Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Report: Cost of shutdown still unknown

By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican |
December 20, 2005

The government is unclear about the cost of a major shutdown last year to address safety and security concerns at Los Alamos National Laboratory , a new report says. But almost all programs at the lab have recovered from the delay, and the costs associated with the shutdown appear to be reasonable, a report by the Government Accountability Office says.

The report was issued Monday to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas , chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The report examines the shutdown’s costs and its effect on lab research programs.

The lab estimated the cost of the shutdown at $121 million, and the National Nuclear Security Administration , which oversees the lab, put the cost at $370 million. Each group counted the costs differently.

[...]

Full Story



Comments:
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.

--Doug
 
Not my insinuation, the GAO's.

It is typical of LANL staff (current or retired) to "just know" that their perspective is all encompassing. It is a caustic form of naivety. The, "I was there and know all about it" attitude addresses the tactical situation from an emotional angle.

From the perspective of detached professionals, who do assessments like this for a living, and who look at the larger picture your "local view" does not seem to hold up.

Just pointing out the logical conclusion of the report and irony that you and the press missed it.
 
CG, stop and consider for a moment: where did the the GAO get their "facts" regarding the shutdown?

Yep, from the same UC who claimed the necessity for the shutdown in the first place. Did you listen to Nanos' testimony before Congress? It was a complete whitewash; a self-serving exoneration of his actions. Actions which we now know were were flawed in their basis.

Support UC if you like: it's your choice, and I personally don't care. If I may suggest, however, this might not be your best career move.

--Doug

BTW: My name is Doug Roberts. Who are you?
 
(Scratching auburn head, with a perplexed expression....)

What's this about supporting UC? Just discussing relative judgment.

This is not like whether the Rams or the Patriots are the coolest team. This is about a legal judgement with potentially enormous impact.

If the GAO took the UC explanation at face value, they are not earning their keep. And they have a very harsh boss--the US Congress. They had Nanos' testimony to pick apart. What you see as a blatant white wash must have seemed to them as justifiable.

This discussion shouldn't be polemic. To say that the referee is blind and your favorite team got a bad call, even after a review of the tape is a little emotional and does you no credit.

I go by CG ;-)
 
(Scratching balls contemplatively...)

I go by "Finknottle"

But I don't mean that in a polemic sense.

G.
 
A referee is free to make a binding decision in a football game, but if a referee claims the earth is flat, that is a matter of data, and the referee can be shown to be in error. It is typical of the government mentality to think that whatever answer the bureaucratic hierarchy comes up with "must be right." (C.S. Lewis liked to call it the "lowerarchy.") That is why bureaucrats become so frustrated with scientists, because they appeal to empirical fact rather than accepting fiat judgments, but that is, after all, what we get paid to do.
 
"If the GAO took the UC explanation at face value, they are not earning their keep. And they have a very harsh boss--the US Congress."

This strikes me as a particularly young and naive perspective.

Tell you what. I'll be happy to carry on this discussion when you are willing to name yourself, and therefore let your reputation reflect your words. Until then, happy anonymous posting.

-Doug
 
Young, yes (and good looking, with a magnetic personality).

Naive, no.

My logic and clarity should establish my reputation, not visa-versa.

Too bad that it is so hard to have a discussion based on sense, logic, and counter-point. It is broadening to the mind and character to have an open discussion.

Guess that we would have had a wonderful time if I just restated your thesis and applauded your wisdom, as with many of the opinion threads here.

Sigh.
It was not to be.

CG
 
I imagine your looks and charm must suffice for you, CG, because your logic doesn't hold. The CIA, an organization of "detached professionals who do assessments...for a living," produced a very compelling series of reports on WMDs in Iraq, and when the troops got the "local view," they found only trivial quantities of such. Was it the fault of the "naive" observers in not confirming what the "experts" said was true? Did the media get it all wrong as well?
 
Carrot_gal, did you say:

"Young, yes (and good looking, with a magnetic personality).

Naive, no."

Now, if you can get over that part about "Naive, no," we could meet at Cheeks.
 
"Carrot_gal":

You say that the GAO "probably took a hard look at accident statistics across the DOE complex" and "that the reports and stats indicate a problem with compliance." But that was over a period of "10 years," as you will notice. This smacks of the "secret data" that Nanos drew upon in order to justify the shutdown. Of course, in this manufacturing of information, Nanos is in "excellent" company, isn't he? When Cheney couldn't get the CIA to come up with the "data" and "information" about WMD he wanted to justify the invasion of Iraq--even after a couple of personal visits to Langley (CIA HQ)--he went to Don Rumsfeld's "information" factory inside the DoD. There, he found the testimony of "reliable informants," who have since been so thoroughly discredited.

These "secret" repositories of safety data, available only to Nanos and (allegedly) now to GAO, conflict with the official DOE ones that I and my colleagues (anonymous to this day) used to analyze the last 10 years (as of a year-and-a-half ago). My deep suspicion is that (1) no such real "stats" exist, except possibly in the mind of Nanos, and that (2) you are a manager or bureaucrat of some elevated status, possibly even one of the Ten Annointed that the former Vice Admiral said he would keep, after firing everyone else, to restart the Lab.

I believe that you will float with the rising brown tide. Your future is secure, I am sure.
 
Tommy-
Finknottle is more your type. You two could have a good time together. Anonymous as you are, I am pretty sure that we would not get along.

Brad and Doug-

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.
 
Dear Carrot_Gal:

You are clearly on the other side of reality. If your view were on the right side of history and the facts, there would have been NO WAY WHATSOEVER that DOE would have awarded UC the contract, with or without Bechtel as a partner. In spite of Nanos' "database" and GAO, it looks like DOE has ruled, but not in your favor.

It must be a bitter pill, gal.

I hope we can give you a break from any further management duties at LANL.

You take care now.

-Brad
 
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