Friday, June 10, 2005


Could someone who attended today's meeting with Brooks and Przyblek kindly post a summary of what happened?



The punch line: The UC contract has been extended and signed, so we have complete UC continuous management till 5/31/06. There will be at least 2 months overlap with the new contractor in 2006, at which time people can compare the new benefits with the old, and choose their options. There is no reason to rush to retire to retain UC benefits.

Tyler and the people with him answered many detailed questions about the transfer of benefits when a new contractor takes over. It would be impossible for someone who did not record the meeting to provide details. I hope the meeting (that went on for almost 3 hours) will be posted on LABNET and Lanl-Media, so that we can see it again.
It's just like the UC to jump right in and corfirm this contract extension.
It was clear from the presentation how impossible it is for them to think of all the options. One person asked what would happen if he continues with the new contractor as a "inactive vested transfer", started working, and a few days/weeks later notifies UC that he wants to retire from the inactive transfer. Tyler didn't know... One clear fact - when you "inactive vest" you cannot use the sick leave you have accrued to add to your years of service with UC. Your sick leave MUST transfer to the new contractor.

Another issue I have just thought of: is a new contractor required to enrol in Social Security, and what would the implication on the "equivalence of benefits" be?

Tyler also refused to acknowledge that the benefits for new employees would be less. He stated that if hiring good people requires good benefits, DOE will reimburse the new contractor for whatever benefits are required to hire good people.
Did they say how the 20 years of service to earn paid employer paid healthcare works?
Say you have 10 years service under each contractor- are you covered?
They were singing the song "Don't worry, Be Happy!"

A few points I recall...

1. Contract Extension until 5/31/06
2. We will have from 12/01/05 to 5/31/06, the transition period, to decide our path.
3. If you give your UCRP savings to the LLC you get to be a first class employee, with pension/benefit plan 1.
4. Everyone else gets to be a second class employee, with pension/benefit plan 2.
5. Ben Val reductions will apply to second class employees only. So they can take away what they previously gave you. Why does it feel like they want me to choose to be a first class employee?
6. They are going to think about inactive vested transferring employees having no guarantee of base salary.
7. Someone pointed out that the current contract seems to specify a formula for transferring UCRP dollars to the stand alone pension plan that would transfer all the over funded dollars to the LLC. Now wouldn’t that an interesting development.
8. Several people brought up C.O.L.A. issues.
9. They, whoever they is, are going to guarantee the pension plan. Not sure if they mean both. Are they talking about the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation?
10. Medical benefits for everyone including retirees will be under the new LLC., and are not guaranteed.

Much more it was a long meeting.

I won’t be able to attend the Sunday event. A question I just though of “What will my employee status with the Lab be on 6/1/06 if I become a vested inactive UCRP member on 5/31/06?”. To my mind, according to the wording in the RFP I would be ineligible for a guaranteed position under the new contract.

Overall the tone was don’t worry, be happy, things will probably be even better than ever, even with what sounded like a big reduction in LDRD. Someone comment on that?
Things aren't better for the Kauppilas. What did Brooks have to say about that?
Ben-Val was high mostly because of the pension. Do the second class employees get punished because of the high rate of retirement for the first class employees? Or do they get their own evaluation?
To those who missed the meeting, the view graphs from Roberto Archuleta are located at:

The table on #11 is particularly interesting. Also, I noticed that he skipped the fifth bullet on view graph #9 regarding Pension Plan One, "Contractor will consider amending Pension Plan One to incorporate changes made to the UCRP during the course of the contract". If anyone can interpret what that means, I would be interested because I have no idea.
What that bullet means is if UCRP reduces their factors or changes the plan, they can reduce Pension I also.
What use is this without cost of living increases?

Clause H-36 “WORKFORCE TRANSITION, CONTRACTOR COMPENSATION, BENEFITS AND PENSION”, subparagraph (e), Pension Plans sub-subparagraph (3)(i). The RFP states Pension Plan One “…shall include UCRP age factors, preserve accrued benefits and recognize service credit earned under the predecessor contractor’s retirement plans including the UCRP.” Please clarify whether this requirement includes the UCRP cost of living provisions?

