Thursday, March 24, 2005
LANL retirements this year to spike
By Bill Dupuy, KSFR
SANTA FE (2005-03-24) - Retirements are going up at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Laboratory spokesman James Rickman tells KSFR the projection for retirements this fiscal year is 50 percent greater than the prior year and 60 percent more than the year before that. He says the projection is for 379 people to retire this year. That compares with actual retirements of 251 in 2004 and 235 in 2003.
He says one factor contributing to the increase is the number of people at or near retirement age. The average age of staff scientists, known as technical staff members, is 47. Of that group of people, 39 percent are between the ages of 50 and 60-plus.
But Rickman confirms another factor leading to the increase in retirements as being the uncertainty over the contract to manage the lab. More than 8,000 of the lab's total workforce of some 12,000 are employees of the University of California, which hasn't yet said whether it will compete for the contract it has held uncontested for more than six decades.
If only 350 people retire, DOE and congress would put that at as more than acceptable losses. I dont think anything less than 1200-2400 people retiring would really get their attention... and even then it might not.
I also agree that it will take a huge number of employee retirements to be noticeable - not meaningful, but noticeable.
Unclear the retirees, in general, will be considered a loss at all. At any number. I say in general, because there may be a small number of people that DOE thinks is important. Otherwise, I cannot believe it matters to them at all.
The number will be larger than 379, but perhaps not so many more. Then consider that LANL is not hiring new people. What I see is a much smaller scientific staff, but maybe more non-TSM workers -- for production.
Clearly science will take the biggest hit, because so much has never been documented and lives only in the brains of older workers. This is true in support as well as science. The loss of top notch people both in science and in support will deeply hurt LANL, but as far as I can tell, no one cares.
So, people are delaying the retirement decision. First, they want to see the final RFP, in particular the section on pensions. Then, they will want to see which organization gets the award.
People in congress can get a lot better soundbite out of getting body armour to troops than testing nukes that never get used. [And yes the lab does more than that.. but it has never marketed it better than that.]