Members Of NM Delegation Urge NNSA Administrator To Strongly Consider Local Businesses, Staffing In Future Sandia National Laboratories Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (N.M.-03) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.-01) are urging National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Lt. General Frank G. Klotz, USAF (Ret.) to strongly consider the benefits of using New Mexico local businesses, and focusing on staff recruitment and retention, as it considers the next manager of Sandia National Laboratories (SNL).

In a letter to General Klotz about NNSA's forthcoming Request for Proposals on the SNL contract, the New Mexico lawmakers wrote: "Sandia plays a critical role in our national security, and we are deeply committed to its success. For this, Sandia depends on its workforce and the regional capacity of surrounding businesses, schools, and communities. ... We appreciate your careful consideration of each of these five key areas in the development of the final RFP. In addition to substantial contributions to our nation's security, Sandia National Laboratories and its employees play a central role in the community and the economy of New Mexico. We urge NNSA to ensure the labs continue to have the staffing it needs as it continues to provide exceptional service in the national interest."

The lawmakers stressed to General Klotz that he protect or strengthen the RFP process in five areas:

  • Workforce recruitment and retention; 
  • Local small business procurement;
  • Technology transfer;
  • Regional university partnerships, and
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) education and charitable giving.

NNSA is currently planning to place the contract to manage and operate Sandia National Laboratories out for bid. Sandia has been managed since 1993 by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, and is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). Sandia's contract will expire April 30, 2017. NNSA will conduct a full and open competition for a follow-on M&O contract consisting of a four-month transition and a five-year base period with options for up to five additional years. NNSA will accept public comments as part of the procurement process.

A full text of the letter is available below and here:

April 27, 2016

The Honorable Frank G. Klotz
Under Secretary for Nuclear Security
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC  20585

Dear General Klotz:

We write regarding the draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the management and operation of Sandia National Laboratories.  Sandia plays a critical role in our national security, and we are deeply committed to its success.  For this, Sandia depends on its workforce and the regional capacity of surrounding businesses, schools, and communities.  We urge you to protect or strengthen the RFP in the following areas.

1) Workforce recruitment and retention: We believe it is critical that the contractor have flexibility and incentives to establish competitive compensation and benefits packages that strengthen workforce recruitment and retention, especially for women and underrepresented minorities in critical areas that impact national security.  We encourage NNSA to require contractors to consider diversity and workforce retention when proposing any changes to compensation and benefits packages, and to be open to innovative benefits available in the private sector, such as paid family leave.  For these reasons, we strongly oppose any provisions permitting contractors to renege on obligations to employees, and strongly support provisions assuring all existing labor union agreements are honored. 

2) Local small business procurement: We thank NNSA for making small business participation a selection criterion in the RFP. Sandia spends 39% of its contract-related dollars in New Mexico, and over $258 million goes to small businesses in the state. Local companies provide site-tailored, value-added goods and services while also building regional capacity that helps recruit new employees and their families.  We request that NNSA evaluate the contractor on annually negotiated local contracting goals.

3) Technology transfer: Our federal investment in lab research should be maximally leveraged to advance the nation's technological edge for innovation in the global economy. Technology transfer should be considered a substantive evaluation criterion for the performance period of the contract. Furthermore, performance evaluation should be based on economic impact criteria such as utilization of laboratory generated technology by small and medium sized businesses and regional job creation and retention.  Proposals should also be encouraged to support local and regional economic competitiveness through projects such as Sandia's proposed Center for Collaboration and Commercialization (C3) and a standalone nonprofit foundation dedicated to commercializing federally funded technologies, increasing business formations, and accelerating regional job creation.  NNSA should require the contractor to annually report the national and local economic impact of its tech transfer efforts and how they strengthen regional capacity in technologies that support the laboratory's missions.

4) Regional university partnerships: Regional universities already provide an important workforce pipeline for Sandia and are a key resource for strengthening local technical capacity. We support efforts to increase innovation-based economic development by the laboratory partnering with regional universities. We suggest that the RFP include incentives for inclusion of regional universities in the contractor leadership team and that contractors propose ways to strategically enhance partnerships with local academia and develop regional technology infrastructure.

5) STEM education and charitable giving: Finally, we deeply appreciate the contributions of Sandia and its employees to local education and charitable giving.  The RFP should encourage the contractor to continue this important work in the community, especially in preparing and inspiring a diverse future generation of scientists and engineers.

We appreciate your careful consideration of each of these five key areas in the development of the final RFP.  In addition to substantial contributions to our nation's security, Sandia National Laboratories and its employees play a central role in the community and the economy of New Mexico.  We urge NNSA to ensure the labs continue to have the staffing it needs as it continues to provide "exceptional service in the national interest."

Sincerely,