Response: The actual benefits (including cost of living provisions) will be negotiated between the new contractor and the Contracting Officer during the new contract’s transition period.
OK Roberto- I read the viewgraphs- it doesn't answer the question on RETIREE healthcare.
You have 20 years UC and transfer to LLC are you covered 100% at retirement or not?
You have 20 years UC, become Inactive vested and start over with LLC are you covered 100% at retirement or not?

This is really important because the Inactive Vested GIVES UP retiree healthcare rights under UC. Plus those who choose to do this probably have 15-30 yrs. under UC. Therefore they don't have time to get another 20 years under LLC.

This is a major point here!!!
Also important: DOE has the option, without further agreement from UC, to extend the contract until Sepy. 30. Given all of the other missed deadlines, this should allow time for the benefits details to be worked out and allow people to assess their options. I understood medical benefits to be guaranteed for employees and retirees, with the exception of the question of how vesting of inactive transferring employees will be treated.
This is really important because the Inactive Vested GIVES UP retiree healthcare rights under UC. Plus those who choose to do this probably have 15-30 yrs. under UC. Therefore they don't have time to get another 20 years under LLC.

So the inactive vested give up all healthcare(medical,dental,vision), accidental death/dismemberment and life insurance rights under UC?? Is that right?
To 12:37:
Yes. So Inactive Vested is NOT much of a choice unless you have insurance elsewhere. i.e. US Army or from spouse, etc.

There is still a Sunday meeting. I wish I had a complete list of answered questions from Friday- if anyone can remember others, Please post.
Does DOE itself guarantee retirement funds 100% in case of trouble with its LLC?
Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation pays a maximum of 45K and you must have been age 65 at retirement. That is much lower than many LANL pensions...
The meeting will be on LabNet starting Monday, two hours of it for sure. I was recording it up in the booth, but had to leave because I had to make copies to be sent out. I found out later that IM-9 also ran out of tape and only has two hours.
LabNet records their own copy as it comes down to them from the auditorium, but requested a fresh copy from IM within the first 15 minutes because audio on the front of their feed was bad. Hopefully, they continued rolling and will have the whole thing. That's assuming the audio cleared up. I'll be checking first thing Monday to see if we can get what we missed for air. I'll keep you posted.

John Bass
Regarding inactive vested: I was under the impression that if you become inactive vested ("separate", in the jargon) but if you retire (start drawing your retirement check) within a certain time period (90 days?) then in fact you retain your medical benefits. If this is correct this fits into the first scenario reported by 6/10/2005 07:33:02 PM of going "inactive vested", continuing with new employer, and then within the time period notifies UC that retirement (drawing a check) starts "now". If correct, you protect your UC retirement, continue under UC medical for retirees, are employed by new contractor (but do lose the sick leave as it contributes to UC service credit, it gets transferred as plain old sick-leave under the new employer). I'd be interested if others read the situation the same way I do.
To the previous poster: Tyler (or the other guy) specifically said that for inactive vested, sick leave HAS TO transfer the the new employer. No option there. So you lose the added sick leave for your UCRP pension calculation.
Right, you lose converting sick leave to service credit if you become inactive, vested and employed by new contractor. But by then "retiring" under UCRS (say June 2, 2006) you get you UCRS check, your new contractor employment check, and if the information about time limit between going inactive and retiring is correct, you get UC medical as a retiree?
Why is Inactive Vesting and retiring within 90 days more useful then retiring outright and rehiring?
6/11/2005 09:39:58 AM said
> Why is Inactive Vesting and retiring within 90 days > more useful then retiring outright and rehiring?
My understanding is that the inactive, vested who wish to then continue with new contractor are guaranteed employment, while the outright retirement folks are not.
Personally, I thought it was a good meeting and I was pleased with what they had to say. It started off with both Kuckuck and Brooks telling us that they understood it was a tough week with the Hook thing. Actually, my observation was that the demise of Hook/Montano/POGO was the biggest morale booster we have had since the departure of Nanos.
Secondly, Brooks told us that LDRD was in trouble. If that leads to some reform of LDRD, then I think that's a good thing. However, I doubt that that happens.
The major discussion was on the contract and particularly the retirement benefits. My read is that what they are offering is better than the UCRP. They basically said they are going to try to give us a UCRP equivalent retirement, but with a guarantee from the federal government rather than the state of California. Given all of the political tumult we have had in dealing with the state of California over the years, I think this is an improvement (regardless of who wins the contract, which I don't really care about). They were asked a lot of detailed questions, which was good. My take is that there are a lot of people at the lab who are going to be so suspicious (understandably) of the DOE that they are going to end up outsmarting themselves by retiring early and losing a chance at much better benefits.
To 6/11/2005 09:39:58 AM: Because with Inactive Vested you are "automatically" hired by the successor as a "new" employee but under Pension Plan Two. If you retire you may or may NOT be rehired. Too many uncertainties, unanswered, and un-thought-about questions at this point; at this point in time, retiring under UC and taking chances on everything else makes more sense. At least then a "major" change in the pension would require a change in the California law and one would be pooled with 170,000 people with some political clout.
To 10:22
Go read an article of what happened to US AIR- the government guarantee is a very low amount of money per year.

