Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The summer doldrums

From Anonymous:

We appear to have drifted off into the summer doldrums here on the blog. It has been reported that an 8-month extension to the current UC contract exists. The Tommy Hook affair has faded into disgrace. Retirements are way up. There just doesn't seem to be anything of substance that remains to talk about. CLE has changed from a "UC at any cost" perspective to one of "we must protect our benefits under the next contractor, whomever that might be", which is a good thing. UC, on the other hand, remains stuck on a course of self-destruction, as charted by Bob Foley. I hear rumors that even within NNSA and DOE high-level managers are expressing their disappointment that UC has done nothing to assist the family of Todd Kaupilla. Thanks, Bob. Although, there is now a rumor starting that UC really is "working" on the problem. I wonder if UC would be "working" on the problem had there not been plenty of visibility, as provided by this blog, regarding UC's treatment of Todd Kaupilla.

One undeniable improvement has been observed: with Nanos gone, Kuckuck has shown himself to be a much more pleasant person to deal with. Gone is the abusive, shouting, threatening style of his predecessor. Unfortunately one prediction made on this blog shortly after Nanos' resignation was announced is being realized, in spades: A massive suck-up is occurring on the fourth floor, with the refrain, "We tried to tell Nanos this (or that) but he just wouldn't listen," often heard.

Bullshit. The fourth floor yes-persons are still fourth-floor yes-persons, and Foley is still calling the shots. Have a nice summer, everybody.

"The Doldrums" are supposed to occur in August. The lake starts filling up with algae. The fish stop biting. The biting flies still bite, but desultorily. The air is still and muggy. At this time on the Berkeley campus, the summer coeds lie half-naked on the lawn in front of the Campanile. Even Sproul Plaza has a few tables set up for signing anti-war petitions. Smoke drifts over from the place where bongo drummers hold forth. (Not "fourth," but FORTH.)

So...where is UC Office of the President? Has the "smoke" drifted all the way south to Oakland? So that they are quietly adrift in daydreams?

WAKE UP, YOU FRIGGIN' A&&HOLES! LockMart is not adrift!

Don't wake them (UC)! Let them drift. It's what they're good at. I suggest that you find your lifejacket and join the rest of us on deck to await the arrival of the LockMart rescue party.
How 'bout them I-leegal furriners that done got themselves inside Oak Ridge?
Summer's heatin' up!
and more and more EDITING on comments all the time..... LOL
Original poster, why did you think anything, or anyone, on the 4th floor would be different with the former Director gone?
LockMart is coming, and all of the fourth floor losers and hopefully a good number of the division managers will be removed.
Kukuck did state at the all manager's meeting on Monday that UC was have discussions with Kappela'a family. So something is happening here but because it's a personal issue with the family he could not comment on any details.

As for the comments that UC is adrift, these are far from the actual truth. Many lab managers are back there now working hard on the UC proposal. Comments like 7:53's don't help any of us and just show the poster's ignorance.
Somehow, the knowledge that many LANL managers have been conscripted by UC to write the bid does not instill me with confidence. Especially when I know that is being done under the "leadership" of Rich Mah.
What surprises me is that there has not been a re-calibration of sorts since Nanos left. Many of us are working on many different, and sometimes conflicting 'requirements.' Often times it is the same person in a division who must satisfy all of these demands. In addition, LIRs are being re-written as IMPs or ISDs or whatever, in what seems as just a major reformatting exercise. There are many more of these documents 'in progress' that will add even more procedures and processes to operations. Many of these things are 20 to 30 pages long. And I understand we are bringing in even more contractors to write more of these documents. Whoever wins the bid, it wont be business as usual. Of course we must continue on as best we can, but to add or modify or require all this new stuff(and some of the old stuff) now just doesnt make sense. It would be a good thing if the Director could prioritize, or at least recalibrate what it is that we are being asked to do. I wonder if he is even aware of what we are being asked to do? Maybe this is a good time to take a look at how Bechtol and Lockmart handle some of these operational issues. I will be told that we must meet the requirements, or something to that effect. Maybe this is the time to renegotiate some of these things...
Sue Chasen
Rumor within the Beltway has it that Don Rumsfeld went to GW and said that either give the weapons labs to DoD or get Lockheed in to manage LANL.
Within 24 hours an RPF strategy was outlined and Spencer was told not not plan on staying for a second term.
Apparently Rumsfeld had LANL folks at his ranch in Taos and realized that UC wasn't "combat ready" to manage LANL.
"Apparently Rumsfeld had LANL folks at his ranch in Taos and realized that UC wasn't "combat ready" to manage LANL."

