Los Alamos National Laboratory

UT's Interests in the Best Funded Weapons of Mass Destruction Facility in the World

Info on the UT/Lockheed Martin's LANL Bid Team

Frequently Asked Questions About Los Alamos

Los Alamos Expenses

Los Alamos National Laboratory map

During the second World War, the United States worked on developing the world's first atomic bomb. In June 1942, the Manhattan Project was organized to develop a nuclear weapon under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers and General Leslie Groves. The project was moved to Los Alamos National Laboratory upon completion of its construction in 19431. University researchers scattered around the country came to this one centralized location, in the small New Mexico town of Los Alamos in a remote and desolate locale outside of Santa Fe, to continue their work on a nuclear weapon. The area was thought to provide suitable land for testing nuclear weapons and storing excess radioactive waste.

The University of California (UC) agreed to manage a facility funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) in April 1943. The idea was to encourage university scientists to participate in the design of a nuclear weapon by providing them a suitably "academic" outpost. According to Fiat Pax, "the UC Regents upon signing the contract were unaware of the project to build a nuclear bomb at the Los Alamos site. Not until after the war, after the bombs had been used to kill and maim millions of Japanese civilians, did the University really become aware of what it was managing. Following the war, a weak attempt was made to sever ties with the labs, but it was never accomplished. Today, the University of California takes a proud stance on its management of the labs, calling it a 'public service to the nation.'"2

General Groves scheduled the first atomic bomb tests, code-named Trinity by then-scientific director for the Manhattan Project Robert J. Oppenheimer, on July 16, 1945. Months after Italy and Germany had surrendered in WWII and over the objections of the scientists who designed the atomic bombs, the United States dropped "Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, and "Fat Man" on Nagasaki on August 9. Part of the justification for the horrific bombings was that the U.S. wanted to send a clear warning to the U.S.S.R., whom they feared would become a rival superpower. The U.S. received news that Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, and the formal surrender took place on September 2, 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.

By dropping the two atomic bombs on Japan, the U.S. had begun a nuclear arms race with the U.S.S.R. The next 45 years or so that followed the deployment of the two atomic bombs were known as the Cold War, an unofficial war between the world's two largest national powers.

The Mission Hasn't Changed: Los Alamos is a Bomb Lab

The sole purpose for the establishment of Los Alamos National Laboratory was to develop an atomic bomb. To this day, the Lab's primary mission - to research and develop nuclear weapons - has not changed. Throughout the Cold War, funding for all projects at Los Alamos increased, most notably the nuclear weapons projects during the 1980s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, there were talks in Washington, D.C. of closing the lab since it was believed that no apparent need to develop more nuclear weapons existed. Roughly between the 1990-1994 fiscal years (FY), funding for Los Alamos nuclear weapons projects declined while other scientific endeavors were expanding at the lab. However, nuclear weapons remained a top priority for the lab by an overwhelming margin. Funding for nuclear weapons projects at Los Alamos again started to increase during FY1994, with a large jump in FY2001. Despite the drastically changed geopolitical and security landscape, the Lab continues to enjoy record funding for nuclear weapons projects.

Still, even the Congress sometimes recognizes the Lab's outdated mission. From a 2004 House Report on the Energy Bill regarding the National Nuclear Security Administration (the agency that distributes funds to the National Labs, including Los Alamos): "In the absence of a Cold War between nuclear-armed superpowers, the importance of nuclear weapons to the war fighters in the Pentagon has steadily diminished. The pressure on the nuclear weapon design laboratories to maintain the canonical role for their weapons in order to justify increasing budgets becomes very difficult."3

Los Alamos Nuke Budget is Skyrocketing

LANL Nuke Budget skyrocketing


FY2005 Budget Request

Los Alamos Budget Breakdown

According to the Department of Energy funding request for FY2005, total weapons projects account for $1.396 billion - roughly 79 percent - of the lab's $1.8 billion DOE budget. Total science projects comprise a mere $59.8 million, or 3.4 percent of the total DOE budget.

Between FY2004-05, funding for total science projects decreased by $12.5 million whereas funding for total weapons projects increased by $125.7 million. Between FY2003-05, funding for total science projects decreased by $15.1 million whereas funding for total weapons projects increased by $148.9 million.

