Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Message to employees from UC President Robert Dyne

Dear Colleagues:

Today the University of California announced that it intends to partner with Bechtel National, Inc. to prepare a bid for the competition for the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract. Contingent on the University of California Board of Regents deciding to compete, and the University winning the contract, this agreement also calls for UC and Bechtel to form a partnership to manage the lab on behalf of the Department of Energy. I believe the formation of this strong partnership places the University in the best possible position for a successful bid for continued management of this great institution. A UC-Bechtel partnership allows the excellence in science and technology to continue while management and operations are enhanced and strengthened.

The teaming agreement with Bechtel, I believe, is in the best interests of the nation, the Department of Energy, the laboratory and the University. Throughout their history, the UC-managed laboratories have achieved stunning scientific and technological successes, and I believe the University's presence plays a major role in fostering that tradition of superior science. I also believe that bringing together the academic, scientific, and technological expertise of the University with the project management, administration and business operations expertise of Bechtel is in the best interest of the nation and of the laboratory.

This partnership combines Bechtel's world-class program and project management, facilities management, safety and environmental management, and robust government business systems with the University's excellent scientific and technological skills. As part of the team, we will be joined by Washington Group International (WGI) and BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT). WGI is a leading provider of integrated engineering, construction, and management services to the Department of Energy. BWXT is the premier manager of complex, high-consequence nuclear and national security operations.
As you are aware, the partnership also includes a consortium of New Mexico institutions that will form the Advanced Studies Institute at LANL. These institutions include the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology. The agreement with these institutions solidifies the role of New Mexico universities as part of a bid to compete for the LANL contract.

For more than three decades, I have had a strong relationship with the UC-managed national laboratories, and I continue to be in awe of the scientific and technological work being done at the labs. I, for one, would like the university's association with the laboratories to continue, but I want to see the final request for proposals before an ultimate decision is made. My primary concern is how we organize ourselves to maintain and nurture the quality of science conducted at the lab, in a culture of strong operations and management.

It is important to note that the final decision to compete for management of LANL will be made by the UC Board of Regents and the Bechtel National Inc. Governing Board. I expect the Regents will make their decision once the final request for proposals has been disseminated and thoroughly reviewed.
The scientific accomplishments of the UC-managed laboratories are unparalleled, and the University's contribution is unique in creating and sustaining the environment that nurtured this success. Bechtel's philosophy and management style is not dissimilar from UC's public service model: strong commitment to employees and community; quality technology based on external peer review; openness and an unrestrained voice for laboratory scientists and managers; and a strong commitment to our nation's defense and the national interest. Together, I believe we can continue to provide our nation with the world-class science and technology that it has come to expect from these extremely valuable institutions.

As the competition process moves forward, I will be back in touch. If you have additional questions or comments, please email me at dynesdesk@ucop.edu. While I cannot respond to every message individually, I will address issues of broad concern on the UC laboratory employee website, in the Our University newsletter, periodic web chats, and through other means of communication.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and your efforts to keep your institution at the forefront of research in the national interest.

Sincerely,
Robert C. Dynes

Comments:
Not a word as to how this new entity might consider dealing with pension and other benefits issues...
 
Regarding the comment at 5/11/2005 01:52:14 PM: I don't think that they can say anything about pensions, etc. until the RFP is out.
 
This smells like a shotgun wedding. BN runs the NTS and is already a DOE contractor, so they couldn't exactly say "No" to the DOE/NNSA. UC couldn't find a date to bring to the party. Could it be that NSA "encouraged" this collaboration?

Up until now, UC couldn't find an industrial partner to team with because they wouldn't share control over the joint venture. Now, at the eleventh hour, BN comes on the scene. Notice that it is UC who made the announcement - BN seems to be a little slower bragging about the new arrangement.
 
I am sick to death of UC. UC + Bechtel, 50/50 has no appeal whatsoever either. I will do whatever I can to help LM.
 
However, this deal was inked months ago. Why did they wait so long to announce?
 
I just reread the list of wasteful activities at LANL, and realized afresh that each and every one of those shameful business practices came about because of weak leadership during the past 4 decades. Who do we have to thank for that? UC and the DOE. This past year particularly underscores the extent to which UC is incapable of running LANL. We can't fire DOE, but we sure as hell don't need to let UC win the recompete. I also will be seeking ways to help Lockheed to win the contract.
 
