Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thanks, Doug, for The Blog

Doug:

I want to thank you for last year's Christmas gift to the employees of LANL, namely, this here blog. The community of Los Alamos is intensely conservative, patriotic, and religious--putting to rest forever the silly notion that all scientists are communistic, anti-American atheists--and as such, LANL staff would never, EVER rally 'round a union. (I even tried to get some of my most liberal-leftist friends to join, but they demurred.) But they have rallied around this cyber-union of yours. And the people who've posted to this e-union over the past year comprise the widest possible spectrum of views, not, as LANL Public Affairs "spokespersons" have said, "a tiny minority of malcontents."

So, apart from serving as a valuable pressure valve, has The Blog made any real difference?

My feeling is that it has made a big difference.

I believe that the outrage and frustration expressed on 'LANL: The Real Story', more than any articles that may have appeared in Physics Today, gave UC the cover to offer a golden parachute to the failed former Director. Finally, even his Navy pals Brooks and Foley couldn't keep him in place, struggle though they might.

The concerns expressed on The Blog about pensions, benefits, and working conditions must have filtered through, indirectly if not directly, to Bechtel and UC. When LockMart paid attention to LANL employees, the Bechtel/UC team must have been forced to, also.

Finally, the bureaucrats at NNSA/DOE must also have paid some attention to the possibility of a major exodus by staff over 50 years old. You will recall that hits on The Blog, apart from LANL staff, were mainly by DOE, followed by the corporate competitors, and last of all, UC.

In the last few months, I came to the conclusion that my anger at UC was partially misdirected. When the livelihood of 10,000 LANL staff members is placed against the education of some 200,000 students on UC campuses, which is the principal duty of the premier university in the country, LANL is left behind--not ignored, to be sure, but left behind. It's a bitter pill for us to have to swallow, but that's life.

Given the enormity of the odds we have faced in the last seven years--a hostile NNSA/DOE bureaucracy, an even more hostile Republican Congress, an Administration indifferent to science, and a UC that had other priorities--I would say that Doug's Blog has been amazingly successful and eminently useful.

I salute you, Doug, for your courage and tenacity.

And now, to all my fellow LANL colleagues, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and also a Happy New Year that is better than the last three, at least.

-Brad

Comments:
Very well said Brad. It's ditto on all of your comments. I only wish we had someone at LLNL with as much backbone as Doug but as one can see by looking at LLNL The real Story its as if no one there really cares. As if they were sheep being led to slaughter. Poor buffoons. I am ashamed of being a member of this club. To date the mass majority are suffering from what I see as a bad case of cranium rectum inversion and believe that it will be business as usual with no change to come. Take care and better luck in your next career. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 
From: Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Title: My personal comments on the new contract

The University of California has served as a benign, but absentee landlord of Los Alamos for 63 years, providing an aura of scientific and academic respectability to the Laboratory, and in return, basking in the glow of the Lab's significant achievements in scientific research, a tremendous payback for the American people. While UC managed the retirement system, one of the finest in the nation, and provided benefits to the staff of the Lab, including in-state tuition to the nation's leading university system, the real management of the Lab, including all its faults, was always from Washington, DC.

The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress decided to privatize LANL three years ago. They have finally succeeded, but not quite fully in the way they had imagined, I am sure. The need for the re-bid was excused by raising alarms about security, safety, and business accountability, and these alarms were amplified by the media all out of proportion to their actual seriousness. Shortly after former Director Nanos' shutdown of the Lab last year, which lasted for seven painful months, some of my colleagues and I searched through the official records on these so-called scandals, and found that there was not a dime's worth of difference among the three major nuclear weapons national laboratories: Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore (also run by UC), and Sandia (run by Lockheed-Martin).

