Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Reference request

Any chance someone can find a copy of this to add to the discussion mix? I've contacted the Atlantic to get it posted to subscribers, but no luck yet, My hard copy is in deep storage.


Authors:Crease, Robert P.
Samios, Nicholas P.
Source:Atlantic Monthly; Jan91, Vol. 267 Issue 1, p80, 8p
Document Type:Article
Subject Terms:*RESEARCH
Geographic Terms:UNITED States
NAICS/Industry Codes:5417 Scientific Research and Development Services
Abstract:Focuses on basic science research in the United States. Missions of applied and basic research; Cultural impact of scientific research; Aim of science management; Origin of administrative contracts in the United States.
Accession Number:9441117

I feel the timing is at best questionable


Could you please post Rich Marquez' latest initiative on the blog? I feel the timing is at best questionable. Or maybe he's just trying to scare LANL staff away from reading the blog at work?

From/MS: Richard A. Marquez, ADA, A108
Date: May 31, 2005

Subject: New Monitoring Tool to Identify Computer Misuse

LANL AM 701.09 states “Personal use of electronic information
resources (including Laboratory computers) is prohibited if it:
Directly or indirectly interferes with the Laboratory’s use of the
resources; Burdens the Laboratory with additional costs;
Interferes with the user’s employment or other obligations to the
Laboratory; or is an unacceptable use as defined in (AM701). 03.”

I know we all use our Laboratory computers at times to send
personal e-mails or to visit sites not directly related to our
work. This memo is a reminder to everyone that our ability to
engage in reasonable incidental personal use of Laboratory
computers is a privilege and not a right. I caution you not to
abuse this privilege by spending unacceptable amounts of time
visiting non-work-related sites (for example, eBay) or by viewing
websites containing inappropriate material.

The Laboratory has now acquired software that allows for the
monitoring of LANL computer web traffic. This software is capable
of continuously scanning all LANL computers for inappropriate
activity. It has the ability to characterize the vast majority of
websites as to content and to sort the websites into acceptable
and unacceptable categories.

This new tool provides the Laboratory with a stronger ability to
block access to inappropriate websites. It also identifies
employees who spend unacceptable amounts of time on non-work-
related websites. Should such misuse be identified, offending
employees will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and
including termination of employment. Please refer to Incidental
Use of Government Property, Directors Instruction 05-002

We must all understand that the privilege of being able to use our
work computers for incidental personal activities was negotiated
with DOE, and that privilege can be revoked should it ever become
evident that it is being abused.

I expect managers to monitor computer usage, and I am counting on
all of you, as professional adults, to comply with the spirit of
this privilege. It would truly be a shame if it were lost.

Cy: ADA:05-049


From Anonymous:

Part of the potential brain-drain from LANL comprises senior basic researchers,
who may either retire early or leave for greener pastures, or both. These
senior researchers are often Principal Investigators of their own basic
research grants obtained from outside funding institutions (NASA, NIH, ARPA etc.).
These outside grants typically support in addition to the PI, other staff
members and postdocs (who may later become staff members), and form a key
component of basic science at LANL. The potential loss of senior Principal
Investigators and their grants, and the personnel the grants support, will
have wide ripple effects on basic science at LANL.

Does anyone know what the current status is of a senior researcher who retires,
in terms of their outside grant support? Can they remain as PI of their
external grants at LANL, and continue to lead the research effort and
be paid for doing so from the grant? Such an early retiree still needs
to consider their future "real" retirement (their early retirement was basically
forced by circumstances, i.e. retention of their present UC benefits).
Can such an early retiree contribute volountarily to e.g. the 403b and 457
(clearly UCRP is not an option if the researcher is officially retired)?
One might hope the answer is "yes", particularly if the grant is
assessed the same high overhead, i.e. there should be some inducement to keep
the PI and the grant at LANL. These questions are about the current
situation at LANL, i.e. if someone knows the facts then it would be helpful
to post it.

Regardless of current policy, the issue of retention of senior basic research
scientists and their external grant support at LANL is an issue affecting the
future of basic science at LANL. Thus it might be one that the new contractor
would wish to address in a postive way.

ADSR emailgrams


I find the ADSR emailgrams from Terry Wallace to be more informative than most AD messages about Laboratory management developments. You may want to post on your blog this new message about the contract bidding process. Note, in particular, that little information about the bids will be available before December 1, due to the nature of the competition. This secrecy would make it difficult for LANL staff to weigh in on the choices.


ADSR Emailgram
May 31, 2005

ADSR Emailgram
May 31, 2005

With the release of the RFP for the LANL M&O contract, many staff are
seeking information on what the respective bid teams are proposing and
how life at the lab would look should that team win.
Unfortunately, there will not be any real information available until the
winner of the contract is announced in early December. The
reason for this is the nature of the competition: the teams are
bidding for the contract and against the competition. This means that
each team will be trying to propose against what are the
perceived weaknesses in the competition, which includes everything from
organizational structure to names of key personnel. The
proposals are due on July 19th, and the two remaining suitors
(UC/Bechtel and Lockheed Martin/UT) are changing their strategies in real
time. For example, on Friday the LM team added another
industrial partner to their team to address concerns about operating
nuclear facilities.

The RFP is structured to be scored with a point total of 1000 points. The
Source Evaluation Board (SEB), whom ultimately makes a
recommendation to the Source Selection Official, assigns the points. The
broad categories for scoring include strategies for performing the
science and technology programs, business operations, laboratory
structure and small business promotion. The proposals are 250 pages in
length (or roughly one page per 10 million dollars annual
budget!), and each and every word is considered a potential winning
strategy or vulnerability. The only true known for the two teams are the
potential Lab Directors. Everything else is speculation or
rumor; and the rumors may well be planted by one of the teams as
disinformation to confuse or distract the other team. Again, I want to
stress that both teams are in an intense battle for a contract
potentially worth 50 billion dollars.

It is understandable that everyone wants to know what kind of changes may
be coming in 2006. The types of changes that have dominated the local
discussions include things like benefits. However, bigger
changes that could affect lab life include organizational structure
(i.e.; Will the divisions be reorganized?), key personnel (i.e.; Will
everyone at the top be new?), changing work scope (i.e.; Will all work
for others be curtailed?), and how the parent organizations
reinvest in the lab (i.e.; Will there be programs like the UC
Directed Research and Development?). It is certain that these
factors will be very closely guarded, and we will not know until the end
of the year.

This uncertainty generates angst. But there is some comfort in
knowing that both teams profess to want very much to preserve LANL's
strengths. This includes the remarkable science, the sense of
academic freedom that fosters the scientific creativity, a diverse work
force, and a broad national security mission. The only
certainty is that LANL will be different in 2006 - there will be a
corporate presence like never before. However, it is most likely that
the reasons most people came to Los Alamos - the chance to be part of a
national security team and pursue science and engineering that makes a
difference to society - will continue.



Terry C. Wallace, Jr.
Associate Director of Strategic Research
Los Alamos National Laboratory

A Bidding War for Los Alamos

Science, Vol 308, Issue 5726, 1244-1245 , 27 May 2005

[DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5726.1244]

News Focus

A Bidding War for Los Alamos

Eli Kintisch

Defense contractors will play a larger role in the next contract to manage Los Alamos National Lab, which has spent 62 years under academic reins.

Full Story (Subscription required when accessing from outside lanl.gov)

My experience with LANL and Internal Audit was horrible

From Anonymous:

I am a former lab employee (Internal Audit Group Leader until July 2004).
I also spent seven years working as the director of internal audit for one
of Bechtel's major DOE sites. I would strongly advise against selecting
the UC/Bechtel team. While Bechtel is a solid reputable company, they have
named an unscrupulous and unethical manager to become the new director of
internal audit if they win the bid. My experience with LANL and Internal
Audit was horrible. LANL management feel the normal government rules for
contractors do not apply to them. Time and again I was admonished for
pointing out obvious violations of the rules and regulations and was
finally let go when I pointing out that the millions of dollars being spent
for free lunches for employees was illegal. LANL liked to call meetings
from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM so they could call it a "business lunch", when the
only business was a free lunch. LANL management did not want anyone
challenging their right to spend taxpayer money any way they wanted. The
entire audit department of seven had quite,save one incompetent lady
waiting for her cushy retirement.

I think LANL under UC was a disgrace and do not see Bechtel as having the
will to change that behaviour.

Monday, May 30, 2005


My views on the contract for managing LANL have received some criticism to the effect that, by voting for "None of the above" corporate candidates to run the Lab, I have proposed a solution that does not fit into the "framework" of the bidding process. Let me expand on my comments: I believe that present and former Lab employees should mount a campaign of letter writing, beginning with comments right here on this blog, to all members of Congress that matter at all, stating that we want the whole bidding process to stop forthwith.

The entire premise of this contract rebid is groundless. For some seven years, the press has had one field day after another reporting misinformation about who is at fault for the "problems" and "scandals" that have "plagued" Los Alamos National Laboratory, beginning with the Wen Ho Lee fiasco. Every article about the Lab has buried in it somewhere, if not in the opening paragraph, the inference that LANL is unique in the history of national laboratories for its "failed" business practices ("waste, fraud, and serial abuse of the poor, beleaguered American taxpayer"), its "deplorable" record of environmental "disasters," and its "miserable" record of safety and security "lapses." The facts, when calmly examined by a cool eye, say otherwise, and they say it dramatically; the Lab is by no means a perfect institution--don't get me wrong--it needs the checks and balances of independent oversight, just like any other human enterprise, but it does not stick out like a sore thumb when compared to either Livermore or Sandia. But what it most certainly does NOT need is a complete redefinition of its mission by one or the other leading corporate member of the military-industrial complex. A nuclear weapons lab that serves the nation's interests in overseeing the stockpile--but NOT manufacturing that stockpile--and that produces basic scientific research for the good of mankind, needs to be free of the micromanagement that a profit-making entity would introduce, above and beyond the level already foisted upon it by the DOE/NNSA bureaucracy in Washington.

The best solution (but by no means perfect) to the "problems" at Los Alamos that the rebid of the contract would allegedly "solve" is to go back to something like the status quo ante. The University of California should be retained to "manage" three things, and only three things: (1) oversee the retirement system for all LANL employees, (2) oversee the benefits system for all LANL employees, and (3) oversee the scientific research aspects of the Lab, namely, run the LDRD program with true peer review and guarantee the academic freedom and integrity of the Laboratory's scientists. As in the past, UC should give advice and consent to DOE/NNSA's choice for Lab Director, particularly focusing on the Director's role as Chief Science Officer. DOE/NNSA should take over all responsibility--ALL of it--for business practices (including procurement), environmental compliance, safety, and security. Everyone at LANL should be an employee of UC--not the US Government--with accountability to UC for science and DOE/NNSA for operations. (Obviously, it may take some time for the lawyers at DOE/NNSA and UC to hammer this all out, but the suspension of the rebid process should be announced promptly, so that some semblance of normalcy can resume at the Lab, and the outflow of talent stanched.)

The rebidding of the contract is a bad idea, as it was when it was adopted over two years ago. Nanos' shutdown of the Lab for no defensible reason demonstrated the vulnerability of LANL's scientific enterprise when managed in a military way, and I fear that a similar fate may befall the Lab's science if it is managed in an industrial way. UC has never really had any true say about the operations, but the management of science is clearly better left to an academic institution. UC's management of the retirement and benefits have been unquestionably outstanding, and there is no need to change whatever works well. DOE/NNSA should treat Livermore and Los Alamos in exactly the same way, with the same setup in regard to UC's role; that way, Los Alamos ought never again be used as a political football, at least in principle.

A true conservative is one who stands up to radicals who seek to destroy an institution that, on balance, does much good. I call on all true conservatives to join in an effort to help derail the rebidding of the LANL contract.

Brad Lee Holian, former LANL employee


Los Alamos contract puts UC in PR battle
Texas partnership leads opposing bid to run weapons lab

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The competition to decide who runs Los Alamos National Laboratory is now fully under way, and its outcome will decide whether California loses one arm in its two-handed grip on the nation's nuclear weapons complex.

Last week, after three years of Los Alamos scandals that ranged from the sinister to the tacky to the dangerous -- scandals over missing computer disks containing secret bomb data, an alleged mispurchase of a Ford Mustang , and a woman who suffered a severe eye injury while working with a laser -- the University of California finally, definitively decided to fight for its job as the lab manager. It faces a single titanic competitor, a team jointly led by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and the enormous University of Texas system.


Full Story

Questions for Dr. Robinson and Dr. Anastasio

From Anonymous:

Dear prospective directors,

Foreign nationals have had a long and rich history at LANL right from
its inception. We are concerned about the future of foreign nationals
(FNs) at the Lab. One thing UC has done well is to attract and retain
FNs who go on to citizenship and a long, fruitful career at the lab.
We wonder how each of you will address the issue considering that
companies are typically averse to hiring FNs. In particular, LM at SNL
has had a poor record of this. When I graduated LANL offered me an
opportunity while SNL policy forced it to shut its doors on me, even
though I was perfect match for one of its groups. We desperately hope
that UT/LM or UC/Bechtel will not institute policies that will diminish
the contributions of FNs at this wonderful place and strongly urge you
to continue the previous policies regarding FNs. Contrary to popular
thinking, FNs are seldom the security problem they are made out to be -
they cannot be, as they never come anywhere close to any sensitive
material. They do, however, require more paperwork, but if an
institution is willing to pay that small price the benefits are

Here are some specific questions for the two teams:

1. What will be your policy toward current Limited Term and Permanent
Technical Staff Members who are Foreign Nationals?

2. Will you continue to encourage the hiring of new FN graduates as

3. Will you continue to encourage the hiring of FN postdocs as Limited
Term Staff Members and support their eventual conversion to permanent

4. Will you ensure that new, excessive controls are not placed on FNs
that they will leave out of frustration (source of funding, excessive
justification for their hiring beyond normal competency considerations,

Thank you

A Foreign National TSM

We are left with a Lab that has diminished our resource of talent

From Anonymous:

Sooner of later we have to realize that we can’t be the best at everything. Everything cannot be the number one priority. We can’t make safety, security and science all the top priority. This sounds extraordinarily simple and obvious, but LANL has not been behaving like this. We are trying to have everything, the World’s greatest science, the World’s greatest business systems and the best safety and security to boot. If we try to be the best at everything, we will be the best at nothing. We have to make some tough choices. The right choice can make our future brighter and better. If we choose wrong our future will be dim. I believe that our choices have been unambiguously wrong over the span of the last few years and we are currently paying the price. It is time to commit to a different path.

I find that it is good to start with some questions:
(1) What do we need to be the best at?
(2) What can we be great at?
(3) If we could choose to be good at one single thing, what would it be?
(4) What do we actually have a chance at achieving?
The answer on how to move forward can be found in honestly answering those questions and then making the necessary steps and changes to achieve those ends. We live in a system bound by finite resources (time, money, talent, etc.). Our resources define what is possible and good management is the art of the possible. We have to set the correct priorities and work toward them in a balanced way. If other goals are given priority over science, science will be diminished. This has happened without anyone actually acknowledging this. LANL has been driven to attempt the impossible over the past few years with disastrous consequences (keeping science #1 while making security, safety and business #1 too). We are left with a Lab that has diminished our resource of talent. There is no doubt that the last two years have diminished our talent pool.

The current state of the Lab is the consequence of more than a decade of focus on everything but science. Safety, security and business have alternatingly and repeatedly taken center stage at the Laboratory sapping the ability to retain scientific excellence as the key organizational characteristic. We are saddled with a management system that is ill suited to achieving scientific excellence due to both its structure and those who occupy its levels. Each passing year has seen an ever-greater disparity between the goals and motivations of the Laboratory leadership and those who are led. Many of those in management have neither the ability nor the inclination to lead a scientifically vibrant enterprise. Recent management choices have favored those who provide business stewardship over technical leadership. Others are simply yes-men (and women) who do not have the spine to stand in the way of the systematic dismantlement of a great scientific institution.

I’d like to visit each focal point in turn for some observations about how this Laboratory has devolved in the past decade. The emphasis on safety while important in many regards is not something I have first hand knowledge of. I work in an office at a computer; safety at work is not a concern for me. I know that there are many, many others who can speak first hand about how we have gone overboard with safety to the point that it has destroyed our ability to productively pursue our scientific goals.

Security on the other hand is something I know a lot about. A good example of how we have shot ourselves in the collective foot is the SCC building. This building was named after Nick Metropolis. I think this is a huge mistake; it should have been named after General Leslie Groves. The SCC represents Groves’ victory over Oppenheimer because of how it has divided and compartmentalized the Nuclear Weapons’ program. The design of the SCC is optimal to keep people apart and destroy collaborations. It was put together with the help of Lab management some of whom used security as a means to achieve operational control and power. We are left with their damaging legacy. There is nearly no bound to how tight security could get. There is also nearly no bound on how severely security could damage scientific productivity. The key is to make decisions that keep security concerns and science in balance. Too much security and scientific productivity and quality will plummet.

