Friday, April 01, 2005

I agree that we need to put down our sticks and stones

From Anonymous:

I cannot conceive of any scenario in which Nanos will be looked back on favorably. Had he been more of a defender of the virtues of Laboratory and less critical and more supportive of the 1,000s who are trying to get product out the door, safely, securely, on time and on budget, we wouldn't be in this programmatic meltdown and morale wasteland. I agree that we need to put down our sticks and stones and coalesce around someone who has shown sustained successful leadership here at the Laboratory, who has the stature in Washington to make a difference, and who has the confidence, courage, and verbal skills to excite and capture the imagination of others. I would be surprised if any such person could be found in the Administration Building.

Though at this moment we cannot conceive of a scenario in which Nanos would be well thought of, remember that there was a time when nobody thought that Hecker would ever be well thought of again. Yet now, on this blog, there have been several posts praising Hecker. In time, some will forget the nightmare LANL has gone through for almost a year now.
10:58 certainly has a charitable point of view. I rather suspect that Nanos will set a standard for mismanagment that will last for generations.
During the latter days if Hecker's reign of terror I watched and rewatched tapes of the PBS drama I, Clauius. In this story of the downfall of Rome, one Emperor sets the stage for the further decline under the next.

In the end the idealistic Claudius sees Rome fall deeper into the morass in spite of his good intentions due to the overarching corruption that has become intrenched. Finally Claudius proclaims "Let all of the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out".

Hecker may have been a good fellow as a neighbor, but as a Director he was a tryrant and a bully. He wouldn't listen to anyone and surrounded himself with sychophantic toadies. Demanding support of his favorite ideas, no matter how obviously fraudulent they were, and quelling any dissent led to the perception outside the Lab that Los Alamos was the home of Big Junk Science.

Without Hecker there never could have been a Nanos! This is not just throwing stones at the guy out of power, it is a warning that whoever the next director is he must be surrounded by a cadre of good honest scientists. The Lab need a new MISSION statement, this time generated by the folks that do the work not made up by the Director to flatter his own ego.

It appears that the poisons are hatching quite well.If they can be identified and expunged there may be hope.
I'm one of the people who have spoken favorably of Sig as a -- temporary -- Nanos replacement, and I agree that he didn't handle himself well as director. (My assessment of the reasons is quite different than the majority opinion here, but that's a side issue.) Two points, however. One, it's clear that Sig has grown in stature, and in capability, since leaving the director's office. He now is someone to rally around if we can put down our sticks and stones, and forget some of the pain that we did endure while he was director. Two, ANY change right now would be change for the better, as long as it's interim.

Let's face it: being director of a national laboratory is hard. I wouldn't want to do it, and I am not an unambitious person; I don't think I could do it, and I consider myself highly able. Whatever new director we get is going to be flawed. All that I ask is that that new director KNOW that (s)he doesn't have all the answers, behave in such a way as to rally the troops rather than belittle them, and give us a chance to work together. You don't have to be an Oppenheimer to have those characteristics. You do, however, have to be non-Nanos.
Does anyone wonder if John Browne is reading any of this.

