Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Does this remind you of the incompetence of FEMA?

Publication: Santa Fe New Mexican; Date: Nov 29, 2005; Section: Local News; Page: 15

Report: Nuclear agency not ready for new contract
By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican

A federal safety inspector says the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos office is not ready to manage a new operating contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A shortage of qualified employees, lack of focus and staff turnover were among concerns mentioned by the federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board in a series of recent weekly reports.

The NNSA’s Los Alamos office “has issues that hamper effective oversight and is not ready to manage contract transition or the new contract,” an Oct. 28 report reads.

A spokesman for the NNSA’s Los Alamos office said his group is working to address the concerns raised by the board, which is an independent agency that aims to hold the country’s nuclear facilities accountable for safety issues.

The NNSA and a new contractor, which will be announced in December, will oversee the lab for the federal government. The contractor will manage the lab, and the NNSA’s local office will provide oversight on issues like security management, environmental stewardship and safety and health issues.

“We’ll continue to work very, very diligently and ensure that were going to have everything in place to have this contract ready,” said Bernie Pleau, a spokesman for the NNSA’s Los Alamos Site Office.

The Oct. 28 report also said the NNSA office will enter a three-month “strategic pause” in December for “an organizational reboot.”

Staffing needs, formalizing policies, training and qualifications would be covered during that time, the report said.

Pleau said his office is in the process of hiring 10 to 15 new people. There are about 131 NNSA employees working in the Los Alamos Site Office now, according to the office’s Web site. “We do think there is a staffing shortage right now,” Pleau said. NNSA is also analyzing how to do its job. “Everything is on the table,” Pleau said, “from public affairs clear on down to security management. And we’re trying to determine and focus on those areas where we think the work is most needed.”

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a nucleardisarmament watchdog group, said there’s no excuse for the government not to be ready for the contract transition.

After December’s contract announcement, the lab will enter a six-month transition period. The new contractor is scheduled to take over management of the lab on June 1, 2006.

Two coalitions are competing to manage the lab, which has a $2.2 billion budget and more than 15,000 employees and contractors. The University of California has teamed with Bechtel National, and the University of Texas has joined Lockheed Martin Corp. in the competition. The winner could earn up to $79 million a year to run the lab, which has been managed by the University of California alone since 1943.

What's it been, now: three years? The Neocons have wanted to privatize LANL since 2002, is that right? And NNSA, that beautiful creation of St. "Just-Get-Over-It" Pete, isn't quite READY to do the contract game?

They need "a three-month 'strategic pause' in December for 'an organizational reboot,'" for everything “from public affairs clear on down to security management." (!?!) (-Public Affairs needs to be BOOTED, not RE-booted.)

And you all out there think that UC has been "The Problem" with LANL? ? ?

I rest my case!

Needed is a totally new relationship between LANL and DOE LAAO. Much more like that between the DOE and Sandia.

LANL has far too much power over the DOE, because of Domenici. The result is that the DOE is afraid to push any issue too hard or they will get threats from Domenici's office.

With a LANL staffer sitting in Pete's DC office, to "solve problems" for LANL how can this work? It can't. Get that staffer the hell out of there, and break the feedback loop.

I have worked with some excellent DOE staff, many of whom, left LAAO in disgust, who went on to higher positions. To hire, and hold, good DOE staff at LAAO, this relationship must be reformed.

Also, LANL must absolutely stop hiring DOE staff. With LANL paying more than DOE, the potential of DOE going to work for LANL (the ascent to heaven) also contaminates the relationship. LANL is not above waving around potential employment to get their way with DOE. Such corrupt practices must be acknowledged and stopped.
Memo to: The University of California, Office of the President (UCOP)

Failure to utter even a peep about Nanos during the disastrous shutdown puts you in the category of a person who stands by and watches a crime being committed against a family member.

[I didn't want you to think that my criticism of NNSA/DOE meant that you were off the hook.]

According to people that I have spoken with, the news that NNSA's Los Alamos Office was "not ready" to handle the contract change-over came as a complete surprise to Senator Dominici's office. I imagine Linton Brooks is getting an earful today from the good Senator.

Nice one, Linton.
"With a LANL staffer sitting in Pete's DC office, to 'solve problems' for LANL how can this work?"

These sorts of checks and balances serve a very useful purpose of protecting a strategic national asset from harm. Why should DOE be afraid of a little Congressional oversight?
Response to Dug: Congressional oversight is one thing; being pushed around by the one who makes your budget is destructive as hell. Pete Domenici is the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resouces Committee, which means he makes the DOE budget in the Senate.

He uses this power of the DOE budget to reward failure at LANL (TA-55 for instance) with more money and to threaten the DOE whenever they push LANL too hard.

Pete created the NNSA, over Richardson's objections, refused to let the NNSA reorganize the Albuquerque office (must save the jobs) and now complains about the NNSA. Fact is the NNSA was, and is, a terrible idea.

