Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Integrity and Openness

Our workforce expects and upholds high ethical standards, reflected in our science and engineering and in our relationships with our employees, customers and community. We communicate candidly with a consistent message. We share news with full transparency in an honest, prompt and open way. “ - the above is a quote from the Laboratory website. It is listed as one of our core values.

On May 18th, I emailed the letter below to UC President Dynes, with a copy to the UC Board of Regents. On May 23 (when he had an email address) I sent a copy to our new lab director. I received an acknowledgment that my email had been received by the Board of Regents. To my surprise and disappointment, I have not received an answer or an acknowledgement from either President Dynes or Director Kuckuck.

There are many ways to interpret the lack of response. The one I choose to believe at the moment is that both President Dynes and Director Kuckuck are very busy, and that this issue has slipped off their radar screen.

Sometimes senior managers need to be reminded to do the right thing, just like the rest of us. I really believe that it is in the best interest of the UC, laboratory, the nation, the workforce (us), the Kauppila family, and Director Kuckuck for him to re-address the issue of Todd Kauppila’s firing quickly and thoroughly, and bring this matter to closure. If you believe so as well, please send an email or a note to Director Kuckuck, asking that the issue be resolved. Thanks in advance for your help.

Philip Howe

May 18,2005

Dear President Dynes:

I watched on video the recent conference that you held, with Bob Foley and Bob Kuckuck, at Los Alamos. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us.

I believe that the question asked by a member of the audience regarding the case of Todd Kauppila was phrased in such a way as to make it difficult for you to answer on the spot. I'm therefore going to ask it in a different way:

Many - perhaps most - of us at Los Alamos believe that Todd Kauppila received unfair and injust treatment from our former director. I request that you re-examine the circumstances, conclusions, and actions taken with respect to Todd. I believe that doing this is very much the best action for UC, the lab, Todd, and the nation.

If you find that Todd's actions were such that he deserved firing, then so be it. If you find that there was ambiguity, please err on the side of compassion. If you find that indeed an injustice was committed, then please move quickly to correct it.

It was clear that you, Adm. Foley, and Bob Kuckuck were blindsided by the question at the meeting. That, in itself, sent a message to us. Please be aware that this issue of Todd Kauppila's treatment, in addition to being of critical importance to Todd's family and friends, is at the heart of many of the concerns we at Los Alamos feel for the role of UC, the role of laboratory senior management, and what kind of a laboratory Los Alamos will be in the future. Please go the extra mile to insure that the decision with respect to Todd met acceptable standards of justice, fairness, and compassion, and that we all need not feel ashamed of former Director Nanos’ actions in this matter.

Yours truly,

Philip M. Howe
Los Alamos Staff Member

Cy: UC Board of Regents


Thank you for helping to not let this issue drop. I will also continue to submit my "reminders" to this blog until UC does the right thing.
I would like to support this well-written and balanced letter. Cases like this must not be closed untill fully resolved.
I, also, think this is a well written letter and hope that it brings about the desired outcome.

However, as the person on the phone who asked the question and got Foley's "NO" response, I have written off UC. It's time for people of integrity to run the lab, and they're not going to come from UC. Now we have a potential Karen Silkwood case developing in Santa Fe.

It's time for UC to save their money, fold up their tent, and "No bid" the contract. Maybe after twenty years under UT/LMCO they'll get another shot at it.
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