Saturday, May 28, 2005

Anecdotal observations about the contract

Comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/06/deadline-extension.html

post:

I wrote (and sent to Keay) this before I knew Northrop had pulled out and before Brad Holian made the (to be taken with a huge cargo ship of salt) suggestion of DOE/NNSA running things:

I can report the following anecdotal observations about the contract and how I estimate my neighbor's and coworkers support for the various options to be (many will disagree with these observations):

Avidly Pro-UC ~5%
Long time UC/LANL employees. Well vested in UCRP and still able to remember LANL before Wen Ho Lee, the fire, and the standdown. Completely invested in science as an ideal.

Guardedly Pro-UC ~50%
Similar to the above but much more jaded by recent events, especially last year's standdown and the complicity of the UC Regents, President and Vice President Foley. Vested in UCRP, plenty to lose if that does not go well. Loyal to the ideal of science for science sake. Uncomfortable with defense contractors (fox) running (guarding) LANL (the chicken coop).

Rabidly Anti-UC ~5%
This camp seems to be people who have felt directly harmed by UC's policies and failures. These people are bitter about specific things and may very well have good reason to be. These people are convinced that private corporations run much better and treat their employees better. Or at least, "anything" is better than UC.

Avidly pro-Lockheed ~ 10%
There is definitely a contingent who specifically wants Lockheed to take over. These may be former Sandia or other Lockheed employees or recent arrivals at LANL who believe the defense-contractor model of management to be inherently better. These are more likely to be engineers than scientists. This crowd blends with the anti-UC at times.

Pro Northrop ~ 0%
I've not heard a single peep in favor of Northrop. The closest I've heard to it are the "anything but UC" crowd. I assume Northrop is a ringer invited in to make it look more like a race. To cover up for the conspiracy to sweep UC out and install Lockheed, or perhaps to re-install UC after pretending to make a contest out of it. I don't know what motivated Northrop to play. I suspect they were "solicited" strongly.

Rabidly Neutral ~30%
Nearly a third of the people I've talked to or overheard have had enough of all of this. They just want it to be over. If they are well vested in UC, they are prepared to eat whatever loss comes their way. If not, they just want to know how to consider their retirement plans. They just want to get back to work. They just want to quit having to worry about everything from one end of the spectrum to the other. This crowd blends into the guardedly pro-UC crowd as well as the pro-Lockheed at times. "Whatever" is commonly heard muttered.

****
my "vote" -
I'm guardedly pro-UC.

I believe that UC is the best for the science we can and should be doing. I do not want LANL to become merely a weapons-shop, a weapons-plant. If that is where it is headed (and why do we not know that?) then UC might not be the right manager, but nobody is openly saying that, yet their denials are somewhat anemic. The Bechtel alliance is very disturbing. While I think UC/Bechtel would be very different than LM/UT, the need for a defense contractor in the mix is very disturbing and portends a possible change in mission for LANL that is not welcome. A mission of production and proliferation.

I came to LANL as a young man, more dove than hawk but believing in the necessity of Mutual Assured Destruction. 25 years, the end of the cold war, the fall of the Soviet Union and being left the only superpower, the worlds policeman, and possibly the only bully on the block, has made me even more sure that our responsibility as a Laboratory is in aggressive non-proliferation, starting with our own stockpile. Once the Soviet Union fell, we had no more reason not to begin "unilateral disarmament". We have no reason to maintain a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. We let this genie out of the bottle, we can't stuff it back in, but we do have a responsibility for it.

UC might help keep us honest, none of the other players seem likely to even pretend to.

Unfortunately there is probably a lot going on behind the scenes. That many things are not what they appear to be. I wish I could be sure one way or the other. But the conspiracists have some good points to offer. That is another story, perhaps the real story.

- Steve Smith
25 years TSM at UC/LANL
speaking as a private citizen



Comments:
I am one of the "Rabidly Anti-UC" LANL employees. I am that way because I was hurt by UC's complete and total inaction when they allowed the previous director to run amuck for 9 months. My group was hurt. My customers were hurt. Several of our customers withdrew their funding and are no longer customers to LANL. My friends were hurt. I knew Todd Kaupilla, and I liked him. I knew Tom Meyer, and I liked him too. I know John Horne, and I like him. I despise how UC has treated these folks. LANL as a whole has been badly damaged by UC and its inability to manage our operation. Quite frankly, I do not understand why there are still any pro-UC people remaining, unless, as one commenter suggested somewhere else in the blog, they are suffering from "Stockholm Syndrome".
 
I can't really comment on Todd or John. Based on what has been published in the paper, it seems the treatment was inexcusable.

However, I am very familiar with the Tom Meyer case -- he was removed for very good reasons, including simply doing NOTHING for most of the line management part of the job. tom is a great scientist, and wonderful person. He is one of the worst managers I have ever seen (excluding the bullying nanos). I am also aware of inappropriate behaviors (traveling to "meetings" to see his son, foreign travel that was little more than vacations).

I can only say that half a story is no story.

Nanos is a villain. Is the rest of UC? By the way, please check the LM history in idaho, especially on personnel actions.
 
Avidly Pro-UC here:

I agree about Tom Meyer, used to be under his directive - not surprised when he was forced out.

Don't forget that there is also LockMart contingent here under 'anonymous' who are pro-UT/LM. One can only imagine their interest in this BLOG.
 
I would like to be pro-UT, but feel very jaded about UC after the last five
years at LANL. I feel very much like that old Who song. You know the one --
"We won't be fooled again!". My guess is DOE feels the same way, which is
why I'll be very surprised if UC wins the new contract. Foley's performance
at the recent meeting also did very little to inspire me to support UC.
 
