Wednesday, August 03, 2005



This comment was at the end of the "waste fraud, etc." post, which by now is pretty far down the stack. It is obvious that a fair amount of thought went into this contribution [are you listening, Gary?], and that it deserves top billing.


What amazes me is that LANL job ads will have REQUIRED SKILLS that say things like "Extensive knowledge of LANL policies and procedures", "Extensive knowledge of LANL organization", etc and then they post it as "open to all" and then hire someone from the outside with absolutely no idea of what we are about.

You can apply for a job... respond in detail to each required and desired and have 20 years of LANL experience and not even get an interview. And get a canned HR letter that says you didn't meet the job requirements. Or even get an interview and then realize you were just a data point in the HR matrix. It's like the job is already wired. Or they don't know who they want but they know who they don't want. HR - why not just get rid of you and let the hiring official do what he wants anyway..HR is totally ineffective-but really good this time of year establishing ORC limits, pay raise limits, enforcing salary management, and working managers through the grievance process, etc.

LANL won't reclass someone to the next higher level but they will hire someone from the outside at the higher level. And no career growth.. once you claw your way to a position you better settle in for a long haul because that's it for you unless you know or blow someone.

I have 3 decades of years here but just not quite old enough for leaving to be survivable. I certainly hope someone pays attention to what goes on and makes changes. I just can't pack in all in yet like some.

Add up all the salaries of Barb Stine, Bob Day, Tony Stanford, Fred Tarantino and his hired admin, Mitch Harris, Ray Wallace, Al Jiron, Carolyn Mangeng, Scott Gibbs, Vann Bynum, Dave Beck, Rich Mah, Rich Marquez, Don Cobb (I could keep going) and every other ineffective manager or former manager out there, etc and see what you come up with for numbers. Divide it all in half, run some job ads, and we could get people in here who actually can work and could could really whoop some ass and get something done. And save money. Some of the worst here are the Rocky Flats hand me downs. They came here like roaches escaping a flood and we end up with all of them spreading the Rocky Flats poison around. No wonder Rocky went away. We'll soon be the Los Alamos Environmental Research Park.

This lab is rampant with waste, fraud, and abuse. You don't have to steal or cheat the system. Just stay long enough and know someone and you can be one of them.

Just another $.02 from a DRIVELER and bitter poster.

Doug - thanks for NOT being a Jim "Baghdad Bob" Fallon and suppressing the voices of LANL.

I wish I could do justice to this comment; each name is worth a piece. Please don’t stop your assessments. I wish I was as succinct. My guess of your topic sentence: We need a high-salaried-special projects/leader/whatnot! What should we do?!. Round up the usual SUSPECTS!

Your ‘Special Projects” (SP) reference, (among others) is a great example. What’s his theme? Everyone that works for him is not as smart as he is! They want to rip off the system! He is necessary to control the “children” (how convenient since the adults have been dismissed). UC’s sin is his game has been caught, but his salary stays the same. The second sin is his progeny still successfully exist. (They still complain how useless everyone is- but themselves.)

But life still is good. I now work for a directorate/division now that has none of the afore-referenced in the food-chain (FC).

I can honestly say we’re trying to recover (painfully, with only attrition, and without salary-cuts).

Allow some guilt (of mine) to take over: yeah, we talk about the bad (rightfully so), but the DV-Beason chain is the best management I’ve seen for a while. I work hard (too hard), but it’s still fun (at least for a refugee of the SP-FC).
Whoa - Hold on here. Its a 2 class HR system here. Managers and Scientists are in there own and then there is the one for the rest of us. I resent canning job ads for specific people and skills. The ads should reflect whats really required for the job and not for a specific in-duh-vidual as some ads seem to be.
I used to be on good terms with an HR manager in a different company, and once complained to him that it seemed like some of the jobs were "hot wired" for a particular individual. He told me that HR thought that about half the job postings were hot wired, but they couldn't conclusively tell which half. The philosophy was to continue job postings - even if it was only 50% effective - for the good of the organization.

