May 5, 2008

Lab makes another bid for new science complex

By ROGER SNODGRASS, Los Alamos Monitor Editor

Los Alamos National Laboratory will hold a bidder’s conference Tuesday, looking for new kind of developer for an overdue project that is trying once again to get off the ground.

“This is absolutely key to us,” said Terry Wallace, the lab’s senior science administrator, during a recent interview. He was talking about the lab’s determination to find a better workplace for hundreds of scientists who are now scattered around the 40 square miles of campus in what is general acknowledged to be inadequate, overcrowded, and inefficient old buildings and transportable structures.

“Of our 9 million square feet, the great majority, perhaps 80 percent, was built in the ’50s,” he said. “It’s not cost effective. It’s not allowing us to do an awful lot of things we’d like to be doing.”

Reviving efforts that began in earnest four years ago, the project will attempt once again to provide modern, state-of-the-art laboratory and workspace for about 1,400 scientists, Wallace said.

There may be a few bumps in the road.

As the Request for Proposal for the project states, “Budgetary pressures and constraints have forced federal agencies to consider new approaches for financing federal projects beyond the more traditional line-item approach. Increasingly, many agencies have begun arranging for private developers to fund various infrastructure projects.”

Two years ago, the laboratory’s attempt to set up a third-party financial arrangement with the help of the U.S. Postal Service quickly unraveled a few days after the details of the arrangement were obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Wallace said it wasn’t because of the watchdog group’s disclosure, but “unfortunate timing,” because it came at a time when the postal service was under extreme pressures and in the process of dismissing officials for problems related to business practices.

This time around, he said, every effort has been made to make sure everybody is informed, from Congressional committees and staff to key committee members to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the agency that supervises the nuclear weapons complex.

Nuclear Watch has requested and has been approved to participate in the bidding conference.

Rather than financing the complex as a line item in an energy department appropriation bill, this project would be financed by a private developer who would raise funds for design and construction of the building that would then be paid for by a long-term lease. The lease would be for a five-year term, with three additional five-year extensions under the same terms.

The government would be able to opt out with a 12-month written notice.

“If the facility lease is cancelled, public access to the site for future tenants will be from the Ski Hill Bypass Road,” the RFP states.

Instead of approval from congressional appropriators, this kind of financing is approved by the Office of Management and Budget in the executive branch. The Armed Services Committee also has 60 days to review the project, because it is located on an NNSA site.

“Once a developer is selected, NNSA says yes or no,” Wallace said, noting that the lab has been careful not to rule out the possibility of financing the project as regular line-item appropriation, if that were possible.

Depending on design criteria, the value of the dollar and the price of concrete, the cost the complex is estimated to be in the $250 million to $400 million range.

“We would like to be in this building by January 2011,” Wallace said.

The bidding conference begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Best Western Hilltop House Hotel in Los Alamos. Only interested parties already enrolled to attend will be able to register for the meeting, which will include a tour of the proposed construction site.

Among the groups in the Science, Technology and Engineering directorate that Wallace leads and that would be located in the Science Complex are earth and environmental sciences, advanced theory, global climate and ocean modeling research, computational biology, bioenergy, bioterrorism, energy security, infrastructure modeling research and development, and unclassified computing.

The RFP is available at www.lanl.gov/orgs/sup/procurement/solicitations/lasc/rfp.shtml.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Terry is a lying sack of shit and has yet to keep his word on anything. Don't believe a single word that comes out of his mouth.

Anonymous said...

7:10 PM, don't you mean Wallace the great woman hater (oh I mean fearer)?

Anonymous said...

LANS stands to reap millions in fees for achieving a 25% reduction in laboratory building space so they'll shut buildings down whether or not they're needed. But do these high-powered managers just now realize that they need to provide office space for staff displaced by the "footprint reduction" program? So they're desperately trying to get someone else to pay for new building space? How stupid is that?

Now wonder staff are leaving by the droves.

Anonymous said...

