Saturday, April 23, 2005

LANL Nonprofit Wants $500,000

Albuquerque Journal North
Saturday, April 23, 2005

LANL Nonprofit Wants $500,000

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

Northern New Mexico's Regional Development Corp. wants the next contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory to include a $500,000 portion for its work to cultivate and diversify local businesses.

"We're not the only people trying to position themselves in this very unique situation with the management contract coming up for bid," said the group's executive director, Hugo Hinojosa. "We're trying to be noticed, as well."

The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration are expected to select the next manager of LANL later this summer. Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced in 2003 that LANL's contract, operated by the University of California since 1943, would be put up for competition. The university's contract expires at the end of September.


Hinojosa made the funding request in a March 10 letter to the NNSA.

NNSA spokesman Al Stotts said the request will be included among the other comments received to date on the competition, adding that a response to each will be posted on the agency's Web site by the end of the month.

The nonprofit Regional Development Corp., founded in 1996, was designated by DOE to be the "community reuse organization" for LANL, funding projects that would help redeploy the highly skilled and well-educated laboratory work force in case of lab budget cuts.

But those cuts never came, so DOE decided to cut the Regional Development Corp.'s annual $300,000 funding used to cover the group's operational costs.

Hinojosa said the group has fairly diversified funding sources for its $2 million budget but relied on DOE's funding to cover operational costs, which he said tend to be difficult to fund.

Funders, often large LANL subcontractors that have an obligation to provide a certain amount of regional economic development, prefer the bulk of their money go to implementing projects, as opposed to overhead costs, he said.

"My request was really precipitated by the fact that we lost $300,000 from DOE," he said.

Projects facilitated by the group include a Web portal targeted at northern New Mexico's agricultural community, allowing growers to share information and collaborate online; a wireless community broadband network bringing Internet access to Chama and Tierra Amarilla; and a statewide program designed to pair small- and medium-size businesses with researchers in NASA's space program to solve manufacturing and communications problems.

"The Regional Development Corporation has always been kind of the neutral third party entity here in north-central New Mexico that is able to get all the parties together to do work," Hinojosa said. "This scenario with the lab contract isn't any different, we can work with anybody that ends up managing the lab."

Comments:
Your tax dollars at work? NOT! Can you spell P-O-R-K? Can you spell BS? Can you spell Remora? Can anyone define what a “community reuse organization” is? $300,000 to cover “operational costs” and now they want $500,000? How big is this organization that it warrants half a million dollars for “operational costs” which it, apparently, does not consider to be overhead? It would be entertaining (or perhaps depressing) to see a detailed accounting of where that money goes. Could their accounting withstand the scrutiny that LANL is constantly under with audits, assessments, reviews, investigations, ad nauseum? I think not. Is it critically important to the nation’s tax payers that the high-tech and nationally renowned “northern New Mexico agricultural community” really “share information and collaborate online”? Furthermore, LANL is already engaged in efforts to “cultivate and diversify local businesses”. On the other hand, given the free-fall descent of LANL (due, in no small part, to DOE’s bureaucratic approach to micro-management), this corporation may soon have a glut of “highly skilled and well-educated laboratory work force” to help “redeploy”.
 
The 4/23/2005 10:41:10 AM poster has it right. LANL is NOT a welfare agency. Other Government labs neither need nor have such givaaways.
 
The RDC and the LANL Foundation are examples of LANL corruption. They both grew out of the 1995 RIF, which was unnecessary and targeted Hispanics, and enraged the local communities. RDC and the Foundation are both vehicles to give away taxpayer money, without proper oversight, with massive oversight and bloated staff salaries.
These should both be eliminated, or funded directly, and visibly, out of LANL Public Relations. But, that would be illegal? Of course it would be. And the funding of RDC and the Foundation is simply a "work around" the fact the UC/LANL funding of such organizations is illegal, under Federal purchasing regs.
These Foundations, and too many such LANL activities, are simply LANL buying local support. They should all be eliminated from the new contract. It is pork, and illegal pork at that. They would not exist without the intervention and support of Domenici and Bingaman, who helped to create them, overfund them, and protect them from oversight. Which opens another whole can of worms concerning our Senators and their involvement in LANL corruption.
Whoever gets the contract will need a stiff broom, a good BS detector and a strong stomach. The stench is pretty bad. LANL needs to be redirected to its mission, and away from buying support with taxpayer funds.
 
