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Sandia Labs increased spending, hiring in 2020

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The global pandemic didn’t slow down spending at Sandia National Laboratories, which increased its workforce and total outlays in the 2020 fiscal year.

All told, Sandia spent $3.76 billion in the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. That includes $1.67 billion in payroll, and $1.4 billion in purchases of goods and services, of which $482.6 million went to New Mexico businesses.

The labs’ spending marked an $86.8 million increase from the previous fiscal year, according to an economic impact analysis by the labs that was published today.

“We had a really, really good year in terms of the impact we had from an economic perspective,” Sandia’s associate labs director for Mission Services, Scott Aeilts, said in a meeting with Journal reporters and editors. “We did this during a very uncertain time where we had multiple pressures because of the pandemic.”

Sandia hired nearly 1,200 people in the fiscal year, bringing its workforce to 14,454 employees. Most of those people – 12,697 – work in New Mexico.

The hires included 460 new positions as well as backfilling 740 existing positions.

Sandia spent $2.26 billion on labor in the 2020 fiscal year, which includes payroll and other expenses, such as travel, and the costs of conferences and certifications, according to the analysis.

As the labs’ workforce grows, Aeilts said, Sandia has had to lease office space around Albuquerque outside Kirtland Air Force Base. Sandia now has leases at two properties – the Gibson Medical Center and office space on Buena Vista SE – where some of its employees work.

“As we continue to grow, we’re running out of space at the lab. And that’s a good news story for Albuquerque,” Aeilts said.

Sandia’s spending on goods and services from New Mexico business, at $482.6 million, was down from last year, when the labs spent $522 million. Paul Sedillo, Sandia’s small-business program manager, said that decline was due largely to a contract for a local company to build a supercomputer in the 2019 fiscal year.

“At the end of the day, (the 2020 fiscal year) was still a fantastic year,” he said.

Most contracts that Sandia enters with outside companies must go out for a bidding process. New Mexico businesses are offered a 5% pricing preference, Sedillo said.

Much of Sandia’s spending with local businesses is for construction work. But Sandia also spends a significant amount on information technology services, Sedillo said. New Mexico companies are competitive on both fronts, Sedillo said.

“New Mexico businesses are meeting the call,” he said.

In the 2020 fiscal year, Sandia paid a record $98 million in gross receipts taxes in New Mexico, according to the analysis.

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