The Amazing Wallace actually oversaw the original "Science Complex" unravelling as ADSR. ANYONE, including Bechtel (LANS), NNSA, DOE, Congress or current scientists at LANL, who believes an iota of the drivel that Wallace spews is in for a complete screwing. And as always, watch how he acts in the presence of women, very strange.

Anonymous said...

For the prurient and nosy yet uninformed, could you elaborate on how he behaves in the presence of women?

Anonymous said...

PS Pinky. I am not in favor of censorship, but I do think that people should not hint at juicy gossip - they should post it!

Anonymous said...

There are several male managers from Bechtel who creep me out. They can look me in the eye while they also perform the elevator glance. It must be the Bechtel culture. We don't call them the Bechtel boys for nothing. If you ever get the chance, notice how dismissive the Bechtel boys are of Doris Heim. Very telling of the Bechtel boy culture. No wonder there are many Bechtel boys and hardly any Bechtel girls. Also heard that the Bechtel boy in charge of procurement was close to be fired by Anastasio because purchasing has over 1000 requisitions it cannot place. Purcahsing employees are leaving at the rate of 1 per week, purchasing now has only 40 employees which is down from over 150 before Bechtel took over. So don't worry, this building will never be built, there is no one left in purchasing to place the order.

Anonymous said...

"The government would be able to opt out with a 12-month written notice."

There is no way that this building would find much use outside of LANL. Therefore, if LANS decides it had to cancel the lease (say, because of Congressional funding shortfalls and massive layoffs), then the private owners would end up owning a $400 million White Elephant. With LANL funding looking mighty insecure going forward, I can't conceive of why a private company would take on this risk.

Think this can't happen? Just look at the lab's "Motorola Building" that now has gobs of empty office space. The "Motorola Building" was built with great fanfare and high hopes. Today, the main function of this new building seems to be that of hosting a coffee house. Almost all the private company tenants it was intended to serve have left LANL over the last few years, including LANL's "anchor" tenant and former collaborative partner, Motorola.

Anonymous said...

"It must be the Bechtel culture. We don't call them the Bechtel boys for nothing."

I thought the new Ethics Training was suppose to cure this type of problem?

LANS may need to construct another mandatory training course for all LANL employees. They can call it "Grabbing, Groping, and Groveling". It can be taught by Pat Trujillo.

Anonymous said...

"Among the groups in the Science, Technology and Engineering directorate that Wallace leads and that would be located in the Science Complex are earth and environmental sciences, advanced theory, global climate and ocean modeling research, computational biology, bioenergy, bioterrorism, energy security, infrastructure modeling research and development, and unclassified computing."

Why is LANL engaged in bioterrorism?

Anonymous said...

5/5/08 9:23 PM asked ..."For the prurient and nosy yet uninformed, could you elaborate on how he behaves in the presence of women?"

Well, he hates them and he refuses to work with smart women because they make him feel like he has a small peepee. My friend was on the hiring committee for his deputy and the top candidate by miles was a woman - when Wallace found out he overturned the hiring committee's months and months of work and picked the guy at the bottom of the applicant heap, Duncan McBranch...

Anonymous said...

Heck, 5/5/08 10:56 PM, I don't think much of Doris Heim either.

Anonymous said...

Empty space in the Motorola Building will soon be occupied by the q-bio project, funded by the NSF, a haven for overpaid retired LANL managers from Wallace's directorate. What looks like economic development to Los Alamos County will just be a reshuffling of current residents with maybe an increase in tax revenues for a while.

Anonymous said...

I'm sensing there is something of a George Bush quality about Terry Wallace. You know, the "I'm not really qualified for this position, but my parents had pull" type of thing. This situation can breed deep insecurities in those holding jobs at high levels. That may help explain some of the observations that have been posted here, if these observations are true.

Anonymous said...

6:17 am: "Why is LANL engaged in bioterrorism?"

Assuming your question was serious...

This is very old news. Look up the Biowatch program and it's predecessor, BASIS. LANL has been at the forefront for around 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I meant that I would expect LANL to engage in counter-bioterrorism work, not bioterrorism per se.

However, I would also ask what meaningful capabilities LANL has brought to the counter-bioterrorism effort, since Paul Jackson was poached by LLNL years ago.