- Los Alamos Budget Data(excel)
- Source data: Department of Energy 2005 fiscal year Budget Request(pdf)

LANL's Budget FY2003-05


As the sole US producer of plutonium pits - the core of a nuclear weapon - Los Alamos is vital to the nation's nuclear weapons complex. In 2003, the lab produced its first certifiable plutonium pit in more than ten years, with plans to eventually produce as many as 500 per year.

Since 1992, new weapons development has taken place under the "Stockpile Stewardship" program, allegedly intended to only maintain the existing stockpile. One new weapon added, as reported by the The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, at Los Alamos was the B61 "mod-11" gravity bomb during the spring of 1997. The B61-11 was "the first new nuclear capability added to the U.S. arsenal since 1989. It was developed and deployed secretly, without public or congressional debate, and in apparent contradiction to official domestic and international assurances that no new nuclear weapons were being developed in the United States."4

Los Alamos also conducted a high-level briefing in July of 1992 entitled "Potential Uses for Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons in the New World Order." The briefing called for studying a new class of "low-yield" nukes intended for actual use.5 To this end, Los Alamos has already begun research on a new generation of weapons often referred to as "mini-nukes."

The Los Alamos product

The plans for such nuclear weapons are currently well-funded.6 The production of new nuclear weapons, which is underway at Los Alamos, blatantly undermines the Non-Proliferation Treaty of Nuclear Weapons and threatens to ignite a new nuclear race with U.S. allies and competitors. Article VI of the NPT clearly states:

"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

Should UT acquire Los Alamos, the University would be responsible for managing a facility that is in flagrant violation of international law.

The University of California (UC) has managed Los Alamos since its inception in 1943 for the Department of Energy (DOE) on a "no loss - no gain" contract. In the words of former University of California President Richard Atkinson, UC has managed the lab simply as a matter of "national service," insinuating the contract provides little to no tangible benefits for the manager.

What Managerial Benefits?

Critics of the lab have questioned management of Los Alamos since, after scrutiny, there seem to be few, if any, benefits to the manager. However, UT System administrators have been assuring local news sources of mythical management benefits, which include:

  • "better research opportunities." (Dan Burck, head of a Los Alamos Task Force formed in 2002.7)

    Access to research opportunities exists regardless of the manager. Although in the past, management may have brought increased research opportunities to UC, it has been lab policy to compete nationally for the best scientists without preference for the manager for quite some time. Actually, UT students and faculty would benefit if the school gained increased access to the actual "science" projects at the lab. But many UC and UT graduate students, faculty, and administrators concur that access to the lab would not be affected by a change in the Los Alamos management contract.

    According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, former UC President Richard Atkinson "has repeatedly said he believes UC scientists would receive similar access to Los Alamos, regardless of its manager."8

    UT-Austin Mechanical Engineering professor Sheldon Landsberger believes that access to research at Los Alamos already exists since "many of his students work at the lab. 'We get funded from Los Alamos, and we're not a part of the University of California.'"9

    UT-Austin Associate Dean for Research and Facilities and physics professor Peter Riley, who has researched at Los Alamos, told the Daily Texan: "I don't see very many benefits that would arise. I see a lot of difficulties, and the difficulties outweigh the benefits." Riley acknowledged that Los Alamos does conduct unclassified research and that collaborations could exist in areas such as nanoscience and advanced computing, but he said that a management contract is not necessary to pursue those types of partnerships.10

    Fellow UT-Austin physics professor Peter Bengtson: "I have interacted with people at Los Alamos on a variety of scientific topics. I cannot imagine that these interactions would be facilitated by UT holding the contract to manage Los Alamos."11

    Both Riley and Bengtson questioned the prestige Los Alamos would bring to UT. They believe UT-Austin would still enlist outstanding graduate students and professors without managing the lab.12

    The 1989 UC Faculty Jendresen report found that:
    With some exceptions of "special programs," report found that "It does not appear that the contractual relationship makes a critical difference in enhancing the access of University of California faculty and students, as compared with their colleagues from other institutions."

