Thursday, August 18, 2005

What did the director talk about this afternoon?

Comment from the


"retirement incentive"

Hey anybody out there...what did the director talk about this afternoon? thanks in advance

I also missed this...what happened...anything of interest?
Nothing unusual.

(1) Safety problems need to be addressed. Moving toward behavior-based system as opposed to procedure-based system. Makes sense.

(2) Alternative work schedule. Of course this topic also drove some people to ask the inevitable child-care questions, and questions about how they might maximize their time away from work.

(3) The Future. Morale is recognized as a significant problem that likely cannot be fully addressed due to fact that there will be uncertainty for awhile.

(4) Gratuitious bullet about EP. What a nightmare that is. Has the director had to order anything yet?

(5) LDRD cut to 5% is probably inevitable. Plug about usefuless of WSR funding and other related trivia.

I know I'm missing a few things here, so maybe others can fill in the blanks.

Kuckuck ended with a list of things that LANL has done that are good, but haven't been widely recognized either inside or outside of LANL.

Overall it was positive, but had the feel of an illusion.
But, no golden parachute?
I watched the Director talk on Labnet today. The majority of time was spent on the alternative work schedules and the obligatory time was given to child care as it relates to work schedules. These are important quality of life issues for many and as such I think the Director did well in addressing them.

He also mentioned many of the problems that LANL is facing. Moral was a major point. I think he has a major dilemma in this area. The poor moral has different causes in different parts of the laboratory, at least since we got rid of Nanos. It is difficult to come up with a common solution that solves this issue for all.

He also talked about LDRD funding and infrastructure. It looks as if there will be a fair amount of new construction in the near future.

He mentioned the Enterprise Project and stated that LANL will continue to move forward with the full scale implementation. In my opinion that is a good reason to root for Lockheed. LANL can benefit greatly from the streamlined business practices that have been instituted at Sandia. UC has repeatedly shown its ineptitude in this area.

One interesting point is that he claimed he was going to work on removing some of the regulatory burdens and streamlining the training system. With UC's past track record I find that hard to believe. That is another area where Sandia has set a good example in my opinion.

Naturally the RRW was brought up as a challenge for LANL that will allow scientists and engineers to work on this new system for the nation.

To the Director's credit he made a point of highlighting some of the accomplishments that LANL has made in light of the disastrous recent past. The one that stood out to me was the W76LEP and the B61 programs since Todd and I have worked for years on these projects.
Unfortunately, the Director ended the meeting very quickly and I was unable to phone in to ask a question that many are still asking. "In light of Todd's enormous contributions to the successful projects you mentioned, what is LANL / UC doing to help the Kauppila Family?"

John Horne
Did anybody ask about an early retirement incentive?

The rumor du jour is that UC will offer a 3 + 3 (three years added to your length of service plus three years added to your age) early retirement incentive. When the contract changes the UCRP pensions of "transferring employees" will be moved to the pension plan of the new managing corporation. By offering the early retirement incentive, a lot of people will retire and their pensions will stay with UCRS. So, this will avoid a lot of money leaving UCRS.

