Friday, April 22, 2005

From Anonymous:

Hi.

I don't know if this is an appropriate forum to "discuss" this but what about the $170+ Million dollars spent on the EP project that has nothing really to show for it but a faulty procurement accounts payable/receivable system that can't even write checks and "computer users registration"? Waste, Fraud, etc.?

When HR pissed away $7 million (3-4) years ago, people lost jobs, etc.

This will all come to light and not be able to be swept under the rug when the existing payroll system is turned off and ERP payroll is "activated" and the entire UC workforce doesn't get their paycheck for the first time.

Comments:
What makes you think the EP payroll will ever be turned on? It will have to hurry to beat the end of the UC contract.
 
Let's not forget that one of the primary reasons given for the creation of EP was to prevent frauds on the order of $20K and mustangs that never existed. How many mustangs can you buy for $170M? BTW, the $170M does not include data transfer costs. That will come out of your overheads and programs.
 
Hmm. I wonder if LM has a workable EP system?
 
Yes, LM has had one for several years.
 
Whatever the cost, cetainly over $100M it came at the expense of science and only increased the cost of science. Can you imagine what the cost of doing business would be if the EP monster had not been created by Dir "I can do it myself better than anyone else" Nanos.
 
Remember, John Browne was the director who initially began the LANL EP. Upon his demise, Nanos completely scraped the effort expended up to that point (at what cost I cannot begin to imagine), and recreated to meet his expectations. Also remember, Nanos has said repeatedly that he has done this before in the Navy, we just need to give him a bit more time to tighten the bolts and paint the bilges white.
 
to 4/22/2005 09:51:30 PM:
Oh yeah,...
No one from ADA were held responsible and fired like say the AD Marquez or the DAD Zerkle, right?
 
Before painting the bilges white, remember the organization previously mangled by Nanos had planned to build 20+ DDX Destroyers and now will be lucky to build 5 even though the budget has soared. What a country?
 
Oh BEHAVE everyone!! Lab management overhead at all levels is lavish, que no? Does LM have multiple deputy this and that, chiefs of this and that, including at group level, office administrators for each and every, etc, etc? Bet my biffy not. Eliminate say 50% so they aren't mostly talking to and stumbling/climbing over each other, sweeten senior management compensation (yes fellow worker bees, Lab senior management is not comparably compensated to industry & so we get what we got-anyone know what Robinson brings down? Including incentives?), and voila, leadership appears that knows FOR A CHANGE what it's doing.
 
LM-Sandia even uses the same software, Oracle ERP, as the LANL EP uses.

The difference is in implementation project management, or lack thereof.

Large software projects are fraught with massive risk, and converting LANL's catastrophically disfunctional business processes and resistant operations culture to work with commercial software probably put the probability of something bad happening well over 1.0.

I'm not even in the least surprised at how expensive, late and under-functional the EP is. I'm sorry to say I've been predicting it from the day they announced it.

The icing on the cake is hiring IBM to implement Oracle software. And trying to run it on IBM hardware, which is not what Oracle favors in its porting schedule. Who's fingerprints are on all this IBM favor?

I believe the software is capable (if mind-bogglingly complex), but only in a business environment that runs like a business. Does that sound like LANL?
 
4/23/2005 09:04:40 AM

Interesting that we are not comparably compensated compared to industry. They've been telling me all these years that I am being paid above "industry" (whatever that means) average.
 
I'm an engineer so please excuse the practicality of this post. There are a lot of good process efficiencies that have come to Sandia with LM. The financial system is now completely automated, tracking project budgets at any level of detail you would like. The travel forms and reimbursements are all electronic. Placing contracts electronically is a snap. The whole thing seems much more state of the art than the old paper and legacy IT systems. The centralized computer support is really super, there is a help desk that gets on top of any problem immediately. I don't think there is much room to gripe about the business support side of things whatsoever, so if that is an area of concern at los alamos, and if LM gets the contract, there could be a new day dawning on that horizon. As far as the research climate, there are lots of people doing work they would have trouble doing in the private sector or in the universities simply due to the specialized facilities. I'd like to see more risk-taking in basic R&D projects, but the risk-averse nature of sponsors is legendary. The overhead costs of all the legacy plant & programs is a real problem for DC sponsors so there might be some ways to de-capitalize facilities that are essentially standing by for infrequent but unique requirements. The environmental & safety group is helpful. As far as challenging management on important issues, ask any VP, I rarely miss an opportunity to try to be productively outspoken about something that is mission-critical, and so far I am still employed. As the old saying goes, "if they can take my job, they can have it." So if you guys on the hill can hang in there I bet the outlook will be a lot more positive if LM gets the los alamos contract. I don't know too much about UT.
 
