Thursday, May 26, 2005

NEWSPAPER STRAW VOTE: WHICH CONTRACTING TEAM SHOULD RUN LOS ALAMOS?

NEWSPAPER STRAW VOTE: WHICH CONTRACTING TEAM SHOULD RUN LOS ALAMOS?
I am Keay Davidson, a science reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Doug Roberts, the Blog manager, has given me permission to poll Blog users on the question: “Which competitor for the next Los Alamos contract deserves to win?” I invite BOTH PRESENT AND FORMER Los Alamos staffers to pick their preferred winner:
— UC and Bechtel
— Univ. of Texas and Lockheed Martin
— Northrop Grumman.
alternate candidate (your choice).
PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY you voted as you did, at any length. I might quote part or all of your comments in my newspaper story.
I realize that many respondents will wish to remain anonymous, and
I shall honor all requests for anonymity. However, to ensure that no impostors try to impersonate present or former Los Alamos staffers, I request that respondents who are comfortable being identified in print provide the following information: Your name, your role at the lab (past or present), and your phone number (just so I can confirm your identity, if necessary; I won’t share the phone with anyone else).
Naturally, I am likelier to quote respondents who are willing to identify themselves.
I must emphasize that the vote is open ONLY to people who are present or former Los Alamos staffers.
Even if you send your response to the Blog, please send a COPY of your response DIRECTLY to me to ensure that I see it by deadline. My e-mail address is kdavidson@sfchronicle.com.
I need all responses no later than
1 PM FRIDAY, MAY 27, New Mexico time.
Thanks much!.
Sincerely,
(Mr.) Keay Davidson
Science Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
kdavidson@sfchronicle.com


Comments:
I encourage Tec, Gen and Contract employees to respond to this despite the unfortunate use of the term "staffers". I believe that this is appropriate and reflects the spirit of the request. I do not believe Mr. Davis intended it otherwise.

I also encourage anyone responding to make a point that your response is not to a "popularity" contest, but rather an informed opinion of the issues and consequences of the selection of one contractor over another.

I have expressed these concerns direclty Mr. Davis.
 
Since we haven't seen any of the proposals from these folks, the criteria must be some sort of "inherent goodness" or political correctness or the ability to convert metric into English or hearsay from Sandians.

Or eenie, meenie, miney, mo.

Give me a break.
 
Unlike 7:24, some of us have made the effort to familiarize ourselves with the three companies in question. I have contacted colleagues who have at one time or another worked for each of Grumman, Lockheed, and Bechtel and asked them to describe the quality of work performed. 7:24 is welcome to stay in his safe litle shell if he wants, I just wish he'd whine a bit less loudly.
 
My mind had already beem made up before Foley and Dynes came out here and made it even more clear that UC was in no way going to get my support. I voted for LM/UT.
 
Unfortunately Mr. Davis did not give us a none-of-the-above choice. That would certainly have been my choice.
 
It's Davidson. Keay Davidson, science reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.
 
I have written to Mr Davis to express my vote for UC. Although this past year has been painful, the overall benefit that LANL has gained from this long association is not a jot diminished. Scientific collaborations too numerous to be mentioned, long-lived partnerships, students, postdocs, and above all the cherished atmosphere of academic inquiry are what we have because of UC. While UT may offer some of the same as a junior partner with LM, it is a pale shadow of what we have.
Benefits do not weigh in the balance at all, especially since we won't know how they compare until 7/19, by which time many will have made up their minds to leave anyway.
 
Apologies to Keay Davidson. I misreferenced him as "Davis" earlier. Sorry it propogated.

I will be reading some of his work before I expose too much. This is just general prudence.

I would feel very violated if a journalist significantly misrepresented our positions here.
 
Good idea, 10:14, take a good look. I believe you will find Keay to be one of the more objective, fair science reporters. I trust him (as far as I trust any reporter ;-})

--Doug
 
7:24 here.

The question is “Which competitor for the next Los Alamos contract deserves to win?”

Now, deserves is a word that requires criteria. Mr. Davidson has specified no criteria, nor have any of the commenters here. When criteria are implicit, you don't know what an answer to a question like this means.

7:34 is choosing hearsay.
I have contacted colleagues who have at one time or another worked for each of Grumman, Lockheed, and Bechtel and asked them to describe the quality of work performed.

7:39 doesn't give criteria.
My mind had already beem made up before Foley and Dynes came out here and made it even more clear that UC was in no way going to get my support.

