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DOE Extends PNNL Contract for 4 Years

The federal government has extended Battelle Memorial Institute's contract to manage the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory through September 2012, the Department of Energy announced Friday.

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The federal government has extended Battelle Memorial Institute's contract to manage the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory through September 2012, the Department of Energy announced Friday.

Battelle has managed and operated the south-central Washington laboratory since its inception in 1965. Battelle's current contract to run the government-owned facility expires on Dec. 31, 2008.

The new contract allows Battelle to continue to use laboratory resources for commercial business. At the contract's end, it would be required to conclude commercial business or move it under its management and operation contract with the Energy Department in the rebidding process.

"The department remains committed to continuing its efforts to develop new or improved mechanisms that would be appropriate for use at all laboratories to make it as easy as possible for industry to partner with our national labs to leverage their scientific and technological innovations," said Raymond L. Orbach, the Energy Department's undersecretary for science.

The Energy Department announced in 2006 that for the first time in 41 years it would seek competitive bids to manage the lab. In a draft request for proposals last fall, the department said it would eliminate from the contract a special-use permit that has allowed Battelle to use government-owned facilities to conduct outside work.

At the time, the department said the decision would foster competition and better align the new laboratory contract with other DOE contracts.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican whose district includes the laboratory, fought the proposal, noting that the permit is responsible for 300-400 jobs at the laboratory alone.

They both said Friday they were pleased with the Energy Department's decision..

In 2007, PNNL had a business volume of $765 million. An estimated 10 percent of that work was for private companies under the special-use permit, which has been approved by the Energy Department under each contract since 1965.

PNNL's research areas include science and environment, energy, defense and national security. Nearly 60 percent of the laboratory's research is conducted for the Energy Department, with about 25 percent for the departments of Homeland Security and Defense.

Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory