Sunday, April 17, 2005

Running list of wasteful activities at LANL

From Anonymous:

In a previous post, the poster commented that "the fact that some divisions are allowed to manage their own computers and not use institutional services" has to be reported to DOE. Why would the DOE require this level of detail in audit reports? The poorest sys admin support at LANL comes from institutional services which are not cost effective no matter what CCN tries to sell the user community.

From this post it's clear that high level LANL management should get involved with the audits enough to communicate to DOE/NNSA what the cost of providing the amount of detail required is.

A new sidebar link to this post will allow the list to be easily accessible.

[Note: I thought this was a good idea, so I have created a new sidebar link for this post for easy access. Submitters can add their own contributions to this list as comments. --Doug]

Start the list with the following:

1. having to explain how systems are administered;
2, having to explain why LANL employees have laptops;
3. having to explain why foreign nationals that LANL recruits need to use computers; and
4. having to explain why LANL employees need ouside access to the yellow [network, the one that connects LANL to the outside world].

5. IWDs
6. Allowing people to buy expensive color laserjet printers for their individual offices instead of using existing networked printers (we have ~6 of these printers in offices, all located within 100 feet of each other).
6. STOP training.
Training is a good idea- but LANL manages to make duplicate required classes (most beyond useless). For example- a new class on how to do OJT, perhaps called On-the-job Training Training??
And then there is:
Planet of the IWDs
Beneath the Planet of the IWDs
Escape from the Planet of the IWDs
8. Having to justify foreign nationals as students/postdocs/TSMs at the lab. Most of the original folks in Los Alamos had accents, and most of the best scientists in the world still do. It's sickening to have to fill out endless reams of paperwork justifying why bringing in a very smart person is worth our time. If we want to do the best science, we need the best - and we all know that most of them are outside this country.
Expensive color laserjet printers always show up at the end of the fiscal year when everyone spends on equipment no matter whether it's needed or not.

In my division there are still expensive raid arrays sitting around not being used, not even up and running, that were purchased simply because they would be delivered before the end of FY2004. In fact, one individual involved in the purchase admitted to not knowing what the equipment would be used for.

So let's add end of FY spending with no regard to whether it's sensible or not to the LANL waste list.
The training bean counter in my division has become a real pest. When email comes to remind us that our annual training (whatever it might be) will expire in 3 months, we are constantly nagged to quickly complete our training so annual training is done every 9 months just to keep the peace. More waste of money because of the extra time we spend doing the training and because of the money paid to the training bean counter.
Don't blame all the stupidity on LANL or UC. The "use it or lose it" budget mentality distorts a lot of things throughout the federal government.

Years ago, when I worked for a DOE GOCO, I contracted with a small outfit to build me a custom piece of test equipment. Not surprisingly, they ran into technical problems and couldn't ship by the end of the fiscal year.

I told them to ship me what they had, working or not, so that it would arrive by September 30. They did, we received it, and paid them. I powered it up and (Gomer Pyle here) "Surprise, surprise!" it didn't work. I returned it "under warranty," they got it to work, and we got what we needed.

Another war story: I was working on a proposal to the FAA (not at LANL) and interviewed a station chief about his needs/wants as part of the proposal. It was the week before September 30 and on his whiteboard was a list of about a dozen items, ranging from a $4k laser printer to some $60 bookcases. When I asked him about it, he said that they were coming up to the end of the year and they had to divy up the money he had held in reserve so they could come out even (spend out) their budget.

The "use it or lose it" problem is not unique to LANL or the DOE. Every manager keeps some "reserve" for unexpected expenses (or opportunities) until the end of the fiscal year. S/He then has to spend it to "come out even" or face a drubbing from their boss for leaving money on the table.
The entire purchasing department.

JIT should be abolished while we're at it.
Division office overhead tax.
Computer hardware surcharges. What does LANL do with those surcharges, anyhow?
-having to buy an expensive color laserjet because the network is unreliable

-having to explain why a stable, production computing infrastructure is a good thing

-having to explain security rules to S-division

-having to explain system admin details to sys admins

-having to explain to personnel from support orgs that the laboratory mission is why we all work here - not their "mission" to complete assorted paperwork and be compliant
IM-(insert favorite wildcard here)


Oil Change Shops downtown that don't do the vehicle maintenance but do get paid for it.
The time and effort system. It is a significant fiction keeping track of time to the half hour and reporting it weekly (sometimes before the work is done) in an R&D organization. It would be sufficient to report it once a month in half day blocks.
Definitely agree on the time and effort system. My group office starts
pestering the staff to supply their weekly time and effort on Wed mornings.
Now lets see, if I declare the charges for my weekly time before the week is
even half over, I would be.. well ... lying (or remarkably clairvoyant). At
government facilities I've worked at prior to joining LANL, time cards were
never filled out until Friday mornings. Doing it on Weds may be convenient
for the group support staff, but it is a dishonest way to conduct business.
Much of our high overhead comes from support of non-technical personnel and padded management layers. Perhaps if our new contractor adjusts this, employees who are interested can be offered technical retraining options.
Here's a mind-numbingly wasteful activity at the lab. Say you develop some software for a project funded by the DOE. Your funding agency (the DOE) decrees that it shall be released under certain terms (such as open source). Once it is ready to hit the public, you choose a license that the funding source (DOE again) approved, and the reviewers at the lab check off the box saying that it's kosher for public consumption.

Why, might you ask, does it then take up to six months for the lab minions in tech transfer to question both the author, S-7, and the funding agency (DOE) to give the "ok - go ahead" authorization? The lab has a sickening habit of rewriting rules that are set down by agencies that are, *gasp*, part of the DOE. Things that should take a day or two get mired down in six months of administrative folks at LANL trying to do it "the LANL way" -- which means slowly, sloppily, and ultimately, detrimentally to the work itself.

Just think how much $$$ and time goes into such silliness.
Completely agree with earlier posters!

* When a colleague comes to visit for 10 days to finish a paper with me, WHY ON EARTH should I have to write a long explanation for him to be able to use a computer at LANL?? Can’t we just settle it once and for all that scientists nowadays MUST use a computer? Why should I waste my time trying to write something “that doesn’t look like my previous explanation” (per instructions)? So that somebody can file it away some place where it’s not going to be seen again? All of the existing computer-related paperwork needs to be abolished. Any new rules put in its place must be scrutinized.

* JIT is an incredible waste of taxpayer money. Why is there a company (TIG) that takes an order from me on the phone for a Dell computer and passes it along to Dell, in the process pocketing the difference? The lab could negotiate a much better deal with Dell directly. Heck, I can get a better deal from Dell if I pick up a phone and call them directly. Convenience? I had TIG delay my orders by 1-2 months for no good reason. “Service?” Don’t get me started on that one! I have been given wrong answers time and time again by their “computer specialists”. (“I need to order such-and-such part from Dell” – “This part doesn’t exist” – “But I just called Dell directly. Here’s the part number…” – “Sir, I told you this part doesn’t exist!” After an enormous amount of time wasted on my part, the part gets here, of course…)

* Foreign travel. Another gigantic waste of taxpayer money. Say I’ve been invited to a conference in Europe. I start my paperwork 4 (!!!) months in advance. Can I go ahead and book a cheap ticket early? Nope. Unless I get the infamous “approval” my expenses won’t be reimbursed. Well, the approval will arrive two days before the trip date, if at all. So, I have no choice but to go through the LANL travel office, which buys me a refundable ticket at 2.5 times of what I would pay by myself. Over a thousand dollars just got wasted. For no reason whatsoever. When I read the post by the Sandia guy about his foreign trip experience, I weep.

* Property records. I have just four pieces of equipment in my name. When the shutdown happened, I wanted to check whether they are properly recorded in the LANL database. One of the four, bought just a year earlier, wasn’t there. I tried my best to fix it. Thought I was done until, recently, we had an inventory. Guess what? Now, two of the four aren’t there. If the whole Lab hasn’t been stolen yet, it is due to the honesty of the technical staff that work here, and despite the property records system.

Oh, well, need to stop somewhere. If the new contractor manages to fix even half of these things, both the LANL technical staff and the US tax payer would be very grateful!
The KSL monopoly, the outrageous prices they charge, and the abysmal service and quality they provide. This is the biggest single source of failures and delays in maintaining systems and facilities required for safety and to meet programmatic deadlines. Goodbye Haliburton, who owns the KBR component of KSL.
Foreign *and* domestic travel taken by folks who are just going on vacations/jaunts and charging it to our taxpayers.
"vacations/jaunts"; That's what the techs used to say until we started taking them with us. Now they're not nearly as interested in going after learning how grueling travel really is and how hard one usually works at the traveled to location. I recall yearning for a jet-lag day when confronted with the need to run a dangerous piece of machinery after an all-night flight over the Atlantic. DOE doesn't care about safety; they care about their rules.
The LANL CHS, Center for Homeland Security. CHS is a leach on the neck of those of us who actually bring in DHS funds. There is a big fat potential savings here by just shutting the whole place down.
Oh, yeah. There's nothing like packing yourself into the middle seat of a 757 for hours of fun-filled excitement, then arrive at 8:00 pm in Washington. Then the vacation _really_ starts -- an 8:00 meeting the next morning with DOE! BTW, there is a reason that all other US Departments look down on DOE, even the USDA and USDOT, but that's another story. Next day, repeat the joyous cattle-car experience again, this time wedged between two fat, sweaty, coughing people. Drive home exhausted, throat beginning to feel scratchy from breathing all the sick airplane air.

Yesiree Bob! Now _that's_ a jaunt!
A number of posts describe decisions made by vulnerable support people who, when they make mistakes, are not protected by management. Therefore these folks make up strange rules to protect themselves. The fear of losing one's job when one makes a simple mistake permeates LANL. The fear of a mistake appearing in the headlines of the New York Times also permeates LANL. Folks in travel, payroll, purchasing, etc are among the most vulnerable. Remember the Mustang?

This also applies to those in computer security. Too many computer security folks make up their own set of rules because they also fear making mistakes. They would rather make computing difficult for their users. Again, simple instructions from the DOE become onerous once LANL gets involved. And too often DOE rules in the field of computer security border on the ridiculous because DOE is not known for its high caliber employees.

If employees operate from fear, it's because they lack the confidence they need to perform their jobs. Either they are in the wrong positions or they have not been adequately trained. Too often training at LANL does not address employees real needs because the employees taking the training are never asked if the training was appropriate for the job. One simply takes the training and then is qualified.

More mentoring in many fields would assist employees in learning new jobs without the fear of making mistakes. Replacement staff should be hired before people leave jobs rather than afterwards. Doing so provides better continuity, an opportunity for mentoring, and more confident employees.
To 07:15:03 AM: The people in our group have to travel extensively. I am not aware of ANY "vacation" trips charged to the Lab. I am aware, however, of a large amount of money that is being continually wasted in order to conform our business travel to the bizarre, illogical LANL rules.

To 08:50:49 AM: You are absolutely right. The system at LANL is set up in such a way that there is no incentive to help the end users, but every incentive to keep making up tougher and tougher rules. Nobody lost his job when my reimbursement requests were declined, because the reimbursement rules for software were silently changed during the shutdown. In fact, I suspect whoever changed the rules probably got praised for "improving our business practices".

So long as the system of incentives is set up this way, we at LANL will continue to suffer more and more inconvenience, while wasting the taxpayer money. Imagine if, say, the computer industry operated this way. We’d be still using the abacus!
SUP has now made a rule that anything that is taken offsite for checkout and/or repair must have a shipping request. So property
people must generate them for equipment without LANL barcodes, including UPS's, lab equipment, etc. Who thought up this way to waste more taxpayers' dollars?
I borrowed this comment from another thread:

Any contract that provides unlimited legal reimbursement to the contractor to fight employee lawsuits is an egregious waste of taxpayer money. This effectively allows the government, by proxy, to financially devastate an employee bringing a legitimate suit. What about the recent plutonium exposures at LANL? If the injured workers sue UC for unsafe work practices, this contract provision makes their quest for justice seem hopeless. That is why no one should trust the management and identify themselves, they have never failed to retaliate against good employees for raising legitimate issues.
Get rid of all "special assistants for morale and performance strategy", like Lisa Gutierrez. That will save $163,500 a pop.
I think we are missing a very big waste here:

A large part of our overhead is paid for PTLA protection, S-7, and other security measures and training for inherently unclassified and non-sensitive research.

