Sunday, June 05, 2005
Spike in retirements creates worry
By Sue Vorenberg
June 4, 2005
One thing about smart people - they have options. In the wake of problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory, some of the smartest people in the country are starting to exercise those options - by retiring. And that trend has lab officials worried, said James Rickman, a lab spokesman. [...]
In the wake of problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory, some of the smartest people in the country are starting to exercise those options - by retiring. And that trend has lab officials worried, said James Rickman, a lab spokesman.
Using this policy a few times would aid "transition planning" a great deal, making it a part of normal practice, as it is at most corporations.
"Retirement" which leads to a sudden entrance by another door, a too frequent Lab practice, should stop. Nanos was right on that score. Retirement should mean retirement, not simply feeding better. Whoever wins the bid, I hope this practice ends.
I talked to a LANL employee that recently returned from working on the UC-Bechtel proposal, and their words were “it is all out war on LANL”. In assembling the UC-Bechtel team, which includes many industrial partners, it was decided to turn over technical details to LLNL and business/operations to corporations. These two sides of the house feel that nothing is working at LANL, and are going to propose total turn over. Only 2 senior managers from LANL will survive: Beason and Seestrom. Beck, Tarentino, Gibbs, Wallace – all gone. Apparently, there only was modest push back from the LANL ADs, and the one that pushed the hardest lost his job. Seestrom actively campaigned for becoming the AD of all science, and apparently became the darling of the new corporate mafia. No junior managers from LANL will be promoted, just people coming in from LLNL.
The blog has often called for a complete decapitation of senior management – it looks like those in blog land were heard. Now we have to live with it. The LANL future? Look south to Sandia or west to LLNL. For 60 years LANL was a unique place, and unique things were done there. Not all these things were good (some were down right stupid), but in the end it does not matter. LANL will become a defense contractor (which makes sense in the end, sense nuclear warheads are owned by DoD, so pit manufacturing and stewardship are not much different that building the latest fighter jet). I feel a shudder through my whole body for an ideal lost. In the last 3 years we have had to deal with Nanos and Foley, and the ensuing rage caused attack on all things LANL. People have been vocal about retirement benefits and demand the government “do something”. There have been attacks by LANL people on other LANL people that work on LDRD projects. Anything positive posted about LANL science or values has been dismissed by the hooded horsemen of anonymity on the blog. All the while a much worse thing was happening – LANL is lost.
"The fact that people retire is not news, nor is the lack of "transition planning" at LANL. It has become the "LANL way" for retirees to return to disgorge the information they would not disclose earlier. This should stop. There is a tool, in LANL policy, for such folks. It allows LANL to keep the employee on full time, in the national interest. They can retire when it serves the nation's interest, not before."
Can you show me where this policy is documeted? Has it ever been used?
Larry Creamer DX-1 Retired
This type of "yellow journalism" contribution epitomizes what is detrimental about allowing anonymous postings: the ability to make outrageous, unsubstantiated claims without the responsibility of ownership is a strong argument against continuing to support this mechanism of contribution on this blog.
As for the ridiculous assertion that LANL staff withhold information the exact opposite is true. Staffers beg to be allowed to hire persons to mentor. This takes years to transfer such volumes of information. Typically LANL hires a senior staf members replacement months or weeks before their departure. In many cases there is no choice but to return to teach the replacement. It is LANL's short sighted hiring policy that has caused this. Most critical technical positions at LANL are only one deep. That is the fault of management alone.
As a mid career staff member, I have mixed feelings about the change. However, my direct management is so corrupt, dishonest, self-serving, anti-science, that part of me welcomes the change. There are many gloom and doom people walking around declaring: science is over, lanl is over, start worrying: details to follow. I have encountered these people and guess what, they tend to be managers.
Sorry folks, I have been lied to too many times by my management to fall for this again. It is over for many incompetent managers. It is the end for many manipulators. A new contractor will come here with open eyes: this is the end of business as usual. Unlike Nanos, they will be competent and professional and yes, change is on the way. This is the whole point of the rebid process.
If you fear any type of change and think that no change is needed in Los Alamos: you better leave. If you are open-minded, hard working, you and your quality technical work will be valued. If you believe that you are entitled to a job for life just because you moved to an isolated place, just because you are working for national defense, just because you have clearance, you better leave. If you understand that change is needed, willing to adjust to a new environment, you will do just fine. Why not be optimistic? Isn't it possible that the change will be for the better?
The rebid is not a conspiracy to ruin anybody career or work environment, or to raid one's pension, nor is it part of a grand plan to destroy Los Alamos. It is a move to fix what is broadly perceived as a disfunctional organization.
If you are one of those gloom and doom managers: we all see your panic. Please stop these nonsense rumors.
To mama: you are blinded by ideology, most bad managers stay, lots of first class scientist leave.
The number is close to 300. Your respectable scientist should stick to science. That's not to say that more people won't jump on the wagon at the last minute, and some may jump off.
I actually SEE the numbers, not hear them second hand!
estimates I get 2000. If you have proof of 300 let me know. In my division about 1/4-1/3 is the number. I would really like to see where 300 come from.
Anyone have any feedback to confirm or deny this comment?
I think it is fair to say that the current rate of retirements at LANL is limited by the ability of HR to process retirement interviews.