Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I almost feel sorry for Lockheed Martin

Submitted by "Finknottle":


You know, I almost feel sorry for Lockheed Martin and their crew of "alliance helpers" if they do win the contract for Los Alamos. There will probably still be a small core of talented, experienced, hard-working staff on site when the keys to the joint are handed over. There will, unfortunately, be a larger core of burned-out, browned-out, embittered, and even passively-aggressively malicious staff on hand to greet the new management team.

The years of neglect and inept management at LANL will have left the new landlord with a system that is entrenched in bureaucracy, brainless procedure, inefficiency, and rampant apathy. Not to mention an ambiguous mission.

There will be some trash to be hauled. Then, the new top-level managers will need to work very hard at earning the trust of LANL staff if there is to be any hope of improving the work environment here, which quite frankly sucks badly at present. In part, that trust will have to be earned by clearing out some of the lesser-quality second and third-tier managers that have become a part of the landscape. The process could take years.

The mission: what will C. Paul tell us that our mission is? Pit manufacturing? Bomb maintenance? Something a bit more appealing, scientifically speaking?

Foreign nationals: what will be the new policy regarding FNs? In the past they have played an important role at LANL. What about after June 1, 2006?

Cleaning up the operational side of the house is one thing. Important, yes, but without a mission that will reverse the trend of talent migrating outwards, and instead cause scientists to again want to come to Los Alamos because of exciting work opportunities, well, we will end up with an efficient pit manufacturing facility. Thanks, but no thanks to that.

Don't feel sorry at all.

These people should definitely know what they are getting into by now. If they don't, well then they had some poor or uninformed intelligence sources.

From 75% of some 3300 employees basically casting a vote of "no confidence" in the current LANL management (using the response to the LANL management will act on problems identified in the Checkpoint Survey question as the proxy), to a deeply entrenched entitlement mentality, to an uncertain future funding picture, to an average 32% positive response claiming morale in their group is high, to only 37% of the employees believing managers are held accountable for unethical behavior...

In any event, assuming they win, how they deal (or not) with these issues will certainly be interesting.
It is my hopes that what you have predicted will come true. It will be a lesson well learned. LLNL already knows that funding this year is going to be cut and are holding meetings to discuss who is going to be on the EBA list and how many, if in fact we get those cuts. So things are not looking good.

Now all that we need in order to sink the ship is a deep cut in NIF's budget, a 30% cut in the over all labs budget and the UC and DOE will in fact have to do something. I will bet that it will not be good, for all.

Over the past few months in monitoring the LANL The Real Story Blog I have comes to two conclusions. Either UC did not want LANL at all, or UC wants to wash it hands of all DOE labs entirely. For what reason I do not know. I can only assume that there are no more missions for us to accomplish.

Good luck to you all and wish us well.

LLNL will know by June of 2007 or sooner.
There are more than enough serious national and global problems to go around to keep all the labs fully occupied. If the labs get sharply reduced funding over the next few years, it is only because they haven’t been very good at staking out critical national issues to address and convincing Congress of their competence to address these issues. It is true that in the old days of the Cold War the Soviet threat was enough to keep the funds flowing freely from Congress. Those days are past. Now the labs need to prove that they can provide substantial progress in critical national problems so as to justify their funding and their existence.

Translation: If the labs want more funding from the public, they need to prove they are doing something worthwhile to justify that funding. And esoteric journal articles don’t count for much here. Solutions to critical problems and breakthrough science count more.
Well, you can't hardly argue with that, Bill. +/- the influence of the religious right/left, that is.

Bottom line remains, though: the labs need to learn how to put up, or shut up.
somehow, I think both L-M and Bechtel know how to "put up or shut up." Let's face it, the days of old are gone. If you aren't funded, bye bye. Nobody's staying on overhead. Bye bye ecology group. bye bye anyone who isn't contributing to the bottom line (eg profits)
As an added thought, both L-M and Bechtel have spend a bundle of money on the bid. Regardless of who wins, they WILL get their investment back. You might work in a pit production facility, or you might be working on the guidance system on the new Hellfire 3 missile. The point is, if you work on what they want you to work on, you will (most likely) have a job. If you won't, well, you won't.
K. Boland has it exactly right: The issue is NOT pensions or benefits, my friends; it is JOBS. The number of staff at LANL, who still think that if UC wins the contract, everything will go back to the way it was, is phenomenal. I keep hearing it in the hallways, over and over.

