Saturday, April 23, 2005

I have heard that the RFP will not be released until May 15, 2005

From Anonymous:

I have heard that the RFP will not be released until May 15, 2005 and that the UC contract will be extended for another year.

Geez...I sure hope not. Let's get this show on the road.

I'm ready for L-M to win.

UC's botched it so badly, so consistently in the last year, that even when the bloggers opposed to private companies tell us all the horrors they've experienced, I still can't tell the difference between their private company experiences and my UC experiences over the last 15 years.

I still want to work at LANL in national security programs, but for a thriving can-do organization, led with dignity, skill and integrity.

UC clearly hasn't chosen anyone who is doing this, and seems unlikely to do so in the future.

The SNL bloggers who have commented here indicate in their opinions that it is a thriving can-do organization, led with dignity, skill and integrity.

I'm more than willing to give it a try, having tried the UC/NNSA/Congressionally sanctioned butthead-cowboy run down the troops, the organization and the culture approach.
I wish the original poster had given some source for this rumour; I can find nothing to this effect. As far as official information goes, the end date of the contract is still 9/30/2005, which gives precious little time for options to be evaluated and important decisions to be made. A significant value in postponing the contract end is that we might be able to retain the staff who are rushing for the exits now. Of course it may already be too late to tell us of the postponement ...
I had a conversation with my division leader, and he said that there was nothing official, but the rumor of an extension was circulating.
I think that the schedule for putting out the official RFP continues to slip. An extension of the UC contract in inevitable.
If true, this would sure help some of the people who aren't ready to retire yet, but who can't afford to lose their retirement.
For the first commentor, be careful what you wish for! Lockheed-Martin came into Sandia and basically decimated their pension system. Many long-term employees lost half of the accumulated pension almost overnight! I, for one, am sitting on the fence, waiting for the RFP, but if LM gets the bid, I'm out of here!! UC may not be perfect, but do we really need such a corporate raider as LM???
The only way LANL/UC and NNSA can stem the tide of folks leaving and minimize retirements (have heard up to 2500 UC are eligible with 50&5) is for Nanos to leave. I have also heard from the not yet vested early-career types that a significant number will leave and those in the 45-50 age bracket (NNSA seems to think they have this age group captured NOT). I am convinced there is NO way anyone that can leave/retire will stick around for another year of Nanos' abuse, stupidy, lying, dishonesty, science-phobia, ... Nor any of his senior management spine-less brown-nosers (ADs) and the cheer-leaders (CSO).

WAKE UP CONGRESS and NNSA if the tide is not turned around on retention and retirement you will have significantly undermined national security, beyond the damage you have already achieved. The cost of the contract competition continues to climb especially if you factor this in. I am so thoroughly disapponted in the leadership (LANL, NNSA, Congressional and presidential/admin.) in terms of national security damage. The cost of the NNSA national labs is an inexpensive hedge for national security compared to the cost of a disaster. Let a nuclear event happen on US soil after the labs have been dismantled and lets see how well the for profits perform. All of this in light of the cost of existing defense actions costing well over $1B/month (not that I be grudge the boots on the ground having everything they need).
Does everyone realize that the current RFP will not decide the retirement and benfits issue?

The (new?) contractor will be selected based on all the other factors, and only then will DOE negotiate pension and benefits with the successful bidder.

It will be a long time before we know with confidence what the next pension and benefits plan will be!!
4/24/2005 12:57:23 PM is correct under the “current RFP”. However, specifics of the final RFP are what really count. Let’s hope the SEB realizes that they better offer some service/age credit incentives to stay (retention of technical capability) or service/age credit incentives to retire (infusion of new thinking) or, better yet, both; depending on what their agenda is. Regardless, staff (old and young) are going to need adequate time and flexibility to make appropriate determinations for their situations. If UC chooses to bid and loses, one has to believe that the complexity of a new organization moving in, establishing its own policies, implementing new systems, and dealing with formidable HR issues is going to mandate a significant transition period for a $2B laboratory. Assuming the final RFP comes out at the end of April, the SEB said (in the February white papers) “SEB proposes to extend proposal preparation period from 60 days to 90 days”, thus, pushing the deadline for bids to end of July. Presumably it would take at least 60 days to evaluate bids (probably much more to adequately document and avoid legal challenge). This would push the earliest award to the end of September. The SEB (again in the February white papers) proposed 180 additional days for a transition (60 for the successor to propose a pension plan, 60 for DOE review of the proposal, and 60 for current employees to consider their options under the proposal). This now, hypothetically, pushes the earliest change-over to end of March 2006. This is under fairly aggressive streamlined schedules. In reality, it would be prudent of DOE to extend the current UC contract to 9/30/06 to allow an adequate timeframe for all the necessary steps in the process and to allow the successor to begin with a clean slate on a new FY.
After many months of denial with respect to losing technical staff and subsequent technical capability, the Laboratory’s upper management is finally realizing “Houston, we have a problem”. This is evidenced by the recent addition of recruiting and retention into the Director’s FY05 strategic objectives, the plan to immediately hire 100 Post-Docs, and the new priority placed on the Archiving Project. One sad aspect is the tardiness of management’s realization of the seriousness of the exodus. A second sad aspect is that DOE and the D.C. politicians are clueless and really don’t care anyway because they don’t understand the gravity of the situation or the potentially dire consequences on the national security. The lip-service from Brooks, Bodman, Dynes, and the politicians during the last several months is turning out to be just that; lip-service. No actions taken, no incentives to stay, and no hint of any plans to help; just silence while our once-great institution is dismantled brick by brick. It is telling that LANL upper management is so naïve as to think they can fix the loss of technical capability and unique competencies with mind-dumps into an archive and by hiring uncleared and inexperienced (albeit intelligent) young scientist as a replacement strategy. Keep your powder dry, indeed!
Neither DOE, nor the SEB which represents DOE, cares about you, or your pensions, or national security. They simply have not demonstrated an interest. You are on your own.
Please be clear on what you mean by "UC extension".

