University management of Los Alamos improving

The University of California will continue managing the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory at least until 2002, the department announced Wednesday.

DOE Secretary Bill Richardson said in a statement that a review of the university's management found that its performance had been improving.

Under the terms of the five-year, $1.2 billion contract that expires in 2002, DOE could have canceled the contract in mid-term if there had not been improvements in the management of safety, environmental programs or community outreach, according to DOE spokeswoman Lisa Cutler.

"I am pleased that improvements by UC and Los Alamos management have been made so that the [cancellation] of the contract did not have to be exercised," Richardson said.

Richardson's decision will have no impact on whether DOE will decide to continue the contract past 2002 or seek another manager of the New Mexico facility. UC has been managing the site since 1943, when it worked on developing the nuclear bomb.

Today, Los Alamos does scientific research on everything from national security programs to biological and global climatology. More than 10,000 people work at the facility, which infuses $3.5 billion into the local economy each year.

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