Longtime friends of Defense Tech know I'm, uh, mildly interested in what goes on at Los Alamos National Laboratory. And it's been driving me nuts that I've been too busy to dig into the battle for control of the lab -- a battle which is about to reach its "climax," notes the San Francisco Chronicle.A decision [about] who runs the world's most glamorous and controversial nuclear weapons lab and that also could end the University of California's unchallenged six-decade domination of the U.S. weapons program... could come soon, perhaps even Friday.The decision will wrap up a six-month competition to run scandal-shaken Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945. UC and its industrial partners, including San Francisco-based Bechtel National Inc., are competing for the contract against aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp. and its allies -- the huge University of Texas system, several New Mexico universities and various industrial partners...A Lockheed Martin takeover would be seen as an example of a growing trend toward the "privatization" of the nation's nuclear weapons complex...UC has run the lab since 1943 without having to compete for its Energy Department contracts. But in 2003, Los Alamos and its management by UC came under fire after a series of security, safety, financial and managerial scandals at the lab, and the Energy Department and Congress ordered that all future contracts be open to outside bidders.Several lab staff members told The Chronicle this week that they thought the Lockheed-Texas team had the best shot at winning the contract after what some view as a ghastly parade of UC screw-ups."The morale here is abysmal," said theoretical physicist Brad Lee Holian. [Check this blog and you'll see what he means -- ed.] "People's lives have been wrenched apart by the political games that have been played. You can't hold people's careers by the heels out over the balcony without them feeling threatened and cheapened."
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