The total spending of one of New Mexico’s largest employers reached a record $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2021 — about $139 million more than the previous year, according to an economic analysis released Wednesday by Sandia National Laboratories.
Sandia officials, in a virtual meeting with Journal reporters and editors, said growth was driven largely by construction, infrastructure projects and critical milestones in nuclear weapons life-extension programs — a major mission of the lab, which does work for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
And more work is on the way.
“The pipeline is extremely strong. And it’s across all areas in all mission areas, all facilities, all infrastructure areas,” said Scott Aeilts, Sandia’s associate labs director of mission services. “We’ve made a commitment to invest on all fronts to position the lab for many years to come.”
During Sandia’s fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the labs hired a total of 1,340 people, of which 992 are assigned to the lab in Albuquerque.
Since the start of the pandemic, Sandia moved a significant chunk of its employees to remote work. Aeilts said about 30% of its workforce is now remote or has some sort of hybrid-style schedule.
Lab directors delegated arrangements for employees to individual managers.
“Some of the nature of the very work we do that pertains to hands-on (experiments) and classified work has to be done on site,” Aeilts said. “But we got very aggressive relative to our position and posture with teleworking. And I think that’s been a quote-unquote benefit that the employees are enjoying.”
He said that transition has freed up a significant amount of needed work space at the labs.
Total subcontractor-related payments at Sandia reached $1.37 billion last year. New Mexico businesses earned 35% of that money.
Most Sandia contracts go out for a bidding process, and New Mexico small businesses get a 5% evaluation preference.
One of the largest local contracts went to Encantado Technical Solutions, LLC, a small Albuquerque business that provides IT services to government organizations. The company inked a seven-year, $700 million contract with the labs last year, according to the Sandia report.
Sandia paid a total of $106 million in New Mexico gross receipts taxes in 2021.
“During the last fiscal year, we were also able to meet all spending related to our small business goals, while at the same time delivering our national security missions,” Aeilts said.