Of course, that HR organization was competent, rather than an EEOC dumping ground like LANL. C'mon Paul Robinson!
Oh God,
I am such a victim of an impossible system! If you are a capable internal employee - do good work, build a reputation and network. If you are external - find the person who is doing the hiring and call them. The Lab is highly regulated. Don't be so simple as to blame HR. Show some initiative.
I am flattered by the invitation to comment on the thoughtfulness of this piece.

There is some thought in the first three paragraphs (which I will come back to below). But then she degenerates into a blame “everyone in authority” rant that is jumbled, incoherent and misdirected. Clearly there is a lot of frustration expressed and a desire to blame others for personal failure.

Many of us have applied for jobs we wanted and for which we thought we were well qualified. I have been in the position a time or two of reviewing job applications and interviewing candidates. I have also worked successfully to advance people who were qualified. While many, here, may disbelieve it, there is often a significant gap between how an individual views him/herself and a potential employer’ view. In my experience, this gap is often a result of poor attitude or over-inflated sense of importance of the applicant. Just meeting the Required and Desired requirements is not sufficient! Some times the most unsuitable candidate is the most insistent that they are perfect for the job. Imagine that!

Most of us see ourselves in a more favorable light than we see our competition. We emphasize our strengths and rationalize away our weaknesses. It is not uncommon for someone to wince when they are shown a candid photo of themselves because the depiction is unfavorable in their own view. But the rest of us often see them as they do not want to appear. Embrace reality.

I think that it is pathetic and libelous for some here to name a list of managers and indict them as incompetent, dishonest, or fraudulent with no substantiation. Management is not a popularity contest. Many at LANL think that they, personally, should have a veto over manager’s decisions. Our tendency to assert our opinions without authority or full knowledge of the decision space leads to chaos. (This is not a comment on a specific T-Div research area!)

While the current personnel system “is not perfect” and has permitted abuse of hiring on occasion, the tendency of the contributors to this blog to cite anecdotal incidents of problems and then assert that it represents the uniform nature of the lab or an individual is dead wrong. There are a huge number of successful and fair hiring and promotion actions here.
Promoting qualified people internally is good. We have lots of skill training opportunities and I hope we are all growing in ability. If this author has been steadily passed over for promotion for thirty years, she might do well to look for the constant factor in each of those applications and refine that element. (I am not talking about poor grammar, but fixing that might also help.)
Gary Stradling –
You stated “I think that it is pathetic and libelous for some here to name a list of managers and indict them as incompetent, dishonest, or fraudulent with no substantiation.” Since you are an employee of PADNWP, please substantiate the external hiring practices of your Principle Associate Director, in particular the hiring of his admin and chief-of-staff. How were they more qualified than the internal candidates especially since they knew nothing about the Laboratory and I understand have very little experience and in the case of the admin no college. I can not believe there were no internal candidates who were not qualified for these positions and would have liked the opportunity. You also state “while the current personnel system is not perfect and has permitted abuse on hiring on occasion.” Please comment on the fact that these two external hires were brought in as an OS-7 at $65,000.00 ($42,000.00-$73,500.00 range; $56,000.00 market mid point) and as a SSM-4 at $115,000.00 ($71,000.00-$133,000.00 range; $102,000.00 market mid point), both salaries approved by HR. The said admin has already been reclassed to SSM-2 making over $71,000.00 ($50,500.00-$88,400.00 range; $67,500.00 market mid point) and she hasn’t been at the Laboratory a year. A reclass also approved by HR. The “current personnel system” is flawed big time! Prove me wrong.

What do you do for PADNWP besides stand on your little soap box and rant to us incompetents on the LANL Blog? Is your official title "LANL Blog Ranter"?