10:14 wisely has some additional reservations.

C'mon, act like scientists and do some evaluation! Would you do an experiment without criteria for its evaluation?
 
I support Galen Gisler's comment 100%!! The UC affiliation should continue. I am a former RA, TSM, Assoc. GL, and Program Manager. My full-time LASL/LANL service extended from 1964 to 1999.

The hysterical savaging of LANL and UC is largely unwarranted and has the mathematical character of an unstable oscillator, with no limit cycle in sight.
 
Under UC, we had the best safety and security record across the DOE complex (see, eg, the sidebar links). The contract was managed at a cost of about $8M/yr, of which a substantial fraction was used to fund cutting-edge research. We also had excellent benefits.

The new contract will cost the taxpayers somewhere between $60-$230 million/yr (due to increased manangement fee, gross receipts tax, and etc). None of this money looks to be earmarked to return to LANL to stimulate research. The new bidders have safety, security, and management problems at least equal to, if not much worse than, UC (see, eg, the many posts on this blog about the various bidders).

UC has over 60 years of proven experience and an excellent record of managing LANL at minimal cost to the taxpayer and yielding tremendous sceintific payoff. Because of the "penalty clauses" if UC gets the contract, even UC will not be as good as what we've had, but it gets my vote.

But more importantly, someone needs to look into the real reasons behind why we were allowed to have a standown for an accounting error which has cost the taxpayers $1 billion and counting, why the taxpayers are going to have to foot $230M/yr instead of $8M/yr bill to manage LANL worse, and why the lab with the best safety and security record as well as the best scientific record is allowed to be labeled as "arrogant and non-compliant". It seems whatever powers behind these deeds has done international terrorists a great favor by effectively crippling LANL, significantly hampering the anti-terrorist efforts which are a large part of the $2 billion/yr operating cost - adding more to the burden the taxpayers must bear for this ill-conceived recompetition to further someone's political agenda or line their friends pockets.
 
To the 5:26 post.

Why do you say the 3:57 poster is delusional. It does appear that LANL has the one of the best safety, security and scientific record. This has all been clearly documented. If you have some evidence to contradict this I suggest you show it.

A huge question is why where we allowed to have a pointless shutdown. The rebid is definitely someones political agenda.
 
When asked if I support the University of California, I will repeat the word of Sly Foley. That word, which I will never forget, is "NO!" Even so,I have not abandoned the University of California but the University of California has abandoned me. It has abrogated any legitimacy it once commanded by its condoning the indefensible mistreatment of some of its most influential and productive individuals, by supporting Nanos at the expense of those employees, by its deliberate ploy to deny them the due process to which they are entitled as Americans, and by its use of taxpayer monies to bankrupt its employees. Such actions are not only morally detestable they have completely erased the deep and personal loyalty I once had for the University. Frankly, I have witnessed too many tears shed by widows and children, too many lives completely ruined and taken before their time, too many careers sacrificed for petty reasons, too many lies told to good people, and too many heartless and callused acts for me to continue supporting this monster.
 
06:30:41 - you are right on! The LANL/UC relationship only required some minor tweaking to fix. The rebid is definitely political and unecessary.
 
Without strong science, postdocs, and all the environment LANL will die. This is possible only under very strong scientific institution, like UC. None other comes close to this level. Bottom line, with UC we will suffer, but without UC we are dead, dead, dead.
 
I think 06:30:41 does have it right in saying that LANL has the one of the very best safety, security and scientific records. Unfortunately, UCOP has joined the shallow politicians and entrenched NNSA bureaucrats in denigrating that highly commendable record. Foley says that it is the record of "the son that always does things wrong." Nanos said it was the record of arrogant buttheads and cowboys. Dynes by his unconscionable silence and by his keeping Nanos in place must have agreed with that assessment or else this Land of Oz is led by the Cowardly Lion. Nope, I cast my lot with the view expressed by 06:37:44 PM. UC has shamefully scapegoated and sacrificed its employees on the altar of expediency and forfeited any credentials it once had to lead this still great place into the future. Moreover, its competition for leadership is a sham. Its real purpose is to improve its position in the later bid for Livermore, "the son that always does things right."
 
Jeeze Louse, 7:52, give it a break. We have been doing "great science" for that past 50+ years in spite of UC, not because of them. They have been an impediment to our ability to get work done for at least the last 10 years.

