Los Alamos not in sights
POSTEDAugust 22, 2004
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) may not be the target in UT System’s sights after additional security breaches have caused a wavering consideration to bid for the lab’s management.
Lockheed Martin Corp. withdrew its interest in bidding for LANL’s management ending a possible managing partnership with the UT System, according to the Austin American Statesman.
The UT System Board of Regents allocated $500,000 to consider bidding for LANL’s management in January 2004. Without the possibility of a partnership with Lockheed Martin, the UT System’s interest has also waned.
“We’d want to be part of a collaboration if we did it at all, but not the lead when you look at the types of concerns that are out there,” UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof told the Austin American Statesman.
Those concerns include breaches in security at LANL, most recently in the form of two missing computer files.
Neuroscience sophomore Alyssa McMenamy worked at LANL this summer. She was creating a computational model of the human retina when classified information went missing.
“We basically had to stop all technical work and focus on safety and security,” McMenamy said.
She added that work stopped for seven days while they read safety manuals concerning computer and internet security.
The University of California System has managed LANL since its inception during World War II. It was created as a part of the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb.
“A lot of people (at the labs) want the University of California to continue running that lab,” McMenamy said. “I’m not really sure UT has the management capabilities.”
But UTD Professor Lloyd Dumas said he doesn’t feel any university should manage a national lab.
“For a university itself to manage a facility with highly secretive research isn’t compatible,” Dumas said. “It doesn’t make sense for us to research in areas where we don’t want to proliferate the knowledge.”
Instead, Dumas suggested the UT System invest the time and money into renewable resources such as solar and wind power.
“The UC System doesn’t determine what’s researched or produced,” Dumas said. “They only have the appearance of administering something.
“I really do appreciate and agree with the spirit that lies behind this bid, but there’s a better way to do it. The world future depends on moving away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy.”
Ultimately the decision to bid for management is up to the UT System.
“(UT System’s bid for management) is not for UTD to decide,” said Da Hsuan Feng, vice president for research and graduate education. “My personal opinion is that Yudof is showing great leadership in being careful.”