In order to provide the appearance of a more business-like approach to running the Lab, UC first approached Lockheed-Martin to be their junior partner in the re-bid; when LockMart declined the offer, Bechtel agreed to be an equal partner. The final choice for NNSA/DOE was therefore an exercise in marginalia: which of the military-industrial corporate giants would do the job, assuming that scientific/academic issues were not paramount? The academic and public service aura of 63 years of UC affiliation with Los Alamos--let's not mistakenly call it "management"--may ultimately be compromised to some degree, as yet unknown, by the profit motive of a corporation, to whose pockets will flow an extra load of national debt from American taxpayers of the future. However, if Bechtel takes over the management of certain procurement and business procedures and improves them from within the Lab, then that will certainly be positive. Moreover, if the research parts of the Lab are somehow shielded from the manufacturing of nuclear weapons components, then that, too, will be a good thing.

In the end, the retirement system will be "separate but equal"--so they say. The employees' kids will still be able to go to UC as in-state students. And, if Department of Energy Secretary Bodman is to be believed--and I see no reason to doubt his sincerity--science will be promoted at Los Alamos, focusing on national security, but realizing that national security is not at all served by weakened science.

The real questions that remain are: Will any light be shined on the poor management of LANL that originated from NNSA/DOE? Will Congress hold anyone in DC, including themselves, accountable for the serious disruption of work and morale at Los Alamos over these last three years?

-Brad Lee Holian, Lab Associate
(Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 1972--LASL, then LANL ever since)

(# posted by Brad Lee Holian : 12/21/2005 03:09:00 PM--for the record here at the end of a very bad year, 2005)
 
The previous was just for the record, but here is my final take on the events of the last year, 2005:

My guess is that, in T-Division, the percentage of UC supporters is the highest at the Lab, approaching 100%, while in X-Division, the percentage of LockMart enthusiasts is in the 20% range. That 20% or so viewed C. Paul as a savior, you might say. Upon sober reflection, however, I suspect that they might remember Robinson's backing of the "crown jewels" theory during the Wen Ho Lee fiasco--er, trial--wherein the FORTRAN II legacy (spaghetti) codes were considered by upper Lab managers as being the "crown jewels" of Los Alamos, rather than the bomb designers themselves, who made those legacy codes stand up and sing. And they might also recall that C. Paul's annual salary (plus bonuses) would have been equal to that of Anastasio, thus leading inexorably, in either case, to an even greater gap between scientists and managers. But at least Robinson vowed to consider a parallel-ladder salary structure for managers and scientists, similar to that at Sandia. So, as far as I could see, no simple answer could possibly result from this act of Neocon sabotage (privatization) of LANL.

I've said before that this whole re-bidding of the contract is a sow's ear, and that Bechtel/UC winning is the best approximation to a silk purse we can hope for. While the re-bid appears to the LANL staff to be a 'win' for UC, I believe that it is really a 'win' for Bechtel, and the enormity of the difference will gradually settle in. I would ALMOST rather have taken the role of comforter to my coworkers for our having been brutally swallowed up by LockMart, than a Cassandra warning them that things under Bechtel/UC will never, ever return to what they were seven years ago.

(Sorry for the sour view of last year, but it's time we move on.)

Happy New Year 2006--I most sincerely hope!

-Brad
 
Thanks, Brad. Kind words indeed.

I do in fact wonder if anything was really accomplished by this blog, given that the University of California ultimately ended up being richly rewarded for all their past failures in being awarded the new contract. Yesterday, Julie Goldberg, Editor for the Santa Fe Reporter interviewed me for an upcoming "SFR Talk" segment in the Reporter which will appear in the January 11 issue (barring unforeseen events). She asked me if I felt that anything substantive had been accomplished by having created the LANL blog, and my answer to her was, "I don't know." I suppose that if the blog contributed to, or even facilitated the former director's departure, then it did some good. There is of course no way to know if this was the case.

There was certainly some thoughtful dialog brought out here that might not otherwise have occurred. On the other hand, however, there was also a disturbing aspect of the Los Alamos community that was highlighted by the blog. I refer to the unhealthy extent to which people used the anonymous posting feature to launch unbelievably cowardly attacks against those with whom they disagreed. Anonymous posting of comments was originally allowed to protect contributors from the very real environment of intimidation and retaliation that existed at LANL under Director Nanos. Some people used this posting feature as it was intended, and as a result the truth about many of the issues regarding the shutdown of July 16, 2004 came to light which otherwise we may never have learned about. Others, however, hid behind the cloak of anonymity to say things that they would have been horribly ashamed to have had attributed back to them, were it possible to expose the authors' identities.