Most all non nuclear weapons programs and scientists should probably remove themselves from the lab and create a seperate scientific institute charging greatly reduced overhead and contracting themselves back to the Lab when necessary.
The Housing Office, what a joke, 3 people to do the job 1.5 could do if they worked 40 hour weeks. Besides, students usually have to fend for themselves or the sponsor does the leg work for them. Do away with this waste.
taking this to include, "things LANL could do better", I add

* Fix the broken complaint and conflict resolution system such that it no longer effectively punishes people who make legitimate complaints. (This is related to the "my lawyers are cheaper" problem.)

* Define a process for reporting and remedying violations of the Code of Ethics, in a manner that employees feel comfortable making legitimate reports.

* Install some form of accountability for people who violate Code of Ethics (and worse). While I recognize that privacy laws limit what one can do, publishing a regular summary of the number and kinds of disciplinary actions taken would not violate those laws and would go a long way to establishing that the Code of Ethics has some actual meaning. Further, I am aware of at least one case in the last few years where a person was made a lab fellow within weeks of losing a sexual discrimination lawsuit. People who commit violations of the Code of Ethics, especially serious ones, should not be elligible for internal honors and promotions for an appropriate time period. Again, this could be done in a fashion consistent with privacy laws. To honor someone recently found guilty of harrassment is a slap in the face to all employees, and sends the message that LANL management supports harrasment and discrimination.

* Establish a daycare facilty. Numerous reports have identified daycare as a cost effective way to improve employee morale and improve recruitment and retention rates. It is encouraged by both the DOE and the state of California. LANL even had a day care center once - during the early years. We've gotten as far as issueing an RFP, only to have it withdrawn for unclear reasons.

* Facillitate the internal employee networking lost with the elimination of LANL sanctioned groups. LLNL has LLESA, which they tout on their worklife page as an effective recruitment and retention tool. It functions basically as Club 1663 used too, allowing employee groups from working parents to dog afficianados to lunchtime joggers to legitimately function using lab resources to improve the worklife climate at LLNL. If LLNL can do it, there can be no NNSA or DOE mandate preventing it. We are 'punished' by having this internal networking removed. LLNL exploits it as a cost effective employee benefit to improve morale.

* Support only charitable organizations which do not actively discriminate. The current LANL United Way drive sends money to the Boy Scouts, which actively discriminates against gays and aetheists. This sends the message that LANL management supports discrimination, and there is legal precedent to indicate this may be in violation of Federal non-discrimination laws. This could be fixed quite simply by requiring all organizations solicting charitable donations at LANL (via the United Way or otherwise) to submit a letter of intent not to discriminate, with them being banned from solicting funds at LANL for a suitable period if found to be in violation.
The 3:36 comment is depressing,
concerned with day care, boy scouts,
and jogging. Nothing will get much
better while there's a sociopath
in the Director's office.
An ongoing roofing project at TA59 planned for more than a year but no one considered the possibility or concerns of occupants that debris would pose a health and safety threat. Now, project underway for 3 weeks, and, yes, roofing material dust, rainwater and in at least two rooms liquid tar leaking through ceiling panels. And no one thought it necessary to install ceiling barriers before the fact! As workers we are the ones having to make the call now to management. Why was this allowed and shouldn't someone at the LAB be accountable for not doing their job? Where was the IWD?? Forget "Telling Pete." He is busy training upper management
The cost of all those senior managers that are there to help us, PS & PM divisions (whole divisions), EP, ...
How about the inability to re-hire the vast majority of the "corporate knowledge" that walked away upon retirement? The LANL retirees represent a critical component of success in many of the weapons programs. Mosst of their knowledge is not getting tapped before they leave, and now, because of Nanos, we have little access to it afterward. Double dipping is only good for the Skipper??
-PS Division
-Ombuds Office
-parts of SUP
Allowing a project such as the enterprise project to spend $200 million to install a system that will not deliver what it has promised to deliver. Giving that same project carte blanche to pay astronomical fees for contractors who have already proven that their greatest expertise is their ability to justify why they didn't deliver.
Poster at 4/22/2005 03:36:12 PM says,
"Support only charitable organizations which do not actively discriminate."

What about the LANL Foundation?

"Financial need, diversity, and regional representation are integral components of the selections process."

When the LF was started (by two people "while both were on the Lab's Diversity Council"), the stated intent was "scholarships will be awarded ... without racial, ethnic, gender or creed preference", but that changed.

Poster at 4/22/2005 03:36:12 PM says,
"This sends the message that LANL management supports discrimination"

What about Affirmative Action?
4/28/2005 09:00:50 AM:

The LANL Foundation should of course not support discrimination. I am very disappointed if it has slipped as far as you indicate. I hope not, but have not been following their actions.

The second part of your post was unclear. Are you advocating we go beyond ending active support of discrimination to a functional affirmative action policy? If so, I agree that would be great.

Or are you implying that affirmative action is institutional discrimination? In this case I think you are misinformed as to what affirmative action means, and unaware of the impact of years of active dicrimination leading to the need for affirmative action. Although it is old, I recommend reading the book "Black Like Me".

Discrimination hurts us all.

- 4/22/2005 03:36:12 PM
Take a look here: Affirmative Action

Any method of choice which includes racial, ethnic or gender-based criteria is discrimination. You can try to weasel around it, but that's the definition. The term "diversity" is one such attempt at evasion.

