Saturday, April 30, 2005
Thought you might like to see this:
May 1, 2005
At Los Alamos, Blogging Their Discontent
blog rebellion among scientists and engineers at Los Alamos, the federal government's premier nuclear weapons laboratory, is threatening to end the tenure of its director, G. Peter Nanos.
Four months of jeers, denunciations and defenses of Dr. Nanos's management recently culminated in dozens of signed and anonymous messages concluding that his days were numbered. The postings to a public Web log conveyed a mood of self-congratulation tempered with sober discussion of what comes next.
"Some here will celebrate that they have been able to run the sheriff out of Dodge," Gary Stradling, a veteran Los Alamos scientist who is a staunch defender of Dr. Nanos, wrote Tuesday on the blog.
"It might be a good idea," he added, "to shut down the celebration and form a work party to clean up Dodge City, because the new sheriff will if we do not."
The blogging comes at a delicate moment in the 60-year history of Los Alamos. The University of California, which has helped run the lab for the federal government since the days of the Manhattan Project, faces close scrutiny in Washington as to whether its contract should be renewed. And resignations and fears of a mass exodus have recently roiled the waters. Some analysts believe that now, given the public outcry, the lab will have to abandon Dr. Nanos in order to make a tenable bid to keep its contract.
Dr. Nanos would not comment. A spokesman for Los Alamos, Kevin Roark, said false rumors of the director's resignation had circulated for months. Mr. Roark added that Dr. Nanos was extraordinarily proud of what he had accomplished at Los Alamos, which employs 14,000 people on an annual budget of $2.2 billion. He called the vitriolic blogging unrepresentative of the majority of employees and said it often had the tone of a sophomoric Halloween prank.
"Everybody, I think, was a little surprised at how mean it got," Mr. Roark said.
Several outside experts said that the director's quick departure was inevitable and that the blog's attacks were playing a significant role.
"Nanos is leaving," said Greg Mello, director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a private organization in Albuquerque that monitors weapons laboratories. "The blog changed the climate, giving people an outlet they didn't have before."
Blogs seem to be everywhere. But this one is unusual, in that the Los Alamos National Laboratory, isolated in the mountains of New Mexico, has a long history of maintaining the highest level of federal secrecy. The lab's very existence was once classified. Today, barbed wire rings many of its buildings, federal agents monitor its communications, and its employees are constantly reminded that loose lips sink ships.
The blog (www.lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com) went public in January and since then has registered more than 100,000 visits, with more than half a million pages viewed and more than 5,000 comments. Discussions run on a variety of topics, from the sanctity of retirement benefits to the likely identity of the next contractor who will run Los Alamos.
Since most messages are anonymous, there is no way to know how many lab employees contribute to the blog. Even so, from the sheer volume, detail and differing styles of the messages, the number is clearly many more than a handful. The language, often studded with obscure acronyms, suggests that the authors have a deep knowledge of the lab's exotic culture.
Furious debate centers on Dr. Nanos, a retired vice admiral of the Navy who holds a doctorate in physics from Princeton and became the lab's director two years ago. Many bloggers criticize his decision to shut down most of the laboratory last July, when he cited "egregious" safety and security violations after two computer disks with secret information were reported missing and an intern working with a laser suffered an eye injury.
The security alarm turned out to be a clerical error - the disks, in fact, never existed. Still, Dr. Nanos kept many lab areas closed for seven months, until late January. During that time, lab personnel worked on improving safety and security.
Dr. Thomas J. Meyer, a distinguished chemist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences who oversaw 2,000 employees as head of the lab's strategic research, resigned in October during the shutdown and afterward filed a long critique of the episode and the director's acts.
"He chose to transfer blame and intimidate individuals even with a staff that was often attempting to implement difficult and complex safety processes," Dr. Meyer said in his critique, which was posted on the blog. He called the director's treatment of lab employees "vindictive and abusive."
A banner atop the blog site sets the tone, asserting that the shutdown cost taxpayers "approximately $850 million, an exodus of highly talented staff members, and the loss of untold millions of dollars of funding from customers who have taken their business elsewhere."
Lab officials say the shutdown probably cost $120 million, and federal officials recently put the figure at $370 million.
Mr. Roark, the Los Alamos spokesman, acknowledged that the lab was worried about a recent spike in retirement inquiries. "We're not anticipating a mass exodus," he said. "But that doesn't mean we're not concerned about the possibility. We are."
The blog's creator is Doug Roberts, a computer scientist who is a 20-year lab veteran. In an interview, he said he was inspired to start the blog when he and his colleagues had their critical submissions to a forum on the lab's online newspaper rejected.
Mr. Roberts said it was impossible to know how many lab personnel contributed to the blog, since it was set up to protect their identity, if so desired. He estimated the vocal population at 200 to 500 employees.
The blog runs a petition for Dr. Nanos's removal; it has garnered more than 100 signers, although most have concealed their names.
One who signed openly in February was Dr. Brad Lee Holian, a theoretical physicist who worked at the lab for 32 years. He retired a month later.
"People were feeling like they were in a pressure cooker," Dr. Holian said in an interview last week. "Nanos is so abusive, not just to the general staff but his underlings. People were afraid to say anything. On the blog they could vent without fear of reprisal."
Jeff Jarvis, who publishes BuzzMachine, a blog that focuses on media issues, said the Los Alamos site showed "a new ethic of transparency" that has come with the explosion of electronic self-publishing.
"It's not just the power of the blog," Mr. Jarvis said, "it's the power of the citizen."
The battle over Dr. Nanos comes as the University of California is considering whether to bid to renew its contract, which expires Sept. 30. Two leading space and military contractors, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, have announced an interest in running the lab.
Chris Harrington, a university spokesman based in Washington, denied that Dr. Nanos was about to resign and defended him as "clearly understanding the mission of the lab."
Mr. Harrington added, however, that the university is doing "a thorough review" of its management options for a possible bid on the new contract.
John Schwartz contributed reporting for this article.
The effects of a massive retirements are compounding. First, the institution loses a significant fraction of its total corporate knowledge. Say that 2,000 people leave with 25 years of experience, 50,000 person years represent a lot of experience walking out the door. Included in that number will be almost everyone who has felt the ground heave under their feet following a nuclear weapon explosion underground. Second, because of the time required to get employees vetted for their security clearances (now running up to two years in some cases but averaging over a year) the organization has no way of transferring that corporate knowledge to the next generation of employees. These employees will have to live on overhead or do meaningless work for that period. Third, the current policy advocated and implemented by Director Nanos will prevent retirees from being called back to work at the Laboratory to mentor and accomplish or close-out critical work. This process is sometimes called "corporate carcinoma" because productive cells leave faster that they can be replaced and remaining cells feed on resources without being productive enoungh to provide a net positive influence on the survival of the organism. This disease is sometimes caused by excessive draining of swamps.
Is the champagne I polished off last night a waste of time?
This is from the previous post reciting a NY times article.
To date I've been fairly lenient in enforcing the posting requirements for this blog (on topic and professional) choosing to err on the side of leniency at times to avoid casting a pall of censorship on this forum.
Starting from this point, however, I will be a bit more strict. If this blog is to continue to be of value, then it needs to mature somewhat. Reread the sidebar link entitled "Posting Guidelines" to refresh your memories on what is acceptable, please, and help to keep the dialog on a constructive course.
Why does Nanos continue to be protected?
This comment is from the "See You Later" post further down on the blog. I think it raises a good question: Why does Nanos continue to be protected?
"The troubling aspect of this whole scenario at LANL seems to be that the director has been allowed to "punish" employees for absolutely ANY kind of reason.And no one interfered. Dr. Tinka Gammel's very public account of her lawsuit against him as her next-door neighbor should make all of us pause and wonder about GPN's troubling behavior.Dr. Gammel is a brave woman. She refused to be bullied by the director, even though he is her next-door neighbor. She has to see her tormentor on a regular basis.
How many people knew the REAL STORY about that incident?
Nanos has been allowed by DOE, our delegation, NNSA and UC to continue his tirades against innocent employees even though they knew that GPN himself had broken many of LANL's rules.Who has been covering up for him?
Betcha' there are some REAL interesting stories out there re GPN that have not yet seen the light of day? Who will be brave enough to share them?
I would be interested in knowing what the psychologists at UC think of the director's unusual behavior toward ANYONE who did not agree with him on EVERYTHING!
Why is this man still being protected so much and for what reason? Is he a national treasure?
Our previous directors may have not been perfect, but I do believe they loved their community and respected the people who worked for them. No one ever accused them of covering up their mistakes!"
An additional insight should have been included in the previous comparison of the LANL suspension of work to the Rocky Flats shutdown. In December 1989, the FBI suspended Rocky Flats nuclear pit production work for conducting operations contrary to EPA regulations. This followed a number of serious and highly visible safety problems at Rocky Flats. The suspension was an attitude adjustment to a previously view of the nuclear weapons community that the nuclear weapons activities were too important to be constrained by environmental laws. Energy Secretary James Watkins had been in office since the spring of that year. He was a former naval nuclear submariner, former Chief of Naval Operations. The fact that Rocky Flats plant was midway through production of the primer Navy SLBM nuclear weapon, the W88, did not result in the resumption of operations. Rocky Flats never came back up. The cost is inestimable, but exceeds $ billions.
The multiple parallels between Rocky Flats experience and LANL\u2019s recent history surely did not escape Director Pete Nanos in the summer of 2004. A retired admiral, former director of Navy's Strategic Systems Programs (SSP), was at SSP during the Rocky Flats debacle and much of his effort there was to compensate for the failure of DOE to deliver the complete W88 build. Think again what was on the battle screen of this leader, in the middle an aggressive maneuver to turn LANL around, when he made the decision to suspend operations. (You can imagine the pressure that resulted in his frustrated characterization of those few who jeopardized LANL thru their irresponsible actions.) We are operating again. And yes, I think he deserves a lot more credit than some here give him.
Gary (yet again, sigh)
Retirements Up Sharply at Los Alamos
Retirements Up Sharply at Los Alamos
Journal Staff Writer
Los Alamos National Laboratory is projecting a 50 percent increase in retirements this year as a higher than usual number of scientists and technicians close to retirement age opt for the security of their current pension plan rather than to wait and learn what the next lab manager has to offer.
As of Monday, nearly 2 percent of the laboratory work force, or about 146 workers, had completed its retirement paperwork. That figure is already more than half of the 251 workers who retired during all of last year.
LANL spokesman James Rickman said it is difficult to attribute any causes to the projected increase, but he did say feedback from workers preparing to retire suggests that their decision is at least partly in response to the uncertainty posed by LANL's pending contract competition.
Current LANL projections based on retirements thus far estimate that about 380 employees, or 4.6 percent of the 8,225-employee work force, will file for retirement by year's end, Rickman said.
He said LANL will have a more accurate projection by June, when the largest number of retirements normally occurs due to an annual cost-of-living adjustment that becomes effective that month.
For the past two years, the average annual work force retirement rate has been 3 percent, Rickman said.
After more than 60 years as LANL's manager, the University of California must now decide if it will compete to regain the weapons lab's contract. Then-Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced in April 2003 his decision to put the LANL contract out for bid after a series of financial and security management problems.
The university's contract expires at the end of September, but so far, its Board of Regents hasn't made a decision about whether to compete for the contract, though spokesman Chris Harrington said the school is preparing as if it will.
He said a decision may come as early as the school's next regents meeting in May.
In March, Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., expressed their strong concerns that uncertainty from the competition process could provoke a "mass exodus" of LANL's most senior scientists who chose retirement to maintain their university benefits.
LANL employees are eligible for retirement beginning at age 50. Rickman said the average age of the entire work force is slightly more than 46 years old. Of the 3,361 LANL scientists, about 1,350, or 39 percent, are 50 years old or older, he said. Of the lab's technicians, about 630, or 34 percent, are 50 years old or older.
Friday, April 29, 2005
See you later
Gary can say what he may. However, I say in response to Pete being fired: "See you later butthead!" You have done more to destroy the economy of northern New Mexico and, indeed, national security than any person in the history of Los Alamos.
Fact: this accident did happen
Was having to assess our Laboratory operations this past year necessary? Every story usually has an alternative viewpoint.
I participated on the laser accident investigation team. I could not believe what I was told regarding the accident - here was a Principal Investigator operating a Class IV Nd:YAG laser system (high peak power invisible, infrared radiation) without wearing laser protective eyewear! This action conflicts with the most basic rule of laser safety. Operation included running the system to produce laser light, not just pulsing flashlamps with an inactive Q-switch.
Finding someone who would operate a Class IV laser system without protective eyewear was bad enough. What scared me more, however, was that a few other coworkers/ colleagues shared his safety philosophy with respect to laser operations. The way I read the rules, I cannot even be at my computer station off in some corner of the lab without protective laser eyewear while a Class IV system is running in spite of any confidence I might have in how well the beams are managed. In the case of this accident the laser light was poorly managed.
How do we discover these egregious safety behaviors before they result in accidents? Fact: this accident did happen; among the Laboratory laser community we found somebody who would operate a Class IV laser system without protective eyewear. I ask myself if there are like minded workers out there who are in a position to compromise safety, security, procurement, environmental compliance, (pick your favorite topic)…
At least some degree of self assessment was warranted. I submit these opinions as a private citizen. Hopefully they add another perspective to “the real story”.
Thomas P. Turner
A few observations
I would like to conclude my interactions on this forum with a few observations, then I will turn in my soap box.
LANL is no longer a reservation for the free-ranging, wild scientist. The Laboratory reminisced about by Harold Agnew, Stirling Colgate, Ben Diven and Jay Wechsler in the Operation Castle discussion required responsibility and competence without a lot of oversight. The stakes were high, the mission was urgent and was not controversial. We work in a different world.
Note, someone has to develop regulations and IWDs. They can make sense and be efficient, or not. We cannot stand back and wait for "someone else" to solve our operational and process problems. "Someone else" may make it worse. It is better to engage in the process, thinking thru what is needed and proposing efficient and effective language. Our continual and positive engagement in solving our problems to improve our processes (like travel, IWDs, procurement, safety, security, etc.) is termed "Quality" management and includes us. (To the many remarkable scientists here: You are awesome. But really smart and powerful people learn the processes and interactions required to accomplish their mission, not just stand back and take pot shots at others because things did not miraculously happen.) It is complicated and will take time. Our process refinements have lagged the changing requirements, but good, dedicated people are working this issue. I have hope, not cynicism, for the success of the Enterprise Project. Be patient as the bugs are worked out. Do not be cynical or discouraged. We can do this!
Some of you disbelieve that the nation could do without LANL and your particular project. You cite the pit mission, the LANL weapons in the stockpile, the long tradition of great LANL science, the entitlement of Northerner NM, etc . Reread the bullet above. Our adversaries are diverse, but are equal-opportunity. Rocky Flats was the only pit manufacturing facility in the nation when it was shut down for doing what it had always done. We have a bunch of good guys here from Rocky. Ask them how unbelievable their experience was. I understand that a few years ago Brookhaven National Lab's contract was changed over a safety problem, across a weekend, retroactive to the previous Friday. If you think that LANL could be immune to a similar action, you do not understand these things:
(The caterer and the errant cart of food was NOT part of an undercover surveillance team trying to identify malcontents ;-). It was just an ARAMARK mix-up.)
I appreciate the many e-mails and personal discussions thanking me for adding a thoughtful and positive dimension to this blog. I particularly thank those here who have weighed in to counter ad hominem attacks. My arguments stand or fall on their own. Separate out the man and the issues. Lets deal with the multifaceted, multilayered issues within our reach.
Attacking the Person (argumentum ad hominem)
The person presenting an argument is attacked instead of the argument itself. For example, the person's character, nationality or religion may be attacked. Alternatively, it may be pointed out that a person stands to gain from a favorable outcome. Or a person may be attacked by association, or by the company he keeps. This usually occurs when the antagonist is emotionally but not cerebrally involved. Should never happen at Los Alamos.
To the people who would like a good future for the Lab, please take some time to help it occur.
Welcome to LANL
I would like to see this comment from the "There is good news" thread elevated to a top-level post.
Welcome to LANL. A couple of suggestions for you to consider:
1) Any "tribute" to Nanos will backfire. Tell it like it is.
2) The "stealth" thing isn't working. Best to come out of the closet. UC looks more foolish by the day in their attempts to perpetuate the pretense that Nanos is still running things at LANL.
3) Take a lesson from the Nanos regime: Openness is good, secrecy, censorship, and lies are bad.
Texas Takes 2nd Look at Lab Contract; University, Lockheed Martin Might Team Up
Friday, April 29, 2005
Texas Takes 2nd Look at Lab Contract; University, Lockheed Martin Might Team Up
By Brandi Grissom
The Associated Press
AUSTIN— The University of Texas System has renewed interest in managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In February, UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof recommended the system drop pursuit of a management contract for the nation's largest nuclear lab after a series of security breaches and after UT officials failed to find a corporate management partner.
Since then, Lockheed Martin, a likely management partner, has revived its intent to bid.
"Lockheed Martin's withdrawal as a potential partner in the bidding process for Los Alamos was a factor that weighed heavily in my earlier recommendation to forgo a potential bid," Yudof told regents at a meeting Thursday.
The system already has partnerships with Lockheed in research at Sandia National Laboratories, which Lockheed Martin manages for the Department of Energy.
UT regents heard testimony Thursday from those who support and oppose the system's possible involvement with the lab where the first nuclear bomb was developed more than a half century ago.
UT System spokesman Michael Warden said regents may opt to make a decision about whether to compete for the contract at their next regularly scheduled meeting in May or wait for DOE to issue a final request for proposals, expected May 15.
In the meantime, he said UT System officials are discussing a potential partnership with Lockheed Martin.
Supporters of a UT bid, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry's deputy chief of staff, Phil Wilson, say the research and economic opportunities the lab could provide would be invaluable to the UT System and Texas.
Opponents, including state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, want the system to back away from a partnership they say is tantamount to promotion of nuclear armament.
In July, UT officials formally expressed interest in a contract to manage Los Alamos. The federal nuclear weapons lab has been operated by the University of California System since it was established in 1943. The Department of Energy opened bidding on the contract after security and management problems.
The original contract with Los Alamos would have required the system to manage the entire workings of the lab where much of the nation's top-security weapons research takes place. The DOE is expected to change the contract, allowing for corporate management with academic oversight of research.
"This model in which industry is the managing partner and academia conducts research is the approach most likely to lead to satisfactory resolution of past problems and, more importantly, generate spectacular success in the future," said Bob Barnhill, UT System vice chancellor for research and technology transfer.
Neal Lane, a Rice University professor who has done work at Los Alamos for the past 30 years, said the UT System could reshape the embattled facility with a quality work force and emphasis on research.
"It's essential that a major university like the University of Texas have a leading role in guiding the laboratory in order to ensure the science remains among the very highest priorities of the laboratory," Lane said.
UT Austin President Larry Faulkner said the focus of officials deciding whether to pursue the Los Alamos bid should not be the opportunities it may provide to UT but rather the system's duty to the country.
"The nation needs a solution at Los Alamos," Faulkner said, "and that solution will involve some linkage to the academic world if it is to be effective."
Karen Hadden, chairwoman for Peace Action Texas, told the regents they should take a stand against nuclear weapons proliferation rather than participating in their development.
"Our role in the world should be to help take these weapons out of existence," she said.
Burnam downplayed the research and job opportunities that might be created, saying the danger of nuclear weapons created there far outweighs any positive results that might come from managing Los Alamos.
He called for more openness in the UT System's decision-making process and requested reports on the fiscal impact a role in management of the lab could have on UT.
"This process is lacking, and the product is dangerous," he said.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
There is good news,
There is good news, and there is not-so-good news. The good news, of course, is that Nanos has definitely left the building. The other news is that he has found, or is in the process of finding a new job. Are you ready?
That's right, DHS in the Threats and Protection department. RUMINT has it that if he has not already done so, he is about to snag a high-level position there. Why is that bad news? Well, of course it is bad news that there is someone out there foolish enough to hire Nanos into another high-level position. No surprise, I suppose, that he found that fool inside DHS. The other reason that this is bad news is that (wait for it) DHS is one of LANL's customers. Yep. Nanos will still be our boss in a certain sense. Perhaps in no small sense if he gets his vengeful mitts on LANL's portion of DHS's budget.
One more item: our new stealth Director, Glenn Mara, has an email address: email@example.com. I only mention this because I know many of you would like to make suggestions to him regarding the wording of Nanos' tribute, which I expect Mara (maybe we need to think of him as our interim interim Director) or Kuckuck (our interim Director) to deliver mid-May.
When can you retire from Lockeed?
At LANL/UC when you reach 50 you can retire if you have 5 years of service (to get medical too you need 10 years). Very very nice benefit for people who came from other companies.
Conversely, Lockeed makes you work for ever!
From rip2003.pdf (google "rip2003.pdf sandia"):
You are eligible to retire with a service pension when you meet both the
following minimum age and term of employment requirements:
I was planning on retiring at 50. With Lockeed, I will have to work 10 more years before being eligible for retirement. Yuck!
Giant military contractor brings story of success to Albuquerque
By James W. Brosnan
Scripps Howard News Service
April 28, 2005
WASHINGTON - The nation's largest military industry contractor traces its heritage to the days when aviators in rickety biplanes made a living selling rides for $5 a head at carnivals. When Lockheed Martin Corp. stockholders meet in Albuquerque today, they will review the performance of a company with $35.5 billion a year in sales and 130,000 employees. [...]
When Lockheed Martin Corp. stockholders meet in Albuquerque today, they will review the performance of a company with $35.5 billion a year in sales and 130,000 employees.
By Mike Tumolillo
April 28, 2005
Lockheed Martin's top executives told a small group of shareholders today what they already knew: The company made a great deal of money in 2004 and will likely make more in 2005. Speaking at the annual shareholders' meeting at the Sheraton Uptown Hotel this morning, President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Stevens summed it up by saying, "Our outlook for the future is very bright." [...]
Speaking at the annual shareholders' meeting at the Sheraton Uptown Hotel this morning, President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Stevens summed it up by saying, "Our outlook for the future is very bright."
WHAT'S YOUR PENSION AT SANDIA/LOCKMART?
WHAT'S YOUR PENSION AT SANDIA/LOCKMART (AT FUTURE LANL/LOCKMART?)?
Following is extracted from rip2003.pdf (google "rip2003.pdf sandia")
Pension=(highest average pay over 3 years)*(retirement age factor)*(service credit)
The key differential numbers are the "retirement age factor" numbers for
Sandia vs Lanl. I've extracted them below from rip2003.pdf and from the Lanl
Retirement Handbook, the third column is the ratio of Sandia/Lanl expressed
as a percentage i.e. (Column2/Column3)*100.
Age Sandia Lanl Ratio
50 1.04% 1.11% 93.6
51 1.12% 1.24% 90.3
52 1.20% 1.38% 86.9
52 1.28% 1.52% 84.2
54 1.36% 1.66% 81.9
55 1.44% 1.80% 80.0
56 1.52% 1.94% 78.3
57 1.60% 2.08% 76.9
58 1.68% 2.22% 75.6
59 1.76% 2.36% 74.5
60 1.84% 2.50% 73.6
It seems that based on the above info, that Sandia/Lockmart (Lanl/Lockmart?)
retirement benefits ranges from 93.6 to 73.6% of Lanl/UC, and gets progressively
worse with employee age. If sick leave is not converted to service credit at
Sandia/Lockmart as it is at LANL/UC then that's another loss. The Lanl COLA
issue (retire by July 1, lock in 4% more) has been discussed already.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a benefits rep, nor otherwise expert, and am offering a
strictly personal opinion about some publically available information. No one
should take action based solely on the numbers or discussion above, they
should seek out and independently verify facts on their own.
