FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Reese
Below is a statement from UC President Richard C. Atkinson regarding the decision announced today (Apr. 30) by U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham concerning UC's management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory.
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Richard C. Atkinson
The University of California appreciates the strong statement of support issued today by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. We are grateful that the secretary recognizes the "vigorous action" the University has taken to remedy the business problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the "significant value" the University brings to the science, and the "significant disruption" that termination would have caused to the laboratory's mission and to the morale of employees involved in protecting the nation's security.
I also appreciate that the secretary is urging the University of California to compete. My instinct continues to be to compete — and to compete hard — in order to continue the University's stewardship of excellence in science and innovation. We believe, with every fiber of our institutional being, that continued UC management is in the absolute best interests of the nation's security.
However, there is another question at stake — and that is whether the University should compete. The answer to that is less clear, and it goes to the fundamental nature of these particular government laboratories and the historical reasons why the University was asked to manage them as a public service. The ultimate decision whether to compete will have to be made by the UC Board of Regents. In making their decision, they will have to grapple with a number of critical issues, including the terms and conditions, the implications that a competition will have on the scientific work and integrity at the laboratory, and whether it would result in any compromise of academic standards. I expect these issues to be addressed in the coming months.
The final paragraph of the report submitted to the secretary
includes a very important observation that is worth repeating:
"The failures of Los Alamos are real, but they are the
failures of a few." We have always believed that the
overwhelming number of Los Alamos employees are honest, hardworking,
and dedicated to the nation's security. The University of
California and Los Alamos continue to work aggressively to
ensure that these isolated failures do not deter from the
laboratory's excellent scientific contributions. The University
and laboratory remain focused on our immediate responsibilities
to continue to ensure the safety and reliability of America's
nuclear weapons and to respond to the national security and
scientific needs of our nation. UC is extremely proud of the
contributions to the country and the world that have resulted
from our 60 years of managing Los Alamos National Laboratory
in partnership with the Department of Energy.
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