I recently joined the ranks of those mid-career scientists who decided to leave LANL for an academic position rather than pretend to support the laboratory's corrupt, self-serving, and frankly hateful senior managers. How these people rose to such positions of power seems incomprehensible, but they have bought into the nepotism game and appoint their friends into other high-level positions, thus eliminating true competition from qualified outsiders. LANL's senior management would never make it in the real world of modern business practices, but then again they don't seem aware that there is an outside world.
I could no longer tolerate seeing our taxpayers' dollars wasted and misallocated on
projects that senior managers dismiss at will and redirect towards their own interests. They've created a culture at the Lab of broken promises, fostered by insecure leaders who've become entrenched as if they're under attack. Are they accountable to anybody? Numerous LANL employees who've attempted to complain or initiate whistleblower intitatives no longer work there as the senior management retaliated against them. If one wants to get promoted into a senior management position, they must figure out pretty quickly that they'll get paid big money to be silent and not criticize their colleagues or make any decision that might stir up the pot.
And heaven forbid if a LANL employee gets too much recognition from outside the institution. My Division Leader turned out to be a pathological liar with a passive-aggressive complex, and the deputy Division leader a vindictive and
not-well-liked opportunist who backstabbed his employees randomly. Example: one of my young colleagues in my division received a great deal of press and a prestigious nationally-recognized prize for his work. What did the Division leadership do? Cancel his funding. Oh, and does anyone remember Dr. Paul Ginsparg of T Division? Paul was very talented and became famous for his work on the arXiv web publishing project. Rather than support him, LANL management drove him out. Paul moved to Cornell in 2001, and received the prestigious MacArthur Genius award in 2002.
In the early 1990s I was very proud to work at LANL, but given the past few years'
antics I can no longer say that as the atmosphere there degenerated into one that is
personally and professionally destructive. Its terribly saddening to see such a great institution pulled down so low, but I'd rather enjoy my academic post that pays a little less than I was making at LANL rather than have to put up with superiors taking credit for my work, supporting rampant plagiarism, and going on all kinds of taxpayer-funded travel simply for fun. When I tried to report this behavior to the level of management above my Division Office, I was told to be quiet and was blocked from getting on that Associate Deputy Director's calendar.
A LANL HR recruiter once told me that working there was "all about the retirement."
Wow! If that's the case I hope the UC contract gets canned so the senior management
has to work for a living for once in their lives.