Discrimination, that is, choice not based on merit, was wrong in the past and is still wrong today. Equal Opportunity is what we should be striving for, and Affirmative Action is contrary to that goal.
"If we want to do the best science, we need the best - and we all know that most of them are outside this country"
I didn't know that, does that mean I'm not one of "we" or is your point really that "we" need to just keep giving our nuclear secrets to foreign spies? The best used to mean us, U.S. and it still does in the minds of most of us poor ignorant folks out here.
* Lab Legal. Potential patents go to Business and Patent Law and sit there until the time limit for acquiring the patent passes. Attorneys at Lab Legal spend their time trying to cover up indiscretions by LANL management instead of disciplining the managers.

* Nor is there any point in having a legal department if management continues to discriminate against all ethnic groups, women and gays, losing major lawsuits which try to get reparitions for parties wronged by LANL's continual discrimination and retaliation against anyone who dares to speak up for what is right.

* Spending hundreds of millions of dollars fighting bad cases against LANL through multiple appeals instead of settling for far less.

* Having any office that is a figure head and has no power such as EEOC. No matter how many awards the EEOC office gives out, LANL can't seem to stop discrimination.
If you get tired of worrying about losing your job, do what I did: quit. I worked at a DOE GOCO and, like most people there, had nothing to do, so I quit. Now I have no more worries. It's nice.
Wow .. it's been 10 years since I left LANL, and it seems things have not changed one bit -- I know some of you there will argue that it has only gotten worse, but that's really hard to imagine.

My favorite story was why I was was not allowed to have Whiteout. Apparently, according to the Safety folks, it was classified as a "hazardous chemical" so I needed a special "Hazardous Materials Storage Cabinet" to house it, and a "Hazardous Materials Handling and Disposal Plan" on file, and "Hazardous Materials Handling Training" before I would be allowed to have Whiteout. We're talking about *WHITEOUT* here.

They didn't appreciate it when I laughed at them, told them they were ridiculous, and needed to find REAL jobs.

I left LANL for industry, and have never been sad I did it. LANL will never again attract the 'best and the brightest' until they change ALL of their management practices. Until then, they will retain the dull, the useless and the lazy, and attract only the naive or otherwise unemployable.
The previous comment cracked me up. So typical of the way business is done at LANL. I really hope L-M (or anyone with common sense) can come in and get rid of such inanities.
another waste: requiring keyboard compressed air cleaners (and whiteout) to be listed in the chemical inventory.
Using PC's and Windows is a BIG money pit. Use Macintosh systems where peolples primary job is:

MS Office

Make all LANL institutional systems web based.

Am tired of continually upgrading, patches, cleaning off spyware, trojans etc from Windows machines.
IM-1 and all of its "management."
Hey, think big like Ronald Reagan did
in 1982 ... Eliminate the DOE!
We have what, 40,000 bureaucrats
making up rules that the lab has
to respond to?
Do something about security. Lately statistics show a marked improvement. This makes S-Division look good by ignoring problems until they blow up and we all pay. Could it be like another poster stated "like the SET security problems are given special vanishing-cream treatment by S-Division." They also mishandled the CREM incident last year.
Re: 4/21/2005 11:16:37 AM post concerning Housing. Why is this office necessary and why is it aligned with CFO it should be a part of the other student programs in STB or HR. STB or HR could do the job better and do away with the 3 FTEs thus saving money.
Property Management:

A big waste at the lab is the way we track property. When you hear in the news that LANL can't find some large dollar amount worth of property, what they don't say is that LANL tracks equipment (such as computers) at their purchase price forever. No depreciation at all. A three-year-old computer is not worth very much, and after five or ten years a computer is worthless. Yet, LANL tracks it at the purchase price.

Similarly, LANL tracks "attractive" (thought to be theft-bait) property that is worth almost nothing. The cost to track a $200 palm pilot is easily more than the cost of losing the item to theft.

Silliness: I've been asked to justify the validity of phone calls that cost $0.20. If this takes me longer than a minute, and if I make more than $12/hr (which I do), then the jusification costs more than the phone call. This even ignores the other people involved in tracking it and asking for my reply.
The US GOVT does not depreciate equipment. That's why all equipment is listed at its original price. However, one of my division's computer support persons told me that the current property database does not allow the entering of serial numbers where the first character is a 0. The software, of course, is purchased so it can't be modified here, no one is particularly concerned about this problem, but all those folks who sign their accountability statements should not only check the barcodes assigned to them but also the serial numbers associated with the barcodes.
PS-div and all of the non-productive construction oriented paperwork regulation/policies/IWDs/IWMS/etc.
Sure we need to do things safe, secure, etc. but those bozos (Angelo being the biggest - at least Pantex was smart enough to fire him after he wrote them into shutdown) in PS that create jobs for themselves by including make work themselves (increasing G&A since they are overhead funded). Revamp that whole operation.

PM-div and all of there non-productive construction oriented project management paperwork. Sure we need to do things in an efficient business oriented accountable fashion but those bean-counters (Strevell being the biggest) in PM that create jobs for themselves by including makework for themselves (increasing G&A since they are overhead funded). Revamp that whole operation. BTW the sooon to be imposed project/program management requirements are courtesy of Immele , Burns, and Fearey, these will cost the lab ~$20M in additional overhead.
Give everyone at LANL a job. There are many people who LANL can't fire because they have done nothing wrong, but to whom they refuse to give meaningful work. As most of the lab learned during the shutdown, it is utterly miserable to have to sit around doing nothing. Some people have been begging for work for years. Give these people work and fire the bosses who fail to do so.
Provide mentorship for all employees from a more senior person. Much knowlege has been lost because the person with the job knowlege left and trained no replacement.
On the other hand, make sure those who are mentors do their jobs. Get rid of those who refuse to share their knowlege.
Train managers in the psychology of management -- such as the value of reward vs. punishment, of knowing what one's employees actually do, of knowing what they need to feel like real contributors, not just worms under the feet of giants.
Of necessity, many LANL managers are not big on people skills. Train them in people skills. Insist that they use them. Demote those whose sole management tools are intimidation and retaliation. Scientists and technical workers exist who have people skills. Hire them. Use them.
Isolate or fire those who manage by temper tantrum and abuse -- Nanos wasn't the only one.
Give us a director and set of managers who practice civility. Insist on civility among lower level workers as well.
Respect the work of others and do not automatically assume that accountants, teachers, and project management people are ignoramouses and out to sabotage the mission of the laboratory.
We have several remarks on this thread that show that foreigners and others who are different cannot be "the best". Educate those people, not just in public lectures, but privately, and with penalties for treating others disrespectfully.
If we want to be "the best" we have to be willing to recognize that white, male, heterosexual Americans are not the only bright and hard working people in the world.
Of course minorities (foreign, women, etc.) can be the best! Some of the best workers at the lab fall into these categories!

