Sandia National Laboratories will potentially lay off 65 employees to meet projected federal budget cuts in 2008.
The estimate was narrowed from November projections that the labs would have to lay off between 40 and 80 employees. But the 65 cuts are still by no means set in stone, said John Stichman, the labs' deputy director.
Some of those employees could be moved to other areas of the labs, which have been shifting resources and dropping employees by attrition for the past several years to meet ongoing expected federal budget cuts, he said.
"We have brought down the level of employees of the lab by a few hundred over the past few years," Stichman said.
House and Senate negotiators were close to an agreement Monday on a catchall spending bill that would have restored some of the funding cut by the House earlier this year for the weapons and research programs of the Department of Energy. But the deal temporarily fell apart when the White House threatened to veto the overall bill because it adds $11 billion more in spending than what President Bush proposed.
Still, many Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of Albuquerque, are expected to back the higher spending level.
The number of cuts at Sandia seems small compared with projected cuts at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is anticipating between 500 and 750 layoffs out of its 12,000 employees if not enough of them accept a buyout offer.
At its peak in fiscal 2006, Sandia had about 8,821 employees. That number is now 8,338. The overall goal is to drop the staff level to 7,800 by fiscal 2011, Stichman said.
The lab generally turns over about 400 employees a year, he said.
Employees who face termination will have a bit of time before their jobs end, he added.
The final list will likely be determined sometime in January, when those employees will receive notice.
They then go through a 60-day process to see whether they can shift to other work at the labs before final termination, which means most won't be let go until March, Stichman said.
Employees can't volunteer to be let go, but those who can't be moved will get a standard severance package, he said.
The cuts will occur in areas where employees aren't focused on direct work with such customers as the federal government. But beyond that Stichman didn't want to get into specifics, he said.
"They are positions related to things like administration — administrative sorts of functions," Stichman said.
James W. Brosnan contributed to this story.