What was his first clue?
Sounds like this competition is just for show and we are going to be
handed over to LM regardless of the presentations by the bidders. I
wonder if UC already has some hints about this situation? It sure looks
like UC is just going through the motions.
"I wonder if UC already has some hints about this situation?"

Don't you think it's a bit late in the game for UC to be getting a clue? The fact that they were willing to support Nanos for 9 months while he ruined LANL should be a strong indicator that UC "just doesn't get it".
OK, we need some odds here. What'll you give me for UC vs LM? Anybody out there willing to give odds?
"Rumor within the Beltway has it that Don Rumsfeld went to GW and said that either give the weapons labs to DoD or get Lockheed in to manage LANL." This doesn't sound good for those of us doing, "other science" does it! It appears that LANL may become nothing more than a weapons lab.
The shift to LANL becoming a weapons-only lab began when Nanos scared off so many of the work for others customers via the shutdown. Until then, WFO was a growing component of the LANL budget.
Surprise! LANL was first and remains foremost a weapons lab.
Theory: UC knows it will lose, but has to do a credible bid to make the competition process itself look credible. Everyone knows this.

LM will win LANL, foregone conclusion. UC gets to keep LBNL and LLNL.
Moreover, UC cannot keep both LLNL and LANL. It has to lose at least one of those contracts. Since LLNL is local, it seems obvious which contract must be lost. This is all part of the game, and UC has to play it to keep LLNL.
For poster 3:38 pm - I'd put the current odds at 60/40 in favor of LM,
with the momentum now moving towards LM. UC is probably beginning to
finally realize that they will probably lose this bid, but, for various
political reasons, they have to finish playing out the game. The
ones who are really becoming worried at this point are our LANL ADs
and some Division leaders. They will soon be out of their jobs.
Many a slip 'twixt the cup and lip. DoD has had the fix in on the labs since NNSA was put together. Just move the dotted line from DoE to DoD and it is done. Perhaps the powers that be in DC are sick and tired of labs that talk back and cause headaches (environmental, CI). Wait til all the retired bird colonels and 1-star retireds show up to give orders under LM. There will be nostalgia for Nanos.
3:38 - 100 percent in favor if LM. That's because GW Bush and key figures in his administration have promised LANL to LM and the Univ. of Texas. UC is just "competing" to make it look like a fair fight. This is how things get decided in Washington. LM's takeover of LANL is already a done deal.
The best indication of UC's committment to the LANL re-bid is the quality of the people they've assigned to work it --- most of the ADs, a spinkling of Division Directors (not to be confused with leaders), randomly walking forward under the sage direction of Rich Mah ..........
And the answer is...
Lockheed Martin!
(Surprised? Of course not. UC's "management" of LANL is a myth. The political football game, where LANL is the football, has its origins in DC, not UC. Football is the religion of Texas.)
Now, as to details:
(1) The Retirement System is going down the tubes in the style of the country at large, as evidenced by the LockMart retirement system. If LANL gets an "independent," "stand-alone" retirement system, it won't really matter whether it is UC or LM.
(2) Science at LANL has taken it gradually on the chin since Matrix MisManagement was introduced over 20 years ago. UC has done nothing to reverse, or even slow MM down, and science has decayed over time. If LM takes over, things will be better than they were under Nanos and The Shutdown, but even if UC ekes out a win, science won't dramatically improve. Why? Because America has become a faith-based country. Reality is not even remotely desired by the Public, who want to hear about Michael Jackson more than the Downing Street Memos, who'd rather shop than ponder.
This isn't bad news, folks, it's just REALITY.
Again, the answer is: LockMart, not UC.
-Lucky Lucero
I keep reading LM/UC competition. Somehow everyone has lost the fact that Bechtel is the "real" lead in the "UC bid" and will be the real lead in the future of the Lab if that team wins. UT or UC will play a minor role in the future. Lets start analyzing Bechtel vs LM. Who knows what Bechtel is like?
Odds on UC vs LM ?

