Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Foley was fascinating on a completely different level

From Anonymous:

I found several aspects of yesterday's meeting with Dynes, Kuckuck, Foley, and Cobb to be completely fascinating. Dynes' obsequious, transparent desire to be liked by the audience was the first impression that he made, to be quickly followed by a growing awareness of his general cluelessness regarding LANL. He was clearly ignorant of who Todd Kaupilla was, much less of the circumstances of his death. Sadly, I am not surprised that Dynes had no inkling that a LANL staff member who had devoted 22 years of his life to LANL, who had been unfairly fired by the previous director, Nanos, had died unexpectedly two weeks ago, leaving a widow and two children. Much less that he had died uninsured, as a result of the unfair firing.

Foley was fascinating on a completely different level. His crude, arrogant, angry demeanor epitomized what it was about Nanos that caused the readership of this blog to facilitate an early departure from LANL for him. Also, knowing that Foley works directly for Dynes and observing first-hand Dynes' tacit approval of Foley's behavior was mesmerizing, in a nightmarish sort of way.

Cobb was, well, Cobb. To know him is to not like him very well. At least he was willing to concede that UC would look into helping Todd's family.

Kuckuck would be hard not to like. I admired his earnestness. I would probably like him if I were to meet him. I wish him well. I believe Dynes and Foley will make it impossible for him to take the type of corrective action necessary to turn LANL around.

Bob Kuckuck did make a favorable impression considering the straining circumstances under which he performed. However, he is Bob Foley's deputy, as I understand his most recent role in the UC hierarchy. By his abrasive, aggressive, unrepentent, abusive, and dominating behavior, Foley basically destroyed anything positive that Dynes and Kuckuck tried so hard to accomplish. He gave one of the sickest and totally unprofessional performances I have ever witnessed. However, he did stick with the derivative of his prior behaviors in designing and crafting the unjust punishments UC has meted out to Todd Kupaulla and a host of other scapegoated employees.

Had I been President Dynes, I would have made a repution for fairness that would have been of legendary proportions and cemented Los Alamos totally in the UC camp (it's not there today) by standing up at the end of yesterday's meeting and telling Bob Foley, "You Admiral have disgraced the University of California long enough. You, sir (to be a gentleman) are fired!" I believe President Dynes would have found uttering the line from Donald Trump most gratifying and enriching. We certainly would have.

Instead, we are left with the sad image of Dynes leaning over and asking Foley, "Who is Todd Kaupilla?"
Simple arithmatic: 1 X 1 = 1.

Not many of us knew Admiral Foley very well before 5/16/2005. After meeting him, I find it a likely probability that this was Bob Foley's lab. Nanos was probably no more than a mouthpiece for him. Nanos reported to Foley, who in turn commanded "the ship". Unfortunately for Nanos, he took almost all the heat, villified by a multitude. I would not be suprised if Nanos could not handle the nationally infamous legacy Foley orchestrated upon him by commanding him to shut down the lab, shut down the 9/80, & fire two loyal, trusted, and capable scientists. Then there's the other stuff, too. It's really quite a legacy!

(1) Foley times (1) Nanos equals (1) big mess. Now it's 1 X 0 and we all know what that equals. Is this still Foley's lab? Or...will UC try and take it back from him.

(This is all speculation. I'm just thinking out loud.)
Having had direct experience with Nanos, I don't believe that he was simply a mouthpiece for Foley. He actually did believe that he was all knowing, he really did shoot from the hip, he really was abusive. It may be that Foley is that way too, but don't start feeling sorry for Nanos. Please.
UC must remove Foley immediately. I'm surprised we didn't get a two-fer this week. President Dynes: Times a wastin'! Remove Foley now and prioritize the management of our low morale...please!
The demise of 9/80 was pinned to the sham CREM incident. They needed a dire situation to get rid of 9/80 schedules because they had no legal or legitimate reason to do so. It was easy to see from Foley's dyspeptic reaction to requests to reinstate 9/80 that it was a personal issue for him as it was for Nanos. Why is anybody's guess but it probably has a lot to do with military ideas of control. And Foley's insultingly stupid response involving "business reasons" for reinstating the schedule was meant to be so vague as to be impossible to fulfill. Bring me a rock, indeed. How do these guys get these jobs? The man has not a whit of leadership ability. Get rid of Foley and all the acting clones that have descended upon us.
To those of you inclined to think kindly of Dynes, consider that Foley has worked directly for Dynes for some while now. Foley's character is well known to Dynes, and if Dynes were worth a good God Damn he would have canned Foley a long time ago. The reality is that Dynes is pretty much completely detached from what goes on at Los Alamos, and the absolute best that can be said of him is that he smiles with great insincerity.