That unpleasant side of Los Alamos is a reality that was displayed for the entire world to see, and it portrays Los Alamos as being composed, to some extent, of a group of cowardly, complaining, backstabbing, over-privileged whiners.

I suspect that those people are in the minority, and that the community is largely as you have characterized it in your post. It remains, though, that this disturbing component of the Los Alamos community also exists and that through their contributions to this blog, they have painted Los Alamos as an unpleasant, self-centered, contentious society.

-Doug
 
Doug and Brad, don't you guys ever get tired of this. The most self centered, self appointed expert, chest beating I have ever heard. Give it up. Most of those who read this stuff would like to see more than this self congratulatory stuff of late.
 
Now that's what I'm talking about. "gonelastjuly" provides a textbook example of the coward hiding behind a psuedonym to attack a point of view that disagrees with his own.

Well done, "gonelastjuly". Now do us all a favor and stay away.
 
gonelastjuly: I like the way that you talk. Maybe we could meet for a beer sometime and discuss shared opinions. I have a standing reservation at Cheeks.
 
I don't think this blog or the people who post here are self serving at all. As a matter of a fact I don't think there were enough people out here to express their concerns. I would have liked to seen about 7,500 or so. Even that would only be 50% of the crew. The ones that did post had something to say and they said it in the best way they could. Now we'll see what happens. Will the employees bring LANL to it knees or will we see headlines in the local paper that read.

Lab Employees Get Reamed, but Take It With A Smile. Is this
( Dedication or Stupidity )
 
Gone last July"...is that you, Pete? How's the $235K/yr. holding out?
You take care, y'hear?
 
That wasn't Nanos, Brad. Just some nameless coward. A nameless coward who went to the trouble of setting up a blogger.com account with a cute little psuedonym from which he could bravely post his little bit of invective.

Personally, I have no respect for that type of cowardice. Do you? Would it be worth the effort to contact the blogger.com admins and request his true identity?

-Doug
 
Time for one last summary for Pete (face-to-face or with his anonymous surrogates):

I stand by every word on this blog to which I have signed my name, as well as every word of mine that appears in that (peer-reviewed) journal, Physics Today. If called upon, I would stand in the witness box and repeat those words to a Grand Jury or a Congressional Hearing--under oath. (Of course, as with any scientific matter, if someone were to present me with reliable data from a reputable source showing that I were wrong, I would admit my error in public. Until that unlikely day dawns, I can not--I will not--recant.)

Not only is the truth the easiest thing to remember; it is the easiest thing to live with. With that blessed assurance, I sleep well at night. -How about you, Pete?

As I have said to you before, Pete: You take care.

-Brad Lee Holian
 
I suspect, Brad, that Pete Nanos sleeps well each night, regardless of what you and Doug say on your electronic soapbox. He remains a good man (regardless of the slander spread on this Blog) who had the courage to do what he did and had the hope that he could drag you all into the 21st century.

I can only echo what Gone in July said about the tenor of the Blog.

It would have been fun to watch in a year or two, if LM & UT had won, the rebirth of this blog, when you figured out (to your shock and amazement) that NO organization that runs LANL, would treat you all with the kind of reverence that you seem to think you deserve.

Now you can continue to blame your problems on UC rather than on the fact that many of the people at LANL have grown out of touch with the changes in the world around you.

Good Luck, I will miss reading this Blog, where I get my daily dose of amazement at the self importance showcased here.

A Strategic Weapons Officer
 
You claim to be a weapons officer, and you claim that Pete Nanos is a good man. Yet, you are afraid to tell us your real name.

I knew Nanos, and I can assure you that he was not a good man. He was an abusive, arrogant, egotistical cancer during his brief, but too-long tenure at Los Alamos.

Perhaps, had you shown us the conviction of your words by having given them in your own name, they would have carried more weight.

As it stands, you are just another anonymous coward, and as such your words mean nothing.

If, in the future you manage to jack up your courage sufficiently to post an opinion under your real name, then perhaps we will listen.

I'm not holding my breath, however.

