UT System will submit bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory

Technical Area 18 of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which houses several tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, is shown August 12, 2002 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The U.S. Energy Department is expected to move the plutonium and weapons-grade uranium, pending an environmental review, to the Nevada Test Site because of security concerns. (Photo by Neil Jacobs/Getty Images)
Technical Area 18 of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which houses several tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, is shown August 12, 2002 in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The U.S. Energy Department is expected to move the plutonium and weapons-grade uranium, pending an environmental review, to the Nevada Test Site because of security concerns. (Photo by Neil Jacobs/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Monday, the University of Texas System Board of Regents authorized submission of a formal bid for a contract to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

LANL is one of the Department of Energy’s national labs which is known for its work in the areas of nuclear weapons, security, environmental management and energy.

The vote to submit a bid was not unanimous.

This is the first time since 2005 that LANL has been open for parties to apply to manage the lab, which was the last time the UT System attempted to make a bid for it. That year, the UT System was part of a larger team lead by Lockheed Martin. If selected, the system would be responsible for managing the lab and collaborating with industry, research and higher education organisations that work with LANL.

Formal responses are due by Dec. 11 and the Department of Energy is expected to announce who will be awarded the contract in mid-spring of 2018. The contract as currently described in the request for proposals lays out a basic service term of five years.

It is one of the Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories and was the site of the Manhattan Project during WWII. It is currently managed under the University of California System along with Bechtel National Inc. The UC System managed LANL for more than 70 years.

UT System Chancellor William McRaven and UT Austin President Greg Fenves have expressed support for the project, saying that the scale of the UT system and its specialties in the sciences and in national security work would make it a great manager of the lab.

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