    The 1996 UC Faculty UCORP report found that:
    "Two principles appear clear regarding UC's mission of teaching and research: (1) because the relationship to the National Laboratories is for public service, UC should not receive preferential treatment with respect to access to Laboratory research facilities or funds; and (2) There is no identifiable reason why all existing collaborations, whether research or teaching, should not continue whether the Laboratories are managed by UC or another entity."

  • "We get a tremendous return on our research. ... The comptroller says we get an immediate payoff of three-to-one in terms of the local economy. This is the economic future of Texas. I think Governor Perry understands that." (UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof.13)

    This is a non-argument. Yudof is referring here to technology transfer, a process that takes commerciable research produced at public institutions like Los Alamos, brings it to the market, and usually results in substantial private profits for the local economy. However, this argument does not work since Los Alamos lab is not geographically located within the state of Texas. As a result, although the Lab may create jobs for the communities surrounding Los Alamos, UT management will not lead to significant job increases for Texans. In much the same way, current lab employees work for the UC System but the majority are not from California.

    In addition, the contractor has no access to the profits from the patents and copyrights at Los Alamos. As stipulated in the current University of California-Los Alamos contract(word), all money made from tech transfer is resubmitted to the lab for further research:

    Royalties or other income earned or retained by the Contractor as a result of performance of authorized technology transfer activities herein shall be used by the Contractor for scientific research, development, technology transfer, and education at the Laboratory.
    -I.081(h)(1), page 181

    The contractor manages the intellectual property rights for Los Alamos with little benefit for itself. Although accounts with royalty revenues from patents are in the contractor's name, the contractor has no access to the accounts for itself. Patents for research at Los Alamos, along with any and all royalties from those patents, belong strictly to Los Alamos, and when the contract expires:

    The Contractor shall transfer title, as one package, to the extent the Contractor retains title, in all patents and patent applications, licenses, accounts containing royalty revenues from such license agreements, including equity positions in third party entities, and other Intellectual Property rights which arose at the Laboratory, to the successor contractor.
    -I.081(i), page 182

    However, the contractor may assert copyright "subsisting in scientific and technical articles" under performance of their contract as outlined in I.080(d) and (e) that fall outside of stringent regulations, and it may use these materials "for its private purposes" as outlined in I.080(b)(2)(ii) on page 165.

  • Rumors have circulated among students, from sources such as former Student Government President Brian Haley, that managing Los Alamos will financially benefit UT directly. In a column he wrote in the Daily Texan, Haley said, "In addition to funding the over $2.1 billion budget of Los Alamos, as well as compensating for an annual reimbursement of more than $9 million in overhead costs, the Department of Energy currently pays more than $8.7 million a year to the University of California System for their management services."14

    UT would not profit from managing Los Alamos. Any money that the DOE gives to UC, such as the $8.7 million that Haley mentions, is actually reimbursement for the $28 million that UC currently pays in management fees. As part of the "non-profit, educational" status that Los Alamos retains when it has a university manager, the University makes no direct profit. Actually, former UC President Richard Atkinson described how Los Alamos was a "drain" on university resources since there are certain costs incurred by the University that is not reimbursed by the DOE, such as $1.5-million in tuition benefits for lab employees and their families, as well as the costs of its other efforts in the Los Alamos community, like offering college-preparation and education-planning classes to secondary-school students and their parents.15

  • UT System officials have time and again mentioned "prestige" as a motivating factor for managing Los Alamos. They believe that this "prestige" will earn UT more research dollars from the federal government and attract more prestigious faculty.

    UT could potentially lose prestige by managing this laboratory since the liabilities may outweigh any alleged benefits arising from a UT-Los Alamos relationship. In light of the security breaches that forced the lab to shut down on July 16, 2004, UT would be well-advised to stay away from Los Alamos. Just weeks after it announced its interests in managing the lab, the largest private defense contractor in the world, Lockheed Martin Corporation, decided to pull out of the Los Alamos bidding race, citing the substantial costs it will take to fix problems at the laboratory.16


Los Alamos Liabilities

Lax Security
Environmental Concerns


As stipulated by the Department of Energy, the Los Alamos contractor is technically exempt from all fines levied by the U.S. government through the Price-Anderson Act. This act applies "sanctions to contractors for unsafe actions or conditions that violate nuclear safety requirements for protecting workers and the public." This huge financial exemption has created dismal working conditions at the lab for employees. Literally tens to hundreds of security violations and worker accidents happen every year at Los Alamos. Following an accident at the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building at Technical Area 3 in November 1997, commonly referred to as the "CMR Explosion", an independent investigation found that Los Alamos suffered over 900 worker accidents between 1993 and 1997.17

