# ScienceScope

Science  18 Jun 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5678, pp. 1729
1. # DOE Chooses Separate Lab Competitions

Rejecting the advice of the National Research Council (NRC), the Department of Energy (DOE) last week announced that it will hold separate competitions for the contracts to manage its Los Alamos and Livermore national laboratories. “It is very important that we have the broadest possible competition,” says Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Last month, the NRC panel urged DOE to conduct a simultaneous competition to ensure that research at the two labs, which are currently managed by the University of California (UC), is well coordinated (Science, 28 May, p. 1227). But Abraham sided with a DOE advisory committee that had earlier urged the opposite approach, saying it doubted that either agency officials or bidders could handle a dual competition. Observers expect the new contract for the Los Alamos lab in New Mexico to be awarded first, perhaps by late 2005. Meanwhile, DOE will extend UC's contract for the Livermore lab in California past its 30 September 2005 expiration date.

2. # White House Panel Calls for Revamped NASA

A U.S. presidential panel says that NASA needs to remake itself if it hopes to turn President George W. Bush's ambitious vision of space exploration into reality. The President's Commission on the Moon, Mars, and Beyond reported this week that the space agency should draw on military models and the private sector to create a “leaner, more focused” organization. NASA should turn its field centers into more independent and competitive organizations and mimic the fast-moving Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the way it develops technologies, the report says. It also proposes that NASA award a prize of $100 million to$1 billion to the company that can successfully build a lunar base.

The panel—led by former Air Force secretary and defense industry manager Pete Aldridge—also recommended that the White House set up a council reporting to the president on the space exploration effort. At Science's deadline, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe had not responded to the report, but sources say that he agrees with both the diagnosis and proposed treatment. He is expected to announce shortly a reorganization at NASA Headquarters that will streamline the bulky organization into space exploration, operations, science, and aeronautics divisions (Science, 14 May, p. 941). Two congressional panels were to question Aldridge this week and next.