What should I, my friends, my group, or my division be doing now?
After a phone call discussion with Doug, he suggested that the following might be useful to readers of this blog. I apologize for its length. There seemed to be a lot to include.
I am an ex-LANL technical staff member (biophysics and molecular biology) who now runs a small business consulting and contracting with pharma and biotech. I am broadly trained in biology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, programmatic efforts, human relations, management, business development, and teaching.
Last year, I was asked to apply for the open division leader position in B division. As part of my due diligence, I asked myself “If I am offered the job, should I take it?” This analysis led me to create 5 year strategic plans for B division, a number of other divisions, and the Lab as a whole. Since I have written a number of business plans complete with detailed financial spreadsheets, I tried to write similar things for the Lab.
My main questions were:
- What is a best prediction of the structure of the Lab in 5 years?
- What should I or colleagues be doing now to protect ourselves?
- Should any of us plan on being here in five years?
Last fall, my answers (many, many pages of analysis) focused on the forces affecting entire divisions and the Lab as a whole. Last winter, my answers started to include expected behaviors of potential bidders and of politicians during the recompete and its aftermath.
In the last month, following a number of phone calls whose essential message was “Get me out of here!”, I have started to focus this analysis on credible strategies for individuals and am helping some colleagues (new hires, mid career, and retirees). Some people’s best strategy is to stay here. Other people’s best strategy is to be prepared to leave but not to leave right now. For certain folks, leaving now is a good idea.
So far, for most individuals, I have had 70% solutions. I already know about 70% of what they need to know to plan for their future and that of their family. I have credible predictions about the future of their funding, their division, often their group, and a number of benefit issues. I do not yet have the detailed individual fine tuning that would allow me to include a person’s wishes about living in the mountains, continuing to work with particular colleagues, putting their children through school, etc. However, it does not take much time to do this fine tuning, case by case.
In response to the ‘Get me out’ phone calls, I have started to offer a flexible service that resembles a strategy planning service and a placement service. Among the things I have offered to individuals and groups are:
- Future analysis – Quantitatively, where does my group or division seem to be headed.
- Hedging analysis – What should a person (or group) do now to protect their career and retirement
- Placement analysis – What employment opportunities might exist outside the Lab. This analysis relies on my 3,600 active contacts in the
in areas that span the talents of Laboratory personnel. U.S.
- Resume writing – Many lab staff have not written resumes in years. I write them constantly and can help others.
- Actual placement – Headhunters and others call routinely looking for talent. With headhunters I get paid by the company for finding a person to fill a need. If I am paid by the person, then I find a good place for them to go.
- Business issues – Does leaving the lab and trying to start a business locally make any professional sense for a particular person.
- Intellectual property issues – Some people have what they consider to be valuable intellectual property. Together we assess its value and how to develop it.
I can’t afford to offer these services for free. (My landlord expects me to pay the rent every month. ;-) ) I can offer them at reasonable rates. Since I am not funded by any government agency, I can work, without conflict of interest, for best interests of the person instead the best interests of a sponsor.
The rates resemble Federal Express rates. For instance, I know how long it takes to upgrade a resume. I charge hourly rates for the appropriate number of hours. If you want the revised resume in a month or two, the hourly rates are low. If you want the resume tomorrow morning, the rates are much higher. If you want the resume later this afternoon, treat me really nicely.
If such analysis might be of use to you or your friends or if you just want more details, please contact me.
August 2, 1776 - When Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence, he said, "We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."
The same thought seems to apply to LANL staff and the recompete. Each staff member is risking their career and approximately $200,000 in benefits on the recompete. The potential bidders in the recompete are spending millions on their bids to run the place; politicians are winning the hearts of voters by bad mouthing LANL; and, yet, we are trying to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our town, and our Lab, not by savvy collective action but by separate, no cost, posts on blogs.
Credible plans that I have seen to protect irreplaceable staff and weapons knowledge require quick, collective action. Such plans would thwart people who would mistakenly destroy the Lab. Such destroyers are not malevolent just uninformed. They do not fathom the need for LANL nor the workings of LANL. Yet, we dither.
Could someone explain to me why acting only as individuals and only by whining on blogs is the right thing to do in the face of an aggregate loss of $1,000,000,000 to LANL employees and in the face of the potential death of the Lab as we would like it to be? We come across as a bunch of kids showing up to play in the Superbowl against the New England Patriots. We, the scientific heart of the country’s weapons program, are showing up in cutoffs with a soccer ball, no coach, and no game plan; yet we expect to win. Do we have a fairy godmother who is protecting us and whom I have not met?
I love the Lab and, especially, its people. Behind the press releases, we constitute a necessary national treasure. I would like us, employees and former employees, to start acting as a professional team, playing a winning game, for real, for ourselves, and for the defense of the nation. Hanging separately does not seem that appealing.
I have a "Going-Away" party to attend
Would love to attend your pro-Nanos luncheon on Thursday, Gary, but I
just looked at my calendar book and realized I have a "Going-Away" party
to attend on that very same afternoon for a certain fellow who's high-up
on the LANL management chain (hint, hint). I'll be bringing along some of
Mrs. Smith's wonderful Barcardi Rum punch, so party goers can properly
celebrate and blissfully forget the shenanigans of the past year. The
ol'lady makes one helluva punch. If you see some people laughing loudly
with lampshades on their heads running naked down the hallways of the
Otowi building screaming "Happy days are here again!", well, that'll be
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
WIRE AND STAFF REPORT
The formal document soliciting proposals for managing Los Alamos National Laboratory will take a little longer to finalize.
It may not be official yet
It may not be official yet, and God knows why they are trying to keep it secret still, but Glenn Mara is now taking care of business in the director's office. When the time comes, either Friday May 13 (oh, that would be a good day) or more likely Monday May 16 UC will announce that Kuckuck will be the new, interim director. I can even hear how the announcement will be pitched.
"Our departed former director Nanos performed courageously during the difficult times of the past year. We are here to finish the wonderful work he started." Or some such drivel.
Lets Do Lunch
This notice was posted today on the M&O contract web site
This notice was posted today on the M&O contract web site:
April 26, 2005
NNSA Source Evaluation Board (SEB) Website Status Notice regarding the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Management and Operating (M&O) Contract Competition
Thank you for interest in the LANL M&O Contract competition. NNSA is in process of finalizing the Request For Proposal (RFP) for the LANL M&O Contract Competition. The proposed final RFP must be reviewed by the Department and approved by the Source Selection Official prior to release. The NNSA SEB projects that the final RFP for the LANL M&O Contract Competition will be released in mid May 2005.
No Rush Likely Needed to Preserve Our Retirement Benefits
Subject - No Rush Likely Needed to Preserve Our Retirement Benefits
I did some reading on benefits in the government literature and on the competition web site. My conclusion is that it is highly unlikely that we will lose anything that we already have, and it is likely that we will continue to accrue benefits in a competitive fashion with the rest of industry (or better if UC wins). With an extension, we will have the opportunity to add another year to UCRP even in the worst case, so I'm sitting still for the rest of this year. The only way we lose big is if UC decides not to compete and refuses to manage our retirement funds in the future, so let's try to help avoid these. We should be able to guess what the most likely scenario is in the next few weeks anyway.
If you noticed, the modified RFP presented the concept that LANL employees would be allowed to become inactive members of UCRP while becoming new members of the contract manager's retirement plan. If UC wins, it is still likely that no changes will occur. If UC loses, it is likely that we will retain what we have in UCRP and join a new defined contribution plan for acquisition of additional benefits. This is the lowest cost solution for the government and the contractor and is now standard in industry and the DOE/NNSA. The GAO is pushing DOE towards defined contribution plans because, with the exception of UC and a few others, the vast majority of these plans in the country are under-funded and thus creating growing future liabilities for the federal government, meaning the taxpayers. Some other things from the reading:
DOE had $13.4B in unfunded contractor future liabilities in 2003 according to a GAO report (attached). This includes both pension and retiree health care. The causes - stock market, rising health care costs, DOE accepting optimistic projections rather than resume contributing to some plans, lack of tax incentives for annuity-based insurance for retiree health care, and boomers beginning to retire.
The GAO found that according to DOE's own statistics, 44% of its post-retirement health care costs are above market typical, and 29% of its defined benefit costs are above typical, even though the complex average total benefits were typical. The GAO singled these two types of plans out for more specific management oversight.
DOE principally uses pay-as-you-go for retiree health care because of the lack of tax incentives to induce contractors to use annuities, for which no proven algorithm yet exists anyway and which the contractors are resisting.
DOE typically passes post-retirement costs on to the next contractor, or else pays the old contractor to continue managing them, thus increasing their operations costs as contracts are re-competed. Defined contribution plans are preferred for the future since these can move with the employee, eliminating this growing cost as contracts are re-competed.
Fortune 100 companies are typically carrying $1.3B in liabilities for post-retirement benefits. Because their retiree health care costs have increased by >200% in recent years, they are moving to annuities, which bound their costs but do no necessarily cover retiree costs (UC retirees should expect this eventually also as it is the only solution gaining traction). They have to do this for their balance sheets as these are reportable liabilities. Also, they typically use defined contribution plans for other retirement benefits.
Let's step back from the Micro to the Macro View
Let's step back from the Micro to the Macro View for a Moment
The micro view debate on this blog revolves around management practices, pensions, the RFP and the contract, who did what to whom, etc.
This is a vibrant and worthwhile dialog, but it is a situation like asking who left the doors and windows open to your house in the desert letting
sea water in. A macro view question is to ask is why there is sea water sloshing across the desert...
1) During the cold war, nuclear weapons deterrence prevented a world wide conflict. In this era were the lab's capabilities unique and vital? The answer is yes. In a post-9/11 world, would a US nuclear weapon prevent the use of a terrorist nuclear weapon or other WMD? The answer is no. Can the lab's capabilities help prevent another terrorist attack? The answer is yes. Are the lab's capabilities as unique in this regard as it was in the past? Maybe and Maybe not. In this new world situation, we are much closer to the rest of the national security pack than before. As a result of this, we don't look that much different to the Government than any other extremely important national security asset or capability, so we are less likely to get special treatment.
2) If you think LANL has a retirement bump crisis, the rest of the national security infrastructure has as well. Many government agencies are seeing a big exodus of retiring senior people, being replaced by a new flock of folks that are learning the ropes. In the DOD, this is compounded by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war has drawn many senior officers away from the core planning and acquisition bureaucracy leaving junior officers with a lot more responsibility supported by major contractor SETA support (Systems Engineering Technical Assistance) which in many cases leave the foxes guarding the chicken coop. Combine this situation with point 1) above, and you see why someone might start saying, "why not start treating the care and feeding of nuclear weapons just like military communication satellites, F-22 fighters, M1 Tanks", etc.
So the world changed, the seawater came into the desert, the Admiral was in put in charge of the adobe house, and no matter what commands he gave, surprisingly it didn't float..... What we really needed was a naval engineer a few years before the sea water came in....
Editor's Note: The most recent information regarding the status of the operating contract is available from links in the Daily Newsbulletin. Links to UC and the National Nuclear Security Administration can be found in the upper left corner. As additional information becomes available it will be added to the link sites and the Daily Newsbulletin will provide news coverage.
April 22, 2005
We need some answers
We need more information regarding the schedule for the implementation of the new Laboratory management and operating contract. We heard in February that the National Nuclear Security Administration had asked for a six month extension to the existing University of California contract, which (if granted) would indicate a switch-over in the spring of 2006, but we have not heard (as of mid April) whether that extension has been granted by the Secretary of Energy, or indeed by UC. According to the Lab Benefits office the current contract will end in September 2005, which is to say there is no extension. Yet, just five months short of that terminal date we still have not seen any indication of how the UCRP funds will be transferred into whatever the new plan will be, nor do we have tools for estimating how our defined benefit pension plan will convert.
With no information as to how the new plan will compare with UCRP, the fiscally conservative course is to follow the common assumption that the new plan will be considerably worse than the present plan. Many of us are therefore reluctantly led to explore retirement options in the absence of any concrete information. Those of us still low on the UCRP Retirement Factor charts must also apply for jobs elsewhere to make ends meet. If we are applying for faculty positions that begin this autumn, we need to make our decisions within the next few months. Clearly, if the changeover does not occur until March of 2006 (or later?), it would be to our advantage to continue UC employment at least until then because of the increase in service credit, and postpone (or extend) our job searches.
So, the questions we need answers to are: (1) What is the current schedule for the award of the new contract and its implementation? (2) Will there be a grace period during which we can carefully consider our options while we continue to accrue UC service credit and process our retirement paperwork? (3) In short, what is the absolute last day we can retire to ensure being covered under UCRP? (4) Finally, can we begin to put some brackets (lower and upper limits) to the retirement benefits we would get under the new contract manager's plan if we convert to the new employer without retiring?
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Comments are turned off
WHO ARE YOU GUYS?
Now, It is true that this blog is more likely to attract the pen of the inconsolably angry person, than a reasoned debater or analyst who could wrestle with the complexities of a difficult situation. But, still does the trend shown here not cause you at least to wonder?
I do not intend to impune the genuine distress and anger of LANL staff, who genuinely (but erroniously) think that there was an intent by management to damage them or the lab. But I have to wonder whether some of the relatively few anonymous daily posters here are ringers, planted from the normally vocal and active adversarial organizations across the nation who are set on destroying LANL. How many ringers would it take to stoke the fire of the LANL staff who have felt injured? Would this tactic provide legitimacy and reinforcement for some to harbor anger and bitterness who would otherwise have forgiven and returned to productive work? How many really inflammatory statements would it take to give the 1500/day visitors/viewers the impression that there is a deep and insoluble problem?
Some of you seem to resonate with conspiracies as the root cause of problems. Do you resonate with this one? I'm just thinking here guys. Anonymity is fraught with problems.
Regarding good times in Dodge City
If the new "sheriff" comes in and thinks he's going to "kick ass" and "clean up the Lab" then he will also fail. The plows and anvils are loaded on the wagons and plenty of dry powder is now on hand. We now have a heliostat signal system thanks to Doug and his Blog. It won't take long for the rest of the very mobile staff to finish packing up and head to "Californie", home of the triple distilled.
There's probably still time (but it's now down to weeks) to salvage something of the Lab but any new management will have to be very careful and very inspiring. Otherwise, the rest of Los Alamos National Laboratory will crumble through their hands like dust.
- a 25 year plus TSM
Congratulations to the keeper of the blog for surpassing half a million page views today!
Giving Employees What They Want: The Returns Are Huge
The $3 billion question
Spurred partly by the comments on the blog, and partly by conversations with some lab sources, I wrote a post this morning trying to clarify the $3 billion number from the Domenici news release:
I don't have this nailed down in enough detail to write a story yet - my math doesn't line up exactly with the numbers Domenici and Brooks have given - they're close, but they don't match exactly. But given the concern, I wanted to get at least something on the record. Post a link if you feel it's appropriate, since more people read your blog than mine. :-)
Good Times in Dodge City
April 26, 2005
Those keeping track of the competition for the job of managing Los Alamos National Laboratory might want to write everything in pencil.
The date for the bidding war to begin has slipped again, from late April until mid-May.
That's when the U.S. Department of Energy plans to issue its final request for proposals, Albuquerque office spokeswoman Tracy Loughead said Monday.
Since December, a draft version of the contract terms and conditions to take on management of the weapons lab has gone through a process of public review and revision. How much to pay the contractor and how to preserve benefits for thousands of existing University of California employees at Los Alamos have been major issues.
The university's current management contract expires Sept. 30. The Energy Department intends to select a contractor this summer, with the next manager taking over by Oct. 1. But with delays, those dates could slip.
Once the final request for proposals is released, bidders have 90 days to submit an elaborate proposal for running the birthplace of the atomic bomb and its ongoing weapons program.
"We're anxious to see this RFP because we want to ensure it has a strong focus on science and technology," UC spokesman Chris Harrington said. "That's our strength."
University regents said they won't decide whether to enter the competition until that time. Likely partners for UC are Bechtel National (an engineering firm); Washington Group International (an engineering and construction company) and The University of New Mexico.
Meanwhile, both Lockheed Martin Corp., which runs Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, and Northrop Grumman, have declared their intentions to compete. The two defense companies are well-acquainted with each other, having gone head-to-head for jobs and collaborated on work over the years.
In a formal statement Monday, Northrop Grumman firmed up its intention to bid for the Los Alamos management contract.
"Our ability to manage large-scale operations will allow the lab staff to concentrate on their primary mission: science," said James O'Neill, corporate vice president, in a news release.
The company runs such operations as the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's Joint National Integration Center and the Joint Forces Command's Cyber Warfare Integration Network.
With offices in Los Alamos and Albuquerque, Northrop Grumman already has 445 employees in New Mexico. A branch of the company that deals with space technology has a relationship with LANL.
Bidders will be scored, in part, on the senior laboratory leadership they propose, and Northrop Grumman has been advertising five top positions at LANL, including the deputy director's seat. Juli Ballesteros, a company spokeswoman, said officials are in discussion with a New Mexico resident for the top position, though further details were withheld.
Northrop Grumman is keeping quiet on many other points, as well.
Last month, David Amerine of CH2M Hill, said his Denver-based company will partner with Northrop Grumman and Teledyne Brown Engineering for the bid. But Ballesteros did not confirm that Monday.
"We're still talking to a lot of companies, as well as universities, to get them signed up to the team," she said.
C. Paul Robinson, who has headed Sandia National Laboratories since 1995 and once worked at Los Alamos, will step down Friday to help Lockheed Martin prepare its bid. If Lockheed Martin wins the contract, the company has said he would become Los Alamos' next director.
Team members are being recruited. "We're still talking with the University of Texas and others," Lockheed Martin spokesman Don Carson said Monday.
The board of regents of The University of Texas system will meet Thursday to discuss and hear public comments on a possible bid for the Los Alamos management contract, but no action on this agenda item is expected to occur at this meeting. Texas regents voted in February to withdraw from the bidding.
Nuclear Watch of New Mexico -- in connection with other disarmament groups -- also is gearing up for the competition.
The University of California has operated the lab since its creation during World War II. In recent years, security, safety and business management lapses at the lab prompted then-Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and the Congress to put the management contract out to bid for the first time.
The seven-year contract is potentially worth $2.2 billion per year. Extensions of the contract could raise the total value to $44 billion over 20 years.
U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., on Monday reiterated his preference for the University of California to retain the contract. Noting the contract competitors may offer some surprises in their bids, he encouraged LANL workers to delay judgment until the new contract is let.
Monday, April 25, 2005
The whisper mill
The whisper mill just won't stop. Current refinement of a rumor that started about 1 1/2 weeks ago: Nanos' departure date will be somewhere between May 15 - 30, and his replacement, our interim director, will be Robert Kuckuck.
Northrop Joins List of LANL Bidders
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Northrop Joins List of LANL Bidders
By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer
Northrop Grumman, the country's third largest defense contractor behind Lockheed Martin and Boeing, announced Monday that it will bid on the $2 billion annual contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.
"We think it is a great fit for Northrop Grumman," said company spokeswoman Juli Ballesteros, citing the company's expertise in engineering nuclear reactors for U.S. aircraft carriers and submarines.
She said the company, which employs 125,000 people worldwide, has made a significant investment over the years in advanced research and development, including work on lasers, ceramics and metals.
"Our ability to manage large-scale operations will allow the lab staff to concentrate on their primary mission— science," James R. O'Neill, Northrop's vice president and head of the company's information technology sector, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
LANL has been operated by the University of California for the government since 1943.
Then-Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced in 2003 that LANL's contract would be put up for competitive bids for the first time, following a series of management and security problems at the lab.
UC's contract to manage LANL expires at the end of September. Its board of regents has not decided whether it will compete to keep the LANL contract. The regents will take up the issue at its next meeting at the end of May, by which time the final management criteria for the competition are expected to have been released.
The federal Department of Energy is expected to select a new manager by this summer.
University of California spokesman Chris Harrington said the school is in ongoing discussions with potential partners, including the University of Texas, which is reconsidering a bid on the contract after initially bowing out in February. He said that a partnership agreement is close.
Until recently, no companies had announced a firm interest in winning the contract to operate the nation's first nuclear weapons research facility, provoking federal officials to sweeten the proposed LANL management contract. Among other things, the changes doubled the potential management fee to $60 million.
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Monday that Northrop's announcement "is just further evidence that there is going to be competition," though he reiterated that his preference is for the University of California to continue managing the laboratory.
Northrop is now the second major defense contractor to announce its intention to seek the LANL contract.
Lockheed, which had dropped out of the competition last summer, announced late last month that it was restarting its effort to win the LANL contract after DOE officials re-crafted the management terms to make the lab contract more appealing.
Lockheed, which manages Sandia National Laboratories for DOE in Albuquerque, will be aided in its bid for LANL by Sandia director C. Paul Robinson, who spent 18 years at LANL. Robinson is stepping down from his position at Sandia on Friday to join Lockheed's effort to win the Los Alamos contract.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in a statement that he wants to ensure the LANL contract competition doesn't damage the laboratory's scientific mission.
"The important thing in this competition is not how many bidders there are, but whether the long-term scientific strength of the laboratory is going to be maintained and enhanced under a new contract," he said.
Northrop, Lockheed and the University of California will have to develop strong proposals to meet that objective, he said.
In 2003, Northrop paid $60 million to the Department of Defense as part of a settlement agreement over mischarged and improperly claimed costs at its Newport News Shipbuilding facility.
I would like to "call the question", by Gary Stradling
I have looked at the "Petition to remove Director Nanos" in the blog side bar. It has on the order of 100 posts with the following comment posted near the end:
"To summarize this attempt at a petition to remove Nanos as Director of LANL:
-Brad Lee Holian
-John N. Horne
-David F. Simmons
-Scott A. Watson
-Anonymous (90+, largely afraid of retaliation)
-Ambiguous (uncertain number) ... 2/24/2005 09:03"
Anonymous comments directed at me on the Quality branch of this blog assert that 99% of the lab staff are in mutiny against the management:
"What you seem to fail to grasp time and time again is that 99% of the workforce does not trust Nanos. ... To a person, we revile the man, but felt a duty to do our jobs anyway. He has destroyed our ability to serve the country."4/24/2005 07:40:49 PM
"Gary, this is war. The technical staff is at war with the director and anyone who defends him. When he goes, so will you. There are no rules in this war. Anything that helps to rid us of Nanos is fair game. If we lose this war, we will leave. Do you understand?" 4/24/2005 10:18
Some posters have questioned my credentials to engage in a rational discussion about these important issues. These are issues which affect me, many of my friends and associates, and the future of a great institution. I have been intrigued by this question of the credentials and the actual number of people represented by the large number of hard-core, vehement, We-Hate-Pete postings. This was summed up well in one of the posts on the "Petition to remove Director Nanos" list:
"I'm enjoying your blog but I'm not from LANL. It reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon where Rover is at the keyboard and he's saying to another pet. "On the Internet, nobody knows I 'm a dog." This entire forum could be written by one real person who is fearful of his job and unable to leave the lab. How many of you are there? Can you find another job? ... The idea that you can't give your name under a simple truth unless you're retired or leaving seems to be the almost the same as cowardice. "2/16/2005 03:50
Many of the lab staff have felt buffeted and ill treated by a long sequence of events culminating in the Shutdown: The Chris Cox Committee report, the political nature of the Wen Ho Lee investigation, the Walp/Doran expose' claiming a widespread culture of corruption, finding out that there were actually some thieving employees in management positions, the misplaced hard drive investigation bungled by the FBI, and then on Nanos' watch, the CREM/laser safety incidents. There has been a lot of fixation on Pete Nanos' less-that-soothing interaction style as he has fought the tiller, the sails and the crew to bring LANL back into the wind.