Whoops! Meant to say: "I would like to be pro-UC". Freudian mistake, no
doubt.
 
This article has helped me figure out where I am. I'm a Neutral. Somewhere in my psyche I have a sense that UC and the idea of academic freedom should be good for science and good for the nation, but what has happened in the last year has rendered that entirely hypothetical. When Nanos caricatured the "work-free safe zone" perspective as anti-safety, rather than acknowledging it as a valid complaint that safety bureaucracy is eating up the Lab, and worked to get everyone fired who didn't see things his way, I realized that academic freedom is already a "dead LIR." I'm not sure whether it would be better or worse under Lockheed.
 
I've seen a lot of comments from people like 4:22 in the blog. At some point you're just going to have to get over it and let it go. Letting the past two years continue to eat at you isn't going to help your work, the work of those around you and the Lab in general. Move on, help make a better tomorrow.

I guess that makes me a neutral.
 
Anonymous : 5/29/2005 08:20:40 AM has it wrong. There must be some accountability for the behavior (failures) of UC. UC had many MANY chances to do the right thing over the past five years. UC just did not get it done. It's not a matter of "letting the past two years eat at you." It is a matter of not forgetting the UC did not do the job. Why should we forgive and forget? Foley is still there!
 
To 8:20:

You see a lot of comments here in this theme because there has not been accountability for UC's mishandling of LANL's affairs. Until there is accountablilty, we will not let the matter drop. Somebody has to pay for the incompetance. That somebody is UC. They haven't payed yet.
 
Regarding the previous two comments: Remember that "people who do not read history are bound to repeat it." For the benefit of the unwilling or unable to read, we will continue to remind them of the failings of UC in the management of LANL. A good start to changing the minds of the "Rabidly Anti-UC" employees would be the departure of Foley.
 
In the space of less than three years, I have transitioned from being rabidly pro-UC to avidly pro-LM. The irony is that philosophically have not moved. UC has done all the moving. First, without bothering to compete the position of Director, it selected and supported a tyrant who for two years ruined the Laboratory, its programs, its reputation, and its relationships. Concurrently, the UC condoned, defended, abetted, and supported the tyrannical scapegoating, denigration, and mistreatment of its employees and therefore became a coconspirator of an abusive evil that cannot be condoned within a democratic society. Unfortunately, the UC continues to defend this miscarriage of justice and fairness while expecting us to forget and forgive. However, how can I purge my nightmares of the agony of mistreated employees and the tears of the widows and children that this abuse has caused and that I personally witnessed? What elixir can I take in order to forget the rubble of programs and careers that I worked so hard to establish and sustain? How can I become so blind and jaded as to forget the sacrificing of national security that went on here to protect the corporate image? How can I call myself an American, especially on this Memorial Day weekend, if I forget the shameful denial of due process and the scapegoating that went on here under the UC banner?
 
5/28/2005 07:31:54 PM:

If Tom Meyer was not released for anything you mentioned but because of the laser incident.
 
I went into the Foley-Kuckuck-Dynes-Cobb meeting with a guarded open mind. With Nanos gone, I wanted to see if UC had the emotional intelligence to manage the psychological damage their agent had done to a great institution.

I had two tests for Dynes: restoration of the 9/80 and justice for Kauppila and Horne. He failed both tests.

The 9/80 issue is not about work weeks and percs - it's about punishing the many in a fit of pique and the grossly evil concept of "shared fate." I did nothing wrong and RESENT being punished for something I didn't do.

There comes a few defining moments in a man's life when he must chose the right way or the company way. Many years ago I worked for an abusive boss and vowed that I would never again support the enterprise of men who are scum. When Foley stuck his thumb in my eye over Tod Kauppilla, he stood up for the scum side of the ledger.

Sign me "I used to be indifferent, now I'm adamantly anti-UC."
 
Actually, from a legal point of view, Tom Meyer probably has a stronger case than Kauppila. Meyer was fired during one of Admiral Butthead's tantrums.
 
And what was Jim Holt fired for?
 
5:22,

Apparently for being in Starbucks?
 
And what was he really fired for?
 
To anonymous at 5/29/2005 07:34:24 PM: you were not listening. It was "for being in Starbucks!" Per Admiral Butthead, that was a capital offense.
 
Please establish a "Just Shut Down" LANL category. As far as I can tell from reading all these posts, what most of you whine about is that you want to be left alone to "do science" and that some big bad former director hurt your feelings.

If all the bidders (DOE,the Federal Gov't as a whole and Congress) they would haul any useful stuff off to other labs, auction the rest off.

Grow up, we are not spending billions a year so you guys can have a sandbox.

PS No Guts to put this out front for the world to read it.
 
Whateva'
 
Dear PS No Guts (aka 5/29/2005 09:46:08 PM):

Fortunately for the security of this nation against threats that you might have a difficult time visualizing, Los Alamos has been there for 60 years carrying a very heavy portion of the scientific load. The threat has changed but is still there only more complex and difficult to predict. Historically had Los Alamos not been on your side, your message might have been written in Japanese, German, or Russian. If Los Alamos doesn't stay engaged, you might not be writing at all.
 
"A good start to changing the minds of the "Rabidly Anti-UC" employees would be the departure of Foley."
# posted by Anonymous : 5/29/2005 01:14:55 PM
Wrong. Remove Foley if you want but the problem is UC not one man, not one director. UC has let us down over and over again. Anti-UC.
Also, 5/30/2005 09:31:45 AM, what a heavy burden you carry with that ego, we are here as a nation because of all people not just a few "chosen" who happen to work at LANL.
 
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