Lately we have been under the thumb of increasing emphasis on business excellence. Financial and project management are king. Scientific management is nonexistent. If one looks at how the management communicates the programmatic content upward, science has no place, its all budgets, milestones, earned value, and no science. Looking at how our programs are run it is clear that business excellence is pushing aside science. The most evident symptom of our institutional emphasis is the people comprising our management. I look up my management chain and I find almost no one who is qualified or has the tendency to provide scientific leadership. Moreover they have no stimuli to do so in any case. We are left moving steadfastly in the direction where science is dismissed from consideration. I am sure they would claim that we are still “The World’s Greatest Science,” but they aren’t qualified to say so. The point is that our science needs care and feeding, and simply taking it for granted will leave it diminished and hardly great.

My last comment will relate to science itself. LANL is two Labs (maybe three considering production). One Lab is the science lab with all the “great science” divisions. At this Lab, science for science’s sake is done. Utility for the programs of the lab is paid lip service, but is generally ignored. Management actively works to keep the science un-programmatic. LDRD is their god-given right. The only good thing the programs do is bring in some money for LDRD. Those program people aren’t scientists anyway, so moving some of that money to do great science is the right thing to do. The goal is to match the quality of the best of academia and all that is missing are ivory towers. The second LANL is the program lab. Here science is in full retreat and the hard-core program people want the scientists to get with the program of short-term deliverables and milestones. LDRD is theft from the program. The “great science” divisions are leeches. The goal is to support the program and get the job done. Scientific quality is meaningless and often counter-productive because it might cause a milestone to slip.

The writing on the Blog is replete with this divide. We need to bridge the gap if we are to survive. The “great science” divisions need to get with the program, so to speak. They need to honestly contribute to the programs’ scientific vitality while maintaining their quality. The programs need to realize that their science is lacking. The programs need to realize that they are too short-term focused and that the science is the programs is in dire need off revitalization. LDRD needs to be something that serves both and provides the Laboratory with a future where the great science gets done inside the program. It is all about restoring the balance. Restoring the balance both in terms of science as well as everything else that management has to do. Yes we need to be safe, secure and have good business practices. We don’t need to be so safe or secure that we can’t get our work done and more importantly get our work done in an exemplary manner. Our business practice and systems do not have to be great. I would argue that greatness in these other parts of our enterprise detracts from the only thing we should be great in, science and science of a particular nature, science in support of US national security.

Here are my answers to the above questions: (1,2,3,4) science in support of US National security. In my mind this primarily means the science that forms the foundation of our nuclear weapons stockpile, but also includes homeland security, nonproliferation, biosciences, energy production, and non-nuclear defense. It does not mean science for science’s sake or science that does not have a specific end goal tied to US National security. It acknowledges that this science mission means that there will be constraints on security, safety, funding and business practice. These constraints must be met, but never at the price of providing the US taxpayer with an adequate return on their investment. Our country’s continued security, prosperity and safety depend not on LANLs ability to be safe and secure internally, but rather our achievements in science in support of National Security.

I dearly want to step forward with enthusiasm and optimism, but we need to have a goal that is worth striving for. We need to move toward our goal in a balanced rational manner. The balance can come from keeping science the top priority while keeping safety, security and business compliant and competent, but no more than that. The rational part of the statement is keeping our resources and talent in mind while balancing things. The goal also has to be achievable and within the constraints of our available resources. Let’s be honest about who we are, what we have to work with and what everyone is willing to work toward. If we can, then the future can be better. If we can LANL will be there to answer the call when the Nation needs us.

15 Years of Service

I know many of you are anti union

Whatever you think of Richardson, one thing he said rang true to me .... mobilize, organize....storm offices (well maybe not storm offices :-).
I see posts on the blog suggesting that maybe we, the employees (and retirees) could use some legal help. That is unless you think that the legal teams of UC, Bechtol, and Lockheed have the best interests of employees and retirees in mind.
Right now, given the short time frame, the only employee organization that COULD represent employees is UPTE.
I know many of you are anti union, anti UPTE, anti who is in UPTE, anti some of the stuff reported that UPTE officers have supposed to have said. And if Lockheed gets the contract,although the right to organize will remain, UPTE most probably goes away. But right now, UPTE is what we got. And the more of you who join, the more the flavor of the organization changes and becomes yours. An UPTE of the present. An organization that could provide legal assistance, address some of the vague parts of the RFP, represent employee interests.
As a former President of UPTE, I know the potential is there.
I am also exploring the possibility of other types of employee advocacy groups that could represent different Lab series employees, but we are kind of all in this together. I guess my roots are showing.
Sue Chasen

Sunday, May 29, 2005

More reading material

From Anonymous:

More reading material for Rich Marquez:


They haven't paid yet

From Anonymous:

One sees numerous posts to this blog objecting to UC's handling of affairs at LANL. Many focus on how DX personnel like Todd Kaupilla and John Horne were mistreated. Here and there you see a sprinkling of posters repeating Dominici's demand for us to "Just get over it!" One comment from the


post sums up my reaction to that advise quite nicely:

"... You see a lot of comments here in this theme because there has not been accountability for UC's mishandling of LANL's affairs. Until there is accountability, we will not let the matter drop. Somebody has to pay for the incompetence. That somebody is UC. They haven't payed yet."

Englewood firm a finalist to run Los Alamos lab

Englewood firm a finalist to run Los Alamos lab
By Ian Hoffman
The Oakland Tribune

CH2M Hill, the Englewood engineering and environmental company that helped dismantle and clean up the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, is now in a runoff to manage the birthplace of the atomic age, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

More than a dozen defense and engineering contractors and universities jockeyed for a shot at running the $2.2 billion-a-year laboratory, which had been beset with a series of high- profile lapses in security, safety and financial control.


Full Story

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Anecdotal observations about the contract

Comment from the



I wrote (and sent to Keay) this before I knew Northrop had pulled out and before Brad Holian made the (to be taken with a huge cargo ship of salt) suggestion of DOE/NNSA running things:

I can report the following anecdotal observations about the contract and how I estimate my neighbor's and coworkers support for the various options to be (many will disagree with these observations):

Avidly Pro-UC ~5%
Long time UC/LANL employees. Well vested in UCRP and still able to remember LANL before Wen Ho Lee, the fire, and the standdown. Completely invested in science as an ideal.

Guardedly Pro-UC ~50%
Similar to the above but much more jaded by recent events, especially last year's standdown and the complicity of the UC Regents, President and Vice President Foley. Vested in UCRP, plenty to lose if that does not go well. Loyal to the ideal of science for science sake. Uncomfortable with defense contractors (fox) running (guarding) LANL (the chicken coop).

Rabidly Anti-UC ~5%
This camp seems to be people who have felt directly harmed by UC's policies and failures. These people are bitter about specific things and may very well have good reason to be. These people are convinced that private corporations run much better and treat their employees better. Or at least, "anything" is better than UC.

Avidly pro-Lockheed ~ 10%
There is definitely a contingent who specifically wants Lockheed to take over. These may be former Sandia or other Lockheed employees or recent arrivals at LANL who believe the defense-contractor model of management to be inherently better. These are more likely to be engineers than scientists. This crowd blends with the anti-UC at times.

Pro Northrop ~ 0%
I've not heard a single peep in favor of Northrop. The closest I've heard to it are the "anything but UC" crowd. I assume Northrop is a ringer invited in to make it look more like a race. To cover up for the conspiracy to sweep UC out and install Lockheed, or perhaps to re-install UC after pretending to make a contest out of it. I don't know what motivated Northrop to play. I suspect they were "solicited" strongly.

Rabidly Neutral ~30%
Nearly a third of the people I've talked to or overheard have had enough of all of this. They just want it to be over. If they are well vested in UC, they are prepared to eat whatever loss comes their way. If not, they just want to know how to consider their retirement plans. They just want to get back to work. They just want to quit having to worry about everything from one end of the spectrum to the other. This crowd blends into the guardedly pro-UC crowd as well as the pro-Lockheed at times. "Whatever" is commonly heard muttered.

my "vote" -
I'm guardedly pro-UC.

I believe that UC is the best for the science we can and should be doing. I do not want LANL to become merely a weapons-shop, a weapons-plant. If that is where it is headed (and why do we not know that?) then UC might not be the right manager, but nobody is openly saying that, yet their denials are somewhat anemic. The Bechtel alliance is very disturbing. While I think UC/Bechtel would be very different than LM/UT, the need for a defense contractor in the mix is very disturbing and portends a possible change in mission for LANL that is not welcome. A mission of production and proliferation.

I came to LANL as a young man, more dove than hawk but believing in the necessity of Mutual Assured Destruction. 25 years, the end of the cold war, the fall of the Soviet Union and being left the only superpower, the worlds policeman, and possibly the only bully on the block, has made me even more sure that our responsibility as a Laboratory is in aggressive non-proliferation, starting with our own stockpile. Once the Soviet Union fell, we had no more reason not to begin "unilateral disarmament". We have no reason to maintain a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. We let this genie out of the bottle, we can't stuff it back in, but we do have a responsibility for it.

UC might help keep us honest, none of the other players seem likely to even pretend to.

Unfortunately there is probably a lot going on behind the scenes. That many things are not what they appear to be. I wish I could be sure one way or the other. But the conspiracists have some good points to offer. That is another story, perhaps the real story.

- Steve Smith
25 years TSM at UC/LANL
speaking as a private citizen

Are Retiree Medical Benefits Really Protected in the RFP?

From Anonymous:

Are Retiree Medical Benefits Really Protected in the RFP?

Will ALL those UC employees over 50 currently eligible to retire from UC with medical benefits continue to receive such coverage under a new contract? Specifically, there is a tiered level of medical coverage for employees with less than 20 years of service credit. For example, for someone with 15 years of service, the UC employer contribution for medical premium is paid at 75%, with the UC retiree paying the difference. If someone retires from UC under that condition, what will happen with a new contractor when the medical coverage is taken over under the new contract. The RFP does say that the offeror will supply a medical plan for retirees, but they are free to set their own service requirements, which may differ from UC if UC should not be successful. I have asked HR this question and they say they do not know and will have to wait till December 1 to find out. Some number of current retirees under these conditions could be in for a surprise next June when they lose their medical insurance because they do not have enough service requirements with the new contractor. Actually a similar question extends to the "equivalent " retirement plan one with the same age factors as UC. Having the same age factor is not necessarily the same as now, because additional age + years of service requirements can be added. For example at Sandia right now, an over 50 employee cannot retire until his age + years of service add to 75, quite different from UC currently. So Lockheed may not be much of a bargain for us.


Lockheed Adds Partners to LANL Bid
By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

The day after the University of California announced it would fight to retain management of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the university's primary opponent took steps to strengthen its own team.

Lockheed Martin, which earlier this month partnered with the University of Texas to compete for the LANL contract, announced the addition of Fluor Corp. and CH2M Hill to round out its team.

Lockheed spokesman Don Carson said Fluor— an international construction and engineering company of about 30,000 employees— would be responsible for facility planning, design and development. CH2M Hill, Carson said, will be responsible for handling nuclear operations, including manufacturing weapons components, and environmental cleanup.

UC's team of industrial partners, which includes Bechtel National, Washington Group International and BWX Technologies, are similarly specialized. Though the exact responsibilities haven't been determined, government contractor Bechtel is a global engineering and construction company, BWXT manages government nuclear operations and Washington Group handles environmental cleanup, engineering and construction projects.


Full Story

Gov. Urges LANL Employees to Hang On

Gov. Urges LANL Employees to Hang On

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

Gov. Bill Richardson told Los Alamos National Laboratory employees to "keep their powder dry," urging them not to make any hasty retirement decisions before the full details of the next lab management contract are clear.

"It's in America's interest to retain these scientists," he said.

Retirement rates at LANL are already projected to be at least 50 percent higher this year than previous years, largely due to employee uncertainty over the lab contract competition.

Richardson, speaking at a Los Alamos town hall meeting on Friday, said he favors the University of California and Bechtel National team over the Lockheed Martin and University of Texas team as the next LANL manager, primarily because of their scientific and technology background.

"I think it is the strongest proposal," he said, adding, "I think eventually politicians have to take sides."


Full Story

About LANL pensions

Publication:Santa Fe New Mexican; Date:May 28, 2005; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8

About LANL pensions

Now: Los Alamos National Laboratory employees are guaranteed a pension without making any financial contributions. The retirement plan is based on an employee’s age and years of service.

The University of California Retirement Plan, as it is called, covers more than 170,000 employees — 8,000 from Los Alamos and the rest from other university campuses.

Employees also can contribute a percentage of their paycheck, on a pretax basis, to a separate plan similar to 401K plans. UC does not match their contributions.

Future: The U.S. Department of Energy is requiring bidders to present two compensation packages. Employees will have two months to decide which option they want during the transition between contractors.

For employees who transfer from UC to a new contractor within six months after June 1, 2006, without a break in employment, the compensation package must be “substantially equivalent” to what they’ve had. Employees keep their base salaries and carry over the length-of-service credit and vacation and sick-leave balances.

Substantially equivalent benefits are not required for employees hired after June 1, 2006; employees who retire before June 1 and reapply for a job under the new contractor; and employees who remain vested, inactive members of the University of California Retirement Plan.

Governor urges LANL workers to be vigilant

Diana Heil | The New Mexican
May 28, 2005

LOS ALAMOS -- On a visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory on Friday, Gov. Bill Richardson urged workers to raise their voices in protest rather than make hasty decisions in uncertain times.

Many employees are tempted to retire as the first-ever competition for the management of the nuclear-weapons lab begins. They want to protect their lavish pension benefits because they aren't sure what a change in management might bring.


Full Story

Competitor insulted by assertions

Physicist, an ex-lab director, rebuts statement that corporations lack ability to do 'real science'
By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

The head of a team challenging the University of California for command of the birthplace of the bomb is mightily offended by the university's suggestions that corporations such as his employer, Lockheed Martin Corp., lack the ability or integrity to do real science.

C. Paul Robinson, physicist and former Sandia National Laboratories director, lashed back Friday, saying his team was appalled at the lack of competent business practices and focused scientific direction at Los Alamos National Laboratory, run by the University of California since 1943.


Full Story

Friday, May 27, 2005

An entirely unnecessary mess

(I sent the following to Keay Davidson and thought it should be posted on The Blog, since it will be abstracted, if quoted at all.)

Here's my take on NNSA's (or DOE's, if you prefer) contract for managing Los Alamos National Laboratory. First of all, UC has never really "run" Los Alamos; it has only lent its cachet of academic freedom and scientific excellence to the institution, and has gotten back in return considerable prestige from LANL's own scientific output. Scientific research at LANL is a spin-off from the military-industrial program, and it has absorbed only a tiny fraction of the largesse that has been thrown at the Lab by Congress. But the benefits to the nation from this research far exceed anything that has been gained over the years by having on the order of a hundred times more nuclear weapons
than the country has ever really needed.

As to the current choices for managers of LANL, I vote for "None of the above," but only because our "ablest" politicians have decided that leaving things alone is not an option. My reasons are as follows.

NO to UC and Bechtel: UC has shown itself to be clueless and spineless in the face of the horrible damage that former Director Nanos did to the institution, and to the science produced therein, when he unwisely shut the Lab down. Bechtel is a slimy corporate entity whose main claim to fame is being second only to Halliburton in greedily soaking up tax dollars in Iraq.

NO to Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas: LockMart's candidate for Director of Los Alamos is quoted in the papers yesterday as saying that only a corporate entity like LockMart can cure the "problems" in security and safety that have occurred at LANL, even though, objectively speaking, there have been no more safety and security problems at LANL than at Sandia, which is a national lab run by -- you guessed it -- LockMart. Even reputable newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle have fallen into the trap of saying that there have been security and safety problems at Los Alamos, when in fact, the real problem at LANL is public relations. UC has handled the PR in a most incredibly inept way, but that has little to do with science itself. Whereas LockMart will substitute factory production for science at LANL and will cover up any safety and security breaches that might occur much more skillfully than UC ever could, the scientific credentials of UT make it a lame substitute for UC as an academic partner.

NO to Northrup-Grumman: Another greedy member of the Carlyle-Group military-industrial complex, whose only claim to fame is making nuclear submarines on which Los Alamos-designed nuclear warheads reside. Not even an academic pretense here.

So who should run Los Alamos? I say the buck should be made to stop where the real responsibility for political and bureaucratic buffoonery originates, namely, the Department of Energy itself. Cut out the
middleman. Since there would no longer be any need for a bloated manager's fee, that money could be used to roughly double the amount presently spent on basic research at the Lab. Let DOE/NNSA, the entity that has always run LANL, be exposed to the light of day, without any window dressing of a corporate "manager." And if science is no longer valued in this country, is there any need for the window dressing of an "academic" partner, either?