UC is not required for LANL to be able to do "great science" (I *really* hate that self-satisfied phrase). Great scientists and a healthier work environment are what is needed. UC has proven that they are not capable of supplying the healthy work environment.
 
06:30 has it exactly right. The recent case is not unique. UC has permitted LANL management to scapegoat staff for years. As a result, management never learned root causes, and one staff member after another was sacrificed. In high visibility cases, UC would form review committes to blindly support LANL management. Most LANL staff never see it directly. Some would see a friend or colleague chewed up and spit out by the system, and wonder whether there was a real reason. Those who have experienced it understand how LANL managment can abandon and betray loyal staff. What we need from management is competence and integrity. The rest will take care of itself.
 
5/24/2005 07:52:01 PM, dead, dead, dead without UC? Really? Listen to 5/24/2005 08:21:50 PM. That poster has it right. For the last two years, UC has tried to make us dead, dead, dead. However, we are still here and we are still very much alive, alive, alive.
 
Who deserves it? It does not matter. It is all a sham and political game.
 
One has to only look at the NM state police beating up the ALB police, the Homeland security scandal with the State, which mentioned LM and Sandia in their sole source procurement, TSA at the airport ripping off passenger' s belongings from their luggage, the ALB police evidence room scandal, elected officials doing DWI, and the governor's sale of a un-worthly, non safe airplane at auction for $300,000.
When the company, which purchased the airplane, was asked why they bought it, they replied " we just put two new engines in the airplane last year". Turns out the apprised valve of the airplane was for $800,000. And we ask? Why all the talk about Los Alamos.
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/24/opinion/24kristoff.html?hp

Death with a thousand blogs, New York times
 
“dead dead dead” – you guys are dead already, regardless of who wins this contract. Politics have made LANL a joke, and I doubt UC had much to do with it. Either way, that’s a rep any new management will have trouble living down.
 
I’m a mid-career LANL TSM who just returned from a visit to a major university. Let me tell you, this visit was a powerful jolt. With all the crap we had taken here in the last several years, I had almost forgotted what the REAL WORLD was like. The REAL WORLD where people enjoy coming to work; where science, not mindless rules or management abuse, is the center of most conversations; where young people – students and postdocs – come to you to LEARN and both sides take profound satisfaction in sharing knowledge; where opinions are respected and freedom of thought and expression is unquestioned.

Suddenly, it’s all become very clear. I’ve had it with LANL. I’ve had it with Admirals shutting down my research at will and with his lackeys ready to report anyone who they catch writing formulas on a blackboard during the shutdown. I’ve had it with division leaders telling people their work by itself isn’t worth anything, unless it directly ties to the "Mission". I’ve had it with a bunch of clueless half-educated bureaucrats trying to impose the same computer standard on scientists and secretary.

When I came here, it was because there were good people to work with. Well, now that these very people are either retiring or taking up jobs elsewhere, what am I going to stay here for? Just so that I could continue living in a desolate place in the middle of nowhere, a place with a single grocery store and two dozen churches? A place with dirty, broken-down streets and a "downtown" made up of a post office and a Starbucks?

Call me a "whiner", a "cowboy", a "grouser". I don’t care. I don’t want to serve at the will of Admiral Foley anymore. I’m through. I’m applying for university jobs and within the next year or two I’m outta here!
 
Things are Looking Up!
There is real chance LOCKMART will win and then we get-
-to go inactve UC and still have a job
-my inactive UC HACP will grow at a rate that exceeded my raise last year
-I'm immediately vested in the new retirement plan
-I'm probably going to get a matching 401 plan
-I'm probabably going to get a 9/80 schedule
-I'm probably going to get a work at home policy, instead of a don't ask don't tell policy
-There's a real chance I will get a REAL manager
If we stay UC
-we get Foley forever
 
The last poster thinks that "my inactive UC HACP will grow at a rate that exceeded my raise last year". Sorry, but your inactive UC HACP will be frozen at its last value the day you go "inactive".

You say "I'm immediately vested in the new retirement plan" - but at a presumably far lower factor compared that keeping all your eggs in the new contractor's basket.

I have yet to see any rationale (other than paranoia) why anyone would want to do other than continue with the new contractor, including all age, vacation, sick-leave,... factors.
 
It's a little late, but I'm glad to see the blogmaster is finally excising some of the more inane and vicious comments. Now, if we could just learn to spell!
 
For 5/25/2005 07:11:59 AM: Unless you work another 10 years at least, you will probably not have medical insurance when you retire. This is worth A LOT!
 
