Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cost of Lab Stand-Down Unclear

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

The federal government was justified in reimbursing the University of California for most of the cost of last year's work stand-down at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a new federal report concludes.

But that same report, released by the U.S. General Accountability Office, also finds that the exact cost of the shutdown cannot be determined.

Former LANL director Pete Nanos brought all but the most critical lab operations to a halt in July 2004, after a student was partially blinded by a laser and officials reported that two classified computer disks were missing. Lab officials later determined the disks never existed.

LANL estimated that the stand-down— which for some lab operations lasted 10 months— cost $121 million. A separate National Nuclear Security Administration review put the cost as high as $370 million. But according to the GAO report, neither of those numbers is accurate because LANL did not track actual time spent on stand-down activities like safety reviews and training.


Full Story

Excuse me ? ! ?

"But safety remains a concern, according to the report. One NNSA manager 'cited a culture of noncompliance' and said the lab 'was 10 years behind other DOE facilities in implementing safety practices,' the report says."

What a crock of shit ! ! !

(Sorry for the extra emphasis. But then UC's "spokesperson" just piled more shit on top of the NNSA/DOE pile.)

-Brad Lee Holian
“While the stand down and resumption period was a very difficult time for the laboratory, we firmly believe that Los Alamos National Laboratory is a safer, stronger and more secure laboratory because of the work of LANL employees to recommit themselves to the necessary policies and procedures,” University of California officials said in a statement.

---Let's not leave out 'compliant.'
Interesting that the headline was just about the cost. The most significant point of the report was that UC was justified and would be indemnified for the shutdown. The cost is history, just a bookkeeping detail, but got the lime-light. Culpability or justification are actionable.

GAO is hardly a UC or DOE patsy. They are auditors and take a hard look at justification. They are paid for a rigorous and unbiased analysis. They probably took a hard look at accident statistics across the DOE complex, while informed by a certain Physics Today article. If they gave UC management and Nanos a pass on justifiability, maybe the folks that thought the shutdown was unquestionably dumb might think again, if they are fair minded. If the GAO investigators think that the reports and stats indicate a problem with compliance, maybe the indignation spewed above should be redirected.
Carrot Gal:

You write reasonably well, so I suppose we may assume you are fairly intelligent.

This makes your insinuation that the shutdown was justified even more disturbing.

I was there last year. I know what happened. It requires no special intuition to realize that the decision to shut down an entire $2 billion / year laboratory over one false-positive security event, and one isolated safety event involving a summer intern was absolutely the wrong thing to do.

If the GAO says last year's shutdown at LANL was justified, then they are wrong.

Carrot_gal is quite wrong about the GAO (and DOE) auditors. An auditor is just an accountant that is too dumb to steal. Whether or not the shutdown was justified, LANL/UC, in cahoots with the NNSA, has lied about the total cost of the standdown.
Dougie dear,
You lost my penetrating insight into how stuff gets evaluated here. Do you mind if I repost it?

"If the GAO and/or the DOE came down on the side of your opinion, you would be trumpeting your vindication and glowing in self-congratulation. 

Any panel, judge, or official- no matter how qualified, is suspect of foul play and using "secret" information--if it does not line up with your views. 

A contrary ruling, written in stone and carried down the mountain by Moses, would have you bombastically condemning the narrow and biased, politically motivated, and shallow judgment of God. 

Evidence is that you consider yourselves to be omniscient. 

Your judgement, insight, and integrity, and understanding of fair play have not fared well these many months. 

Take a break and give the rest of us a break."
12/21/2005 08:11:08 PM
Why ever would I mind?
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