Saturday, July 09, 2005

Lab retirements higher this June

-ROGER SNODGRASS,, Monitor Assistant Editor

Los Alamos National Laboratory's retirements, which typically peak in June, have exceeded numbers for the last two years, officials report.
They also reported total employment numbers are up.

From Oct. 1, 2004, (the beginning of the fiscal year) through June 30, 2005, a laboratory spokesman said there were 448 retirements. June alone saw 272 people retire.
With three months to go in the fiscal year, that amounts to a 5.4 percent rate for the first 9 months.

For the last two fiscal years the percentage of retirements was 3.1 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.
The June numbers are closely watched because employees who retire that month are eligible for the next year's cost of living increase.

In the past two years, said James Rickman of the public affairs office, retirements have spiked at about 100-125 in June and then leveled off.
This year's numbers have been of particular interest because of a competition for the contract to manage and operate the laboratory.

In the two years since former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced the competition, officials have been concerned about the possibility of a wholesale departure of employees from the laboratory as the policy machinery for accomplishing the change has been under a lengthy period of development and uncertainty.

The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Linton Brooks, New Mexico's two senators, Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman, and Gov. Bill Richardson have all urged lab workers to stay the course.

Employee concerns about retirement provisions included in a draft of the request for proposal for the competition were addressed, to some extent, by revisions to the final document.

A transition period between the old and the new management entities was extended, guaranteeing employees a six-month window before they would have to decide whether to stay or retire, on one hand, or retire and start again with the new employer as another option.

Regardless of who wins, the contract will be awarded to a new entity.

The University of California, the current manager, has joined the competition in partnership with a corporate team led by Bechtel. UC-Bechtel's most visible rival is aeronautic and defense giant Lockheed Martin and a consortium that includes the University of Texas System.

Compared to some of the worst-case scenarios and under the shifting circumstances that have been stressful for many, the number of retirements may be considered a moderate figure.

"Even as recently as the last week, some people were wildly speculating this would be the month we would see more than a thousand people walk out the door with their retirement," Rickman said. "That has not happened."

In fact, the total number of terminations (retirees plus 210 people who have quit or left for other reasons) is less than the total number of new hires since Oct. 1

The net gain, with 658 terminations in all and 794 new hires, amounts to 136 additional people in all.

There is still the issue of the "brain drain," that worries officials at the laboratory, with 43 percent of the retirees coming out of the weapons program and another 14 percent from homeland security.

These are areas central to the laboratory's mission in which experience and knowledge are at a premium.

That is a problem that's being addressed, Rickman said.

Meanwhile recruitment is going strong, he said, adding, "The lab is growing, not dying."

© 2003 Los Alamos Monitor All Rights Reserved.

What is unspecified is how many of the "New Hires" were in fact conversions under the Contingent Worker Project - the Nanos brainchild to cost the Lab more money. If the new hires were conversions, there would be no change in headcount, just change in status, leaving the retirements as a net negative. Given the glacial speed at which HR does any hiring, I can't imagine that they processed this many people as new hires from "outside."
Dawn is correct. Most of these new hires were in fact conversions and most were NOT in the TSM or TEC ranks. This is a sham!
Hence the reason for the retirements. LANL staff realizes that they cannot trust LANL, UC, DOE, NNSA, Domenici, Bodman, or Kuckuck. The smart move is to leave with what you have. Any organization that would throw innocent people to the wolves cannot be trusted to do what is right at any level.
The story is pretty simple, but the thread answering it is exactly why the Blog is dead. What kind of statement is "LANL staff realizes that they cannot trust LANL, UC, DOE, NNSA, Domenici, Bodman, or Kuckuck. The smart move is to leave with what you have. Any organization that would throw innocent people to the wolves cannot be trusted to do what is right at any level"??? There is no special conspiracy to attack LANL by all the named "evils". LANL is still a great science lab, and hopefully it will in the future despite the changing times.

Unfortantely, the statements like the last poster make us seem like we are entitled to everything, and that everyone else is against us. I think that people can trust Kuckuck for example -- but what do you expect him to deliver? your salary and an unaccountable job forever?
These "the blog is dead" comments are becoming a bit tiresome. If the blog has truly outlived it's usefullness, then it will become obvious and Doug will shut it down. Until then, give it a rest.
actually, the comments about the "blog is dead' are a lot less tiresome that the comments that all managers suck, and that everyone except the poster is worthless. I use to find that the blog was forum for raising real concerns and honest discussion. Now it is just about some COS being a bitch, some GL that only rewards his friends (and apparently never, ever listens to the very thoughtful input of the poster), all DLs get thier jobs though kissing up to Nanos, and that every AD is only cares about their salary.
From the contigent worker program, the individuals hired fell into two categories:

1. Contract personnel who wanted to be hired by UC. These individuals wanted the better benefits (maybe) and job security (maybe)of UC.

2. Contract personnel who DID NOT want to be hired by UC but were forced into UC employment because their contract positions were changed to UC. Some of these individuals were LANL/UC retirees who were double-dipping. I don't hazard a guess at what motivated others to want to stay as contract employees except that I know that in a few cases the salaries of the contract jobs were higher.

Nevertheless, James Rickman of the LANL Public Affairs Office is not being fully truthfull in his statement that "In fact, the total number of terminations (retirees plus 210 people who have quit or left for other reasons) is less than the total number of new hires since Oct. 1." So, again we find a reason to believe that we are being lied to by LANL/UC management!
I think the good news is the number of people are growing which will be good. Sure they are not very bright but that is ok. Also the managers suck. There are a lot of worthless people here. Hey I will be getting a nice job elswhere. If you suck your options are limited. But hey it is a free market and this is the way the world works. I think the managers need to start kissing ass to the good people if they want to keep them. When they leave that will be it for this place. Trust me.

