The Department of Energy has begun the formal process of seeking competitive bids to operate and manage Argonne National Laboratory, which has been run by the University of Chicago since the lab’s inception in 1946.
In 2003, Congress passed legislation requiring the department to open the contracts for its labs, many of which are managed by universities, to competitive bidding. DOE is already seeking bids for Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos National Laboratories, which are currently managed by the University of California.
Under a pre-solicitation notice published on Sept. 7 in Federal Business Opportunities, parties considering a bid on the Argonne contract were invited to submit expressions of interest to DOE by Oct. 14. The University of Chicago, whose existing agreement to operate the lab is scheduled to expire in September 2006, plans to compete for the new contract, according to a DOE official. Other potential competitors include Northrop Grumman Corp., Washington Group International, and CH2M Hill.
Argonne, located 25 miles southwest of Chicago, has 2,900 full-time employees and an annual operating budget of $475 million. The facility is one of the government’s oldest and largest science and engineering research laboratories.