However, regardless of its official status, UC has paid some significant fines, settlements and compensations. In the summer of 2002, multiple cases of undocumented expenditures and loss of equipment were exposed at Los Alamos. The UC System later paid the federal government a total of $370,000 for unreported expenditures, according to a report(pdf) released the following year by Deputy Secretary of the Dept. of Energy Kyle McSlarrow and Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration Linton Brooks.

The UC System also forked over $930,000 to Glenn Walp in a settlement after he revealed cases of "mismanagement, security breaches, and fraud at the troubled Los Alamos."18

Frequent incidents of mismanagement, lax security, and environmental violations are enough to taint any administration. If such incidents were to continue under UT management, it would pay with its budget at the most inopportune time. During the regular 78th Legislative Session in spring 2003, UT officials argued for the deregulation of tuition, repeatedly claiming that the System was 'so broke'. Although UT would not pay significant fines proportionate to the accidents involving lab employees, in absolute dollars the fines would prove costly to the University. What Los Alamos management would mean to UT students and faculty is: money spent on Los Alamos problems translates to money not spent on education.

More importantly, UT's prestige would likely decline due to the lab's dismal working conditions. In light of the Price-Anderson exemption, it is highly probable that working conditions at Los Alamos would remain the same. With frequent accidents involving employees, UT would be subject to the same criticism as UC coming from the U.S. Congress and the national media since the 1999 Wen Ho Lee scandal.

Unfit for UT to Manage

In a letter to the Los Alamos community dated July 22, 2004, U.S. Senator Peter Domenici (R-New Mexico) best sums up his sentiments by stating that he is "the proudest defender" of Los Alamos, but that "in Washington [D.C.], Los Alamos' reputation as a crown jewel of science is being eclipsed by a reputation as being both dysfunctional and untouchable."

Understanding the relationships between the governing powers of Los Alamos can help to explain the lab's reputation as "both dysfunctional and untouchable". The Department of Energy (DOE) funds Los Alamos and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is a semi-autonomous entity in the DOE that essentially governs Los Alamos and other DOE labs. The 2003 Interim UCORP Report(pdf), though it supported renewing management of Los Alamos, found that: The University of California "historically has sponsored and lent its good name to the laboratories, rather than managing them in the normal sense of the word. The internal management of the labs has largely been in the hands of the lab Directors in their interactions with DOE, NNSA and the other federal agencies that sponsor 'work for others' at the labs,"19 (emphasis added). This complicated relationship between the DOE and the NNSA, largely the internal Los Alamos managers, and UC, the official manager, can help explain the current dismal state of Los Alamos. Replacing UC with UT would not fix the lab's problems.

Starting with the Wen Ho Lee case in 1999, stories of mismanagement have arisen from Los Alamos. Lee, a Taiwanese-American, was charged with 59 counts of espionage and stealing secrets to give to China. Although he eventually pled guilty to a single count of downloading classified information onto an unclassified computer - not an uncommon occurrence at the lab, claims former Los Alamos employee Chris Mechels - the entire fiasco caught the attention of the US Congress, the media, and the citizens of this country who believed that nuclear secrets were safe inside the U.S.

In early 2002, questions over the Lab's purchase cards arose. Approximately $15 billion was allocated for government-wide purchase card spending during the 2003 fiscal year, and "federal agencies are accountable for how purchase cards are used and how the funds are spent."20 These purchase cards are supposed to be used for fast, convenient, and small purchases to improve the lab.

During this time frame, law enforcement officials Glenn Walp and Steven Doran were hired by Los Alamos to conduct an internal investigation into the lab's expenditures on these purchase cards. They found $1.3 million that was listed as stolen or "missing". During their time at Los Alamos, they discovered the figure was actually $2.7 million, which included a forklift and hundreds of computers, along with diamond earrings, diamond bracelet, refrigerators, VCRs, television sets, and a $30,000 Ford Mustang.21 All of these purchases were paid for by the American taxpayer.

