Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Contacting President Dynes

From Anonymous:

I don't think that everyone is aware that they can
write to President Dynes about their concerns. His
address is


Too late, I'm afraid. After what Dynes, Nanos, and the rest have done, I'm actually looking forward to a regime change at LANL.
Go ahead, waste your time. I wrote Dynes a few times several months ago, before (as compared to now) when it was still not too late for him to take action against Nanos. No response then, no response now. Nobody home.
I know why I don't send e-mail to TellPete@lanl.gov, it is less obvious with UC/Dynes but it is hard to imagine that he hasn't heard it all by now!
I don't hear pete gnawing on his foot in front of the press, so I think Dynes has done something and probably as much as he can do at this late date. I’m certain that all the good efforts of the UC proposal team will just be (really) done in preparation for the LLNL contract bid.
8:23 PM

As much as I value your opinion, I'm afraid you just could not be more wrong, on two counts:

1) Dynes did not do what was required in order to stay in the game -- he did not remove Nanos months ago, back when it would have made a difference at LANL.

2) He has not done anything, period, to give anybody a feeling of confidence that UC has what it takes to win the contract, and having done so, be able run the lab in an effective way.

Honestly, the recent news regarding Paul Robinson and LM is the _best_ news we at LANL have heard since last July.
I wrote Dynes, received a canned response from Foley which had a few misspelled words. So much for that. UC deserves to loose the contract and I can bet they will,
The UC proposal team can write to their hearts' content but Rome has already been burned to the ground while they fiddle their valuable time away in a hopeless venture.

President Dynes is on another planet. If he were on this one, he would have heard Secretary Bodman praise Tom Hunter as having the potential to be a great director in the image of Paul Robinson because "he treats his staff with respect." Hint, hint, hint!
LockMart and a new director will be the best thing that can happen to LANL right now. Word is that Lockmart will modernize the place in terms infrastructure, buildings, payroll, business systems, clean house in HR and elsewhere, put in a day care center, and have a real ombuds office. I would be nice to get travel reimbursements electronically instead of waiting for a paper check! Maybe LANL will finally get out of the 1950s at last.
Remind me again why I would want to write a letter to President Dynes? Right now, he needs me one hell of a lot more than I need him. He sold us out plain and simple. I know how to move past such "leadership" do you?
For the record, here is the verbatim e-mail I sent to President Dynes on February 8, to which he has not yet responded:

From: Brad.Lee.Holian@comcast.net
Subject: UC and the responsibility for the LANL shutdown
Date: February 8, 2005 2:03:23 PM MST
To: Robert.Dynes@ucop.edu

Dear President Dynes:

Director Nanos is responsible for unprecedented damage to Los Alamos National Laboratory by his unilateral shutdown last summer. The reasons he cited for it have all gone up in smoke: When he called us "arrogant," "buttheads," and "cowboys," he accused LANL, where he had but two years experience, of having a "culture" of disregard for security and safety. Yet the "missing" classified removable electronic media (so-called CREM) is now declared nonexistent by the FBI (it was reported to Nanos to be so within days of the shutdown, and Senator Domenici admitted it just a month later); the safety statistics, which I presented in a peer-reviewed opinion piece in the December 2004 issue of Physics Today, demonstrate that, since 1998, Los Alamos continued to lead Sandia and Livermore with lower accident rates--at least until the shutdown, when (counter-intuitively) the LANL rates climbed sharply. (Why? -Primarily minor accidents caused by the stress of the shutdown itself.) Now we hear, as we suspected all along, that there exists NNSA data on security incidents at the three nuclear-weapons labs, showing that--as in safety--LANL security practices are comparable to, or better than SNL and LLNL. With all the original "reasons" having come up groundless, Nanos now resorts to making vague references to the incidence of "near misses" in safety as the REAL reason he shut down the Lab ("before DOE did so," according to him), yet he has not produced the "data," with comparisons to other national labs, to support such a charge.

Workers at LANL are concerned about salaries, benefits, and retirement that UC provides, but these are secondary to the science produced at LANL. During the shutdown, the delivery of salaries, benefits, and one of the best retirement systems continued as usual, apart from the handful of people who were disciplined for the security and the safety incident. What caused the utter demoralization of the LANL staff was the interruption for up to half a year of their primary concern--their livelihoods--the science that is not only central to their careers but a vital cornerstone of our national security. Here, instead of a skillful, patient, and understanding Director who knows the value of the science produced by LANL and who can calm the worries of Congress, DOE/NNSA, or even UC, we have a Director that has attacked us from within--before the whole world--and with no objective grounds for doing so! And who defended us? Surely not Congress; surely not DOE/NNSA; and sadly, UC stood by and did nothing.

I suggest that in bidding for the new LANL contract, UC must strive to put science first, or else life at LANL will be a hollow shell of what it once was. There is only a narrow window of time for you, President Dynes, to address the damage to the scientific atmosphere at LANL, and the damage to national security, that Nanos' shutdown has caused.

Since the Director of the Lab is solely responsible for the shutdown (his words), then surely, he must take sole responsibility for his misguided actions. If his pride prevents him from resigning gracefully, then his immediate supervisor, the President of the University of California, must step forward and relieve him of command.

-Brad Lee Holian
(LANL Technical Staff Member, Theoretical Division)


Epilogue: It is my guess that the "narrow window of time" for Dynes to act in defense of the Lab has by now slammed shut.
(In the interests of full disclosure: I retired from the Laboratory on March 17th; nevertheless, I continue to care deeply about the scientists and workers at Los Alamos--32 years working there will do that to you.)
President Dynes has left the building. ..
I sent a letter to Dynes last fall. I got a form letter in return. UC has missed several opportunities to replace Nanos. They have chosen to tie their reputation with his. I don't see any reason for more letters to UC.
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