John was (still is) fundamentally a nice, honest, well-meaning person. He made some poor judgements on personnel and stuck with them a bit too long. He should have been more strict and should have demanded better adherence to the rules. He just trusted the wrong people too long. I have never heard of him described as a tyrant.
The original post advocated that we agree to put down our sticks and stones to identify someone to lead the Laboratory during this particularly difficult time in which we find ourselves. That plea apparently did not resonate will several posters. While either Sig Hecker or John Browne could serve this role laudably in the short term. However having been in the soup once, I doubt either would like being a crouton again that everyone chews on. They obviously can speak for themselves and may have done so already. However, they are not the only persons who have successfully lead large portions of the laboratory, have demonstrated leadership skills here and elsewhere, have integrity, and treat people with respect. Maybe there's a David out there who has already slain a few Goliaths and has the heart and courage to go after a few more without any aspirations to be the permanent king.
Most LANL people understand that Browne was a decent, honest and well-intentioned person. His biggest problem was that he wasn't in charge. Joe Salgado, Dominici's choice for the job, made the decisions. Browne was really a figure head. I only blame Browne for being willing to go along with the charade that he was in charge.
Of course, at that time there were only two people up for the Director's job. Browne was far better than the other one.
I do not know of a person who could lead LANL at this point. The attacks on LANl are part of a national plan to privatize everything and no single human being can stand up to it.
In addition, there are still serious problems at LANL. There are still entrenched powers who are out only to maintain their little kingdoms and ridding LANL of all of them would take a long time.
Then there are the buildings. Yes, we have lots of new ones now, but a huge percentage of LANL workers, have to fuction in trailers and other temporary buildings that are unsafe without major work.
Then there are real safety and security problems that must be addressed by managers who have inadequate funding to do so.
I would be thrilled if a really good manager could be found, but I cannot imagine who that person would be given the national level of the attacks on LANL and the lack of funding to solve the problems which is, no doubt, part of the attack.
Sorry for the double posting but in the excitement of the moment, I hit the post button before I had inserted the corrected version:

"The original post advocated that we agree to put down our sticks and stones to identify someone to lead the Laboratory during this particularly difficult time in which we find ourselves. That plea apparently did not resonate with everyone. That said, contrary to some posters, I firmly believe that either Sig Hecker or John Browne could serve laudably in this role in the short term. However having been in the hot soup once, I doubt that either Sig or John would again volunteer to be the crouton that everyone takes license to nibble on. But, they obviously can speak for themselves and may have done so already. On the other hand, there are others here who have successfully led large portions of the laboratory, have demonstrated great leadership and successful management skills, have shown personal and professional integrity, know how the system works and --better still-- should work, and still treat others with respect and dignity. Maybe there's a David out there who has already slain a few Goliaths and has the heart and courage to go after a few more without the aspirations to
I believe 9:03 points out problems of a long-term nature that the next permenant director must address. 8:43 is suggesting, I suspect, that an interim director could solve some of our short-term problems. Marquez, for example.
add to the 9:07 AM post:

be the permanent king."

---It's darned frustrating when computers do exactly what you tell them to do. However, I have enjoyed the comments in this posting.---
What I find interesting is that no one is suggesting the obvious. UC is full of capable candidates for interim Director, yet this is not mentioned. Perhaps this shows up a bit of reality; that UC and LANL are in separate worlds.
As to Hecker and Browne, the stench of their mismanagement has died down over time. Remember the 1995 RIF, which was unnecessary, and how the aftermath distracted the Lab for the next 3 years? And the long history of "stand downs" and "shut downs" under both of these men?
Marquez? He was lucky to keep his job after Walp and Doran. I'd put him in the same camp as Salgado; certainly not a candidate for Director.
Anyway, Nanos isn't going anyplace for a while. As the DOE and UC both know, he did some things that needed to be done. Read the 2004 Appraisal. Real problems persist at LANL, including some profound ones, of long standing, in QA, Software QA, Nuclear QA, and Safety. These are all problems, by the way, that Sig and John didn't deal with.... UC and DOE both know that... Nanos is the "hatchet man", doing the dirty work, so the next Director can look good.
Get ready for Paul Robinson. He has already told his senior staff that he will be stepping down to part of the LockMart bid.

The reason you don't hear UC being referred to as a source of Director material is that it has become glaringly obvious that UC is incapable of managing LANL.
Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe 9:09 was saying that Marquez was one of the problems to be solved not a candidate for director, a most nauseating thought. Sorry, I had to pick up my stick here, but I'll put it back down.
Sorry for the confusion. I am the 9:09 poster, I was most definatly referring to Marquez as a problem that needed to be solved in the short term, not as an interim director candidate.
If 9:41 is correct, then justice might be realized after all. The fact is that C. Paul should have been selected as our director the first time he put his hat in the ring.

