Thursday, March 24, 2005
Answering the questions at LANL
In his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Peter Nanos told the representatives he had found justification in the large number of problems that had to be fixed before operations could be resumed, plus 10 times that number of problems that needed to be worked on in the future.
He was asked about the morale issues and just who he thought should pay for costs incurred by the lengthy suspension of operations at the laboratory.
No matter what you think about Director Nanos or the lab, the critical item that faces Los Alamos County and those who live and work here is that LANL is beyond being critical to life here.
Are the problems at the lab all caused by the director - as some say - or is a large part of the problem exactly what the director says, a matter of the culture having gone too far afield?
Nanos told the panel it takes years to change the culture of such a large organization. And he is just beginning.
And that seems to bring us back to the crux of the problem - many at the lab don't seem to think a change of culture is needed.
You can get all the data - granted it is never the complete story - you want from one side or the other fully explaining that they are completely right and the others are completely wrong.
Both can't be right.
But the reality is, they may be.
Anyone who has worked for a company or in some division for years becomes comfortable with the way things are, the way things are done. That is only natural. And when someone new shows up, talks change, talks reform, that talk is not welcomed.
Does it mean the new talk is right? Does it mean the way things have been done are necessarily wrong? Well, it's no to both. They are just different.
And the hardest thing in the world may be having seniority and accepting orders from the new boss.
But one must ask the question of the need for the shutdown - given the huge cost to taxpapers, the loss to UC in funds and the economic and emotional impact on Los Alamos. Granted, we don't know what was going on behind the scenes and may never know.
And while it is easy to second-guess and be an arm-chair quarterback, it is a different world when you are the one who must make the hard decisions.
But we think that we are owed some kind of explanation as to what happened. If for nothing else, to end the rumors and put people's mind at ease.
Ralph! You're not yourself! George's second-to-last apologist has (almost) admitted that there might be a problem with the top management at LANL.
Watch out for low-flying pigs.