Friday, December 23, 2005

How about positive rather than negative?

From: "TravisMcGee"

Doug, you did a great service for LANL even if management at LANL, UC, and DOE never give you credit for it. I heartily endorsed the blog as a way for employees to express opinions about LANL policies since postings to the Reader's Forum were censored. And I also endorsed the blog because of the postings about the CREM incident, the shutdown, safety issues, and management issues in various divisions. And I fully accept that you and Brad, along with anyone else who wanted to, used it to express opinions about which of the two teams was the "better".

However, as I believe has been discussed in many comments, the DOE was incapable of writing an RFP and is just as incapable of evaluating the responses. The limitations put on those who could submit bids clearly made it possible only for large defense contractors to be part of the "team". This is contrary to the warning from President Eisenhower about the "military industrial complex" and clearly indicates the direction that DOE plans to take based, I believe, on direction from the current administration.

Because other national laboratories are also facing the same RFP/bid process with the same expectations of being managed by a team such as UC/Bechtel or LM/UT, all taxpayers should be concerned about the fate of science in this country. Even with a dramatic change after the 2008 election, it will be years before we recover from where we are today, in part because of the tremendous deficit and the cost of the Katrina recovery. If the national laboratories are managed by large defense companies with strong ties to Washington, science will be driven by whoever is in the White House rather than by the needs of the nation and the visions of the scientists.

So, Doug, your team "lost", but the real losers are the American people because another national laboratory has become part of the military-industrial complex, forever to be at the beck and call of a for-profit company. And science will take a back seat to the bottom line.

Yes, one can leave Los Alamos, find a job elsewhere, forget the problems here, but that's not the solution when one considers the effects of these "teams" on science in America. Maybe the answer is to push the rules, to think outside the box, and to hire folks who are not afraid of taking a chance, who take the initiative rather than waiting to be told what to do, and who believe in begging forgiveness rather than asking permission. Maybe the answer is to continue to report on the good and bad at LANL and to remember that the money is not printed in Bechtel's or UC's basement but belongs to the taxpayers who deserve to have it spent wisely and to know when it is not. Maybe the answer will be more blogs, challenging the "rules", anonymous mailings to our congressional delegation, and newsletters anonymously posted on LANL bulletin boards.

I was totally disappointed in the quality of the presentations on Thursday. For several hours all I heard was talk that contained no information. It seemed to be all, "we don't know this, we don't know that". Clearly DOE/UC/Bechtel didn't realize the image that they would portray by being so uninformative. I would have thought that they would have been aiming to impress us with what they already had planned. I would have thought that after the deadline for the bid submission, both bidders would have been preparing for the announcement with the idea of really convincing LANL staff of how much better their management would be compared to what currently exists.

The one characteristic of many of the postings have been utter cynicism. It's wearing to read nothing but cynical comments. The blog has a "Running list of wasteful LANL activities". How about a "Running list of wasteful LANL activities with a suggested fix"? How about detailed postings on a complete reorganization from the employees' perspective that would make LANL work better? Here's what I suggest.

1. Elminate all COS's because they contribute nothing.
2. Return budgets to the groups, not the divisions.
3. Eliminate the CIO.
4. Rescind the last 6 months of DI's.
5. Move the property, computer support, HR, and financial people back into the divisions.

How about positive rather than negative? How about a posting that says, "Today I had problems with such-and-such so I talked to xyz who told me how to fix my problem and it worked." Let's move on positively, but at the same time let's make sure that we continue to communicate to DOE and UC that we expect them to do the right thing for Todd's family and that we will continue to remind them of their obligation to treat LANL employees honestly and fairly. And until they have done what's right for Todd's family, LANL employees will not believe that they will be treated honestly and fairly.

I have been waiting for detailed positive comments for a long time. I am looking for a set of people who are willing to make these comments and to implement them.

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