LANL Management Irregularities Continue
Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the private consortium that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory under contract for the federal government will manage $2.1 billion of our taxpayer dollars this year. LANS should remember that they were hired to represent the nation’s interests, not the interests of the for-profit corporations running the Lab.
Scott Sandlin, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer, reported a $3.64 million judgment against Los Alamos National Laboratory for “breach of implied contract and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.” The plaintiffs claimed that Los Alamos conducted the federally funded bidding process, procurement and subsequent protest “using secret policies and procedures inimical to a fair and open bidding procedure.” The Journal disclosed that, according to the lawsuit, the contract was worth roughly $395 million over the first five years and almost $800 million over the decade.
Despite the judgment, LANS denied that it had departed from procedures and also denied deviating from its customary practices.
This follows the March resignation of Los Alamos National Laboratory Deputy Director Beth Sellers, the second-highest ranking administrator at the Lab, for failure to properly report a potential conflict of interest when her husband received a lab consulting contract in 2012. This was also from the ABQ Journal.
The Lab determined that the consultant agreement did not conform to prescribed LANL procedures and processes.” The consultant/husband charged two hours “for a discussion on environmental matters that never took place” and which was actually a visit to the Santa Fe Opera. Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the private consortium that runs the lab under contract with the federal government, reimbursed the government for over $23,000 for the improper contract.
This comes after the November 2013 revelation that Ex-Congresswoman Heather Wilson was paid by nuclear weapons labs the day after she left office. An Albuquerque Journal article built upon a Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General investigation, which determined that the Sandia and Los Alamos Labs had made approximately $450,000 in improper payments to Wilson up until March 2011, when she began to campaign for the Senate.
A DOE IG report said that the facts indicate that federal funds were used for prohibited lobbying activities, which that office is still investigating. The Labs were forced to return that money to the government, but not Wilson.
The Albuquerque Journal received the new information concerning the dates of Wilson’s contract with Sandia from Nuclear Watch New Mexico. The watchdog organization obtained the documents by appealing an initially rejected federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.