The focus now, as Bill Godwin has stated earlier, should be on our future, namely, what we can do to help with the energy crisis, the population problem, global warming, global political instability, and other REAL problems we face. By the way, if you really think that Pu pits and bunker busters and Star Wars are the future, then go for it, but I think the other, bigger calamities are where we have to put our efforts at LANL, if we really want to make a difference--and if we really want to survive as a nation.
You said,"The issue is NOT pensions or benefits, my friends; it is JOBS"

Pension and benifits is all that is it about, unless of course you want to work until the day you die. That is not for me no matter how dedicated one is. No pension and no benifits = no employees. That to me is the logical move for all to take.

"The number of staff at LANL, who still think that if UC wins the contract, everything will go back to the way it was, is phenomenal. I keep hearing it in the hallways, over and over."

You are correct on this one. There will be change and it will not be good. It will be no pension and no benifit. That call is yours. It is the choice the new corporations are going to give you no matter if it is UC, Bechtel or Lockheed.
"The number of staff at LANL, who still think that if UC wins the contract, everything will go back to the way it was, is phenomenal. I keep hearing it in the hallways, over and over."

I've seen it myself. However, I hold the belief that people who choose not to think for themselves have earned the rights to experience whatever results arise from their refusal to face reality.

"You are correct on this one. There will be change and it will not be good. "

Why is it that so many people assume all change will be bad? It will certainly be different, but it might well be an improvement. Of course if all one cares about is pensions, then it may be worse. But for some people there are other important values, like being able to do worthwhile science in a supportive environment.
Well Bill, I think you have hit on an something here.

Let's give people at LANL some choices. How about 1) Doing "world class science" with no pension, 2) Doing "worthwhile science" and a pension plan, say, the LM plan for new employees after Jan 1, and 3) Doing the mediocre day-to-day science and engineering, or the mundane bean-counting, etc. and the current UC plan.

I think this would be an interesting study in value and preference tradeoffs.
As I said before. If the people of LANL and LLNL were smart the formula for staying or leaving would be as follows:

No pension and benifits = No Employees to do the work.

Of course they will probably go to India and get all of the people they need to do the job, but that's their choice not yours.

It seems that things are going that way anyhow. Today I was informed that we have sent people from our Materials Fabrication Division from LLNL to Libia to show them how to work some NC machines. I can not confirm this but it does sound typical. I guess they will be our next vendor for having cheap parts made. Can anyone see where we are going on this nationally?

It is time to walk. Retire if you can and that's that.
But the choice doesn't seem to be UC pension and benefits vs no pension and benefits. What is most likely (whichever team wins) is somewhat lower benefits and pension than currently, but still better that 99% of the US population and 99.99999% of the rest of the world.

Clearly, if the UC pension is the most important thing in life to you, then retire on the UC pension if you can, or try to get a job in the UC system if you are too young to retire. You will be happier, and so will the lab.

Otherwise, if the lab allows you to do satisfying work, take the pension plan that is offered and take more resposibility for your own retirement. (eg - save more, like the rest of us).
I have to doubt that o-hica is really a LLNL employee. A few misspellings is 1 thing, but repeated it gets ridiculous. It is spelled "BENEFITS." And, hello, there will be some with either L-M or Bechtel-- just not as good as people are used to.
Yes, I want a job that will pay me tons of $$ to do whatever the hell I feel like doing, and pay me 100% of my pay in retirement, but that's not going to happen. As Mr. Godwin said, either contractor is still better than lots of other people get. And I don't think pit manufacturing will ever be outsourced to India.
"Yes, I want a job that will pay me tons of $$ to do whatever the hell I feel like doing, and pay me 100% of my pay in retirement"

People in hell want ice water too, but that party is over. The next generation will have no pensions, no benefits and no medical coverage. This simply translates into working until you are dead. I guess it's all good, hah ?
Bill, you have a point on saving more money. I do so mainly because I have minimal confidence in Soc Sec and any pension plan that does not let me take my pension as an equivalent lump-sum. I have boosted my savings to 45% of my gross after my child finished college. I max out the 403b and 457. I make about the average TSM salary.

I have heard anecdotal stories that Los Alamos has a large number of people that are at the extremes of money management. One group is extremely frugal, the other spendthrift to the max.

Interesting that about 52% of LANL UC employees participate in the 403b, while it's 63% for LLNL UC employees. Many of the UC campuses have participation percentage rates in the low 30's (2004 UCRS Annual Report).
As b-ohica said:
"Pension and benifits is all that is it about, unless of course you want to work until the day you die."

Unfortunately, your pensions and benefits are gone. You are going to have to do something drastic unless you are allowed to work until the day you die. You will have to figure out how long you are going to live and find a way to save enough money to provide you with food, clothing, and shelter until then.

Unless you make a whole lot more money than I did, and have no one else to care for, you need to be pouring a lot of your take home pay into savings that you can absolutely depend on being there for your survival after you are no longer able to work. You need to do this now.

Good luck.

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
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