This is precisely why we shouldn't short-change them with the stigma of affirmative action. They deserve to be recognized for their good qualities, not to wonder if they got where they are by stupid things like skin color or plumbing.
This isn't a "wasteful activity", but one thing that LANL does very poorly is PR. Livermore seems to do a better job of this.

I get angry every time I drive by those billboards from the complete idiots at LASG on the road from ABQ. LANL should respond!

But the billboards are just a symptom. We need to expend effort on telling the world about the exciting, interesting, cutting-edge science that goes on at LANL. This needs to be a well-designed program which covers all the bases. We even need marketing to congress -- you saw the recent ignorance displayed by Stupak about the lab's mission.
Add McCumber to the list.
PS Division needs to be reigned in. When there is any incident their job has been to whip it up into much more than it is to give themselves greater job security. This is fed by the politics of Don Cobb et al. It really isn't a surprise that the PS Division leader (Jim Angelo) is a former Navy submarine captain the way they continue to "torpedo" the laboratory. In contrast, Sandia's "support" does work with the laboratory staff to address incidents in a measured professional way.
How about the Office Leader in a group of 7 people AND a group leader. Thanks HR, you could save at least the extra costs charge to overhead.
how about IM-1 with a GL, DGL, SIX count them SIX TLs, admins, and customer reps when half the staff is deployed full time.
5/3/2005 10:37:45 AM, "I left LANL for industry, and have never been sad I did it." -- I have to agree with you 100 percent. I left LANL in the past year for a well-paying job in industry, due to the inept management that permeates all levels at LANL. The management problems there are pathological.
Managers who give TSM-level staff members no work for months on end, either because the manager cannot manage their group office's activities, or they are retaliating against the staff member. This happens far too often here.
Regarding the enterprise project, some have stated here that it has thus far cost $200M. Is this documented somewhere? How do we know this? I'd just like to be able to see the numbers myself.

Second, has any aspect of the project trickled its way down to the TSM level? I haven't seen any evidence of such: even T&E still uses the same antiquated (and non-standard) interface.
we were told in a group meeting almost TWO YEARS AGO that EP would be rolling out new T&E systems that would be easy, efficient, track everything, etc. What a laugh.
* Letting IM and EP determine what the lab can and can't do. For instance exempt employees are required to falisfy (under-report) their time and effort because the system can't deal with working more than 40 hours.

* Letting untrained non-computer saavy users administer (or not) their own computers

* Paper-based approval systems

* Letting every project (EP, training, IM, etc.) at the Lab impose its own, contradictory requirements on computer users.

* LANL habitually answers any issue with a new form, a new process, and a new oversite office. Even our sister-labs frequently do a better job at this.

Now for some much more wasteful DOE activities that are the root causes of many of LANL's problems:

* DOE is unique as federal agency with absolutely no internal technical capabilities or responsibilities. They make the rules, but don't perform the work. They cannot even comprehend the positive or negative impact of their decisions on the mission.

* DOE is moving towards a model where highly trained and compensated experts at all of the Labs are micro-managed by non-technical bureaucrats in DC.

* DOE got an F in the GAO audit of its systems. The auditors barely made it outside of DOE headquarters, but of course DOE figures that its doing everything right and the rest of the sites are to blame.

* When DOE decides that one of its policies is bad (like taking media OUT of accountability, not funding computer security, etc.) it blames the contractors that it forced to follow those rules.

* For example, DOE is the agency that decided that color-coding peoples' badges based upon their clearance level made it to easy to "descriminate" against them. Indeed, the single-colored badges they instituted did make it nearly impossible to determine the clearance status of the people around you.

* DOE continues complete descrimination against foreign nationals as a security risk disproportionately higher that other realized risks, such as the many convicted U.S. citizen spies in contemporary U.S. history.

* While federalizing the labs and plants would bring with it the expected bureacracy, lower salaries, etc., it would remove the biggest source of finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and personnel redundancy present in DC.
Several people have said to abolish SUP or just purchasing. It is more important to look at who Marques has chosen to "lead" them. Two "cronies", John Bretzke and Albert Jiron, neither of whom had any knowledge of or experience in the functions they were supposed to "lead". Additionally Jiron has no leadership experience, just blind loyalty to Marques. Kuckuck should get rid of Marques and Jiron and give those of us in SUP the chance to do our job!
Rich Marquez was "fired" from DOE for inappropriate behavior with female employees, why did LANL hire him and why is he still here? The problems most people point to, EP, HR, SUP all report to the same AD is this a pattern does it suggest a solution?
More on the other posts about Marquez and his cronies. He has hired 5 of his DOE retiree "buddies" at $100+/hr to "help" us in SUP. They have nothing productive for over a year other than collect hundreds of thousands of dollars. They can't find money to give us competitive salaries or to hire more people that we desparately need, but there is money for Marquez's golf buddies.
Kuckuck needs to get rid of Marquez and his cronies, including Jiron!
Kuckuck should fire Beck too. Whatever he's "acting" at, it's sure not management.
Priorities (somewhat off topic)

Back in the 1970s, two of the men who succeeded in creating the first
generation of thermonuclear devices decided to start a new group,
T-10. One of them, George Bell, had also literally written the book
on reactor theory, and both were fellows of the APS and AAAS (and
LANL). The group soon became very successful, bringing in external
funds to support a growing staff, and establishing GenBank, the
world-wide repository for DNA sequences (now housed at NIH). For part
of the time while George Bell was group leader of T-10, he was also
leader of T-division.