I am also getting tired of the stupid posts on this blog from people who should have never been hired at LANL and now can never ever leave.
PA is full of it. How can anyone but a journalism major believe that there is any sort of balance if LANL loses 1750 TSM years of experience (appr 70 TSMs X 25 years each - my guess) but hires 100 Techs and support staff with zilch years of experience?
So goes LANL, so goes the nation...

U.S. losing lead in science and engineering

July 8 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half a century of U.S. dominance in science and engineering may be slipping as America's share of graduates in these fields falls relative to Europe and developing nations such as China and India, a study released on Friday says.

The study, written by Richard Freeman at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Washington, warned that changes in the global science and engineering job market may require a long period of adjustment for U.S. workers.

Moves by international companies to move jobs in information technology, high-tech manufacturing and research and development to low-income developing countries were just "harbingers" of that longer-term adjustment, Freeman said.

Urgent action was needed to ensure that slippage in science and engineering education and research, a bulwark of the U.S. productivity boom and resurgence during the 1990s, did not undermine America's global economic leadership, he added.

The United States has had a substantial lead in science and technology since World War II. With just 5 percent of the world's population, it employs almost a third of science and engineering researchers, accounts for 40 percent of research and development spending and publishes 35 percent of science and engineering research papers.

Many of the world's top high-tech firms are American, and government spending on defense-related technology ensures the U.S. military's technological dominance on battlefields.

But the roots of this lead may be eroding, Freeman said.

Numbers of science and engineering graduates from European and Asian universities are soaring while new degrees in the United States have stagnated -- cutting its overall share.

In 2000, the paper said, 17 percent of university bachelor degrees in the U.S. were in science and engineering compared with a world average of 27 percent and 52 percent in China.

The picture among doctorates -- key to advanced scientific research -- was more striking. In 2001, universities in the European Union granted 40 percent more science and engineering doctorates than the United States, with that figure expected to reach nearly 100 percent by about 2010, the study showed.

The study said deteriorating opportunities and comparative wages for young science and engineering graduates has discouraged U.S. students from entering these fields, but not those born in other countries.

These trends are challenging the so-called North-South global economic divide, the paper said, by undermining a perceived rich-country advantage in high technology.

"Research and technological activity and production are moving where the people are, even when they are located in the low-wage South," Freeman wrote, citing a study saying some 10-15 percent of all U.S. jobs were "off-shorable."

Dead...dying...not much difference, this blog story is getting stale, maybe rancid.

LANL has a place for those who cannot get along with each other or their bosses. It is like most industry, but it takes a little longer to find the exit.

Maybe the value of this blog is to enable these few, weak, and unhappy folks to recognize themselves and finally do something about it--leap across that fence into that green grass on the other side.

Like the classic story of the traveler, you will probably find people in the "village" you are headed to are very much like the people in the "village" you just left. Wherever you go, your bosses will be self serving, lying, bullying, etc., just as you describe them here. One day you may ask yourself what the common factor is....but probably not.

The good news is that you will be whining there, not here.

Hey, I have a novel idea for those who think the blog is dead or dying...leave! If you find that there is no longer any appeal for you, there's nothing keeping you here, right? So, allow me to bid you farewell and happy trails.

For those that stay, there may be some information which allows positive changes to come, either personally or professionally, individually or collectively. I suggest that for those who stick around, find the nuggets which help and share the positives when you can.
8:28 had some good points about the "grass being greener on the other side of the fence." Of course, compared to rural New Mexico, the grass is greener in most other parts of the USA. Yes, wherever you work there are going to be people who are hard to get along with, fakers, connivers, good and bad managers, and all other types. In practice, LANL is hiring some new outside people, but no superstars from first tier universities. They are converting some of the contingent workers to regular staff posts. On the other hand, retirements are up as are voluntary resignations, and rumblings of there-may-not-be-funding-next-year for contractors are out and about. If you're not happy at LANL you can do something or nothing and are as "stuck" as your own mind is. If you've never worked anywhere else but at LANL one can only imagine how scary the big bad outside world might seem. Maybe 8:28 is one of those people who is stuck at LANL, with no real world skills that would allow him or her to go anywhere else. Perhaps he/she doesn't want to, and that's good. We need people at LANL who are in it for the long haul. If they're not in it for the long haul and open minded, there are lots of good jobs out there if you're skilled, for which you'll get swooped up by a better paying company that has real opportunities, health benefits and room to move up. My husband and I both left LANL, sold our house in LA, and got a paid move to the East Coast courtesy of my new employer, and bought a new house in Virginia and a beach house on Nantucket. Haven't regretted leaving LANL for one second.
Missing the point...LANL is a headcount game for $ for Northern NM. Headcount distribution over skills is secondary.
Relevant to 10:37 comment.

"Go Where the Jobs Are" article my Marty Nemko.
Check out the HR web site at the lab and look at the hiring stats. This lab
hired only 15 Ph.D.'s in FY 2005. The PR department can spin the hiring
figures any way they like, but the "new talent" coming into LANL these days
is certainly NOT based on top-rated scientist.
In the new Engineering-dominated LANL it is ok to have a Masters degree in engineering. You don't get paid any more with a Ph.D. anyway.
Master's? In engineering? You won't even need that in the future. BS degree will suffice.
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