Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Letter to the Los Alamos Monitor

From the Los Alamos Monitor:

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Decision to compete contract is folly


Dear Editor,

Congress and DOE need to rethink their decision to compete the contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The University of California has managed the Laboratory as a public service for over 60 years, and it is UC's management that has allowed the laboratory to serve this country as a center for scientific excellence and outstanding contributions to national security. A dispassionate review of the number and severity of the security and safety incidents over the past several years reveals that they are commensurate with the type of work and significant challenges that we perform here. Comparisons with other government labs and high-tech companies reveal that the lab's record is on a par with or better than its peers. Only rampant media hype and political posturing have resulted in the decision to compete the contract.

The lab has many staff members who have performed important work for many years and who are bursting with enthusiasm to pass on their knowledge to those who will take their places. These folks have displayed unwavering dedication to the lab, to the mission, and to the country. They understand that safety and security must be a part of everything that they do. There may be a very small number of individuals at the lab who are not committed to safety and security (although whether the folks that were punished for the recent safety and security incidents are among them is open to question).

The University of California contract means infinitely more to lab employees than just a fat benefits package. The history and spirit of UC management of the lab is woven throughout everything that we do. Although the lab may ultimately survive having that history and spirit ripped from the fabric of the lab, to gamble with the future of the lab and its contributions to national security seems like an incredibly foolish thing to do. We need a Department of Energy and a Congress that can see the absurdity of this and who will step forward to ensure that UC continues to manage this Lab as it has done for the past 60 years.

Dr. Wendee M. Brunish

Earth and Environmental Sciences Division

Los Alamos National Laboratory



Comments:
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Wendee Brunish (in the LA Monitor) and David Hanson (in the LANL NewsBulletin) have composed two of the most eloquent letters I have seen about Nanos' ill-advised shutdown of LANL and the destructive aftermath. I detect a long-awaited groundswell of discontent arising among staff members at the Lab. Congressman Udall has said that the shutdown was done all wrong: it should have come from the bottom up, rather than the top down, and foremost of all, science should have been protected, rather than interrupted. One can surmise that this discontent with Nanos will spread to the President of the University of California, who can be reached by email:

Robert.Dynes@ucop.edu

I am sure that he will read it, or else his staff will let him know about the mood of the workers at Los Alamos.
 
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