B&W Y-12 President Chuck Spencer, general manager at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, today released a statement to employees that addressed, in part, the Government Accountability Office’s ruling that upheld some of the protests filed in the award of a $22 billion contract for the combined management of the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plant.
B&W Y-12, the current contractor at the Oak Ridge plant, is a partnership of Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel, but those two companies bid separately on the combined Y-12/Pantex contract, which was awarded to Bechtel-led Consolidated Nuclear Security in January.
Spencer, whose allegiance is B&W, didn’t get into the corporate politics of the situation in his statement to Y-12 employees, but emphasized there is still some uncertainty and asked Y-12 workers to retain their focus on safety, security and professionalism.
The Washington Post’s much-anticipated project on the Y-12 security breach and the Transform Now Plowshares is out today. Take a look at the work by Dan Zak and colleagues. It’s called, “The Prophets of Oak Ridge.”
In a stunning turn of events Monday, the Government Accountability Office upheld at least a portion of the protests lodged against the National Nuclear Security Administration’s $22 billion contract award to manage the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants.
The GAO recommended that NNSA reopen the procurement and seek more information on cost savings from bidders, adding new uncertainties to a contract offering that’s been in various stages of planning and preparations for more than five years.
The contract was awarded in January to Consolidated Nuclear Security, a team headed by Bechtel National and Lockheed Martin. Soon thereafter, the award was protested by the two losing teams — Nuclear Production Partners, LLC, a team headed by Babcock & Wilcox, and Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions, LLC, a team headed by Jacobs Engineering and Fluor. It is one of the biggest federal contracts to be appealed in recent years.
Despite Monday’s ruling by the Government Accountability Office, which upheld at least a part of protests against the $22 billion contract awarded earlier this year to Consolidated Nuclear Security, Bechtel issued an optimistic statement this evening.
The National Nuclear Security Administration issued a statement this afternoon saying it appreciated “GAO’s advice” on the Y-12/Pantex contract protests, but indicated it won’t be quick in deciding how to proceed on the procurement.
“We appreciate the GAO’s advice and are currently reviewing their decision,” NNSA spokesman Josh McConaha said by email. “We’re going to take some time before settling on our path forward, but we are committed to reducing costs for the American taxpayers and strengthening our nuclear security capabilities at Pantex and Y-12.”
Babock & Wilcox issued a statement this afternoon saying it was pleased by the GAO decision to sustain a protest by Nuclear Production Partners LLC, the team B&W headed in bidding on the Y-12/Pantex combined management contract. In addition to B&W, the team includes URS, Northrop Grumman and Honeywell.
The proposal team “believes its proposal was a very strong choice for moving closer to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s vision of a consolidated Nuclear Security Enterprise and for continuing the tradition of excellence B&W has maintained at both Y-12 and Pantex over the past 12 years,” the company said in a statement released a short while ago.
Aerial view of the Y-12 National Security Complex, which will be managed in conjunction with the Pantex plant once the contract award is settled.
The Government Accountability Office today issued a ruling that upholds portions of the protests lodged against the award of a $22 billion contract to manage the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons facilities. The GAO is recommendating the National Nuclear Security Administration reopen the procurement on the huge management contract and seek more input from the bidders on possible cost savings under their contract offerings.
GAO found that NNSA did not properly or meaningfully evaluate the feasibility of the cost savings contained in the contract proposals, but instead made the award to Consolidated Nuclear Services — a team headed by Bechtel and Lockheed Martin — based on an assumption that the stated cost savings were valid.
CNS had stated it could save the government an estimated $3.2 billion over the next decade under its proposal, which was challenged by the other two bidders.
The Government Accountability Office is due to issue a ruling today on the protests filed against the National Nuclear Security Administration’s award earlier this year on the combined management contract for Y-12 and Pantex.
The $22 billion contract was awarded in January to Consolidated Nuclear Security, a partnership that includes Bechtel National and Lockheed Martin. The award was later protested by two other bidders, Nuclear Production Partners (a team headed by Babock & Wilcox) and Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions (a team headed by Jacobs and Fluor)..
Depending on the ruling, a transition of contractors at the two sites may begin. The NNSA recently extended the existing contracts at the sites until the end of May to give more time for the transition of contractors.
FROM THE NOTEBOOK
During his visit last week, former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson talked a bit about his time at the helm of Department of Energy. During his tenure, Richardson made more visits to Oak Ridge than any other energy secretary (eight visits total, as I recall). Asked about that, Richardson said:
Brenda Hunter, formerly of Y-12 who’s been on big assignments for the National Nuclear Security Administration, was in town earlier this month for a Uranium Processing Facility forum. She’s shown here grabbing a cup of coffee at Y-12’s New Hope Center.
Department of Energy archives/ED WESTCOTT photo
Shift change at the Oak Ridge K-25 uranium-enrichment plant in 1949.
Former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson was in town earlier this week, and I had a chance to ask him a couple of questions after his talk at UT’s Baker Center.
I asked Richardson about his reaction to last summer’s security breach at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, where three Plowshares protesters — including an 82-year-old nun — were able to make their way through the plant’s vaunted defenses without interruption and spray-paint messages on the plant’s uranium storehouse.
President Obama will speak Monday at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. It’s the 150th anniversary of the academy’s founding.
The President’s address will be live-streamed at the academy’s web site, beginning at 11:15 a.m.