-Doug
 
Thanks Doug and Brad for maintaining this blog. I think it was extremely valuable for keep LANL employees and their managers informed of the many ramifications of the change of the contract. I know people, and for a time I was one of them, who read it every day.
I am very pleased that all views were allowed here. We got to see the good, the bad and the ugly. It is important for people to see where they fit in in the general spectrum of views.
I feel certain that the Blog contributed to the removal of Peter G. Nanos and that was a good thing. Nanos was a poor manager and probably wasn't all that great in the Navy either.
I have come to some peace about the total nightmare of incompetence and chaos that was LANL in the past. I recently read the Washington Post series on the Department of Homeland Security and the political nightmare that caused it to fail to do anything useful about Katrina. See:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/21/AR2005122102327.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/22/AR2005122202213.html
It sounded just like LANL so I began to think that maybe this is just part of a mismanaged bureaucracy and to wonder if there aren't lots of these around the country and, in fact, the world.
Something else I realized was the importance of the attacks of Rep. Hobson and Barton. These guys were working to outsource yet another government organization to a corporation which happened to contribute to their campaign war chests. All this highlighting of LANL accidents and security incidents wasn't about safety or security, it was because LANL was "in play" as they say about stocks. Everything LANL did wrong was shouted to the world. We all noticed that the accidents at LANL weren't as bad as the ones at other labs, but the people who read the headlines did not.
It wasn't about LANL employees, but it will have a profound affect on LANL employees. UC did not win. UC/Bechtel won. As an LLC, the new organization will pay gross receipts tax, a win for the town of Los Alamos and the State of New Mexico, since LANL pays no property tax.
Employee benefits including retirement will be lowered, part of the reason for outsourcing. Republicans have always disapproved of the nice retirement and other benefits of government employees.
Whether LANL will become more efficient or not will depend a great deal on whether UC or Bechtel is in charge. It may well just be more of the same with worse benefits. Or perhaps Bechtel will be allowed to restructure and to make things more efficient.
Will science survive? Who knows? Will we become a production site? Who knows? I don't think any of this has become clear yet, but before long we will find out.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the next year or ten at LANL. I don't think anyone knows yet. I am sorry to see the employees get the short end while the Director gets over a million a year. This is part of the corporatizing of America. It has been going on for quite a while. I don't like it. Who knows what the employees will think. The retirements tell us what the old timers think.
Best of luck to all of you!
 
Doug - Cowards? hmmm.....I saw some of what people did to Pete on Wikpedia...I READ what you and your brethern said about some of the people who DID leave their names and DARED disagree with you. I even heard that they got e-mail and other "presents" outide of the Blog for their offense of BLOG disagreement.

Watching this Blog over the last 3 or 4 months I see a group of people who call names and mock people who say "I DISAGREE" or "That is not what I saw"

I have been a frequent voice of criticism and question on this blog:

- I DARED to say I knew Pete Nanos for over 5 years and found him to be an ok boss. As a person, he was always decent to me as a subordinate and others that I saw. He was remarkably and personally kind in several instances where people had real problems or tragedies in their lives. My sin? Simply saying that the orgre described in this blog did not match the man I personnaly knew. The result of telling a story that did not fit the Blog: hooted down or deleted off the Blog.

- I DARED to suggest that many in LANL would find that if LM won they might find significant differences in pay, pay raises and retirement than under the old (and to an outside observer)"chushier" UC system. I cautioned that the LM solution might not be as perfect or golden as suggested. Even dared to suggest that a similar Blog against a LM/UT LANL might be met as harshly or more than the current (and now sorta future) management. The result: Censored off the Blog as it did not conform to the "right answer".

- Frequently suggested (as others like gonelastjuly have suggested recently) that the tenor of the Blog went over the top at times. Wondered if the problem with LANL was in the stars or in itself? Results? Same as above.

What is the difference then between what you accuse Admiral Nanos and others in management positions of doing and what has been written and said on this blog?

No difference that I can see, except the people on the Blog have no responsibility to make things work in the real world. So in the end, the Blog meant nothing, it made a few people feel better. It pushed a particular horse (that lost) and it closes now.

