Oct 29, 2007

Welcome to the club, PNNL

From this story, it looks like the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is going to get to start playing the "DOE no WFO" game. I believe we're beginning to see a pattern...

-Gus

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New PNNL contract would restrict private work

Oct 25, 9:49 PM EDT
By SHANNON DININNY
Associated Press Writer

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- A provision that allows the contractor managing Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to conduct research for private companies will be removed from the next contract, under a draft request for proposals released by the federal government Thursday.

Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit group based in Columbus, Ohio, has managed and operated the national science laboratory in south-central Washington since its inception in 1965. The laboratory had a business volume of $765 million in 2007.

An estimated 10 percent of that work was for private companies under a "special-use permit" approved by the U.S. Department of Energy under each contract since 1965. The permit allows Battelle to use government-owned facilities to conduct outside work.

In a statement announcing the draft request for proposals Thursday, the department said it would eliminate the special-use permit to foster competition through a "level playing field" and to better align the new laboratory contract with other contracts in the Energy Department's complex. The draft will be open for comments through Dec. 10.

Members of Washington's congressional delegation immediately criticized the proposal, arguing it could result in layoffs and cripple the laboratory.

"The use permit is responsible for 300-400 jobs at PNNL alone, and has led to job and business creation in the Tri-Cities and across our state. It should not be summarily ended as this draft proposes," read a joint statement by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Norm Dicks, both Democrats, and Republican Rep. Doc Hastings, whose district includes the laboratory.

Battelle has operated the laboratory under a series of extended contracts since 1965. Its current contract, which expired Sept. 30, has been extended while the government seeks new bids.

The laboratory's research areas include science and environment, energy, defense and national security.

Battelle officials were disappointed about the Energy Department's decision to eliminate the special-use permit, spokeswoman Katy Delaney said in a telephone interview.

"Historically, we believe it's been a good means of connecting the lab to industry," she said.

However, she said Battelle was excited about the opportunity to bid and was putting together its "A Team" to do so.

"We consider this our flagship lab in the national laboratory system, and we intent to put together a winning proposal," Delaney said.

Battelle also is a partner in operating Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Idaho National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

PNNL, located in Richland, conducts nearly 60 percent of its research for the Energy Department, and about 25 percent for the departments of Homeland Security and Defense. Private work accounts for about 10 percent of the laboratory's business.

In 2005, 11 percent of the work conducted at the laboratory for the Energy Department, or an estimated $76.5 million, was related to the Hanford nuclear reservation, a nuclear weapons facility created during World War II as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb.

Since 1965, the laboratory has received a total of 1,466 U.S. and foreign patents. It employs about 4,300 people and has a payroll of $327 million.

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On the Net:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: http://www.pnl.gov

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

More competency froum our well informed, and "ethical" goverment

Anonymous said...

I used to work at PNNL and their use contract always bugged me a bit. Battelle always pushed that work and pushed (by rewards and recognition) patents and commercialization. My feel was always, "is this really what the customer, DOE, wants?" Apparently not.

Think about it. If you paid that much for a lab would you want them concentrating on work for you or work for themselves? What is in it for DOE?

That being said, it's going to be painful to a lot of people at PNNL and for that I'm sad.

Anonymous said...

The Labs make money on WFO. They charge a premium to the non-DOE funder. Taxes are increased above an beyond what DOE pays. AND DOE TAKES a 3% FEE OFF THE TOP THEMSELVES. WFO is a cash cow for both DOE and the Labs. They're just pimping you out and getting their piece of the action.

Anonymous said...

Count on the DOE to continue to f*ck up the complex until massive layoffs are needed throughout the whole national lab system.

This is yet another piece of strong evidence that the weapon labs would be better off working under almost any agency than the dimwits over at DOE/NNSA.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if DOE and NNSA are intent on inflicting the maximum pain on the national labs and are prepared to give the 'finger' to Congress on their desires for greater diversity in the lab project portfolios.

Anonymous said...

Hang on a second. You all would be screaming bloody murder if our Bechtel overlords started taking your lab space and leasing it out to private companies.

Anonymous said...

Poster 6:57 AM, you have no idea what you are talking about.

If staff could work on WFO projects at half the current LANL TSM rates under the banner of Bechtel then most TSMs would be overjoyed to do it!

That is exactly what PNNL staff have been able to do. When working on non-DOE WFO projects the PNNL staff get to bill it as being under the Battelle banner and the labor rates are then much less.

The PNNL method sounds like a great idea to help encourage project diversity at the labs, but that is clearly not DOE's agenda and, thus, they aim to snuff it out.

DOE/NNSA gives their scientists no job security, yet they block any attempts by the staff to secure job security via other means. It's a very sick situation that DOE has created for the workforce at the national labs.

Anonymous said...

6:49 pm, I don't know where you got your information but charge out rates on "1831" research at PNNL (private work done under the Battelle banner) are nearly twice as high as the DOE or other gov't agency (WFO) research. The extra is what Battelle scrapes off the top and that is why Battelle in particular likes that system. I think DOE gets some of it, too, as "rent" for their facilities. It is certainly NOT cheaper.

Anonymous said...

6:49 - DOE/NNSA gives their scientists no job security, yet they block any attempts by the staff to secure job security via other means.

You are not blocked from job security by other means. You could get another job.

You are a cowardly and lazy POS.

Anonymous said...

And where to you work, 9:21 pm? Certainly not at LANL, I hope. After all, that would make you a POS, too. Actually, it would make you a big, stinking, double-dip POS plus a hypocrite. Oh, and don't forget the lazy part, either.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know where you got your information but charge out rates on "1831" research at PNNL (private work done under the Battelle banner) are nearly twice as high as the DOE or other gov't agency (WFO) research." (7:43 PM)

So we're to believe that FTE rates on 1831 WFOs at PNNL cost around $800 K per FTE? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

boo hoo.

I want to use all of the infrastructure and not pay for it.

waa waa.

Go cry to your mother. Maybe she will care.

Anonymous said...

Poster 12:05 AM, you are a f*cking asshole and demonstrate a large part of the attitude problems that now infect LANL. The infrastructure charges at LANL are outrageous and are pushing our customers away. This means less money to pay for support and overhead, which means guys like you get RIFed. Get it?

Anonymous said...

11:50 pm; no the 1831 work doesn't cost $800k/FTE, but the 1830 work doesn't cost $400/FTE either. PNNL, last I checked, was more like $250k/FTE for a mid-level scientist doing 1830 work (varies depending on the organization and type of work).

Trust me, the 1831 work is far more expensive than the 1830.

Anonymous said...

Poster 4:16 PM, a $250 K FTE rate would be nirvana for most of LANL's TSMs. The average TSM rate at LANL is currently running over $400 K per year and quickly rising!

Give me the PNNL's FTE rates and I would be overjoyed. Also, it is my understanding that the 1830 rate (which you list as $250K) is what would be used when doing work for other government agencies (i.e., WFO for the Feds). The 1831 rate is reserved for private company research at PNNL. If LANL had a Fed-WFO rate of $250K we could begin to grow the project base away from our heavy dependence on NNSA.

Anonymous said...

Someone call the waaambulance.

You want infrastructure for free. Well, if you are so smart, go rent some space, buy equipment, and try to get new programs or maintain your existing ones. You wouldn't stand a chance, you cowardly little punk.