DID DOE say it was offering us a dollar for dollar guarantee or PBGC? This is a big difference.
To 6/11/2005 10:22:12 AM, I don't know where you have been or how long you have been at LANL but almost anyone that knows benefit packages (e.g., Fidelity, financial planners, and other companies) will tell you that UCRP is one of the very best benefits packages available anywhere. Few employers have defined benefits plans with factors as high as UC's AND the wide array of defined contribution options. Even the speakers yesterday used the word "rich" with respect to the UC pension. If you are hoping for an improvement over the UC package, the odds are very, very improbable.
6/11/2005 10:22:12 AM, "regardless of who wins the contract, which I don't really care about". This is an amazing statement, given what is at stake for LANL's future.
These issues matter most to those with 20+ years UC service:
Age 40-50 ~700
Age 50-55 ~700
Age 55+ ~900

It is a given that Age 55+ group is going to take UC retirement in one fashion or another. However, those 40-55 with 20+ years need to pay close attention to this process. They have to 'guess' whether they are better off in the new LLC or going Inactive with UC. This is not a straightforward choice, as detailed above.
If anyone is interested in forming an employee association 'with teeth' - try to stay after the Sunday meeting at LAHS. We need to hire a contract lawyer- these are ominous problems with the RFP.
and new hires and current unvested UC employees will get screwed and be, as mentioned in a posting here, SECOND CLASS employees..... so what's the incentive? DO THE WORK and get LESS in pension benefits?
Why is LDRD "in trouble", and what does that mean? Did they get more specific? At what point does research just end at Los Alamos?

I saw an interesting table today. China's economy is now twice the size of Japan's. It is about 7 trillion, USA is about 12, Japan is distant 3rd at about 3.6.

Our political pre-eminence in global affairs since the 50s has depended heavily on our economic lead over the world, which in turn has depended on our lead in science and technology. Our lead is in the process of vanishing.

A strong research and development sector is important to the USA, but that is what has been disappearing in the last 2 decades: the industrial research sector is essentially dead (just look at Bell Labs). Now, we see the end of government research occuring. The question is, how does the US economy survive when all the real thinking goes on elsewhere?
How many inovative branches of LANL research materialized full grown like Aphrodite from the sea...
I've been here for 25 years. I remember Jerry Browne wanting to "sever ties", I remember the UC faculty Senate voting to discontinue affiliation with the lab, I remember Willy Brown wanting to take two billion out of UCRP to balance the California state budget, and now I see Arnold Schwarzenegger wanting to outlaw defined benefit plans for California State Employees. Shall I go on? I don't trust that the voters of the state of California (or their employee unions) will act in my interest.

to 10:22:12
The contractor doesn't supply the money to the lab. The DOE does that, and they are the managers that really count. The local contractor is mostly a nuisance factor. I don't think we will see much change, and if we do it won't be for the better.
interesting divide: the young folks on my team have never planned to stay here long enough to collect a pension anyway. They just don't give a damn about the pension. They do give a damn about the level of business competence they see here at the lab in comparison to what they are used to in industry and at other research labs.