The 11:59 post is wrong. Look at page 20 of the UC retirement.The HACP is increased by the COLA compounded annually between the separation date( June 1/06) and the actual retirement or cash out date. It,s really a sweet deal.
 
Could the last poster be more specific: which UC retirement document are you referring to? I am not aware of any COLA adjustment between "becoming inactive" and a later retirement. Also, what is to prevent one from going to UC after it is no longer the contractor, and activating and inactive retirement without leaving LANL?
 
I emailed the UC benefits office to check on the HAPC cola and for the last 10 years, except for one, it has been 2%. Yes indeed you might get a bigger raise as inactive than as working. But remember, when you go inactive you forfeit your sick leave accumulation and your health insurance.
 
AND: The HAPC adjustment starts when you ACTUALLY retire, not when you become inactive.
 
Doug:

This should be a post of its own, sorry but this is the only way I know to get it on anonymous.

Does anyone know anything about the rumor going around that all classifications lower than TSM are going to be restructured. This is supposed to hold true for OS, GS and all series below the TSM level. This is to take place in June.

I understand that the TEC Series is going to be reduced to 4 levels. Instead of a level 7 that it will be something else, not a TEC level.

I was told that this would make us easer to outsource us.

That is about all I know, does any body have any information.
 
Regarding restructuring:

Right now, out of 1900 TECs, only a bit more are below TEC-4. So, in reality we have only been using four TEC levels. This might not really be a problem.

What IS a problem is that HR and the DOE would like a structure series for TSMs. Admiral Butthead liked it also. This gets pushed hard about every five years. Once implemented, it will NEVER go away. The unstructured TSM is the last vestige of LASL and we should fight hard to keep it.
 
The rumour is true about TEC, SSM, etc restructuring.. and comes from the NNSA side of the house and several years of audit findings on hiring problems. NNSA is getting pushed by OMB which is threatening to hold money from NNSA unless this gets done.

The new structure is supposed to end the number of people who have been made SSM's because the TEC-7 tree was full or Admins who were made into TEC's for similar reasons. It will be more scaled with the GSA tree so it can be easier audited by outside entities.

Another finding that will definately come into play after the contract change will be a structure change for TSM's. TSM's will be approved out of the Directors office versus Divisions or Groups.. with a more uniform level of hiring. The idea shown by the NNSA people I met said TSM-1 and 2 would be Associate Degrees or less, TSM-3 and 4 would be Bachelor, TSM-5 and 6 would be MS and TSM-7 and 8 would be Phd. Again this was a floated idea from months ago and probably already shelved.
 
Regarding the comment at 5/25/2005 06:17:51 PM: This is a crock! Excatly what we do NOT need. It is impossible to administrate the kind of structured series. Politics, the old boy network, and political correctness will rule!

Maybe we need to hope that Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety is the winning bidder?
 
Reffering back to the original post...UC and Bechtel
 
To 5/25/2005 12:12:55 PM you are correct (and 5/25/2005 10:24:06 AM and 5/25/2005 01:37:55 PM are incorrect), the HAPC does increase by the annual COLA" between the separation date and the retirement or cashout date. The following paragraph is quoted from p.20 of the UCRP Summary Plan Description for Members with Social Security on the UC benefits site at http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/forms_pubs/subject/ucrp.html

"When an inactive member retires or elects a lump sum cashout, the HAPC is increased to include a COLA of 2 percent compounded annually between the separation date and the retirement or cashout date (or the actual CPI increase over that same period, if lower)."
 
Responding to 5/25/2005 10:24:06 AM. In today's UC Regents meeting, the specific question as to how Pension Plan 1 will be funded arose. Pension Plan 1 is for Transferring Employees. No mention has been made in the RFP on how it will be funded.

After some bantering and evasiveness, the Regents' answer today was that they would "try to be fair" in determining just how much they will pull out of UCRP and give to the new LLC for the Transferring Employees. There's a good chance here that Plan 1 could be severely or substantially underfunded from day one of its existence.

Is it paranoia when United Airlines is turning over their $10B pension deficit to the PGBC? The PGBC will only insure about $6B, so everyone in United is "crammed" into new lower benefits. Additionally, the maximum annual pension PGBC will pay is around $46K, so higher salary personnel are screwed.

When the Los Alamos firemen were forced out of DOE and into county employement, their pension plan was also severely underfunded. After 15 years of lawsuits, a judge finally agreed and ordered DOE to properly fund it.