I do know that Paul tried earlier to get UC to be the Lockheed Martin academic partner and reportedly was rebuffed. Maybe President Dynes will come out of his shell of silence and reconsider although frankly UT is beginning to look and sound better and better. As an Aggie it pains me greatly to say this, but "Hook'em horns!" Yes, Mama I'll wash my mouth out with soap.
Somebody said, "What I find interesting is that no one is suggesting the obvious. UC is full of capable candidates for interim Director, yet this is not mentioned." As it happens, I've been picking up rumors that UC has identified an ex-Livermite, whose name I didn't recognize, as the interim director when (not if) Nanos is finally sacked. I know, rumors, but it's something.

Can anybody think of people with a UC connection that we would actually want as director, interim or otherwise? I can only think of one person within the UC system that I'd like to see in the job, and I'm told that they're not interested. However, I don't know the university all that well. Candidates?
9:39. I think you're in dreamland. What has Nanos done that needed to be done? He shut us down over essentially nothing. The CREM never existed and the accident, while unfortunate, was not something that required the waste of $1 Billion. This is an industrial site that has as many as 15,000 people working at any one time. To expect that no one will ever be injured is ludicrous. We do an admirable job of keeping serious accidents to a minimum when you consider the thousands of truly hazardous operations that were performed here on a daily basis before the shut down. All of Nanos' claims about how much better things are now are nothing but lies to try to keep his butt out of prison for gross negligence. His testimony before congress was blatant perjury. Nothing is better now in fact it is worse. There were several near misses recently but they are being ignored and down played for political reasons. Having a raving lunatic at the helm will not solve LANL's persistent problems it only exacerbates them. While no one will deny problems exist UC, Nanos, DOE, and NNSA have done nothing to solve them. Nanos himself has been nothing short of a catastrophe. When it comes to sticks and stones we should keep hurling them at him until the idiot finally "gets it" and resigns. I'm not holding my breath on that one but we should keep the pressure on none the less.

Based on what has been done here I welcome the possibility that UT and LockMart might take a shot at running the place. They certainly can't screw it up worse than UC and Nanos have.
10:48 asks a good question. However, the time is short and we will not have the luxury of on-the-job training of a replacement. I don't know of anyone in the UC who could come in and hit the road running.

10:53 is right on the mark. The current leadership has heaped shame on themselves and on our institution. The waste of tax dollars is inexcusable and the impact of that waste on national security, inestimable.
I agree with 10:53. Keep the focus on Nanos. To divert the attention to any of our past Directors, is simply a waste of effort, and worse makes it sound like a bunch of workers that feel they know it better than all their past "bosses". While I strongly believe that Nanos stepped way over the line, when after 2 years at the helm, he still didn't take responsibility, and worse showed extreme over reaction and poor judgement, I see nothing comparable in the actions or judgements of our past Directors. Keep the focus where it needs to be.
It does not matter who the director is as long as DOE continues to run the Laboratory.
7:32. Tell that to the people Nanos ruined without cause. It matters a great deal.
DOE will always be the rut in our road but it is a road we must travel. Having a Director that is a well known and generally respected by the Department and with sterling political connections will make things much easier. The differences between Paul and GPN are many. Paul has a hands-on appreciation for the role and purpose of nuclear weaponry. Nanos can't manage his own desk. Paul is way out in front when it comes to commitment, communicative skill, character and competency.
Can Paul read his own email? Nanos has to have his secretary print his for him.
Print out his e-mails? I'm telling you, our Direktor has a fetish with paper. I wonder if the new Enterprise system is capable of "printing out" a running record of LANL's paper consumption for the last four years. I'll bet we've destroyed more forests in the last two years than the previous two years.
Hey, Its not just Nanos that has to have printed copies of his emails. We have people that come to work in the morning and print everything in there in-box. Junk mail and all. Lets face it, lanl is full of "the stupid".
Dilbert lives here. I thought Nanos was the only, um (I "_reallY_ hate to grace Nanos with the descriptive of "manager", but I suppose that's his job series) manager who had his secretary print his email for him.
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