Note that my "endorsement" of DOE/NNSA running the Lab should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. My point is that DOE should be nailed for the political mess they've created and the damage they have done to the Lab. UC should be blamed for letting them get away with it and not saying a word in the Lab's defense. As to the stand-alone retirement system, well, that's a transparent attempt to line corporate pockets, and the effect of all this nonsense is to prompt more people to retire early -- as I did -- just for self-protection.

-Brad Lee Holian (retired LANL staff member)

Postscript: I notice that yesterday Northrup-Grumman withdrew in favor of the Carlyle Group partner LockMart. No loss there. The bottom line is, this whole thing is a mess -- an entirely unnecessary mess. A rational Director, a sensible DOE bureaucracy (OK, oxymoron!) in Washington, a sensible Congress, and a UC bureaucracy that valued the Lab -- any one of these things -- could have prevented the catastrophe that has befallen Los Alamos.

The issue of hiring foreign nationals

From Anonymous:

Foreign nationals, postdocs and students
I want to highlight the issue of hiring foreign nationals at the Lab. I discovered, very pleasantly, at a conference in 1998 that LANL was one of the few places that hired foreign nationals, even if they were from sensitive countries. I chose a postdoc position at the lab over a high paying tech sector job and never regretted it. I still think that one of LANL's plus points over SNL is its hiring of foreign nationals, and its postdoc and student program. Although I said in a comment to the straw poll that I support LM/UT, I would like to see Lab employees express strong support for continuing the policy of hiring foreign nationals and for maintaining a strong postdoc and student program. If enough people voice their support, LM might listen.
Thank you
A foreign national TSM

Regents vote to make a bid for Los Alamos

Regents vote to make a bid for Los Alamos
Northrop Grumman drops out, leaving field to UC and Texas

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Friday, May 27, 2005

The University of California Regents voted 11-1 Thursday to join the competition for the next contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the nation's first atomic weapons lab.

"We're off and running!" S. Robert Foley, UC's vice president of laboratory administration, told The Chronicle after the midday vote at the regents meeting at UCSF's Laurel Heights campus.


Full Story

Thursday, May 26, 2005

DOE IG report

From Anonymous:

Doug, I thought you might find this new DOE IG report on contractor post retirement benefits of interest. If the IG had his way, DOE would just federalize the contractor workforce and give everyone the same benefits DOE employees get.

University of California/Bechtel

I believe that University of California/Bechtel ought to [be] the next managers of Los Alamos National Laboratory. UC has a history of excellence in scientific endeavors, a proven track record with Nobel prize winners and accomplishments which have changed the world. These go back to before the Manhattan Project, which created LANL and other laboratories and facilities. Bechtel has experience operating various facilities including the Nevada Test Site, which has field- tested many of LANL's designs.  UC has improved their chances for success by joining with three New Mexico Universities in research alliances at LANL. Bechtel has teamed with several other independent companies which specialize in various aspects of nuclear work.Together they make a strong partnership which should alleviate the concerns about management of Los Alamos National Laboratory - if they organize effectively.

Lockheed-Martin/Univ of Texas are both outsiders to the Laboratory's manner of work. Sandia National Laboratory, under LM, doesn't have the same basic science foundation that LANL has nowadays. LM is the major defense contractor in the country; consequently SNL has a more commercial thrust, as evident from it's own promotion. For over sixty years the government has purposely kept this Laboratory from being privatized by the weapons industry or run by the DOD. UC has done the job with a scientific focus, somewhat independent of overlying political or financial pressure. To break from this long tradition is a step in the wrong direction, as it allows an excess of national weapons policy influence by the weapons makers, and in this case, for their stockholders. It is analogous to "letting wolves guard the sheep". I came to the lab from a major American coorporation, where I witnessed how business "refocusing" met financial goals, often disregarding how excellent the science was. The
DOE/NNSA should continue what their founders in the AEC started, and not make a drastic change to privatize nuclear weapons. Short term political pressure from Washington should not be allowed to sway and change a balance of power which has been checked for so many years.Compared to UC/Bechtel, the University of Texas seems to be positioned to have a secondary role, helping to manage the scientific endeavors while the prominent LM would be keeping the books.This could put the scientific integrity of the lab at risk.

The beating that UC has taken for various perceived failings of the Laboratory in safety, security and business regimen, has been largely trumped up by various persons and groups for their own personal and political gains. While LANLs mistakes have been headlines of national news, each time flourished with statements from opponents, the other major laboratories have made similar and even worse mistakes which have been either brushed off or largely ignored by media conglomerates. This has had a demoralizing effect on LANL employees, that they must somehow be 'buttheads' and 'cowboys' after all, to receive so much negative press. Many are retiring earlier to avoid an uncertain future. Having UC/Bechtel win over their adversaries would make a major statement for LANL to our detractors. One can imagine that they would continue to heckle the Lab, but that their interest might dwindle and focus on other agencies and institutions-if UC and partners were awarded the contract, fair and
square. I believe that UC has a strong winning case.

This information is solely my own opinion and does not represent Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California, nor the US Department of Energy and NNSA.

John T. M. Lyles

TSM, 13 years at LANL

LANL is leaderless

Coment from the



Not only that, Dawn, but he [Kuckuck] spends most of his time in California frantically trying to help write the response to the RFP. In other words, LANL is leaderless.

Of course it was leaderless under Nanos, so let's not go there.


I am Keay Davidson, a science reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Doug Roberts, the Blog manager, has given me permission to poll Blog users on the question: “Which competitor for the next Los Alamos contract deserves to win?” I invite BOTH PRESENT AND FORMER Los Alamos staffers to pick their preferred winner:
— UC and Bechtel
— Univ. of Texas and Lockheed Martin
— Northrop Grumman.
alternate candidate (your choice).
PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY you voted as you did, at any length. I might quote part or all of your comments in my newspaper story.
I realize that many respondents will wish to remain anonymous, and
I shall honor all requests for anonymity. However, to ensure that no impostors try to impersonate present or former Los Alamos staffers, I request that respondents who are comfortable being identified in print provide the following information: Your name, your role at the lab (past or present), and your phone number (just so I can confirm your identity, if necessary; I won’t share the phone with anyone else).
Naturally, I am likelier to quote respondents who are willing to identify themselves.
I must emphasize that the vote is open ONLY to people who are present or former Los Alamos staffers.
Even if you send your response to the Blog, please send a COPY of your response DIRECTLY to me to ensure that I see it by deadline. My e-mail address is kdavidson@sfchronicle.com.
I need all responses no later than
1 PM FRIDAY, MAY 27, New Mexico time.
Thanks much!.
(Mr.) Keay Davidson
Science Writer
San Francisco Chronicle

Jabs begin as UC nears vote on lab bid

By Sue Vorenberg
Tribune Reporter

May 26, 2005

The University of California Board of Regents was to decide this afternoon on whether to bid on the contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory - but bickering between potential competitors has already started.

Two University of California committees voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend the institution move forward with a bid to operate the lab. If the regents accept the recommendations, UC and Bechtel Corp. will form a limited liability company to bid on and operate the lab.


Full Story

Mad as hell, switching to Mac

From Anonymous:

Maybe this guy should have a talk with Rich Marquez.


More Training at LANL. Dollars well spent, I am sure

From Anonymous:


Attention CCS Employees,

On March 21, 2005, a Master Management Memo went out to the entire work force stating:

"Commencing March 21, 2005, the course Environmental Management System (EMS) Workers Awareness- Initial, EDS#32461, is mandatory for all LANL workers, including subcontractors."

The memo went on to emphasize that this mandatory training was not due until September 31, 2005. Nevertheless, the EMS training plan has been activated in every LANL workers profile, thus putting a big dent on compliance numbers.

If you have not already done so, please take a moment in the next couple days to complete the EMS Workers Awareness Training, Course 32461 at the following URL:


**PLEASE NOTE** Choose Option #1, it is a read and sign 'lecture'.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Northrop won't bid to run Los Alamos

MAY. 26 12:24 P.M. ET Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. on Thursday said it has decided not to pursue the contract to run the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab.

The University of California has run the lab -- the birthplace of the atomic bomb -- since it was created in 1943. Following a series of financial and security lapses, the government said it would put the contract up for bid for the first time.


Full Story

Northrop Grumman Statement on Decision to No-Bid

Press Release:

Northrop Grumman Statement on Decision to No-Bid Los Alamos National Laboratory Management Contract
Thursday May 26, 11:34 am ET

MCLEAN, Va., May 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Based upon its evaluation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory request for proposal, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC - News) has decided not to pursue the contract. The company continues to be committed to helping the U.S. Department of Energy achieve its overall objectives, but has determined that it can best provide that support through other key programs. The company is currently evaluating other future opportunities with the Department of Energy and looks forward to applying its world-class capabilities to meet the agency's specialized requirements.

Northrop-Grumman is OUT!

UC Moves Toward Bid to Keep Role at Los Alamos
  • In a meeting disrupted by unhappy students and activists, regents give the initial go-ahead to enter competition to run the troubled lab.

  • SAN FRANCISCO — University of California regents took a crucial step Wednesday toward a bid to retain UC's longtime management of Los Alamos National Laboratory, giving initial approval for the university to enter the first competition to run the nuclear weapons facility in New Mexico.

    UC's full Board of Regents plans to vote on the proposal today, and is considered likely to approve it.


    Full Story

    The cost of UC's bidding war


    The cost of UC's bidding war

    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    THE PENDING decision by the University of California to participate in a bidding war for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is the right one -- for the nation.

    We have consistently argued that it is less in the university's and more in the nation's interests for UC to continue to manage the lab on behalf of the federal government, despite its remote location far from any UC campus. It arguably would not even exist had UC not agreed 62 years ago to establish and manage the lab as a public service in time of war.


    Full Story

    UT & Lockheed Woo Los Alamos

    UT & Lockheed Woo Los Alamos

    For a larger image click here

    Somebody order a missile-shaped box of chocolates: The University of Texas' on-again, off-again romance with Los Alamos National Laboratory is officially on. After nearly a year of waffling, UT has decided to partner with Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest defense contractor, to bid on the Department of Energy contract to run the trouble-prone lab, one of three where U.S. nuclear weapons activities take place. Peace activists are urging UT to take a moral stand against weapons of mass destruction by refusing to bid, while supporters see an opportunity for UT to increase its recognition and prestige, and protect national security to boot.


    Full Story


    Wednesday, May 25, 2005
    UC Office of the President contact: Chris Harrington (202) 997-3150


    UC, Bechtel National, BWXT and Washington Group International team to compete and manage LANL

    Key committees of the UC Board of Regents voted today (May 25) to pursue continued management and operations of Los Alamos National Laboratory by submitting a competitive proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy in response to the final request for proposals that was issued on May 19.


    Full Story

    Inactive Vested Transferring Employees

    Given the importance of this issue to many of us, could you please put it in a top post? I just entered this info in comments to the first post. Thanks...
    Concerning whether the HAPC gets COLA adjustment for "Inactive Vested Transferring Employees", I wrote to UC benefits and asked them. Here is their response, verbatim:

    Unfortunately, we are do not
    know the answer to your question. The language in the RFP has not been define and probably won't be until the contract is awarded, sometime after December 1, 2005. Right now there are many questions but no answers, we hope to have some in the near future.

    Obviously, this is a new class of retirees, that requires a separate decision. If anyone else has received different information, please post.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2005

    However, this is a community where children can play tag outside in the summer

    Comment from the



    To the original poster:

    When we moved here in 1968, the downtown was much different. We purchased appliances from the local Sears or Montgomery Wards catalog store. There was a lovely bakery where families would congregate on Saturday morning before taking their small children to the library on Central. We could shop for odds and ends in a dimestore where the kids could get small toys. There were no fast food restaurants but there was Sparky's, Baskin Robbins, and a bowling alley all within walking distance of Central.

    However, Los Alamos suffers from a shrinking business district because of internet, catalog, and out-of-town shopping, because LANL has moved more and more of its work across the bridge, and because of all the small companies that rent office space along Central and in other locations to support LANL. Now even SUP has moved downtown, various IM groups are located downtown, and landlords (all three of them) are delighted to rent to LANL because retail shops can't afford the same high rent.

    Although the County Council wastes a great deal of time trying to figure out how to bring some life back to the business community, everyone is responsible for supporting our local merchants. Fourteen Los Alamos businesses closed in 2004. How many of those did you shop at?

    Yes, in one part of town there are dirty, torn up roads, and I'm sure the folks who live along them are really tired of the dirt and noise. They are also still rebuilding from the fire and are probably tired of living in the shadows of the burned Jemez Mountains.

    However, this is a community where children can play tag outside in the summer without parents fearing for them. It's a community where when something horrible happens, like Todd's death, folks rally around with food and financial support. And it's a community with a great environment. Last week, the sky was incredibly blue; and in the older neighborhoods large lilac bushes were in full bloom, and the fragrance was overpowering.

    You are not a whiner, a grouser, or a cowboy. But when you are gone, your friends will miss you; and you might not miss LANL, but you will miss Los Alamos.

    Lucrative deal is sign lab job won't be easy

    Lucrative deal is sign lab job won't be easy

    By Sue Vorenberg
    Tribune Reporter

    May 25, 2005

    The National Nuclear Security Administration is offering a financial feast to the next operator of Los Alamos National Laboratory - but the juicy meal won't come in one piece.

    The $79 million meal will be doled out in courses - and while the winning contractor won't have to sing for its supper, it will have to produce quality results if it wants to reach dessert, officials say.


    Full Story

    University of California still wants LANL

    By Sue Vorenberg
    Tribune Reporter

    May 25, 2005

    Two University of California committees voted unanimously this morning to recommend that the institution move forward with a bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The final decision will be made by the board of regents on Thursday afternoon. If the regents take the recommendation, UC and Bechtel Corp. will form a limited liability company to bid on and operate the lab.


    Full Story

    TEC Series is going to be reduced to 4 levels?


    This should be a post of its own, sorry but this is the only way I know to get it on anonymous.

    Does anyone know anything about the rumor going around that all classifications lower than TSM are going to be restructured. This is supposed to hold true for OS, GS and all series below the TSM level. This is to take place in June.

    I understand that the TEC Series is going to be reduced to 4 levels. Instead of a level 7 that it will be something else, not a TEC level.

    I was told that this would make us easer to outsource us.

    That is about all I know, does any body have any information.

    UC committee recommends LANL bid (Audio)

    Audio file at


    UC committee recommends LANL bid (Audio)

    SANTA FE (2005-05-25) -- A committee of the regents of the University of
    California is recommending that UC enter the bidding for the Los Alamos
    national lab contract.

    That committee heard comments both pro and con why the university should
    or shouldn't pursue the contract. One of the presentations was made by the
    president of the company UC would partner with if they vote to go ahead
    with the bid, Bechtel National.

    But the room was full of students and others who don't like the idea of UC
    managing a weapons lab.

    The committee chairman called for a vote whether the University of
    California should pursue the Los Alamos contract. Protestors in the room
    shouted their preference - No.

    Listen to some of the comments from today's meeting.

    Texas license plates

    Please post anon.....

    Anybody notice the influx of Texas license plates in town???


    Decision to bid on Los Alamos lab has weighty consequences

    Loss of management could weaken UC's prestige

    On Nov. 7, 2003, the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for the 2004 fiscal year was approved. The bill included a clause mandating labs with “noncompetitive management and operating contract(s)” — contracts which have been held for more than 50 years — be renegotiated when their contracts expired.


    Full Story

    LANL RFP Fact Sheet

    LANL RFP Fact Sheet (pdf)

    Statement of Representative Tom Udall

    Page 1 of 2
    Statement of Representative Tom Udall
    H.R. 2419
    May 24, 2005
    Mr. Chairman:

    I rise today to speak about a matter of great concern to me and to many of my
    constituents. The Los Alamos National Laboratory, in my district, is one of the largest
    employers in the state. Two years ago, the Secretary of Energy determined that after more than
    60 years of management by the University of California, the contract for the management and
    operations of the Los Alamos National Laboratory would be opened to a competition.
    We are all aware that there have been problems concerning the security of classified
    materials handled at the lab and questions about safety practices. It is important to note,
    however, that statistically the incidences of injury and illness at Los Alamos are well within the
    range of both comparable DOE facilities and major chemical and manufacturing industrial
    complexes. Still, I have consistently supported the competition in the hopes that the best
    management team wins so the scientists and employees at Los Alamos can continue to contribute
    to our national security and conduct world-class strategic science.

    Last Thursday, the National Nuclear Security Administration released the final Request
    for Proposals, or RFP, for the Management and Operating contract of the Los Alamos National
    Laboratory. In December, the NNSA released a draft of this RFP. What concerns me is that
    these documents were substantially different in two very fundamental ways.