Most LANL employees are fair minded and recognize that there are real problems that had to be resolved, that there have been a few employees who have been cavalier in their attitudes to safety and security regulations, while most here treat them very seriously. Most want us to get over this bump, refine our approach and get on with our mission. So, 100 employees out of 10,000 are outraged enough to sign a petition to remove the director. That is 1%, not 99%. There are 1500 visits a day to this site on weekdays. Where are all of those folks on this issue?
I propose that Doug also put up a "Get On With Our Work" list for lab staff in one of the following categories to register their votes:
-If the Director is replaced, we still have work to do.
-We recognize that the key issue is not the director's personality but the Laboratory's approach to executing the business part of its job.
-We feel bruised, but have the wisdom to forgive.
-We wish we had state of the art management and processes, but are willing to work thru the task of getting there.
-We do not stand behind the ultimatum of "The technical staff is at war with the director and anyone who defends him."
Maybe the combined results of the two lists will better approximate "The Real Story" at LANL. I encourage the rest of the 1500/day blog watchers to register your views.
About the financials Northrup Grumman is touting to Wall Street if it
gets the LANL contract
By Bill Dupuy, News Director
SANTA FE (2005-04-25) -- This is At Noon, KSFR's extended midday report.
We've been reporting today that the latest entrant into the contest for
the Los Alamos national lab contract is Northrup Grumman. KSFR news
actually was first to report its interest several weeks ago. That was when
KSFR spotted online recruiting ads from Northrup looking for key
executives for the Los Alamos lab.
What about Associate Director for Morale and Hilarities Are Here Again (AD/MO'HAHA)? Remember the Washington axiom, "The longer the title the less important the job."
For Nanos, maybe John Bolton's old job in the State Department is still available. Apparently, the only qualification is that the incumbent must have demonstrated the ability to chew out innocent subordinates and throw paper at them.
Northrop Grumman to Bid on Los Alamos National Laboratory Management Contract
MCLEAN, Va., April 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Northrop Grumman
Corporation (NYSE: NOC) will leverage its expertise in advanced technology and
large-scale program management to bid on the contract to manage Los Alamos
National Laboratory. The seven-year agreement is potentially worth
$2.2 billion per year. Extensions of up to 13 years could increase the total
value of the program to $44 billion over 20 years.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
While LANL can and should train all of us in Quality, ...
”The workers know-how and ideas are incorporated into building a better production system. … This idea initially came from the workers. In order for the system to work, you need a trained and disciplined workforce.
Another feature of this system is that you will lose money by adopting it unless the parts’ quality is satisfactory. Every time a part of inferior quality is forwarded, the line will be stopped.
At Toyota, we stop the entire line when we find a defective part. Since all plant operations are coordinated, it means that when one plant stops, the effect ripples back to the previous processes, and eventually the Kamigo plant, which manufactures engines, stops too. If the stoppage is prolonged, all the plants have to stop operation.
Stopping the plant is a serious blow to management. And yet, we dare to stop it because we believe in quality control. Once we have taken the trouble of stopping the plant operation, we have to make sure that we find the cause of the trouble and adopt a countermeasure so the same trouble never reappears.
We expect our workers to use their brains … , and we expect them to contribute to refining the system by providing new ideas.” (Emphasis mine)
-Are we at Los Alamos a production plant? No and hopefully we will not evolve into one.
-Is Quality essential to our success? Absolutely!
-Did Pete Nanos shut Los Alamos down over Quality type issues? Yes, safety and security are part of the LANL Quality responsibility.
-Does the Los Alamos workforce understand Quality in the sense described by Katayama? Clearly not, or someone closer to the problem would have punched the “red button” when they saw critical deficiencies. (BTW- I do know that some of you were trying to get the “red button” to connect to the management brain and should be recognized for that.)
We at Los Alamos could benefit from learning and becoming committed to the overarching principle of Quality in all aspects of our work so that our hearts and minds are engaged in ISM, ISSM, IWDs, STOP and other aspects of our work intrinsic to quality. To many at LANL, these processes are extraneous to “our work”, imposed by a mindless and inefficient bureaucracy. Only when we come to understand that they are truly intrinsic to “our work” will we implement them efficiently and effectively.
DX- People say that that processes and organizations in DX were seriously broken before the Shutdown. Then the same people complain bitterly that it has taken so long to bring DX back up to level 3 operation. They also say that it took a long time to actually understand what the Startup requirements were, that the requirements kept being refined as the process of Startup wore on. I do not know. I was not there. To an unbiased, outside, observer, the two appear consistent. The length of time required to get DX restarted could be evidence of the complication of and difficulty of establishing safe and secure processes, rather than evidence of a punitive attitude toward DX. I doubt that the startup procedures rolled off of someone’s head in a clear and complete form. They were developed through a difficult iterative process.
If LANL and DX were operating under a Quality culture, then a Shutdown and Restart over the CREM and laser safety events might have been short and localized. Most of the issues that had to be solved during the Startup would have already been worked out and put in place.
Katayama goes on to say out:
“If the line is stopped, the engineers and the supervisor will rush in to see what is wrong, and they will find the cause of the stoppage is defective engines. If the engines are really defective, the engineers from the Kanigo plant will hurry to the Tsutumi plant to study the problem.
In the mean time, all of the plants are stopped and no cars are coming out of the plant. However, no matter what happens, we must find the cause.” ibid, emphasis mine.
-Where is the problem? Is it that Pete punched the “red button”? Is that it took a long time to identify and define safe and secure processes? It might be that things in DX were badly broken and had to be brought into correct order.
-Where is the fault? Is it a lack of management understanding of Quality processes and effort to instill them into the organization? Is it resistance on the part of the workforce to Quality concepts and processes? Is it a deficiency in how corporate Los Alamos trains their mid-level managers? Is it something else? I do not know. But I doubt that it is because people consciously sabotaged the organization.
The “Running list of wasteful activities at LANL,” linked on this blog, is evidence of insufficient Quality culture here. I see it in my environment in numerous ways. Lack of coordination between the elements installing and operating the Red network is a particularly frustrating issue. Lack of coupling between our security processes and operating needs is another. The people doing these jobs are dedicated, sincere, and hardworking, with few exceptions. There is a lack of understanding of Quality principles and lack of company-sanctioned feedback processes and a lack of worker commitment to offer and to respond to ideas for improvement.
While LANL can and should train all of us in Quality, for the good of the Lab, no one is holding you back from picking up books on Quality, TQM, Six Sigma, etc. and making them part of your skill set as a LANL employee. The Lab would probably train you if you asked.
When Affixing Blame For Inept Managers,
The Wall Street Journal
April 20, 2005
By JARED SANDBERG
When Affixing Blame
For Inept Managers,
Go Over Their Heads
April 20, 2005; Page B1
Graig Stettner was always able to stay in the good graces of his former boss. But that didn't make her vindictiveness or ax-grinding any more appealing to him.
When he e-mailed some friends last week about their former tormentor, "the emotions that the mere mention of her name incited were amazing," he says. One colleague recalled that when she greeted the boss with a "good morning," she was told not to speak unless spoken to. "I don't like to chit-chat," the boss said. Another colleague, who had opposed the woman's promotion openly, was "let go." Some employees so disliked the boss that they mounted a picture of the Wicked Witch of the West on an office wall and got a computer to play the line, "I'll get you, my pretty. And your little dog, too!"
None of this sentiment was shared by the boss's boss, of course, who was "totally clueless," Mr. Stettner says. "It wasn't until two managers later [and three years later] that anybody had the courage to cut her loose."
There's only one thing more mystifying than why a person completely undeserving of a managerial position gets one: how they manage to keep it for so long. Everyone knows that politics, connections and clever tactics can vault the most unworthy staffer into a supervisory role, especially in a bootlickocracy. But when that person, defying logic and gravity, fails to fall on his or her own sword, it is stark proof of the fact that justice doesn't necessarily prevail in the office.
The problem of unqualified employees rising through the ranks is well chronicled in Laurence Peter's 1969 book, "The Peter Principle," which argues that people in business organizations rise to their level of incompetence. But are these climbers, who are surrounded by the cult of ambition that pervades most corporations, really at fault for striving for what an organization rewards? What about the one person in close proximity to whom the manager's incompetence isn't tortuously obvious: the fool who promoted him.
"It's like people who get mad at a dog because the dog is out running around the neighborhood," says Lisa McNary, a management professor at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. "It's not the dog's fault."
High-tech executive Paul Kedrosky also believes "the people who wrong-headedly promote these ragingly incompetent people and don't do anything about it" are the problem. He once had a sales manager who called weekly meetings, asked all the wrong questions, told his subordinates they were idiots, and spent the rest of the week frantically making sales himself to cover for his "incompetent" staff. "We spent a great deal of time golfing," Mr. Kedrosky says. "To my knowledge, [the man] was still in the job 10 years later, as bad as ever."
What goes around may come around, "but sometimes it's a very long trip," says Jon Morehouse. He once had a lousy supervisor who managed to keep his post by referring all questions from his staffers to people who knew the answers and by persuading his supervisors that the work his staff was doing was actually his.
Organizational psychologist Gary Hayes says organizations flattened starting in the 1970s, when layers of management were removed in the name of organizational efficiency. But "a very large number of companies after that really stopped rewarding management skills," he says. As a result, "people get promoted because they have a technical skill that gets found out and recognized early on and that becomes the horse they ride into town," he says.
Sometimes a supervisor promotes a lame manager because he figures the manager is unlikely to unseat him. "They don't want to have subordinates on a lower rung of the ladder who might soon step over them," says Angelo Calvello, a principal at a financial firm in Chicago. "Normally, a boob has got a boob for a boss."
The higher up the hierarchy a boss is, the longer it may take for justice to prevail. More than a decade ago, Jim Sachs was reporting to a chief financial officer who had challenged the chief executive and lost. The CEO replaced the CFO with an ally, someone who did some administrative bidding for the board and who, Mr. Sachs says, "couldn't manage his way out of a paper bag." Because his boss and his boss's boss were so bad, Mr. Sachs viewed the situation as "double jeopardy" and left the company. Eventually, the chief executive was canned, but only 10 years later, after new directors joined the board.
Some bosses are able to last because they have a lieutenant who can prop them up. A former banker recalls the time a loan officer was promoted to head the bank's trust department. "It was like putting someone who speaks Hindi in charge of a lot of Spaniards," he says. Anytime the boss was asked questions in a meeting, his lieutenant would dutifully answer.
Perhaps the biggest reason why incompetent managers have such an interminable shelf life is that the people who promoted them don't want to admit they made an error. "They'd be admitting fallibility," says Karen Markin, a university administrator. "They'd have to admit that some of the advice they got from their subordinates was on the mark and they chose not to listen to it -- if they sought the advice at all."
\u2022 E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see past columns, go to CareerJournal.com2.
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Saturday, April 23, 2005
Buy back military time?
I have heard that the RFP will not be released until May 15, 2005
I have heard that the RFP will not be released until May 15, 2005 and that the UC contract will be extended for another year.
Nanos to New York" account
I've heard there is an account at LANB called the "Nanos to New York" account. I believe the idea is to buy him a ticket so he can "stand in a Macy's window on a Saturday morning... etc. etc.". I've checked into it, and the account is really there, taking donations. Just thought the blog might want to mention this.
LANL Nonprofit Wants $500,000
Saturday, April 23, 2005
LANL Nonprofit Wants $500,000
By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer
Northern New Mexico's Regional Development Corp. wants the next contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory to include a $500,000 portion for its work to cultivate and diversify local businesses.
"We're not the only people trying to position themselves in this very unique situation with the management contract coming up for bid," said the group's executive director, Hugo Hinojosa. "We're trying to be noticed, as well."
The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration are expected to select the next manager of LANL later this summer. Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced in 2003 that LANL's contract, operated by the University of California since 1943, would be put up for competition. The university's contract expires at the end of September.
Hinojosa made the funding request in a March 10 letter to the NNSA.
NNSA spokesman Al Stotts said the request will be included among the other comments received to date on the competition, adding that a response to each will be posted on the agency's Web site by the end of the month.
The nonprofit Regional Development Corp., founded in 1996, was designated by DOE to be the "community reuse organization" for LANL, funding projects that would help redeploy the highly skilled and well-educated laboratory work force in case of lab budget cuts.
But those cuts never came, so DOE decided to cut the Regional Development Corp.'s annual $300,000 funding used to cover the group's operational costs.
Hinojosa said the group has fairly diversified funding sources for its $2 million budget but relied on DOE's funding to cover operational costs, which he said tend to be difficult to fund.
Funders, often large LANL subcontractors that have an obligation to provide a certain amount of regional economic development, prefer the bulk of their money go to implementing projects, as opposed to overhead costs, he said.
"My request was really precipitated by the fact that we lost $300,000 from DOE," he said.
Projects facilitated by the group include a Web portal targeted at northern New Mexico's agricultural community, allowing growers to share information and collaborate online; a wireless community broadband network bringing Internet access to Chama and Tierra Amarilla; and a statewide program designed to pair small- and medium-size businesses with researchers in NASA's space program to solve manufacturing and communications problems.
"The Regional Development Corporation has always been kind of the neutral third party entity here in north-central New Mexico that is able to get all the parties together to do work," Hinojosa said. "This scenario with the lab contract isn't any different, we can work with anybody that ends up managing the lab."
Here comes the sun: Sol's dust salvaged
Thought people might find this story interesting. Look who made the equipment that worked and who made the equipment that didn't work. Now, imagine that it had been the other way around and LANL was the one who was responsible for the screwup. There would be a congressional inquiry and probably a front page story in the New York Times. And you can bet that story would end with a reminder that we are a "troubled National Laboratory" along with a rehash of Wen Ho Lee, Walp and Doran, missing CREM, blah, blah, blah. Anybody care to take a bet that this REAL screwup will never get considered in the laboratory recompete?
Denver Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 21, 2005 -
Scientists have recovered precious bits of solar wind from a Colorado-built spacecraft that crashed in the Utah desert last year, information they expect will help them understand the solar system's birth.
Genesis, a $264 million NASA craft built by Lockheed Martin in Jefferson County, traveled three years and 1.86 million miles to bring solar dust back to Earth.
NASA had repeatedly said scientists should be able to glean information from the spacecraft's smashed wafers, which collected particles blown off the sun's surface.
Seven months after the September crash, they've done it, Roger Wiens, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said Wednesday.
"Several analyses now have shown that we have the solar wind we were looking for," said Wiens, who has been closely involved in NASA's Genesis mission.
Scientists believe the sun's surface has changed little since the solar system's birth about 4 billion years ago, so solar wind - clouds of tiny particles blown away from the star - can illuminate conditions back then.
After last fall's disaster, investigators quickly determined that Lockheed engineers installed four switches backward, an error that drove the spacecraft into the desert at about 200 mph. Genesis should have drifted down on parachutes.
Investigators also concluded that a similar mission - Stardust - will probably not suffer the same fate. That craft is due back to Earth in January carrying rare comet dust, and NASA officials said they're confident its landing system will work.
Conel Alexander, a physicist with the Carnegie Institution in Washington, said he's been hearing for several weeks that researchers were having some success with Genesis' crushed wafers, broken into 15,000 pieces. NASA began sending out some of the fragments for analysis a few months ago.
Alexander said he was pleased to hear that solar particles have now been confirmed.
He has been hoping to get his hands on some Genesis samples eventually, to study the precise types of oxygen and nitrogen atoms found in solar wind.
Such data should illuminate early processes in the solar system that led to planet-formation, he said.
Those measurements also will be the hardest to make, given the dirt contaminating the samples, said Don Burnett, Genesis chief scientist and a California Institute of Technology geochemist.
"We're doing the easy stuff first," Burnett said. "The tough stuff, things like oxygen and carbon, we're not there yet. We've been beaten back by the amount of contamination."
"But we're going to do it," he insisted. "It's just going to take time."
A Lockheed spokesman said the Genesis mission will ultimately be remembered for its important scientific quest.
"For that reason, we are greatly encouraged by reports from program scientists that the significant amount of samples recovered from the mission are likely to allow them to achieve most of the scientific objectives," said Buddy Nelson.
Friday, April 22, 2005
I don't know if this is an appropriate forum to "discuss" this but what about the $170+ Million dollars spent on the EP project that has nothing really to show for it but a faulty procurement accounts payable/receivable system that can't even write checks and "computer users registration"? Waste, Fraud, etc.?
When HR pissed away $7 million (3-4) years ago, people lost jobs, etc.
This will all come to light and not be able to be swept under the rug when the existing payroll system is turned off and ERP payroll is "activated" and the entire UC workforce doesn't get their paycheck for the first time.
Blogger.com problems, again
Blogger.com has managed to do something to break lanl-the-real-story.com again. I believe if you clear your browser's cache it will fix the problems you are reporting about comment sections being missing. If not, please let me know.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
I have reserved Otowi Cafeteria,
It is human nature to attribute problems to malevolence. In my experience, problems are seldom the result of malevolence, but more often are the result of insufficient foresight, organization, process, skill or communication. Our institutional weaknesses might have been tolerable a few years ago, but today our inadequacies stress to the limit our management's ability to navigate the confluence of the turbulent waters we have come into. We are on the verge of a great opportunity with the RRW initiative. I think we have some hard work to bring our organization and tools to the level needed. Lets put away the anger and distrust and work for the success of the institution. Cut the managers some slack. Recruit better ones, if you can find some. Make constructive suggestions instead of angry attacks.
I have reserved Otowi Cafeteria, side room C, from 11:30 to 1:00 PM next Thursday if any of you would like to join in a discussion.
Comments on anti-corporation, anti-profit attitude
You folks at the lab are subject to a constant stream of unwarranted and unfair abuse from anti-war and anti-nuclear groups. These often picture you all as sort of Dr Strangelove types, captive to the military-industrial complex, chuckling evilly in your laboratories and obsessed with killing people and destroying cities. You who work here know that is a terribly naive, unfair and inaccurate view, and that in fact you are just very bright but otherwise ordinary scientists and engineers and technical people and support people working at your nation’s behest, among other things, to produce and maintain the weapons systems that, in the end, prevented the loss of millions of Allied and Japanese lives in a bloody invasion of the Japanese home islands in World War II, and prevented the subsequent enslavement of Europe by the Soviet Union.
I would suggest to those of you who are so adamantly anti-corporation that you are being equally unfair and naive. Corporations are no more evil than your own lab is. They too are made up of ordinary people, most of them just like you, just trying to make a living in the world and feed their families. There are a few bad apples in the corporate world, just as there are everywhere else, so we get the occasional Enron or WorldCom, but to tar all corporations because of the evil of a few outliers is no more fair than to tar all science with the evil of a few Dr. Josef Mengeles (look him up, if you are too young to remember…)
Profit is not a dirty word. You owe the cars you drive and the gas you fuel them with, your mountain bike, the medicine that keeps you and your family healthy, the food on your table, the clothes on your back, the house you live in, and computer you are reading this on, your pension, and thousands of other things that make your life safer and more comfortable to profit-making companies. Indeed you and I who ultimately work for the US government owe our very wages to profit making companies, either directly through corporate taxes or indirectly via the personal taxes paid workers on the wages they earn working in companies. If you really object to the profit motive, feel free to move back to one of the few subsistence farming or hunter-gatherer tribes still around, but don't expect the comforts you are used to. And if you are still infatuated with Marxist myths, go read some history about what life was and is like in socialist countries.
In fact, if you were designing a social system as a scientist or engineer, you would eventually have to invent something like profit to make it work. Profit is both the incentive that encourages people to work and to take risk, and the feedback mechanism that steers that work and risk-taking relatively efficiently toward areas that meet social needs or desires. Socialism’s failures are precisely in those areas. In socialist economies the optimal individual strategy is to work as little as you can get away with and take no risks you can avoid, and the economic disasters in most socialist countries shows the result.
The claim that if a corporation takes over LANL you will be reduced to a pit manufacturing facility shows a failure of reasoning. The lab may indeed eventually be reduced to a pit manufacturing facility, but if it is, it won't be because a corporation is helping to run the lab. It will be because the lab’s customer, the DoE and NNSA, decide that is the only thing they will fund at LANL. In life the Golden Rule applies: he who has the gold makes the rules! Whoever ends up running the lab, whatever university and whatever industrial partner, will in the end be constrained by what the customer wants and is willing to pay for. So if you want to ensure the continuation of pure science at LANL (and I personally think it would be exceedingly short-sighted not to), stop worrying about who will win the contract and spend your energies marketing your pure science ideas to your customers – the DoE, NNSA, and Congress.
My first visit to this forum
I thought that you might be interested to know that there has been quite a bit of research done on this form of communication. My first visit to this forum, but what I see fits the findings.
The research is actually scattered across many disciplines (communications, social networks, complexity theory, cognition, organizational behavior, information management, etc.), dates back to the usenet days, and has been recently expanded to evaluate blogs and other similar form for potential information content mining.
The conclusions are that, after a period of time, blogs generally contain little in the way of facts and the emotional opinions posted are not representational of a population set form which the posters originate because of the progression in the self-selection process that occurs over time.
This is NOT an attack, but it may feel uncomfortable because it IS a mirror grounded in science.
Run a little experiment yourself. Review the posts (words, patterns, and time stamps) in this blog and then answer the following questions and see what hypotheses you reach about posters and where they fit on the spectrum of humans and personalities:
- Are posters more likely to live in the moment, or to live in the past? More likely to see a future with possibilities or with threats?
- Are posters likely to be good at processing their feelings, or more likely filled with feelings of anger, resentment, anxiety, and blame that they cannot rid themselves of?
- Are posters more likely to have many close friends and many interpersonal communication channels, or to be more isolated in their lives and the information that they have access to?
- Are posters likely to be people who accept responsibility for their life, or rather people who are more victim-like, blaming others for what they feel and experience?
- Are posters more likely to sleep well at night, or not, with the concurrent physical and mental health problems that sleeplessness produces?
- Are posters more likely to be black versus white people, or full spectrum people? Half-full or Half-empty? Happy-fulfilled, or sad-angry?
- Are posters more likely to have rational expectations for the behavior of others, or irrational ones, filled with absolutes that no one can meet and that are guaranteed to lead to harsh judgements?
- Are posters more prone to statements of a grandiose nature, or to be more measured?
- Are posters likely to be more grateful for the good things that life has given them, or resentful about what it has not given them?
- Are posters more likely to be comfortable with who they are, or more likely to routinely attack or put down others to prop up their self-image?
- Are poster more likely to first seek to understand, or to judge?
- Are posters more likely to be clear thinkers, or suffer from stress-induced cognitive impairment because of all the above?
Things change over time because the medium turns out to be most attractive to a certain set of personality types. Anyone can get drawn in, because we all want to have information about things that affect us, and we all exhibit the full spectrum illustrated in the questions above from time to time. Its just that most of us don't get stuck there. In their latter stages, blogs are sort of reality internet.
Let me suggest that we might have reached that point.
If you want to feel better, then quit reading this blog. Take a vacation. Get a puppy. Love your wife and kids. Research a new topic. Live your life anywhere but here.
If you like suffering, then keep doing what you are doing to ensure that you will keep feeling the way that you are feeling.
Just my two cents worth. Take care of yourselves.