Nope won't leave my name...don't need the trouble from you all....don't even expect you to post this...but just wanted to make sure that you knew that a few of us out here in Internet land got a vastly different message out of your Blog activity than perhaps you intended.

Again, I look forward to making "Watching LANL" a recurring pastime and seeing if things do change. It really must be a wierd place to work, if so many people are so greatly unhappy yet won't leave.

I hope that all of you find some peace in the coming years, I really urge you to move away from Los Alamos and get a different perspective, for awhile at least.

Good luck especially to you, Doug, in the future. I hope that you find a rewarding and happy career away from LANL. You certainly have passion for what you care about (even if I disagree with you completely).

A Strategic Weapons Officer.

Here is a hint: 643, 656, 635, GWS Dam Neck VA, 625, 659, SSP, STRATCOM and NAVSEA. The last 4 commands are where I either worked with (or around on occasion) or in some cases worked for CDR, CAPT or ADM Nanos.
 
Yep, cowards. People with courage are not ashamed to have their names associated with their convictions. It seems this would apparently exclude you.

Since the concept seems difficult for you to grasp, I'll explain it:

Nobody takes anything an anonymous contributor says seriously. That is true for this blog, and likely for any other discussion forum that allows anonymous input. Sometimes anonymous comments provide amusement value, but only infrequently.

However, as an earlier (anonymous) comment points out, all perspectives have been welcomed on this blog. That includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your contributions fall squarely into that latter category.

So, as long as you are comfortable with me, and the rest of the entire readership of this forum having recognized you for the coward that you are for continuing to hide behind a pseudonym to post your "brave" views, feel free to continue to do so.

-Doug
 
SWEPSWEPS (or whatever your silly anonymous acronymic is):

It is so completely obvious that neither you nor your sainted Vice Admiral are scientists, or else you would have taken my last post just a bit more seriously.

You and your kind will have your day in the court of honest men, and you will be found wanting. Until then, true and honest scientists are well advised to watch their back trail when in your presence.

Again, I say to you military types (Vice Admirals and anonymous acronymics most especially): We're all keeping our eyes on you.
You take care.

-Brad Lee Holian
 
BTW, I just went and reread the Wikipedia entry for our former director:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Peter_Nanos

I didn't see anything that was not factual.

-Doug
 
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Doug, Brad, and others.

I did want to say thanks for hosting and posting the blog for the last year. You've provided a valuble service that was needed during a stressful time. I've been regularly reading the comments here, and have found a diversity of opinion, etc. though at times the signal/noise ratio did degrade. I wanted to offer 2 observations as a post-script to several of the discussions here.

1) There was considerable discussion of the standdown. My observation is this: every other DOE site that instituted a site-wide standdown either a) never reopened (e.g., Rocky Flats, Mound) or b) took several years to reopen (Y-12). In each case, site managers predicted only a short cessation of operations.

To my memory, LANL is the only complete-site to standdown and restart in a matter of months. Some divisions were up and running within 7 weeks. Personally, I would not have stood-down the entire lab. I would have called a pause to certain operations (CREM, chemical safety, etc.) The term "standdown" has a pretty specific meaning in many DOE orders, and it isn't pretty (hence, the unfavorable experience at many other DOE sites). But - for better or worse - LANL does stand out as one of the only institutions to standdown and restart quickly.

In July 2004, who knew where DOE or NNSA stood (or Congress, POGO, and other influential bodies). Pete took an action that he felt he had to do. *If* DOE /NNSA had stood us down, my guess is we'd have been in for a never-ending saga of operational readiness reviews that would take years - ala Y-12 all over again. We didn't, in large measure because we took proactive action once the standdown was announced. So, though many take offense at this process, I think it could have been much worse, and as we stand today, LANL is in pretty good shape.

Thus, I do give Pete some credit. Yes, I disagreed with his initial decision, and his choice of words in all-hands meetings was inappropriate; but the end-result has worked out pretty well for LANL employees, our mission, and our science when compared to all the other DOE/NNSA sites that began a similiar process.

