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Sandia Labs still claims it can avoid layoffs

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Officials at Sandia National Laboratories on Wednesday stood by assertions that they believe they can manage current federal budget problems without layoffs, after a congressional report suggested that as many as 100 Sandia jobs may be on the chopping block.

A report from the Democratic staff of the House Appropriations Committee said Sandia “will lay off up to 100 positions” and curtail hiring if automatic budget cuts currently scheduled for March 1 are allowed to take effect.

“Sandia has analyzed potential impacts of the various budget scenarios currently under consideration and finds no immediate impact on Sandia employees,” Sandia spokesman Jim Danneskiold said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesman for the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee did not return a call from the Journal asking for clarification about the source of the numbers used in the report.

In an interview last week, Sandia Labs president Paul Hommert said the nuclear weapons research center had taken steps over the last year to slow hiring and control spending in an effort to prepare for the possibility of spending cuts being contemplated by Congress.

Under a process called “sequestration,” Congress is facing the possibility of automatic across-the-board cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years if it fails by March 1 to take alternative steps to reduce federal spending.

The House report said automatic cuts would force widespread job reductions in the complex of labs and plants responsible for maintaining U.S. nuclear weapons. In addition to the possibility of layoffs at Sandia, the report said Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico would be forced to save money with unpaid two-week furloughs for some 500 workers.

In an all-employee email message late Wednesday afternoon, Los Alamos director Charles McMillan acknowledged that short-duration furloughs of some workers were a possibility, but said job cuts are not on the table.

“To date, absolutely no decisions have been made, nor are we taking actions,” McMillan said.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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