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Lab Supplies Will Close in July

By Nicole A. Sherry
Staff Reporter

In an effort to save money, the Re-engineering Steering Committee will close the Office of Lab Supplies, replacing its services with those of outside vendors, according to Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56.

Lab supplies, which has 30 employees, will close on July 1.

The decision to close lab supplies was based purely on an economic foundation and not on the office's performance, Dickson said. It is "a very fine operation," he said.

Lab supplies operates on a system that cannot compete with the prices offered by large outside vendors, Dickson said. Currently, MIT buys supplies from several vendors to meet the Institute's very varied needs. In order to break even, the Institute must increase the price of goods by as much as 25 percent, Dickson said.

Starting July 1, MIT will buy supplies from a few large vendors who carry a wide variety of goods from different manufacturers. This will save the Institute approximately $1.8 million every year, Dickson said.

The warehouse space used by lab supplies will also be available for other purposes, Dickson said.

The committee has established a plan to make a seamless change to using the outside vendors, Dickson said. "There should be absolutely no detriment to the laboratories," he said. "If there is, we have failed. Nothing should change as far as service goes."

Some people who work in laboratories say that the change will be inconvenient, though many people were not concerned.

The main concerns are that there will be a longer wait for supplies that previously were available on campus, that laboratories will have to allot space to store an excess of supplies, and more paperwork might be involved.

"A lot of people make use of OLS. We feel that [closing OLS] will have a large impact in terms of convenience," said Eileen Nielsen, administrative officer of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

The Re-engineering Steering Committee, which consists of the Institute's administrative vice presidents and Joel M. Moses PhD '67, dean of the School of Engineering, based its decision to close lab supplies on the work of one of the re-engineering teams, the Supplier Consolidation Committee.

For the past several months this team has studied "the way in which we supply laboratory apparatus and supplies, office supplies, gas cylinders, and furniture to our MIT users," Dickson said.