One option to think about is that the contract with UC will expire as-scheduled on September 30th. Then possibly UC could carry on "managing" LANL for another year under temporary measures not at all connected to the existing contract after having formally broken off Pensioners' continuity with the UCRS. UC would continue to manage LANL for "one more year" on their own terms, negotiated with NNSA/DOE until NNSA/DOE can get the contract going with LM-UT. This may not be all bad, since Guv'nr Ahnold wants to put the UCRS cash-cow to the CA voters in mid-2006. If UC had any sense of pride and appreciation in the UC staff, it is high time to offer a 5+5 and commit those funds.
Upper management is now looking at the prospect that 2,500 people will be retiring/leaving in June. Between this number and the number of people still awaiting clearances the Los Alamos contract process will go down in history as one of and possibly the greatest failure in the short feckless history of the DOE and its nano-clone, NNSA. Between they they will have accomplished something that enemies in 60 years of Cold War and the Axis of Evil could not accomplish, the fatal crippling and final beheading of the US nuclear weapons program. Ironically their allies are a small group of congressmen, antinuclear cabals, and a conspiracy of silence from executives of the University of California. Moreover, this is coming at a time when nuclear terrorists and proliferators are surely applauding this bureaucratic idiocy.
An acquaintance of mine from Sandia was at Livermore when the announcement of CP Robinson's stepdown from Sandia to support a LM-UT run at Los Alamos' contract hit the press. Livermore staff indicated an almost kneejerk response and sudden fright at the prospects that they were "losing the alliance with their sister laboratory to a ferocious competitor".
To 4/24/2005 07:12:26 PM - I believe I just heard on MSNBC that VPres Cheney came out in support of the "nuclear option" should it become necessary. While I hope the world situation doesn't come to this, I hope the US and its Allies can somehow have the foresight to maintain and strengthen its "Big Stick". Unfortunately it appears that Los Alamos is being dismantled.
I was told that DOE has unilateral power (i.e., they do not have to have UC's consent) to extend the UC contract up to 18 months. Does anyone know anything about the terms of the current contract regarding DOE's power to extend?
I am under the impression that the LANL contract bid process was (at least in part) legislated by our "friends" in Congress. If anybody knows for sure, please post the relevant info.
4/24/2005 07:31:26 PM said:

I just heard on MSNBC that VPres Cheney came out in support of the "nuclear option" should it become necessary.

uh, you almost certainly misunderstood this statement completely - I bet he was talking about the current argument about a rule change in the Senate to limit filibusters during debate over Supreme Court appointees - they've been referring to that as the "nuclear option"
Los Alamos is a non-profit defense lab in an era when for-profit defense
companies are making serious money and the Congress is heavily into new
cash-and-carry forms of government. Not trying to moralize here, but
that's just the way I see it. People are eager to make a buck off running
the Los Alamos operation. They were scared off a brief moment by the LANL
shut-down, but observe how quickly the contestants all came back. That
should be telling you something. People smell the money potential in
running this place. The current $60 million management fee is just
a warm up. The possibility for bigger money lies down the road.

If current staff can't stomach the idea of working for profit-based managers,
they should get out now. The old LANL, with both its pros and cons, is dead.
It will never be coming back. The sooner you accept this idea, the better
off you'll be. If you can find a nice paying job in academia, then take it.
Years from now, you'll likely look back with satisfaction that you made
the "right" decision for your particular situation.
If you leave before the end of June and retire on July 1st. you will get a 2% COLA. The amount of the COLA was announced announced on the 21st of April. If you retire on July 1st, you will recieve another COLA on July 1st of 2006 (amount unknown but the last three have been 2%). If you hank on past June and then retire, you will not recieve your first COLA untill July 1st. 2007. I ran the numbers then turned in my retirement papers, the benifits rep. told me that most people who checked the numbers found out they were much better off with the two COLA's. You folks can stay and hope for the best, but I for one am out of here.
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