Get used to it: Dynes, Foley and Kuckuck are what we are stuck with.
Foley may have worked for Dynes for a while now, but I'm betting they're working relationship has not been that close.

Please be rid of the militaristic admiralty and bestow on our lab some compassion and real leaders.
I was the caller at the end who directly asked Foley about reopening the Kauppila/Horne case. I wasn't angry (as someone has posted here) but I was choked with emotion at the wrong that had been done. I don't want to work for men who are scum.

I watched the whole program again today on Labnet with a more analytical mindset. I (and I think many of us) saw Monday's presentation as a test of UC management: would UC acknowledge the ethical wrongs they had done and work to rectify their mistakes, or would they continue to insult and stonewall us?

I think Dynes and Cobb started to recognize Monday's meeting as a test. Nobody was shouting, but the questions got pretty pointed - especially on the 9/80 and the Kauppila issues, which many of us see as defining moments in how UC responds to crisis.

Kuckuck was picking up on it too - but he's too new to understand the depth of feelings (and outright hostility) to the way we have been treated. I think he's a savy guy and will quickly pick up on it if he's as people-smart as he seems to be.

I think Cobb gets it - the hostility that is - and is trying to be the executive in all this. Dynes was starting to feel the tension also.

That leaves Foley, who showed his true colors. I think the other three (Dynes, Kuckuck, and Cobb) were taken aback and embarassed by Foley's demeanor and chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. They were trying to make nice with people who felt deeply wronged and insulted, and he was getting in our face, destroying whatever goodwill they had developed in the previous hour and a half.

If UCOP is smart, they will keep Foley out of the loop. He's poison to the UC-LANL relationship and does far more harm than good. This is a time for admitting wrongs, making ammends, and reconciliation: Foley is the wrong man in that job.

For a lesson in hypocrisy, read the "Our Ethics" poster they put up last year and then cross off the people who are not on the executive board today. High ethical standards indeed!
Another line in the sand has been drawn. Foley, who apparently does not have anyone on board with him to back hand us, must now (and did) do so himself.

I'm so sick of it. "No", huh? Alright Admiral. Alright. Instead of doing the right thing, instead of doing the just thing, you've chosen a path that lead to UC losing again, and this time, the court cases will generate headlines. I can only think of one other instance of a group of leaders doing their best to screw things up to a point of no return.

Question for UC leadership: Are you guys in some kind of competition with the Bush administration? Because if not, you should be. You're giving 'em a real run for the money!
Excellent analysis and I agree completely. If Foley remains "in the loop," based on what I saw and felt, I hope UC loses the contract. Who wants that arrogant SOB making decisions that affect our lives? When does an organization NOT recognize hateful arrogance and ineffective management? When does an organization keep butts like Foley in power at the expense of workers and think nothing about it? Dynes had better wake up soon.
Foley and Dynes were both appointed in Oct. 2003. So, it looks like Dynes didn't pick Foley, the regents did. Dynes by himself may not be in a position to dump Foley, given Foley's deep Washington, military and corporate connections. The guy had been commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, Reagan’s assistant secretary of energy for defense programs, vice president for commercial marketing at Raytheon, and recently a member of George W.’s energy transition team. I have only one suggestion: want to try to unsit Foley, WRITE TO THE REGENTS!