Weak, dysfunctional, DOE management is what LANL and Pete want, and it is what they get. Reform of LAAO must begin with reform of the relationships between Pete, LANL, and the DOE.
For weeks poster “Lucky” has been given a free pass as he has bashed everything about Los Alamos. Do a search on Lucky’s posts: (1) All science at LANL is bad, (2) LANL is ignorant of the community, (3) LANL is stealing both California and New Mexico tax dollars! And (4) everything Domenici has ever done is corruption. None of these things are actually correct, but it makes for great LANL bashing. Now Lucky is claiming that LASO is bad because of Domenici. This is totally bogus, and Lucky’s posting have crossed all lines of reason. There is no LANL staffer in Domenici’s office. Once, Pete Lyons was there, but he is gone. However, there are 3 staffers on change of station from Sandia……..

Now LANL should pay the same as LASO? The pay scale at LANL is corruption? Every post that Lucky has made is suspect for factual content. It is not suspect for his hatred of Los Alamos.

I still think you could benefit from a vacation. You appear to be a tad testy, yet.

Congressional oversight is one thing; being pushed around by the one who makes your budget is destructive as hell.

Agreed. I wished DOE understood that concept.
The following is submitted at the request of an anomymous poster, not myself.


Doug & Brad, please post anonymously. Thanks and keep up the good work, this has been a great venue to post one's opinions and observations while being free of the worry of retribution at work.

This is my first post and I hope you don't find it to be too much of a personal attack. I think our friend Lucky is Mr. Mechels, who brings very little credibility with him as far as being unbiased. But if this is too much of a personal attack please disregard the post.

First time post, long time reader! I too have sat by and read the thrashing Lucky has been handing out. It sure reminds me of the rants that Chris Mechels posts in the New Mexican on every article that mentions LANL. I could be wrong, however, the volume of praise heaped on Sandia, combined with all the negative comments against LANL, mixed with mentioning Pete D. as the ultimate evil, it looks all too familiar. Regardless, don't give Lucky's posts too much credence, they are obviously the rantings of an angry man/woman, with an axe to grind.

Furthermore, Lucky, do you for a minute think that Lockheed doesn't have some pull with DOE or the folks in DC or for that matter that Pete doesn't go to bat for Sandia as well. Pete's paid to fight for his constituents best interests, just like Mr. Hobson does for his constituents. And although the "get over it" comments may have stung a bit, I can see him for what he is, a politician and one that has consistently championed the cause of the people of this State, and yes that does include those at LANL and Sandia. He may not always be right but then again who is?

In it for the long haul
With the privilege of being allowed to post psuedo-anonymously on this blog comes the responsibility of not saying anything that you would not be ashamed to have traced back to you.

If "lucky" is Chris Mechels, then that explains the similarity of his posts to what we frequently see in the New Mexican, the Monitor, the Journal, and the NewsBulliten.

If "lucky" is someone else, then I suppose that there are *two* Chris Mechels out there, ideologically speaking.

It is ironic that a three month "strategic pause" sounds a lot like what LASO does to some of LANL's experimental facilities. What is even more ironic is that the "pause" was apparently the result of a DNFSB report.

I suppose this means that the "Announcment" will be delayed until early Feb.
The hatred for UC and LANL sure fits the mold for Chris Mechels being
"lucky". However, this guy also seems to have a lot of hatred for
Domenici, which makes me wonder. He also has a fair knowledge
of pit production, and knows something about experimental physics,
which I doubt Chris Mechels knows anything about. For example:

NIF should have been killed a long time ago as the technology is wrong
(glass lasers are not a long term path to fusion)

** posted by lucky : 10/19/2005 11:11:53 AM **


darhtman must realize that a more apt comparison to DARHT would be LLNL's
FXR, which works just fine. FXR is the technical basis for the 1st axis of
DARHT, which works, although it was over budget and late.

**posted by lucky : 11/14/2005 10:33:15 AM**


I sense that "lucky" may be someone who works for DOE, due to his
knowledge of the pit production program and other big science projects
within the whole DOE complex. His extreme hatred of Domenici's "meddling"
with the DOE bureaucracy also leads me to believe that he works directly
within DOE. Whoever "lucky" is, he's one pathetic fellow who has been
totally eaten up with the cancer of anger. And he wishes nothing but the
worst for LANL.
I think that good2go is correct that lucky is NOT Chris Mechels. Mechels doesn't know anything about physics or LANL's work. He is dumb as a post. When he and I go to Cheeks, he doesn't even know how much to tip for a lap dance.
"Too bad they missed the real story of the LANL Foundation, which...is that the Foundation staff is 'eating' $700K per year which should be going to the kids..." "lucky," on the blog, 11/30 10:45AM

"Trust the DOE to attack the wrong end of the problem. They should be looking at the LANL Foundation overhead, which is $600,000 per year." Chris Mechels, on the Santa Fe New Mexican website, 11/30 10:00AM

I don't know Mechels, so draw your own conclusions.
I stand corrected. After "googling" some of Mechels letters to the editor,
it's now clear to me that he hates St. Pete, and the tone and cadence of
his writings do, indeed, seem to closely match those of "lucky".
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