... "storming down to my office"
A few weeks before Mr. Nanos was named acting director, I saw Mr. Nanos walking in front of my office, at that time near the elevator in the Ad bldg. I asked Mr. Nanos if he had received some documents related to the land I sold him adjacent mine, a part of which he was legally obligated to return to me. Prior to this time my relationship with Mr. Nanos had been entirely cordial, and I was quite surprised by Mr. Nanos's agressive response to my innocent question. During this "conversation", Mr. Nanos threatened to retaliate against me if I took action to protect my interests in the property. This threat was witnessed, and a signed affidavit of the witness is available.
After determining Mr. Nanos's concerns, I offered a win-win solution to Mr. Nanos. His response was to reject it out of hand, forcing me to sue him to protect my interests in the property. This was filed in open court and so is a matter of public record, First Judicial District Court Case No D-0132-CV-200300016. As Mr. Nanos had threatened to retaliate against me, the court provided me with a restraining order to prevent Mr. Nanos from harming my interest in the property while the case was decided - again, filed in open court. Eventually Mr. Nanos agreed to a stipultated judgement giving me everything I asked for in the lawsuit, plus $500 for my attorney's fees. The stipulated judgement, filed in open court, did not include the standard line stating neither party could discuss the case as I believed at that time, as I do now, that the facts related to Mr. Nanos's behavior should be known.
On the advice of the Albuqueque DOE Employee Concerns Office, I have filed copies of all documents related to this incident and the related lawsuit with them and with S-6, since an established pattern of behavior of threats and abusive behavior is taken into account when determining Q-clearance suitability, and can be grounds for revoking a Q-clearance.
I also made the regents of UC aware of the case, although their response was simply to state that they believe handling the case through the courts was the correct way to resolve the issue.
I urge any of you who have similarly experienced threatening behavior of a LANL manager to document the incident and file it with S-6. While I fully inderstand the worries about retaliation expressed in this blog - especially as Mr. Nanos has specifically threatened to retaliate against me - without documentation it is hard to establish the needed accountability to correct a problem.
Dr. J. Tinka Gammel
1047 49th St, Los Alamos
(posted from my home email account)
PS: The 26 Mar. 2003 LA Monitor had the article below at the bottom of the
front page. This was orginally at
but I believe their electronic copy of this was later lost in a computer mishap (and I apologize to them if my electronic reconstruction of the article has any errors). Like all such articles, it has a few inaccuracies caused by the reporter not having first-hand knowledge of the incidents, but gets the basics right and should help clarify the issues in the lawsuit, which at that time was still in progress.
Temporary injunction won by Gammel
By GEORGE SCHWARZ
Monitor Staff Writer
Western Area resident J. Tinka Gammel has won a temporary injunction barring Los Alamos National Laboratory Interim Director George "Pete" Nanos from using a strip of land between their two properties for a utilities easement, according to District Court records.
The lawsuit, which also names Los Alamos County as a defendant, is headed for court and the attorneys for the two private parties won’t talk about it. "When it’s in court, I can’t comment on it," said Oliver Miles, Nanos’ attorney. Jack Hardwick, Gammel’s lawyer didn’t return calls.
Court records show that on Nov. 14, 2002, Gammel, who is also a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee, sold a lot to Nanos for $219,000. With the sale, there was an agreement to adjust the lot line between their two properties, but until the lines were finalized, the
Nanoses granted Gammel an access easement to what court documents call "the strip."
Court documents state that on Dec. 10, Gammel showed Nanos a preliminary plat reflecting lot line adjustments and, three days later, she asked Nanos if he had reviewed the plan. "George Peter Nanos became very angry with Gammel and told her, without explaining that he ‘had decided to do it another way,’ and threatened that Gammel had better not interfere ‘or she would never get the property [the strip] back," according to the court filing.
Several days later, Nanos granted a 10-foot wide utilities easement to the county and Gammel, after learning about the easement, requested that Nanos and the county vacate the easement. Neither has done so, the filing states. Gammel’s filing calls Nanos’ actions a "constructive fraud" by unfairly exploiting owning the strip and that Nanos and Los Alamos County "will be unjustly enriched" if the easement isn’t rescinded.
Further, Gammel "is reasonably concerned, based upon the surreptitious conduct of George Peter Nanos, that (he) will authorize or direct the trenching for utilities and construction of an underground electrical line within the easement without the consent of Gammel." Gammel’s suit contends that the strip has vegetation of "unique value" to her and that Nanos has other ways to get electricity to his property.
In the court documents, neither Nanos nor the county would guarantee not to do work in the easement, with Gammel’s lawyer stating that Assistant County Attorney Dan Gonzales called Gammel’s suit "frivolous." There are no filings from Nanos’ attorney or Los Alamos County in the court file.
Assistant County Attorney Dan Gonzales said the county is trying to facilitate another easement that would give Nanos access to utilities and would be happy to vacate the easement back to Gammel. "Gammel has sued Nanos and the county and the county is really a nominal defendant," he said. "We were named as a defendant because Nanos granted this easement to us."
Posted by Tinka to LANL: The Real Story at 4/21/2005 11:24:27 AM
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Wondering how to stuff the genie back into the bottle?
"The University of California basked in accolades from federal officials and itself Tuesday after winning at least five more years at the helm of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a contract for which there was no other bidder."
By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER, TrivalleyHerald.com
"Because of its outstanding work, including 10 Nobel Prizes won by its scientists, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has helped ensure U.S. scientific leadership for more than 60 years, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. This contract award will allow LBNL and its outstanding researchers and staff to seamlessly continue their work as they set new standards of scientific excellence."
"Today at Berkeley Lab, http://www.lbl.gov/today/2005/Apr/19-Tue/special-edition.html"
Jeezus H., people. Lets be aware of a couple of real-world facts here. 1 -- There were no other bidders, because, 2 -- UC owns the land that UC Berkeley sits on. What bidder in their right mind would submit a bid for that particular national lab? Regardless though, we've got UC President Bobby Dynes "basking in the glow of accolades" for winning the contract.
Meanwhile, back at LANL, it's "mum's the word". Problems at LANL? UC to LANL PR Office: "SQUELCH IT!! Do NOT let ANY bad news about LANL escape!"
In the mean time UCOP is visiting the blog (lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com) dozens of times a day, reading and re-reading stories like
What in the world is UCOP doing? Wondering how to stuff the genie back into the bottle?
It won't work, guys. You'd be far better off just biting the bullet, admitting how badly you screwed up with respect to have chosen and supported Nanos, and announce his imminent departure.
Yeah, right. Like UC is going to start doing the right thing now.
Can anyone comment on the accuracy of a story
Can anyone comment on the accuracy of a story about how Nanos stormed down to a LANL employee's office and berated the employee while Nanos was still a DAD working for Cobb? In the story that I heard, the employee was his neighbor, with whom he was actively engaged in a legal dispute, at the time. If true, seems like an abuse of power to me.
I thought this would be an interesting post.
|Berkeley lab stays with UC |
University faces tougher competition to keep other two national operations
| The University of California basked in accolades from federal officials and itself Tuesday after winning at least five more years at the helm of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a contract for which there was no other bidder.|
Empty statement of the week
Doug, please post this as my candidate for "empty statement of the week". Do you think we got our $163,500 worth yet?
Said Gutierrez. "At LANL, we need to strive to leverage the diverse talents and ideas of all individuals AND at the same time continue to ensure that the Lab is meeting its national security mission. The two are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should support one another."
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
Sen. Pete Domenici advised Los Alamos National Laboratory employees to be ready for future changes beyond the immediate management issues.
When the Blogger Blogs, Can the Employer Intervene?
Post anonymously, please; thanks.
When the Blogger Blogs, Can the Employer Intervene?
By TOM ZELLER Jr.
Published: April 18, 2005 NYTimes
There are about 10 million blogs out there, give or take, including
one belonging to Niall Kennedy, an employee at Technorati, a small
San Francisco-based company that, yes, tracks blogs.
Like many employees at many companies, Mr. Kennedy has opinions, even
when he is not working. One evening last month, he channeled one of
those off-duty opinions into a satiric bit of artwork - an
appropriation of a "loose lips sink ships" World War II-era
propaganda poster altered to provide a harsh comment on the growing
fears among corporations over the blogging activities of their
employees. He then posted it on his personal Web log.
But in a paradoxical turn, Mr. Kennedy's employer, having received
some complaints about the artwork, stepped in and asked him to
reconsider the posting and Mr. Kennedy complied, taking the image
"The past day has been a huge wake-up call," Mr. Kennedy wrote soon
afterward. "I see now that the voice of a company is not limited to
top-level executives, vice presidents and public relations officers."
As the practice of blogging has spread, employees like Mr. Kennedy
are coming to the realization that corporations, which spend millions
of dollars protecting their brands, are under no particular
obligation to tolerate threats, real or perceived, from the
activities of people who become identified with those brands, even if
it is on their personal Web sites.
They are also learning that the law offers no special protections for
blogging - certainly no more than for any other off-duty activity.
As Annalee Newitz, a policy analyst with the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group in Washington, put it,
"What we found is there really is quite a bit of diversity in how
employers are responding to blogging."
A rising tide of employees have recently been reprimanded or let go
for running afoul of their employers' taste or temperament on
personal blogs, including a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines who
learned the hard way that the carrier frowns on cheeky photos while
in uniform and a Google employee who mused on the company's financial
condition and was fired.
Some interpreted these actions as meaning that even in their living
rooms, even in their private basement computer caves, employees are
required to be at least a little bit worried about losing their jobs
if they write or post the wrong thing on their personal Web logs.
"I would have expected that some of the louder, more strident voices
on the Internet would have risen up in a frenzy over this," said
Stowe Boyd, the president of Corante, a daily online news digest on
the technology sector. "But that didn't happen."
In Mr. Boyd's opinion, everything about what Mr. Kennedy did was
protected speech. The use of trademarks was fair use in a satirical
work, Mr. Boyd said, and it seemed unlikely that the company would be
somehow liable for the off-duty actions of an employee, as Technorati
executives argued. It was, in Mr. Boyd's eyes, an indication that
corporate interests were eclipsing individual rights.
"I don't know what else to say," he declared. "I'm astonished."
But Ms. Newitz and others have cautioned that employees must be
careful not to confuse freedom of speech with a freedom from
consequences that might follow from what they say. Indeed, the vast
majority of states are considered "at will" states - meaning that
employees can quit, and employers can fire them, at will - without
evident reason (barring statutory exceptions like race or religion,
where discrimination would have to be proved).
"There really are no laws that protect you," Ms. Newitz said.
Martin H. Malin, a professor of law and director of the Institute for
Law and the Workplace at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, said there
were only a few exceptions.
"It depends on what the blog is," he said, "what the content is, and
whether there's any contractual protection for the employee."
Those who work for the United States Postal Service, for instance, or
a local sanitation department may have some special blogging
privileges. That is because, depending on the circumstances, the
online speech of public employees can be considered "of public
concern," and enjoys a measure of protection, Professor Malin
Employees protected under some union contracts may also be shielded
from summary dismissal for off-duty activities, at least without some
sort of arbitration. "Lifestyle law" trends of the late 1980's and
early 90's - sometimes driven by tobacco and alcohol lobbies -
created state laws that protected employees from being fired for
engaging in legal, off-duty activities, though no one is likely to be
fired simply for blogging, but rather for violating some policy or
practice in a blog.
And bloggers who are neither supervisors nor managers and who can
demonstrate that they are communicating with other workers about
"wages, hours or working conditions" may warrant some protection
under the National Labor Relations Act, Professor Malin said - even
in nonunion enterprises.
None of this, of course, answers the question of where the status of
employee ends and that of private citizen begins.
Some companies, like Sun Microsystems, have wrapped both arms around
blogging. Sun provides space for employees to blog (blogs.sun.com),
and while their darker impulses are presumably kept at bay by the
arrangement, there are hundreds of freewheeling and largely
unmonitored diaries supported by the company.
Microsoft, too, has benefited from the organic growth of online
journaling by celebrity geeks now in its employ, like Robert Scoble,
whose frank and uncensored musings about the company have developed a
loyal following and given Microsoft some street credibility.
But other companies are seeing a need for formalized blogging policies.
Mark Jen, who was fired from Google in January after just two weeks,
having made some ill-advised comments about the company on his blog
(Google would not comment on Mr. Jen's dismissal, but confirmed that
he no longer works for it), is now busy helping to draft a blogging
policy for his new employer, Plaxo, an electronic address book
updating service in Mountain View, Calif.
"It was a very quick education for me at Google," Mr. Jen said. "I
learned very quickly the complexities of a corporate environment."
With Plaxo's blessing, Mr. Jen is soliciting public comment on the
new blogging policy at blog.plaxoed.com.
Most of the points are the kinds of common-sense items that employees
would do well to remember, particularly if they plan on identifying
themselves as employees in their blogs, or discussing office matters
online: don't post material that is obscene, defamatory, profane or
libelous, and make sure that you indicate that the opinions expressed
are your own.
The policy also encourages employee bloggers to use their real names,
rather than attempting anonymity or writing under a pseudonym.
Bad idea, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Two weeks ago, the group published a tutorial on "how to blog
safely," which included tips on avoiding getting fired. Chief among
its recommendations: Blog anonymously.
"Basically, we just want to caution people about how easy it is to
find them online," Ms. Newitz said, "and that they are not just
talking to their friends on their blogs. They're talking to everyone."
But does that means that Mr. Kennedy, a short-timer, a product
manager and by no means an executive at Technorati, carries the
burden of representing the company into his personal blog?
Technorati's vice president for engineering, Adam Hertz, responded:
"It would be antithetical to our corporate values to force Niall to
do anything in his blog. It's his blog."
Yet with the spread of the Internet and of blogging, Mr. Hertz said,
it would be foolish for companies to not spend some time discussing
the art of public communications with their employees, and even train
and prepare lower-level staff for these kinds of public relations
That said, Mr. Hertz stressed that the company had no interest in
formalizing any complicated policies regarding an employee's
activities outside the office.
"I had a high school teacher," he recalled, "who used to say 'I have
only two rules: Don't roller-skate in the hallway and don't be a damn
fool.' We really value a company where people can think for
Please post this anonymously. Obviously, since I qualified to be at
today's All Managers Meeting, I serve at the pleasure of the Director.
The Director was all about good news today at the All Managers Meeting.
One of his more interesting citations was a recent spike in LANL
publications. Referring to it as a "silver lining" in the cloud of the
shutdown, he remarked that a lot of scientists must have busied
themselves with analyzing and writing up their data during the shutdown.
Then, as he turned to the next subject, the Director commented (without
explanation) that the volume of publications was up "largely because of
the restructuring of the work schedule." Huh? Was he alleging that
killing 9/80 resulted in the recovery of so much work time that we're
all-of-a-sudden publishing more?
TR "Morale and Performance Strategy" Focus of New Special Assistant Role
TR "Morale and Performance Strategy" Focus of New Special Assistant Role
Associate Director for Threat Reduction Douglas Beason announced a new position in the ADTR office today, a one-year appointment as special assistant for morale and performance strategy. His choice, Lisa Gutierrez, previously the Laboratory's Diversity Office Director, began her new role Monday, April 18.
The purpose of the new position, as initially described in a Beason Update distributed April 11, is to initiate, grow and cultivate attention on the people of Threat Reduction, without whom essential science cannot evolve. Gutierrez will focus on working with subject matter experts from both technical and support sides to select, evaluate and apply intervention strategies in support of the TR vision and the balance between people, science and programs.
She will study organizational goals and strategies to clarify organizations' development results; identify training, mentoring, morale and development needs with the aid of each TR organization; and evaluate leadership and management effectiveness, in addition to other tasks.
Said Beason, "I have committed to finding new ways to work with TR's people, to be sure they are fully engaged in their own success, and I am counting on Lisa to help make that happen. Working with each division's management and staff, I look for her to make strides in improving morale, mentoring, helping the division leaders, and shifting our culture to one that enables great results instead of simply directing or demanding them."
Since joining Los Alamos 1999, as Diversity Office Director, Gutierrez has been responsible for leadership and oversight of all diversity functions and strategies, which include communication, education & awareness and internal consulting in the areas of diversity, quality of work life, ethics and creating an inclusive and synergistic environment to enable performance excellence.
From 1997-99, Gutierrez worked at Deloitte Consulting, inaugurating two positions as the Central Region Learning Director and Diversity Programs Director for the Americas. After earning her B.S. in Marketing and Organizational Management from CU-Boulder in 1983, Gutierrez worked at Procter & Gamble for over 13 years and in 10 different assignments while also serving as a mentor and an unofficial diversity ambassador for the Fortune 100 company.
Said Gutierrez. "At LANL, we need to strive to leverage the diverse talents and ideas of all individuals AND at the same time continue to ensure that the Lab is meeting its national security mission. The two are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should support one another."
More On LBL Contract Announcement
It should be noted that the LBNL Director (Nobel prize winner Steve Chu) was traveling in Korea at the time of this announcement but called in and was available for comments and questions via telephone.
The AD for Operations made the announcement. UC has won the contract to operate LBNL for 5 more years.
An official (Andrea?) from DOE's Office of Science was present to answer specific questions for DOE.
President Dynes joined in about 20 minutes late via cell phone. He gave lots of Kudos to Steve Chu and his leadership.
Paraphrasing Dynes responding to a reporter.
"How does the entry of Lockheed Martin enter into the decision
regarding bidding on Los Alamos?"
Dynes - "It does not... the UC regents will decide on whether to bid
when the RFP is on the street which it is not.
We are proceeding as if we will compete with intention to win as we
did with the Berkeley Lab"
Questions about details of contract: Performance award amount.
Dual-use LBNL/UC campus facilities
Speculation about beyond 5 years
Molecular foundary Carbon fuel alternatives
"Does this award influence UC's decision to bid on Los Alamos and Livermore?"
Dynes - "The decision depends more on whether DOE's RFP indicates an interest in Science and Technology laboratories."
Lots of oblique questions suggesting that there was only one bidder... UC. UC and LBNL avoided the question, saying they did not know who else was in the competition. DOE/OS also avoided the question.
Several direct questions about LBL's "carbon-neutral" energy initiatives. Steve Chu answered these via cell-phone as he left his hotel room, rode the elevator and got in a car to be driven to the airport... he never missed a beat.
End of transmission
SPECIAL BULLETIN: DOE, BERKELEY LAB TO ANNOUNCE CONTRACT AWARD
I am watching a press conference where this was just announced.
No promises for the other labs of course, but it sets a positive tone anyway.
SPECIAL BULLETIN: DOE, BERKELEY LAB TO ANNOUNCE CONTRACT AWARD FOR MANAGEMENT OF LAB AT 2:15 P.M. TODAY.
In conjunction with the Department of Energy, Berkeley Lab will announce the award of the new contract to manage and operate the Lab at a press conference to take place at 2:15 p.m. today. Employees can view the press conference live via streaming video by linking to
http://www-ntd.lbl.gov/streaming/livefeed.html and following the instructions based on their workstation configuration.
Berkeley Lab’s contract award is the first involving a major DOE science laboratory in response to congressional legislative direction in 2003 to compete five Science and Defense Laboratory Management and Operation contracts.
A special edition of "Today at Berkeley Lab" will be sent to employees today after the announcement.
Just waiting for the shoe to drop
I get the impression that El Sobrante, CA (home of the University Of
California Office Of The President) is a happening place, for the second
day in a row. Visitors from that site continue to be regulars on this
blog. An article that seems to be of particular interest to them today is
I particularly liked the comment posted to that piece at 4/18/2005
11:38:53 PM, in which it is suggested that Dynes make Nanos a Regent of of
the University of California. Now there would be a whole bucket of karma;
just rewards, and all that.
Oh, well, another day in limbo land, just waiting for the shoe to drop.
Editorial: Anxious for a spirited fight for Los Alamos Lab
The Albuquerque Tribune
Editorial: Anxious for a spirited fight for Los Alamos Lab
April 16, 2005
It was a stunning but welcome development to learn last week that Lockheed Martin isn't just back in the saddle, bidding on the contract to manage the troubled Los Alamos National Laboratory, but it also is riding with one of the best nuclear-weapons cowboys - C. Paul Robinson.
Tapping Robinson, the head of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, is a dramatic signal that Lockheed isn't messing around in pursuing the job to manage the prestigious Los Alamos Lab, where the first atomic bombs were developed - a lab now floundering in scandal.
The University of California, which has managed the lab since its inception, now finds itself with its first competitive bidding challenge and extremely worthy competitors in Lockheed and Robinson. Lockheed is turning to the best, most experienced gun to win this contract.
A prime defense contractor, Lockheed successfully manages Sandia Labs. Robinson, a nuclear-weapons Cold Warrior, is credited with guiding Sandia through a difficult - but, for Sandia, extremely prosperous - post-Cold War era over the last decade.
A former director of the nuclear weapons division at Los Alamos and once a contender to manage that lab, Robinson would be coming home as the anointed Los Alamos director-designee.
Whether Lockheed wins the bid, we couldn't think of a better person to right the wobbly Los Alamos Lab and re-claim its long-suffering reputation.
Robinson took Sandia from relative obscurity to the top of the national lab heap, demonstrating unequivocally that a national defense lab could also prosper in the academic and commercial worlds, despite its classified environment, through collaborative research projects.
Sandia has a reputation as a "can-do" lab since it was created by President Harry S. Truman. It leads the three nuclear weapons labs in such collaboration and tops the national labs in private-public research that is delivering impressive dividends in U.S. competitiveness.
Robinson is no stranger to national defense issues. Despite intense criticism, he has pushed for advanced nuclear-weapons designs and insists the United States can't afford to let its guard down, even as it presses for global nuclear nonproliferation.
Robinson sees national security in a much broader frame than his contemporaries, arguing that economic, energy and environmental factors are critical to a strong America. For example, he has favored a diverse national energy portfolio, including often-slighted alternative energy research, including nuclear fusion.
Robinson also was the U.S. ambassador to the Joint Verification Agreement in which nuclear weapons teams from the United States and former Soviet Union demonstrated the ability to monitor nuclear weapons tests at each other's test sites.
It is encouraging the Department of Energy, which will review the bids and award the contract, will have a potent corporate model alongside the long-standing academic one to consider in assessing who best can fix what's been wrong at Los Alamos.
We look to a spirited competition and encourage all bidders, including the University of California and its academic collaborators at the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech, to make their best pitch.
It's high noon in northern New Mexico. And, frankly, its about time.
Blogs are the best thing that's ever happened to journalism. Or they're going to kill it. One or the other.
Weblogs are undeniably the hottest online venue for information. In the debate over their possible impact, however, there seems to be no middle ground.
Blog enthusiasts trumpet the venue's democratization of information, seeing a future where everyone participates in informing everyone else, and where stodgy old newspapers no longer have a monopoly on news. Detractors respond that most bloggers have no accountability, training or professional standards to follow, and that the blizzard of blogs makes it hard for users to discern the credible from the incredible.
Can't we all just get along?
Before making any bold pronouncements about blogs' relevance, we should examine whether blogging actually constitutes journalism or simply the posting of a public diary. The recent Apple lawsuit aimed at making bloggers reveal sources that leaked proprietary information has turned this from a semantic to a legal debate.
Outside the legal arena, however, what's silly about this is that the dimensions of the dispute -- ``Is blogging journalism or not?'' -- ignore a truth that's obvious to those without an agenda. Declaring that blogs equal journalism is like saying that television equals journalism -- people mistake the medium for the message.
