Friday, June 17, 2005

LMC-SNL noninterference letter

From an Anonymous Sandian:

This is from a Sandian who thinks that LANL staff might be interested in the following letter. It was recently reissued to SNL management and staff when Tom Hunter took over from Paul Robinson. LMC has been issuing this letter periodically for several years. My earliest version goes back to 1998. Here's the text of the latest version:

Dear Tom,

I am writing to reaffirm the promise made by Lockheed Martin to the Department of Energy regarding how our Corporation conducts its management responsibility for Sandia National Laboratories. Lockheed Martin has long respected Sandia's maxim of "exceptional service in the national interest." Accordingly, we recognize that for Sandia to fulfill the extraordinary mission requirements of the Laboratories, complete objectivity and independence of judgment must be assured. Lockeed Martin also recognizes that at no time should Corporate interest be placed above the national interest. Even the appearance of this circumstance would be unacceptable.

Be assured that Lockheed Martin will continue to uphold the integrity and independent objectivity that has enabled Sandia to advise the US government on sensitive matters and to fulfill its responsibilities in certifying the safety and reliability of the US nuclear stockpile. Should you ever be confronted with a situation that has the potential to compromise Sandia's independence, you are to contact the undersigned immediately. Appropriate action will be taken to ensure Sandia's ability to provide objective advice to the government at all times. Our corporate culture promotes the highest sense of ethics and integrity.

This Corporate wide commitment to ethical business practice permits us to confidently undertake the tremendous responsibilty associated with the management and operation of Sandia. We are proud of Sandia and greatly value our relationship.

We look forward to many more years of close association with Sandia and we are committed to sustain our excellent record of performance.

Sincerely, Robert J. Stevens, President, Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Thank you to the Sandian who shared this insight into the Lockheed Martin corporate perspective.
Well written, thoughtful, to the point...let us hope they win the contract and fulfill every word! Clearly UC has only tired Admirals who fail the most important Admirals test of all.
Funny, but I've never seen such a letter come from UC to LANL. This looks
like a good idea. It helps solidify an important concept. I'm starting
to get a better impression of Lockheed. Perhaps having them run LANL
wouldn't be such a bad thing. It might even be beneficial if some of the
operations in support of both SNL and LANL could be combined to gain some
cost efficiencies (ie, SUP and facilities management contractors).
Words are cheap. It appears that people who won't believe a word that comes from DOE find LockMart perfectly credible.

I'm not defending DOE, just suggesting that you keep your critical glasses on and not exchange them for rose.
The thing about UC is that the don't need to write a letter like the that. UC is a state government, not-for-profit entity that cannot legally receive any financial gain from their management of the lab. Their integrity with regards to the service of the nation is not in question. There are no inherent conflicts of interest that would require such a letter.

Lockheed Martin will always have an underlying conflict of interest because they are a for-profit corporation. Therefore, they must continually issue the above letter.
For me, I'd rather the lab was run by a not-for-profit organization that did not feel it necessary to periodically submit a letter essentially directing lab management to be honest to the government.
I think the motive behind any for-profit company running Los Alamos National Laboratory will ALWAYS be questioned. That situation is avoided, for the most part, by having a not-for-profit entity manage the laboratory.

Unfortunately, we are increasingly moving towards privatization of all government functions due to a belief that private companies are more efficient than the goverment. Privatization may be acceptable for such functions as agricultural research, logging functions, environmental cleanup etc. However, I am very concerned about placing the single most powerful weapon created by mankind into the hands of a for-profit company and their shareholders.
Given the pathetic showing that UC has made in the past year, and given the accumulation of problems that now exist at LANL as a result of
ineffectual oversight from UC during the past 20 years I am more than happy to let LM have a crack at running the place.
I can attest that the struggle to achieving these ethical ideals requires diligent effort. Raising legitimate ethics or legal concerns is not without risk; even though a clear non-retaliation policy may be in place, it takes dedication from management at all levels to implement it. To the extent a matter of concern involves public health and safety, plus the potential for revenue if corners are cut to please a sponsor, one might expect the inevitable choices to exist between personal and organizational gain and the common good. "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom". Constant and active management attention and monitoring of ethics processes and outcomes is needed for any corporation to live up to such ideals. If ethics processes degenerate into management tools to discover and conceal potential wrongdoing, or to identify employees who report concerns, the system is broken. The winning bidder at LANL will face the challenge of establishing trust by demonstrating commitment to the ideals described in this letter.
"..due to a belief that private companies are more efficient than the goverment." Belief? Look at the bloated management and support structure of any government agency, and of UC and LANL. Look at our unbelievably high overhead rates. Of course government agencies (national or state) are less efficient -- they have far less motivation to be efficient, and far more motivation to expand their local empires.
Unfortunately that motivation for a private company to become more efficient is the same motivation for a private company to be dishonest. There is a trade-off. Hiring a private company to run LANL is not win/win.
To 9:20 AM, Ok, then what was UC's motivation to be dishonest as they have been during this past year? They supported Nanos in his lies about the supposed justification for the shutdown, the firing of Todd Kaupilla, the "bad" safety trends at LANL.