    First, the draft RFP did not indicate a requirement for the establishment of a separate,
    dedicated corporate entity; the final RFP does. Because this requirement was not included in the
    draft RFP, the public was never given the opportunity to comment on it. While that structure
    may have emerged from the competition as the best design for the management of LANL, we’ll
    never know. By mandating a specific corporate structure from the outset, the NNSA has
    eliminated the proposition of an entirely different, and perhaps more creative and effective,
    management structure. That appears to me to severely constrain, rather than promote, true

    Secondly, the NNSA has taken the surprising step of dictating that the new management
    entity must establish a stand-alone pension plan, one that would serve the employees of Los
    Alamos only. Again, that requirement was not included in the draft RFP so the public never had
    the opportunity to comment on it. The potential changes to the pension plan under a change of
    management have been of the utmost concern for the vast majority of Lab employees who have
    contacted me regarding the competition.

    Currently, the employees of Los Alamos benefit greatly from being included in the
    University of California Retirement Plan, which covers more than 170,000 employees. The
    major organizations that have expressed the intent to bid for the Los Alamos contract already
    employ in excess of 100,000 people. Obviously, a pension plan designed to cover that many
    employees generates significant leveraging power.

    Page 2 of 2
    The Los Alamos National Laboratory alone currently employs only 8,000 people directly.
    There is no way that a stand-alone pension plan designed to serve only 8,000 employees could
    offer benefits as great as one that serves five, ten or, in the case of the University of California
    Retirement Plan, 17 times that many. Shouldn’t the decision for how to best manage a financial
    matter as significant as that of a pension plan be left to the discretion of the new managing

    Furthermore, approximately 60 days ago, the NNSA completed the competition for the
    management of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The University of California, which
    has managed Lawrence Berkeley for 74 years, was awarded the contract. As such, Lawrence
    Berkeley will continue to be managed as a non-profit entity, and its 3,800 employees will
    continue to be included in the generous pension plan offered by the University of California.
    The design of the final RFP for the management of Los Alamos National Laboratory
    ensures that a non-corporate management structure cannot even be considered in the
    competition. That is, the type of management structure that has very successfully served
    Lawrence Berkeley for 74 years and Los Alamos for 62 years is not even on the table.
    In conclusion, while I strongly support this competition, I do not see how it is in the best
    interest of this country that a competition for the management and operation of a national
    security complex as important as Los Alamos has been so greatly narrowed.
    I would like to thank Representative Visclosky for affording me this opportunity to
    speak, and with that, I yield back my time.

    UC Decides This Week on Bidding for LANL Contract

    By Michelle Locke
    The Associated Press

    BERKELEY, Calif.— University of California regents face a big decision this week: Compete for the management contract of Los Alamos National Laboratory or walk away from the atomic birthplace it has managed since World War II.

    A committee of UC's governing Board of Regents will recommend today whether to compete, and the full board will vote on that recommendation Thursday.

    "This is a significant decision for the university," UC spokesman Chris Harrington said. "We expect a very thoughtful and thorough discussion."


    Full Story

    Suddenly, it’s all become very clear

    A comment from the



    I’m a mid-career LANL TSM who just returned from a visit to a major university. Let me tell you, this visit was a powerful jolt. With all the crap we had taken here in the last several years, I had almost forgotted what the REAL WORLD was like. The REAL WORLD where people enjoy coming to work; where science, not mindless rules or management abuse, is the center of most conversations; where young people – students and postdocs – come to you to LEARN and both sides take profound satisfaction in sharing knowledge; where opinions are respected and freedom of thought and expression is unquestioned.

    Suddenly, it’s all become very clear. I’ve had it with LANL. I’ve had it with Admirals shutting down my research at will and with his lackeys ready to report anyone who they catch writing formulas on a blackboard during the shutdown. I’ve had it with division leaders telling people their work by itself isn’t worth anything, unless it directly ties to the "Mission". I’ve had it with a bunch of clueless half-educated bureaucrats trying to impose the same computer standard on scientists and secretary.

    When I came here, it was because there were good people to work with. Well, now that these very people are either retiring or taking up jobs elsewhere, what am I going to stay here for? Just so that I could continue living in a desolate place in the middle of nowhere, a place with a single grocery store and two dozen churches? A place with dirty, broken-down streets and a "downtown" made up of a post office and a Starbucks?

    Call me a "whiner", a "cowboy", a "grouser". I don’t care. I don’t want to serve at the will of Admiral Foley anymore. I’m through. I’m applying for university jobs and within the next year or two I’m outta here!

    Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Well said

    From Anonymous:


    Lockheed Martin-UT team leader proposes changes at Los Alamos

    Lockheed Martin-UT team leader proposes changes at Los Alamos


    Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A possible tenfold increase in the federal government's fee to manage Los Alamos lab is deserved if security troubles are brought under control, the head of a team bidding for the contract said.

    C. Paul Robinson resigned last month as president of Sandia National Laboratories to head Lockheed Martin Corp.'s team for the contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.


    Full Story

    Blogger hardware error

    Blogger Status

    Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Due to a hardware error, a percentage of Blog*Spot users will run into intermittent trouble when trying to access their blogs. We have people in the datacenter working on the problem and anticipate that this will be corrected during the next two hours.

    [It seems to be fixed now. --Doug]

    Shameless promotion

    This is a shameless promotion of one of Los Alamos' newer business
    establishments. I am sitting here, enjoying a wonderful lunch and a
    glass of Stone IPA; my laptop is open on the table in front of me, and
    I am reading the blog and catching up on my email via the Trinity
    Beverage Company's new, free wireless internet. Why am I telling you
    this? What does it have to do with LANL, the blog, or anything else

    I'm telling you this because Ron Selvage, one of the owners of TBC,
    has made my job of maintaining the blog both easier and more pleasant,
    and I wanted other people to know that. Comments on this post will be
    turned off: if you want to complain about the crass commercial nature
    of this post, use the email address at the top of this blog and I will
    make sure both of those complaints are properly handled.

    The rest of you should come down and enjoy some good food and beer at
    Los Alamos' only smoke-free bar/restaurant.

    Bring your laptop.

    Motivational garbage

    From Anonymous:

    Oh, that's just terrific. The LANL home page has a link on it to the "Operational Efficiency" project: https://int.lanl.gov/orgs/oe/index.shtml. That link takes you directly to an invitation to view a Quicktime video of George P Nanos and John Bretzke.

    Nice thinking, whoever decided to put this bit of motivational garbage out for us to all see.

    There is currently an initiative being run out of ADA

    From Anonymous:

    There is currently an initiative being run out of ADA addressing
    Information Technology Infrastructure. While there are some very
    worthy goals of this effort, notably in the in the area of purchasing
    strategy and obsolete equipment replacement, there is the question of

    If you've been a user of the Lab's computing infrastructure for any
    length of time, you've likely observed the various travails visited on
    support personnel and users by viruses and spyware, with exploits
    targeted primarily at the Microsoft Windows platform. This situation
    is not going to improve.

    While other operating systems and environments are certainly not free
    of vulnerabilities and exploits, there are fewer specifically targeted
    at them.

    What does this have to do with ADA's effort? Plenty, because the
    outcome is allegedly "predecided" in favor of Windows, regardless of
    the effort's results and conclusions. This is a classic example of how
    a lot of technical decisions seem to be made at the Lab: decide first,
    create a huge, expensive effort to get supporting data, and then make
    the data fit the decision.

    It is quite ironic that a workplace that has the alleged goal of
    secure operations tolerates "lowest common denominator" decisions in
    the area of security, especially those that are made autonomously and

    We, the authors of this submission, believe that the ADA has not
    presented a well-considered plan . We are members of LANL's
    computational community, and our assessment is that the ADA's plan
    makes no sense from a security point of view, nor from an economic
    point of view. We therefore urge the new director and his team of
    advisers to place an immediate moratorium on the ADA's plan, and
    launch a reevaluation of his proposed initiative.

    Monday, May 23, 2005

    Bit of hypocrisy


    I thought you should post this bit of hypocrisy, penned by the NNSA head who "fully supported Nanos' decision to shut down LANL" and who backed Nanos' claims of deteriorating safety trends at LANL in spite of the well documented proof to the contrary.


    ADSR Emailgram


    This emailgram from ADSR Terry Wallace may be interesting to blog readers as an indication of how seriously the Lab management takes employee retention issues.


    ADSR Emailgram
    May 23, 2005

    The Laboratory faces an extraordinary challenge concerning its workforce. LANL's staff has performed extraordinary service to the nation in the last 60 years, and the workforce is unique within the DOE complex. However, the uncertainty of LANL's future, the crushing burden of paperwork associated with "getting work done," and the emotional toll of the last year, pose immense obstacles to retaining staff and recruiting "the best and the brightest." I am struck that the institutional approach to retention and recruitment is very "first come, first served," with little planning or appreciation for unintended consequences. As an example, we (LANL) respond to retention mainly with occasional offers of increased salary - which typically breed resentment within teams and groups.

    With this in mind, we have instituted a task force within SR along with HR to look at retention and recruitment issues. This task force is developing suggested methods to be used by managers to generate informative dialogues with the individuals who possess the capabilities needed to sustain their organizations. It will also create better understanding of the perspectives necessary to overcome the challenges and obstacles inherent in recruiting and retaining top talent. I have also asked the task force to develop a longer-term, "best practice" approach to our staffing strategies and succession planning. Closely associated with this initiative are our needs for knowledge capture and transfer tools in general and, specifically, to effectively manage the "memory loss" which may be inherent in the immediate days to come. A cross-institutional team has just developed a knowledge capture and transfer process which will be offered to managers and their groups in June.
    I want to assure you that I consider these issues as serious challenges for not only SR but also for the institution as a whole. Recruitment and retention affect the entire workforce from entry and mid-level to our most seasoned employees who may be considering retirement. Replenishing and retaining our scientific and technical talent at the Laboratory is a persuasive priority regardless of who wins the contract competition. Beyond the obvious pension concerns, these issues are compounded by the high average age of our workforce and the fact that more individuals, who are eligible to retire, are seriously considering the option due to the increasing challenges of our work environment.
    I am most interested in your input and feedback - from new hires to long-career employees.

    This effort has been ongoing for at least two years

    UPTE@Los Alamos worked hard to get some of the language changed from the draft RFP to the present language in the final RFP. This effort has been ongoing for at least two years. UPTE visited D.C. several times and met with many different representatives to tell them the concerns of UPTE members in the contract competition. Our CWA colleagues spoke on our behalf to their congressional members when we could not do it ourselves. We developed a respectful relationship with the SEB to ensure that the interests of our members were heard. We don't hide what the members want. Read our letter to the SEB at http://www.upte.org/LosAlamos/uc_contract/UPTEcommentsLANLdraftRFP.pdf
    Regardless of what many think, a unified, but reasoned voice for employees does matter. UPTE stepped up to the plate and if we didn't hit a home run, we at least got on base. In June we plan to hold an open forum. We hope many LANL employees will attend (details will come out later). We will be watching the RFP process unfold and adding our input as developed by UPTE members.
    Theresa Connaughton


    From Anonymous:

    The removal of the 9/80 work schedule seems to me, to be a breech of contract for the employees that hired on at LANL during the past 5 years. This schedule was offered as part of their benefits package. Many people accepted employment under those terms. The LANL administrative manual (AM326) states that "In rare cases where an organization cannot otherwise provide required services during normal business hours, or when required for programmatic, safety, or security reasons, a manager may request an exemption to in order to assign an employee to either the 9/80 or 5/40 schedule". If the "rare case" was to address resumption issues, and since the lab is back up and running, shouldn't the 9/80 be reinstated? I wonder what a judge would say?

    I agree that we cannot forget what happened

    A comment from the



    Integrity. I can work with that.

    And Todd's memory. I agree that we cannot forget what happened there and seek redress for him in whatever way we can.

    Does anyone know how the contributions to his family are going? Do we need to pass the hat a few more times?

    Doug, does it make sense to restart a Post regarding helping Todd's family and getting some satisfaction from LANL/UC? I know Foley was a real bastard about that, but I don't know that we need to take no for an answer so easily.

    The UC Regents will be meeting this Wednesday , May 25

    Doug, I found the following information on the UC Regents website:

    The UC Regents will be meeting this Wednesday , May 25, to discuss the LANL
    RFP and a possible bid on this contract.


    You can share concerns or views with the Board by email. Emails received
    will be included in the Secretary's report of communications to the Board at
    its next regularly scheduled meeting.

    Every email will not be responded to individually; however, emails will be
    shared with Regents and, when appropriate, forwarded to appropriate
    University administrative offices. The address is:



    It might be good for LANL/UC employees to let them know about your views on
    UC's ineffective management of LANL and suggestions for improving LANL, as
    well as any concerns over the RFP, the partnering with Bechtel, loss of UC
    benefits under the proposed partnership, and VP Foley's management of LANL.

    Sunday, May 22, 2005

    Posting guidelines, revisited

    A few recent comments to posts on this blog have prompted me to refresh the collective memory out there regarding posting etiquette.

    1. In reference to the moron who insists in calling other contributors "morons" in his submissions, please go somewhere else.

    2. With respect to the one or two contributors who post with the seeming sole intent of tearing down others' suggestions, but without offering a constructive alternative, likewise please go elsewhere.

    As a reminder, the intent of this blog is to identify problem areas within LANL, and to offer suggestions for fixing same.


    Experience and Lessons Learned from SRS

    From Anonymous:

    I am a person who works at Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, SC in the Defense Programs. I visit LANL. LLNL and Sandia quite frequently and has learned the ways in which the lab works and how it is perceived to work. In general, LANL has hard working, sincere, intelligent employees but there are some who just have a “don’t care attitude” like every other place. The management at LANL does not seem to know how to manage, but they seem to be doing a good job of borrowing buzzwords and using them to show that they are managing. If a manager cannot motivate the employees to do whatever for the benefit of the lab and the nation, they are not managing. Let me tell you my experience at SRS. When DuPont was running prior to 1989, they were managing to an older set of requirements with about 10000 employees. When DOE imposed a new set of reqmts, they got out of the game. The Westinghouse (currently WGI) – Bechtel team came in, and they had to follow the new set of requirements. They hired a whole team of bean counters (thousands of them) and procedure writers and the population swelled to 26000 in 1992. Then came the axe and we started shrinking and we are down to 13000 people in 2006. We had over 200,000 procedures and finally in the last 5 years, we are bringing common sense into management. The number of procedures had come down by 50%, we attend only 2-4 hour training classes and spend only 10% of our time in training. I am afraid that in UC-Bechtel-WGI team, they will hire a ton of bean counters and make life worse at LANL before making it better. However, I feel that a Lockheed team will be more sophisticated, focused and use the Sandia experience to make life better at LANL. Also the Bechtel-WGI team just will follow what NNSA wants and get more money rather than trying to tell them the right approach. In contrast, I feel that the Paul Robinson team has more credibility and has made Sandia employees feel good about what they do and will do the same at LANL. You can check the morale at SRS with your friends but my opinion is that the moral is not at all good at SRS.

    In closing, I feel that both the bidders will have a good technical proposal but I think the Lockheed team will be a better overall manager for LANL and can bring credibility and the science back to where it belongs.

    Saturday, May 21, 2005

    Objective evidence that LANL is an outstanding scientific institution

    Title: Objective evidence that LANL is an outstanding scientific institution

    The May 6, 2005, Albuquerque Journal published a story entitled "Time to close LANL?" (http://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/348175nm05-06-05.htm)
    ""We have a lab here that is a constant problem,' Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, said during a Capitol Hill hearing. 'Why do we need this one? Is there any really unique science that can only be done there? Why do we need Los Alamos?' "

    This motivated me to put a report I prepared late last year through the approval process. The report "Objective evidence that LANL is an outstanding scientific institution ", LA-UR-05-3580, presents objective evidence of LANL's scientific stature, evidence that can be confirmed by anyone with access to the web and to a university library. It provides an answer to Mr. Stupak's question.

    Doug Post, P-24

    Things I would like to see in a new LANL

    From Anonymous:

    1. I would like to see management set a goal to reduce the number of meetings everyone
    has by 50 per cent.
    2. I would like to see an end to "Brown Bag Lunches."
    3. I would like to see a complete overhaul of the training system and to see the amount
    of time waisted in training by 80 per cent.
    4. If I never attend another so called award ceremony where half of the people have contributed
    little or nothing to a program receive some kind of award or kudo it would make me very happy
    5. I would like to see a system where those individuals who work productively are rewarded
    6. I would like to see a system where the concept of "Metrics" is completely overhauled.
    7. It would certainly help if the diversity office just disappeared.
    8. I would like to have a commitment from whoever takes over this lab to never, most especially
    during a time of war, shut this institution for anything other than the most catastrophic circumstances.
    9. I would like to see this "behavior based style of management" thrown out the window and
    would be delighted to see violators of our safety and security regulations held accountable
    for their indiscretions monetarily.
    10. I would like to see an end to about 80 percent of the politics I witness on a daily basis.
    11. I want an environment where I can come in, do my job and go home feeling proud of the
    good work that I have done as opposed to being harassed, intimidated or threatened for
    having done too much work.
    12. I would like to have the opportunity to work for the respect I know I can earn from my
    management and peer group.
    13. I would like to see the dignity of work restored in the work place.
    14. Look folks, it should be clear that I ain't no management type. I'm just a good ole redneck
    cowboy from Texas and all I want to do is to have a good opinion about myself and the work I do.

