Organizations bidding to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory met with National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) officials last week, marking one of the final steps in the competition for a 10-year, $20-billion-plus management and operations contract.

The meetings in Washington, D.C., between government officials and an undisclosed number of bid teams keep the Department of Energy agency roughly on track to award the massive management pact in April or May. That is the timetable the NNSA set in the final bid solicitation it released last year.NNSA logo

In a question-and-answer document published after the solicitation hit the street, the NNSA said it would host face-to-face meetings with bidders that made the final competitive cut in March. There could be callbacks.

In the same question-and-answer document that set the March timetable, the NNSA said “[t]he Government reserves the right for further discussions with the proposed lab director and other key personnel as deemed appropriate following the Oral Discussion anticipated to occur in March 2018.”

The University of California and the University of Texas have effectively confirmed publicly they are leading separate bids. Multiple sources have said Bechtel National is also pursuing the contract with partner Purdue University.

Incumbent Los Alamos National Security is losing its management contract following a series of nuclear safety lapses dating to 2014 at the storied New Mexico weapons lab. The University of California, which for decades was the sole lab manager, leads the consortium along with senior industry partner Bechtel National and industry teammates BWX Technologies [BWXT] and AECOM [ACM].

BWX Technologies has said it wants to stay at Los Alamos, but has not identified which bid it joined. A source has said AECOM did not bid on the deal. Texas A&M University has also said it wants a role at Los Alamos, but has not said which team it joined.

The NNSA, University of California, and Bechtel declined to comment for this article. The University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and BWX Technologies did not reply to requests for comment Wednesday.