I think your argument that private companies increase the threat of dishonesty is crap.
Agree. Intelligence and integrety are the factors that determine how effective and honest the new contractor will be. What was the collective intellegence and integrety of Nanos/Foley/Dynes? And now ask the same question about Robinson. Compare the track records.
The idea that UC is "pure" and manages the Lab as a service to the nation is not supported by history.
UC President Sproul wanted nothing to do with LANL after WWII. He wanted out. The only reason that UC continued at LANL is Lawrence, who wanted AEC money for his accelerators at LRL. With the support of his friend, who chaired the UC Regents, Lawrence won. A deal was cut. UC agreed to manage LANL and Ernest got his AEC money, lots of it. Sadly, UC had no interest in managing LANL and pretty much left it to Bradbury to run as he wished. The rest is history.
Point is, it was about money and power folks. Still is. UC is as self interested as any corporation, and a lot less competent in management. History by Greg Herken..
Those who think that a UC win of the contract will leave us with a "pure",
well intentioned non-profit manager are delusional. If UC wins, it's going
to be management by UC/Bechtel (or have you forgotten), so it will be profit
based, regardless of who wins.
This idea that universities are somehow "pure" and uncontaminated can only come from someone who never taught at a university. Politics within universities are deadly, vicious, petty, unrelenting, and probably worse (if that is possible) than in Washington.
This idea that universities are somehow "pure" and uncontaminated is yet another indicator of how isolated from the real world many LANL staff have allowed themselves to become. I swear, I am sometimes of the opinion that if common sense were dynamite there wouldn't be enough in the whole town to blow a nose.
"Pure" intentioned management via UC gave us Nanos and Foley. Perhaps you,
Poster 7:39am , are the one wearing the rose colored glasses. I'm beginning
to wonder who are the staff members at this lab who are so enamored with UC.
Just wondering, but do any of the foreign nationals at the lab feel that LM
is a greater threat to their positions than UC? Perhaps it would help if
Robinson and LM made a concerted effort to placate those fears.
2:33 -- Rich Marquez, Sue Seestrom, Don Cobb, Micheline Devaurs, Jim Fallin, David McCumber, Lisa Gutierrez.
UC has let problems fester out here at Los Alamos for far too long. I want to
be run by someone who gives a God-damn about this place. That clearly puts UC
out of the running. They've been absentee landlords who have only recently
begun to realize that the peasants are mad as hell about the direction this
lab is headed. I like your pension and benefits, UC, but that's about the
extent of it. Management at the lab is seriously broken, and UC isn't about
to fix it.
"They've been absentee landlords who have only recently begun to realize that the peasants are mad as hell about the direction this lab is headed"

Don't be too sure about that. People that I know who work around Foley have led me to believe that his ego is so enormous that he doesn't think the problems here are that bad, and that he can control any of the issues at LANL by simply being a "tough guy".