So you might imagine that T-10 could have had the fanciest offices of
any science group, in a prominent location, but in fact T-10 spent
almost all of its existence in temporary transportables, across the
road from the rest of TA-3. Why was that?

I'm reminded of Feynman's description of the gold-plated cyclotron
(see below for an excerpt). Sometimes having things set up in a shiny
new building does not help in getting science done, and may even hurt.
When a computer would break in the early days of T-10, Walter Goad
(the other founder) would take out his soldering iron and fix it. And
I'm pretty sure he didn't have an IWD filled out.

Now T-10 has been told its transportables are to be condemned, and
that they should happily give them up for a building with a real
foundation. Never mind that the new location probably won't have
windows that open. No rabbits, squirrels, or coyotes. No apple tree
with apples (actually the tree by the transportables died, but it was
a nice touch while it lasted). Probably no easy access to a walk along a
wooded mesa or down into the canyon. You might not associate those
things with getting work done, but as I said, this group has been
highly successful (they still have 3 lab fellows, not to mention Bette
Korber's Lawrence Award).

The ironic thing is that while the three transportables T-10 inhabits
really are in bad shape (paint faded and peeled off, exposing
bare wood; woodpecker holes all over, implying insects in the wood;
leaky roofs; electric problems) there is a fourth transportable
that is part of the set that is in perfect condition: fresh
paint, improved flashing and other visible upgrades.
So why is that one trailer maintained in great shape while the others are
neglected and being condemned? Simple, the fourth trailer
houses the infrastructure group of the fascilities division.


"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

MIT had built a new cyclotron while I was a student there, and it was
just beautiful! The cyclotron itself was in one room, with the controls in
another room. It was beautifully engineered. The wires ran from the control
room to the cyclotron underneath in conduits, and there was a whole console
of buttons and meters. It was what I would call a gold-plated cyclotron.
Now I had read a lot of papers on cyclotron experiments, and there
weren't many from MIT. Maybe they were just starting. But there were lots of
results from places like Cornell, and Berkeley, and above all, Princeton.
Therefore what I really wanted to see, what I was looking forward to, was
the PRINCETON CYCLOTRON. That must be something.
So first thing on Monday, I go into the physics building and ask,
"Where is the cyclotron -- which building?"
"It's downstairs, in the basement -- at the end of the hall."
In the basement? It was an old building. There was no room in the
basement for a cyclotron. I walked down to the end of the hall, went through
the door, and in ten seconds I learned why Princeton was right for me -- the
best place for me to go to school. In this room there were wires strung all
over the place! Switches were hanging from the wires, cooling water was
dripping from the valves, the room was full of stuff, all out in the open.
Tables piled with tools were everywhere; it was the most godawful mess you
ever saw. The whole cyclotron was there in one room, and it was complete,
absolute chaos!
It reminded me of my lab at home. Nothing at MIT had ever reminded me
of my lab at home. I suddenly realized why Princeton was getting results.
They were working with the instrument. They built the instrument; they knew
where everything was, they knew how everything worked, there was no engineer
involved, except maybe he was working there too. It was much smaller than
the cyclotron at MIT, and "gold-plated"? -- it was the exact opposite. When
they wanted to fix a vacuum, they'd drip glyptal on it, so there were drops
of glyptal on the floor. It was wonderful! Because they worked with it. They
didn't have to sit in another room and push buttons! (Incidentally, they had
a fire in that room, because of all the chaotic mess that they had -- too
many wires -- and it destroyed the cyclotron. But I'd better not tell about
It's disgusting that a group that has contributed so much to humanity is treated so poorly. T-10 has a choice of 3 locations - SM30 where the buyers were before they moved downtown to Netuschils' new building, the "sick" Otowi building, or the old De Colores building with the the overflow in the Cafe Allegro building. And now that KSL is laying of drivers and turning their taxi service into a bus service, T-10 folks who need to travel back to TA-3 are even more inconvenienced. Surely LANL can do better than this.
Waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money should be looked at extensively, a new building started at TA-16 before the shutdown has now been scrapped. Ground has been leveled, cement poured for the foundation, building material stored on site, how much money lost will be accounted to the shutdown, probably nothing. Do we sweep this under the rug also?
a new building for IM? the most worthless division at the lab--talk about a waste of money

1. Some weeks ago, someone posted signs above every toilet, sink, and water fountain in many LANL buildings warning users of the facilities that only sanitary wastewater, not chemicals, oils, or solvents, may be disposed of in the drains. The contact is RRES-WQH, Water Quality & Hydrology Group. Yes, I know that in buildings where chemicals, oils, or solvents are used, some people are lazy and dispose of them incorrectly, but no sign is going to keep lazy, uncaring people from doing something they shouldn't. However in office buildings where the most caustic fluid that goes down the drain is bad coffee, it's a waste of time and money to post these signs. Yes, I know that EPA requirements might have caused RRES-WQH to post the signs. But a little common sense saves the taxpayers' money. There's no justification for blindly posting them everywhere, and "just following orders" should not be a defense against waste.

2. S Division (S-2??) has been posting signs at many building entrances with pictures of personal equipment that may not be brought into the buildings. One is a picture of a laptop. Apparently whoever designed these signs never heard of Form 1865 - the Onsite Non-LANL Owned Unclassified AIS Authorization Form. Don't people in S Division talk to each other? Since this contradiction has been reported to S Division multiple times, wouldn't it be a good idea to remove the incorrect signage? Does anyone in S Division realize how IDIOTIC LANL looks to the visitor who is told,"Yes, you may bring your laptop", but when he gets to the front door, he sees the sign that says he can't? I suppose if one could reach the individual in S Division responsible for the sign, one would hear an excuse along the lines of, "Oh, we had a student who needed a project so the student designed the sign, and we didn't realize it contained incorrect information before we sent it to be printed" which translates to "no one supervised the student, no one QA'ed the sign, and no one cares about wasting money because we have jobs for life."

Does anyone really believe that sign after sign after sign accomplishes anything? If we all want to make LANL a better place, why is it that when someone points out this type of inconsistency, all one gets is a "Ho hum" from someone who is not at all inclined to report the problem up the line?