- See a full list of items that they purchased with taxpayer money.

According to CBS News, Walp and Doran:

"began working with the FBI, and agents recently searched the homes of two Lab workers allegedly caught red-handed with spy-gear, lock picks, and keys to secret Lab locations. But the more Walp and Doran uncovered, the more they say lab managers tried to cover up, worried more about keeping the security problems quiet."22

They were both subsequently fired, receiving identical termination letters, although lab officials claimed that their investigation had nothing to do with their decision. Glenn Walp later settled with the University of California for $930,000.23 This is the case that pushed DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham to open the contract to manage Los Alamos up for competitive bidding the following April.24

Lax Security

Since radioactive waste is stored at Los Alamos, citizens expect security to be impenetrable. However, this proves not to be the case. Richard Levernier, a senior DOE nuclear security specialist, was in charge of testing the security at nuclear weapons facilities from 1995 until 2001. According to Vanity Fair(pdf), his mock terrorist squads, or "black hats", would simulate an attack on Los Alamos and nine other facilities. Their goal was to "penetrate a given weapons facility, capture its plutonium or highly enriched uranium, and escape." Levernier reported that, "In more than 50 percent of our tests of the Los Alamos facility, we got in, captured the plutonium, got out again, and in some cases didn't fire a shot, because we didn't encounter any guards." This occurred even though the lab's security personnel were notified of the date of the attack drill months in advance.25

In a statement to 60 Minutes in spring 2004, Levernier said, "Overall, the test results that I was responsible for showed a 50 percent failure rate. If you understand the consequences associated with the loss of that kind of material, it would make the World Trade Center event of Sept. 11 pale in comparison."26

In addition to actual radioactive waste, Los Alamos must guard the nuclear secrets that are developed at the lab. Early in 2000, two hard drives containing classified information were discovered missing, only to be found days later behind a photocopier in the area. When the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started an investigation into the matter, it was stymied by six lab managers and U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico). The lab managers interrogated by the FBI gave conflicting answers and generally refused to cooperate. But when the Grand Jury in Albuquerque, New Mexico caught wind of this 'obstruction of justice,' they ran into Domenici, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that writes the budget for Los Alamos and the other national labs. According to the Washington Post, Domenici told the FBI to 'get off their backs' since their investigation was 'creating bad morale' at the lab.27 As the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Domenici has substantial control over the FBI's budget, and the FBI eventually stopped its investigation.

Over the summer of 2003, lab officials lost two vials of plutonium.28 Later that year, Los Alamos spokesmen admitted that nine floppy disks and one large-capacity storage disk were missing.29 In June 2004, Los Alamos lost two keys to Technical Area 18, a site that contains highly enriched uranium and plutonium, for most of the day.30

A few weeks later on July 7, two zip disks containing highly classified information were reported missing, and Lab Director George "Peter" Nanos decided to close the classified division31, which is anywhere from 40-50 percent of total lab operations. One week after the two disks came up missing, a 20-year old intern was hit in the eye by the laser she was using in an experiment. She was immediately rushed to the Johns Hopkins medical center.32 On July 16, Director Nanos decided to close the lab. Although the incident involving the intern was not the direct cause, he said it was influential in his decision. Days after the lab closed, it was reported that 17 classified e-mails were sent over an unsecured server at the laboratory.33

A total of 23 employees were sent on leave with pay in connection with the missing disks and the intern's accident.34 More importantly, according to the Associated Press, the prestige of the laboratory "has been tarnished." William Davis, a physicist who spent 34 years in research at LANL, says, "It casts doubt on the work I've done." With Director Nanos labeling those who willingly break the rules "cowboys" and "buttheads," the Los Alamos reputation as a premiere science laboratory is dwindling. Don Peterson, a 33-year lab employee who retired in 1989, said a permanent shutdown of the lab is a probability, the way things are going."35

Environmental Concerns

In 1989, the U.S. lost the capability for large-scale production of plutonium "pits" - the core component, the "trigger" of a nuclear weapon - when the nuclear facility Rocky Flats shut its doors "due to violations of health, safety, and environmental laws" that resulted from the process of pit production.36 However, Los Alamos is the one facility in the country that currently manufactures these pits since all the work on pit production was transferred to the lab from Rocky Flats.37 Wired News reported that Los Alamos produced the first new certifiable plutonium pit in 14 years, and it has plans to manufacture "as many as 500 new pits annually, as the new U.S. Modern Pit Facility comes online in 2018" at Los Alamos.38