Didn't you get the message before, we do not care what you think. Please go away.
Gary how can you tell the author is a women?
Once again, Gary says something thoughtful and people try to tear him down for pissing on their entitlement parade. If everyone were as intelligent as Gary, the lab would be a better place. I get some useful info on this blog, but unfortunately the loudest voice (and most frequent post) is usually the stupidest one.
1) Everyone who applies to a job ad, other than the offer recipient(s) are "data points." If the job isn't yours, you are a name on a piece of paper. Sorry if that hurts your ego, but it's the truth.
2) LANL will reclass people, and it's done A LOT. I've been here 4 years and reclassed twice as a contractor, and then hired on as UC, with substantially higher pay. I make ~20K more than I originally hired at.
3) How do you do a contractor to UC hire without a "canned" job ad?

My point: if you have something useful to say, say it. Meaningless "management screwed me over" posts do nothing, except make the lab look like a bunch of whiners. (Which isn't hard to do.) If you are good, you WILL get promoted. If not, maybe it's time to realize you aren't as good as you think.
BTW: I'm a second generation LANL employee, and both my parents got lots of promotions too, in several different directorates.
11:41 The “current personnel system” is flawed big time! Prove me wrong.
My point may be too subtle for you. Anecdotal complaints do not prove a system is systematically broken and do not help the poor woman who felt ganged up on by HR. There are numerous successful applications every day using LANL’s system. She should get qualified, adopt a better attitude, make sure that she is the kind of applicant that legitimately rises to the top of the interview list and follow advice from respected advisors of what jobs really are within her range of capability. If the author is male, the same still applies. (Note-there may be better hiring systems, but that does not mean that this one is fundamentally corrupt.)

[What do you do for PADNWP besides stand on your little soap box and rant to us incompetents on the LANL Blog?] 12:53
1) I wrote that piece after midnight after returning late from travel. I emphasize that my socializing here is not connected to my job in any way other than as an interested citizen of Los Alamos National Lab. I do not speak for LANL nor for any organization, but only express my own views.
2) rant ( rănt ) v. To speak or write in an angry or violent manner.
a. Your characterization of my comments as a “rant” are consistent with the overall inclination of angry bloggers to demonize anything with which they do not agree.
3) Defination- Social competence: Competencies and skills related to interaction, eg social judgment, empathy, and the repertoire of communicative behavior. The ability to act in a way appropriate to the situation and to achieve a specific result, appropriate to meeting interaction requirements related to a specific activity (eg role flexibility, adaptability, conflict resolution); in group work conditions, the term is occasionally used as a synonym for the term 'team player'.
a. Self knowledge is a wonderful thing. Anonymous mud slinging and angry rants are the last resort of the socially and organizationally impotent. It is like howling at the moon. You want to have a vote on subjects affecting you and are frustrated that things are not going as you want and expect. You are ineffective in organizational dynamics. I do not point this out to mock you. Several of you are very talented in your chosen fields and produce quality work.
b. Some of you can learn to be effective in accomplishing your legitimate desires. There are MANY effective people in this organization. (But no one is omnipotent.) There are many excellent books on how to influence without authority. Angry ranting on a blog falls off the bottom of the list of effective techniques.

12:53 [Please go away.]
After you :-)
Hurray for Gary!! I vote him for the 2005 Los Alamos Medal!
As with so many things LANL related, I find myself perplexed by your position, Gary. Once again, I have only my own experience base and that of trusted colleagues to genuinely draw upon. I have served on nearly a dozen search/selection committees while at the Lab. In each and every case, the individual actually hired was not the individual recommended (sometimes unanamously) by the committee. Given such a consistent disregard for the checks and balances, one must ask if the present HR system is either corrupt, or easily corrupted, or both? I'm sure you'll tell us that PADNWP is different. Maybe I'm just jaded, but (without naming names) their hiring track record looks pretty bad too from where I sit. BTW, I don't believe that HR should be "perfect" even if perfection could be defined. Neither do I believe in "6-zeros" or the toothfairy. I do believe we have a lot of room for improvements. An honest, frank appraisal of the situation would be a good start IMHO.
I am willing to give my general and personal view of how job selection should occur. I do not know how it aligns with LANL HR policy and practice. I will not engage in discussion of any specific personnel actions.

A selection committee should aid the decision maker in identifying suitable candidates and help highlight particular pluses and minuses and should not dictate the winning candidate. The responsibility for the choice lies with the decision-maker.