Their overall opinion? Get rid of UC. Bring in somebody that has a clue about how to run purchasing, HR, an ERP, and so on. They are, overall, pretty happy about the idea of booting UC out.
8:56 poster.

What group are you in? I have nothing of this divide.
to 8:56

Purchasing, HR and ERP are just nuisances. In the long run they don't count for squat. If you are a young person, you ought to be worried about whether you can have a career here in science. I think that's highly questionable regardless of who the contractor is. And I don't think the contractor is going to make much difference on that.
To 9:59 (and perhaps earlier) your group probably is not very much involved in basic science, where, despite caring more about science rather than with pension plans, young people are very concerned about possibility of UC loosing the contract, which immediately will lower the level of science at LANL. The bureaucratic nonsense has more to do with DOE/NNSA than UC, and this is also quite clear to them as to older scientists. I am afraid that you are from more engineering/production oriented group, where no real science is developed, this is why you would like to boot UC without caring about long term consequences.
"To 9:59 (and perhaps earlier) your group probably is not very much involved in basic science, where, despite caring more about science rather than with pension plans, young people are very concerned about possibility of UC loosing the contract, which immediately will lower the level of science at LANL. "

Sure, explain how this works. I'll be glad to hear the case for UC and its support of science at LANL. I want to understand how, the day after UC is out of here, science dies. All I see so far from the blog is concern about pension, with concern for science a distant 2nd or 3rd or ... and in the meetings, the issue that gets people excited is not science, but benefits.

UC brought us Nanos and Foley. Nevertheless, let's hear it. What does UC do for science that is irreplaceable?

"The bureaucratic nonsense has more to do with DOE/NNSA than UC, and this is also quite clear to them as to older scientists. "

I've seen little effort on UCs part to fix this. It seems, however, that you are saying these issues are out of the control of UC. If they are out of the control of UC, then how can losing UC make things worse?

"I am afraid that you are from more engineering/production oriented group, where no real science is developed, this is why you would like to boot UC without caring about long term consequences."

Ah, yes, the ever-present and readily used "you're not a REAL scientist" swipe, part and parcel of the academic caste system of the lab. That gets old. Give me some real reasons, not an ad hominem. And, try again, you mischaracterized me.
To 6/11/2005 07:08:13 PM, I am the 10:41:48 AM poster. I have been here 30 years and your points on the attacks are well stated. However, your post underscores the argument for strength in numbers (i.e, California state employees). Note that Jerry Browne could NOT "sever ties", the UC faculty Senate vote did NOT discontinue affiliation with the lab, Willy Brown could NOT take two billion out of UCRP to balance the California state budget, and, as of now, Schwarzenegger had such an outcry that he has NOT been able to outlaw defined benefit plans for California State Employees (although his proposed change applied to NEW employees only). Shall I go on? I say DON'T trust California voters to act in your interest because they won't. However, as we are affiliated with UC, we are effectively part of their own interest. It is not likely that they will shoot themselves in the foot, although anything is possible. All we can go on is experience and right now UC presents a rock solid benefits package. A new LLC will probably not be an option for us late career employees.
To 6/11/2005 11:12:35 PM, please refer to the thread referenced below and you will get an idea of the enormous positive impact of UC on science (in particular, graph #1):
Friday, June 03, 2005
Indicators of the scientific productivity
To 11:19:
The late career employees can retire, and the early career employees have years to respond to DOE changes...
But those 1400 people with 20 or more years UC service that are age 40-55 are screwed. They have the choice of splitting their work years in half (with a definite loss of benefits) or moving to a shaky "Limited Liability" Corp.

This will be the most important decision of their career- affecting the rest of their work at LANL as 1st or 2nd class employees. And the rest of their life, after retirment if they end up with "government guaranteed" (read "reduced") pensions.
What a choice!
6/11/2005 11:12:35 PM
People care about the science. They realize that LANL will cease to be valuable if it becomes a bomb factory. And after their work environment is assured, they will start working on that issue.

