Monday, April 04, 2005

The latest from Doug Beason

From Anonymous:

I'm starting to like this guy - he's trying to do the right thing under very trying circumstances.

Colleagues - April 2nd , 2005

I hope those of you who took off for spring break had a safe and great time, coming back re-charged. Three weeks ago I vacationed with my family, and one of the highlights was taking surfing lessons with my 17 year old daughter (I was the oldest in the class by at least 20 years!).

Last week I was on travel in Washington DC, visiting several TR sponsors as well as interacting with some congressional staffers. There is considerable support for Los Alamos back east, and everyone I spoke to encouraged me and wished UC luck in the upcoming competition. And speaking of the competition, DOE’s Request For Proposal has still not been released, and the latest I’ve heard is that it will be out by the end of April. What this means is that the new contract start date will keep being pushed back. I don’t have any details, but everything should be spelled out in the RFP. When the RFP does come out, I’ll prepare a specific e-mail, addressing what I know.

Last week I also had the opportunity to meet with the LANL change-of-station and IPA personnel who are assigned to the Washington area. There are various opportunities for us to serve throughout the government in these positions, and if you are interested in doing so, I’d be happy to discuss the pros and cons of such an assignment. One item that has to be addressed is for LANL to come up with a policy on how it will re-insert our people back into the Lab when they return from Washington. Pete Nanos heard this message loud and clear, and knowing our Director’s penchant for clarity, I anticipate that this problem will be formally addressed in a policy decision.

Changing subjects, two weeks ago the B-Division DRC met and had some insightful findings. They praised the high-quality of the science, as well as the continuing resilience of the division. I had the opportunity to visit the poster session, and was mesmerized with the breadth and scientific excellence -- I probably came across as a dummy with some of the naïve questions I asked, but I was caught up in the enthusiasm and competency of the researchers.However, one of the DRC findings was that management was disconnected with the morale problem at the Lab, in general concerning the contract and specifically about the malaise in B-division. This disturbed me, as I’ve tried to keep my “finger on the pulse” of the directorate … but I also know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the administrivia and lose touch with what’s going on.

So first, I hope that I’ve communicated my awareness and concern about morale to all of you - - that’s why my priorities are people, programs, and science. But if I’m still missing the boat on understanding what a large problem morale is, please let me know.Second, I am aggressively working with B-division to understand their specific concerns. And then I plan to do something about it. I’ve met with the senior leadership team and the Fellows. Next week I’ll be meeting with the group leaders, as well as the support staff and technicians. I will also hold another meeting with the TSMs and post-Docs. The upshot is that after receiving your input, I intent to institute some clear changes. I am considering a lot of options, and I will be working with all of you.

Last week I had the opportunity to hear John Birely (VP at the University of California) answer questions during an ISR all-hands meeting. John gave some great insights into the UC position on the upcoming contract proposal, and the other divisions will have the opportunity to invite John to their own meetings. I ask the division leaders to invite John to speak the next time he is in town.

With all that’s been going on in N-division, I agreed to help Sara push for a new facility to perform Cat III/IV programmatic work after the TA-18 move. I’ve spoken to several sponsors about this facility, and I’m providing Sara funds for the assessment and study to make this happen.

In the same vein, I’ve promised B-division I will resurrect the new bioscience facility effort … and not to be outdone, also for a classified space science facility for ISR. Now I realize I sound like a politician, promising all these new buildings -- so how am I going to do it? Well, my strategy is to fund key people to build a business case (which D-division excels in) for each facility, while simultaneously working with Lab (site planning, security, safety, etc) folks and sponsors (both in DOE and in congress). I’ve discussed this strategy with Pete and Don, and I need to be the forcing function to make it happen. What I’ll need from the divisions is their support, enthusiasm and work completing the assessments and studies.

Thanks, and please continue to give me feedback. I need to ensure that I communicate what’s going on -- and in return, I need your feedback to make “course corrections.”

Book of the week: “Tell Me Why,” by Tim Riley (a critical music commentary on the Beatles)Album of the week: “Live the Life,” by Michael W. Smith Quote of the week: “Columbus did not seek a new route to the Indies in response to a majority decision.” Milton Friedman

best regards - Doug

If memory serves, it was Beason who hired Nanos!
No, It was Cobb who hired him.
Colonel Beason worked with Admiral Nanos while both were active-duty military!
Have you heard something about the RFP that gives you hope? There is an update to the draft rfp. Anyone know what it means?
A draft RFP is like a verbal contract, not worth the paper it's written upon. The final RFP now expected to be on the street by the end of April is the one that counts.
As one who works under TR, I perceive Beason as a soft-spoken, gentle and genuine leader.

Though quiet, he seems to be a realistic visionary who is very polite, listens well, shoots straight, pushes back against bureaucratic malarke, and has humble, people-oriented social skills. His management style is 180 degrees from Pete's. I sincerely hope UC (or UT or Kmart-Sears) considers him for a higher post or keeps him in the TR slot.

Based on my interactions,
his demeanor is similar to former beloved Director, Norris Bradbury.
(for youngsters, see Louis Rosen's description of former LANL directors in the latest LANL Newsletter with the finger print story on the cover)
I also have good feelings about Beason whose career I've followed for a number of years for various reasons. He happens to be a published Science Fiction author as well as a good scientist and administrator.

We have to wonder how he can work for Cobb and Nanos... I hope it is because he is a saint.

Cobb hired Nanos... Nanos worked for Cobb... How could Nanos not know what Cobb is about.

I knew right away that Nanos was either a planted sabotuer or a total idiot when he started throwing "butthead" and "cowboy" around but overlooked the very thing right in his own camp.

I am a 25 year veteran of LANL who continues to turn down outside job offers, despite the hugely painful problems with top management, very bad press, and the threat of the loss of a UC contract.

But for how much longer...
Positive feelings about Doug Beason here too. Has anyone posted the story of the "Valentine's Day Massacre" that befell N division? I was there, and I felt profoundly sorry for Doug and the way he was treated by his boss. He deserves better.

Incidentally, I knew Bradbury, and the comparison is pretty good.
To 6:47PM poster: "We have to wonder how he can work for Cobb and Nanos...I hope it is because he is a saint."

You must use your scientific skills, analyze the situation and conclude that there are NO saints in this case People who can appease both sides in an ongoing controversy usually are not committed to either faction, often only to themselves. Sounds as if this man has his own PR group on the 4th floor.(See previous postings re him in the Archives. They all begin with praise from an anonymous poster.)

Nice as this man may appear to be to you, he has a LONG work relationship/history with Nanos...and more recently with Cobb. They seem to be pleased with his actions even though mistakes have been made.

I am 6:47 and I acknowledge your "caution".
9:59 makes some excellent points:

While we were in different line functions, I served with Doug in the Air Force and found him to be an accomplished manager. He certainly had the credentials to be a great leader. However, Doug never achieved the latter due primarily to a lack of courage on several important issues, some of which are still pending. Indeed, a few of us who knew him best believe that his sudden retirement was a retreat from leadership responsibilities. We may be and hopefully were wrong in arriving at this assumption. I only point this out because it takes a while before sainthood should be conferred even on good people who displayed great charity and heroic virtues. There must be at least one miracle traceable to their character after they are gone and we haven’t seen one down here yet.

However, we do wish him well and hope for the best.
Maybe he has good intentions with this letter, but the truth is that to get a change of station in Washington, you have to be part of the good old boys club, otherwise you don't have a chance at one of these posts.
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