A Parallel Forum?

The emotionalism on this blog is not conducive to finding a clear, common voice to try to change what we can in the precious little time we have to change it.

I accept there is value in having a place to vent, to speak openly of our anger, our fear, our worst instincts. But we also need a place of more rational moderation, more productive intent and practices.

I move to form a parallel forum... another blog perhaps... with this intent. I encourage leaving this in Doug's able hands... I think he might find it much easier to moderate two blogs... one with a very specific goal of seeking a common voice, of constructive organization and action... and one with only the barest of limits, of moderation.

Perhaps we have worn Doug out... perhaps someone else might rise to this, or might offer to take on the job of managing the current blog while Doug puts his efforts in another, possibly more satisfying place.

It is not unprecedented to have parallel discussion groups. Often one which is "announcements only", another which is "freewheeling" and in this case, I'm suggesting yet another which is focused on soliciting constructive, possibly collective, voice and action to try to help ourselves and those who are unwilling or unable to help themselves in this situation.
 
4/23/2005 01:30:51 PM It appears to me that the first 3 comments are not emotionalism but rather appropriate indignation at wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. Similarly, as you have suggested, these comments are “soliciting constructive, possibly collective, voice and action” in the form of: “Do not support this kind of wasteful spending!” Partitioning a Blog forum, as you have suggested, effectively compartmentalizes opinions and inhibits free exchange from all view points.
 
A lot of people in New Mexico and elsewhere in the country have said that the Laboratory itself is in fact a welfare agency, based on what they perceive to be bloated salaries and very little actual output of productive work. That perception was out there long before Nanos and the shutdown. If I were folks from LANL, I'd be a little bit careful about what I was labeling as "welfare" and about statements like "LANL is not a welfare agency." Wake up and smell the coffee, kids! LANL is a welfare agency and has been for a long time. Don't be too picky about who benefits from it. White collar welfare is for more than just upper middle class anglos.
 
I apologize if it appeared I was speaking of this specific thread of discussion. I was speaking much more generally.

The structure of this blog allows only posting of comments to existing discussions. The moderator then sometimes chooses to elevate them to their own post.

I also sent private e-mail to Doug with this suggestion. Naturally, he declined to take such a thing on himself. He's got his hands full with this one.

I'm hoping Doug will elevate the comment to a post and that others will consider the possible value of separating the two modes of discourse.
 
5.20 poster.

LANL is not nor has it ever been a wellfare program. Back up your statements. I can back
mine up. I do not know where this so
called perception comes from but I have
been all over our nation. Not once have
I heard someone call LANL a wellfare program. Not once. Please give me a break.
Either back your claims up or shut up.
 
I think if you evaluate the comments overall you can come to a very clear conclusion that people are extremely angry and exasperated. This comes from years of attempting to make constructive changes only to be handed IWD's, IMP300 and other similarly ridiculous and wasteful programs. The tone of this blog is representative of a feeling of helplessness. People want to fix the problem but they are not empowered to do so. If someone speaks out they are hunted for not parroting the latest Nanospeak. We all want to do something constructive but that is not possible with such powerful destructive forces working against us. Until this corrupt and vindictive management team is relieved of duty we will remain helpless to effect positive change. The best idea in the world is useless if one is not given the authority to implement it. And, as we have seen, good ideas are not understood, much less, welcome in this inept management team.
 
The first 3 posters obviously do not have a clue what the RDC and LANL Foundation are or why they exist. If lab employees and UC management had not acted like spoiled rich kids, the LANL Foundation and RDC would never have been needed to cover-up what a bad a corporate citizen LANL has been.

The math is simple, Los Alamos, one of the most affluent counties in the nation, ranks in the top 10 per capita and is surrounded by abject poverty and detested by its neighbors who consider the lab and its employees as arrogant and selfish. Until 1997, the last time the lab had any serious threat of being competed, UC woke up and realized that in 50 years of being the "crown jewel" of science, they were also the most miserly. There was not even a United Way giving campaign, something every other major company and other national labs had in place.

So lets see why the Foundation exists. The Los Alamos School District is subsidized by the DOE to the tune of $8 M per year. That covers over 25% of its operating costs and makes it the best school district in New Mexico. No other school district in New Mexico or anywhere else in the US receives a dime from DOE. This unique benefit (another name for "pork") has been roundly criticized by Congress and all the other DOE communities. It has been a huge source of friction between Los Alamos and its impoverished neighboring school districts.