You missed Psych 101 where they explained Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. When people have met their physical needs, which in our society translates to a paycheck, then they are free to concentrate on higher-level pursuits, like science.

If I took your paycheck, your retirement, and your house, you would squawk, even if you were still allowed to work on science. You would be in "survival mode".
"If I took your paycheck, your retirement, and your house, you would squawk, even if you were still allowed to work on science. You would be in "survival mode"."

No, I'd just go somewhere else.

It's funny, I asked a very simple question last night and have yet to receive a direct answer, just a reference to a paper. I read that paper weeks ago; it does show that LANL is a great science lab. What it does NOT show is that UC is vital to this mission. I'm willing to be convinced. I don't need to see further comments about what psychology courses I've taken.

What I'd like to see is the clear, unambiguous evidence that it is impossible to have a strong science program at this lab absent UC. So, let's hear it.

If I, as an employee of this lab, don't see those clear arguments, then what do you think the average guy in DC sees?
Would someone post more specifically what Brooks said regarding LDRD?
To 6/12/2005 08:41:23 AM "I read that paper weeks ago; it does show that LANL is a great science lab. What it does NOT show is that UC is vital to this mission."

You may have "read" the paper weeks ago but did you really "read" it? 6/11/2005 11:27:24 PM responded to your question about UC. Graph #1 specifically compares UC Labs to non-UC Labs. UC may not be "vital" to our mission but they certainly are very, very important to continued science. Name a better alternative in the mix of bidders. More importantly to your question, please look at graph # 2 of this article that you "read" and note the prominent DOWNWARD trend of Sandia's publications since LockMart took over their management.

"I'm willing to be convinced."
I doubt it!
To 6/12/2005 08:43:53 AM, Brooks LDRD remarks were early in a marathon meeting so I would not care to try a careful recap. However, I believe a generalized description would be that LDRD is low-hanging fruit for congressional cuts and LANL will feel it harder than other Labs because our percentage of LDRD is slightly higher (~6% as I recall). Brooks said this was clearly bad news and that he would try to get it reversed (or at least lessen the impact). I would encourage you to watch the remarks yourself on Labnet. It is my understanding that this meeting will be re-broadcast several times.
To 09:05:02 AM,

That was not a paper, it was a non-peer-reviewed report, and it is extremely unconvincing as written.
8:41:23 AM
Most people would complain if you took their retirement and house- But it does depend greatly on how much personal investment you have here.
If you were age 25 or 30, I agree, you easily could start over. But if you were 50 or older, it would be a different story.

We employees have years to keep fighting for the science side of the lab (one might say it has always been a struggle). However, we have 6 months to positively affect this contract...
"You may have "read" the paper weeks ago but did you really "read" it? 6/11/2005 11:27:24 PM responded to your question about UC. Graph #1 specifically compares UC Labs to non-UC Labs. UC may not be "vital" to our mission but they certainly are very, very important to continued science. Name a better alternative in the mix of bidders. More importantly to your question, please look at graph # 2 of this article that you "read" and note the prominent DOWNWARD trend of Sandia's publications since LockMart took over their management. "

Rather than just attacking my comments (or me), why not just answer the question? So far, you've told me that the UC labs have higher publication rates. What you've failed to show me is that this is due to ongoing stewardship of UC, or possibly due to initial conditions that prevailed when the 3 UC labs were created. Certainly UC had a huge influence on LANL in the beginning, but I'd be hard pressed to say that UC's influence has been positive in the last decade.

Similarly, in saying that Sandia publications have declined since Lockmart took over, you've only told me that Lockmart might be a poor steward of LANL.

I'm asking for a fairly simple statement: what is it that UC is doing, this moment, that is so essential to science at this lab. Pretend you are talking to that representative from Ohio and you've got your alloted 5 minutes -- what are you going to say? Surely you can cite some science work that was vital to the national interest, and could not have occured absent the UC connection.
The science 'could' be done with a defense contractor running the Lab, the question is will they bother when it is not where the money is.
9:59 to 10:50

I have over 40 peer reviewed papers in the top physics journals in my field. Among other things I have served as a group leader in T-Division.

