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150 Layoffs Announced at Lincoln Lab

Reductions by the Department of Defense in research funding at Lincoln Laboratory will result in the layoff of 150 workers at the facility in Lexington.

The affected workers were notified Tuesday, July 14, in letters handed them by their Group Leaders. All will continue to receive salaries at least through September 30. Career counselling workshops will be made available to those laid off.

Lincoln Laboratory is a federally sponsored center for research and development in advanced electronics, with special emphasis on applications to national defense. It was formed by MIT in 1951 at the request of the federal government as a public service to undertake the initial task of designing a continental air defense system. Pioneering work has continued at Lincoln Laboratory in such areas as space communications, ballistic missile defense, basic research in electronic technology and air traffic control. Almost 90 percent of the current Lincoln Laboratory program is for the Department of Defense, and 10 percent is for the Federal Aviation Administration. The Laboratory is located at Hanscom Air Force Base in Lexington, Mass.

"The rapid reduction in the threat to national security posed by the disintegration of the former USSR has led to a reordering of national defense priorities and it would be naive to expect that Lincoln Laboratory would be unaffected by reductions in the research budget of the Department of Defense," said Dr. Charles M. Vest, president of MIT.

"However, we expect Lincoln Laboratory to continue its proud tradition of service to the nation as the federal government increases emphasis on non-military research," President Vest said.

Professor Walter E. Morrow Jr., director of Lincoln Laboratory, in a letter to all of Lincoln Laboratory's employees delivered Tuesday, July 14, said in part:

"It is clear that the Laboratory has significant capabilities for addressing a number of important national problems. The Divisions and the Director's Office are continuing to work on several fronts to explore the possibility of new DoD missions, new programs with non-defense agencies, and cooperative research and development agreements with industry. At the same time, we should all recognize the unprecedented changes in the world that have taken place in the last few years which have led to significant decreases in defense spending. In spite of this, I believe that the Laboratory's reputation for solid accomplishments puts it in a good position for the future."

The reduction in DoD research funding has affected a number of government laboratories and defense contractors across the country in recent months and job cutbacks have been announced. During the last two years, Lincoln Laboratory's DoD funding has declined about 20 percent.

The Laboratory has expanded its non-DoD programs, but those increases fall short of offsetting the DoD decline, MIT said. The Laboratory has also taken many cost cutting actions. These economy measures include not filling personnel vacancies, reducing the level of subcontractor support, and reduction in overtime, procurement and travel. In recent years, attrition has reduced Lincoln employment from 2,800 to 2,650. However, additional DoD funding cuts in Fiscal Year 93 make it mandatory to achieve further reductions by means of the layoff, which affects about six percent of the current staff.

A Laboratory modernization and consolidation program designed to achieve additional significant savings in transportation, communication and security costs is under way at the 41-year-old lab. A new facility adjacent to the current Laboratory will provide a central home for several projects now under way in several leased buildings located in towns near the Laboratory. The new 490,000 square-foot building and a 1,000-space parking garage now under construction will be leased from a developer.

The reduction in DoD funding has not affected jobs at the MIT campus in Cambridge because overall federal support for research nationally has increased slightly.

On the MIT campus, the lead federal agency supporting research is the Department of Energy ($60.6 million), followed by the Department of Health and Human Services ($59 million) and the Department of Defense ($49.1 million). Industry ($48.4 million) and the National Science Foundation ($38 million) round out the top five supporters of research on the campus. The figures are for fiscal year 1991.

A version of this article appeared in the July 15, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 1).

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