As a side note, doesn't it strike you that the guy chaired the Blue Ribbon Committee to Oversee Nuclear Pit Manufacturing and Certification at LANL and held other similar jobs without having ANY technical background? His education is the Naval Academy (1950) and master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1968.
That's it - VP Foley has "Science Envy".
LOL and very interesting bit of info.
Maybe Foley needs help, an anti-depressant or something. Haven't significant numbers of Navy brass committed suicide in recent years? Looks like many of us may be winding down our UC careers as members of the Kuckuck's Klan :)
Kuckuck's Klan-----LOL VERY FUNNY
Yes, 'Kuckuck's Klan'. Moderately funny, I suppose. I kind of liked Kuckuck upon first acquaintance yesterday. Actually, I kind of liked Bodman, too, when he was introduced to us a few months ago. Not that we've since seen anything here at LANL to have warranted those warm fuzzy feelings.
Actually, Kuckuck is KKK separated by two UCs, the one that is the "let there be light" colossus of science and learning and the one that, in our case, abuses and scapegoats its employees and then forgets their names.
Geez wasn't Bob Foley just delightful? 9/80s which were suspended as a punitive measure will only be restored when Foley sees fit. This bastard could teach Nanos some tricks.
Anonymous at 5/17/2005 07:43:21 PM is very astute. S/he notes:

"Foley and Dynes were both appointed in Oct. 2003. So, it looks like Dynes didn't pick Foley, the regents did. Dynes by himself may not be in a position to dump Foley, given Foley's deep Washington, military and corporate connections. The guy had been commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, Reagan’s assistant secretary of energy for defense programs, vice president for commercial marketing at Raytheon, and recently a member of George W.’s energy transition team."

Hmm. Foley was on George Bush's transition team. Gerald Parsky was the head of Bush's campaign in California and was formerly employed by George H.W. Bush as an Undersecretary of the Treasury. He is now very active on the board of regents -- has come to Los Alamos on several occaisions, was on the committee to save Los Alamos when the Walp, Doran affair came out.
My bet is that Foley is Parsky's man and Parsky is Bush's man. Unfortunately, Foley is thoroughly unpleasant because I suspect we are stuck with him. I want UC to keep the contract for a lot of reasons, but, sadly, I don't think things will get more pleasant if it does.

What else can I say.
It seems that President Dynes is suffering a malady that presents itself at LANL quite often. I can only describe it as Upper Management Detachment and Reality Filtering. It's the detachment from the trenches and the real day-to-day functional and operational conditions such as the majority of the workforce would experience. Detachment means that they don't have to experience the frustrating attempts to get work done with some of the obstacles many of the people deal with regularly, namely:

- frustrating enterprise systems which may or may not be the same ones used by the organization (web vs. EIA interfaces) and which are unfinished/untested/unmaintained or just poor quality;
- unwieldy forms which seem to cover every imaginable possibility except the most likely and realistic possibilities;
- approval processes which pass through extra approvers who may or may not be involved or informed on the area addressed by the request;
- uninvolved parties making arbitrary decisions which have massive impact on projects or work being done (budget changes or shifting costs to other codes without consulting the involved parties before the transaction occurs);
- other examples?

Reality Filtering often occurs when those within upper management are sheltered from the realities by interfaces or personnel who make the whole experience easier for them such as when they need something or request work to be done and their staff pick up the phone and say, "I'm from the _____'s office. I need xyz by ____." And those who process the request somehow whisk the request through with amazing speed and fluidity and the request is fulfilled with fast results and no apparent problems or difficulties from the perspective of the manager who requested it. With this kind of performance, in both a business sence of performance reporting and the theatrical sense of playing a role for a desired altered-reality/deception, it's no wonder that the management bristles and balks when they receive complaints from the masses that something's not functioning or it's difficult and unwieldy. The management doesn't see the problem because there's a whole reality filtering philosophy at work on their behalf. Those in the trenches wait days and weeks only to find that there's a problem or the 'standard' flow of processes requires you resort to hand-carry or walk your request through to ensure it isn't lost in some veritable black hole or seemingly endless cycles of confusion in a broken system.