The overwhelming majority of blogs on the Web have nothing to do with journalism -- most provide nothing more newsworthy than photos of a blogger's children, discussions of a recent vacation or perhaps opinions on such weighty questions as ``Why are the drivers around here such idiots?'' A tiny minority choose to gather and report news, and, among these, there are outlets both legitimate and loony.
Whether you're a judge or just a reader, good reporting is generally self-evident, and it's not necessarily the exclusive property of the journalism industry. Freedom of information has always been a bedrock principle of journalism, so why should journalists themselves suddenly want to impose professional boundaries upon it?
This leads directly to a second issue. Most professional journalists have been trained not only in writing and gathering information but also in the standards of their profession. While journalism has no Hippocratic oath, it does have guidelines that informally govern the behavior of reporters and editors. Most notably, the Society of Professional Journalists has a detailed code of ethics outlining principles of professional integrity. Some journalists argue that because bloggers need not adhere to such standards, why should traditional media protections apply to them?
Unfortunately, while most reporters and editors operate honestly, in many minds the recent well-publicized ethical lapses of a few journalists have cost the industry its moral high ground. Indeed, there's been plenty of recent evidence to suggest that blogs may provide a good antidote for this, as most of journalism's most recent high-profile blunders were exposed by bloggers.
While the pro- and anti-blog screedfest continues, some smart journalists have begun to see a very different future for news reporting. In looking forward, they also look backward, seeing the business of news in a larger historical and social context. They see precedence for less ``legitimate'' news sources having a positive effect on American society.
Our nation's founders saw the press as an essential element to the functioning of a healthy democracy. They envisioned an ongoing public discourse that would drive debate and policy, and saw the press as a vital venue for that discourse. Toward that end, early U.S. newspapers were participatory in nature. They included personal news, eyewitness accounts and other elements that made them part of the fabric of their communities.
In some ways, blogs might help to restore such a model. They could easily supplement traditional media outlets, giving voice to less-publicized people, causes and points of view. They also could force mainstream media outlets to maintain high standards and take a fresh look at the subjects they cover.
Not every blog is a news outlet. But shouldn't it be up to readers to decide what's news and what isn't?
Anonymity vs. Courage, Honor, and Trust
I think this article from today's NYTimes may deserve its own thread in the blog. This article may be very indicative of the mentality of the three admirals (Nanos, Foley, Brooks) running LANL today.
New York Times April 19, 2005
The Navy's Fleet of Tomorrow Is Mired in Politics of Yesterday
By TIM WEINER
The price of the Navy's new ships, driven up by old-school politics, may scuttle the Pentagon's plans for a 21st-century armada.
Monday, April 18, 2005
From Sen. Pete Domenici's "ACCESS" radio news conference
From Sen. Pete Domenici's "ACCESS" radio news conference with New Mexico radio stations. Mon., April 18, 200
21:55 Domenici says he does not believe that the proposed $3.0 billion cut over five years to DOE national laboratories will become a reality. He says the National Nuclear Security Administration is working on a study to reform the weapons labs, but is also skeptical that the changes it may eventually include will be implemented.
23:50 Domenici says the more important issue to watch now is the increasingly competitive contest to win the management and operating contract at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He says the Lockheed Martin Corp. decision to submit a bid is significant. He says LANL employees should "keep their powder dry" as the process moves forward. He says how the contract winner presents a future vision for LANL could shape its overall future funding and its workload.
25:48 Domenici says the NNSA study to reorganize the weapons laboratories is intended to show how to save funding by changing the role of each laboratory. He says the study is not complete, and it is uncertain that the findings in the study will be accepted.
You know, we might have a problem at Los Alamos
Did anybody else notice how often UCOP was on the blog today? It's as if somebody at UCOP woke up this morning and said, "You know, we might have a problem at Los Alamos," and then went in to work and told all his friends. I wonder what finally got their (perhaps still somewhat dim) attention? The post from a division level manager expressing how he was fed up the the crap he continuously gets from Nanos and his band of ADs? A couple of well-written posts from Sandians who say that LM is not only not that bad, but apparently a whole butt-load better than UC when it comes to running a National Lab? A couple of well-written posts from LM employees describing how parts of the real world really work wrt LANL's situation, and how LANL's situation could stand to improve?
Whatever it was, we can be certain it was not the voices of LANL staff who have been writing letters to President Dynes about the abuses that his choice of director has been heaping on us for the past nine months. You know, when I hear how LM has modernized Sandia's operations in areas such as the travel department as described by a Sandian, and you compare that with the decrepit, inefficient, costly systems that UC has stewarded at LANL, I simply cannot wait until UC loses the competition and LM wins it.
As a former LANL TSM who moved to Sandia
As a former LANL TSM who moved to Sandia a few years ago, I want to
share my perspective on the big difference between life at LANL and
life at Sandia. The biggest difference - drum roll - is how much
easier it is to get work done at Sandia. The business systems are
astoundingly efficient; they're designed to enable me to focus on
research - which is what I'm paid to do - and not bureaucratic red
tape. Travel is a great example: the first time I arranged a foreign
trip, my manager approved the travel and I submitted an itinerary on
the Lockheed Martin travel system. That was about 5:15 in the
afternoon. The very next morning, the Sandia travel clinic called me
to schedule an appointment for recommended vaccinations and to discuss
travel health matters. Not only was I able to get all the shots at
work, but the nurses provided me with a small emergency medical kit in
case I got sick, explained Sandia's emergency travel health insurance
policy and gave me a list of phone numbers for emergency situations,
and even had pointers on dealing with the healthcare system in the
country I'd be visiting. A couple of days later, one of Sandia's
Counterintelligence officer came by my office and gave me a short
briefing on the interactions I'd be having with the foreign nationals I
was working with. Meanwhile, the SNL travel staff took care of all the
DOE and State Dept. paperwork and notified me electronically when the
approvals and country cables had arrived. I even got my very own
Sandia corporate travel card, so I wouldn't have to put any work
expenses on my own personal accounts. And when I returned, I filed my
trip report and expense reports electronically - no paper at all - and
got my reimbursement a few hours later, right in my bank account.
I've experienced the same efficiency in procurement and computer
support as well. I hope LANL gets similar systems, someday, because -
well, wow, I know how much they're needed.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
As a divison level manager here at LANL
I think Godwin's post is very articulate. As a divison level manager here at LANL I've grown increasingly disenchanted with upper management and UC's inability to impose any kind of adult supervision. Our entire management approach has degenerated into something some anthropology student could do a very interesting dissertation on. The number of standing meetings, work force reviews, director's reviews, program reviews, division reviews, STOP trainings, etc. are totally consuming. There is no time to actually focus any effort on our mission. It's most discouraging. While I'm not anxious to have my retirement raided by NNSA and I greatly appreciate the benefits package we have with UC, I'm ready for a change. I've been here almost 20 years and I'd like to accomplish something meaningful in my remaining time here. Something other than the silliness that consumes nearly all of my time now, merely struggling every day to "keep the doors open" for business by adhering to the never ending myriad of crap that flows down on us from above.
Running list of wasteful activities at LANL
In a previous post, the poster commented that "the fact that some divisions are allowed to manage their own computers and not use institutional services" has to be reported to DOE. Why would the DOE require this level of detail in audit reports? The poorest sys admin support at LANL comes from institutional services which are not cost effective no matter what CCN tries to sell the user community.
From this post it's clear that high level LANL management should get involved with the audits enough to communicate to DOE/NNSA what the cost of providing the amount of detail required is.
A new sidebar link to this post will allow the list to be easily accessible.
[Note: I thought this was a good idea, so I have created a new sidebar link for this post for easy access. Submitters can add their own contributions to this list as comments. --Doug]
Start the list with the following:
1. having to explain how systems are administered;
2, having to explain why LANL employees have laptops;
3. having to explain why foreign nationals that LANL recruits need to use computers; and
4. having to explain why LANL employees need ouside access to the yellow [network, the one that connects LANL to the outside world].
Observations from a Lockheed Employee
First, Lockheed Martin is big and successful and it is very, very good at what it does which is why it is successful. We build the world’s most advanced aircraft and radars and sonars and satellites and air defense systems and air traffic control systems and missiles and communications networks and missile defense systems and logistic systems and intelligence support systems and census systems and…and…and it goes on. And we build even more complex and cutting edge stuff we can't talk about. This doesn't just happen by accident. It takes a lot of experience and brains and innovation and hard work to get a couple of thousand people and a couple of hundred suppliers to assemble several million pieces into a fighter or radar or rocket or satellite or whatever and to have the resulting product have a reliability measured in four or five 9’s. And it takes even more brains and hard work to figure out how to do that repeatedly dozens or hundreds or even thousands of times on an assembly line. You folks are proud of what you do -- we are equally proud of what we do!
What is fundamentally different about a business such as Lockheed Martin is the incentive structure. At the end of the day, we have to deliver working products to our customers and dividends to our shareholders (which includes families like yours and mine, and pension funds like your UC pension fund). The moment we don't there are plenty of competitors out there ready to replace us and plenty of other companies people can move their investment to.
Do we make mistakes and have accidents? Sure, same as any other organization and same as you folks. But mistakes and accidents cost profits and lose customers, so we have a powerful incentive to fix the mistakes and prevent accidents, and we work hard at it.
Do we have bad managers? Sure, a few, same as any other organization and same as you folks. But bad managers produce bad performance, and that costs us profit and customers, so we have a powerful incentive to work hard to train and improve our managers, and we weed out those that can't hack it.
Do we work by the book? Sure, we have processes for everything and we follow them. There is a reason for this we have learned by our mistakes (and we have made some big ones in our time) that management by chaos doesn't work and that big projects get out of control very, very easily and that it is real easy to forget something in a complex assembly and as a result lose an expensive satellite or airplane, so we have a powerful incentive to get things organized and be very sure we do every step right. And we have another incentive - our products support customers in critical missions. If our products fail, really bad things can happen, and people, sometimes lots of people, can die. So we are really, really careful about stuff.
Do we sometimes have too much paperwork and bureaucracy? Sure, same as any other organization and same as you folks. But excess paperwork and bureaucracy cost profit, raise our overhead rates, and make us less competitive, so we have powerful incentives to be as efficient as possible. We even have formal processes, learned from Toyota, where workers sit down and figure out how to streamline their own work, and we reward people who make suggestions that make us more efficient.
Do workers sometimes get mistreated in the company? Sure, very occasionally, same as any other organization and same as you folks. But allowing sexual harassment or discrimination or vindictive treatment to exist in our company is very dangerous - there are a sea of lawyers waiting to sue us and a mass of government agencies who can take away our contracts for this sort of behavior, so we have a powerful incentive to be sure it doesn't happen and to deal with it promptly if it does. Doing some of these things in our company can get you fired on the spot and led to the door by the guards without stopping to clean out your desk, and that is as it should be.
Besides, the company is smart enough to realize that its most valuable assets go home every night to their families, and if they are mistreated they just might not come back some morning. That would cost (wait for it) profits and customers! So we have a powerful incentive to treat people right.
Do our projects sometimes fail? Sure, sometimes, same as you folks, and for the same reasons we both work at the cutting edge, pushing the unknown, and sometimes we stumble or guess wrong or just try to go a step too far beyond the current state of the art. But we have a powerful incentive to learn, especially from our mistakes, and to do better next time.
In the end Lockheed Martin, and for that matter any other industrial partner you might end up with, is made up of people just like you and me, hard working, bright, proud of what they do and of the missions they have supported. Despite the campus propaganda to the contrary, there is no evil ”they” in most companies, even in upper management just hard working people trying to do very, very difficult jobs in a rapidly changing world with never enough information, budget or schedule.
In the end we really aren't so different. We do really important stuff in the national interest; so do you. We work at the cutting edge, even the bleeding edge sometimes; so do you. We are proud of our contributions to the nation; so are you. We are at the top of our field; so are you. I don't think it would be so hard for us to team up and work well together.
Do we have different cultures? Sure, a little. But we team with lots of other companies who have different cultures from ours, and we not only work well together in these teams, but we learn from each other’s corporate cultures and adopt ideas from each other, and I am sure that is what would happen if we were working with LANL.
If in the end we get to partner with you folks, we will be proud to do so. And I would hope you would be equally proud to have us as a partner.
Bill Godwin, a Lockheed Martin Fellow who is about to retire, lives in Los Alamos, and cares passionately about the future success of the lab.
The total impropriety of "serial abuse" in the workplace
I saw this one posted this morning and I thought it was extremely well written and made an excellent point. I would like to nominate it for a main post on the blog. It was a comment posted under "Nanos Legacy."
I am watching a rerun of the Bolton confirmation hearing last Tuesday. Carl Ford, former Director of State's INR intelligence office was the witness. Senator after senator (especially on the Democratic side) spoke eloquently about the total impropriety of "serial abuse" in the workplace. The incident they were talking about was Secretary Bolton's alleged berating of a junior intelligence analyst. The hearing was focused on this incident. Senator Boxer remarked that such behavior was illegal. Senator Biden said Bolton's actions were totally inappropiate and constitued grounds for voting against his confirmation. Even Senator Lugar held this behavior and demeanor to be inexcusable.
The issue at hand dealt with an INR analyst's non-concurrence with one of Bolton's talks before it was circulated to appropriate members of the intelligence community for comment. Bolton thought the analyst's action was inappropriate and told him so in a rather heated exchange. He did not use profanity or demeaning terms or none were alleged in the testimony.
Now return to Los Alamos, where our director berated everyone here by called us "buttheads and cowboys;" he fired an employee in front of startled customers at Starbucks; he ran down the aisle and chastised a technician who had asked a simple question during one all-hands meeting; he "chewed out" employees in the badge office because he himself had allow his training to lapse; he berated several of his ADs in front of their subordinates and visitors; and he destroyed the careers of innocent employees who he scapegoated to protect his agendas and his friends.
Am I missing something here? In the Bolton case a single incident in which loud berating may have happened might disqualify him as Ambassador to the United Nations. Here we have a "serial abuser" who holds major responsibilities for the nation's enduring nuclear arsenal and no one seems to care, not the DOE, not the NNSA, not the Congress, and sadly not the University of California.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
This is a message from a friend
Doug, the message beginning "This is a message from a friend." - first comment under your "By golly" post, is so good I suggest you elevate it to a top level post.
This is a message from a friend.
Here's the deal. Like it or not, the government pays you to do the stuff they want. Nukes, quantum whatevers, the geek meal ticket is issued by We, the People, in Congress Assembled. Looks like they might be changing their minds. Time to deal with it. So what if they've blown the budgets on this or that...LANL and all the rest have gotten way more than their fair share of pork
over the years, and still do.
I've heard talks by eminent LANL folks...and a lot of their work can easily be done in a university.
Maybe a lot of LANL folks might be going that way soon. Is that so bad? Where is it written in stone that nothing shall ever change?
What entitlement was established that the govt should fund any endeavour, ad infinitum?
Maybe they are shortsighted, maybe they are wrong...but they make the rules. And whatever some managers do, Nanos etc...they really can't come into your office or lab and interfere with what you are doing (shutdown excepted)...so if what you are doing is important,
enjoyable, critical for national security...get to work! If not, find other work, or retire, or if your personal circumstances limit your ability to leave, "Suck it up", and get a hobby for after work.
Life is short. All this stuff is not going to matter one iota inside of 5 years. The world changes too
quickly. Pick your battles, fight them honorably, blow the whistle when it really matters, sue the management when they break the law, put in an honest day's work, and call it even all around.
There are allegations that many are impressed with themselves at LANL.
My experience in the national security field is different. The people making the difference not only aren't always honored or acclaimed, they are equally likely to be ignored or pilloried. That's the way of the world,
in all human endeavours. So if you find yourself gainfully employed at LANL, give thanks, or heave a sigh
of relief at the dice that rolled your way. So very many people in the world are cold, hungry, and sick,
and would weep in joy at the chance to sleep in the lobby and check the dumpster after lunch. Get a grip, people. Take a deep breath, or two. Get a good night's sleep. Laugh at all the puffed up execs. Remember we are all a little hollow, a little stuffed, "our headpieces filled with straw." If you are doing some good at LANL, to the best of your lights, do it. We return you now to our normal programming...
Prior to the shutdown employees were trusted to do their work safely.
After the shutdown no overtime could be worked unless there was management in the building (Group Leader or Deputy Group Leader). That got to be too hard now it’s delegated to TSM or Team Leaders. That’s how it works where I work.
So what changed nothing, except that now you can’t get work completed on time and in a timely manner? So what do you see that is more disheartening than that?
It’s been a long time since I was in kindergarten. Management needs to grow up.
Your work is now getting so far behind that you will never catch up.
Do I want to work overtime YES. But not in the conditions that are now applied in overtime.
Where is the trust, gone forever. I don’t envision things ever settling down again.
You are right about wanting to work hard, but you're not allowed. If an extra hour today will save you four tomorrow, we want to work. But you need a manger to stay with you.
Micromanagement is here to stay.
Now if the DOE and the new LANL contractor would get on the wagon
Now if the DOE and the new LANL contractor would get on the wagon...
Friday, April 15, 2005
CAROL A. CLARK, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Staff Writer
SANTA FE - "There are no existing credible threats going on in New Mexico at this time," Homeland Security Director Tim Manning said.
If UC were to agree to convert sick leave to service time
One aspect of the take-over by LMT (Lockheed/Martin-Texas) that we haven't
seen addressed on this blog is how current UC employees' sick leave will be
addressed. Many potential retirees in their early to mid fifties with 20 to 30
years of service have banked considerable sick leave hours. An unscientific poll
of coworkers within our organization (who are considering retirement) shows an
average sick leave balance of1582 hours-at least two have well over 3000
Although it is dangerous to generalize, it is my opinion that a high sick
leave balance is at least a rough indication of a dedicated 'work ethic' and a
high degree of job satisfaction. Granted, there are many dedicated employees
that have to use a lot of their sick leave for family emergencies, medical
appointments, etc., and I truly feel for these people. But we all know employees
with over twenty years of service that take sick leave as soon as they accrue it.
It is assumed (since no other information is forthcoming) that any UC
employee that plans to switch over to LMT will lose all of their accrued sick leave.
Employees having large sick leave balances will then have a decision to make:
do they give up as much as two years of service time by converting to LMT
(sick leave is converted to UC service time upon retirement) or do they go ahead
and retire from UC and increase their factors by as much as 4%? Many of the
people I've talked to say that they'll be FORCED to retire rather than lose this
If UC were to agree to convert sick leave to service time, whether an
employee retires immediately or decides to 'suspend' their UC retirement, many of the
likely retirees might well decide to stick it out for awhile with LMT
(assuming LMT would HIRE them.) Needless to say, this is highly unlikely. The end
result will be that many truly dedicated employees, with a lot to lose if they
DON'T retire, WILL retire. Ironically, employees that have possibly abused their
sick leave in the past will actually be REWARDED!
LMT has the contract-we have all heard the rumors and its a done deal. LMT,
along with NNSA/DOE, COULD do something to make career LANL employees want to
stay. But that might adversely impact their bottom line, so it 'aint' gonna
happen pardner' (might as well learn how to speak Texan.) And for any of you that
plan to retire then get rehired by LMT--dream on. Why would they hire some
50-something butt-head 'has-been' when they could hire someone just out of
school, for half the salary, and mold them in the company image? Q clearance?
Naw-that's not as big a deal as everyone says it will be-LMT/NNSA will find ways to
It is high time that the dedicated, loyal LANL employees stop being loyal to
an organization that shows no loyalty in return. Instead, they should be loyal
only to themselves and their families. LANL is dead and NO ONE GIVES A DAMN.
By golly, I do believe it is time for the periodic admonishment
* backstabbing is not professional, don't do it
* name calling is not professional; ditto
* ad hominem (look it up) attacks are not professional
* bad spelling is not professional [s p e l l c h e c k e r]
* religious (and anti-religious) tirades are not professional
* whining is not only non-professional, it is immature and irritating as hell
We can expand this list later, as indicated.
Now admittedly, we presently have more than our share of problems here at LANL. No need to make it worse by introducing ourselves to the rest of the world as (wait for it) a bunch of whiny non-professionals.
There, now go have a nice weekend, be wild and crazy all weekend long if that's what rolls your socks, but a few of you (you know who we are talking about) should try to put on a better showing when you come back.
New noon-time posting locations
Over 20% of the weapons budget is being prepared for the chopping block
Get ready for the mother-of-all RIFs coming our way. You're right, the DOE really doesn't care about the weapon labs. They are planning massive cuts, beginning in FY 2006.
Over 20% of the weapons budget is being prepared for the chopping block.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 14, 2005
CONTACT: CHRIS GALLEGOS 202-224-7082
DOMENICI KNOCKS NNSA BUDGET PRIORITIES AS UNSUSTAINABLE
Five-Year, $3 Billion Cut Will Undermine Labs' Defense Programs
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today pressed a high-level Energy Department official to explain the rationale behind a proposed $3.0 billion cut over five years to the weapons programs at the national laboratories, and charged that the reductions could undermine the scientific capacity of the labs.
Domenici as chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday challenged the proposed long-term budget outlook for the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Ambassador Linton Brooks, NNSA administrator was the primary witness at the hearing.
The DOE budget submission, while advocating significant increases for nonproliferation and other work next year, proposes a $3.0 billion cut in NNSA funding over the next five years. The budget also seeks a $750 million cut to the DOE recapitalization program that replaces decrepit laboratory facilities.
"A $3.0 billion reduction to the NNSA defense programs is unsustainable within the current NNSA complex. It amounts to a third of the annual defense programs budget. It is unclear to me where the cuts are to be applied, but I am deeply concerned that this budget undermines our scientific capability," Domenici said.
Domenici also pointed out that the budget outlook does not mesh with recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in which Brooks laid out a 15-year strategy to transform the NNSA weapons infrastructure.
"This vision of developing a new warhead will require a substantial investment in NNSA's scientific capability and infrastructure. Simply put, your vision for the future is not supported by future budgets," Domenici said. "The long-term impacts of the proposed budget will leave the NNSA complex with a shallow scientific capability, housed in ancient facilities and paying through the nose for unchecked growth in security costs."
Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, along with the Lawrence Livermore facility in California, carry out the NNSA weapons activities.
Domenici also took issue with the FY2006 budget request for $40 million, a $14.5 million cut, for the Z Machine at Sandia National Laboratories. In focusing on having the National Ignition Facility (NIF) reach ignition by 2010, NNSA also entirely eliminates funding, $33 million, for Intertial Fusion Technology that supports the development of laser and z-pinches that could be used in stockpile stewardship activities.
"I was shocked to learn that this budget doesn't even support a full, single shift at the Z machine at Sandia," Domenici said. "This budget basically slashes other relevant stewardship research, while NNSA wages what amounts to a crusade for NIF."
Domenici received assurance from Brooks that there is no official endorsement for a pending report on the future size and scope of the NNSA weapons complex. The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board has deployed a team to evaluate each NNSA facility before issuing its study results in May.
Domenici will begin developing the FY2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill later this spring and into the summer. The bill is likely to fit within the $9.4 billion requested for the NNSA (a 2.5 percent increase), with significant budget increases for nonproliferation activities.
Beason Announces Acting Deputy Associate Director for Bioscience
Please post the news item below anonymously. I find the management action described below to be abhorent! Dr. Schwade was a finalist for the B Division leader position, however, he was not the chosen candidate. AD Beason's decision to promote him to a newly created DAD position after not being chosen to lead B Division is mind numbing.
Here is the recently released article:
Beason Announces Acting Deputy Associate Director for Bioscience
Associate Director for Threat Reduction Douglas Beason today announced the appointment of Nathan Schwade as the acting deputy associate director for biosciences. Formerly serving as acting Bioscience Division leader, key elements of Schwade's new role will include working with the other divisions on TR-wide science and technology strategic planning, as well as new facilities, the Biosafety Level 3 facility and customer outreach. He will assume his new role Monday, April 18.
