Saturday, July 23, 2005

Bid to Run LANL a Formidable Duel

By Rebecca Trounson
Los Angeles Times

The competition for the newly lucrative contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory is now a head-to-head battle between two formidable teams: on one side, the University of California and engineering powerhouse Bechtel; on the other, the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest defense contractor.

At stake is not only the day-to-day operation of Los Alamos, the vast nuclear weapons design center that stretches across 40 miles of New Mexico high desert. The contract winner also will claim a key role— potentially for the next two decades— in advising policy-makers on the safety and reliability of the nation's aging nuclear stockpile and whether new bombs are needed.


Full Story

A big part of the UC legacy is the truly incompetent senior management that they gave us and then supported regardless of events. From the elevation of Sig Hecker onward, UC maintained an isolated and insular management team. Only a new contractor could clean up the management mess.
Very true 1:16. However, this goes much further back than Hecker. Does anyone remember Don "Matrix Management" Kerr? Ever since Agnew left UC has installed spineless yes men that they could control. The decades of deterioration the lab has experienced is the direct result of the puppet masters in California. LANL needs a real leader without ties to the unethical and incompetent UC establishment.
44:57 said:

"However, this goes much further back than Hecker. Does anyone remember Don "Matrix Management" Kerr? Ever since Agnew left UC has installed spineless yes men that they could control."

I believe you give too much credit to UC. Harold Agnew quit because DOE was trying to micro manage the Lab. Don Kerr worked for DOE. Substitute DOE for UC, and I agree fully with your statement. No matter who wins the contract, little will change until the NW complex is put back under civilian control.
Yes DOE hated Agnew because he fought every battle to defend the Lab. He only was able to survive as long as hed did because the nation still felt it needed nuclear weapons and testing was a constant reminder we could make them work.

Don Kerr came in groomed by washington specifically for instituing Matrix Management. That instituted a corresponding office in Los Alamos for every office at DOE that wanted someone on the Lab end to answer questions and respond to DOE edicts.

After Kerr had accomplished that task he took on more independance than DOE liked. They wanted someone much weaker and rejected Robinson to bring in Hecker.

All in all a sad tale.
As the months drift by, I'm sometimes jerked awake, as though within a nightmare, by the possibility that UC might actually win (re-win) the contract. Having started as a fully gung-ho UC sucker, Nanos's ongoing, relentless work of turning over his own shared-with-UC rock finally showed me that no-way, no-how, should that corrupt organization be given the contract again, but still--the ever-startling epiphany keeps coming back: no, it really _could_ happen.

The worst of it wasn't Nanus, or The Emperor (Foley), it's the remarkable, ongoing, abundantly demonstated inability of UC to admit that it has made mistakes, specifically with the shutdown and with the capricious, untimely, irrational, counterproductive, and purely vengeful withdrawal of 26 days of freedom every year from its workers ("our people are our greatest asset") here. Recently, waves of awards connected with the "restart" gave the impression that management was buying (coopting) personnel as coconspirators in the shutdown (by having them accept cash gifts for their "efforts" with the restart), and UC's amazing ongoing refusal to reinstate 9/80 points to the same, horrible disease within: these guys just can't admit when they've made a mistake.

_That_ is the reason UC must not win the contract again. Otherwise, it'll just be more of the same old cover-up-ridden Reign of the Self-Congratulatory.
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