The cost of a wrong choice is pretty high, particularly in cases where there is a close working relationship or heavy organizational responsibility. I have seen managers saddled with “qualified” support staff who were fractious and difficult. It burdened the manager, limiting the effectiveness of the organization.

Having said that, when personal relationships obviously and consistently outweigh expertise in hiring decisions, there is danger of undermining the standing of the decision-maker with the subordinate staff and with peers.

As in many management issues, balance and degree matter a lot.
Thanks for asking.
Indeed 'the cost of a wrong choice [has been] pretty high'. I also agree the ultimate choice is with the hiring official. However, if those officials consistently disregard the 'advice' from the hiring committee(s), one must ask why such committees exist in the first place? In my experience, it is often to cover up the fact that the hiring official is part of what can best be described as an old boys (or just as often girls) network. I have stopped serving on such committees because it is largely window dressing and a waste of time. Many colleagues that I have spoken with about this issue feel similarly. Part of what you see (and take issue with) on this blog is a backlash from many many years of systematic abuse. While I think we can agree that the vast majority of LANL personnel are hard working and ethical in their work assignments, I would assert that there are too many people who have learned to work a broken system to personal advantage. Since UC seems entirely unable to deal proactively with such situations, I welcome LM onboard in hopes that they can turn things around.
I agree with you Scott. The 7 "Hiring Committee" exercises I was involved with were clearly: 1) wired for someone, or 2) the decisionmaker totally ignored the committee's suggestions.

In the case of 2) that's fine that the decisionmaker has the final say, but why waste 6 people's time interviewing candidates and putting together a list?
Gary you say promoting qualified people internally is good, well I only see this happening if you have a Degree are you’re White. I think HR hiring practices sucks. If you are a minority in NMT-9 you’re not going anywhere. Our group leader loves Rocky Flatters and people with degrees even if they can’t do the job. All someone has to do is look at the raise that whites get compared to minority. You have people in this group that has been here a lot longer than some of the people they recently hired, in one to two years their making more money than the people that have been dedicated to the group for a lot longer. Once the new comers get the money they leave and it starts all over again. I would like to know how the minority get the shitty jobs while the whites get the gravy jobs. They have TSM that work on the floor as Tec making 100,000 dollars, but if you let them tell it there training Bull.

This group pretends to be straight shooter but with HR, the minority don’t stand a chance. It doesn’t matter how much you ask someone to look into it, they always have reason why they did it like they did. One of the Tec quit last year because he didn’t like the way the group was ran, but guess what there bring him back and doing it on the sneak. Open and close the job right away, without interviewing other candidates.
To correct a rampant misconception, LANL does not have hiring committes. We have screening committees. Guidance can be found at:

These screening committees may be used as a tool by the manager, but ultimately, hiring, and its consequences, falls on management shoulders.
[8/07/2005 10:52 PM
"I only see this happening if you have a Degree are you’re White. …

"I would like to know how the minority get the shitty jobs while the whites get the gravy jobs. They have TSM that work on the floor as Tec making 100,000 dollars, but if you let them tell it there training Bull. …

"… he didn’t like the way the group was ran, but guess what there bring him back and doing it on the sneak."]

Dear minority ranter-
Your post was apparently either made while you were asleep, (some here claim to post when they are drunk-an entirely supportable assertion) or you are lacking in the educational training/writing skill needed to compete with someone who “has a Degree.” Skin color and ethnicity has nothing to do with it. I enjoy the social and professional company of many talented and well-trained people who are not white.

I have had the excellent experience of visiting with many immigrants to this country, of varied colors-but mostly not white-while they were working entry-level jobs: clerk, taxi driver, etc. These were people from Ethiopia, Somalia, Philippines, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine, etc. I like to ask them, “What are you studying?” They wonder why I would ask, but frequently answer with some substantive course of study at a college. Recent answers include: economics, law, mechanical engineering, electronics, etc. The ambitious, aggressive, determined risk taking of many hard-working immigrants continues to supply a critical vitality to this nation.