9:59 to 11:19

Perhaps you are right. Only time will tell. However, I don't think retiring on UCRP is a slam dunk. Personally, I prefer having the federal government behind the retirement plan. I don't have much faith in the DOE (I've been here too long for that) but I think the federal government is more likely to stand behind its obligations than the state of California is.
To 6/12/2005 09:57:15 AM, so offer an alternative analysis rather than just being "extremely" unconvinced. This is NOT an attack on you; I have not malicious intent, I merely think you have ignored a reasonably written "report" by Woody. Please present stronger evidence to the contrary of Woody's analysis. I am not married to UC but please answer my simple request: "Name a better alternative in the mix of bidders." With respect to SCIENCE (not management), I believe UC is the strongest in the pool that we have. As many others have indicated in recent post, ultimately, the winning bidder may not be that critical anyway because DOE is really the issue.
As someone said earlier- it makes a difference if DOE guarantees your pension dollar for dollar or under cut-rate PBGC.
How true, how true; however, I would worry about ANY "guarantees" from DOE. Their record is not good and over the years they have proven to be "fair weather" friends.
to 11:26 and 12:31

The offer from DOE was dollar for dollar. Take a look at the recordings of the session with Tyler P. They claimed that they have done precisely that at other DOE sites who were undervested. The discounted dollar is what you get if UCRP goes belly-up and the government has to take over their fund. I don't trust DOE either, but that was what I heard them say.
To 10:42am poster.

I do believe you could have ever been
a group leader in any group in T with only 40 papers. The standards in T are higher than that.
to 1:30 poster

For starters, I don't particularly care what you believe. Not all of T Division is a paper mill. I also brought in my own funding from BES for 15 years. No LDRD, just through competitive peer review. And the competitors were MIT, Princeton, Cal Tech, Berkeley, etc. How about you? See, I can be just as arrogant as you are.
1:56 poster

Where is your BES funding now? If you are so great could you get a real faculty job not
just some adjunct position. I do not think so. Peer review? Sounds like you do not publish much so peer review is not really your thing. T division has some great people but also has some of the worst people ever and guess what some of these are funded with BES
money, so that sort of invalidates your point. There are people in T who never do any of their own work and just weasel their names on the work of postdocs or other staff members without any contribution whatsoever. I have a good idea where you stand and LANL needs to get rid of people like you.
4:02 from 1:56

You're a scream! That was quite a chuckle.
Maybe it is funny. However, there is a lot of truth in those statments.
A point most people seem to have missed. If you ROLL into the new tier I pension plan, it is a plan that will have no new employees in the future. All new employees are part of the new tier II pension plan. As such the tier I plan cannot possibly survive without ever increasing costs to the remaining employees. Yes, it is a little bit like social security, with fewer and fewer young people supporting the old retired workers. Well , if it won't work for social security, why would a system with no new employees coming in work? The answer is simple, you will contribute vast amounts of money AND much like social security, you will receive less than you expected in the future. IT CAN BE NO OTHER WAY! How would you like to be in the last handfull of people in the tier I plan? Take my word on this, lawyers are not accountants, and this whole thing of two pension plans CAN NOT WORK. If you choose to "bail out a boat", chooose UC "inactive status", at least it still has a lot of free board.
To many posts: why no UC is no or at least little and much worse science and slow death of LANL? Simple, we recruit from academia and academia normally trusts top universities in doing science, like UC, and not fat corrupted sharks from weapons industry like Lockheed and, unfortunately, Bechtel, so in any case science will suffer, but much more under Lockheed in power than under UC with Bechtel.
Getting back to the details of the RFP:

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned much, but would seem to be extremely important to married people, is whether spousal “Continuance of Benefits” will be offered. (This allows a surviving spouse to continue receiving some previously selected fraction of a retiree’s pension payment.)

Since with this option, there is a reduction in the amount of pension the retiree receives while he is living, this option probably doesn’t cost the pension provider very much.