The 4/23/2005 09:58:28 AM poster admits to being paid above the "industry average." I submit that the "industry average" physicists and engineers are not the people that LANL needs to do its work.
 
LANL is funded to research, produce and maintain a product that will most likely never be put to use. I submit the US taxpayers can get away with using BELOW industry average physicists and engineers...
 
To the 1:35pm poster.

First all LANL sole mission is not
just weapons. We do large number
of other reseach projects as well. You
should know what of the biggest breakthough
in AIDS reseach was done at LANL. Also
the solar wind project. Oh yeah some
work that will most certiantly win
the Nobel prize in physics for materials
work was and is being done. Also we
have the National High Magnetic Field
Lab which serves the people from varies
Universities accross the entire United States. Addtionly we are a great provide
eduction to countless postdocs and students who take faculty positions acrross our nation. We help map the human
genome. We also at the forefront of
complexity science. Hello, LANL is the
the 11th ranked institute in the world
and is the last great lab in the United
States.

Now all that aside. Even if the weaopons
are never used your statement is just
insane.
 
For 4/23 1.05 - I already have to rely on below average people running this country. Now you suggest we put the design and testing of our most formidable weapons in the hands of below-average scientists? You can't be serious unless you are a closet anti-nuke, and would like to see our nukes fail!
 
Nope, I'm no closet anti-nuke guy. Nukes had a very real purpose and has contributed extensively to world peace during the cold war era. That era is over, however. We now live in a world in which the threats have changed and LANL's primary mission has largely become irrelavent.

As far as the scientific accomplishments of LANL, I think those are incredible. LANL has contributed much to the scientific basis of our country through the its researchers and facilities. Those efforts can be continued, unimpeded, by carving out the relevent portions of LANL and attaching them to a university. Aids research, while it serves humanity, does not support the primary mission of LANL and the reason the US taxpayers and congress have funded LANL.

I standby my statement: I submit the US taxpayers can get away with using BELOW industry average physicists and engineers [to support the primary mission of LANL].
 
06:54:22 PM: Of course you are entitled to have any opinion you wish and to share it with anyone who will listen. However, I don't care if you spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express or not. The truth is that you don't know a damn thing about nuclear weapons and the requirement that they concurrently must be absolutely safe and absolutely reliable.

The point is that you CAN get along with a below average brain surgeon but for me I want the best when it comes to clipping nerves and moving around gray matter. The same thing applies to rendering safe an improvised weapon that might show up in a city near you or maybe in your city. You CAN get along with a below average weapon designer but when it comes to cutting the green wire or the red wire and moving another gray matter around I want the absolute very best nuclear weapon designer we have to make the decisions.
 
Again, you are comparing fields in which real world work is needed and performed on a daily basis to one that is outdated. Yes, we need the very best brain surgeons. Brain surgery is performed on a daily basis. However, even the NEST members will tell you that they don't expect to ever perform the mission they are training for.

Our nukes have already been built, designed and tested by some of the brightest scientists and engineers this country has to offer. The mission of stockpile stewardship in the context of today's emerging threats does not require the same societal allocation of intellectual resources as during WWII or the cold war. We are better served to re-route those precious resources to missions that are vital and imminent. There is a reason the weapon’s budget has been decreased by 20%, while non-proliferation has actually increased.

We can get along with below average engineers and physicists to MAINTAIN the EXISTING stockpile.
 
12:02 said: "We can get along with below average engineers and physicists to MAINTAIN the EXISTING stockpile."

This isn't true. I think it's unlikely that 12:02 actually works in the programs, or s/he'd know it wasn't true.

In the past, when controvertial, important questions came along, we could ask nature to prove the hypothesis right or wrong.

Now we're not permitted to.

So now we ask a computer and perform small scale experiments.

Only when we know why everything worked the way they did can we extrapolate to new situations never before encountered or tested.

The United States has asked our Labs to be right about things which are not completely understood, but the consequences of being wrong are very, very great.

This is not below average work, especially when other scientists and engineers get to fully test their assumptions. We don't.
 
