Reading Room

For immediate release: January 16, 2007

Green Team Files Formal Protest Over Livermore Lab Bid Rejection

Federal Action Was "Factually Incorrect, Unsubstantiated, Biased, and Prejudicial"

for more information, contact:
Marylia Kelley , Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148
Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, (505) 989-7342

A team of organizations seeking to transform the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) into an environmental research facility today filed a formal protest with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for denying its management proposal. The fourteen-page document claims "improper and biased handling" of the group?s bid.

Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC charges that DOE?s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) acted improperly by rejecting the bid on grounds that were "factually incorrect, unsubstantiated, biased and prejudicial, contrary to regulations and/or easily corrected." The bidders seek legal relief in the form of "reinstatement" as an active competitor for the LLNL contract. The protest also requests a suspension of the NNSA's procurement process until the group is put back on equitable footing with other bidders. The protest was filed under provisions of Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

"Our protest rests on the basic moral and legal principle of fair competition," explained Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs and a leader of the bidding team. "Our bid was unfairly eliminated from the competition because NNSA officials involved in the evaluation did not agree with its philosophical and political approach to attracting more civilian science to Livermore Lab and moving the facility away from classified nuclear weapons activities over time."

The protest charges the NNSA:

  • Made factually-incorrect assertions in its grounds for rejecting the bid, including by claiming that information was missing from the bid package when it was there.
  • Made unsubstantiated allegations in its basis for rejecting the bid, including allegations that the bid would "inhibit NNSA from complying with the law" even though the bid closely aligned with congressional directives to remove weapons-usable plutonium from Livermore Lab before 2014.
  • Acted in a biased and prejudicial manner in its rejection of the bid by treating the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC and its proposal differently than it treated competitors.
  • Used grounds in rejecting the bid that could easily have been corrected under the provisions of FAR, for example by rejecting the group's proposal because it provided the managing entity's board of directors list but not the lists for other partners.
  • Conducted a legally-deficient process in disallowing the GREEN, LLC bid, including by canceling a debriefing meeting as team members were calling in, and then refusing to reschedule it.

The group also cited congressional disapproval of the NNSA's Livermore Lab bidding process. The GREEN LLC's protest includes Representative David Hobson's letter late last year as Chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Hobson wrote: "In mandating competition, it was the intent of Congress to attract the widest possible group of interested bidders... The Department of Energy has resisted moving in the direction of fair and open competitive processes. Unfortunately, the Department has? telegraphed to the contractor community that innovative ideas and concepts would not be favorably received."

"Congress is increasingly recognizing that DOE, particularly its nuclear weapons arm, makes up its own rules to suit itself," concluded Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, another member of the bidding team. "Our proposal for transforming Lawrence Livermore must be reinstated so the U.S. can comply with its legal obligations to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime, and not undermine it with new nuclear weapons and expanding production."

Under the Federal Acquisition Regulations, NNSA is required to provide for inexpensive, procedurally simple and expeditious resolution of the Livermore Lab GREEN, LLC protest. This process can include alternative dispute resolution, third party review and use of other agency's personnel. The Livermore lab GREEN, LLC's protest welcomes all these approaches. Moreover, it also requests that the NNSA establish an "independent review" for the protest, as allowed under FAR.

"We are entitled to a process that is both timely and fair," commented Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff attorney, Loulena Miles. "As the protest makes clear, NNSA could put the 'green team' back on equitable footing with the other bidders expeditiously and avoid a potentially prolonged suspension."

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