Note-these people are not on scholarship and they work full time jobs! While enrolled, they will learn the grammar that you have missed while you dodged a free education in the US.

When I ask the same question, in a similar context, of indigenous minorities (pick your color), I often just get a blank look.

Should there be TSMs doing TEC jobs? Probably not. I like to see TECs grow to TSM jobs, and to help them get the promotion. Tenure in your group cannot be the main determination of salary growth; capability and contribution should be.

If you want to get ahead, pay the price. But do not blame an “unfair system” for the disadvantage of your own laziness.

(Note also—there are a lot of “degreed” professionals at LANL who have not been willing to pay the price of understanding how to function well in complicated organizations. The last statement applies to them too.)


To 8/07/2005 10:52 PM
I apologize for being unnecessarily harsh in my earlier post. In retrospect, I can think of a number of circumstances where a person would find themselves inadequately trained for their desired earning level, without being lazy. So please forgive the condemnation, but please accept the encouragement to advance your education to better qualify yourself for the work you want to do.

I am personally frustrated that a number of different cultures in this nation seem to glorify ignorance and low education and build enmity against those who would raise themselves up. The nation needs all of its citizens to be the best they can become.

My grandfather arrived in New Mexico as a young man in the late 1800’s. He had only had one-room schoolhouses meeting a few months a year in frontier Virginia, but he attended as much as was available. When he arrived here (Abiquiu), he taught school. When he homesteaded in Carson, he built a school and donated it to the community (and served as teacher and political advocate for education). My father went into a job-training program in his mid forties to improve his job prospects. I worked for my college education, as did many at LANL (and as do my children). In Hong Kong, I saw that refugees from communist China would willingly work three jobs to pay the school fees for their children. They were wise. Today public education is free to us and there are a lot of scholarships for those who want to attend college. Yet many I this area, and among the urban poor, act hostile to education.

If you want to get ahead, this is a world rich in opportunity. I hope that you will find the courage and pay the price to take advantage of those opportunities. It is a great world.
By the way, I have a degree, and graduate with honors, thank you very much. I also had to walk ten miles no shoes and live in a barn. But I refuse to be something that the world say I should be.Proper speech doen't make the person smart ass. I can tell that you'er the type person that think he's knows everything. But its people like you that don't understand while sitting in your little house on the hill. Go to Espanola much?
I have heard the same complaint and allegation made for the recent hiring of the new PADNWP "AOS" position. What kind of garbage is that, I hope the first thing the new contractor does is audit PADNWP's hiring practices and have them publicly justify their hirings, in particular the one referenced above. I know for a fact that their selected candidate was in NO way the most qualified she "beat" candidates FAR more qualified with years of LANL experience and education. It was a joke and I am sick and tired of the hiring practices at the Lab. As a hiring official for many positions, I am frequently asked during the interview process "Can you please be straight with me and let me know if you already have someone in mind for this position", the fact that applicants are even forced to ask that is ridiculous and shameful, it is obvious there is a trend here and I hope that it stops soon. It is a waste of time to set up these "screening committees" and make a mockery of people who show up qualifications and hopes and dreams in hand, only to waste their time to "check the box" Well at least Tarantino is happy, his "admin" got the job!
[09:31:40 PM
"I refuse to be something that the world say I should be. Proper speech doen't make the person smart ass. "

You are complaining about not being able to compete because you say the system is corrupt. Competition is about "what the world say". If you appear incapable, you will not get the opportunity YOU want.

If you keep that defensive attitude, you will stay stuck where you are. The world is full of people who have been thru hardship. Why not use your experiences to help you?
poster 8/07/2005 07:24:01 AM

I too have served on quite a few selection committees. After serving on them I quickly learned that the jobs were already given and the GL had already made the decision to hire long before the selection committee was formed. I then asked the GL one day about it and he bluntly told me that the selection committee is a formality. I then told him that I never want to be part of one again as you are wasting 6 weeks of my time and he never asked me again, but retaliated against me for doing so. He even told me to my face you are a scapegoat for me as I am the GL. I told him to get a life!
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