Furthermore, pit production requires the creation of radioactive wastes. Los Alamos is already a radioactive waste dump. There are currently over 2,000 contaminated sites at the laboratory.39 According to the Los Alamos Study Group, Los Alamos' Area G site - the largest Los Alamos radioactive and hazardous waste dump - contains enough buried radioactive and chemical wastes to fill 1.4 million 55-gallon drums, plus 60,000 drums worth of temporarily-stored waste." Area G is also expected to receive 54,000 drums worth more waste each year, mostly from nuclear weapons production and testing."40

The risks associated with this waste are already apparent. Abnormal levels of plutonium have been discovered leaking into the Rio Grande River, which borders the laboratory. This could be as result of the so-called "kick and roll" method of waste disposal where barrels of waste were simply rolled over a nearby canyon, according to Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS), as reported by the Environment and Energy Publishing, LLC Greenwire. Although the method is no longer practiced, its effects continue to linger as the Rio Grande is now contaminated.41

Just weeks after this story was reported, CCNS announced that a report(pdf) that they commissioned to study Los Alamos waste in the Rio Grande River was completed. They found that "low concentrations of explosives and perchlorate suspected to be from the lab have reached the Rio Grande."42

UT's Plans to Bid

The Nuclear Longhorn

The University of Texas System plans to participate in the first-ever competitive bid for the management of Los Alamos National Laboratory. UT first made its intentions to bid known in May 200343, in the days that followed the Department of Energy's decision to open the bidding process on April 30, 2003. In 2002, UT tried, and failed, to gain the right to operate Sandia National Laboratories, which makes all non-nuclear parts for the nation's nuclear weapons. UT spent $852,204 on this failed bid attempt. Now UT is looking to manage the laboratory that designs the active nuclear components of the nation's nuclear weapons. In their meeting on February 4th, 2004, the UT System Board of Regents allocated $500,000 to "look" into a bid for Los Alamos, which may cost UT $6 million by the time it comes to bid.44

UT focuses exclusively on the 3.4 percent of the Los Alamos budget that is directed towards science projects so they can bill it as a "scientific laboratory." Indeed, there are noble projects such as research on HIV and others that include chemistry, physics, and quantum science at Los Alamos, and UT would benefit if access to these projects increased. However, UT students and faculty already have access to work on these projects, and many UT professors who have worked at Los Alamos agree that management is not necessary for UT students and faculty to participate in research projects at the lab.

UT Watch Conclusions

It would be in the University of Texas System's best interests to not bid for the management of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Management may not bring the benefits currently touted by UT System administrators, and managing the lab may cost the University unneeded dollars. UT ought to follow the lead set by Lockheed Martin Corporation, who ended its quest for the bid, citing the substantial cost required to fix the problems at the lab.45

We believe that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) , the semi-autonomous entity in the Department of Energy (DOE), is in large part to blame for the current disappointing state of Los Alamos. The 2003 Interim UCORP Report found that the NNSA and the DOE essentially run the lab while UC 'lends its good name' to Los Alamos rather than actually manage the lab. The DOE and the NNSA, not UC, are to blame for this relationship. Thus, we believe that UT, or any university for that matter, would not - and could not - govern the Los Alamos much differently.

We recommend that the University not manage Los Alamos. With a reputation as being both "dysfunctional and untouchable," Los Alamos needs something more than a university 'lending its good name' to the lab. Working conditions must be improved and security must be tightened. UT has no experience in this, whatsoever, and UT administrators must remember that Los Alamos is more of a liability than a "crown jewel of science." It is in the University's best interests to re-focus on education instead of entering into the business of managing nuclear weapons.

Los Alamos Resources

The draft Request for Proposal (RFP) is now online at: http://www.doeal.gov/lanlcontractrecompete/DraftRFP.htm

The draft RFP is a prelude to the actual RFP, to be released at some point early 2005. The draft RFP outlines the major points of future the Los Alamos management contract for interested institutions and organizations.