    A real attempt to seek solutions

    A comment from the



    I believe that some of the airing of concerns seen here as well as discussions in a number of other venues are a real attempt to seek solutions for an organization that has been and could or should be great.

    In the absence of a concerted effort to improve things that really matter, people will continue to 'think out loud' and dabble with possible solutions to perceived problem areas.

    The things that really matter, from the trench-view, are things that consistently pose problems in getting work done in a reasonable time, at a reasonable cost, and with a reasonable amount of safety and security and are reasonably close to the desired outcome. Hopefully, there is also reasonable recognition to balance out the reasonable effort expended.

    I've intentionally overused the word "reasonable" because it alludes to common sense (uncommon as it may be recently) and because in the legal system we use the 'reasonable man' test as a benchmark and it is commonly accepted as a valid descriptor of the average person.

    So, why is this improvement, positive change and common sense so elusive? Aren't there smart people engaged in all or most levels of the Lab?

    One suggestion which continually appears and then fades away is to use this blog (or other communication venue) to have positive and productive discussions about problems and possible solutions. It is difficult to do so in a public forum without risking the potential for violating policy. It's more difficult to have people volunteer to share information within the broken system when they fear retribution or retaliation. Real or perceived, the impasse is monumental for many and the frustration mounts.

    Some problems don't seem to be just Nanos' era but much earlier. The departures of each 'bad manager' or deviants like those who criminally shamed LANL (Alexander & Bussolini) are certainly steps toward recovery.

    The retirement of many people who feel they can't risk losing what they've been told would be their security beyond their work-years is a sad compromise for some of the intellectual strength we have hoped to draw upon, however they can't be blamed for taking a necessary step toward their own and their family's stability.

    Those who will leave because they can no longer tolerate the circumstances should be wished farewell, literally that they fare well in their next endeavor, rather than lambasted for making a choice they need to make to deal with the situation.

    Those who will stay and those who will come on board will need to roll up their sleeves and look around for what can be fixed, what can be replaced with something that works, what can be jettisoned and what can be left as is.

    My hope is that what can be simplified will be simplified rather than complicated. Also that what can be salvaged in terms of meaningful work, future achievements and people's well-being, will also be salvaged.

    And finally, I hope that the struggle and the follow-up with hard work, integrity-based effort, will allow the people's trust (Congress, the public, et al) to be restored and prove that we're not just a bunch of lazy, clever (at avoiding work, hiding problems, creating messes, or taking cavalier risks with their money, environment & etc) whiners.

    I don't mean to downplay the situation that people who live and work in the area endure, but it is evident that there is much more to be gained by putting one foot in front of the other toward recovery rather than trying to continue to explain the current conditions and continually justify the response.

    It has just been a few days since the RFP was released

    From Anonymous:

    It has just been a few days since the RFP was released, and already we see the news media beginning to pick up on the relative quality of the LM team vs. the UC team, as evidenced by the the recent AP story by Heather Clark, and the Albuquerque Tribune piece by Sue Vorenberg. On top of that, there is now open discussion of the scapegoating of LANL employees during the shutdown in which UC's handling of events is being exposed. I suspect that, while the competition probably will not turn into a route against UC/et.al., it will become increasingly obvious that a changing of the guard is inevitable. UC and LM will be evaluated on their records, and not on their promises; LM has a much sturdier platform upon which to build their claim for the rights to run LANL than does UC.

    Twelve layers of management

    From Anonymous:

    I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in the grand scheme of things and went to the LANL web page to try to figure out the management hierarchy. Here’s what I came up with:

    Title (UC - LANL)

    Title (Real World)


    Laboratory Director



    Deputy Director

    Vice President 5


    Principal Associate Director

    Vice President 4


    Principal Deputy Associate Director

    Vice President 3


    Principal Associate Deputy Director

    Vice President 3


    Associate Director

    Vice President 2


    Deputy Associate Director

    Vice President 1


    Division Leader

    Division Manager


    Deputy Division Leader

    Assistant Division Manager


    Group Leader

    Section Head


    Deputy Group Leader

    Assistant Section Head


    Team Leader

    Group Leader




    Does anybody really believe that having twelve layers of management between the scientist/engineer in the lab and the boss is productive? .

    Notice Titles 4 and 5: is there any meaningful difference between them?

    Management theory and experience suggests that the optimal number of direct reports for a supervisor is between five and ten, with eight being a generally accepted number. If we do the math (log(base8) of 13,000 employees), we get 4.6, or approximately five layers of management required. Do you wonder where the overhead goes? Do we really need five levels of vice presidents?

    Or are we like the old Ma Bell, where, as a cost plus business, the bureaucracy grew like Kudzu to kill the organization under it.

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Scapegoating is the sign of a very sick institution

    A comment from the



    I agree that there are far more serious problems than the 9/80 but I think employees see it as a symptom of a larger problem -- scapegoating. There was no connection between the 9/80 and the security incident, but management, apparently right up to Foley, decided to punish all employees for the trouble others had gotten the lab into.

    And frankly, it is related to Todd Kauppila's case, because Todd, was the victim of scapegoating for a truly broken security system which he did not have the authority to fix.

    Scapegoating is the sign of a very sick institution. It isn't just the 9/80 it is the insanity of management people are upset about. Employees consider what is happening to them to be completely unrelated to their actions and frankly, they are right.

    How did LANL become the poster child for security and safety mistakes?

    A comment from the



    How did LANL become the poster child for security and safety mistakes? Think about it, most of the security failures which made us famous for incompetence were not really security incidents at all. But they gave openings to politicians who wanted to win a contract for their favorite corporation.

    A 2 billion and growing budget is a plum for any corporation and several are interested in having such a plum. They can profit from the management fees and the intellectual property they will own as a result of operating the lab. They can get also intel on all kinds of other government programs that they might wish to go after from LANL's participation with DOE and other agencies.

    The safety incidents were bad, but everyone has noticed that other laboratories don't make the news when one of their employees is killed, much less injured. That is because those laboratories have already been outsourced.

    We, as a nation, voted for Bush, whether you like it or not, and Bush and his party are in favor of putting everything in the hands of private business. They were looking for an excuse and had lots of help in trumping up excuses. And Bush's campaign manager from the last election sits on the U.C. Board of Regents. Admiral Foley served on Bush's transition committee. So even if UC wins, LANL will still be privatized.

    Now that we are being privatized, I hope all you good Republicans will enjoy what you voted for. If not, there will hopefully be elections in the future.

    'Chaos' predicted for new lab team

    MIT expert sees rocky transition no matter who runs Los Alamos

    By Sue Vorenberg
    May 20, 2005

    Culture change - and maybe chaos - is coming to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    No matter who wins the bid to operate the lab, its management style, business practices and daily operations will shift, says Hugh Gusterson, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies the political culture of nuclear weapons scientists and labs.


    Full Story

    Los Alamos Laboratory Beset With Turmoil

    By HEATHER CLARK, Associated Press Writer

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    (05-20) 11:00 PDT Los Alamos, N.M. (AP) --

    The Wen Ho Lee case. Confusion over the whereabouts of classified computer disks. Workers buying camping and hunting gear on the government's dime. Disgruntled scientists posting complaints on a blog. A potential brain drain among the weapons experts.


    Full Story

    Lockheed May Have Edge Over Bechtel, Northrop in Los Alamos Bid

    May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Lockheed Martin Corp. may have an edge over Bechtel Group Inc. and Northrop Grumman Corp. in the competition to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a contract valued at as much as $44 billion, analysts and lawmakers said.

    The Energy Department issued a request for proposals yesterday to manage Los Alamos, which has been operated by the University of California since its founding in 1943. Director Peter Nanos resigned this month following Congressional criticism over security lapses at the New Mexico nuclear weapons research facility.


    Full Story

    Industry may have edge on Los Alamos

    Final bid directive adds stand-alone pension, higher fees

    Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Federal officials issued their final specifications Thursday for the forthcoming competition to run Los Alamos National Laboratory -- and at least one California lawmaker suggested the document might favor a defense industry bid over one from the University of California, which has run the nuclear complex for six decades.

    UC officials and other competitors said Thursday that they were still reading the thick "Request for Proposals" document and would not comment on it for several days. Bids must be submitted by July 19, and the winner of the competition is scheduled to be announced Dec. 1.


    Full Story

    Technology Stewardship Asleep at the Wheel?

    Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of California:
    Technology Stewardship Asleep at the Wheel?

    Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) was in the national news last week, this time concerning the resignation of its director, Pete Nanos. Corporate media was all atwitter about a blog that called for Nanos' resignation and then accurately predicted down to the day when it would occur. The blog, was begun by LANL computer scientist, Doug Roberts, a 20 year veteran of the lab, in response to censorship of letters critical of Nanos' management by the LANL NewsBulletin. Roberts and other LANL scientists were outraged that Nanos would waste more than $100 million of taxpayer money, and they believe, compromise national security, by shutting down the lab because of missing computer disks. Disks, it turns out, that were only a figment of LANL bean counters' imaginations. The blog also has a special section called "The Running List of Wasteful Activities" in which LANL employees can anonymously draw attention to things that further waste tax payer dollars. Maybe management will heed the recommendations, but likely it won't because of the general aversion management types have to recommendations by the people who actually do the work.


    Full Story

    Pension changes could spur rash of retirements at LANL

    Pension changes could spur rash of retirements at LANL
    By DIANA HEIL The New Mexican

    A generous benefits package at Los Alamos National Laboratory has kept employees loyal under the University of California’s management. Now, a first-ever competition that could unseat UC has thrown those perks into question, and some employees, including top scientists, are tempted to retire early to preserve their benefits.

    The U.S. Department of Energy is requiring all bidders to create a new pension plan.

    The lab has projected a 50 percent increase in retirements this year, which would amount to 379 employees leaving, spokesman James Rickman has said. Under the UC plan, employees who are at least 50 years old with more than five years of service are eligible for retirement.


    Full Story

    They must be prepared to clean INSIDE

    Feds sweeten deal for LANL manager
    The New Mexican

    Bidders seeking to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory must pick a price — between $63 million and $79 million a year. That’s up to nine times what the University of California, the lab’s current manager, makes now.

    They must find a person smart enough to be director of a $2.1 billion research lab and confident enough to certify to the government each year that the nuclear weapons there will work.

    They must be prepared to clean INSIDE

    up 62 years of environmental waste. They must create an attractive pension plan.

    They must draft a plan for rebuilding a troubled nuclear-weapons lab, which has sparked the ire of Congress for its safety, security and businessmanagement flaws. They must show their abilities in manufacturing and be willing to manage a bomb factory.

    And they have 60 days to do it.


    Full Story

    I’m not saying that you should accept poor, bad or abusive management

    A comment from the



    It’s amazing – I have been reading the LANL blog since about 5:00 a.m. (I am at home – off the DOE defense contractor’s clock.) I hate to think that you all are having so many of the same problems we suffer from.

    The management teams are a disgrace for the most part. I’m not sure if the blame is lack of human compassion, lack of real management skill or such instilled fear of making a wrong decision that they are rendered useless.

    Add to the mix contract renewal – do we want to keep that same incompetent management or do we want to turn our future over to the unknown? Because face it – the unknown may not be better – it could even be worse. From what I have been reading on all the various threads you people at LANL pride yourselves on your superior research endeavors. If you relinquish the reins to a defense subcontractor, I am quite afraid that you will lose that research edge that you have maintained for so many years. Defense contractors of present day have one thing in mind – making lots of money quickly and getting out fast – your ideas will belong to them and they will stifle scientific independence – can you say “research mill”. Correct me if I’m wrong but I was under the impression that some of the most ingenious, scientific minds worked at LANL – you will not like operating in a production facility where more more, more is required not quality, quality, quality. Just like “puppy mills” it makes for bad breeding.

    I’m not saying that you should accept poor, bad or abusive management, I just think you may want to explore a more compromising situation for all involved. UC top management (not necessarily lab management) may be in a more receptive mood now that the bidding has begun to listen to some suggestions from the backbone of the lab. They may not but it has to be worth a shot –

    I’ll be watching the updates and praying for your futures
    Scared for our jobs everyday at a DOE defense-contractor-run-facility.

    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    The "9/80" workweek

    From Anonymous:

    It is troubling to see mention of redress for Todd Kaupilla in the same context
    as reversion to the "9/80" workweek.

    The "9/80" workweek was a gigantic waste of taxpayer money, and eliminating it
    was one of the few sensible things that happened under Nanos.
    "9/80" was originally put in place under John Browne in the late 90's to fend
    off unionization efforts, which disappeared anyway for unrelated reasons.

    It was a misconceived policy from the start. Such policies are only sensible
    when productivity is directly proportional to time spent on the job, namely
    in a production-line environment. It is not remotely appropriate for a
    scientific enterprise, and it was subject to rampant abuse from the start.
    We all know how easy it was to find parking on Fridays, with all lots suddenly
    much less than half full every single Friday. But the abuse was not only that
    many workers chose to take off every Friday, but that many never even worked
    the required time during the rest of the week. A typical policy was to arrive
    and leave at the same hours as before, but claim to "work through lunch"
    to make up that extra hour. But it doesn't really work that way either
    for scientists or for support staff.
    In many divisions, it was called more accurately the "8/60" workweek.

    The "9/80" policy if strictly adhered to is also an anti-family policy,
    since extended daycare coverage isn't necessarily available,
    and the extra hour away from parents for smaller children is not
    compensated by the alternate Fridays. The "9/80" policy is wasteful
    in other ways: for projects that needed daily coverage, it frequently meant
    having to hire two workers instead of one, an unnecessary redundancy
    just to have every Friday covered. And much paperwork requires multiple
    signatures, so even if fully half were available on Fridays still nothing
    could go through, and consequently it was taken for granted that a large
    fraction of the lab would automatically shut down on Fridays.

    It is true that substantial amounts of taxpayer money were squandered in
    last year's ill-conceived shutdown. But even more taxpayer money was squandered
    before that in the years that an ill-conceived "9/80" was the default.

    Todd Kaupilla was a hard worker who appears to have been unjustly fired
    because the former lab director needed a smokescreen for his lack of informed
    decision-making. The 9/80 workweek was a scam and waste of taxpayer money.
    Mentioning the need for reevaluation of Todd Kaupilla's firing in the same
    context as restoration of the "9/80" workweek is a disservice to his memory.

    It is not too surprising that members of Congress are appalled

    From a comment on the



    It is not too surprising that members of Congress are appalled at uncensored information availability, such as a blog can provide. I would like to see blogs started on Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), and the Congresswoman from Colorado, as well.

    News Release, U.S. Senators Pete Domenici & Jeff Bingaman

    News Release
    U.S. Senators Pete Domenici & Jeff Bingaman

    GALLEGOS/Domenici (202) 224-7082
    MAY 19,
    JUDE McCARTIN/Bingaman (202) 224-1804


    Despite Concerns with Final LANL RFP, Senators Want Process Finished

    WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman today said
    they want the competition for the operations and management of Los
    Alamos National Laboratory to be completed on schedule, despite some
    concerns with the final request for proposal (RFP) issued by the
    Department of Energy.

    Domenici and Bingaman today stressed the importance of the lab and its
    employees knowing who will lead the renowned facility into the future.
    The DOE National Nuclear Security Administration issued its final RFP
    for the LANL contract.

    Domenici and Bingaman, chairman and ranking member respectively of the
    Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had offered
    recommendations to the NNSA during the drafting of the RFP.

    "The final RFP is not everything I would have wanted, but
    it is what is now in place to dictate the last leg of the competition.
    It has taken a long time for DOE to prepare this proposal, and I am
    pleased that in 60 days we will know who the new lab manager will be
    and we can strengthen our focus on the lab's national security
    mission," Domenici said. "I know change is difficult, and I know the
    challenges facing employees and their families. But I have every
    confidence that it will turn out to be a good situation for Los

    "I remain concerned that under this RFP, senior scientists
    will decide to retire, and that there will be vastly different pensions
    for employees depending on when they were hired. But the final
    decisions have been made, and I'm glad that the bidding process is
    moving forward. It's my hope that the bidders take to heart our
    concerns about the pension plan, and that each team puts together a
    very strong pension proposal," Bingaman said.