The RFP is for a max of twenty years. So twenty years from now, will the LLC simply fold and toss our underfunded pension plan to the PGBC? Or will DOE stand behind it. The RFP only calls out DOE's position if the pensions become overfunded (they want their money back). They say nothing about backing an underfunded plan.

We employees will need some expert advice fast after Dec 1 to review the new LLC's terms. If you don't have many years of service left in Los Alamos, and you don't expect significant raises, then going to inactive status and locking in your existing pension with the UCRS may be the smart move.

The "Inactive Vested Transferring Employee" is proposed to be immediately vested in Pension Plan II, with all of his sick leave, just zero years service credit. Your HACP at UCRS will continue to grow at 2%(which was larger than last year's raises). Since Pension Plan II will be brand new with no past liabilities, and since it will probably be a DCP that gives you money today in a 401(k), it may remain a more solvent plan in the long run. The major drawback of Plan II is almost surely lower overall benefits, since DOE has mandated that all new benefits remain within 5% of a comparator group.
 
I'm a former Los Alamos resident who reads the blog from afar. I am a financial professional specifically working on United Airlines pension termination issues. I want to correct the paragraph in the 5/25 11:53:30 PM posting about United and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC). Seems like LANL folks have enough uncertainty ahead and misinformation clearly compounds the stress factors.

First, bear in mind that United has been in bankruptcy for 2 1/2 years. Outside the bankruptcy process, pension termination for plans with a "deficit" is unlikely with potential legislation making it even more so.

Second, the max annual pension from the PBGC is not $46k. Benefits from the PBGC are determined by your age at the date of plan termination. The older you are, the more significant the benefit. My recollection of UC annuity options puts retirees above age 65 at a much closer number to their current benefits.

There are so many dissimilarities between UCRP(and the possible plan division) and the United situation. The legalities of it all would be pretty boring to list. So toss that rumor (or train of thought) and keep up the good work to keep LANL alive and well.
 
Concerning whether the HAPC gets COLA adjustment for "Inactive Vested Transferring Employees", I wrote to UC benefits and asked them. Here is their response, verbatim:

Unfortunately, we are do not
know the answer to you question. The language in the RFP has not been define and probably won't be until the contract is awarded, sometime after December 1, 2005. Right now there are many questions but no answers, we hope to have some in the near future.


Obviously, this is a new class of retirees, that requires a separate decision. If anyone else has received different information, please post.
 
Regarding the original topic, "Which Contracting Team Should Run LANL?", I'm pretty ambivalent. I'm a TSM with just over 7 years at the Lab. I don't believe there is enough information to make an intelligent decision. We know what the UC management program looked like here (very inept), but we don't know what Bechtel's influence will do to alter thier performance. We contact colleagues or have personal experience at Sandia, but we don't know what LM will do with UT's influence. Regardless of who wins the political beauty contest and gets to run LANL, I earnestly hope they fix internal processes and make us more efficient. I also hope they bring a competent management team (not just a Director) on board that changes the punitive climate currently in place. This could be a really great place to work and that would be a very nice change from the present situation.
 
I just read this in the LA Times story on the UC Regent's decision to bid on LANL;

"...Another expected competitor, Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman Corp., announced Wednesday that it had decided against a Los Alamos bid after reviewing the government's request for proposals. A Northrop statement did not elaborate on the reasons for the decision, and a spokeswoman could not be reached."
 
Press Release:

Northrop Grumman Statement on Decision to No-Bid Los Alamos National Laboratory Management Contract
Thursday May 26, 11:34 am ET

MCLEAN, Va., May 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Based upon its evaluation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory request for proposal, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC - News) has decided not to pursue the contract. The company continues to be committed to helping the U.S. Department of Energy achieve its overall objectives, but has determined that it can best provide that support through other key programs. The company is currently evaluating other future opportunities with the Department of Energy and looks forward to applying its world-class capabilities to meet the agency's specialized requirements.
 
Now, if we could just persuade Lockmart to drop out!
 
Oh, absolutely 10:46. UC is doing a fine job of running the place.
 
Anonymous : 5/26/2005 10:59:24 AM said:

"Oh, absolutely 10:46. UC is doing a fine job of running the place."

Well, it could again if we could only figure out how to resurrect the AEC and the original contract which worked for thirty years.
 
Amem!
 