Featured Resources

  • UT System needs 'true vision' by State Rep. Lon Burnam and Austin Van Zant, UT Watch (December 2004)
  • Institutional Interests: How Los Alamos is driving the development of new nuclear weapons (November 2004)
  • Democracy in the Decision for Los Alamos (November 2004)
  • UT's secretive Los Alamos Task Force (July 2004)

  • Resources by UT Watch Members
       Why the UT Interests in Nukes? - A look into some liabilities in managing Los Alamos National Laboratory and alleged benefits to the University of Texas, by UT Watch (August 2004)
       Fact sheet on UT and Los Alamos by UT Watch (July 2004)
       UC alone didn't ruin Los Alamos by Nick Schwellenbach (August 2004)
       Latest Los Alamos move covertly favors UT by John Pruett (June 2004)
       From National Defense to Security Threat: An Interview with Greg Mello on Los Alamos by John Pruett (March 2004)
       Los Alamos: Learning to Love the Bomb by Austin Van Zant (April 2004)
       Atomic Details: Involvement with a nuclear lab is a big risk for the UT System by Nick Schwellenbach (March 2004)
       Los Alamos Q and A by Forrest Wilder (April 2004)
       AR1, calling for open dialogue with the UT System regarding the Los Alamos bid by UT Watch (April 2004)

    Useful Links

    to go to UT Nuke-Free.org

    go to UC Nuke Free
       our partners at the University of California

    Los Alamos Study Group
    Iconmedia's Los Alamos Section
    POGO's Los Alamos Section
    Fiat Pax
    Nuclear Watch
    Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

    Other Resources
    Pete Nanos memorandum, July 16, 2004
    U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) letter, July 22, 2004(pdf)
    Excerpts: NNSA assessment of the University of California(pdf)

    UC Faculty Reports:

    April 2004 Daily Texan Series:
    -Debating A Bid For Los Alamos (04/13/2004)
    -Nuclear weapons bulk of study (04/13/2004)
    -Los Alamos Restructures After Funding Scandals (04/14/2004)
    -UT Weighs Possible Bid With Partner (04/15/2004)
    -Federal Ties to UT, UC critical in contract decision (04/16/2004)

    Resources on the Los Alamos bidding timeline
    National Nuclear Security Administration's "LANL M&O Contract Competition" website
    Competing the Management and Operations Contracts for DOE's National Laboratories: Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Use of Competitive Procedures for the Department of Energy Laboratories(pdf), dated November 24, 2003
    A Primer on the DOE Nuclear Weapons Labs Bidding Process by Fiat Pax
    Los Alamos National Laboratory Bid Timeline(word) by the UT System Administration


    1 Fiat Pax. "UC Manages Armageddon: The University of California and Nuclear Weapons".

    2 Ibid.

    3 House Rpt.108-554 - ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2005. "Directed Stockpile Work".

    4 Mello, Greg. "New bomb, no mission". Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. May/June 1997. Vol. 53, No. 3, pp. 28-32.

    5 Ibid.

    6 Adler, William. "Nukes Are Back!". The Austin Chronicle. January 16, 2004.

    7 Rockwell, Lilly. "UT Regents vote to look into bid for Los Alamos lab" Daily Texan. February 5, 2004.

    8 Borrego, Anne Marie. "Los Alamos: Up for Grabs". Chronicle of Higher Education. November 7, 2003.

    9 Ibid.

    10 Athavaley, Anjali. "Debating a bid for Los Alamos". Daily Texan. April 13, 2004.

    11 Ibid.

    12 Ibid.

    13 Rockwell, Daily Texan, 02/05/04.

    14 Haley, Brian. "Los Alamos good for U.S. and UT System". Daily Texan. April 28, 2004.

    15 Borrego, Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/07/03.

    16 Staff. "Lockheed Martin won't bid to run Los Alamos Lab". The Associated Press. August 7, 2004.

    17 Los Alamos Study Group Director Greg Mello reports that the Los Alamos contractor is exempt from all fines levied by the U.S. government through the Price-Anderson Act. He also owns the videotaped conference at Los Alamos on the CMR explosion, attended by all employees and lab management. Investigator Marc Clay described the working conditions at Los Alamos during a presentation of the independent investigation into the CMR explosion.

