NEW YORK - Seeking technical advice from one of the U.S. government's most prestigious research centers, Citibank has entered into a joint development agreement the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The three-year project, where Citibank and the laboratory will share the cost of between $4 million and $6 million, will research into how to improve the reliability and efficiency of the money center bank's computer systems.

Private-Sector Development

"If we can improve our system availability to the customer by both making it easier to customers to securely identify themselves to our systems and decreasing system down time, we will see more profits by retaining more of our customers," said Dan Schutzer, director of advanced technology for Citibank, in a prepared statement.

The laboratory, managed by the University of California for the Department of Energy, has in the past been primarily involved in nuclear weapons development and atomic energy research. But the lab recently began offering its expertise to the private sector in light of the end of the Cold War and the expected decline in government funds for weapons research. In addition to the Citibank deal, Livermore signed joint development agreements with Chrysler Corp. and American Telephone and Telegraph Co. this year.

Livermore officials said they hope to employ the expertise they have gained in analyzing and improving the reliability of nuclear power plants to determine how Citibank can get the highest availability from its systems cost-effectively.

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