Beason said of his new advisor, "It is an important role that I have in mind for Nathan, as bioscience at our laboratory is ready for a new strategic role within Threat Reduction. Nathan's assistance in developing that role and incorporating it into the overall Threat Reduction strategic plans for the future will be invaluable."
Schwade earned a B.S. degree in Biology from Texas A&M University in 1988. In 1995 he earned a doctorate in the multidisciplinary Medical Sciences program with a major in Medical Pharmacology and Toxicology. After a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Southwestern Medical Center in the Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, he was appointed as an instructor and then promoted to assistant professor. In 2002 Nathan was named director of research for the department. His responsibilities included all of the basic science and clinical research studies in the department. In 2003 he joined Los Alamos and almost immediately assumed the acting division leader role for bioscience.
Interesting post by Sandian 4/14/2005 9:34pm.
Interesting post by Sandian 4/14/2005 9:34pm. I had asked the
Robinson/Lockheed/benefits question to which it responded. The more hard
info LANL staff gets about the likely new management the easier it is
to make go/no-go decisions. Even more info is welcome.
I understood most of the post, and it sounded perceptive on the whole (e.g how
Robinson works) and also factually informative (e.g. Lockheed has nothing
to do with the science at Sandia).
I didn't understand two comments:
1) Do Sandians punch in timecards like minimum hour wage workers?
2) What does "a 5+5 age and year of service incentive mean?"
Contract ends in September?
Subject: [ COALITION for LANL EXCELLENCE ] End of Benefits??
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 13:38:08 -0000
I just heard this morning that the benefit folks are telling
people with appointments looking into retirement (I have one
coming on April 26) ....
the benefits are saying that the contract ends in September
and so do the benefits .... there is no guarantee that the
benefits will be extended as we've heard the contract has
been extended to March '06.
Has anyone else heard this????
I frequently hear people wondering, "Why hasn't Nanos been replaced with an interim director? Doesn't anybody realize that he is continuing to drive staff away from LANL?"
My answer is: who is going to do it? UC? DOE?, NNSA? I don't think so. UC has proven incapable of making any important decisions regarding the running of LANL. They seem petrified that _any_ decision they make will only worsen their situation, and so they continue to sit and do nothing. Which of course makes things worse.
DOE and NNSA simply don't care what happens to Los Alamos. Staff are leaving? Good, less trouble to deal with ("Pete says they are all a bunch of whiners and malcontents anyhow").
Get used to it: nobody really cares what happens to LANL. My advice is to recognize that fact and deal with it however is best. If that means leaving, than start looking. There are any number of much better work environments out there. If it means staying in the hopes that LM/UT will make LANL a better place to work, then stay. But, please, quit whining.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
This one deserves a post all its own
Here are some views from a Sandian. They are intended to get LANL ready, and meant to be good-natured, tongue very solidly in cheek, Will Rogers type ramblings for your edification and amusement...as for Sandia: there are worse places to work.
Background: Paul Robinson is an amiable, people-person, big-picture, intelligent fellow. He thinks in terms of stories. He works like a dog on the front line in DC, and is thus known as an affable absentee landlord. At his real office in DC, he walks out on point for all things nuclear. He has backbone and will stand up for something important (like the CTBT issue). He stays on top of the most current and sensitive national security matters, and knows many lower-level technical staff by name. Bottom line: good guy to have in your foxhole when it counts. Do not approach him with administrivial whining. He will get a deputy to run LANL day to day while he fights fires in DC and keeps you all out of jail. The deputy is the person you need to worry about. Oh yeah, and UT is the REAL spooky thing. Nothing like the Texas Mafia. They will first attempt to displace the Latter-Day Saints Church from the secret control chamber at LANL...will they succeed?
Lockheed-Martin has little if anything to do with Sandia, (to their credit, as it wasn't broke when they took over) other than using flashy PR shots in their company newspaper, or poaching small but valuable pieces of engineering technology or IP for their DoD business. They also make asinine Ethics videos we have to watch since they were busted being such crooks in their DoD biz. We can't even talk to them without filling out forms and getting permission for breaching of legal firewalls. So it should be. We do not want to go to jail. The obligatory execs get farmed out here to be senior managers.
1) How science has fared:
a) under Robinson: his role is at the highest level of getting the DOE off our backs about LDRD, or getting science-based stockpile supported... Paul likes science success stories to tell bigwigs and politicos, he is just gee-whizzed about all the cool geek magic. Don't underestimate the resolution and range of his B.S. detector array. Peer-review inside the Lab has disappeared, as no one wants to offend anyone else by criticizing. No one in management cares about the quality of the work as long as funding comes in. They promote to management all the staff that have no scruples about work quality or ethics. All that matters is funding. Second priority is the care and feeding of middle-management superstars and their illustrious careers...oh, it takes so much ability to wait every year for that big pot of government money, attend the endless internal budget meetings, hobnob in DC, fill out all those forms on the Web...what skill, what business acumen! This is why so many Sandia managers are recruited away to lead Fortune 500 companies to staggering profits...excuse me, I was hallucinating...must be the beryllium from the Z machine...have you guys heard about that? If you are identified as a golden boy or girl, you practically have to shoot and dismember someone in your office in order to get a reprimand and a possible decrease in bonus. Manage a $40 million program into the ground? Congratulations, here is your promotion to Director!
b) Science under Lockheed: again, this has nothing to do with it.
c) Science fares at Sandia as the individual Directors/VPs garner capital construction funding via lobbying the political superstructure. Most science is based on the facility, CINT, Z, etc. with a few rare exceptions. IF you are the rare researcher who can make global-quality breakthroughs with little funding and lots of brains, assuming you can get your own money, they will give you press, awards, and leave you alone. If you have trouble getting money, too bad. The patent office at Sandia is a joke. They give away millions in IP because they are too busy with a few favorite topics (like MEMS) to pay attention to anything like fair licensing or royalty deals, and never pursue infringement. What is starting to pass more and more for science at Sandia is actually junk, as "program developers" (read: Salespeople) carve out $500K chunks, parse it out 15 ways, get 300 powerpoint slides back, and call it Science to impress clueless sponsors at DARPA. I hope UT lays into that contingent with a gamma-ray laser. They have no business being at a National Lab. There are only a few organizations at Sandia where true science is done. By that, I mean experiments where the outcome is not known in advance. Yes, it is that bad. A lot of engineers here think they do science when all they are really doing is product development.
All in all, the taxpayer gets a good deal at the end of the day, because I know 2 or 3 people at Sandia who have actually saved the world from imminent catastrophe. You know, cut the blue wire first kind of thing.
2) retirement: benefits for new hires will change, as they did at Sandia: loss of UC in-state tuition for kids, replaced by UT, less vacation. The pension issue is so radioactive they will handle it on Wall Street, where Paul Robinson made his pile (he does not need the paycheck, you know). An actuarial analysis will be done, railed against by LANL near-retirees, finally accepted along with a 5+5 age and year of service incentive.
Final observation: it may not have sunk in up there, but it has been pretty clear to some at Sandia that nuclear weapons are an ugly redheaded stepchild with a proud Mommy and Daddy (USAF, USN). Our main roles at LANL and SNL are as public works projects and facts on the ground so the state of NM does not get annexed by a narcotrafficante cartel in Mexico. Chances are NNSA gets shifted over to DOD pronto once LockMart gets the helm. You folks need to think about the ramifications of having every Lt. Col. with a master's degree coming to NM to get his Hi-Tech merit badge...and the Colonels and Generals retiring to take your management jobs. That is already happening at Sandia with predictable results. I'm all for the military, but as my military lab friends have told me, they eat their labs...most of them are gone. There aren't too many Sandians who will be happy at being sent up to LANL, unless they already live up there or are married to LANLers. Or already sleeping in the woods on the mesa...
Bottom bottom line: every day you should wake up and ask yourself if you want to go to work. Nobody can force you, you know. Do a Ben Franklin: if the pluses outweigh the minuses, stay. If not, go. I stay at Sandia because I am able to contribute something real to national security. If that changes, I am gone as soon as practical. I'm one of those pesky idealists.
P.S. Don't forge your timecard when Sandia takes over. Time card fraud is a great firing tool. Note the Sandia Prime Directive: Avoid All Conflict at All Costs.
Sandia Motto: Passive Aggression Always Works.
Senior manager training
I have discovered where our current batch of senior managers got their training!
FROM THE SANDIA INTERNAL WEB
(by Pace van Devender)
Lockheed Martin bids on LANL
Los Alamos National Laboratory is a great scientific asset-and they are our partners in CINT. They have about twice as many scientists and half as many engineers as we do. Their technical contributions are world class.
They have even been able to continually increase their publication rate since the end of the Cold War, as shown in the following graphic of publications per year in a five-year moving window used to smooth the data. (unfortunately, the graphic didn't come through)
They have had an extraordinarily hard time in the last few years. We can learn a great deal from their experience-including the importance of every Sandian and Sandia contractor integrating ES&H and Security into his or her work practices. Hopefully, this contract cycle will let LANL make a new start-regardless of who wins. I am pleased that NNSA changed the RFP; the new features are significant in that they make it possible that the winning bidder might be able to help the situation. Lockheed Martin changed its mind and is now planning to bid. I think that the decision offers NNSA and LANL more options and is a good thing.
LANL technical talent is a great national asset. We need to do what we can to ensure it continues to provide such service. During the last year, I have received many calls from LANL personnel who have had enough. Except in cases of great pain, I encourage them to stay the course and keep their talent available to the future of LANL.
New BUZZ Topic
What do you think about Lockheed Martin's bid for Los Alamos? What would their winning mean for Sandia? What unintended negative consequences would we need to mitigate? Go to the BUZZ to contribute to the discussion.
Posted by D
In Reply To: LockHeed Martin's Bid on LANL Posted by Pace VanDevender on 4/7/2005 at 8:44:59 AM
Although normally not considered the cheerleader type, I am particularly excited about the possibility of LMC winning the M&O contract for LANL. I see much more upside than downside.
As a US citizen and taxpayer, I am hoping for increased efficiency and reduced costs for the complex through consolidation and standardization of personnel practices and acquisitions between the two labs. I anticipate better and more effective governance of LANL should LMC enforce more business-like (and Sandia-like) management practices -- although I appreciate that it will take considerable effort and non-trivial pain to change the LANL culture. As with many others, I anticipate an initial exodus of those LANL employees who are already heavily vested under the UC retirement system. However, the exodus will certainly be one way to impact the existing LANL culture.
Most of all, I am excited about the possibilities of enhanced program integration between LANL and Sandia. I have watched for years as the Z machine and Area IV were unfairly attacked as being "outside" Sandia's mission space. It is my hope that a unified management system might lead to a closer integration of DOE investments and fewer fences between the programs at both sites -- beyond the pilot interactions pioneered by CINT.
Posted by anon on 4/7/2005 at 10:21:53 AM
In Reply To: LockHeed Martin's Bid on LANL Posted by Pace VanDevender on 4/7/2005 at 8:44:59 AM
It would a great opportunity and probably mean a great deal more contracts in dealing with Lockheed. On the negative side both Sandia and Lockheed would have to work to improve the old image that the operations will not be "tarnished" as in previous media reports of LANL.
The sound advice will be applicable after Nanos leaves
The original poster has many excellent ideas. The sound advice will be applicable after Nanos leaves. No platitude will overwrite the fact that, by credible estimates, our director has cost the American taxpayer $1B and much of this cost lies unethically hidden in programmatic codes. If a diversion of this magnitude has not adversely impacted national security then what are we doing here? But as one poster said, Nanos has done some good things. Of course, throughout history all tyrants have sometimes made the trains run on time, lowered crime rates, and reduced the prevalence of genetic abnormalities. Some may say these are some good things, but one must always carefully weight costs. The cost I see is the Laboratory to which I have devoted most of by professional life being sucked dry of its vitality and corporate knowledge, having its people abused and belittled, being destroyed by petty procedures and impediments, and having its future decimated and raided for petty convenience.
Scientists will behave like scientists in everything they do. Why should we be surprised. That behavior includes critiquing their managers. Some managers have trouble with this fact of life. I don't. In fact, if my staff will not question my actions as a manager then I should replace them with staff that will. Experience has shown me that great scientists have problems operating within structured oligarchies because oligarchies operate under the premise that the paths to solutions have already been developed. History gives us an example uniquely applicable to this place. Specifically, the reason the Third Reich failed to develop a nuclear weapon was that German scientists were in a structure that forbade questions. Most of the questioning scientists that would have questioned Heisenberg's errors had fled Germany and many came to Los Alamos where in the give-and-take environment they accomplished the impossible in the space of just two years.
Without that legacy of questioning physics and management that forms the bedrock of Los Alamos, there would be no requirement for this blog. If one existed, it likely would be composed in either German or Japanese.
CAROL A. CLARK
Monitor Staff Writer
State officials have greeted the news that outgoing Sandia National Laboratories Director C. Paul Robinson will be heading up Lockheed Martin Corp.'s pursuit of the management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory warmly.
And while Gov. Richardson is pleased with the move, he maintains his unwavering support for the University of California.
No one is going to come in and “save” LANL
Doug, I would ask that you post this anonymously, as I am a Lockheed Martin employee (though I have nothing to do with the lab bid) and don't want to seem to be speaking for Lockheed Martin, which I don't.
The current LANL management team certainly seems to have mishandled their assignment, but in all fairness, managing a lab full of scientists is never easy, and no director is going to make everyone happy. Scientists taken as a group (though individuals vary, of course) have several characteristics which tend to make them harder than average to manage successfully:
a) They are experts in their own field, and often think that automatically makes them experts in other fields, when it doesn't. They would readily see the absurdity of, say, an experienced industrial program manager undertaking to design a nuclear weapon, but don’t see the equal absurdity in thinking that they could better manage their own large development programs without professional help. There is a tendency among many scientists to think that by virtue of their extensive training and expertise they know best, both inside their field of expertise and outside of it. A study of the history of science might introduce just a dash of humility to this view, but few scientists study such “irrelevant” fields.
b) As others in this blog have commented, there is often a level of arrogance mixed with naiveté. One poster, for example, asserted that a PhD in physics is the hardest PhD to earn (I presume because this poster has also earned PhDs in biochemistry, mathematics, history, and linguistics, among others and can make a comparison…). Many posters seem naively to assume that no one else is really up to the intellectual level of the LANL scientific staff, and certainly not anyone at Sandia or UT or in any of the likely industrial partners, and this is not that uncommon a view among scientists at large. It often doesn’t seem to occur to scientists that there are many, many other fields every bit as complex and demanding as their own, and that some of those working in those fields are every bit their intellectual equals.
c) Many good scientists have the “Feynman” tendency to resent authority and imposed structure on general principles, whether it makes sense or not. In fact, the ability to think outside the box and question established views is one of the strengths of a good scientist, and one certainly doesn’t want to extinguish it, but at the same time it often does make scientists hard to manage as a group.
d) Many scientists (though by no mean all) are largely oblivious to much of the world outside their own field of study, and hence don’t really understand or value those around them who make their own work possible – such as the mechanics and machinists who build their experimental equipment, the upper managers who play the political games in Washington to assure their budgets (arguably a far more complex and difficult field than simple physics!), the IT folks who keep their computer networks running, and the vast support staff who deal with the legal issues, the purchasing issues, the building maintenance issues, etc. etc. There is a tendency among scientists (actually, among academics in any field) to look down on these people as a “lesser breed”, and to resent any process they might have put in place to make their own jobs possible. This tends to make it difficult for many scientists to work well in large organizations of any kind, whether it is a research lab or not – and by the way, it breeds a lot of resentment among all those undervalued and underappreciated support people who work hard to support the scientist’s efforts.
So I would urge the LANL staff to back off a bit from all the personal attacks on current, past, and possible future lab managers, and understand that managing a large group of highly individualistic scientists is going to be hard for anyone to do, and no director and no university sponsor or industrial partner is going to make everyone happy.
In the end, as one recent blog poster noted, no one is going to come in and “save” LANL -- LANL is going to have to save itself, and that will have to start with the whole staff pulling together as a team toward the common goal of restoring LANL to its pervious glory, rather than bitching and bickering and backstabbing each other, as has happened rather too often in this blog.
It would be nice to see some constructive discussion start on this blog, focused on what LANL needs to do from this point forward to succeed, rather than on rehashing the sins of the past.
Is there any direct information, e.g. from colleagues/friends at Sandia, about:
(1) how science has fared at Sandia
(a) under Robinson
(b) under Lockheed
(2) how retirement benefits were affected when Lockheed took over management
Issue 2 (retirement etc.) is not unrelated to issue 1 (science): there may, or
may not, be a mass exodus of some of the best senior scientists at LANL
depending on the combination of these issues and their relation to the current
state of science at LANL under Nanos.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Regarding Nanos' "Moron" comment:
Regarding Nanos' "Moron" comment [during his Congressional Hearing]:
This comment came during the Q&A session after his opening remarks. I have found a transcript for the opening remarks but not the Q&A. The full video used to be on CSPAN’s web site but apparently it was removed on the morning of March 21 (the testimony dates from March 18, 2005). You can find the full testimony including the Q&A on the The Committee on Energy and Commerce’s website:
Follow this link to Connect to the archive of this hearing webcast. Nanos’ “Moron” comment comes at about the 2 hour 31 minute mark after a question from Congressman Wilson of Oregon:
Mr. WILSON: Is there a…uh…event to turn in there media before they’re allowed out the door?
Dr. NANOS: Yes sir, as a matter of fact in some areas you’ll find people walking around with chains around their neck with a big orange card on it. It’s called the “M-card” or the moron card.
The laughter that follows comes from Nanos alone…it’s a tough room. The next question from Mr. Wilson is interesting in that he asks if Nanos believes he has “buy in” from the LANL employees.
Imagine what it must be like
Imagine what it must be like right now if you were George P. Nanos. For example, you go to Washington, looking for a job (as he did two weeks ago). You introduce yourself with some glib phrase like, "Hi. I'm Pete Nanos. You might have heard about me. I ran Los Alamos National Laboratory into the ground. They all hate me there. Not only that, but I cost my boss, the University of California $5.8 million because of my poor performance during the last 9 months. Oh, and there is more: I have a 93 year old mother (or mother in law, whatever) with real expensive health problems, as I am fond of telling my minions. In addition, I will have been instrumental in causing UC to lose the contract that they have held for running LANL during the past 63 years. Oh, one more thing, before I forget, there is a Congressional Committee investigating the cost of the shutdown that I caused at LANL last July, without really having had any good reason."
On top of that, people keep putting "For Sale" signs in front of his house. Five, to date, and counting.
Feel sorry for him yet?
Nah, me neither.
Jeannette Wallace is now a huge stakeholder in this competition as her son Terry Wallace, Jr. is in one of the jobs that will certainly be filled by the new contractor, Associate DIrector of Strategic Research. I am sure Ms. Wallace would be dismayed to see her son have to leave Los Alamos so soon after his homecoming. I for one certainly will not miss him when he sails off with the good ship Nanos.
To the hinterlands
With the departure of Admiral Nanos imminent and not a moment too soon, he should think seriously about taking DAVID BECK of ADWEM with him to the hinterlands----what a disaster this guy is..... Micromanager Supreme .... He's basically frozen all hiring in the directorate for more than 6 months while staff members leave in droves..... The attendance at his All Hands Meeting was hilariously SPARSE.... GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM, BECK.... THERE ARE PENCILS WAITING TO BE PUSHED.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
An alternative view of C. Paul Robinson's past:
"... Paul Robinson of Sandia National Laboratory went much further by
recommending rejection [of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty] in a widely
quoted statement: 'If the United States scrupulously restricts itself to
zero yield while other nations may conduct experiments up to the threshold
of international detectability, we will be at an intolerable disadvantage.
I would advise against accepting limitations that permit such asymmetry.'..."
CAROL A. CLARK, email@example.com, Monitor Staff Writer
News of Sandia National Laboratories Director Paul Robinson leaving his post to head up Lockheed Martin Corp.'s bid to management and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory has spread fast.
Contacting President Dynes
I don't think that everyone is aware that they can
write to President Dynes about their concerns. His
More on Robinson
ALBUQUERQUE — C. Paul Robinson had a successful decade with little controversy at the helm of Sandia National Laboratories. But he says he knew his expertise was needed elsewhere when the company that runs Sandia announced plans to seek the federal contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Robinson will step down as Sandia’s director April 29 to assist Lockheed Martin Corp. prepare its bid to manage Los Alamos.
“Somebody asked me to do it, and I looked at the pros and cons and thought, ‘If I don’t do it, who will they get to do it?’ ” Robinson said Monday of the decision to leave Sandia and to help with the bid.
Robinson spent 18 years at Los Alamos after college, including six years running the nuclear weapons programs, he said. His experience at both labs is beneficial, but he knows better than to get confident in a bid process.
“It will be hard fought, regardless
of what happens,” Robinson said.
The University of California has held the contract to operate Los Alamos since the lab was established in 1943. But a series of security, safety and financial problems in recent years led the Department of Energy to decide in 2003 to put the management contract up for bid.
The UC Board of Regents hasn’t voted on whether to bid for the Los Alamos job but has told staff to prepare as though it will bid.
The University of Texas, which had previously voted to withdraw from the bidding, also may reconsider.
Since UT’s February decision to withdraw, the DOE has doubled the potential performance-based management fee to $60 million annually.
U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, RN.M., praised Robinson for his “terrific” work at Sandia. “I’m sad he’s leaving Sandia, but his departure and new role certainly tells me that Lockheed Martin is intent on putting together a competitive bid.”
But a lab critic thinks the Los Alamos contract might be better left in the hands of a university. “On one hand, those things shouldn’t have gone on at Los Alamos. It should have been managed in a more efficient way. On the other hand, I’ve always felt that with the university running those two laboratories (LANL and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), there’s been some semblance of academic freedom,” said Robert S. Norris, a senior research associate for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.
Norris was also concerned about the idea of Lockheed Martin operating more than one lab.
“I’m not sure that monopoly is beneficial,” he said.
But Robinson said “there’s very little threat” of that because of his key instructions by Lockheed Martin when he took over as Sandia director. “Don’t ever let anybody try to put corporate interests before what you and your people think are the national interests,” Robinson says he was told.
At Sandia, Robinson will be replaced by Thomas O. Hunter, who has been with Sandia since 1967, most recently as senior vice president of defense programs overseeing nuclear weapons work.
Sandia’s core mission will continue to focus on maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, Hunter said.
While Sandia celebrated numerous successes in weapons development and chemical weapon detection tools, it has faced some problems, such as the 2003 discovery that computers had been stolen and security officers had been sleeping on the job. Hunter said management systems at the lab will be re-evaluated.
“We want to spend more time focusing on how to become as effective and efficient as possible,” Hunter said.
Robinson said Hunter’s work with the nuclear weapons program has been a success. “One of the reasons Tom is selected is he’s done just a fabulous job of building strong teams to pursue our nuclear weapons program,” Robinson said.
Michael F. Camardo, Sandia Corp. board chairman and executive vice president of Lockheed Martin information and technology services, said Hunter brings intelligence and integrity to his new role.
“He has a deep and thorough understanding of the national security needs of the nation, the complex missions of the laboratory, and he cares about the people who work at Sandia,” Camardo said.