Does anybody know if there is any truth to this?
As if there hasn't been enough incentive to retire already? Dream on.
I was wondering about that myself. What possible incentive could UC have for wanting to put more people on the retirement roles? UC is probably going to lose the contract, and aftwards they will shift a large chunk of remaining staff over to LM. Why should UC want to provide an early retirement incentive now?
The rationale behind an early retirement incentive now is to keep as much of the LANL employees' pensions in UCRS.
Well, maybe. A plus 3 plus 3 would incrementally lower the effective rate of return for the overall pension for each person that accepted. They'd be getting more benefits for less investment. A great deal for the retiree, not so great for UCRS.
What is being done for the Kaupilla family? I think they're stonewalling.
It was rather embarrassing. He almost apologized for saying that procedures will need to be followed. Then he said that he does not understand why people are getting hurt. I think if he sounded sure that following procedures is a good thing that the beginning of a culture change could start.
The problem with lab culture is that it believes procedures keep you safe. Procedures are a guideline. Using your head keeps you safe. The next problem in the equation is that people who know nothing about the operations they oversee add CYA steps that make the procedures unusable and prohibit people from using their heads which leads to accidents. The culture problem is in the bureaucracy.
The previous comment is very correct. There are far too many people in management (do NOT use the term "leadership") positions at LANL who are absolutely clueless about the technology and/or operations that they are managing. The MBA premise that "a good manager can manage anything" is a fraud and the DOE, UC, and LANL have bought into it with predictable results.
To get back to Doug Roberts orignal question at the beginning of this thread. The Director, who said in response to a question, that he could be addressed as Bob, sounded as though he was doing as well as possible in an essentially impossible job. Although he didn't say it in so many words, the implication was that if there is enough support for the idea, there will be no more changes in rules between now and 5/31/05 or somewhat earlier. (It will probably be somewhat later, one might guess. DoE was late on the RFP, and will likely be late on selection. That's what happens when a bureaucracy is not accountable for anything but its own preservation.) Also no internal audits that are not absolutely required by some external requirement. So, let's generate some support for that approach. If you have a choice between modifying a time-tested procedure to meet some new requirement that will have no or a negative effect on safety or documenting something that hasn't been documented, that took you some time to learn and that can help a younger employee after you're gone-5/31/06 more or less-opt for creating the useful documentation. "Bob" didn't say
"procedures" were better than expert knowledge, he just said they were a fact of life.
8/19/2005 08:51:33 PM said:
"The problem with lab culture is that it believes procedures keep you safe."

DOE has forced Lab management to believe that paper keeps you safe. Look at your latest IWD (or whatever they call it today) with all its signatures by subject matter experts who know nothing about the operation.

What should help keep you safe is a thorough understanding of the process that leads to a through hazard analysis, resulting in effective engineered controls aided by proper training and minimal administrative controls.

This used to be called a Standard Operating Procedure which served the Lab well until the bureaucrats became involved.

Your statement is exactly correct. Engineering controls are vastly more effective than any procedure based system. However, they are expensive and that is why LANL doesn't use them. Their answer is always to add another piece of paper rather than using technology to assist in repetitive or dangerous operations. If we had implemented engineering controlled systems for our classified inventory the human errors that led to the CREM debacle would never have occurred. The same is true for many other operations at the lab.

Yes, engineered controls are the best solution. They work very well in a manufacturing evironment where tasks are unchanging and very repetitive. In our R&D environment, it becomes much more difficult to fully-implement engineered controls. So, we must deal with a mix of engineered and administrative (procedural) controls. Like it or not, that is the way that it is.
Yes, engineered controls are the best solution. They work very well in a manufacturing evironment where tasks are unchanging and very repetitive. In our R&D environment, it becomes much more difficult to fully-implement engineered controls. So, we must deal with a mix of engineered and administrative (procedural) controls. Like it or not, that is the way that it is.
You are also correct 6:44. I understand the need for integrated engineering and administrative control systems. I worked extensively on such a system when we commissioned the DARHT facility and it works well. My point was that LANL, in general, does not invest appropriately in engineered systems and relies far too much on inadequate and poorly written procedures. Even where procedures are done correctly risk analysts will generally allow for two 9s reliability factor for a given operation because of the high risk of human error. We are expected to work in the five to six 9s region and that cannot be achieved through procedures alone. It is a fact that LANL is an enormous failure at implementing well rounded controls for its operations and business systems.

Regarding the previous post: yes, the " integrated engineering and administrative control systems" may have worked well at DARHT. BUT, the 2nd axis STILL does not meet the specification!
The DARHT 2nd axis will never meet the specification. The specification will change until success can be declared. Sad.
And it probably never will meet specifications, but that makes it even safer. No radiation, No Hazard.
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