You may have a different understanding of the meaning of the word "forefront" than is commonly accepted.

Anonymous said...

10:56PM said, "notice how dismissive the Bechtel boys are of Doris Heim. Very telling of the Bechtel boy culture. No wonder there are many Bechtel boys and hardly any Bechtel girls."

What makes you think Heim is a Bechtel girl? Remember the movie The Crying Game? The Bechtel boys sure do, and they love it.

Anonymous said...

"This is very old news. Look up the Biowatch program and it's predecessor, BASIS. LANL has been at the forefront for around 10 years."

So what - the question is still "Why is LANL engaged in bioterrorism?"

And while we're at it - "Why is LANL involved in global climate and ocean modeling research, computational biology, bioenergy, energy security, or infrastructure modeling research and development?"

What do these have to do with the nuclear weapons program? These are not the responsibility of the NNSA, the organization that also happens to be the landlord. This work should be done at a DOE Office of Science lab.

Anonymous said...

7:10 pm: "What do these have to do with the nuclear weapons program? These are not the responsibility of the NNSA, the organization that also happens to be the landlord. This work should be done at a DOE Office of Science lab."

Obviously, this work is done at the Lab deemed by the sponsor (DHS for bioterrorism) most able to do it! They know who will produce for them. Non-nuclear work has been a part of the AEC, then ERDA, then DOE, now NNSA, labs since the beginning. Since I was funded under non-nuclear work at LANL snce 1977, I know and appreciate whereof I speak. I am very grateful for the Basic Energy Sciences, Fossil Fuels, and DoD WFO work that funded my research career. NNSA labs have a historical wealth of multi-disciplinary research expertise the DOE labs cannot match.

Anonymous said...

4:29 pm: "However, I would also ask what meaningful capabilities LANL has brought to the counter-bioterrorism effort, since Paul Jackson was poached by LLNL years ago."

Engineering, planning, deployment, home teams, logistics, forensics, etc., none of which (much) depended on Paul's admittedly formidable skills in the lab. Paul is a great scientist; he just wasn't necessary for the latter phases of the Biowatch program.

Anonymous said...

5/5/08 7:56 PM

Closet homo? Methinks the scent of a woman does not impress him.

5/5/08 10:56 PM

Well I was once told if you cannot look a woman in the eyes then your intentions are not good. Maybe they are just interested in you, and not ashamed to show their unabashed interest.

5/6/08 10:48 AM

I thought there was an office in the research park that was always visited by dignitaries. ( was it some sort of superconductivity or something?)


About Wallace, maybe he is just intimidated by women. Look at whom his mother is. Or maybe he has a small peepee, or likes other peepee's......but I do not think comparing him to Trujilo is fair. He may be incompeten, and scared of women, but a pedophile?

Anonymous said...

Right 10:47. When I think of LANL, I think of logistics and engineering.

LOL.

Anonymous said...

“We would like to be in this building by January 2011,” Wallace said.

I highly doubt it. We'll be lucky if large parts of LANL are even still around by 2011.

The political landscape is going to be brutal for LANL over the next few years. We've probably got one more decent year ahead of us with FY09. It's St. Pete's farewell gift, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Anonymous said...

It's looking more likely that the Democrats will have total control of Congress by next year and we'll have an Obama administration in the White House. Does anyone believe that these new power brokers are going to be supporters of nuclear weapon production or the NNSA nuclear weapon labs? This is even more unlikely when you consider that NNSA has already been saying that they can live with a 20% to 30% scale-back of their complex. The new Congress will run with these figures and demand that spending for the nuclear complex be drastically reduced to help pay for other programs, none of which will aid LANL.

Anonymous said...

7:35 am: "Right 10:47. When I think of LANL, I think of logistics and engineering.

LOL."

What you think is not important. Facts are important. Designing, building, and fielding the early BASIS instruments and the data-handling protocols are also things you failed to "think" about.

Anonymous said...