In Dynes' case, the reality that LANL was functioning under poor management and poor processes or that mishandling of circumstances and personnel was not uncommon probably never reached him until it was too large and too late to deal with it gracefully. Honestly, I'm not sure a University President should have to handle the remedy in the trenches but he also shouldn't assume that the rumbling from the trenches is all bogus if he's only been spoon-fed information in the comfort of a remote location a couple states away by those who benefit from the act of offering only good information or posing the information in a light that benefits them (LANL upper levels). It would seem that remote management doesn't serve this organization or set of organizations as well as they planned if they keep getting surprises like workforce issues and safety/security difficulties. If it were my backside poised for the proverbial ringer, I'd bypass the management filters for a while and see for myself what's going on.

If this were done and the real issues identified, the most startling revelation might be that while people are vocal about the 9/80 or daycare issues, they really are mostly frustrated about the broken systems which prevent the work from being done with ease, done quickly or done at a reasonable cost. The 9/80 and daycare resolutions are essentially mitigating measures for dealing with that crippling frustration, giving people a day every other week to avoid the frustration or reducing one major concern of 'who takes care of the family I provide for while I work'. The tales of days of working extra hours because one was excited about the project in front of him/her and taking some heat under the pressure of deadlines and heightened expectations or suspicion of the need for secrecy are missed by those in the trenches because it speaks of a time when the work was compelling, valued by the nation and its leaders, and the support systems were being developed or were demanded to comply for success of the tasks at hand to meet a common goal.

No one I've talked to would voluntarily abandon doing the work here safely or securely but that the frustration of working through the myriad of systems and the hodge podge of processes overwhelms not only the work itself but also the focused attention on safety and security as clearly visible elements accompanying every piece of work. Also, I can't recall anyone saying that they'd like to do just the easy or low-level of work. I think people here would like to be doing compelling, challenging work - even jumping through hoops of discovery and pushing science ahead of where it is today - but instead of being given gym shoes to run with, they've got cement boots and hoops decreasing in size and increasing in numbers with a course full of twists, missing platforms and unexpected dead-ends, if you'll allow me to use a visual here.

My impression is that Dynes needs us, the LANL workforce, to help him & UC win the contract, and will implore us to help him with pleading and soft-spoken allure and offering that 'we're all in this together'. I recall an earlier visit where he begged, "Help me help you" with misty-eyed sincerity, or so it seemed. There are people who meld into sympathizers in order to gain trust or collaboration toward a desired end - an "i" person on the DiSC profile method of skills/personality type assessments. Influencing people toward cooperation seems to be his style, from my distant viewpoint. It leaves me thinking that he wants UC to win the contract and he'd work for us toward that but I have to believe that if UC didn't win, he would continue on in in the next pursuit as UC's top man or retire with the contract's end and move forward with relative ease.

Alas, Foley is a man working out of context from his training. Without the benefit of the entire workforce being indoctrinated into the military model beginning with bootcamp and ongoing enforcement of order-taking, saluting rank and following the distinct chain-of-command pattern, we are hopelessly working at odds to all that he knows and understands. He probably doesn't have the energy or patience to reform us at this late stage of his career and he doesn't know how to work with personnel outside of the military model which would transition his skills into civilian life. In this light he probably perceives us as more of an incorigible ne'er-do-well and therefore useless, or worse, we are the enemy who must be broken and brought into submission or neutralized. Like Nanos, the leadership or managment above him will only see the detriment if his involvement creates more problems for them than it solves.
This whole fiasco was:
2.25 hours of my time
3 hours of more frustration
Foley's face and one work response after being ask about reopening Todd's case -- priceless.
The last paragraph of the previous comment starts with "Alas, Foley is a man working out of context from his training." That could not be more true! Nothing in the military training or experiece qualifies a person for a role such as Director of a scientific laboratory. In fact, everything in military training and experience is absolutely opposite of what is needed to direct a scientific laboratory.
Be careful 5/18/2005 09:46:02 AM and don't post from a LANL internet account. I agree with your points completely, but posting during the day from a LANL account is asking for punishment.

