The University of California, a senior partner in the management and operation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, indicated Wednesday it is “likely” to make a play for a follow-on contract expected to go out for bids in September.

“The decision on whether or not to bid rests with the UC Board of Regents and the board has not yet formally approved any bid, nor has the final RFP been released,” University of California spokeswoman Dianne Klein said by email. “As such, it would be premature to confirm that UC definitely will bid. I will say, however, that it is likely.”

Aerial view of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Photo: LANL
Aerial view of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Photo: LANL

The expression of interest follows a Monday speech to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) employees by Janet Napolitano, University of California president and former Department of Homeland Security secretary. The university, along with Bechtel National, is one of two senior partners in Los Alamos National Security (LANS), a consortium that also includes BWX Technologies and AECOM.

The university was the nuclear-weapon laboratory’s sole manager prior to LANS taking over in 2006.

More than 11,000 people work at the laboratory northwest of Santa Fe, roughly 7,200 directly for the contractor. About 65 percent of its fiscal 2016 budget of $2.45 billion was directed to weapons operations.

The current management and operations contract, worth roughly $2 billion a year, is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2018. The Energy Department decided not to pick up further options on the LANS contract after a 2014 underground radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., was traced to an improperly packaged container of radioactive waste from the laboratory.

DOE released a draft solicitation for the follow-on LANL management and operations contract in July. The final solicitation for the 10-year deal is expected in September.

None of the other incumbent LANS partners have said publicly whether they will bid.