Texas: We never balked at lab bid

Frank Zoretich
Albuquerque Tribune (New Mexico)
August 13, 2004 Friday

A spokeswoman for the University of Texas System today said the university has not cooled on a potential bid to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory and that a reporter "misinterpreted" comments by the UT chancellor and the chairman of its Board of Regents about UT's intentions.

A story out of Austin, carried by The Associated Press on Thursday, said remarks by Chancellor Mark Yudof and Board of Regents Chairman James Huffine indicated UT was "cooling" on a potential bid to manage the lab, after a likely partner in that bid, Lockheed Martin Corp., had announced it was dropping out.

Yudof and Huffine said in the story it was unlikely UT would go alone with a bid or be a lead partner in a joint bid.

The university had never intended to make a bid by itself, Randa Safady, UT vice chancellor for external affairs, said today.

"We still maintain interest and we have always been talking to a number of other potential industrial partners," Safady said.

" 'Cooling off' was the interpretation of a reporter," she said. "We have not made a decision either way. We are still waiting to see what the draft request-for-proposals looks like. And that should be coming out by the end of August or early September."

The UT System was one of several institutions and corporations that had responded positively to a Department of Energy request for letters-of-interest in managing the lab.

A spokesman for the University of California, which has managed the lab since it was established as part of the World War II Manhattan Project, said Thursday the university is "continuing to prepare as if we will compete for continued management of the Los Alamos laboratory."

The UT officials "did raise concerns you can't look at the lab's management problems and at Lockheed Martin dropping out without having concerns but it's part of the deliberation process," Safady said.

"We're looking at the advantages and the disadvantages, but we have not changed our initial plans," she said.

Lockheed Martin Corp., which manages Sandia National Laboratories, had been considered a leading contender for the Los Alamos contract and a potential partner for UT. The company announced this month that it had decided not to compete, citing the cost of putting a bid together.