Lab official says academic network larger than bidder's proposal

The Associated Press State & Local Wire
July 24, 2005, Sunday

A Los Alamos National Laboratory official says a proposed academic network that would cooperate with the nuclear weapons lab has fewer potential partners than those already working with the lab.

In submitting its bid Tuesday to manage the lab, a team headed by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas touted a national network of universities and institutions that would work with Los Alamos lab.

But Los Alamos already has alliances with three times the number of institutions that were included in the Lockheed Martin-UT bid, said Terry Lowe, acting program manager of the lab's Science and Technology Base Programs Office.

"We'd have to cut way back to get down to 33 agreements and partnerships with universities in this country and we'd have to get rid of a fair amount of classified research and developmental projects as well," he said.

UT Chancellor Mark Yudof has said his bid team would create a Network for Education and Research in Science and Technology. The network has 33 institutions so far, but more can join in the future.

Yudof said the network would provide a national community of scientists and engineers to support the lab and drive even better science there.

But only a few of the institutions named by Yudof are not already formally connected to the lab.

"We have relationships with over a 100 institutions, not just in this country, but in 48 different countries," Lowe said.

Another group headed by the University of California, which has managed the lab since its inception 62 years ago, and engineering company Bechtel Corp. also submitted its bid Tuesday. The group's proposal for lab cooperation with outside institutions has not been made public.

In March, UC announced it would form a consortium consisting of the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to cooperate on research with the lab, if its team wins the bid.

Yudof has said the New Mexico universities would be invited to join UT's academic network.

"We want them involved," he said. "And they will be included if we're successful in our bid."

Lowe said the lab signed a partnership agreement with the University of Texas Austin last week.