BTW, Bob Kuckuck now has a LANL email moniker in the internal directory.
8:48 --

I am not aware of any LANL rule that forbids engaging in discussions related to the future of LANL. Perhaps now that Nanos is gone and his jackboot troops are on the run it will become permissible to use the blog for its intended purpose: identifying problems at LANL and helping to provide solutions to same.
5/18/2005 05:48:56 PM, thank you for the reminder, however, rest assured that I didn't post from a LANL account nor would I. I realize that Doug has consistently given his whereabouts when his posts could've been perceived as being 'during work hours' but didn't feel it was necessary for me to do the same.
9:46 Sure hit the nail on the head. I have been in various supervisor positions at LANL for almost twenty years. Yes we do work much safer now than we did in the early eighties(Smoking and coffee in PF-4,little or no fall protection, no training,on and on and on)Some where we stopped letting people work though.We went from sort of safe to very safe to it is a major chore to get a door repaired, to get our lawn sprinklers turned on let alone installing complicated glove box systems and equipment. People at all levels at LANL want to work, want to be productive, make a differance and do what is right. No one wants to get hurt or hurt anyone.Period. IWD's,HCP'S,SDHCP,LOTO,EXCAVATION PERMITS, SPARK/FLAME PERMITS,ML2 instructions,hazardous waste profiles, RWPs,MSDS,loto check lists to check the check lists,TSRs,ASIs,madantory training for everyone,erganomic surveys,POTD,POTW,SIGN IN SHEETS,JHA tool(when it becomes available).No wonder it cost us $2900 to paint a 3 inch by 36 inch yellow stipe on the floor.Give us a break and let us do our jobs.All of us.Plumbers, chemists,engineers,admins,PHDs and UGS.We can accomplish anything we are asked to do.And would love to be allowed to
Also, to clarify another potential issue, I was not being paid by the Lab at the time of the post either. I believe I understand the policies regarding conversion of resources, including computer and time usage.
To 5/18/2005 07:54:35 PM: Good accurate summary, but, you left out LIRs (thousands and thousands of pages), LIGs, DIs, and forms, forms, and more forms (hundreds).
Hey I resemble that comment by 7:54 p.m. You work for NMT and TA-55! Don't forget the 3 pages of annual training just so you can stick your hands in the glovebox.
Psych exams, drugs tests, alcohol tests. Is your employee feeling grumpy lately?

Ladder protection, scaffolding training, LOTO training, TSAR training, CMAST training, ergonomics for non office workers, waste management, training for the new environmental management system, criticality safety, ISM/IWM training, electrical safety, and the list goes on and on and on. We're up to our eyeballs in paperwork and training! and I remember Nanos asking "how hard can it be to get a floor painted?" (referring to TA-50). It takes 1 year and about $50k!
Seems ironic that a place that designs and tests weapons of mass destruction can't tolerate someone getting hurt once in a while.
To Anonymous : 5/19/2005 03:16:23 AM
You said:
"Seems ironic that a place that designs and tests weapons of mass destruction can't tolerate someone getting hurt once in a while."

It may sound ironic, but it's true. Weapons of mass destruction exist. I tested them for 28 years and I can't bear the thought of anyone getting hurt while testing one. I also pray that no weapon will be used to hurt anyone. I hope you can't tolerate it either.
Kuckuck, Dynes, Foley, Nanos...these ARE the best and brightest, i.e. the world-class talent UC is famous for assigning to “manage” its interests. Until just recently the nation simply accepted, without question, the myth regarding UC's infallibility, and thuse the infallibility of those it anointed to run its colonial outpost in New Mexico, AKA the Los Alamos National Laboratory. As to the question of why UC doesn't just admit it made a mistake placing Nanos or Foley at the helm...since when does UC ever admit mistakes? Indeed, why should UC ever have to admit ANY lapse in judgment, since it holds the keys to the U.S. Treasury and can finance litigation and public relation campaigns without concern as to the cost or benefit to the taxpayer? Would Lockheed do any better than UC? Not likely…but when all the dusts settles, and if UC is no longer holding the reigns at LANL, perhaps we should collectively place the blame where it belongs--on UC's shoulders…for UC never really giving a damn about its employees residing outside of California's borders, for treating New Mexico and its residents as a colony, and for never once admitting a mistake. Had a fraction of the money UC has wasted denying problems been spent, instead, fixing them, the contract for the management oversight of LANL would have never been put up for bid. This may be hard to accept, but it’s the harsh reality we must face. Otherwise we’re simply no better than those who led us to the abyss we now face.
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