    Based on the final RFP schedule, the bid proposals should
    be returned in 60 days and a contract award will be made on or about
    Dec. 1, 2005. After a contract is awarded, the RPF outlines a
    six-month transition period for all interested parties, including
    employees, to analyze the new contractor and the benefits agreement in
    order to make the best decisions for themselves, their family and


    Page 2 DOE/Final RFP for LANL Contract

    In general, the final RFP is offering a fixed seven-year
    contract, with an option for another 13 years. For the first time
    ever, DOE is proposing a fee range for bidders, between $53 million to
    $79 million annually (30 percent fixed at $17million to $20 million,
    with 70 percent "at risk" based on annual negotiated milestones).

    The RFP will mandate a stand alone pension and corporation,
    and outlines a series of options for existing employees. It also
    outlines expected contractor support for regional initiatives.

    "I am hopeful that the end result will be right for the
    lab, the employees, the state of New Mexico and the nation. From what
    I can see this will be a vigorous competition. The bidders, including
    the University of California and its team, will determine what they can
    offerthe lab and the employees as the new manager. I think each team
    brings outstanding and unique capabilities that will make a positive
    contribution to the science and management of Los Alamos," Domenici

    "We have three strong teams that have shown interest in
    bidding for the Los Alamos contract. Which ever team is selected, I
    firmly believe that LANL will continue to be a premier laboratory for
    science. I hope the teams will keep in close contact with us as the
    bidding process moves forward," Bingaman said.

    The Senators favorably noted that two bidding teams led by national lab
    directors- Dr. Mike Anastasio of Lawrence Livermore leading the UC team
    and Dr. Paul Robinson of Sandia leading the Lockheed Martin team
    and-have proven track records of supporting science and are very
    familiar with the unique challenges of managing a weapons laboratory.

    Retirement counseling grows at Los Alamos National Laboratory

    KSFR 90.7 FM

    Retirement counseling grows at Los Alamos National Laboratory

    By Bill Dupuy

    SANTA FE (2005-05-19) -- The line of people wanting to know about their
    Los Alamos National Laboratory retirement benefits has just gotten longer.

    Seventy-two people are on a waiting list for retirement counseling after a
    special three-day series of sessions was announced earlier this week.
    Laboratory spokesman James Rickman says the 144 appointment-availabilities
    in those sessions were filled within 24 hours of the announcement that
    they would be offered.

    A team of eight human resources counselors from the University of
    California will travel to Los Alamos in June to assist the six LANL
    retirement counselors. Rickman says the laboratory is studying whether it
    can add at least 50 more counseling sessions to the schedule, set for June

    Retirement counseling previously was offered only when employees called
    the Human Resources Department to make individual appointments. Rickman
    says they set up the special counseling sessions based on the numbers of
    people wanting to know about their benefits.

    Eligible for retirement under the University of California plan are
    employees who are at least 50 years old with more than five years of

    KSFR reported in March that the projection for LANL retirements for the
    fiscal year ending in October is 50 percent greater than the prior year
    and 60 percent more than the year before that. Rickman says that
    projection will not be updated until June. If the projection becomes
    reality, 379 UC employees at the lab will retire this year. That compares
    with actual retirements of 251 in 2004 and 235 in 2003.

    Rickman confirms one factor leading to the increased interest in the
    retirement-counseling sessions is uncertainty over the lab's contract. He
    says another factor may be curiosity. This is the first time lab officials
    have been able to project retirement benefits beyond a 90-day period.


    Shocked & saddened

    From Anonymous:

    I grew up in Los Alamos, My father & Mother both worked at the Lab, and I still have relatives working there. I am out East in the commercial sector. I have very strong positive feelings for the LANL, So I was shocked & saddened to hear on NPR radio this morning that members of congress are reading all of the belly aching on this BLOG and are using it as ammunition to try to close down LANL. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4657337

    That would be devastating for Los Alamos & for Northern NM in general. Not to mention the impact to Science & to National Defense. The comments on the radio show said that many of the writings on this forum were very poor quality, and amounted to childish bickering.

    MY feeling is that if you don't have a positive Idea on how to fix a problem or improve the Lab, stop whining !, If you don't like your job, don't like Los Alamos etc. , go somewhere else where you will be happy.

    On professional athletics teams, they like to keep there internal problems to themselves where they can be fixed, They realize that once you air your dirty laundry in public, conflicts are much more difficult to resolve. My suggestion to some of you is that if you have problems with someone in your organization, go buy them a beer, sit down & discuss it. don't blab it out on the internet where any idiot can read it & vote you into oblivion.

    The RFP Is out


    There is just no excuse for any company, public or private, to perpetuate poor managers

    Comment from the



    Prior to coming to the Lab I worked for a world-wide organization that I was proud to be a part of. I felt valued. My supervisors (and there were many because I moved every few years) used positive reinforcement and provided guidance and training. I knew my contribution was part of something bigger than myself and I would enjoy telling my grandkids about my work there one day.

    Fast forward to now.

    My Nanos-like boss is an abuser and technically so far in over his head he can't make competent decisions. He sleeps through meetings. He is a blamer and scapegoats his employees. He doesn't listen or reply to feedback from his direct reports. He ignores all manner of advice unless it supports his positions. He is dictatorial and punitive. And amazingly, his boss puts up with his bad behavior and I can't understand why.

    I really enjoy my work location and am proud to be a part of the facility mission. I really love the people I work with locally. So I stick it out hoping my abuser boss will go away through some upcoming reorganization and my life will return to a happier place.

    Until I (and my family) am relieved of this daily weight, I will have a hard time being upbeat about UC's management team and the future of the Lab. I will do my best each day, despite the debilitating manager, in the hopes he will go away soon. This is the cross I bear daily and I doubt I am alone.

    There is just no excuse for any company, public or private, to perpetuate poor managers who are technically incompetent and people abusers. Life is too short for this to be acceptable to anyone. And please don't say "just leave." If it were possible, I would have been gone by now. Los Alamos real estate values prohibit me and my family from either just quiting or leaving at this time.

    I still believe LANL is a great scientific laboratory


    Please post anonymously.


    I have to tell you folks that reading this blog is getting really depressing and if it doesn't improve I'm going to have to stop reading it. People who read this blog, especially those not employed at LANL, need to know that some of the comments here don't represent all LANL employees. I for one feel the need for some positive postings to support the Laboratory.

    I still believe LANL is a great scientific laboratory where a lot of great science and engineering takes place and will soon again become a great place to work. We've had several rough years and I'm glad our former director is gone. But.......we need to put that behind us and focus on our jobs, the science here, and the Lab's mission. It's imperative for the sake of the Lab and national security that we do this. Otherwise we will continue in the downward spiral and take the Lab with us to a point that it becomes a shell of its former self. We owe it to the legacy of Los Alamos and all the great accomplishments achieved here to not to let this happen!

    I was impressed with Kukuck's comments last Monday and I thought President Dynes was upbeat. Foley did come off looking bad and hopefully Dynes saw this and will work with the regents to address his behavior and his role at UCOP. I'm hopeful that Bob Kukuck will be a great interim director and address some of the problems that have been allowed to fester here over the last few years.

    Given that, we need to start supporting our place of work. I've been here 25 years, raised a family in town, and feel I've gotten a lot out of working and living here. Maybe it's time to give something back. If you are near retirement you should look at your options and decide if you want to retire or to stay and help LANL get back on its feet. Each of us has to look at these options and decide. LANL needs us and we need to support the Lab, especially now.

    At this time I would like to remind readers something my grandmother (and maybe yours too) taught me when I was small: "If you haven't got something positive to say, say nothing at all." Unfortunately a blog such as this lets too many negative people keep making negative comments. It's time for some positive ones. The glass is not half empty.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    The retirement floodgates opened precisely *because* of Bob Dynes' presentation

    Comment from the



    Actually, 7:58, the retirement floodgates opened precisely *because* of Bob Dynes' presentation. The majority of the audience saw through his transparent insincerity, and 100% of the audience saw Foley for what he is; a dyspeptic, crude, ill-tempered tyrant. Does that sound familiar?

    Engaging in discussions related to the future of LANL

    A comment from the



    I am not aware of any LANL rule that forbids engaging in discussions related to the future of LANL. Perhaps now that Nanos is gone and his jackboot troops are on the run it will become permissible to use the blog for its intended purpose: identifying problems at LANL and helping to provide solutions to same.

    A scientist experiments with business

    By Sue Vorenberg
    Tribune Reporter

    May 18, 2005

    Michael Anastasio has never worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but the head of the University of California bid team says he's familiar with New Mexico.

    The university announced Tuesday that Anastasio, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, will head the team from UC and Bechtel Corp. that plans to bid on the National Nuclear Security Administration contract to operate Los Alamos. The contract, up for bid for the first time in 60 years, expires at the end of September.


    Full Story

    Los Alamos Oversight Up for Bid

    Critics Fear Nuclear Facility Is Becoming For-Profit Venture

    By Rick Weiss and Walter Pincus
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Wednesday, May 18, 2005; A15

    The federal government is preparing to put up for bid the management of the legendary but troubled Los Alamos National Laboratory for the first time in the facility's history, with potentially great ramifications for the high-stakes field of nuclear science.

    The New Mexico laboratory, famous for developing the atomic bomb but also widely revered as the world's leading nuclear science lab -- only about half of it focused on weapons -- has grown into a $2.2 billion operation. Its 8,300 employees work for the University of California, which has managed the facility since 1943 on essentially a not-for-profit basis.


    Full Story

    Livermore Chief to Head UC's LANL Team

    By Adam Rankin
    Journal Staff Writer
    University of California officials announced on Tuesday that nuclear physicist Michael R. Anastasio, director of UC's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will head the team preparing a bid to retain the school's management of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    UC and Bechtel National officials said Anastasio has the right combination of a solid science background and an understanding of U.S. Energy Department workings to lead a successful team.

    "His familiarity with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the university and the missions of both institutions— as well as the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy— makes him an excellent choice for this key position," said UC president Robert Dynes.

    Anastasio, trained in theoretical nuclear physics, rose through the Livermore ranks from his start there in 1980 in one of the lab's nuclear weapons design divisions.

    In a phone interview on Tuesday, Anastasio said he plans to visit LANL as part of the competition preparation but had a few words of encouragement for LANL scientists and employees in the meantime.

    "The key message is that we are going to win," he said. "I believe in Los Alamos. It has a great history, and it will have a great future."


    Full Story

    UC-Bechtel bid calls for Anastasio's lead

    By Diana Heil | The New Mexican
    May 18, 2005

    Los Alamos National Laboratory is seeking the help of its rival sibling to help the University of California win the bid to continue running the birthplace of the bomb, as it has for 62 years without competition.

    Michael Anastasio, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California for the past three years, has been selected to be in charge of this first-ever competition. Bechtel Corp., one of the world’s largest engineering firms, is partnering with UC.


    Full Story

    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Believe it or not there was good news

    From Anonymous:

    Believe it or not there was good news to come out of Monday's "Meet The New LANL Director" meeting. Foley, egotistical entity that he is, underestimated the visibility that his abusive actions would enjoy. Not only did a large fraction of the entire staff of LANL see him for what he really is (substitute your own apt, witty simile here) but, thanks to the power of blog, the whole world is now reading about it.

    That's the good news.

    The bad news is that Dynes, working from a solid experience base which dictates inaction in the face of difficult decisions, will do ABSOLUTLY NOTHING!

    Foley was fascinating on a completely different level

    From Anonymous:

    I found several aspects of yesterday's meeting with Dynes, Kuckuck, Foley, and Cobb to be completely fascinating. Dynes' obsequious, transparent desire to be liked by the audience was the first impression that he made, to be quickly followed by a growing awareness of his general cluelessness regarding LANL. He was clearly ignorant of who Todd Kaupilla was, much less of the circumstances of his death. Sadly, I am not surprised that Dynes had no inkling that a LANL staff member who had devoted 22 years of his life to LANL, who had been unfairly fired by the previous director, Nanos, had died unexpectedly two weeks ago, leaving a widow and two children. Much less that he had died uninsured, as a result of the unfair firing.

    Foley was fascinating on a completely different level. His crude, arrogant, angry demeanor epitomized what it was about Nanos that caused the readership of this blog to facilitate an early departure from LANL for him. Also, knowing that Foley works directly for Dynes and observing first-hand Dynes' tacit approval of Foley's behavior was mesmerizing, in a nightmarish sort of way.

    Cobb was, well, Cobb. To know him is to not like him very well. At least he was willing to concede that UC would look into helping Todd's family.

    Kuckuck would be hard not to like. I admired his earnestness. I would probably like him if I were to meet him. I wish him well. I believe Dynes and Foley will make it impossible for him to take the type of corrective action necessary to turn LANL around.

    Comical Ali Strikes Again (With Baghdad Bob’s Approval I Am Sure)

    From Anonymous:

    In an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican titled “Interim LANL Chief’s First Message Stresses Open Communication,” the following quote was made:

    “During a 90-minute presentation by Kuckuck and two officials from the University of California, lab employees complained about the bureaucracy of safety – such as burdensome paperwork – that makes it hard to do science, according to lab spokesman Kevin Roark. Kuckuck agreed to investigate whether the safety procedures are overblown, Roark said.”

    Roark went on to state “the interim director said his top goal is to change the world’s perception of Los Alamos…” Too bad our own Public Affairs Office doesn’t have the same goal.

    I may be interpreting this all wrong, but to the outside world one of our problems was we didn’t take safety seriously and according to Roark we still don’t. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

    Here is the problem with the new Blog

    From Anonymous:

    Here is the problem with the new Blog, I cannot make this comment anonymously on the new Blog. I’d love to sign my name, but I cannot be this honest and open. Reprisal is still a very real possibility (Bob Foley is a good name to keep in mind).

    There is a trend in how the Lab is being managed that is working to drain the science out of programs that would be good to discuss. Over the past few years there has been a move to apply stricter project management to everything in sight. This appears to be a one size fits all approach that does not differentiate between science and engineering. There does not seem to be any recognition that managing science is different. The net result is the transformation of what should be research projects into engineering projects with little scientific vitality or original thought.

    This trend has driven the scientists from the management ranks. Since scientists have historically led Los Alamos, we have a system where management and scientific leadership come from the same body. Today to a very large extent we have (too) few scientists in management positions and the net result is little to no scientific leadership. I am amazed by the lack of scientific content in most of the reviews held here. Some managers have placed edict on their programs to not have any technical content in project and program reviews! This ought to be unacceptable, but instead it’s become the way we do business. Science ought to be job number one, instead it is a troublesome afterthought that defies the conventions of project management.

    For years there has been a broad-based recognition that “milestones” are driving the programs. These milestones control the resources within the system. Because failure is not allowed, the milestones are chosen to be something easy to achieve (or something already achieved!). The net result is to push us away from anything that will actually provide the best return for the taxpayers’ dollar. Instead of fewer milestones, we have more. On top of this we now have “earned value”. This idea is being applied in the same manner. It measures everything on a linear scale and acts as if its all been done before. I understand that it is going to be with us a long time because it is in the RFP. It’s the world’s greatest science being managed by the world’s smallest minds.

    All of this is acting to make our management risk averse and hold them to a standard where no risk is taken, and no science actually gets done. (Great) Science is about taking risks, about trying ideas that have a good chance of failing because you are doing something that have never been done before. What we have is management that is driving us to be as mediocre as possible because failure has become unacceptable.

    What needs to be done to fix this?
    1. If we need to bring ideas and people from the outside to manage our science, bring these things from organizations that have a successful track record in science (not engineering, manufacturing or facility management!).
    2. Create a system that has a tolerance for risk and failure. This will allow the goals that we set for ourselves to be high rather than systematically low-balled because we’ll get hammered for failing.
    3. We need to have some scientific leadership coming from somewhere. It would be best if it were somewhere in the management system, but in lieu of this it must be incorporated in the process.
    4. More leadership needs to come from inside the ranks. Too many of the people brought in from the outside have little or no idea about how Los Alamos works, its history or where to find science. Most of our current management success is window-dressing, the core of the Laboratory’s abilities are rotting. We need management that will cherish and grow science rather than quash it.
    5. Stop applying management fad of the day in a mindless way to science. We’re not building a house, or running an assembly line, etc… Some things cannot or should not be measured; we need room for discovery and serendipity.

    If the trajectory of the Lab is not changed we will end up with a useless husk. The time to act is now.

    UC picks anastasio for lab fight

    Livermore director is last major piece in university's attempt to fend off challenges

    By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

    In a chess game for control of U.S. nuclear weapons design, the University of California has tapped the director of Lawrence Livermore weapons lab to fight for continued university management of Los Alamos lab in New Mexico.

    Physicist and bomb designer Michael Anastasio becomes the last major piece in the university's attempt to fend off challenges from two huge defense contractors and persuade the U.S. Department of Energy that it should keep running the nation's largest weapons laboratory as it has for 62 years.


    Full Story

    Monday, May 16, 2005


    In case you haven't seen this it was just
    emailed to all Livermore employees.



