Friday, March 11, 2005

Welcome to Bechtel

Welcome to Bechtel

This post is inspired by a recent article about a
Bechtel-UC partnership.
[ "Rumors of Bechtel-UC lab venture has bidders’ attention"
Wednesday, March 09, 2005 ]

"Welcome to Bechtel Nevada". These words greeted
a roomful of EG&G Los Alamos employees, including me,
in early 97. The greeter was Dennis Hayes, a manager
at the newly-formed Bechtel Nevada. (Hayes is now on the
T-Div roster at LANL). BN had just taken over the contract
to run the Nevada Test Site. Expect a similar greeting
if UC and its partner Bechtel win the contract for LANL.
You'll be joining them, not vice versa.

The General Manager of BN from 2002-2005 was Fred Tarantino,
currently AD for weapons programs at LANL. Is Bechtel
already here?

Let me give you a taste of what working at the Lab will
be like under Bechtel. I worked as a Scientific Specialist
at BN for five years before coming to LANL 2.5 years ago.
Before that I worked for 20 years for EG&G supporting LANL
at the NTS in the bad old weapons test days.

Also expect:
-- Lots of arrogant, clueless managers straight from
construction projects in Saudi Arabia.
-- Lots of managers rotating through between construction
projects in South America.
-- Six Sigma applied to everything ( Fred T. was really
big on that.)
-- No eating lunch at your desk (unprofessional).
-- Buying your own safety equipment, shoes etc.
-- Ethics training featuring inspirational videos by
Riley Bechtel, CEO of Bechtel. (This was the last straw
for me.)
-- Total revision of project planning. One of our local section
heads left BN in disgust shortly before I did when he
had to fill out a BN project planning form asking how
many rental cars and portapotties he needed for his
development project. His response was " I don't think
this form applies: I don't know where the bridge is,
how long it is or what it's made of. And the specs may
evolve as we start building it."

My guess is that Fred T. will be the new Lab Director.
He's smart, able and ex-army special forces.

Please don't take these comments as a negative reflection
on the many very competent and hard-working people at BN
who do some key work for LANL in several areas, notably
at DARHT. But they do it in spite of the nonsense handed
down from BN senior management.

BTW, I heard more than a month ago from a BN employee
that a senior manager had told a group of BN employees
Bechtel was the UC partner. And you can bet
that Bechtel will not be the junior partner.

Still sure you want UC to get the contract?

David F. Simmons, Soon-to-be-Ex TSM

DX Division (where seldom is heard a discouraging word)

Even if only part of this is true... how is any company going to be safer, more secure, better in management than we are now?
The answer is that any company, Bechtel included, would simply hold the workforce accountable instead of making excuses. If firing employees for incompetence, negligence or willful violation of procedures was part of the current culture it wouldn't be front page news when it happened. Procedures would be followed, people would be safer.

Try spending a little time away from academia in the real world.
No one has a problem with disciplining employees who engage in actions that endanger themselves and others through a willful or grossly negligent disregard for safety procedures or who demonstrate a reckless disregard for national security.

However unless we advocate abandoning the Constitution, the determination of discipline must be compliant with the basic norms of due process. This would include allowing the accused to know and respond to his or her accusers and the specific probative information against him or her.

The requisite determination would not include::
 the detestable process commonly referred to as "scapegoating" in which innocent individuals are disciplined in order to provide cover for or advancement to some secondary agenda being pursued by senior managers;
 the isolation and public denigration of the accused to advance the "scapegoating" strategy;
 the detestable use of institutional conflict-resolution processes to bankrupt the accused;
 the redaction of the names of informants and specifics of their testimonies;
 the use of "in camera" tribunals in which culpable individuals sit in judgment of the accused;
 denying the accused an opportunity to appear before tribunals determining his or her future to explain his or her position; and
 the "ex post facto" fabrication of information to support the management position.

One of the reasons this blog came into being was to seek redress for these latter reprehensible abuses. To repeat for emphasis no one has a problem with the fair and equitable disciplining of employees.
The Nanites would have you believe that policy wasn't being enforced before and that Pete changed all this. Aside from being remarkably self-serving, it is factually incorrect. Los Alamos had a superior safety and security record, as documented by data, prior to the shutdown, a record which is now falling apart in the presence of recrimination, abuse, and zero-tolerance policies.

Try spending a little time away from empty slogans in the world of facts.
Several of my old EG&G Energy Measurements friends ended up at Bechtel. They fondly refer to it as "Rectal" for the high caliber of their management and employment policies. The smarter ones migrated to Honeywell FM&T or LANL.

More about what happened when
"Rectal" took over the contract at
NTS from EG&G. Many EG&G employees
had accumulated hundreds of hours
of sick leave. Bechtel started
everyone from scratch with "paid time off"; no separate sick leave.
Those unfortunate enough to
have accumulated sick leave under
EG&G had it put in a special pool.
This pool could only be used as
disability after a few weeks off
work and going thru an application
process. This application could be
denied as one of our machinists
found when he had a heart attack
and ended up getting none of his
back sick leave.
Better burn up that LANL sick leave
before Bechtel takes over the
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