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UNM to Bid on Sandia Contract

UNM to Bid on Sandia Contract

UNM is forming a team with four other entities to bid on the contract to run Sandia.

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

The University of New Mexico wants a piece of Sandia National Laboratories. Or at least the $2.9 billion-a-year contract to operate the sprawling nuclear weapons and defense lab on Albuquerque’s southern edge.

UNM said Tuesday that it is forming a team with four other entities to bid on the contract to run Sandia. The team includes Batelle, The Boeing Company, The Texas A&M University System and the University of Texas System.

“UNM and Sandia have shared a strong, multidimensional and strategic research collaboration for many decades, aligned both in proximity and in mission,” UNM President Robert Frank said in announcing the partnership. “We believe that our team will strengthen our impact on research in national security and provide many benefits to the local community and the state of New Mexico.”

In one way, UNM would be a good fit for the lab as more than 2,400 UNM graduates are employed at the facility, Frank added.

The National Nuclear Security Administration has opened the bidding process for the contract to manage Sandia, and 19 organizations from around the country, including UNM and its team members, have expressed interest.

The contract will consist of a four-month transition phase and a five-year base period with options for up to five more years. A decision on who gets the contract is expected by the end of the year. The lab’s current operator, Lockheed Martin, is also expected to bid on the contract.

Joseph L. Cecchi, dean of the UNM School of Engineering and associate provost for national laboratory relations, said that having UNM on the management team will strengthen and expand the research already taking place between the institutions.

“UNM, and especially the School of Engineering, will benefit greatly from increased opportunities for collaboration with the Labs,” Cecchi said. “Such a partnership could result in more research funding, more research projects, and enhanced teaching and learning for students in a variety of disciplines across the University.”

Sandia sits on 13,740 acres, has an annual budget of $2.9 billion and employs 10,540 people.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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Johnny Vizcaino is an editorial intern at ABQ Free Press Weekly.

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