    Today the University of California and Bechtel National announced that LLNL
    Director Michael Anastasio will lead the competition team for the Los
    Alamos National Laboratory contract process.

    Anastasio will hold a special all-hands/employee meeting today (May 17) at
    9 a.m. to discuss the announcement and answer questions.

    The meeting will be held in the Bldg. 123 auditorium and will be broadcast
    live on Lab TV on Channel 2. Please note that the director will be able to
    take employee questions from the Bldg. 123 auditorium only.

    The all-hands meeting will be rebroadcast on Channel 2 Tuesday through
    Friday at noon, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.

    Anxiously, Los Alamos Awaits a New Era

    Published: May 17, 2005

    Two of the world's largest military contractors are challenging the nation's largest university system for the job of running Los Alamos, the government's pre-eminent nuclear arms laboratory. The winner will preside over a program valued as high as $44 billion over two decades.

    The issue is whether the University of California, the lab's longtime manager, should be awarded a new federal contract after presiding over years of safety problems, security lapses, financial irregularities and embarrassing scandals, culminating May 6 in the resignation of the director, Dr. G. Peter Nanos.


    Full Story

    Created a new blog


    I got tired of the ad hominem attacks against constructive posts and complaining about various people. So I took a few minutes and created a new blog

    Science at LANL


    I do not know how to run a blog and hope that Doug will help me get this one to work as well as his does. I chose the same color scheme for continuity.

    If such a blog is useful, please try posting there. If it is not useful, I will disband it. At the moment it is a stripped down blog. It will improve. If someone knows how to run a blog and is willing to help, I would appreciate it greatly.


    Today's presentation by interim director Kuckuck

    From Anonymous:

    Lots of info to impart from this meeting, which lasted nearly two hours. First to speak was UC President Bob Dynes after being introduced by Don Cobb. Dynes spent approximately 1/2 of a nano-second vaguely alluding to possible problems we at LANL may have experienced in the past year, and then went on to describe (in glowing terms) the future that UC/Bechtel/Washington Group/BWXT would bring to LANL. He wagged his tail a lot, made endearing I'm-an-adorable-puppy-and-really-I-want-you-like-me sounds for at least 10 minutes.

    My memories of the glory of this mornings proceedings are already fading to the point that I cannot remember if John Foley spoke next, or not. In any event, Bob Kuckuck was the next speaker of note. Kuckuck did come across as earnest, well-intended, and not a bad guy. He praised us, told us how impressed he was with how well we had held up during the past year, but without specifically (Nanos) calling out any particular (Nanos) issue or person (Nanos) that UC might have (Nanos) contributed to our lack of well-being (Nanos) during the past 12 months. I do clearly remember Foley glaring out at the audience (full house, for a change) looking as if he had both high blood pressure and a bad case of indigestion during the entirety of Kuckuck's presentation, so we now clearly knew who was the good cop, and who was the bad cop.

    The interesting part came during the question and answer section. First was the obligatory "are we going to get our 9/80 back?" question. Then there was a good question. A gentleman in a black shirt stood up and said, "I wonder if there is some way that UC could help out the family of Todd Kaupilla, who was uninsured at the time of his death two weeks ago after having worked at the lab for 22 years." The question was interrupted by applause once. I noticed Dynes looking confused, and then he tapped Foley on the shoulder and whispered into Foley's ear, clearly asking "Who the hell is this Kaupilla person?" Foley whispered back an answer. Kuckuck then started to fumble an answer, also clearly uninformed on who Kaupilla was, but then Cobb tapped on Kuckuck's shoulder and whispered in Kuckuck's ear while Kuckuck held his hand over the mike. Kuckuck then passed the mike to Cobb who said, "We are already working on that." Foley glowered even more deeply.

    There were other questions, most of them actually well thought-out and voiced, until the obligatory one about day care came in via a phone call. Then there was another caller who asked in a fairly angry tone, "Will UC reconsider Kaupilla and Horne's case?"

    Foley snatched the microphone away from Kuckuck and said, "No."

    And on that note, the meeting began to wrap up. I took away several things from the meeting, First, that while Kuckuck seems to be a nice enough person, he is a UC employee who will be working to a mandate of "tread water, but don't make waves". Second, any team that has Admiral John Foley on it is a team that I instinctively want to play against. Foley is clearly part of the team that railroaded Kaupilla and Horne. In continuing the injustice that Nanos started, Foley will be one of the reasons that LANL will continue to see staff leave in the coming months.

    We tried to do just what you suggest

    From Anonymous:

    In response to Eric Fairfields proposals: We tried to do just what you suggest in the GEONET project which was instigated in response to management making noises about finding diversified research venues. GEONET could have been the "fair broker" in the ridiculous debate raging over global warming. In it's short life GEONET was extremely successful. We had many projects in the works collaborating with the top researchers in the field around the world. GEONET was arbitrarily killed by managements decision to make an umpteenth attempt to gin up some reason to revive the obsolete meson facility, one of the Director's pets.

    There is simply no reason to make big plans until the management problem at Los Alamos is corrected.

    Lockheed Martin To The Rescue? NOT!

    From Anonymous:

    Lockheed Martin Corporation is arguably one of the front runners in the
    incipient competition to run LANL. It's time to take a closer look at
    this company and its history.

    In a 13-year period between 1990 and 2003 LockMart paid over
    $420 million in fines, penalties, restitution, or settlements for 84 instances of
    misconduct or alleged misconduct. Out of the top 10 federal
    government contractors they are number two in misdeed pay outs.
    For the entire list see

    In 2000 The U.S. State Department Office of Defense Trade Controls charged Lockheed Martin with 30 separate violations of the Arms Export Control Act. The
    charges related to illegal technology transfers to China, transfers that allegedly helped the Beijing government correct critical defects in a ballistic missile rocket motor. Although LockMart denied the charges it eventually paid a $13 million fine to settle the case.
    Details available on
    The fine against Lockheed Martin was, at the time, believed
    to be the largest civil penalty ever imposed under the
    Arms Export Control Act.

    This is the company that will help LANL keep its secrets safe?

    In January 2003 a federal judge approved a $1.4 million settlement of a 1997 lawsuit filed by a former Lockheed Martin Employee accusing the corporation of defrauding the US Government by inflating cost estimates for a computer project. And in August 2003, Lockheed Martin settled a whistleblower lawsuit filed in 1997 under the Civil False Claims Act. The U.S. Government actually joined the suit in 2001,
    alleging that LockMart provided inaccurate data on a foreign military sales contract as part of a scheme to create additional profit to offset overruns on another Air Force contract. The result was a $38 million fine.

    There are too many other similar misdeeds to list here; they are described (with references) in
    http://www.polarisinstitute.org/corp_profiles/public_service_gats_pdfs/lockheed.pdf. They
    include pleading guilty to bribery and criminal obstruction of federal audit.

    This is the company that will help LANL correct its financial problems?

    In 2000 Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, manager of the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant, was issued
    a weighty $1 million fine for multiple violations of nuclear safety requirements. It was,
    at the time, the largest such fine issued by the DoE by more than a factor of two. LMES
    didn't appeal the fine, at least part of which was related to a 1999 explosion that resulted
    in injury to 11 Y-12 workers. Story is on
    http://www.oakridger.com/stories/082900/new_0829000034.html (account required).

    This is the company that will help LANL become a safe place to work?

    What would the nation gain if Lockheed Martin were to run LANL?

    If the upcoming competition is to have any objectivity at all
    it would seem imperative to fully examine this company and its detestable record in detail.
    Let's remember that Wen Ho Lee was never found guilty of any espionage
    charges; yet, LockMart paid a fine for illegally selling secrets to China. Financial
    problems at LANL have amounted to a few hundred thousand dollars, at most;
    yet LockMart paid fines on the order of tens of millions for repeatedly defrauding the
    U.S. Government.

    One wonders how this company could possibly bring about any meaningful
    change at LANL.


    From Anonymous:

    Kudos to Eric for trying to start a different type of discussion
    between LANL employees. Perhaps such a dialogue belongs on a parallel
    blog focusing on Science at LANL, nevertheless I think it is a great
    idea. I decided to comment since I saw that posts complaining of
    problems get plenty of responses but a constructive post such as this
    did not elicit a single response. We need this type of dialogue along
    with discussion of problem.

    The type of Director that Kuckuck appears to be is largely irrelevant

    Comment from the



    The type of Director that Kuckuck appears to be is largely irrelevant. He's
    made it very clear that he's only filling in for the interim period.

    The real question is what type of manager is UC? They left Nanos in place
    for way too long. Do they realize that? If not, then they are not the
    type of organization you want running this lab. Listen very carefully to
    Admiral Foley on Monday. He's the one who will be giving you hints as to
    what type of people will be managing this lab in the future. He is also
    a guy who seemed to think very highly of Admiral Nanos. Has he changed
    his mind? Has Dynes? That is the critical question. You can expect them
    to stone-wall on that question, but it is vital that the staff know the
    answer. If they actually liked Nanos' performance, then get the hell out
    of here as fast as possible (or hope that LM/UT/Robinson win the contract).

    Lab Cleanup Change Nixed

    Lab Cleanup Change Nixed

    By Adam Rankin
    Journal Staff Writer

    Department of Energy officials have reconsidered earlier plans to carve out the environmental cleanup portion of the Los Alamos National Laboratory management and operations contract for a separate manager.

    "I think this is a very successful shift in policy, as far as the future operations at Los Alamos go," said state Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry. "No matter who the ultimate contractor is... the lab has 60 years of legacy environmental problems that have to be dealt with."


    Full Story

    One good thing

    From Anonymous:

    That self-promotional section called the "Director's Notebook" is no longer on the NewsBulletin's front page. That can't be a bad sign.

    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    A Challenge for a Sunday Afternoon

    Until now posters to this blog have talked about what has been wrong with the Lab and especially with their perception of the inadequacies of Lab management. There has been much talk about excessive paperwork that gags scientific research. I would like to start a discussion, public or private, of another kind.

    When I came to the Lab in 1989, the Lab was touted as a place where large scale, multidisciplinary, high risk science could be accomplished. I was told that LANL was unique in its ability to do this kind of science.

    So, I propose that we restart discussions about which large scale, multidisciplinary, high risk projects could be accomplished at LANL, where the money comes from to accomplish them, and which of these projects might attract the next generation of world beating scientists to LANL.

    Here are three titles of difficult but plausible projects which would require lab wide collaboration. As far as I can tell, these projects would generate many papers; would solve longstanding, basic research questions; and would strongly advance programmatic goals. There are already descriptions of these particular projects with specific goals and milestones.

    1. Doc in a Box – a set of sensors and software to perform rapid, thorough, non invasive medical diagnosis.
    2. How does a liver know to be the shape of a liver? – software and experiments that couple the breadth of Lab science to allow prediction of organ shape from DNA sequences.
    3. Biology based improvements to high speed computation – hardware and software that improve computation speed 100 fold and that automatically improves itself.

    The titles above hint at extensive pragmatic projects that could only be done here and that spin out programmatic, scientific, and intellectual property benefits. Each project can be thought of as a set of coordinated individual investigator projects that generate a team focused on a larger goal. The scientific talent for these projects is already at the Lab but is spread across ten or more Laboratory divisions.

    I do not claim that the three projects listed above are a best choice among ambitious projects for the Lab or that they are even a good choice. I only claim that we can and should accomplish projects of this magnitude

    Do any readers of this blog agree? If so, I would like to hear from them.

    For myself, I would be happy to be a member of a team that strives and accomplishes ambitious scientific goals. I would recruit young scientists to such team. By design, these young scientists would also work on various programmatic needs of the Lab’s sponsors. The projects listed above have been picked with those needs in mind.

    I think that getting such projects done here (and beating the rest of the world while doing it) is feasible. Yes, I know it would be hard and would require some changes at the Lab. Nevertheless, I would like to talk with others who have similar ambitions.




    Retirement, Moving, and Constructive Plans


    Now that we seem to be past the Nanos era and into other critical current issues, please remember that I have

    1. Drafts of constructive plans for the Lab now and after the contract is awarded.
    2. Places to go.
    3. Strategies for surviving here, in many divisions and groups.
    4. A current indexed organized version of the blog since January in Word format.

    If anyone is interested in this information, please contact me.

    Eric Fairfield



    A comment on the



    I've been thinking about this a lot myself, recently. I'm 54, with not quite 20 years at LANL. If I were to retire now, I could not live off of the retirement; I had planned to work at LANL for at least 5 more years. Up until last year I enjoyed my work and the people that I worked with. Nanos changed that. The work environment is now pretty much completely depressing. A number of my colleagues have left LANL, some of our customers have withdrawn funding, and I see nothing on the horizon that would lead me to expect any positive, substantive changes coming any time soon.

    Therefore, I also will be paying close attention to what Kuckuck says and how he says it. If I am not convinced that he intends to turn LANL around from the destructive course Nanos laid in, then I too will be retiring and going to work elsewhere. I no longer enjoy coming to work here, and I will enjoy it even less if I am convinced that Kuckuck's mandate is to place us in a holding pattern until it is announced who the next contractor will be.

    There are many other healthy places where I could go work that will be glad to have my experience and talent, and which are willing to demonstrate this by paying me a good salary and providing me with a work environment that is designed to facilitate my work, not to impede it.

    More on culture

    A comment from the



    The DOE/NNSA composite "cu***re" (in keeping with the suggestion in 5/14/2005 10:54:00 PM) seems to be anti-nuclear, anti-science, and anti-lab. This cu***re appears to prevail regardless of the party in power. This observation strongly suggests the cu***re is the consensus position of the permanent DOE/NNSA bureaucracy. The net result as previously reported here on this blog is that the USA has the most expensive and least productive nuclear weapons program in the world. In short, we spend the most money of the declared nuclear weapon states but Pakistan can built more pits than we can. China has a new criticality safety complex while ours sits in boxes awaiting shipment to Nevada. China also has modern scientific complexes to support its smaller program while we have people stuffed into some structures dating back to the 1950s. India can make more tritium for its weapons and we can. Finally, several nations have experimental test programs that seem much more advanced than ours. How can this difference be explained? The answer is that we spend enormous sums of money accomplishing often inane and repetitious orders and regulations that add little and in many cases nothing to security, safety, or environmental protection. The seeming purpose of these orders and regulations are twofold. First, they serve to maintain the employment of a growing bureaucracy that once but no longer oversaw the world's largest industrial complex. Secondly, the orders and regulations focus on shifting responsibility away from the rule makers onto the scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff that are trying their best to sustain our nuclear weapons in an absolutely reliable and absolutely safe condition without being allowed to actually test them.

    The truth about cu***re sometimes hurts but it must be said. However, I must say that I have many, many friends in the DOE/NNSA bureaucracy that fully understand what has happened and are as frustrated and as aggravated as I am.

    The question is what can we do about it?

    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Catching up on submissions

    I will be going through the queue of submissions this morning and adding the ones from the past week that are still timely.


    Otherwise, different director, same LANL

    From a comment on the



    I predict Kuckuck will lay words on us like, "we have had a difficult year, but now it is time to put that behind us, and look to the future", or some such. True enough, of course, but impossible without closure on a number of the raw, gaping wounds that remain from Nanos' interregnum. Like how Todd Kaupilla was unfairly fired over a security incident that turned out to be an institutional bookkeeping procedural flaw, for example. Or addressing the fact of the large numbers of staff who have left because of Nanos' unwarranted shutdown. Ditto the customers who have left. Or the mountains of unnecessary paperwork procedures Nanos instituted, like LIRs, IWDs, STOP training, etc. Or the incompetent staff he gathered around him.

    If he mentions even one word on any of the above abysmal legacies of Nanos' short, but all too-long tenure, then I will sit up and begin to pay attention. Otherwise, different director, same LANL.

    Recent LA Monitor Articles On Todd Kaupilla, per request


    Reopen the Todd Kauppila case

    From Anonymous:

    I attended Todd's Memorial Service and when the colors were presented, we put our hands over our hearts and pledged our allegiance. When we got to the end and said “and justice for all,” for the first time those words felt hollow to me. Todd, like many other scientists and engineers here, had dedicated his life's work to support this Laboratory’s national security mission for this nation. His judge, jury, and executioner was someone who had backed himself and this Laboratory into a corner and needed a Christian to feed to the lions to satisfy the NNSA Area Office and Washington DC spectators' thirst for blood.

    May 16th the Lab has an opportunity to restore the senior management credibility by reopening the Kauppila case and taking an objective look at Todd’s service to the nation and (even posthumously) righting a wrong. Todd, his family, and the very institution we have been so proud of deserve no less. Only then can the healing begin!

    Your help is solicited to ask the new Director at Monday's All Hands Meeting to reopen the Todd Kauppila case.

    Texas antes $1.2M for lab

    ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor

    The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted on Thursday to proceed with renewed plans to partner with Lockheed Martin for the contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    In his prepared remarks, Chancellor Mark G. Yudof assured the regents that the risks and rewards, as well as the University's capacity to make a contribution, have been addressed.