The LANL Foundation ( http://www.lanlfoundation.org/ ) puts money into educational enrichment to try to help the school districts around Los Alamos as well as support philanthropic activities through out the region. They have done more good to build relationships than all the great "partnerships" that UC ever announced and never followed through on. Funds for the Foundation come from what would be "fee" if UC was a for-profit company as well as from lab employees. Today no one doubts the generosity of LANL lab employees through their giving campaigns and helping fund scholarships through the Foundation. OK, it is pork but much less so than subsidizing the Los Alamos schools.

If you think LANL has a hard time keeping employees now, imagine what it would be like if the school district falls apart. There will be no support for continuing the Los Alamos schools subsidy if the Foundation goes away. So be careful whose "pork" you wish would go away!

As far as the RDC ( http://www.rdcnm.org/) goes, it was created to cover for mistakes LANL management made in their RIF and historical failures to support local businesses. Pork? Sure but it has done good for the area and certainly benefited the lab. But here again is the difference between LANL and Sandia. Sandia did not have an RDC. Unlike LANL, they choose to be an active partner with DOE in the economic development of the area. They started of by putting part of their fee into Technology Ventures Corporation (http://www.techventures.org) and later committed personnel and resources to the Sandia Science and Technology Park (http://www.sstp.org) In a dozen years, they have created over 6000 new high tech jobs in New Mexico, many of them right outside the gate at Sandia in the SSTP. As importantly, those organizations help attract high tech companies who see the benefit of working closely with Sandia. Result- Sandia's technology funds-in CRADAs and work for others is a lot better than LANL's. I wonder what would have happened if LANL had bothered to take the same approach? I think RDC does a pretty good job considering how little effort LANL management ever put into local economic development.

Oh, and you want to check their books, go right ahead, they publish them on their web sites! Unlike Lab overhead, you can actually see how they spend their money.

And last note to correct the comment "UC/LANL funding of such organizations is illegal, under Federal purchasing regs." Absolutely not true and the comment doesn't even make sense. Not sure where the author got his training in Federal regs but he should get a refund.
 
I apologize for continuing to intertwine this thread (parallel forum) with the original (LANL Nonprofit)

I acknowledge the point made about the exasperation, etc being reflective of how much of the LANL population is. I feel this way too. I've contributed my share of what I called "emotionalism".

I'm not suggesting this is wrong or should be stopped... I'm suggesting that it might not be compatible with seeking specific productive actions in time to make a difference.

In response to the poster who suggested that we are helpless until the vindictive management team is removed, etc... I empathise, it is hard to imagine Nanos doing anything except more of the same.

On the other hand, it seems just barely possible, for example, that if a significant portion of the LANL staff made a stand regarding the disposition of their UCRP benefits, that NNSA/DOE and/or the likely next contractor would try to accomodate this issue openly. Sure, everyone wants to cut corners, sweeten their deal, but wouldn't they want to minimize the bleedout, the disgruntlement as well?

There was a "petition" of sorts to ask Nanos to stand down. Even that would be a positive, collective step... to get a few thousand signatures denying the charges from him and others, explicit and implied. Or better yet, a draft statement to DOE/NNSA for the RFP, making it (more) clear what they need to do to maintain a healthy workforce.

Just a thought.
 
I think DOE gives millions directly to several other school systems in Northern NM. 40-50% of LANL employees commute from these communities, as well as a big fraction of the Proforce and KSL. Soon we will pay taxes like other business, so the problem of not paying the LANL share will end anyway.

Poverty is mostly related to a single factor- the adult in a family does not have skills that employers will pay big bucks for. Therefore, we can lobby to keep NM kids in highschool. We can encourage kids to go to college/trade school and put off having children until they have an education.

This alone would go a long way toward curing poverty in a single generation and is worth more than a 300-500K grant...
 
The 9:24 poster is also a bit clueless him or herself. I don't know when the LANL United Way annual campaigns started, but they were in place a long time before 1997. And my recollection is that while the Los Alamos schools do get DOE assistance, they are also, as a result, subject to a special state funding formula which gives them less than they would otherwise get---the state's way of getting a cut of the federal dollars.
 