Lockheed/UT at LANL Get use to it. UC has done such a fine job of burying their head in the sand for the last 18 years that they don't stand a snowballs chance in HELL.
 
Right on, Larry Creamer!
 
To all of the anonymous rabble (me included), Larry signed his name!
 
Anonymous : 5/26/2005 01:26:43 PM said:

"To all of the anonymous rabble (me included), Larry signed his name!"

Everyone should feel free to sign their names. Your right has been taken away by Lab management.

It's a shame that even now the fear of retaliation remains. Take courage in the knowledge that they fear you and the power of this blog.

Lab management could do itself a great service by truthfully saying that those days are over.

I neglected to say in my original post that I retired in July 2004. Todd Kauppila and John Horne were among the first to sign their names.

Best Wishes,

Larry
 
Replying to Sharon 5/26/2005 06:00:17 AM

To quote from last week's Washington Post article (consistent with other articles I have read)

The Retirement You Weren't Banking On

By Katherine V.W. Stone

Sunday, May 15, 2005; Page B02

Even if you don't work for an airline, last week's ruling by federal bankruptcy judge Eugene Wedoff -- permitting United Airlines to default on its pension plans, which cover more than 130,000 people -- should send shivers up your spine.

The immediate effect of the decision will be to cut by more than half the pensions of many members of United Airlines' four unions, who have now become wards of the federal government's pension guarantee program. While reducing the maximum United pension benefit from more than $100,000 a year to around $46,000 may not seem like a social disaster, the court's action may well mark the beginning of the end of the system of retirement planning as we know it. Indeed, this decision, more than the predicted shortfall of Social Security decades from now, will have a real impact on the retirement of real people who live in real time.

...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/14/AR2005051400073.html

(bold added by me).

This article is another confirmation that the PGBC is not designed to handle the kind of pension salaries anticipated by the professional staff at Los Alamos.

So do we go inactive with UCRS, or do we trust that DOE will support the relatively small pension plan in the new LLC? The RFP seems specifically designed to force us into a small holding company that is guaranteed not to exist more than 20 years. Tell me the bright side of this.
 
The poster on 5/24 at 3:57 had it exactly right. Greed, corruption, envy, sentiments counter to our mission, ignorance of our contributions and a total disregard for what is best for the security of the United States got us where we are. There is no doubt that our business practices and operations need to be improved. Given the constraints that our budgets and parent agency have placed on us over the years, we are lucky to be as effective as we are. The openness and freedom to question and challenge accepted norms provided by the culture established by UC may make bureaucrats and autocrats uncomfortable, but they are absolutely critical for scientific advancement. How else can we maintain our honor and credibility if we cannot tell the truth? I vote for UC!
 
10:42 is exactly right. Only UC, even with the horrible Bechtel can do real science, which is absolutely critical for LANL. It is a pain, but there is a chance, while there is no chance with LM.
 
No chance for science with LM? Come on, get real! Maybe once our
support and management problems get fixed by LM we'll finally have
the time to do plenty of science, and do it in a manner that is cheaper
and more efficient. Some blog commenters are starting to sound like
"UC-junkies". Perhaps it's time to come clean and sober up. It looks
to me like LM has done a pretty good job down at Sandia.
 
I am supporting the LM/UT team for the following reasons

1. I was very encouraged by Dr. Robinson's comments in the press. They seemed fair, balanced, and supportive of, but not pandering to, the LANL staff. Dr. Robinson seems to have run SNL quite well. One SNL staff member I spoke to had nothing negative to say. Others familiar with the SNL directory have spoken highly of him. He has been at LANL before (X div leader?) and knows our "culture". Also, it has apparently been his long standing desire to lead LANL since the days of Sig Hecker.

2. I was dismayed by Dynes and Foley at the meeting introducing Dr. Kuckuck. Dynes was mouthing pleasantries and Foley came across as vicious. Furthermore, comments by Richard Blum questioning the competence of the LM/UT shortly after the UC Regents voted for bidding were immature, rude and uncalled for. Also, Dynes accused the LM/UT team of bidding for LANL only out of greed and adopted a holier-than-thou attitude, even though LM/UT maintain that they will reinvest 100% back in LANL. If these three members are reflective of the board, then one can see why LANL is having troubles and having UC lead LANL doesn't seem good. BTW, Dr. Robinson's response to Blum's comments was again professional and measured (To be fair, I have heard good things about Dr. Anastasio - hope I spelt it right - as well).