Guess who Bechtel works for?
 
Surely they will make Tarantino the new director. He is already acting like he has the job with Nanos gone. Watch your backs folks. Not a good sign for LANL.
 
Tarantino is worse than Nanos - just a bit more polished. This is NOT good. How does one go about helping LockMart?
 
How much harder will interactions between the technical and support staffs be if the divisions split and half go to UC and half to Bechtel? Can you imagine trying to get payroll to fix something only to have them tell you, "You work for UC, I work for Bechtel. Leave me alone."

And does the talk about Bechtel's "robust government business systems" mean EP is in the tank, or is it just some vague word play?
 
Vague word play.
 
Fred Tarantino,

This really could be far worse than Nanos.
 
cool it! the bottom line is, there will be change. we can make it work. give some effort, hard work with safety thinking hats on.
 
With 50/50, who's in charge? Both or neither?
 
UC, 51% in charge, Bechtel 51% of the money.
 
Don't get too excited. The contract hasn't been awarded yet. There is a lot to play out in the next year.
 
On 5/11/2005 06:00:37PM. You should be a little careful of whom is slandered unfairly. Rampant mismanagement has not characterized the Laboratory for 4 decades -- only 2. Which is still enough to support your real point.
 
Everyone over 50, get your paperork in for the end of June
 
To 8:21

AEC, ERDA go back 40 years. Are you suggesting that they were centers of management excellence? I go back farther then that, and I can assure they were not.
 
To 06:56:00 PM Lockheed would also go with UT, think about the chaos and misery when they would start doing this from scratch! Better remain with old misery and chaos, which is already to some extend known.
 
8:55 --

If by "old misery and chaos" you refer to UC, no thanks, I know them too well. I can tell by LM's reputation and demonstrated history at Sandia that they would be a far better choice for LANL.
 
Come on - UC/Bechtel/Washington Group/BWXT/ what are these people thinking. This is the best UC could come up with? UC deserves to get the boot. Better yet, I hope they decide not to even bid. UT/LM is the way to go.
 
Let's not be naive, now. UC/Bechtel/Washington Group/BWXT represents big bucks. Big bucks can buy a lot of influence. Unfortunately, this combo presents serious competition to LM/UT.
 
There is a stink in the air. Oh, Its all the politicians with there corporate buddies lined up at the trough.
 
Now, I’m no fan of UC, especially given what they did, or rather didn’t do, for us during the last year… But all this UC bashing is making me think whether LockMart would really be better.

Let me put it this way: if I was to divide up the blame for what has been happening to us, it would be 70% to DOE and Washington politicians for manufacturing mass hysteria, on completely bogus grounds, and actively encouraging Nanos in his criminal activities (remember Kyle McSlarrow’s visit?); 20% to UC for doing nothing about it, while being at least officially in charge; and 10% to the clueless media, which continued fanning the mass hysteria by repeating the bogus claims about “arrogant, spoiled scientists spying, stealing, loosing classified disks”, you name it.

Now, we are all angry at UC because they are the only part of the equation which can possibly be changed. But, I am wondering: will replacing the 20% really change things for us?

I admit, there is another, personal reason for my worrying. I work in T-Division. It’s not clear to me that LockMart, being the largest defense contractor, has any need, or appreciation for the sort of pure science being done here. There are some very good people here that any university would be proud to have. Lockheed has no demonstrated history managing anything like that. At least UC is able to appreciate the science coming out of our division.

Now, some of you may think that it is a good idea to rid the lab of the “parasites” that do pure science. To that I want to say that this is very short-sighted. Keep thinking like that and one day you will find yourself working at just a pit factory, not a National Lab.

Given that I’m not sure that Lockheed is in a position to improve the global LANL situation, plus the fact that they may just eliminate the division I work at, I find little reason to cheer either way.
 
"This partnership combines Bechtel's
world-class program and project
management, facilities management..."
The only things world-class about
Bechtel are their connections in
high places and ability to snow
government agencies with proposals.
Check out the Bechtel fiascos at
NTS with the Atlas pulsed power
project and with the Big Dig in
Boston.
You can bet that if this combo wins
Bechtel will be in charge,
probably with Fred Tarantino as
Director.
-- A former Bechtel employee.
 
Bechtel,Washington Group, and BWXT! Again UC surrounds itself with the three stooges. President Dynes needs to do at least a google search before he links up with "friendly" industrial partners.
 