4/23/2005 09:24:54 PM Smoke and mirrors. Your post is so fraught with errors and malicious in tone that it is disturbing. Let’s take just four points:

1) “The math is simple, Los Alamos, one of the most affluent counties in the nation, ranks in the top 10 per capita and is surrounded by abject poverty…”

You mislead by inferring that ALL LANL employees reside in Los Alamos and that ALL the money stays in Los Alamos. The fact is many employees live off the hill. Many who do live on the hill go off the hill to shop. Millions of dollars have always left Los Alamos to the surrounding communities, millions of dollars now leave Los Alamos to the surrounding communities, and millions of dollars will always leave Los Alamos to the surrounding communities. The entire region has always benefited economically from the presence of the Laboratory.

2) “Until 1997, the last time the lab had any serious threat of being competed, UC woke up and realized that in 50 years of being the "crown jewel" of science, they were also the most miserly. There was not even a United Way giving campaign, something every other major company and other national labs had in place.”

Your contention is NOT true. The below excerpt is from the United Way web page at http://www.losalamos.com/unitedway/.

“For nearly 50 years, the Northern New Mexico/ Los Alamos United Way has been a recognized leader in the community. NNM/LA United Way was founded in 1954 when the Los Alamos Community Chest was formed. The first fund drive was held in October 1954 and was a huge success. Some agencies first awarded resources from this Community Chest included: The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Police Athletic League, and the YMCA. Today, many of these agencies have continued their involvement with the NNM/LA United Way. In 2002, the campaign raised over one million dollars for non-profits that provide health and human service programs in Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties.”

3) “Oh, and you want to check their books, go right ahead, they publish them on their web sites!”

Your contention is NOT true with respect to the RDC, the very subject of the article in the original post. No books there that I could find.

4) “If lab employees and UC management had not acted like spoiled rich kids,…” and “…the lab and its employees as arrogant and selfish.”

Your contention is NOT true. It is amazing how many “spoiled”, “arrogant”, and “selfish” LANL employees are active participants (including Board Members) trying to help surrounding communities. Shame on you for distorting the facts and impugning many, many fine LANL employees who are good neighbors to the surrounding communities.
 
The 4/23/2005 11:37:55 AM is clearly clueless. The 1995 RIF did NOT target Hispanics. The objective was to reduce the ratio of overhead to direct personnel. Hispanics at LANL tend to be employed in the overhead areas. There are very few Hispanics with technical PhD degrees. The few that do get technical degrees usually end with a BS degree from a third-tier university such as UNM. With the high school drop out rate in the Santa Fe public high school exceeding 40%, it is not difficult to understand why science and technology do not look like America any more than does the National Basketball Assocition.
 
The reason that the DOE has provided funds to the Los Alamos school system is that it was recognized that there is no (very limited) potential for a commercial tax base in the city of Los Alamos. The town is surrounded by DOE, National Forest, Pueblo, etc land.
 
To correct peoples understanding of how you fund schools in New Mexico-- It is property tax, not gross receipts that fund schools. The lack of commercial property in Los Alamos makes little difference.

New Mexico is an "equalization State" which means that your property taxes do not go directly to your local schools. Instead they are collected and sent to the State and redistributed by the State based on an equalization formula that balances funds across all the school districts. The Los Alamos schools get just as much per student as Santa Fe or Gallup but they do get the additional $8M from DOE. Without the DOE funds, Los Alamos would have to operate schools on the same amount of money that Santa Fe and Espanola get per student. The State does not subtract anything from the funds allocated to Los Alamos schools by DOE anymore, that was done away with several years ago.

The poster at 11:19:56 PM was mistaken about the DOE giving money to other schools. No other schools in the State receive an annual subsidy from DOE. The role of the LANL Foundation is to address regional educational needs and uses a formula that recognizes that half of the lab employees live outside the county. The Foundation, not DOE, distributes funding to the other schools, and I think it amounts to $2 0r $3 million per year.
 
I guess I'm surprised they didn't ask for a even $1 million.
 
$1M --- Give them time. Now that they have hired the RDCs former director to run our outreach, she is still co-authoring proposals for the rdc to send to the Lab!!!
 
What does "very unique" mean? Perhaps the RDC should ask for a bit more money for some grammar lessons for their managers and workers?
 
The RDC is corrupt and now everyone is learning why. They create imaginary
services for ghost customers. People in real need of the services that are
touted in the RDC mission don't even get a nod. Instead,
non-competitively-gained taxpayer money goes to this pompous non-profit to
line the pockets of the incompetent bureaucrats who run it. By demanding
$500k in the RFP they prove the point. Then LANL hires their staff. Amazing.
 
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