C. Paul Robinson
April 12, 2005
Sandia leader taking on UC
Laboratory chief steps down to join Lockheed's bid for Los Alamos deal
By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER
The longtime head of Sandia National Laboratories is stepping aside and leading Lockheed Martin's effort to wrest operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory away from the University of California.
If Lockheed succeeds, physicist and former arms-control negotiator C. Paul Robinson would return to Los Alamos, where he began his defense science career in the mid-1960s, as the lab's chief executive.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Perhaps PNNL an option?
I've talked with great talent at LANL who are sticking it through
despite the recent challenges, and I wish the organization luck.
However, if you are considering leaving LANL anyway, I ask that you at
least consider Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (www.pnl.gov).
We're hiring for many positions and offer an income-tax free state with
a low cost of living (about $160,000 on average for a house) with a
competitive relocation program. If you want to learn about specific
opportunities, contact me and I'd be happy to guide you to the right
Executive Search Consultant
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
DOMENICI STATEMENT ON SNL DIRECTOR ROBINSON MOVE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRIS GALLEGOS
APRIL 11, 2005
DOMENICI STATEMENT ON SNL DIRECTOR ROBINSON MOVE,
LOCKHEED MARTIN BID FOR LANL CONTRACT
Audio: http://domenici.senate.gov (News Center, Audio/Visual) or call
800-545-1267 ext. 309
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today issued the
following statement regarding the decision of Sandia National
Laboratories director, Dr. C. Paul Robinson, to leave his post to head
up the Lockheed Martin Corp. bid for the management and operations
contract at Los Alamos National Laboratory:
"I believe Paul Robinson's decision is significant because
of the expertise he will bring to the Lockheed Martin bid. Paul has
worked at Los Alamos, and he has been a terrific director at Sandia.
I'm sad he's leaving Sandia, but his departure and new role certainly
tells me that Lockheed Martin is intent on putting together a
competitive bid. I think he will play a formidable role, and I think
he helps Lockheed Martin proposal immensely.
"The bidding for the Los Alamos contract will be
competitive. My ultimate interest is in having the new contract end
up being the best for the lab workers, pensioners and, of course, the
lab in its totality. I think the University of California and
Lockheed Martin, and possibly other interested parties, are working
toward this goal.
"I look forward to working with Tom Hunter as the new
director at Sandia. This is a superb choice, and I think his
experience in heading the weapons program at Sandia puts him in a good
position do well as director."
From: Sandia Daily News
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2005 9:30 AM
Subject: Management Changes at Sandia
Sandia Daily News
Management Changes Announced: The Sandia Corporation Board of Directors has named Tom Hunter president of Sandia Corporation and director of Sandia National Laboratories, effective April 29. Tom most recently has served as Sandia’s senior vice president for Defense Programs, with oversight of the labs nuclear weapons programs.
Tom will replace Paul Robinson, who became president and labs director in August 1995. Paul will leave Sandia April 29 to help Lockheed Martin Corporation prepare its bid to the Department of Energy for the management and operating contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory. The current M&O contract for LANL, now held by the University of California, expires at the end of September 2005.
Tom said Joan Woodard will head Sandia’s Nuclear Weapons Program. She will remain as Sandia’s executive vice president and deputy director during the transition. Additional management changes will be announced later.
“We are thrilled Tom Hunter has agreed to accept the position of director of Sandia National Laboratories,” said Michael Camardo, Sandia Corporation board chairman and executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Information and Technology Services. “Tom is a man of great intelligence and extremely high integrity. He has a deep and thorough understanding of the national security needs of the nation, the complex missions of the laboratory, and he cares about the people who work at Sandia.”
Camardo praised Paul for demonstrating great vision during his 10-year tenure as Sandia’s director. “Paul kept Sandia on a steady course toward excellence, ethical behavior and a better quality of life for its employees and the local community. Sandia consistently received high ratings from our customer, the Department of Energy. This record reflects well upon Paul and the leadership team he put together to manage Sandia,” he said.
Said Tom, “I am honored and grateful to the members of the Sandia board and Lockheed board of directors for their confidence in me to lead this great laboratory. Paul has left Sandia with a distinguished and impressive legacy of superb leadership and that will help guide me and the rest of the Labs’ leadership team as we continue to move forward.”
Tom said his vision for the laboratory is based on the principles that national security is Sandia’s first and primary business, that Sandia’s employees are its most important asset, and that Sandia will always be a good corporate citizen in that it values strong, positive relationships with its communities and partners.
“Sandia has a unique heritage and capabilities, from advanced failsafe technologies, processes, and systems to ensure the safety and security of our nuclear arsenal, to our growing efforts in microsystems, simulation and modeling, homeland security technologies, materials development, energy, and water,” he said. “I have great confidence that, with the continued support of our outstanding employees, Sandia will continue to be a laboratory that provides exceptional service in the national interest.”
Tom said the core mission of Sandia, a Department of Energy laboratory, will continue to focus on maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. As a premier national security laboratory, it also will continue to develop technology solutions for the challenging problems that threaten peace and freedom at home and abroad.
Tom, who earned a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin, has held a variety of positions since coming to Sandia in 1967. In his most recent post he led the Laboratories’ Defense Programs, which encompasses about 60 percent of Sandia’s $2.2 billion annual budget. From October 1995 to March 1999, he served as vice president of Sandia’s California site and leader of Sandia’s nonproliferation programs.
Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman commended Robinson for his “unfaltering leadership and passion for honesty” that kept Sandia on a course of strong technical achievement and high integrity. “Although I have known Paul only briefly, I could tell immediately that he has an exceptional quality that commands respect and admiration,” Bodman said. He added he has full confidence that Tom will continue that legacy of strong leadership and dedication to national service at Sandia.
National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Linton Brooks noted that Paul has been a director that workers throughout the nuclear weapons complex have looked to for leadership and support, including other lab directors. Brooks praised Tom for his distinguished career at Sandia, particularly his leadership within the weapons program.
Doug, I realize the blog is to be used for discussions about LANL's future, but here is an article about its past that many might find interesting.
THE FIRE UNLEASHED Sunday, April 10, 2005
Oppenheimer always knew he would pay for his discovery of the atomic bomb
The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
By Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
KNOPF; 721 Pages; $35
In the summer of 1979, historian Martin Sherwin paid homage to the scholarly doctrine of sitzfleisch (sitting flesh) by saddling up and riding into the craggy peaks framing ranch Perro Caliente, N.M. Sherwin's quest -- stalking the ghost of Robert Oppenheimer, the fallen-from-grace atomic scientist who had once traversed these same mountains on horseback -- would take him and co-biographer Kai Bird on a bumpier ride than they expected, one spanning decades as well as distances. The fruit of this journey was "American Prometheus," a portrait nuanced and exacting enough to make the authors' quarter-century chase worthwhile.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Sandia definitely grasps that it's incredibly important
Improving LANL's image/learning from Sandia—what a joke. Many folks have commented to me on Sandia's greatly superior ability to "sell" its science. Why? Because, historically, upper management at LANL has shown little inclination in that direction and/or has found ways to take positive initiatives/vehicles for doing such "science-merchandising" and eliminating them. There appears to be the attitude that "we're Los Alamos, we don't need to worry much about selling our science," whereas Sandia definitely grasps that it's incredibly important.
I had to chuckle at a self-proclaimed outsider's comments on the blog, namely,
Lots of outrage about why the outside world thinksThose comments speak so well to an attitude that, "we're the greatest . . . and everyone else should know that."
Los Alamos is arrogant, some of it even arrogantly stated....
A kind of naivete about the real world
John Q. Public can't figure out for himself how good you are, unless you explain it to him—on HIS TERMS, on an appropriate cognitive level! Reactive press releases that sound like the typical pap written by press-release-skilled geeks just don't cut it because most interested parties are savvy enough to figure out what they are. Nor will highly technical papers crafted in field vernacular move anyone (except your peers) to any sort of "great science" realization. Take a look at what Sandia—and for that matter, Livermore—throws out there, and you'll discover pubs at an intermediate level, the level at which terrific science teachers—armed with four-color creative graphics, analogy, metaphor, and any other rhetorical device that works—get complex ideas across to somewhat naive minds. And guess what, Richard Feynmans are a rare breed, indeed—doing great science rarely implies that you're also a great teacher of science to John Q. As long as Los Alamos clings to the belief that it doesn't have to go that public-accommodation route, the image stasis will continue to feed back its systemic coagulatory roadblocks (in the form of disdain rather than adulation).
Saturday, April 09, 2005
A lot of people still don't seem to recognize
post, reposted by request:
A lot of people still don't seem to recognize how badly UC has blown their chances to win the next contract. Do you really think UC's complete inaction regarding Director Nanos' mismanagement of LANL has gone unnoticed?
UC, by leaving Nanos in charge of LANL long after it became apparent that he was not capable of making appropriate management decisions, in particular with regards to last July's shutdown, has pretty much proven that the next contract belongs to another organization.
I got a call from a headhunter last week. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is hiring in Marietta GA, Dallas, and Palmdale, CA. They claim to be looking for senior level people for JSF and F/A-22. If you're willing to be an aerospace migrant worker, here's the contact:
Ray Juzaitis was the second choice rushed in to replace Nanos
Ray Juzaitis was the second choice rushed in to replace Nanos who was the preference of Admiral Foley until that choice was nixed as indicated per comment 6:31 PM in this post. Ray had been offered the Livermore job, had accepted it, was in an anteroom awaiting his being introduced to the Livermore staff assembled in the auditorium. The opposition to Ray's appointment certainly involved some of the staff (maybe they would have preferred Nanos; now there's a thought). Teller was fully engaged in the opposition, his last opportunity before his death to shaft someone from Los Alamos, Oppenheimer being the first. President Dynes pulled the appointment while Ray was awaiting his coronation. Ray left -- I suppose through a back door -- and returned to Los Alamos. With the hiring of Nanos and his elevation first to interim and then permanent Director, Ray's life on the job progressively worsened. After much frustration, he accepted a job at Livermore of all places and advised Nanos of his departure date. Nanos immediately appointed Sue Seestrom to replace Ray. (A practitioner of conspiracy theory might possibly conclude that Nanos harbored latent thoughts that Ray had helped engineer his being denied the Livermore appointment but no evidence supports that possibility.) Nanos did, however, direct John Immele to immediately reduce Ray's salary (this was before the newly announced AM-242 rewrite). Nanos took this punitive action so that Ray would enter Livermore at a reduced salary. Livermore and Los Alamos have an agreement that limits raises in such inter-laboratory transfers. John Immele carried out the order (Nanos apparently lacked the courage to do the deed himself). Fortunately, our HR moves so slowly that the paperwork had not been completed before Ray left for Livermore. Sometimes for snails and sluggish bureaucracies engaged in underhanded agendas, slow is a good thing.
This episode is another possible example of how our Director might use administrative processes as tools of revenge (abuse of process). It also provides possible insights into the lack of courage residing in the Office of the President of the University of California.
I am dismayed by what I see here. I am heartened only by the prospect that change might be on the horizon, the one with the rising sun.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Los Alamos lab bid rivals may join forces
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Two of the University of California's biggest potential rivals for the contract to run Los Alamos Laboratory are considering joining forces for the competition. The University of Texas and Lockheed Martin disclosed Wednesday they have agreed to discuss a possible bidding partnership.
The announcement was made by UT chancellor Mark Yudof at a press conference in Washington, D.C., after signing an agreement with Sandia National Laboratories, run by Lockheed Martin, to collaborate on unclassified research.
"We're interested in talking to them about what role, if any, we might be able to play in a proposal" for Los Alamos, said UT spokesman Michael Warden.
Both Lockheed Martin and UT had dropped out of the competition to manage the New Mexico nuclear weapons lab. But after Lockheed Martin announced last week they were back in the running, UT responded by saying it would reconsider its decision to withdraw, as well.
UC had been in talks with both UT and Lockheed about potential bidding partnerships before they backed out of the competition, according to UC spokesman Chris Harrington, but those talks have not resumed.
"Our discussions with Lockheed Martin ended some time ago when their board of directors decided it was not in the best financial interests of their company to compete."
Harrington said UC is still open to partnering with UT. "We have a very high regard for the University of Texas and we would welcome continuing those discussions."
In August, Lockheed Martin said it was no longer interested in Los Alamos because it wasn't a good business proposition and the company wanted to devote its resources to current projects. UT cited difficulty finding a suitable partnership as one of the reasons it dropped out of the competition in February. Texas A&M and Battelle Memorial Institute also bowed out.
The Department of Energy responded by proposing some changes to the contract, including increasing the manager's fee from 0.6 percent of the lab's $2 billion annual budget to 3 percent, requiring a separate corporate entity to oversee lab management, and creating a new stand-alone pension plan for lab employees.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Don Carson said the proposed changes had brought the company back into the competition, and a separate pension plan was key. Picking up UC's generous pension plan would have been too costly, he said.
Lockheed Martin's re-entry was the biggest factor in UT's decision to reconsider bidding, said UT spokesman Anthony de Bruyn, but all the proposed changes would be weighed at a special meeting of UT regents on April 28. A decision on bidding is not expected that day.
UC has not yet said whether it will compete for the Los Alamos contract but is still in discussions with potential industry partners.
UC has managed Los Alamos since the lab opened its doors in 1943. But a series of security, safety and accounting issues prompted the DOE to put the contract up for bid in 2002 for the first time. The contracts for Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley Labs, both run by UC, are also open for competition.
A final request for proposals for Los Alamos is expected by late April, after which bidders will have 90 days to submit a proposal.
UC submitted a proposal for Berkeley Lab in February. The DOE has said it will extend the Livermore Lab contract for at least two years to keep the bidding process separate.
Senator: Sandia could be model for Los Alamos Lab
By James W. Brosnan
Scripps Howard News Service
April 8, 2005
WASHINGTON - A Texas Republican senator says an agreement between Lockheed Corp., which manages Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of Texas could be a template for operating Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison made the comment after University of Texas officials and Sandia President C. Paul Robinson signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday.
Under that agreement, the laboratories will reimburse the University of Texas for independent peer review studies to assess Sandia's science and engineering programs.
"I think we are looking at the model at Sandia that I hope can be replicated at Los Alamos, where you have a corporate business organization in partnership with a university," Hutchison said.
She said Lockheed has shown at Sandia that you "have much better results, more efficiency and more innovation" when you put a business organization in charge of a lab.
Robinson said of the agreement, "We think it will become the strongest model for academic-industrial partnerships and a new positioning of all the national labs to move forward in this century." He also noted that Lockheed is the largest employer of University of Texas engineering graduates.
University of Texas officials are in talks with Lockheed about joining the corporation's planned bid against the University of California and possibly others to manage Los Alamos. The university's Board of Regents is scheduled to discuss the bid in a special session April 28.
Texas Chancellor Mark Yudof said they also consider the Sandia agreement to be a "national model" but said speculation on their decision about Los Alamos is "premature."
Sen. Pete Domenici also was present for the signing of the agreement in Hutchison's office.
The Albuquerque Republican said the Sandia-Texas agreement "will not cause ripples, but will be accepted and will end up being good for our country, good for the state of Texas and good for Sandia." Domenici left before Hutchison made her comments to reporters about the Los Alamos contract.
This link (found on Slashdot tonight) might be of interest to yourself or others who may be posting to the LANL blog.
Thanks for the blog - it has been very informative, and I appreciate that you have given all of us LANL folks a forum to talk and hear from others.
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
The world's most powerful x-ray machine accomplished a task last week at Los Alamos National Laboratory, capturing an image of the inner workings of a mock-nuclear explosion.
The experiment, using the first axis of the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT), provided diagnostic information on weapons codes and the effects of aging on the nation's nuclear stockpile.
The laboratory reported that the initial analysis showed outstanding data return on all channels.
"The test was the most recent in a series of full hydrotests and numerous other explosive tests," said laboratory spokesman Jim Danneskiold on Wednesday. "Accomplishing these hydrodynamic tests is a major step forward in meeting key milestones in the stockpile stewardship program."
The tests are part of the lab's mission to participate in the certification of the reliability of nuclear weapons without nuclear tests.
The experiment provided data that will predict how long existing weapons can persist in a useable condition.
The test involved a mock-up of the W-76 warhead, which is carried by Trident submarines. The W-76 is often called the backbone of the nation's nuclear deterrent.
The next test in the series is scheduled for the summer.
Over the next few months, according to a laboratory statement, the Los Alamos team will compare the radiographic image with computer models, closely examine any differences and refine the models so they more accurately represent weapon behavior.
"The Los Alamos success of Hydroshot 3625 is a testament to the integrity and technical excellence of Los Alamos stewardship of the W-76," said Everet Beckner, deputy administrator for defense programs with the National Nuclear Security Administration in a prepared statement. "I'm extremely pleased with the great work you've done."
When its second axel is completed, DARHT will provide a series of four high-resolution images, one of which will enable a stereoscopic perspective.
To capture the images, electron accelerators produce X-ray beams that peer inside an exploding object, creating a picture of components moving more than 2,000 miles per hour.
The high-speed "flash" takes place in sixty-billionth of a secon freezing the moment for detailed technical evaluation.
Blogger is (again) having serious problems
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Lockheed will open a LA RFP office in Albuquerque next month
Lockheed will open a LA RFP office in Albuquerque next month. They will be accepting resumes. Lockheed is in the process of identifying SNL and Denver area employees who can be transitioned to LANL.
Three 6 inch briefing books were given to Lockheed's upper management regarding the transition from UC to Lockheed.
Lockheed has the current administration behind them, so they will be hard to stop.
Note, there is a new white paper regarding management fees for the M&O contract
Note, there is a new white paper regarding management fees for the M&O contract that has been posted on the web site:
Note that contractor payments to its parent organization for their expert adivce and management systems would be an allowable cost not requiring a subcontract.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
[I] am equally heartened and dismayed by what I see here
(From the http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/03/ucrp-query.html post).
I believe that the point of the pair of memoranda between Birely and Nelson was that at least *they* believe that UC's normal or default practice would be to terminate all of it's LANL employees, thus making us inactive members as a matter of course.
The implication is that NNSA/DOE might specifically request or require otherwise. Unless our retirement funds are part of the "package" being offered LockMart-TX or Halliburton or whomever, there is no obvious reason to do anything different than to allow current, vested UC employees to maintain their UCRP status as inactive members.
I am less than 2 years shy of minimum retirement age with over 25 years of service. The projected value of my retirement as a UCRP member is likely to be significantly higher than if it is turned over to another retirement system, particularly a Defined Contribution rather than Defined Benefit type of plan.
I'm all for enlightened self-interest but I often go light on the "self-interest". This time I want to at least be aware of what I am giving up if I let this pass without taking any action.
I am more concerned that a new contractor will do egregious damage to the functioning of the laboratory, that it will truly not return to a place I would want to work at.
As for being unmarketable outside of LANL? I happen to have turned down several job offers this past year and am currently on a sabbatical in lieu of simply quitting and taking another position elsewhere. My frustrations with the standdown and with the general tone of management from the top down drove me to seek some respite, if only partial and only temporary. If I did not like living in New Mexico and did not believe that the Laboratory could be a good place to work again, I would have simply beaten the rush and left.
Like all large institutions, LANL has a distribution of employees. Some might very well be unmarketable elsewhere, some might be buttheads and cowboys (I know my share), some might be whiners and dilletantes (again), but I also know that many are top people in their fields, in high demand, and often quite humble and loyal.
I read and post to this blog infrequently and am equally heartened and dismayed by what I see here at times. I am heartened that there is a place like this for people to vent and to announce new information and to discuss possible issues and things they can do to improve the situation *for everyone*. I am dismayed by the sniping and fear/hate mongering that seems to come up on both sides of the debate.
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
The University of Texas System and Lockheed Martin have opened a dialogue about a possible teaming arrangement for bidding on the contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In Washington, D.C., UT Chancellor Mark G. Yudof said the university and Lockheed Martin were beginning conversations today.
The disclosure came during a press conference following a ceremony at the Capitol to sign a memorandum of understanding between UT and Sandia National Laboratories, a weapons laboratory operated by Lockheed Martin.
Michael Warden, a spokesperson for the university, said the ceremony was held in Washington for the convenience of Sens. Pete Domenici, R-NM, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who had facilitated the agreement and spoke during the occasion.
Yudof and SNL Director C. Paul Robinson also participated in the signing.
The agreement, which was announced in February, strengthens the relationship between UT and SNL.
It calls for the university to conduct a peer review process for the laboratory's science, technology and engineering programs, and proposes developing new mission-related program areas, along with opening interactions and collaborations among individual faculty, staff and students at Sandia and UT.
In an accompanying announcement, Yudof said the agreement represents "a tremendous opportunity to advance the strong, existing relationship between our system and one of the country's premier national laboratories."
After Lockheed Martin announced last week that it was once again interested in the competition for LANL, a UT statement indicated the university was also reconsidering its decision not to compete.
Warden said Yudof had been asked by UT Board of Regents Chairman James R. Huffines to determine whether there had been sufficient changes for the university to reconsider the chancellor's previous recommendation not to proceed with a proposal.
Huffines asked Yudof to report back to the board on April 28.
"Hopefully by that time, the system will have sufficient dialogue with Lockheed Martin to have some idea what partnering might look like," said Warden.
In an announcement this morning, Domenici said, "I believe that UT will be able to help Sandia on issues that are especially critical. UT's expertise in the management of a major research university system complements Lockheed Martin's expertise in engineering and major system development to cover the full suite of activity at Sandia."
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
A few facts about Friday's hydrotest
Editorial: Chance to improve research, image
Editorial: Chance to improve research, image
Los Alamos lab partnership.
California Aggie (UC Davis)… Editorial
April 5, 2005
The University of California recently announced its plan to collaborate
with three southwestern institutions -- the University of New Mexico, New
Mexico State University and the New Mexico Institute for Mining and
Technology -- to make its bid for the Los Alamos National Laboratory more
competitive, and to diversify the lab's management.
This partnership addresses management problems linked to a purchasing
scandal in 2002, erroneous reports of missing classified computer disks
and allegations of inappropriate spending. The fiscal impact of these
snafus tallies into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Forming this alliance, however, is not just a political gesture -- it also
has a practical purpose. The more minds overseeing the activities within
the lab, the greater the accountability and credibility will be.
This agreement is also more beneficial than one with a corporate partner.
Private interests driven by profits and self-promotion might judge the
lab's value and productivity on financial success. Public accountability
for the research increases when research is done for the research itself,
and not for financial gains.
In order for this partnership to advance the laboratory's standing, the
management issues that harmed its image must be addressed. The
collaborative effort will ultimately prove worthwhile if the universities
pool their knowledge and research in the pursuit of scientific
Editorials represent the collective opinion of The California Aggie
We thought we were through with Los Alamos.
VIEWPOINT: Los Alamos lab bid redux
Daily Texan Editorial (UT Austin)…Editorial
April 5, 2005
We thought we were through with Los Alamos.
Lockheed Martin dove back in to the bidding process last week after the
Department of Energy revised its terms. Citing poor competition for the
lab, the government made the contract more lucrative and required a more
attractive pension plan. This, plus a longer contract period and a new
management structure, changed the defense company's stance from "too
risky" to "bombs away."
And, apparently, where Lockheed goes, the UT System will follow.
The System decided not to bid on Los Alamos in February, citing security
and safety concerns and a lack of suitable partners. Seven months earlier,
Lockheed decided not to bid, citing significant risk factors, including
money and reputation.
When Lockheed returned to the table, the System immediately began eyeing a
seat next to the defense giant.
