Science lab contract includes ODU, NSU

A contract valued at as much as $2 billion to manage the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has been awarded to a joint venture between a California technology company and a consortium of 62 Southeastern universities, including Old Dominion and Norfolk State.

The U.S. Department of Energy, which owns the Newport News accelerator, said Wednesday that the contract awarded to Jefferson Science Associates LLC becomes effective Monday. Jefferson Science is a partnership between Computer Sciences Corp. and Southeastern Universities Research Association.

"Both companies bring skills that will allow us to continue to raise the prominence of this laboratory," said Raymond Orbach, director of the Energy Department’s Office of Science, in a news release.

Jefferson Lab, as it is known, is one of the federal government's main sites for researching the composition of atoms. About 700 people are employed at the facility, which has an annual budget of roughly $100 million, according to the Energy Department.

The transition to the joint venture should be smooth because the university association has managed Jefferson Lab since its founding in 1984, said Greg D. Kubiak, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based university coalition. The laboratory's director, Christoph Leemann, will remain in the new arrangement.

The switch-over will be completed by June 1, Kubiak said.

The association decided to include El Segundo, Calif.-based Computer Sciences in its bid this time to strengthen its offering, based on current trends in federal contracting, Kubiak said. The company, which had revenue of $14.6 billion in 2005, brings management expertise to the table, he said.

The contract consists of a five-year base period worth $500 million. The agreement may be extended an additional 15 years based on performance, bringing the contract’s total value to $2 billion, according to the Energy Department.

Southern Universities Research Association is a nonprofit corporation established to promote research in science and engineering among its members. Besides Old Dominion and Norfolk State, other members include the University of Virginia, The College of William and Mary, Hampton University and Christopher Newport University.