The 20%-30% cuts are before the new Democratic Administration takes over, guess what? That number may double in the next few years, I hope Max Baker reads this, his statement of "Los Alamos is here to stay" comes at a time when reduction to LANL's budget is going to be massive. I wonder where he gets his info from?

Anonymous said...

BASIS was a bunch of commercial instruments in a trailer. That deserves the credit of assembling a lab, so great, you are as competent as any starting assistant biology professor. Design and build??? No, buy and unpack.

It was run so poorly that a false positive was reported at a major event at which it was deployed, setting off a panic among the responders. That's some fine data handling.

Where do idiots like you come from?

Anonymous said...

12:41 pm: "BASIS was a bunch of commercial instruments in a trailer."

Written by somone who has never seen a BASIS field station.

Congressional Research Service Report No. RL 32152, November 19, 2003: "BASIS was deployed for both indoor and outdoor monitoring at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, and was also tested and characterized in urban settings. Some conclusions about instrument performance based on these tests were released. BASIS was characterized as having high specificity, with fewer than 0.005% false positives per filter measurement, and high sensitivity."

Anonymous said...

Now that KSL is being absorbed by LANS they can used the saved contract money to build this or hire more managers......

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Administration, whether Democrat or Republican, will have much effect on the Lab's budget.

Blame Congress for that.

Anonymous said...

5:18 pm: "I don't think the Administration, whether Democrat or Republican, will have much effect on the Lab's budget. Blame Congress for that."

You're obviously confused about the functions of the three branches of the federal government. One doesn't "blame" congress for allocating, or not, money to run the government - that's their job. Requesting an allocation to do what they think needs doing is the function of the executive branch (i.e., the "administration"). Congress is supposed to be conforming to the will of the people on what they want their government to be doing and spending public money on. If they don't, presumably they'll be voted out. I don't see any indication that the people want more funding for LANL.

Anonymous said...

"Written by somone who has never seen a BASIS field station."

I do not have to see a BASIS or know anything about one to make my point. You can have your BASIS in your reality and I can have my BASIS in my reality.

Anonymous said...

9:30 pm: "I do not have to see a BASIS or know anything about one to make my point"

Yep, and you've just made my point. Facts don't matter, only your "feelings" or "thoughts" - better yet, your secure, absolute opinions, "based" on nothing real. Happy, happy, joy, joy. Your continued significant influence on the world's affairs are sincerely appreciated.

Anonymous said...

A new listing over at the careers.bechtel.com site has an opening for a Group Leader position in External Affairs at LANL. The posting has a very short close out date (May 8th), so I'm guessing that Bechtel probably has one of their current manager's already selected to take over this position. The listing is just a formality. If you work in External Affairs at LANL, prepare to be Bechtelized.

How long will it be until Bechtel ends up filling the Director slot with one of their own?

Anonymous said...

12:06 am: "How long will it be until Bechtel ends up filling the Director slot with one of their own?"

Wake up - they already have, bought and paid for.

Anonymous said...

I really wish Terry would shut his hole. He is a moron and an embarassment everytime he opens his mouth because all he does is spew lies and more lies.

Anonymous said...

I take it that Terry Wallace now has this Science Complex task which Mike handed off to him all squared away?

What was the result of the meeting that was held with the possible contractors. How many showed up? How serious was their interest?

Frank Young said...

From Raam Wong's story:
"Lab official Duncan McBranch said bids on the project will be accepted through June. The lab will have to prove to the National Nuclear Security Administration that the private-sector financing plan would save the government money by replacing old, inefficient buildings, he said."

Anonymous said...

"The lab will have to prove to the National Nuclear Security Administration that the private-sector financing plan would save the government money by replacing old, inefficient buildings, he said."

Well, that does it. I guess we can't expect to see the Science Complex building built anytime soon.

The only buildings that NNSA really wants to spend money on these days have to do with pit production. For pit buildings, no cost justifications are required. Money needed for building them will come from laying off staff, as NNSA has already told us.

Anonymous said...

Is my new office ready, Terry? I'm growing weary of the leaky roof, filthy carpet, rodent droppings, broken electrical wiring, and the mold growing behind the walls.