their plan neither the state nor Los Alamos County would be affected by the loss of the gross receipts tax.
“Any reduction for gross receipts taxes currently paid to the state of New Mexico should be compensated by substantially equivalent contribution to New Mexico educational institutions and local governments in consultation with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities,” a statement in the UPTE proposal said.
Also on the panel at the town hall style meeting was the regional coalition’s executive director, Andrea Romero.
The RCLC recently drafted state legislation that should the contract go to a non-profit, the state’s $200 million in gross receipts tax revenue that comes from New Mexico’s National Laboratories would be secured...
...UPTE has voiced support for the gross receipts tax bill in the legislature as well.
At the end of the meeting UPTE officials urged audience members to go to their website at deprivatizethelabs.org and learn more and to sign up for mailings on future meetings.
“This was very good,” Colvin said. “This is just the start of the process. We will be back as the process unfolds.”
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