Hi, it would seem that the Washington State delegation beat the DOE and saved PNNL's WFO efforts. I wonder why all national lab contracts don't have a similar "Use Permit" clause in them.
This story was published Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
By SHANNON DININNY, Associated Press Writer
YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Energy canceled its bidding competition Wednesday for the contract to manage Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, citing a provision in a recent spending bill that would allow the current and subsequent contractors to conduct research for private companies.
In 2006, the department announced that for the first time in 41 years it would seek competitive bids for the contract to manage the national science laboratory in Richland. Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit group based in Columbus, Ohio, has managed and operated the south-central Washington laboratory since its inception in 1965.
Then in a draft request for proposals last fall, the Energy Department said it would eliminate from the contract a "special-use permit" that has allowed Battelle to use government-owned facilities to conduct outside work. At the time, the department said the decision would foster competition through a "level playing field" and better align the new laboratory contract with other contracts in the Energy Department's complex.
However, an omnibus spending bill signed by President Bush on Dec. 26 provided that the special-use permit at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory shall continue during the existing contract and any extensions or renewals of the contract, and shall be incorporated into any future contract.
The Energy Department has not yet decided how to proceed toward a new laboratory contract, the department said Wednesday in a statement.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican whose district includes the laboratory, welcomed the news, saying the Energy Department's proposal to abruptly end the special-use permit was "simply wrong." The pair had fought the proposal, noting that the use permit is responsible for 300-400 jobs at the laboratory alone.
"Our goal has always been to ensure that any contract competition resulted in a strong lab that would help our region create jobs and opportunities well into the future," their statement said. "The 'use permit' was a critical tool in helping the lab to grow and to create new jobs and business in the Tri-Cities and across our state."
PNNL's research areas include science and environment, energy, defense and national security. Nearly 60 percent of the laboratory's research is conducted for the Energy Department, with about 25 percent for the departments of Homeland Security and Defense.
The laboratory employs about 4,300 people and has a payroll of $327 million.
Battelle's current contract, which expired Sept. 30, has been extended while the government sought new bids.
In 2007, PNNL had a business volume of $765 million. An estimated 10 percent of that work was for private companies under the special-use permit, which was approved by the Energy Department under each contract since 1965.
Last month, Battelle announced that it would partner in its bid with the University of Washington, Washington State University and Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Group Inc., an engineering company formerly known as BWXT Services Inc.
Battelle also is a partner in operating Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the Idaho National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.