The University of California's contract to manage Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will be extended for at least two years beyond its expiration date, the Department of Energy announced. UC manages both Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories for DOE, and following security breaches, the department decided to put both contracts out for competitive bids. UC's contracts for the two labs were set to run out together in September 2005, but the change will allow separate competitions for the two lab contracts. "It is very important to ensure we have the broadest possible competition for future contracts, and separating these two competitions will achieve that result," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says. His decision was based on an internal DOE study and views of an advisory commission, DOE says. However, a National Research Council report recommended that the contracts be evaluated together because of the long scientific relationship between the labs. The NRC report was based in large part on interviews with lab scientists. The report did not conclude, however, that the labs should necessarily be managed by the same contractor. The department can extend the contract for two years without congressional approval, but since DOE wishes to add three-and-one-half years to the LLNL contract's termination date, it must obtain congressional backing.