Dynes on the other hand; now there's somebody with a terminal case of cranial wedgie.
The profit motive seems to me a whole lot more pure than the congressman's or state representative's need for on-camera alpha male moments to advance their ambitions. The willingness of Congressional and DOE representatives to attack LANL and its mission makes me afraid for the future prosperity and security of the country. At least for-profit organizations have an intrinsic incentive not to foul their own beds.
to dug: "At least for-profit organizations have an intrinsic incentive not to foul their own beds"
Should I remind Enron and many others? Moreover, the for-profit companies which bid for LANL are military related, meaning they are closely connected with governement, and recently the connection is so closed you can not differentaite them from governement itself. Not a big boost of optimism in any case.
Poster 10:13pm, you seem to have a real distaste for all things military,
yet you apparently work for a Defense lab. You must enjoy biting the hand
that feeds you, eh? And give it a break! Enron was an extreme anomaly
in the history of corporate culture. If you truly believe the corporate
world is populated with Enrons, then I suggest you retire and take a
lump-sum payment now, before those corporate bad boys steal all the money
that's in your pension-invested stock market funds.
Enron came from Houston. Ever been in Houston during the summer, when it's
103 degrees in the shade and the humidity is running about 80%? It's the
"Arm-pit of America". People in Houston want to get rich quick and get the
hell out of that awful place (and who can blame them). Here is a good
tip -- never invest in a company that comes out of Houston. It's chock full
of hucksters just trying to make a quick buck and leave town. Even Enron's
Kenny-boy now lives up in Aspen, CO.
"Argumentum ad Enron" is a candidate for its own subheading under "proof by example" in the encyclopedia of logical fallacies.
To all of you using ENRON as a corporate scandal example. Use one closer to home for these discussions: Boeing and Darleen Druyan, former secretary of the air force. Check out:
To 12:50, this is obvious that I am for university culture at national labs, and strong science there, and against idiotic military actions, which might be avoided if scientists from national labs were given more voice. You apparently are not. In my opinion dollars spent for science at national labs instead of military proper, especially in actions involving large amounts of military "meat", are dollars much better spent, and they make the country much safer and for much smaller cost.
To enthusiasts of Enron, Halliburton, Bechtel, LM, and many others: we all will pay for it. And future generations even more.
I continue to be amazed by the posts from the LANL technical staff which
contain a strong anti-military, anti-capitalistic bent. Are these posts from
US citizens, or from foreign nationals who are given the generous opportunity
to work at our Defense lab? You are working at a Defense lab, you know.
If fact, we design nukes and help protect US national security, or haven't
you heard? You are living in a fantasy land, trying hard to believe in a lab
that doesn't really exist.
If I recollect correctly it was Oppenheimer, a wise man, and, yes, a US citizen, who wanted control over nuclear energy to put in hands of civilians, and not military. Military would have too much itch to use the new toys. This is why DOE was created as civilian control over nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. Then, Oppenheimer, in his wisdom, forced idea that the actual running of the nuclear weapons producing labs should be in hands of a university, not either military related or industry (read military again) related entity. All that was very deep idea, which now is facing either getting some cracks when UC is joined by Bechtel, or being thrown alltogether if LM+ gets the contract. Please remember all that, plus a few historical events from last couple of wars when you make statements about laboratory and defence relationship.
To all who try to bit anti foreigners drums: remember that without foreigners nuclear weapons would not be created at that time and place as they were, and LANL probably would also not exist without them.
To the 6/19/2005 03:14:58 PM poster,

Take note of the way in which the 5:28PM poster drops articles, such as "the." Also note the spelling of "defence." I suspect that there are foreigners, or foreign-educated persons, posting to this blog.

To 10:39:
I've sometimes thought there were drunks posting to this blog.
The 5:28 poster sounds Chinese or North Korean...

Kim Jong II, is that you?
Heaven forbid that there are foreigners posting to and reading this blog. Perhaps they were Russians and the Cold War has restarted while we've had our heads buried in the sand at Los Alamos.
Well bugger me. Who's got the right to criticise the correct spelling of "defence?" Depends on which side of the pond you're on.
Amazing level of xenophobia in a few of the latest posts shows that either posting is no longer mostly internal LANL affair (I know that quite a few posts were definitely from outside LANL, but may be proportions are continuing to change in favor of external ones?) or that LANL is indeed doomed because of lack of elementary intelligence and skills required from its staff.

A simple observation, followed by some humor, gets labeled "xenophobia." If the 7:25PM post is from somebody at LANL, then we are truly doomed.

Of course 7:25 could be from anywhere on the planet, in which case I am happy that such a person doesn't work at LANL.
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