Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Observations From a LANL Staffer

Anonymous wrote:

The situation at LANL is completely out of hand; the UC is, by now, so complicit in the disaster that they can't even contemplate the first thing they should have done when Nanos shut the Lab down: relieving the "Admiral" of command. Six months later, the Lab is STILL down (especially if you do something as mundane as--experiments), and UC has done absolutely nothing! Their invertebrate response to Congress, DOE, NNSA, and Nanos (the inside saboteur for who-knows-whom) has boxed them into a corner. Now McSlarrow and Brooks are backpedaling so fast that there's dust in their faces--Oh, no; THEY would NEVER have shut the Lab down--as Nanos and apologists are all saying in unison.

Where has President Dynes been through all this? Covering his ass? Whistling past the grave, hoping that everything will just calm down at Los Alamos? And now, Congressman Barton is calling for an "investigation" as to where the taxpayers' money went during this shutdown. He thinks "it may be more than 100 million dollars". Well, YEAH! Maybe like half a billion and counting! And Congressman Udall, bless his heart, has been the only Congressman to say that the shutdown was wrongly executed; instead of top-down diktats, management should have asked the scientists what improvements were needed in security and safety practices, so as best to protect the SCIENCE done at LANL! This is remarkably brilliant insight for a Congressmen, let me tell you!

Until someone starts pressing UC, DOE, and NNSA to think about changing the entire management style of science at Los Alamos, all this flurry of worry about benefits, salaries, and retirement plans will be smoke. If management actually valued the product--science--then they would try to foster the best environment for its production, and therefore care about the people who actually DO the science. All the rest would then fall into place. But under the present faith-based (and bribery-based) Congress, science does not matter one little bit, and neither do the lives of the scientists. So expect no miracles from such thin air.

There's an analogy that comes to mind. The CEO management style of the 21st century allows the CEO to tell any lies he can get away with; the gullibility of the customer is his only constraint.

* Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction and the connection of Iraq to 9/11; we are now in the quagmire of Iraq, with no end in sight; the invasion of Iraq has, by Bush's lights, been "endorsed" by the 2004 election.

* Nanos lied about the culture of arrogant disregard for safety and security at Los Alamos; we are now in the sixth month of the quagmire of the shutdown, with no end in sight; the shutdown has, by Nanos' lights, been "endorsed" by Congress, DOE, NNSA, and UC.

Admittedly, in the scheme of things, Iraq is a far bigger quagmire than LANL. Still, the operative words are "lies," "quagmire," and "endorsed" by those in power.

If UC "wins" the contract, the deterioration in the life at LANL will continue apace; if one of the Carlyle Group defense contractors gets it, maybe minor increases in the deterioration will take place. Does it really matter at this point? Is there anything that ANY of these politicians say that can be trusted? As for morale...

Mark me down as realistically (and thoroughly) discouraged,


P.S. I tried to set up a meeting today with a benefits representative for a retirement date of two months hence, but could not get through to her voicemail until after three tries; her voicemail box was so full that she had to answer somebody else before I was let in. Management has assured everyone, on the contrary, that the rumors of 2300 applications for retirement were WAY out of line. -Which direction, I wonder?

One thing I think needs to be made perfectly clear : Nanos for all his other faults did not lie about the disregard for safety and security at Los Alamos.

It's there. It's still there. I fight it every day. The only reason you dont hear about it is because people are affraid for their jobs, their pensions, or have just become so fed up with it that they have given up and are just riding the wave.

I have stood up for safety and security time and time again, and been duly punished for it. Make no mistake about it - OMbuds is useless, Employee Relations could care less, and tell pete is about as usefull as shouting into a toilet.

For all his other faults, real or imagined - he did not lie about the disregard for safety and security. I've seen it first hand.
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