Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bad faith at Los Alamos

Bad faith at Los Alamos

The breakdown of an old contract threatens to leave a great national laboratory gravely weakened.

For an outsider, it's hard to imagine that conditions at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico could get much worse. When two disks containing classified data went missing last summer, federal investigators descended on the lab, operations were suspended for months, and scientists were berated as "buttheads" by Peter Nanos, the lab's director. Now, it turns out, those disks never existed (see Nature 433, 447; 2005).


Nature: "If he doesn't, Los Alamos could become just another ghost town
in the New Mexico desert."

I wonder how much the homes in Los Alamos will go for when it becomes
"just another ghost town". Should be able to pick up some very nice
homes for a very cheap price. I understand that the current Los Alamos
real estate market is already saturated with too many sellers. This
should be interesting to watch.
The Nature editorial seems absolute rubbish! It falsely claims that LANL employees have "the same" rights as UC staff. In fact they don't have access to the Academic Senate and they don't have the rights contained in UC personnel policy, as LANL does not use UC personnel policy. They also do not have access to the California Legislature, as their peers in LLNL do; and this is a very important lack.
The author also has the wrong number for the UC fee for running LANL (listed as $9 million) which leaves us to wonder who this ill informed person is.
The author is right about pension benefits being the central issue at LANL. Not science, pensions. This reflects what LANL has become. It is not about "Great Science" but about "Great Pensions". How sad.
And the tripe about LANL becoming a "ghost town" is over the top. LANL has a $2 billion budget, secured not by its "Great Science" but by its standing a nuclear weapons lab; and its two "Great Senators".
What the author does not acknowledge is that LANL, under reformed management could become not a ghost town; but a version of Sandia Lab; where good management and good science go together; and the Sandia employees also have a decent pension plan. It seems that what LANL employees, and their managers fear, with the loss of their benefits, is reform. Which is exactly why the competition is necessary.
Re: the 10:36 am comment:

My, my, aren't we in a whiney* mood today. What's the matter, did something you read disagree with you?

adj : habitually complaining; "a whining child" [syn: fretful, querulous,
whining(a), whiny]
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