We can tolerate below-average posters of comments but anyone who knows about the intricacies of nuclear weapons and their potential for destruction if not handled and maintained correctly would ever advocate turning such weapons over to below-average scientists and engineers. The argument advanced by 12:02 AM might be OK in a Saturday morning barbershop debate, it has no place in national security theory. BTW, how are things at Livermore.
 
I can't believe we are having an argument on how we now can get by just fine with below average scientists! The appeal of the LANL environment is that there are lots of world-class folks here with their great ideas and work ethics. Even if all the bombs have been designed and built by the real smart people, you can't just hand them to a bunch of mediocre paper-pushers -- how many of us have witnessed the demise of something great when it is handed to someone below average?

LANL needs to make sure that it does not reduce something great to something below average. Well, one can argue that the way LANL does business is well on its way of doing just that.
 
At LANL, a significant portion of the weapon's program scientific and engineering staff have received their degrees from regional schools. Case in point, Doug Beason, the ADTR, received his PhD from UNM. There are countless engineers, students, post-docs and scientists from UNM, NM Tech, Eastern NMU, and NMSU. These universities are clearly not bastions of scientific excellence and academic achievement. So, not only can the US taxpayers get away with below average weapons staff, it is likely that they have been doing so for quite some time.

As far as this argument being inappropriate “in national security theory”, in fact, this is a serious conundrum that US decision makers are currently facing. While my original response was more directed towards the arrogance of the original poster commenting that "’industry average’ physicists and engineers are not the people that LANL needs to do its work”, its basis is founded in a fundamental question currently facing lawmakers: How much of our national resources should we, as a nation, continue to contribute to a largely obsolete weapon system and defense strategy? Considering the significant weapon’s budget cuts for FY2006, that question seems to have been answered.

While LANL has in the past and continues to contribute extensively to this nation in terms of scientific excellence and national security, please don’t ever think LANL is irreplaceable. That attitude will only breed contempt in the eyes of the lawmakers and the nation. If you arrogantly confront the nation with an attitude that LANL is indispensable, the nation will try their hardest to prove you wrong.

I, personally, think LANL is a crown jewel of science and one of the greatest research institutions in this nation. Please learn to humble yourselves, though, so that it may remain so.
 
11:35,...Or Kansas State, or Southern Utah Mormon U., or Texas Tech, or West Jesus State, or what's the name of the other Utah school up there - Brigham Polygamy U? Real first-tier high-profile institutions for sure.
 
11:35 poster.

Remember not to compare the weapons
divisions Ph.ds to those in the
other divisions. The people
in those groups have Ph.ds from, MIT, Harvard, Caltech, Chicago, U of Ill, Cornell, Landau, Cambridge, U of Washington, Stanford, Columbia, UCB, UCSB, UCLA, UCSD, Michigan, NYU, Rochester, Yale, Maryland, Paris, U of Texas, U of Minn and so on.

Of course these are the people who are mobile and are talking about leaving.
 
Among the seven deadly sins, pride came first.
 
No pride, no respect.


Of the seven sins. These are for a
slave morality.
 
We tried a below average Director and look what that got us. Our nations most valuable deterent should not be relegated to average or below average stewards. We must maintain excellence or we will send a dangerous message to the many enemies we have around the world. Remember China and Russia are not our friends but they do respect our capabilities.

John Horne
 
Refresh my memory. Aren't some of the Russian weapons scientists looking for work? Aren't some of them getting paid by the US taxpayers so they don't wander off? Get those people in here, they'll work cheaply.
 
I believe they are also already used to Petes gulag management style. This might be a perfect match.
 
Russian weapon designers working on stockpile stewardship here? Sure, that's the ticket. And North Korea can take over our nuclear testing.
 
Look at CCS Div as the poster child for mediocrity.

I work for the Romanian "Roid" (ie, hemmroid because he's a pain in the ass) who works for the Kansas State Junior College masters grad who has a degree in mush-ology. We just call him "Patches" cause he's losing his hair. And of couse he works for Mr. Passive Aggressive: Bill F.

If Pete ever wrote a book about LANL, it would be aptly titled: "Losing."
 
I didn't go to a regional school, but I know there are a few exceptional people who have come out of those schools. Fred Mortensen, for example, got his PhD from UNM.
 
I've been at LANL for the last 5 years, and this list of comments just proves I work with a bunch of kooks, smart ones, but kooks none the less.
 
What a line of certifiable crap!

Are we really so arrogant as to judge each other by where we received our degrees and not by how we do our jobs?

This thread has some posts that make me sick.

I don't have any more time to waste with these 'kooks'.
 
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