This is poor judgment! UC should link up with Halliburton :)
 
It should be noted that people will not be going 50% to one or the other. People who are currently UC employees will become LANL, LLC employees. The pension will probably become a 401K or something or could be a pension run by Fidelity for LANL, LLC.

New people brought in will probably be contracted out with any new LANL, LLC employees being approved by the director versus the Division.

No matter who gets the bid.. divisions that arent directly linked to the weapons program (X) or intelligence(ISR) will need to do a lot more work to justify why the exist and the money they use. It doesnt mean that a great big axe is ready for them.. but the "they have always been there" will not fly to DOE/NNSA. Showing them how T division attracts better people for X will be what is needed.
 
As a person who works in X, I know of good "pure science" work being done in T that is worthwhile, and important to the lab mission. I also know of work that could be moved to academia. Same statement could be made of other divisions, including X.
 
Poster 5:54

We will need to be absolutely honest with ourselves if we are to make progress. First the work in T-division is absolutely outstanding and contributes to more than a third of all the publications from the lab. Second T-division attracts some outstanding postdocs in which a portion go to staff positions in other
divisions in the lab. Third, most of the positive publicity the lab gets in terms of science comes from T, P, C, B or MST. Sorry I left of earth sciences but I do not know your name. One of things that really gets to some of us is that everyone
keeps saying we need to keep the UC
contract in order to preserve the
science at the lab. However, the actual science at the lab is done by
T, P, C, B and MST groups that always get harassed for not being directly relevant to the labs mission. Another problem with
this is that the labs mission is very broad and you need a wide variety
of science projects that at first glance do not appear to be directly relevant. Additionally I would like to point out the history of how science works. At T there is work on theoretical particle physics and astrophysics which could naively be argued to not be relevant to the
labs mission. However, this is simply not the case. In order to calculate certain quantities in lattice theories entirely new computing architectures had to be developed which than made it down
for computational work that is directly mission related. If you did not
have these people working on this, than guess what? No computers. There is a lot of top work on quantum computing in T. If a devices can eventually be made than they will filter down to the core missions areas well.

I think the important point is that if you have some of the best people
in the world at LANL doing basic science than it is a very good thing in
short and long run. Simply stating what should be academic science will drive out the best people in these divisions. The quality of postdocs will go down hence the quality of people going into groups like X and DX will go down and the labs ability to carry out any of it's mission
will be compromised. Remember and organization is only as good as it's people
 
Some of the best people at LANL doing science are green card foreign nationals whom DOE/NNSA are allowed to treat like spies-to-be. No one seems to realize that many will be the parents of the next generation of U.S. scientists. The DOE/NNSA's attitidue toward the current population of foreign nationals at LANL is equivalent to the "No Irish need apply" signs in Boston in the late 1800's and early 1900's. In a country that values ethnic diversity, I find the actions of the DOE/NNSA to be morally bankrupt.
 
I’m the poster of 5/11/2005 10:52:25 PM. The messages of 5/12/2005 03:25:58 PM, and especially 5/12/2005 05:54:59 PM make my point very well for me. I’m talking about the notion that everything done at the Lab must be directly "relevant to the Mission", or else it should be expelled ("moved to academia"). Looks like this notion exists not only in the minds of defense contractors or clueless NNSA bureaucrats, but even here inside LANL.

I feel that this idea, that science for the sake of science does not belong here, is very dangerous. I’m not just talking about T anymore; this also applies to P, C, B, MST, and other divisions. The spirit of science is what keeps this lab fresh, it is what keeps it from slipping into being just a pit production facility. Let me remind you that the amount of money we are talking about is a few percent of the total Lab’s budget. Are we really saying that we can’t spend even that much (that little!) on science? There is more money being wasted on various bureaucratic nonsense at the Lab! Is cutting science really the best way to save money? And, yes, there is a long history of recruiting good people, who came to LANL to work on "pure science". How many of your graduate school friends were looking forward to working at a pit production facility?


Anyhow… back to my original point. A good university would tend to have a rather broad definition of what constitutes "relevant" research. What I’m worried about is that Lockheed, being a Defense contractor, will have a much narrower definition. It may just choose to focus the entire Lab resources on mission-related things that can be accomplished on the 3 year congressional timescale. Should this happen, I think it would be really devastating to the long-term health of this institution.

Just my two cents.

Can anyone from Sandia comment?
 
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