One last point: some LANL facilities/institutions had an early experience with this type of formallity. I came-of-age at TA-55 in MST/NMT divisions. We were one of the first facilities to have the more compliance-oriented mentality take over. It wasn't easy or pretty, but now TA-55 stands as the only remaining full-service Pu facility in the nation. Though painful, the end result is favorable to LANL and the nation. Actually, I hope to return to TA-55 during my career to continue the Pu surface studies that occupied much of my first decade at LANL.

2) I just have to offer my personal observation of Nanos. He was a good man in the many forums I saw him interact. I had many occasions to see him defend LANL and it's employees. I've talked with him since his departure and he maintains a keen interest in several of our prominent missions. Personally, I saw Pete take a great interest in many younger staff members (such as myself) and he did provide opportunities for us to interact with many elements of our business. I will be forever grateful for those opportunities.

So, Doug, thanks once again for creating this valuble forum. I once had a discussion with a friend in public affairs, and we both agreed that a healthy institution would support and sponsor a discussion such as this. But, thank goodness we live in a country where a forum such as this can arise and fill the gap. Afterall, isn't that why we do what we do in the long-haul?

No, things aren't perfect but we do have a bright future with a relevant, engaging mission.

Take care, and happy holidays,

Joe Martz
 
Thanks for your thoughts and comments, Joe. I do reserve the right to disagree with you about our former director, however.

Happy Holidays to you too.

--Doug
 
Well I can understand not wanting to post your name. I wrote a couple of letters to the Monitor saying that I thought people should realize that the glory days of DOE funding were gone, and that while I didn't agree with everything Nanos did.. I didn't see him as the worst manager I have seen at LANL nor elsewhere. What I got was a crap phone-calls to my family from pay-phones, an egg on my car, and some anonymous rumours sent to DOE and my bosses for investigation.

I decided that leaving Los Alamos was a better than dealing with the cowards on the other side of the discussion. I got tired of the passive aggresive relationship at LANL with authority.

Many people I worked with complained about how nothing was getting fixed under Brown and before, and how the only way was to get a hard-nosed person who would close things down for a while to fix things. Then when they got their wish, they complained that this wasn't what they wanted. After he was gone, they went back to complaining about how things never get fixed.

Anonymous (well Doug knows who I am) but working on my TV script for "As Los Alamos Burns"
 
Dear Joe:

Your comments, while I disagree with them, at least were thoughfully posed, and calmly--something that is rarely done in the anonymous postings on this blog from the viewpoint of the upper Lab management.

I disagree strongly with the notion that Nanos's "controlled burn" shutdown of the Lab saved us from a firestorm of a semi-permanent shutdown from Washington. Like the Los Alamos fire of 2000, the shutdown of 2004, begun when Nanos lost his temper, got totally out of his control. Occam's Razor has a corollary: Don't necessarily ascribe to malice whatever can be just as well ascribed to incompetence. Thus, while some saw in the shutdown a dark conspiracy by Navy contractors and their network of retired Naval officers, I recall that Nanos sent us all a letter about a month before the shutdown, in which he extolled his helmsmanship at "turning the Laboratory around" to an era of no more safety, security, and accounting errors. When the perfect storm of both a safety and a security incident occurred within a couple of days of each other in July 2004, he and some Congressmen went mutually ballistic, and in his frustration and humiliation, he decided to bring the fist of military discipline down on the Lab. Such an action, affecting as it did national security and the scientific output of Los Alamos National Laboratory, should have been an act that could only be taken at the very highest level of government--the act of a Cabinet officer, not a Lab Director.

That the effect of the shutdown was far-reaching and devastating can only be assessed reliably at the level of the scientific staff themselves, not from the viewpoint of upper Lab management. We are NOT stronger, thanks to the shutdown. We have lost valuable staff, and not just early retirees, but younger vigorous staff members, too. Demoralization lasted far longer than just the official down time; at meetings all over the country and abroad, there were many talks, both experimental and theoretical, that began with disclaimers such as, "Well, this is what we HOPED to have done this last year at Los Alamos, but because of circumstances beyond our control..."

There may be metrics of self-assessment that might lead managers to think that things are rosy now, and that we are "stronger" after the shutdown, but the actual scientific output has been hurt, and it will take some years to heal that wound. What has been most severely damaged is the level of fragile trust between staff and management, if anyone cares.

