Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Laboratory Hiring Council

From the October 24, 2005 LANL NewsLetter.

The Laboratory Hiring Council
by Tom Bowles,
chief science officer

There has been a lot of discussion about [the Laboratory] forming a
hiring council, [primarily] that this equates to a hiring freeze or a
direction to hire only certain types of employees. I want to reiterate
the statements from [Director Bob Kuckuck] that this is not the case.
The Laboratory has historically managed to budget rather than to
staffing levels. We have hired as many people as possible and have not
simultaneously invested in infrastructure. As a result, we have old
buildings that are expensive to maintain and not enough high-quality
laboratory space; we have not reinvested in our facilities. We have
reduced the ratio of R&D to total TSMs [technical staff members] and
increased the fraction of SSMs [support staff members]. Many of the
problems we face can be traced to the lack of an institutional hiring
plan. These problems are compounded by the fiscal pressures we are
under. It was in response to these issues that the director created
the hiring council. Managing to both budget and staffing is standard
practice in successful organizations. The Laboratory Hiring Council
is charged to ensure that the new hires we bring in position us
optimally for the future. We are working to see where we can transfer
funding across directorates rather than transferring or hiring
personnel. We are exploring options other than external hires to
address increasing compliance needs. We are working to ensure we hire
the best new staff to meet our technical and support needs. Since
students and postdocs are critical to our future work force, we are
not changing the existing processes for their hiring or conversion to
staff the council is not involved in those actions. We are committed
to managing hiring effectively to improve our ability to meet both
staffing and infrastructure needs. The bottom line is that there are
no hidden messages in forming the hiring council. This was done in
response to long-standing issues that need to be addressed. Our goal
is to be proactive in our hiring efforts and to position the
Laboratory to have a strong and viable technical and support work
force for the future.

Comments:
"We have reduced the ratio of R&D to total TSMs [technical staff members]
and increased the fraction of SSMs [support staff members]." - Tom Bowles

Interesting comment from Bowles, but isn't it a bit late to just now be
observing that the science-to-support ratios are way out of wack at LANL?

Regardless of this, the new clean-up crew will soon be coming in
to begin our remodeling process. When they rip-out the old
sheet-rock, they'll certainly find lots of dry rot in our walls.
 
I believe all "Chief Whatever Officer" positions at the lab are included in the list to be replaced by staff from the new contractor's organization. CSO, CIO CFO, etc..
 
Amazing. It sounds like things would have been status quo if Director Bob wasn't here. Was he the only one of the best and the brightest managers that could figure this out?
 
This is a rather startling admission of ineptitude regarding UC's management of LANL.

Examples:

* The Laboratory has historically managed to budget rather than to staffing levels.
* We have hired as many people as possible and have not simultaneously invested in infrastructure.
* As a result, we have old buildings that are expensive to maintain and not enough high-quality laboratory space; we have not reinvested in our facilities.
* Many of the problems we face can be traced to the lack of an institutional hiring plan.
* We have reduced the ratio of R&D to total TSMs [technical staff members] and increased the fraction of SSMs [support staff members].
* Many of the problems we face can be traced to the lack of an institutional hiring plan.


Anything else you would care to share with us, Tom? Perhaps a few words on management's similar lack of an institutional program development plan.
 
I was told by the Bechtel spokesperson (in the bowels of the Hot Rocks building--labeled UCSD on the east side and UCSB on the south) that the Bechtel/UC team was NOT responsible for the hiring freeze...or whatever...that it was, in fact, the idea of the local upper Lab management (UC). As Spode said, the sheer number of (UC?) blunders admitted to by Bowles rather thoroughly inundates this latest one like a storm surge.

If a hiring freeze is needed at the Lab, it must surely not be at the technical staff member level, whose work is set to be disrupted, if not decimated by a significant number of retirements. As to continuing resolutions, it seems we've had those for six or seven years now, or as far back as my admittedly aging memory serves. So THAT can't be a serious factor in this latest of undecipherable conundrums (UC's).

It just boggles the mind. What next, before December 1st?

-Brad
 
Funny after years of neglect, climaxing in gross abuse of the LANL employees, how suddenly UC is trying to prove to the NNSA that they are competent managers after all. This is like the embezzler who when he's caught tells the court "I was going to pay it back."

Sorry Foley, you crapped in your bed, you can sleep in it.
 
This piece supports the fact that competing the contract was the right thing to do, painful as it is to the current inmates. Too bad it wasn't done back in 1992, or at latest 1997. It would have been if Domenci hadn't intervened.
UC has always been intent on their image, as good managers; rather than being good managers. Unclear that they are capable of seeing problems at LANL. Then of course there is Bob Kuckuck, the first head of the UC "oversight" office in 1992. He is now in charge of the mess he helped to create. At least he should know where the bodies are buried; he buried them. Among the bodies buried on his watch; the destruction of LANL personnel policies, by Jackson and Menlove, in 1993 while Bob was having lovely lunches in Oakland. The policy changes at LANL were NOT approved by UC, and they are pretty ugly.
 
Just to clarify, however: the hiring "freeze...or whatever" is UC's baby, and we are going to suffer under this until June 1, 2006. That's the word from the "other" partner (the big dog on the team), Bechtel.

"Suck it up," as St. "JGOI" Pete says.
 
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