Since sign posters are unwilling to admit that what they have done makes no sense, we should start ripping down and throwing out all signs on entrance doors, bathrooms, etc. because once the signs are posted, no one ever comes back to check to see if the signs still exist.
Salaries are messed up at LANL. People that are tremendous assets, hard-working individuals who get things done, are paid less than gold-brickers and incompetents. Pay is not tied to performance, experience or education.

New hires come in higher than long-term, trained employees. You can tell how long someone has been here by how low their salary is, unless they have bitten the bullet and gone into management.

Managers manage raises instead of salaries, and are too non-confrontational to give low raises when employees are already over-paid.

"We hire the best", but we base raises on industry averages.
As soon as my mouth will close from the shock of learning that CER didn't know it would have a problem with Park and Ride services this afternoon because of the water leak on the Truck Route, I will call someone and complain, but whom do I call? Wasteful activities at LANL, all of the Public Affairs offices, especially Baghdad Bob's.
The inability to fire dead weight, whether a support staff or scientist.
Accepting a position in a new program where the money was brought in without peer review because the program could not pass peer review.
Most activity at LANL...Please Congress shut that place down!
$25M for a building for IM? So all the worthless team leaders, who produce exactly nothing but micromanagement, can sit on their asses and have a view? LockMart will close down redundant divisions like IM. Anyone want a soon to be vacant building with nice views?
Here's a new one:

Having to find a Derivative Classifier to review and approve e-mail that I send on the secure network.
Internal Audit. Worthless. The DOE Inspector General reviewed the group and refused to pay for the last three years of costs because the group published two (2!) audits per year and none were of any value. The new director is a retired DOE Inspector General so they stopped picking on Internal AUdit, but the group still produces any audits and is simply waiting for the new director to retire.
I could tell you some great stories about waste, fraud and abuse. Having worked for 6 diff. contractors here since 1984. TDI and KSL are up there with the biggest abusers. How about the IWD process, when FWO and LANL mangmt. decided that more paper keeps us safer, they (TDI)-George Morgan HA company went on a national hiring campaign and hired a train load of people from defunct labs that were shut down for poor planning in the first place. And they were hired in at 20K more than I was being paid. Now that they are no longer needed (Mod-Haz) (Q/W)Qualified worker. They all jumped ship and went to PM Div. What a joke, These people couldn't even load resources in PassPort, let alone write a meaningfull job analysis.
My LANL experience as an undergrad intern changed my mind about continuing on to grad school.

I was junior EE major doing more productive work than several PhD staff members.

Eventually a group leader came by to see who was building the new cool system that had automated a 6 hour job into a 20 minute job. He was surprised to find out that I was a undergrad. Also, he was shocked to find out that I was leaving in two days (back-to-school). He tried to pull strings to get me hired but luckily for me, there was a white-male hiring freeze in effect.

Once I got home I realized what a nightmare LANL was hard to see it when I was in "it."

Note: my sponsor had me do the project because it would have been too controversial for him to do it.

One fun bit was watching a 24 YO tech trying to spend $300,000 in two-weeks.

"Anybody need a laptop?"
And shut down IM and other centralized organizations who make their money "deploying" workers to long-term assignments and prevent Groups from hiring their own people. Some best-business practice.
This is the best thread on the Blog, we should all keep contributing to it just in case someone is paying attention. I must add my voice to the other 2 asking for a complete review and shutdown of the Housing Office. There are now 2 people doing this job. But the bossy one still is too full of herself and we the students do all the work, please someone in authority look at this function.
Let's just all go and whine.
*Call me nuts, but how does the boy scouts discrimination apply to LANL wastefull activities. LANL doesn't loose more money because BSA stands by thier morals.
*As for ethnic discrimination, I must agree that anytime anyone is labled as anything other than American we are discriminating. Last month was "Asian Pacific American recognition month" How is that NOT discriminating. I"m sorry, but American is american, period. We need to stop treating minorities special because the fact is they arn't in the minority. they are Americans, in fact 100% of americans are americans, so that makes a definate majority.

*Centralized computer support by CCN saves much more than it costs. I am a computer geek to the extream (I don't work for CCN) and I know for a fact that most of our admins are acctually human. Therfore they have a limited skill set. By using CCN to do administration we are taking the best computer minds that the lab has and putting their skills together. The result is that we can get better computers, deployed faster, and far more secure. Yes the CCN security settings are a pain at times. Yes, they limit what I can do on my computer, and yes LANL (as a direct result of CCN) has the highest level of security in the complex. Viruses that bring down 50% of other labs have hardly left a scratch on LANL. The fact is simple, anyone that is tring to keep CCN from running the labs computers is causing waste in work time lost for scientists and admins.
Having two teams which each write the same computer code, MCNP (aka MCNPX) in two different divisions and who compete against each other for international attention and for LANL funding instead of cooperating and putting all that energy into making MCNP, the original, a better code.
Turf wars in general -- which abound at LANL.
* TSMs who spend their days (37 hours/week---the other hours being spent on smoke breaks or eating) playing games, online crosswords, reading online newspapers and comics while taking credit for all the hard work of contractors who are paid about 1/2 of the TSMs.

* EP--and their non-productivity

* Endless committees and meetings with no solutions

* "Management" that doesn't understand what an issue is and the importance of identifying and correcting them.