    Johnny Harper of Environmental Systems and Waste Characterization (CST-7) was the lead investigator of the CMR explosion, and he said "the management structure was confusing and nonsupportive and quality assurance measures weren't met, which contributed to the explosion". See the Daily News Bulletin from June 6, 1997 for more information:

    18 Branigan, Tanya. "University Settles Over Firing From Los Alamos; Whistle-Blower To Get $930,000." Washington Post. August 21, 2003.

    19 "Interim Report to the University of California Committee on Research Policy (UCORP)". Subcommittee on the Relationship between the University of California and the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories at Berkeley, Livermore, and Los Alamos. February 2003.

    20 The United States General Accounting Office. "Strategic Goal 3: 3.24. Helping Agencies Improve Audits of Purchase Card Programs". Performance and Accountability Report. Fiscal Year 2003.

    21 CBS News Staff. "Pink Slips For Lab Whistleblowers". CBS News. November 27, 2002.

    22 Ibid.

    23 Branigan, Washington Post, 08/21/03.

    24 Press Release, DOE Office of Public Affairs. "DOE To Compete Los Alamos National Laboratory Management and Operations Contract Upon Completion of Current University of California Contract in 2005." United States Department of Energy. April 30, 2003.
    http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/docs/2003-04-30-R-03-091-DOE To Compete.htm

    25 Hertsgaard, Matt. "Nuclear Insecurity." Vanity Fair. November 2003.

    26 CBS News Staff. "Nuclear Insecurity". CBS News. February 12, 2004.

    27 Pincus, Walter. "FBI Urged to Wrap Up Los Alamos Hard-Drive Probe". Washington Post. September 12, 2000.

    28 Borger, Julie. "'Cowboy' nuclear scientists ride roughshod over lab security ". The Guardian. July 17, 2004.

    29 Trulock, Notra. "Security Problems Persist At Los Alamos". American Daily. December 22, 2003.

    30 Staff. "US weapons research industry grinds to halt amid missing data scandal". Channelnewsasia.com. July 26, 2004.

    31 AP Staff. "UC Halts Los Alamos' Classified Work". The Associated Press. July 16, 2004.

    32 Davidson, Keay. "Los Alamos lab chief halts all work". San Francisco Chronicle. July 17, 2004.

    33 Vartabedian, Ralph. "Classified E-Mail Left Nuclear Lab". Los Angeles Times. July 19, 2004.

    34 A total of 23 scientists were placed on paid leave as of August 5, 2004. Los Alamos initially put 15 on leave in connection with the two missing zip disks and later four in connection with laser incident involving the 20 year old intern. On August 5, the lab announced that another 4 scientists were placed on leave in connection with the missing zip disks.

    - Blakeslee, Sandra. "Los Alamos Chief Suspends 19 Workers With Warning". New York Times. July 23, 2004.

    - Blakeslee, Sandra. "Los Alamos Lab Puts 4 More Scientists on Leave". New York Times. August 5, 2004.

    35 Staff. "LANL retirees angry over security issues". The Associated Press. August 9, 2004.

    36 "Potential Accidents at New Plutonium Bomb Factory Would Violate Radiation Protection Standards for the Public". Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. July 16, 2003.

    37 Jay Coghlan and Christopher Paine. "The U.S. Plutonium Addiction". Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. September 4, 2002.

    38 Schactman, Noah. "Embattled Lab Unveils New Nukes". Wired News. April 23, 2003.

    39 According to Greg Mello, Director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

    40 "Area G Nuclear Waste Disposal Site". Los Alamos Study Group.

    41 Reese, April. "Hazwaste: Los Alamos Contaminants Spoiling Rio Grande Watershed, Cleanup Efforts Launched". Environment and Energy Publishing, LLC Greenwire. July 9, 2004.

    42 Staff. "Report: Los Alamos lab waste reportedly found in the Rio Grande". The Associated Press. August 22, 2004.

    43 Athavaley, Anjali. "UT may bid for Los Alamos". Daily Texan. May 2, 2003.

    44 Rockwell, Lilly. "UT Regents vote to look into bid for Los Alamos lab". Daily Texan. February 5, 2004.

    45 The Associated Press, 08/07/04.