It could be tragic for a wife (or husband) who had been counting on receiving their spouse’s pension after they died, to suddenly find themselves without any pension and destitute.
Can anyone give any details about how “DOE” or “The Government” backs current pension plans? Is there some kind of pension rescue account? How large is it? Does anyone have any examples or data at all.
For what it is worth, here’s a conversation I recently had at a workshop with a few young postdocs from leading Universities:

(Young Postdoc): “So, I’ve heard you guys at Los Alamos have been having some kind of problems?”

(ME): “Yeah, we had this director who was an Admiral…”

(YP): “An Admiral?..” [looking bewildered]

(ME): “…who told us last summer to get back to LANL -- on a day’s notice -- from our summer workshops/vacations…”

(YP): “???” [looking more bewildered]

(ME): “… and then sit in our offices forbidden to talk or think about science.”

(Another YP): “What do you mean???” [Astonished]

(ME): “Well, we were told to sit in our offices, forbidden to do any lab work, forbidden to think about anything physics, having to do a bunch of meaningless bureaucratic paperwork, while at the same time having to watch a video of the Admiral calling us buttheads”

(All four YPs): “Come on! We knew you were kidding!” [Smiling relieved ]

(ME): “No, actually, it’s true. LITERALLY.”

(YP): “But….. this might be something an abusive elementary school teacher could try …. Aren’t you guys adults with Ph.D.s?”

(ME): “Well…”

(All YPs): [Silence. Expressions of horror.]

(One of YP): “So, how are things now?”

(ME): “Well, the Crazy Admiral has just been kicked out!..”

(YPs) [sighs of relief]

(ME): “…So now we are likely going to managed by Lockheed Martin”

(Two of the YPs) “Lockheed Martin?? How come??”

(ME): “I don’t know. Looks like they are likely to win the contract”

(YP): “But what do they know about managing a National Lab?”

(ME): “They manage Sandia already.”

(All YPs): “San… what?” [Unrestrained wonder]

(ME): “Sandia National Laboratory. Haven’t you heard the name?”

(YP): “NO... Let’s see: Fermilab, LBL, Los Alamos, Brookhaven…”

(Another YP): “There was this other one… Ah, right: Oak Ridge!”

(YP): “No, never heard about Sandia.”

I think I’ll leave this without any comments.
To 6/12 7:12 - You have omitted one important fact. Even if you are the last employee to retire, the fund has its collected revenue from all the years that everyone has put into it. In principle ("theory"), if it is managed identically to UCRP, and the funds that UCRP currently has, are split proportionally (including actuarial factors) between the new LLC fund and UCRS, it should remain just as solvent as UCRS.

Also, DOE has committed to keeping it solvent while it keeps its equivalency with UCRS (contributions + payout).

To 6/12 9:40 - The "substantially equivalent" concept needs to address this. Unfortunately, such details will only be worked out when the new contactor provides its new plan, and we will then have to look at it very carefully.
How about a quasi vested, 2nd class
employee? What than?
Regarding LDRD, here is the House Appropriations language that Linton Brooks was referring to:

"Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funding levels.—The Committee provides that not more than $250,000,000 of the funds provided in this Act for the Department of Energy national laboratories and production plants are available for Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD), Plant Directed Research and Development (PDRD), and Site Directed Research and Development (SDRD) activities. This limitation reflects the constrained budget realities that face the Committee generally and the DOE funding specifically in fiscal year 2006. In a budget year when federal funding constraints have resulted in Congress being unable to fund many Congressional priorities and when the Department’s overall budget is essentially flat, the Committee is unable to reconcile the Department’s significant level of support provided to the DOE national laboratories under the authority of the LDRD program. In fiscal year 2004, the national laboratories generated nearly $400,000,000 in discretionary funding with an LDRD tax on mission direct activities. This discretionary research continued undiminished even though, in one highly publicized instance, the laboratory contractor performed so poorly that, for the first time in the laboratory’s history, the Department levied a significant reduction in performance fee against the contractor. The Committee notes the Department’s misplaced outrage demonstrated by the constant complaining against Congressionally-directed
spending priorities while at the same time providing its government contractor executives nearly $400,000,000 of discretionary money for activities that are neither explicitly included in the President’s budget request nor subject to Congressional review and approval. The Committee finds this arrangement not to be in the interest of the taxpayer or the Department of Energy and has ceased to continue the implicit LDRD earmark to the Department’s national laboratories. The Committee feels it is time the Nation realize benefits from the LDRD spending. The Committee notes that the Office of Management and Budget apparently agrees, as it proposed a reduction of the maximum allowable LDRD tax in the President’s fiscal year 2006 budget request. By reducing the contractor-directed LDRD funding to an acceptable level, the Committee action will make available roughly $150,000,000 in additional fiscal year 2006 funding for actual program priorities at the laboratories and production plants, such as maintaining the reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile and ensuring the safety and security of the Department’s special nuclear
From 400M to 250M is more than a 1/3 cut. It also seems to be a form of retribution for LANL's perceived problems, a way for Congress to punish LANL (and DOE in general). This is both very unfortunate and very misguided. Yes, congress can make LANL and DOE into a pure bomb lab. But from a myriad of aspects ranging from national security to national economic competitiveness this is a poor idea. If not vigorously countered (and I have little faith at this point in either our DOE managers, or our traditional friends in Washington) this sounds like the start of the demise of basic science at national laboratories. A perfect storm indeed.
Cutting LDRD will fix lots of problems with LANL. Besides LDRD has nothing to to with the lab mission. Also problems with saftey and security will improve with LDRD out of the way. There would not have been a stand-down last year if LDRD was cut years ago.
What?? If LDRD is cut, the number of safety incidents will go down?!

You need to lay off the crack pipe.
To 4:02. What should have been cut years ago is supply of money for you and your political friends. Then LDRD would be much bigger, LANL mission in much better shape, and no security or safety incidents of your and your friends making.
What happened to the ideal of doing science, Nanos and all the bad managers notwithstanding? What happened to working for national defense and science serving society? Did we all join up LANL only because of the incredible pensions, or was it the opportunity to do great science with world-class scientists? All I read in the blog now is, "how well am I going to be taken care of after May 31, 2006?"

There is no discussion on what a sustainable strategy to bring back retirees would be. There is no discussion on how to preserve and pass on corporate knowledge. There is no discussion on streamlining procedures and reducing paperwork to undo the damages from last summer. What about recruiting? What about management training for all the vacancies?

When I'm at work, I see people either totally wallowed in their misery about the contract and getting nothing done, or people happily cleaning up their offices for the impending retirements and getting nothing done. Either way, it is sad.

I hate to say it, but people, we are going to get screwed because we've had it too good. It was the only way to get bidders to run this joint. First, take a deep breath and look at what you've got. Not too bad compared with others in the country. Now, max out your 403 (b). Open a savings account for medical expenses. Live within your means. Stop counting on the pension or having someone else pay for all of your medical bills. Done? Good! Let's get to work. Those retirees are leaving behind big holes to fill, and there are opportunities to get things done right. The opportunity to do great science, weapons or otherwise, is tremendous.

Remember: if you don't like it, you can always do what Doug Roberts did: get another job. Smart people always have options.
8:38 poster.

First for people with our education we do not have it as good as others. Members of my family are doctors, lawyers and professors. I would say that at this point they have it better even though I was considered the best and brightest of them all
and certainly went to the best
schools. Now not to say that they do not work hard and deserve what they have and yes they also complain about things they have to deal with in their jobs. However, they get paid more and have more security than I do. I do not like the argument that we are better off than most other people. We are not other people. I think that when many of us where in college we should have been told that science is not something that the US cares about in the long run. Many of us feel that the United States turned it's back on us after
so many years of hard work. At this point we should take what we can and leave.

By the way no one is good is comming in. Just think of the quality of people who would come to LANL at this point?
11:35, you (and many other bloggers) can't be as good as you think you are if you don't know the difference between the contraction (it's, contraction for "it is") and the possessive (its, or "what belongs to it).

Always proofread your resume. I did.

Not feeling too bad for you 11:35. It sounds like your siblings are far brighter than you.

You are pretty clueless if you needed someone to tell you in college that engineering and science are pretty much chump occupations compared to law and medicine in the US.
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