A Lockheed spokesman told several newspapers last week that it rejoined
the competition because of several changes to the Department of Energy's
Request for Proposal. The draft RFP would now require the creation of a
legal entity - separate from Lockheed - to manage the lab with its own
board of directors. The new structure could provide a shield to Lockheed's
liability and reputation in case of more safety or security snafus.
UT System spokeswoman Randa Safady could not explain the System's decision
to reconsider a bid, except to say that Lockheed must have seen something
in the new draft RFP.
But the "risk" is still there. Although Los Alamos has managed to stay out
of the headlines for the past few months, an "unsatisfactory" rating in
safety and security still hangs over the lab like a noxious, radioactive
A 2004 Department of Energy performance appraisal mentions "a number of
near miss accidents," and a letter signed by National Nuclear Security
Administrator Linton Brooks mentioned several instances of poor, ignorant
or negligent safety practices.
So far, Los Alamos has done little to prove that things have gotten
better. The lab's safety problems could be dangerous for the University's
reputation and for employees and graduate students that might conduct
research there. At this time, we have no reason to believe that the lab is
no longer a managerial nightmare.
But there could be one bright side to the System's reexamination of a Los
On Monday, the System released a cryptic statement on Lockheed's renewed
interest in the New Mexico lab. The statement referenced the System's
partnership with Lockheed regarding Sandia National Laboratories. This
page supported this agreement because it specifies that the UT System will
be involved in only non-classified and non-nuclear research.
"We view this agreement between UT System and Sandia as a model of
university/industrial partnerships with a national laboratory," the
We hope that the System's "model partnership" would be one that keeps the
University out of classified and nuclear weapons research. The secrecy
that shrouds this kind of defense research is antithetical to the
transparency that should be central to a university's mission.
Safady said it was too soon to determine the System's intentions. But, if
the System's relationship with Los Alamos resembles the one with Sandia,
then we would be consider supporting a bid.
More key personnel recommendations
I believe the new director will need to make some immediate changes in his staff.
This is the top-priority list of problem managers that I believe will need to be replaced as soon as Nanos is gone.
In addition, we need a real CIO.
In reality, though, most of these replacements will need to wait on a permanent director.
Texans Renew LANL Interest
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Texans Renew LANL Interest
By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer
University of Texas System chancellor Mark Yudof is going to take a second look at his February recommendation to the school's Board of Regents to pull out of the competition to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Following that recommendation, the board voted unanimously that month to withdraw from the Department of Energy's contest to manage LANL, even after allocating $500,000 early in 2004 to prepare for the competition.
But now things have changed.
At the request of the Board of Regents chairman James R. Huffines, Yudof is going to review the Energy Department's competition for LANL now that Lockheed Martin has rejoined the process and the potential performance-based management fee has been doubled to $60 million a year.
Current LANL manager, the University of California, earns a maximum performance-based management fee of $8 million a year.
University of Texas System spokesman Michael Warden said Yudof is expected to report back to the regents by the end of April at a special open meeting of the board not yet scheduled.
Warden said no votes would be cast and any discussion on the topic would be just be for information.
University of Texas officials said last week that they were taken by surprise by Lockheed Martin's recent announcement that it was rejoining the competition for the LANL contract. The defense contracting giant pulled out of the competition in August when it appeared that the chance to run the nuclear weapons research facility did not make good business sense.
A company spokesman said last week that changes in the contract instituted by DOE in February made the competition more fair, provoking Lockheed to reconsider.
In February, Lockheed and the University of Texas announced an expanded partnership at the Lockheed-run Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque. The university will have an increased role in some unclassified research.
Prior to Lockheed's withdrawal from the LANL competition in August, the company had been in talks with LANL's current manager, the University of California, about partnering in a bid to manage LANL's new contract and had been rumored to be in talks with the University of Texas.
April 4, 2005
A recent survey of issues at LANL identified communication as the source of most frustration among staff. There is a feeling that staff is not part of the process in making critical decisions; further, the decision process is hardly transparent, and policies and procedures are passed down without explanation. My experience as a division leader and now my very short tenure as an AD seem to echo this complaint. However, it is also true that LANL is an incredibly complex place with a plethora of stakeholders, including the workforce, LASO, NNSA, other federal and state regulators, and the local community. This complexity often results in awkward messages coming out of the "administration," and rumor rules the day. An example of this is the recent announcements of LANL returning to some sort of an Alternative Work Week (AWW). The vast majority of the LANL workforce would like a flexible workweek, especially after experiencing the 9/80s in the last decade. Unfortunately, the LANL implementation of the 9/80 is very ineffective (many more people were on schedule B, people regularly changed schedules and management did not evaluate impacts, and there was a small, but significant population of workers that took advantage of lax oversight and abused the system). Most senior management recognized that it was very important to introduce a flexible work week, and a very significant amount of work was done to bench mark how other Labs implemented non 8-to-5 schedules. This work resulted in a detailed proposal for AWW that was approved by the Executive Board 2 weeks ago. However, before the AWW could be implemented it required approval from the University of California, and discussion with the local community for input on possible impacts. Both the approval and consultation are under way, but have not been completed. The basic proposal was presented to the Laboratory Information Meeting (LIM) last Tuesday, and almost immediately it was broadcast as a fait accompli. This caused problems in that (1) the expectation is that AWW will begin immediately, and (2) why wasn't senior management communicating again! I have every expectation there will be a flexible work schedule soon - but I don't know if it will be exactly as the EB approved (after mollifying community and UC concerns), and it will likely take 6 weeks or more to implement. It will also require significant commitment from management to oversee the program and assure that the mission of the lab is executed in an efficient and productive manner. In short, this is an example of the difficulty in implementing change at LANL, and effectively communicating that change
British and American nuclear warheads carried by submarines are so poorly designed that they may fail to detonate if fired, scientists have said.
The Laboratory staff has shown great dedication
From: Pete Nanos
To: All Employees
Subject: Alternative Work Schedules
The Laboratory staff has shown great dedication, initiative and
resilience in the process of resuming operations. I am
particularly encouraged by the noteworthy progress that has been
made toward re-establishing programmatic timelines since we
became fully operational in January; Friday's successful
hydrotest at DARHT exemplifies how the Laboratory is moving
forward in excellence as a trusted, dedicated national-security
As I have said on prior occasions, this institution would
consider reinstating alternative work schedules once operations
were fully resumed and as long as such schedules made sense from
business and programmatic perspectives. I want to thank members
of the Executive Board for providing such thoughtful input on
options related to alternative work schedules. As a result, the
Laboratory is evaluating options for alternative work schedules
that will ensure appropriate daily staffing levels that comply
with programmatic, mission and business requirements, while
providing a suite of flexible and attractive options to meet the
personal and professional needs of our work force. These options
have been benchmarked with other organizations within the
DOE/NNSA complex, and, when implemented, will allow managers to
make the best choices for meeting their organizations' own unique
needs and circumstances.
I remain hopeful that the Laboratory can begin moving ahead with
the necessary steps to obtain UC and NNSA approvals. Thank you
again for your input and support.
Monday, April 04, 2005
The latest from Doug Beason
I'm starting to like this guy - he's trying to do the right thing under very trying circumstances.
Colleagues - April 2nd , 2005
I hope those of you who took off for spring break had a safe and great time, coming back re-charged. Three weeks ago I vacationed with my family, and one of the highlights was taking surfing lessons with my 17 year old daughter (I was the oldest in the class by at least 20 years!).
Last week I was on travel in Washington DC, visiting several TR sponsors as well as interacting with some congressional staffers. There is considerable support for Los Alamos back east, and everyone I spoke to encouraged me and wished UC luck in the upcoming competition. And speaking of the competition, DOE’s Request For Proposal has still not been released, and the latest I’ve heard is that it will be out by the end of April. What this means is that the new contract start date will keep being pushed back. I don’t have any details, but everything should be spelled out in the RFP. When the RFP does come out, I’ll prepare a specific e-mail, addressing what I know.
Last week I also had the opportunity to meet with the LANL change-of-station and IPA personnel who are assigned to the Washington area. There are various opportunities for us to serve throughout the government in these positions, and if you are interested in doing so, I’d be happy to discuss the pros and cons of such an assignment. One item that has to be addressed is for LANL to come up with a policy on how it will re-insert our people back into the Lab when they return from Washington. Pete Nanos heard this message loud and clear, and knowing our Director’s penchant for clarity, I anticipate that this problem will be formally addressed in a policy decision.
Changing subjects, two weeks ago the B-Division DRC met and had some insightful findings. They praised the high-quality of the science, as well as the continuing resilience of the division. I had the opportunity to visit the poster session, and was mesmerized with the breadth and scientific excellence -- I probably came across as a dummy with some of the naïve questions I asked, but I was caught up in the enthusiasm and competency of the researchers.However, one of the DRC findings was that management was disconnected with the morale problem at the Lab, in general concerning the contract and specifically about the malaise in B-division. This disturbed me, as I’ve tried to keep my “finger on the pulse” of the directorate … but I also know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the administrivia and lose touch with what’s going on.
So first, I hope that I’ve communicated my awareness and concern about morale to all of you - - that’s why my priorities are people, programs, and science. But if I’m still missing the boat on understanding what a large problem morale is, please let me know.Second, I am aggressively working with B-division to understand their specific concerns. And then I plan to do something about it. I’ve met with the senior leadership team and the Fellows. Next week I’ll be meeting with the group leaders, as well as the support staff and technicians. I will also hold another meeting with the TSMs and post-Docs. The upshot is that after receiving your input, I intent to institute some clear changes. I am considering a lot of options, and I will be working with all of you.
Last week I had the opportunity to hear John Birely (VP at the University of California) answer questions during an ISR all-hands meeting. John gave some great insights into the UC position on the upcoming contract proposal, and the other divisions will have the opportunity to invite John to their own meetings. I ask the division leaders to invite John to speak the next time he is in town.
With all that’s been going on in N-division, I agreed to help Sara push for a new facility to perform Cat III/IV programmatic work after the TA-18 move. I’ve spoken to several sponsors about this facility, and I’m providing Sara funds for the assessment and study to make this happen.
In the same vein, I’ve promised B-division I will resurrect the new bioscience facility effort … and not to be outdone, also for a classified space science facility for ISR. Now I realize I sound like a politician, promising all these new buildings -- so how am I going to do it? Well, my strategy is to fund key people to build a business case (which D-division excels in) for each facility, while simultaneously working with Lab (site planning, security, safety, etc) folks and sponsors (both in DOE and in congress). I’ve discussed this strategy with Pete and Don, and I need to be the forcing function to make it happen. What I’ll need from the divisions is their support, enthusiasm and work completing the assessments and studies.
Thanks, and please continue to give me feedback. I need to ensure that I communicate what’s going on -- and in return, I need your feedback to make “course corrections.”
Book of the week: “Tell Me Why,” by Tim Riley (a critical music commentary on the Beatles)Album of the week: “Live the Life,” by Michael W. Smith Quote of the week: “Columbus did not seek a new route to the Indies in response to a majority decision.” Milton Friedman
best regards - Doug
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Yikes. Suggestions for key positions are already being suggested to LockMart.
From a comment on the
"I believe you have indentified a piece of "low-hanging fruit" for LockMart to pluck for an easy productivity gain at LANL. Get rid of Gancarz. Heck, while they're at it, they could get rid of Marquez for another major gain. I would nominate Bob Knight as Marquez' replacement, and Have Fallin replaced with...
More on that later."
More on UT
Is UT back in LANL competition?
SANTA FE (2005-04-01) -- Word from Austin this morning that the University of Texas may be re-entering the process to bid for the Los Alamos national lab contract.
The school's vice chancellor wouldn't comment on air for KSFR. But he emailed a statement, saying the school welcomes opportunities to build on its contributions to the nation's national labs.
The university recently signed an agreement to partner with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque on research. Sandia is operated by the Lockheed Martin Corporation. The statement from the University of Texas comes just days after Lockheed Martin announced it is re-entering the competition to bid for the Los Alamos contract.
I have heard lots of people wonder why the NNSA has so many Admirals, and why UC and other bidders are hiring Admirals as their go-betweens with NNSA. I think one of the reasons can be seen in the article:
At war over aging warheads
The New York Times
For more than two decades, a compact, powerful warhead called the W-76 has been the centerpiece of the nation's nuclear arsenal, carried aboard the fleet of nuclear submarines that prowl the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. But it has become the subject of a fierce debate among experts inside and outside the government over its reliability and its place in the nuclear arsenal. [...]
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Has anybody seen Nanos?
Has anybody seen Nanos in the past week? He was absent for the congressional visitation on the 29th, and there has not been a "peep" from the director's office in about two weeks. Is he gone?
LANL Competition Shifts
Saturday, April 2, 2005
LANL Competition Shifts
By Adam Ranking
Journal Staff Writer
The recent announcement that Lockheed Martin is re-entering the competition to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory took the University of Texas, which pulled itself out of the running in February, by surprise.
"It is very recent news to us," said University of Texas System spokesman Anthony de Bruyn. "We haven't even had a chance to discuss any other possibilities."
De Bruyn said the university's regents don't have formal discussions scheduled on the LANL competition for any of their upcoming meetings.
On Tuesday, Lockheed officials, who had bowed out in August, announced the company would enter the competition to manage the LANL contract. A company spokesman said Lockheed changed course after Energy Department officials in February made the competition more fair and doubled the potential management fee from $30 million to $60 million.
In a statement issued on Thursday addressing Lockheed's move, the University of Texas System said it "welcomes further discussions and dialogue about ways to build on our contribution to the science and security of our nation and the national laboratories," suggesting that the school will likely reconsider a possible LANL bid.
Before withdrawing from the competition last fall, Lockheed Martin was in talks about partnering with the University of California to run Los Alamos and was rumored to be in talks with the University of Texas, as well.
After approving $500,000 in spending early in 2004 to prepare for a possible Los Alamos bid, University of Texas regents voted unanimously in February to withdraw from the competition, saying they were unable to find a suitable partner.
De Bruyn said that, until University of Texas officials and regents discussed what Lockheed's return means, they are not going to say much.
A statement released by the university on Thursday says that Lockheed rightly deserves praise as the current manager of Sandia National Laboratories and highlighted the university's partnerships with the defense contractor.
Shortly after the University of Texas withdrew from the LANL competition in February, the university and Sandia announced an extended peer review, education and research agreement, making the Texas school more involved with the Albuquerque-based national laboratory.
"We view this agreement between UT System and Sandia as a model of university/industrial partnerships with a national laboratory," the statement reads.
In 2002, the University of Texas lost a bid to manage Sandia to Lockheed.
Friday, April 01, 2005
A Nanos supporter
Please post this. It appeared as a response to a comment in another post in the blog where someone was complaining about having been branded as "a Nanos supporter".
"The fact is that anything Nanos says or has said in the past is now tainted by his legacy of horrible mismanagement of LANL. He has lost all credibility; in those rare cases that something he said in the past had any validity at all, it just doesn't matter now. He is despised, reviled, mistrusted, and disliked at LANL. Suporters of any of his policies had better be aware of that."
I agree that we need to put down our sticks and stones
I cannot conceive of any scenario in which Nanos will be looked back on favorably. Had he been more of a defender of the virtues of Laboratory and less critical and more supportive of the 1,000s who are trying to get product out the door, safely, securely, on time and on budget, we wouldn't be in this programmatic meltdown and morale wasteland. I agree that we need to put down our sticks and stones and coalesce around someone who has shown sustained successful leadership here at the Laboratory, who has the stature in Washington to make a difference, and who has the confidence, courage, and verbal skills to excite and capture the imagination of others. I would be surprised if any such person could be found in the Administration Building.
Our Immature Commenter Craves Attention
From one of his multiple comments to numerous posts tonight on the blog:
"Doug Roberts censors this blog. If the views don't fit Doug's veiws, they get removed. The removal is justified as "professionalism." It's really just plain old censorship."
There. Happy now? Now, would you please go away?
BTW: You spelled "views" incorrectly.
Keep up the good work, the rest of you!
Some reasonably good news would be nice
I thought some reasonably good news would be nice. Interesting news from the EOC chair:
Good news the lab Director and Executive Board approved alternative work schedules. It will start in around two months (takes time to get payroll, HR, etc., set up)
* In the past, 85% of employees took off on B Fridays. The Director wants to spread around the days off, so the lab isn t virtually shut down on one day.
* Group leaders will be responsible for scheduling who gets what day off, and Division Leaders will approve it.
* At least four days will be available for the 9/80 day off, effectively Monday A and B, and Friday A and B.
* There may be other alternatives as well
* Employees will be able to change schedules twice a year (i.e., 1 April and 1 October)
This is just an early heads up on this good news. The lab will provide more detailed briefings over the next two months.
Yippie! But, we’ll see…
To an outsider reading this blog,
To an outsider reading this blog, several things jump out:
1) Lots of worries and comments about the pension plans, lots of
complaining about the managmenent, but little or no worries about
being able to do good research. To an outsider this doesn't sound
like a top level research institution -- sounds more like a
government agency. But perhaps the real scientists are off doing
their work and not posting to the blog....
2) Lots of arrognace, including even some arrogant comments about
being arrogant. Lots of outrage about why the outside world thinks
Los Alamos is arrogant, some of it even arrogantly stated....
3) A kind of naivete about the real world -- as if companies making
money (for their stockholders, some of whom are the pension plans)
is an evil thing or managing for efficiency is unamarican or having
to adjust to benefits at about the level of the rest of the country
is unthinkable ....
Seems to me the folks who are mostly worried about their pensions
ought to just go ahead and retire so the lab can restock with
people who care more about doing good research....
|Lockheed Martin decides to challenge university's bid to run lab once considered a UC lock |
| Reversing an earlier decision, defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. is challenging the University of California to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory, reinvigorating a race that was flagging for lack of contractors experienced in nuclear weapons work. |
Almost immediately, the University of Texas, another would-be lab operator that dropped out, suggested it too might be interested in rejoining the competition, side-by-side with Lockheed.
University of California officials had estimated the chances were excellent of rewinning the contract to run the birthplace of the bomb. But the return of the nation's largest defensecontractor and the operator, in part or whole, of two nuclear-weapons labs casts a shadow on that assessment.
The sudden flush of outside interest in Los Alamos comes after federal contract officials tripled the contractor fee at Los Alamos, then doubled it again,and trails an effort by a powerful congressman to make UC compete for national labs that it has run for more than half a century without challenge.
Ohio Republican Dave Hobson, chairman of the House Energy and Water Development appropriations subcommittee, cautioned new Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman in Feb. 8 letter that the competitionseemed to favor the university with a greater emphasis on science than on management. Hobson and other lawmakers have taken issue with the university's management of finances, safety and security at Los Alamos.
Before and since Hobson's letter, federal contractor officers have been proposing removal of what they call barriers to competition. They boosted the fee to about $60 million a year, or seven times what UC is paid now for running Los Alamos. They recommended a longer contract period, the creation of separate legal entities to run the lab and the creation of a separate pension fund for Los Alamos, apartfrom the $40 billion University of California Retirement Plan.
Potential challengers requested all those changes, and Lockheed officials said together they made for a very different competition.
"It made our business people go back and take a look and say, 'It looks like the things they added make it a decent business opportunity,'" said Don Carson, a Lockheed Martin spokesman.
Nine months ago, Lockheed officials dropped out of the competition, saying that it would have to wager too much in money and management personnel to reform Los Alamos, compared to the risk to Lockheed's reputation.
"You have to make sure you can do it and do it well," he said. "We feel under the terms of this contract we can do it and excel."
Lockheed Martin runs Sandia National Laboratories, the sole U.S. nuclear-weapons engineering design lab with campuses in New Mexico and California, and is part of a team running the sole British nuclear-weapons lab, known as Aldermaston AWE.
On Thursday, the University of Texas issued a brief, enigmatic statement recalling its agreement with Lockheed to share academic expertise with Sandia labs.
"The UT system welcomes further discussions and dialogue about ways to buildon our contribution to the science and security of our nation at the national laboratories," the university said.
Contact Ian Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a link to the 2004 performance appraisal for LANL by NNSA:
Conduct warhead certification and assessment actions using a common UC Design Laboratory Strategy.
Develop with NNSA and implement long-term balanced, integrated stewardship.
Develop with NNSA and implement near-term balanced weapon programs that are coordinated with the other NNSA M&O contractors.
Implement an integrated science and technology-based program aimed at preventing the proliferation or terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and other new and emerging threats.
Enhance and nurture a strong science and technology base in support of national security strategic objectives.
Achieve successful completion of projects and development of user facilities.
Utilize UC strengths to recruit, retain, and develop the workforce basis.
Maintain a secure, safe, environmentally sound, effective, and efficient operations and infrastructure basis in support of mission objectives.
Improve or maintain effective business systems and practices that safeguard public assets and support mission objectives.
Sustain and/or implement effective Community Initiatives.
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
Following up on a 2002 study of equal employment issues at the three nuclear weapons laboratories, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Government Accountability Office examined six more Department of Energy laboratories on parity issues for women and minorities.
The four-year survey found mixed results but did detect statistically significant differences in salaries, merit pay increases and separation patterns for certain groups of women and minorities.
At the same time, "The GAO found that women and minorities received comparable merit pay increases at half the labs and comparable or greater increases at two of the remaining three labs," according to the report published last week.
Responding to the study, a DOE official disputed the analytical method used by GAO.
"This leads us to question the accuracy of the GAO analysis, and any conclusions drawn, therefrom," wrote Milton D. Johnson of DOE's Office of Science.
DOE has spent $57 million on equal employment opportunity litigation since 1998 and the report said the amount could increase "substantially" from pending lawsuits.
The six science laboratories from which employment statistics were gathered were Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill.; Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y.; Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.; Oak Ridge National laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.
The report was requested by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., and released late last week. Biggert, the chair of the Science Subcomittee on Energy, with jurisdication over the DOE laboratory and research programs, said in a statement that she was particularly concerned about GAO findings that women were paid 2 to 4 percent less than their male counterparts at five of the six labs.
The study also looked at separation patterns, which were generally comparable, with two notable exceptions.
Women were said to be 40 percent more likely to quit at the Idaho facility, while 70 percent more minorities left Pacific Northwest, according to the study.
Despite specific findings at specific laboratories, the report stopped short of finding discrimination, but recommended renewed efforts by DOE and the Department of Labor to resolve a turf war that has limited federal enforcement of equal opportunity compliance.
Since the first report raising pay equity issues was released in 2002, the two agencies have been unable to agree on how to develop a more formal relationship without interfering with each other's legal responsibilities.
In its response, DOL agreed with both DOE and GAO that the statistical analysis was inadequate to prove unlawful employment discrimination, but affirmed its commitment to continue working on resolving the disagreements with the energy department.
A LANL spokesperson said today that, apart from the original GAO study, the laboratory had commissioned a report on pay equity by Finnis R. Welch, which became the basis for approximately 800 salary adjustments, beginning early last year.
The adjustments ranged from $140 to $10,250, and affected nearly all classes of employees, including women, minorities and white men.
"The end result is that the lab now continues to review salaries for all new and existing workers to insure that no group of employees is paid disparately on the basis of gender or ethnicity," said James Rickman of the Public Affairs Office.
Two separate pay equity lawsuits, one involving females and the other both females and Hispanics lawsuits that were brought against the laboratory, were consolidated about a year ago, said attorney Patrick Allen of Albuquerque.
Toward the end of this year, he said, a judge is expected to rule on certifying the cases as a class action that would include all female and Hispanics at the laboratory.
"We've contended from the beginning and continue to believe that the Welch report seriously underreported pay disparities and even with the adjustments they made, those didn't begin to address the disparities of paying female and Hispanics in comparison to white employees at the laboratory," said Allen.