Sunday, July 17, 2005

For Los Alamos staff, it could be end of era; Bids due Tuesday from UC, challenger

The moment of truth is approaching for scandal-shaken Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of California-run nuclear weapons lab.

Los Alamos scientists conducted the first test explosion of an atomic bomb 60 years ago this weekend, in the predawn darkness of rural Alamogordo, N. M., on July 16, 1945. In the six decades since, UC has managed the nuclear weapons lab under an exclusive contract to the federal government.

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Comments:
"...politics will not be allowed to enter the decision." Sure. At least the long-term fate of, arguably, one of the the world's premier scientific research institutions will be in the hands of an "acting deputy". Whatever.
 
Regardless of who wins, Los Alamos will be managed by a "for-profit" LLC; gee, I wonder what the priorities will be?
 
Does anybody want to bet that UC asks for an extension on Monday?
 
Yes, one focus will be profit but how is that profit to be realized? By performing great science and obtaining funding. The profit comes from selling services. Selling scientific services depends on better financial performance and great science. It doesn't take a "rocket scientist" to realize that "for-profit" is not a bad thing. Profit depends on performance. One thing that I see in the pharmacutical world is intense value placed on general science. They invest billions each year on general and theoretical science because they know that this will lead to discoveries and applications that they have not even considered yet. Yes they plan on those discoveries leading to profit. Same goes for LANL. In our case the profit to the country is security as well as duel use scientific discoveries. I can guarentee that LM or Bechtel would be happy with their share of $60M a year in pure profit off of this contract. All overhead will be paid regardless of performance so they will be working hard to make sure they get profit as well. Remember, profit is based on how well they run the facility, not how many nuclear weapons they make. The only ones who will not be happy with better performance are those that like the status quo. I embrace this change to a world of accountability and performance based appraisals. I want this to stay a world class scientific institution but that does not mean that you cannot embrace change. With how much complaining I read here about how screwed up the CFO, SUP, and HR divisions are, why do we continue to belittle and degrate those trying to make a difference? Volunteer to help make a difference. Use your wonderful educational, research, and problem solving abilities to help fix the problems here. When you see a problem, if it affects your life at all, learn all you can about how it should be done and make suggestions on how to fix it. Remember, the people in the support organizations (CFO, SUP, HR, etc.) are some of the least educated people at this institution. They need your help and support as well.
 
Yup I bet on a Mah extension request
 
To 7/17/2005 11:29:35 AM; "One thing that I see in the pharmacutical world is intense value placed on general science." Drug companies are hardly a worthy metric to use. The pharmaceutical lobby has more lobbyists than there are members of Congress. There is no lobby in Washington as large, as powerful or as well-financed as the pharmaceutical lobby. It's about the money, NOT about science. Also, examine the sky-rocketing profits and consumer costs for drugs. It's about the money, NOT about efficiency. Drug makers depend on patents to help them recoup their research and testing costs, but once those costs are recovered, the high prices they charge for patented drugs give them operating margins that are among the highest in corporate America. It's about the money, PERIOD. Soon, LANL's operation will be too!
 
The previous poster, 10:54:41, has it right. Regardless of the final selection, we will not be working for the UC but for a "for profit, gross-receipt paying" LLC. NNSA, a malformation within the bloated belly of DOE, has taxed its limited intellectual proclivities and made that determination. Given the reality that we are not talking about a LLU (Limited Liability University), the question is, which organization, UC (a UNIVERSITY) or Lockheed/Martin (a CORPORATION) is in the best position to manage a CORPORATION?
 
If ANYONE thinks that it's not already the end of an era, they are only kidding themselves. To be honest, I'd rather UC not get the bid because of the partners they are bringing. The minute that the RFP required the retirement system be taken out of UCRP, and the addition of an industrial partner was the end of an era. Come on people... if you're waiting to see if UC gets the contract before deciding to leave, leave now. It will never again be the same LANL it ever was.
 
It's interesting to note the the RFP for LBL didn't require them to form an
LLC or to lose UC employee status or to leave the UCRP. My guess is that
the deal for the LLNL RFP in two years will follow the same path as LBL's.
I think the staff at LANL is getting a "special deal" from DOE on this
one. And it's a "special deal" that is making my ass feel mighty sore.
 
I suggest you learn to get used to it 1:14, it will become a familiar feeling over the next few years.
 
1:14 & 7:56 Posts,

You both have it wrong. As was the case at all of the other sites, the same scenario will play out here: 1) the original GOCO gets repeatedly beat up by DOE; 2)sharks inside the beltway --- legislative & regulatory-- sense blood in the water and begin to circle, each taking a few bites; 3) there is a massive feeding frenzy and one highly-publicized incident after another make it clear that the site operator can do nothing right; 4) the geniuses in DOE, prodded by one congressional committe or another, rebid the contract; 5) a new operator takes the helm and miraculously everything runs better, albeit at 2-5X the cost (1:14, the ensuing hiring binge will go a long way toward fixing your sore ass, if you own a house in town and plan to retire and move away in 1-3 years; if you don't own one and are investment-minded, BUY -- the prices are already headed up and you'll get a return much better than what the DOW will give); 6) although incidents and near misses continue at the same or higher rates, they are virtually ignored for 1-3 years as DOE and congress compete to take credit for saving us from certain disaster.

LBL was/is an anomaly; how could anyone other than UC run a lab that's sited on, and inextricably entwined with a UC campus. LLNL is next on the block, and unless I've missed something, the only remaining original GOCO left in the complex. Their time will come. NIF........
 
Interesting scenario 8:27...
 
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