Is it UC or Bechtel?

I lay odds that whether UC/Bechtel or LM/UT win, it was not a real competition, or at least the real competition is (or has already) happened behind closed doors, in a smoke filled room, under the table, in a back alley, etc.

Bechtel sucks. They "won" the second largest contract in Iraq, after Halliburton. Then passed at least half of that contract right through to Halliburton subsidiaries (KB&R, etc). Deferred compensation and stock options for the VP. hmmm?

Why did UC get in bed with Bechtel? Homeboys. Right out of San Francisco. It gets more twisted.

Liberal firebrand, Democratic Senator from California, Diane Feinstein's husband Richard Blum, sits on Bechtel's board of directors and controls 24% of their stock.

What the hell is all that about?

I'm sure there is an equally questionable story about LM/UT... some Texas Republicans and .... hmmm...

Geeze, what kind of a country to do we live in?
The transfer of wealth is well underway and most of us didn't see it coming...some still don't.

The Golden Rule: "He who has the gold - rules!.
"The Golden Rule: "He who has the gold - rules!."

Remember who really has the gold here: the DoE and Congress.
Agreed: LANL's future has been determined at the highest levels of the federal government. DOE/NNSA is the intermediary. And we can talk a lot about unifying ourselves and coming up with a list of our concerns and issues we want the proposal evaluation team at DOE/NNSA to consider when they evaluate the competitors. It's a noble and proper way to make our input, but I seriously doubt the government will pay any meaningful attention.

Here are a few of my thoughts I formed after reading through these postings on this thread.

1. LM/UT is going to be the winner. I'm surprised UC even decided to compete. For many, many years UC always said it ran the weapon labs as a public service, and would never compete. Perhaps the UC bid really is just for show. Does UC really, really deep-down want to win? UC gets LLNL and LBL; LANL is way off in the New Mexico boondocks and has become a real pain in the rear end for UC.

2. Will the Labs eventually come under DoD? It's been talked about before, and I think it gets closer to reality each time. DOE is widely scorned in the Government, and many people in Congress have tried to eliminate it a few times.

3. If the weapon labs go to DoD and LM wins the contract, will hordes of retired senior military officers descend on the Lab and turn us into a big Beltway Bandit? Yes, and it's actually been happening for years. Some of these folks have really known something, have been good managers, and contributed to the Lab. Most, however, are just military-trained bureaucrats and desk jockeys from the Pentagon. And they are expensive to keep. Even if UC were to win, I think more of them will continue to find high salary positions here as double-dippers.

4. What is LANL's mission: "Great Science" or to be a nuclear weapon lab? Answer: it's a weapons lab. It started out that way, and was that way for a very long time. It's what the Lab does best, despite the long, diverse list of "core capabilities" the Lab management publishes for public consumption. If you're here to relive your grad school days in the laboratory, puttering around in something that is not connected to the weapons program, perhaps you should consider finding employment elsewhere. You'll never be fully happy here, no matter who wins the contract.
Good post, but I would widen Item 4 by just a bit. We are not just a
"weapons lab". We are a national security lab. The things that go on
here should have a direct and highly defendable connection to issues
of national security. If we push the "weapons lab" concept too strongly,
we run the risk of becoming nothing but a "bomb factory" in the future.
Ah, the good old "national security" argument, which has been used for years by all the Washington acronym organizations to hide actual budgets, fund useless projects, and bankroll dead wood. Yes, "national security" activities at LANL that include the paranoid nut-cases in S Division, the egomaniacs in N Division, and the self-serving wackos in TR division. The latter two of these need to be shut down under Lockmart as they are the biggest wasters of money at LANL.
You know I really think there are some things that are done, not relating to weapons at all, that contribute to national security tremendously. Just think about threat assessment. Confirming or debunking a given WMD threat can mean the difference between someone actually invading a country or being content with harmless strategery. Oh yeah, where's Osama by the way? Last I heard he was wanted for the murder of 3000 people. Let's get some geniuses in the mix hunting that bad guy.
Latest intel is that Osama got plastic surgery, changed his name to Nanos, and is hiding over at DTRA.
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