* Retribution against issues or concerns that have been identified--or even using a meaningless number punitively as opposed to constructively--and not inquiring of, nor caring about, the meaningful information.
10:15 made a good point about the general and serious problem at LANL involving multiple duplication of efforts and programs across the entire lab. It is a good question: why are two different divisions both trying to work on the same code? And why do they compete for funding for this? Is it because one division's leadership has a vendetta against the other?
The number of instances of duplicated programs and projects at LANL is egregious and management has done nothing to curb this.
Therefore dump IM-----that should be Lockheed's first official act next summer.
Dumping IM will not cure the duplication of efforts. However, when IM begins to act for the institution (instead of competing for funds--recharge--as opposed to overhead) then maybe 10 different groups or divisions will no longer attempt to write 10 different applications all trying to accomplish the same goal.
The problem is control--each group or organization wants to be in control over the application--no one seems to care that 10 different applications have been written (or are being written) to address the exact same need.
Who the heck designed the safety shoes and computer glasses interface. I can’t believe that anyone would intentionally build something so incredibly bad unless they were trying to discourage employees from actually buying any of these items. Unbelievable!
IM is a support group and doesn't have the talent or ability to ACT FOR THE INSTITUTION. Instead of recharge-based services, dump them altogether and let divisions and groups hire their own people. All centralization has created is a middle man which in turn deploys its employees to others groups. The deployed worker is always splits between the two groups and costs more than a direct hire. It's a stupid setup and benefits only the central group. The host group has little or no say in the career path or management of the deployed worker because he'she is NOT one of theirs. For any project longer than 6 months, it's a wasteful setup that props up the bunch of pseudomanagers in recharge central.At the very least, the host organization should have the CHOICE of direct hires vs. deployed workers.
IM is belly up again---hundreds of thousands in the hole.... dump it
The Enterprise Project
all recharge groups
Borrowed comment from another post.

* Install some form of accountability for people who violate Code of Ethics (and worse). **

It would be great to have the Zero Tolerance policy enforced! Why is it that there are managers here who are allowed to harass their people to to the point of being ineffective or phyically ill. I had to deal with such a manager for 2+ years. Even after complaints and letters to 4 different group leaders, 3 different HR people, and a division leader. There are also at least 8 others that I know of who have also complained about this person. This person is still working here and managing (harassing) others.

That being said, why if they don't actually help the work force do we have an entire HR division?
To: posted by Anonymous : 4/21/2005 11:16:37 AM

Don't be afraid to fire a gay or lesbian because they don't do their job. Welcome to equal treatment. Hire more Boyscouts.
Speaking of IM...What a joke. I especially love the guy who signs his emails: Have a Super Fantastic Day and If there is anything we can do business or beyond let me know. What an idiot. We have a contractor from SAIC that designed and maintains a databse for us for 15K per year. Management went to IM and to do the same they quoted 150K plus training for 2 people. Its time to give the boot to IM. Hell, between CCN and IM there are over 1500 people. Give me a break. And for the poster that saund to centralize computer support via CCN thats another joke.
I will only speak for CCN since I work there and not IM. The poster on 11/11 may be upset with CCN for any number of reasons. We scan his network, we probably administer his desktop computer or, if not, we push OS patches on him. However, what he doesn't appreciate is that we are audited by DOE against protecting computing and network resources and it was shown 3 years ago that unmanaged systems at LANL were a security joke. I'm sure the last thing we want is another shutdown because someone's computer was mismanaged, got infected, and then infected 100's of other mismanaged computers. People in CCN work very long days providing services that protect our computing resources. I'm sure there are problems in CCN just as there are in every division at LANL but be careful what you wish for. The "joke" may be on you.
the deal with IM-1 is it's a STUPID business practice to have a centralized organization deploy full-time workers in a full-time job in another organization so that the host group pays IM's overhead because the deployed person is never part of the host group. Who does this benefit other than IM? The deployed worker gets screwed. The host group pays more for services and doesn't even have the option (SHADOW FUNCTION) of hiring its own staff---even if it's a permanent position. The basic idea of centralized services (single or short-term projects) has been abused and carried to its more illogical extreme all to the benefit of one overhead-heavy group. It's a stupid business practice and creates a group (IM-1) that totals one GL, one DGL, SIX count them SIX team leaders, and one (maybe two) customer reps all for a group of about 90 workers with more than half of them deployed full time (some for YEARS) in other groups!
OK, I'm fed up with something.

Just got a new computer. Can't hook it to the network until it's "properly" set up.

The guy who does the approved set up is so busy (doing computer setups, among other things) that he estimates he can't get to me for about a MONTH! This, because of rules coming down from above that specify that before a computer may be connected to the LANL network, it has to have this, that, and the other installed on it, whether this, that and the other are even going to be used. In my case, I will only use my computer (it's a laptop) for demonstrating some engineering application in meetings. I don't need all the Enterprise crap, because I use my desktop computer for that.

Further, the network jacks in our conference room won't work unless the computer (or whatever) plugged into them have an IP address for our group's subnet. Which means, anybody who comes from elsewhere can't use his computer in a presentation if it requires network connectivity.

I understand the need for network protection, but some of these policies are coming down from God Knows Where, from people who couldn't care less what I actually use my computer for, or whether I get any work done.

As it stands, my $2300.00 laptop is useless for the purpose that it was supposed to serve.

I sure hope LANS will take a look at the Network Naziism going on around here, and make some sensible changes.
Man, what a bunch of whiners, and I have to take exception to the complaint that computers need to be set up properly before they are allowed on the Network. As a computer user on LANLs network I especially want to make sure that laptop owners, especially Windows, have their systems set up by people that know what they are doing (and CCN for the most part does). Last thing I want is the network shut down again because some Windows bozo didn't up his virus defs and is too stupid to figure out how to use a Mac (which has virtually no viruses).
Heh. Well my complaint isn't so much that Windows machines have to be set up by a "professional" before being allowed on the network, so much as it is the fact that the IT person who's supposed to do it told me to buzz off, I'm too busy, tough luck.

It's not his fault, though. He's just following the orders pontificated from the Heights of Olympus.

I truely believe that network security policy here at the lab is way too paranoid. For example, just receive this notice:

"...NO Non-LANL Owned Systems will be permitted or approved to be on LANL Property in any area that requires a badge to enter.

If vendors or collaborators are planning a site visit that would require this approval (Form 1865) the visit must be held off-site, or the vendor/collaborator would need to bring their presentation in on media that can be loaded onto a Government owned system.

In the circumstance of media being brought in, the media will need to be checked for virus's."

This is just plain idiotic, in my view. Apparenty, the Policy Makers think that computer viruses have gone airborn like real viruses.

I would rather not use a Windows machine myself, but there are times when it is necessary, unfortunately. For me, it mostly has to do with EDA tools.
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