Sunday, June 26, 2005

My own reasons for having decided to retire this year

I don't usually post to the blog for other than administrative reasons, but there was a conversation going on in the

thread to which I felt like contributing. After having done so, I realized that much of the subject material in that thread pertained to my own reasons for having decided to retire this year.


"... please explain why you believe LANL produces an environment that leads to productivity throughout the career for the majority of its research staff."

I am not one of the posters referred to by 6/26/2005 04:22:54 PM, but I do have an observation to make on this subject. I believe many researchers at Los Alamos remain productive throughout their careers because they love their work.

I also feel that this past year has changed how many of these same researchers feel about LANL and their work. It is probably not possible to overestimate the damage that has been done to LANL in the last 12 months. People who attempt to attribute the high numbers of people currently retiring solely to the risk of reduced benefits as a result of the RFP don't realize that LANL used to be a great place to work, simply because of the work environment.

I don't feel that all the damage done to LANL occurred just in this past year, either. I think the past 15 - 20 years have seen a gradual erosion of the quality of the work environment at our laboratory, abruptly made completely intolerable to many of us in just this past year.


Wow, I just signed on as the new Blog Maintenance man and saw this post by Mr. Blog (my good buddy, Doug Roberts). Not only has he made a major point here, but an opening to discuss what that 20-year-ago event was, namely, Matrix (Mis)Management. We were infected with a virus from Washington by our new Director at that time (1983), Don Kerr, and we have had nothing but gradually growing heartache since. Management doubled in size overnight--line plus program--and a negative feedback system wreaked havoc upon the Lab. The guys who set the salaries were managers. Naturally, they gave themselves more, and soon were convinced that because they got more, they were the ones doing the REAL work at the Lab, and then, slowly but surely, they found they had no reason at all to talk to those lower forms of life--the scientists (not to mention the techs and the secs).

All this didn't happen overnight, but it became so bad that even Sig Hecker, who saw the problem, was powerless to change it.

Then came the attack from without--Congress wanting to attack the mushroom-cloud icon of Los Alamos for political advantage (starting with the "Red Chinese spy" Wen Ho Lee and soon thereafter, the "missing" NEST Team hard drives)--followed by the attack within, namely, our own Director Nanos and his trumped-up shutdown fiasco. Nothing will ever be the same again--not the level of support for science, and not the retirement and benefits system. -No matter who wins the contract.

What to do? Time for re-invention. Time to be stubborn. Time to stick together or wither separately.
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