Abusive, erratic, and egocentric behavior in a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality can be balanced by talking a good game. Nanos did not get to his position by behaving badly to his superiors, and his early positive-definite, take-charge attitude after the drift that occurred under the amiable John Browne, was welcomed by the staff in the early days. In the end, the results were manifestly bad, and we still bear a heavy burden from his reign of intimidation, even now.

Sincerely,
-Brad Lee Holian
 
Brad,

I know that this is hearsay, but pretty much what I remember hearing from people at DOE on change of station before the shutdown was that DOE was getting its heels to the fire by various Congress groups finally and were looking for the nuclear option of ordering the shutdown. The people at DOE HQ in Abq were asking CCN questions about how to shutdown the networks and such.

I don't think anyone in the chain of command (heheh now there is a laugh for the new year) were thinking too clearly, and were doing the bueracratic hide at that time. [Picturing a skanky kitchen when the lights come on...]

In any case, I wish you guys a good New Year. I disagreed on your article because I know that each lab uses a different definition of injury so the data was questionable to analyze. However, it did get me to thinking which is more than anything else at that time did.

Personally, I am glad to be gone from LANL. I miss the people, but the culture as shown by the anonymous hatred is something I do not miss. I don't know of anyway it can be cleaned up, and since I can't help it.. I am better off gone.

NNSA Labs primary mission is to design, maintain, search for, secure, and destroy WMD.
 
Dear "Gruntled":

I do not dispute your claim that DOE/NNSA bureaucrats and certain members of the staffs of various Congresspersons wanted to exercise the "nuclear option" of shutting LANL down. I can believe that DOE ABQ HQ wanted it and were preparing for it, like cockroaches on spilled food.

If shutting the Lab down were really such a good idea, then their boss, the Secretary of Energy should have given the order and explained it to the whole world. Whatever metrics or criteria you choose to use, you cannot make a believable case that either the number or seriousness of safety, security, and accounting mistakes at LANL have ever exceeded those of Livermore or Sandia, at least not since the end of the Cold War, before which time numerous sins (including environmental) occurred and were hushed up in the name of "national security."

If the Secretary had made that decision, namely, to shut down Los Alamos for over a half a year, rather than it being made by the lowly Director of the Lab, then the political accountability would have fallen squarely where it belonged. Not on UC, not on LANL, but on DOE and NNSA. Had that happened, no amount of blogging would have made any difference, as it might well have done in the case of the protracted process of getting rid of a failed Director.

-Brad
 
A tidbit from the UNM Today webpage dated 12/21/2005. I am unclear on how "UNM will play a leadership role in the research and educational activities of the laboratory..." Hopefully, the new Director will elaborate when the time is right. Perhaps others in the know can provide some insight.

UNM is part of team awarded contract to operate LANL

"A consortium of New Mexico universities led by the University of New Mexico and including New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech is part of the team that has been awarded the contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced in Washington D.C. Wednesday that Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), a limited liability corporation made up of the University of California, Bechtel National, BWX Technologies and the Washington Group will manage and operate LANL for the next seven years. The New Mexico Consortium exclusively supported the UC-led bid.

UNM will play a leadership role in the research and educational activities of the laboratory, but not in the day-to-day operation of the facility.

“The University of New Mexico is pleased to lead the consortium of New Mexico universities that will partner with the LANS to promote excellence in science, technology and education at LANL,” said UNM President Louis Caldera. “There is no question that this collaboration will be highly beneficial for New Mexico and will serve the nation well.”

The New Mexico research universities will form an Institute for Advanced Studies that will provide the basis for cooperative research in the scientific, technical and educational aspects of the LANL operation.

“This result will allow LANL and New Mexico Universities to work far more closely together than in the past, and to establish joint centers, have more joint appointments, and provide numerous opportunities for students and faculty to work in world class collaborations.” said Terry Yates, UNM vice president of Research and Economic Development."
 
So whoever posted the joke that the winner would be Halliburton/UNM was HALF RIGHT ! ! !
 
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