Published August 18, 1997
Volume 5, Number 8

Lawrence Livermore National Lab Updates Vendor Database, Supplier Management Program

LLNL Aerial
An aerial view of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

(This is the second of two articles on doing business with Lawrence Livermore National Labora tory. This month we focus on becoming a vendor to the Lab.Editor)

Besides the many opportunities that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory presents for commercial licensing and partnering, another possibility exists: becoming a vendor of goods or services to the Lab. 

LLNL is in the process of revising their purchasing practices and hopes to have a new procurement system in place by October 1, the beginning of their fiscal year. The change means that this is a great time for businesses to begin new, long-term relationships with the Lab. 

A Paradigm Shift
Thanks to changes that find their origins in Vice President Al Gore's government re-engineering programs, the Department of Energy has instructed all of its facilities to refocus their procurement practices. 

"The shift is to operate more like the commercial and private sector," says Marvin R. Smith, man ager of the Lab's Business Affirmative Action and Vendor Assessments Office. "That is, we're working to get things cheaper, faster, and so forth, as opposed to having it entangled in bureaucratic processes that end up being more costly, less efficient, and not necessarily better." 

White terms it a paradigm shift from the federal norm to commercial best practices. 

Updated Vendor Database
The Lab is in the process of consolidating the separate vendor databases that have been maintained by each department into a single, master database which will be maintained by the staff of the Vendor Assessments Office. 

"We had about 30,000 entries in our computer databases and we have culled those down to 2,300, with a target of 1,500," says Smith. 

The creation of the database also signals a change in the Lab's purchasing strategy. 

"We're making a change from a transactional relationship where companies are bidding on one contract to a more long term relationship with the laboratory. 

"The final group of 1,500 is what we're identifying as the preferred vendor database," he says. "Vendors in that database are those with which we hope to develop a long-term relationship, many of which we already have."

Competitive Advantage
The Lab may be reducing its list of vendors, but that doesn't mean they're not looking for new, qualified vendors. The biggest requirement is simple: A proposed vendor must provide an improvement over an existing vendor. 

"People will provide line cards, brochures, and the like, and we will decide whether there's some thing that we might use from them," Smith explains. A Dun and Bradstreet number is also required of all vendors. 

Need for Almost Everything
"I used to say, 'we procure everything but the kitchen sink,' but I've had to modify that since we get kitchen sinks, too," laughs Smith. 

Since the Lab is largely self-contained, a broad variety of goods and services are purchased for its operation. 

"About the only thing we don't engage in is catering," he says. 

Companies wishing to explore the possibility of becoming a vendor to the Lab are invited to contact Marvin Smith at the Business Affirmative Action and Vendor Assessments Office at (510) 422-4816.


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