3. No Foley? Wow!

4. Perhaps it is time for a fresh set of people to change the image of the LAB.

5. In response, to someone who said, "What would a scientist do?", I reply, " A scietist would give both candidates a chance and then come to a conclusion. We gave UC a chance, so....
 
It sounds as if people who are backing UC/Bechtel are afraid if they do not and UC wins there will be retaliation. There will be, there always has been and it will not change. Also, are these individuals afraid if LM/UT wins we will have to follow work rules that the rest of the real world follows? As has been said many times change is good and I back LM/UT, UC has shown it can't manage worth a darn. Bring on the change.
 
In response to the last three posters, I have two important points to make:
1) I know for a fact that over the last four years, UC has tried to do the right thing and put in the right people, but was stopped by pressures from Congress and DOE.
2) My friends at SNL will admit quietly that they are pressured not to say anything negative about their "products" that their for-profit owners want to sell. If you like being a shill for a profit making organization and don't mind giving up academic freedom of thought and speech, go ahead.
 
I have been here for 17 years and have delt with most, if not all, potential bidders/partners along the way. I have worked at almost all DOE sites except SVR and NPR, I think!

Anyone doing any pure science not in support of "The Mission" should be scared. Industry contractors are for profit, not the good of the worlds people.

Purchasing will be very streamlined. Unless you cannot perform Stockpile Surveillence or another heavily funded aspect of "The Mission" without it!, probably not allowed.

For those of us doing WFO. Don't plan on controlling the budget. Profit before product!!
 
Regaring the comment from Anonymous : 5/27/2005 02:04:23 PM, my recent experience is that anyone doing "pure science" or WFO has already been very worried for the last few years. Either UC/Bechtel and UT/Lockmart is likely to just make this worse. The cost of doing business at LANL has been out of control for more than five years.
 
I have had close working relationships with Sandia for the last 15 years and various staff have been coauthors on several papers with me. They like the fact that we can do science and that’s why they collaborate. On the other hand, if I had to entrust the stockpile to UC management or LM management, I would pick LM in a heartbeat. The only way UC has a chance is if they roll out a completely different oversight structure, I’m sure they will do so but I’m not so sure this will be enough to placate DOE.
 
Back to the 5/26 8:02 post w/the pension article...

Your "bolded" section refers to the PBGC maximum pension for someone who is 65 at the date of plan termination. That number holds if the PBGC is kicking in its own money because the pension plan assets are so low they can't even fund that minimum amount. UAL's pension plans are estimated to be funded only to provide 40% of their promised benefit. If you can find where UCRP is underfunded to that extent, you'll have to let me know. If a terminated plan can provide benefits above the PBGC amounts, then the retiree gets the higher amount.

Also, the reference to UAL pilots receiving $100,000 per year needs clarification as well. The UAL pilots have two retirement plans...one is similar to UCRP's ERISA qualified defined benefit plan (in a separate trust, not subject to creditors). This provides, for most UAL pilots, 50% of that $100k. The remaining 50% is paid to retirees from a "nonqualified" plan that has no legal protection and can be eliminated by a bankruptcy proceeding (you do not have a plan like this). So the protected (qualified part) that involves the PBGC is likely to provide UAL pilots MORE than the PBGC maximum numbers.

I hope these further details help although there are many, many more. Bottom line is that this threat is not coming to you. Drawing any comparison between UAL's pension default resulting from years of mismanagement, underfunding and collective bargaining greed to the status of your UCRP plan is not even close to an "apples to apples" analysis.

Sharon
 
Sharon, we are not disagreeing here. My concern is that the new Pension Plan I in the new LLC could begin life seriously underfunded. The funds to begin this plan must come as a result of a massive transfer of assets from the UCRS to the new LLC. We can only hope that this transfer will be fair, and/or that DOE will stand behind this new pension plan, even 20 years from now when the LLC is ordered disbanded by DOE.

It is precisely because the UCRS is so massive, over-funded, and well-managed that we are reluctant to be thrown into a new dramatically smaller and unknown plan. We'll have to wait for the Dec 1 announcement to know the details, and we'll have to trust DOE.
 
Regarding the pension plan, I suspect that it will be a push w.r.t. the bidders. The DOE has edicted that the plan be separate. Sounds to me like we are going to have a defined contribution plan. Indeed, the operative word is contribution, which the employees will be making! The days of the self-funded, over-funded UCRS are going to end.
 
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