    Full Story

    How to donate to Todd Kauppila Memorial Fund

    From Anonymous:

    It is easy to make a donation to the memorial fund over the Internet if you have LANB access banking - just log in to your LANB account and order a funds transfer from your account to LANB account 32268720. It's quick and painless.

    Los Alamos does not need another inquisition

    Comment from the



    If you've ever been present at the scene of a news event, and then later seen it reported in the media, you know how things can come out distorted. But, when it's about something that really counts, like when Jeffry Gardner says:

    "Working to change the arrogant nature of the scientific community that thumbs its nose at its employers (us, that is) when we ask for tighter security and better management? Absolutely."

    ...then it gets rather worrisome.

    Nobody wants "tighter security and better management" more than the scientific community at Los Alamos. It's our work that gets impaired directly by lax security and poor management. But what we've had for the past year is anything but security and management.

    When the Fourth Crusade turned aside from its mission and instead sacked Constantinople, it illustrated what damage a lot of energy, poorly directed, can do. When Pete Nanos cut loose the support and security staffs to perform vigilante justice on their co-workers, telling them bad actors were all around them, it marshalled every petty rivalry to a showdown of full-contact organizational politics.

    Co-workers told me tales of being harangued by support workers for interrupting their solitaire games with security forms during the shutdown. Getting a straight answer to a policy question became nearly impossible, as support workers became afraid to commit their security policies to writing or unwilling to give someone proof of compliance. Accusing someone else of a violation (real or imagined, mostly imagined) became an accepted way of gaining points with the management. Trying to defend oneself against a spurious accusation only brought more accusations.

    Los Alamos does not need another inquisition. The data do not support the claim that Los Alamos is "troubled." The scientific staff at LANL is exceptionally conscientious, professional, honest, and patriotic.

    The nation does not need to hear more from an ungrateful and arrogant media culture that thumbs its nose at those people who work to defend it from harm. Journalists fool themselves into thinking they perform some national service when all they do is stir up trouble so they can profit from selling the accounts of it.

    Foley, BWXT

    From Anonymous:

    In January 2004, Foley was going to bring in BWXT to manage "operations" functions. There were going to be about 50 of these guys on board of which about 18 were going to be at DDL level. They began showing up in mid-Jan. We got one in our Division even though we had two DDLs at the time.

    These guys stayed about three weeks before DOE figured out that this had been done. This was going to cost ~$20M and had been sole-sourced. There was no justification for the sole-source procurement.

    SO, the BWXT guys quietly departed and nothing more was said.

    We suspected that Foley must have some old Navy buddies at BWXT.

    Safety and fatalities

    From the May 9 LANL NewsBulletin:

    In the discussion of Lab safety, the topic of fatal accidents at work has not been discussed. Given that the Lab employment is on the order of 10,000 workers and that many years of data are available, it is a statistically significant sample. This also is timely as we are past the 10th anniversary of the tragic training exercise shooting. Since that tragedy we have recorded approximately 100,000 man-years worked without a fatality. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration publishes its statistics in the same units, fatalities per hundred thousand man-years worked. Collecting the data together with the Lab data it is clear that our fatality rate is below that found in the educational and financial industries. The work at the Lab consists of a great deal of paperwork (too much for our own good), as with the lowest risk industries, but also consists of significant manufacturing and construction work. Compared to those two industry segments the Lab has been very successful at preventing fatal accidents.

    Given also the nuclear weapon materials, the high explosives, the ubiquitous megawatt size electrical power sources, the occasional surprise receipt of live anthrax (through errors of external parties), and the armed guard force, this is a extraordinary record of worker safety. The record is so outstanding that it must be credited to a combination of factors: the safety intiatives that followed a series of severe accidents a decade ago; widespread compliance with those initiatives by the work force; and an additional quanta of good fortune.

    One can only be bewildered by the widespread criticism of University of California management and the Lab work force found in the media, and be deeply concerned about the impact of the inevitable.

    Table. Fatalities per hundred thousand workers by industry segment* or employer**.

    Los Alamos and Cont. 0
    Agriculture 31
    Construction 12
    Education 0.8
    Financial 1.4
    Manufacturing 2.5
    Mining 27
    Transportation 17

    *OSHA Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (2003)
    **Los Alamos data for 10 years (~100,000 man-years)

    --David Reagor

    "Culture" of the Lab

    From the May 9 LANL NewsBulletin:

    May 9, 2005

    "Culture" of the Lab

    I am deeply disappointed in the National Nuclear Security Administration following the Jerry Paul testimony on May 5 to the subcommittee on Oversight of the House Energy and Commerce committee (http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/docs/2005-05-05_Jerry_Paul_OI_testimony.pdf). An NNSA representative stated that "we in NNSA felt that inattention to safety procedures at the Laboratory presented a greater problem. Together [with the CREM episode] they led us to believe that a culture of non-compliance existed within the Laboratory." This follows on a statement last July, from none other than the director of this Laboratory, that there is a "culture of arrogance" here. It is difficult to imagine language that could be more damaging to this institution.

    Let's examine these uses of the word "culture." Anthropologists generally use it to describe a set of customs and behavioral norms shared by the majority of a population. In every large population, there are aberrant instances of behavior shunned by the majority. These do not reflect "culture" but rather the abandonment of it.

    The number of Lab employees disciplined after last year's safety and security incidents is a handful (about 12) in a population of about 8,000. Even if one accepts their punishment as deserved, a handful is not, by definition, "cultural." Yet the NNSA and some managers at the Lab continue to refer to "cultural" problems on an almost daily basis. This seems to fly in the face of Brad Holian's careful analysis showing that the Lab safety record is comparable to the rest of the complex. It also contradicts data on security violations at the three weapons labs that was publicly released by NNSA itself (Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb. 9 2005).

    If we have identified procedural flaws, let's call them that and fix them -- and move on. Let's not refer to them as indicative of bad "culture." If I were one of the Laboratory's customers and knew little about the institution other than that its own managers decried a "culture of arrogance," I would be unlikely to send funding to the Lab for national security work. That is how this contemptuous language is hurting our future prospects at the Lab. Having worked diligently with classified information for the last decade, and having spent countless hours writing Laboratory hazard documentation, I get more than a little annoyed at being lumped into some chimerical "culture" of disregard for safety and security.

    I have a proposal: for the next year, let's ban the use of the word "culture" at Los Alamos. COMPASS can find a new catchy acronym. In the intervening time, let's reflect on the true meaning of "culture" and find a way to characterize problems and corrective actions that doesn't polarize the Lab community. Perhaps then we will learn how to use the word appropriately.

    As for our customers in the NNSA, I have this question: Are we working together as a team to advance the state of national security, or will we give in to the kind of bitter divisiveness inherent in the misuse of language? I'd like to think the former, but at present I'm not so sure.

    --Bernard Foy

    Purpose of the Daily Newsbulletin and Reader's Forum

    From the May 6 LANL NewsBulletin:

    May 6, 2005

    Purpose of the Daily Newsbulletin and Reader's Forum

    I have a question: What is the purpose of the Daily Newsbulletin and Reader's Forum?

    The stated purpose for the Reader's Forum on your Web page is "The Letters to the Editor section of the Readers' Forum is designed to encourage constructive dialogue among University of California Laboratory employees and retirees. It is a mechanism for conducting reasonable discourse based on fact or informed opinion." Regarding the Daily Newsbulletin, I would propose that it be something to the effect of providing a reliable source of news of interest to the employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the case of the Reader's Forum, I would submit that this purpose has not been achieved in recent times. My proposed purpose for the Daily Newsbulletin has not been met in recent months.

    My question is prompted by an observation that the Daily Newsbulletin has ceased to be a reliable or timely source of news regarding the Laboratory. The recent article about a Blog's impact on the Laboratory, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/01/national/01alamos.html, is a sterling example. The Reader's Forum does not provide any reasonable dialogue on the issues most pressing to the Laboratory and its employees. The phenomenon of the Blog, LANL the Real Story (http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/), is a direct consequence. When employees are not given the opportunity to read the news in a timely fashion or discuss issues internally, these functions went outside the Laboratory.

    --William (Bill) Rider

    Director Nanos leaving

    From the May 6 LANL NewsBulletin:

    May 6, 2005

    Director Nanos leaving

    Even before the official announcement of Director Nanos leaving the Lab, I noticed a marked improvement in the overall morale of Laboratory employees over the rumor of the director leaving. In my 51 plus years on this Earth I have never seen the exodus of one person cause such a marked change in the attitudes of employees like the exodus of Director Nanos has. I am praying that the interim director and the new director will exhibit real true leadership skills.

    --Jerry Antos

    Interagency Personnel Act

    From Anonymous:

    I wondered how Nanos could walk in off the street and land a high Federal job. Now word from a good friend at DTRA explains everything. Nanos will not be a Federal employee but a University of California employee on assignment under the Interagency Personnel Act. It appears that Admiral Foley, who has turned his back on justice and fairness, has managed to protect his comrade-in-arms again. While we will be put through the contractual wringer, Nanos will have his UC employment regardless of the outcome of UC bid for Los Alamos. Why does the word "conspracy" come to mind? While I'm speculating, I believe the IPA arrangement means the UC did not have to buy Nanos' house or may not have given Nanos a golden parachute. The irony in any case is that some thirty victims of Nanos are paying their attorneys, suffering, and now dying from the abusive actions of George P. Nanos, Jr. Meanwhile Nanos, the bully, is getting royal treatment from Foley's office. I'm sorry but this situation reminds me of what the Soviet Union was like before the fall of the Berlin Wall,. nomenclature living like entitled tsars while the citizens were slaves laboring within a system of abuse and deprivation. This is not the America that my ancestors and I fought and in some cases died for. It is not the America that Los Alamos has worked so diligently and brilliantly to defend. However, it is exactly how President Dynes and UCOP's Foley are managing Los Alamos and it is why I'm looking forward to UC losing both the Los Alamos and Livermore contracts.

    LANL Good Old Boy/Girl network

    Comment from the



    You talk as if LM had the contract sewed up! If it is so clear that they should be running LANL, then why even have a competition? I wish to thank Sean-Paul Kelley for his words about the bloggers. For the most part, I feel that postings are made with respect and integrity, and it is good to see that someone out there recognizes this. I have seen little evidence of groussing, whining, or any of the other words that have been used to try to discredit the bloggers, free speach and venting are better descriptions.

    LANL has serious problems with respect to its employees, typified by the treatment of Todd Kaupilla that resulted in the tremendous stress that cost him his life. Tony Andrade too? No one knows. How many others are out there that only time will tell us? I recently joined UPTE because I have a desire to see the LANL Good Old Boy/Girl network brought to its knees. I don't know that UPTE is up to the task, and they are taking on UC too, so the challenge is great, but what else is there? Can't we turn UPTE into the union we want, rather than reinventing the wheel?

    How do we fix the LANL problem(s) now that the primary source of the stress is leaving?

    I suggest we turn this blog into a focus on LANL improvement. Can we put together a more comprehensive improvement plan with the courage and insight of this large group of employees? We have a list of the things that LANL doesn't do well, can we get together a list of good steps to move forward in a positive way? It is clear to me that we are almost buried in bureaucracy and are sinking fast, but is it really too late? Can we take the efficiency project that Nanos has started and make it really be an efficiency project?

    LANL scientists, in my opinion, resist safety and security activities because they are done so poorly, have little relevance to safety and security, and waste huge amounts of valuable time (how many 60-hour weeks can one work in a week?). After we get done with the training (useless) and the other bureaucratic requirements (read: nonsense), how much time is left to actually do experimental science? Or to bring in next year's funding for that matter?

    If we don't get an organized voice in this contract competition, and get a seat at the table, then we deserve what we get, and it won't be pretty. Not only will we bring down LANL, but every business, school and real estate agency in Los Alamos will lose as the place turns into a ghost town as one blogger has already said.

    Not quite brave enough to sign my name, but high on LANL and the blog!

    More advice for the bidders

    From Anonymous:

    A couple of years ago, when I still believed Pete Nanos had LANL’s best interests at heart, I sent him the following advice on LANL culture and management. The advice seems to be still applicable today. Perhaps the winning bidder will take this to heart.

    Management areas that must be improved:

    1. The absence of a strong program management function that provides third-party over-sight, reporting, and corrective actions for work packages that are in the early stages of trouble. The LANL program management function focuses on the beans of cost and schedule without addressing technical issues. Systems engineering is non-existent. This results in crisis management as technical problems fester and then finally bubble to the surface when they are very expensive to resolve.

    2. The absence of a structured management development program to give people promoted from the technical ranks the “people tools” they need to do their jobs. There also does not appear to be a management succession plan to identify, develop, and promote well-qualified leaders into the management ranks. There is apparently no mechanism to identify under-performing managers and to offer them a face-saving exit when they don’t work out.

    3. A culture of “collegiality” which is analogous to the Military Academy “Ring knockers.” People are reluctant to criticize their fellow workers because of the strong negative tribal consequences and risk of professional ostracism. This builds a “go along to get along” mentality where preserving the UC contract is the ultimate goal and hiding problems is the cultural response. You are not allowed to criticize someone who screws up. I don’t think you can build a culture of continuous improvement and customer focus in this climate.

    4. A policy of hiring new grads and post docs with little or no industrial experience. As LANL becomes more involved in big iron engineering projects, people with industrial experience are more and more crucial to success. Hiring inexperienced people means you get to buy their learning curve.

    Advice from the trenches:

    1. LANL needs to manage their managers, rewarding those who are capable and moving aside those who are not. You need a face-saving mechanism to replace under-performing managers just as you replace under-performing TSMs.

    2. Team Leaders and Work Package Leaders (first level managers) need more support and training. The senior management culture must respect their contribution while simultaneously providing the mentoring and oversight they need to keep out of trouble. Project management that focuses only on cost and schedule to the neglect of technical performance is a two-legged stool.

    3. LANL needs to build a culture of engineering discipline. There is no apparent attempt at imposing the disciplines of systems engineering, formal specifications, peer reviews, or test and validation plans on product development. Part of it is the LANL prima donna mentality, and part of it is the emphasis on hiring people who have little or no real world experience (new grads and post docs). Emphasizing new grads and post-docs means you are always paying for the learning curve.

    Another Seestrom gaffe

    From Anonymous:

    Can you believe this? I can't.

    Subject: ADWP_all@lanl.gov
    From: seestrom@lanl.gov
    Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 15:41:07 -0600

    Dear Colleagues-

    I find it sad to write on the weekend after the University of California has announced the departure of the Laboratory Director. I know that many of you have taken offense at some of the actions or words of Director Nanos. It would be a very great mistake to assume the departure of the Director means that the changes he was trying to institute in the Laboratory were wrong. There is a need for change in Los Alamos, and that need for change will not change with the departure of this Director.

    The change that is needed is to create a culture of accountability that extends from the Director and the Executive Board to each and every staff member. This does not mean punishing individuals for mistakes but rather making clear the expectations for each position - supervisor to worker - and then each of us delivering on the expectations that have been set for us. It means leaders clearly telling people when they are not meeting our expectations. For each worker - it means undertstanding what is expected of us, and doing our very best to live up to that expectation.

    I and my colleagues on the EB need the help of each of you to make this culture change in Los Alamos. We are fighting years of history of lack of accountability, and we therefore have an uphill battle. Our customers and regulators do not have confidence in us - and it is not because they are bad or unfair - it is because we have not acted in a way to earn their confidence. Because of this we have built up a considerable bureacracy that does not necessarily help us to be safer or more secure. But to change this we must first begin to take personal sccountability for safety , security, and compliance.

    I want to be very clear: I am not saying that the present problems are problems generated by the workforce - our problems are clearly the result of a failure of leadership over many years. But the entire workforce must engage to change this culture. I know that all of you are capable of this, that you are dedicated to the mission of this laboratory, and that you are willing to do what it takes to make us successful. I am asking your help to engage positively to move the Laboratory forward.


    Susan J. Seestrom, Ph.D.
    Associate Director for Weapons Physics
    Mail Stop A106
    (505)665-4454 fax (505)665-1293

    Friday, May 13, 2005

    A special thanks goes to John Horne

    I was moved by all the love and support displayed at the memorial service at Ashley Pond and the reception that followed. Todd had definitely made his mark in the lives of those who knew him there in Los Alamos. Todd and I go way back. We've been friends since the 9th grade. I was deeply saddened to learn of his death. My heart goes out to Sara, John, and Tia as well as Todd's parents, John and Marie, his brother David, and sister Diana. I'm sure the healing process will take some time for us all. I miss my friend Todd. Todd was a good friend to everyone that he called friend. That was his nature. I'm sure that the legacy that he leaves behind will encourage all those who knew him. A special thanks goes to John Horne for being there for Todd especially through the tough times. I'll always remember Todd's courage and hope to face my adversities as them come with the same tenacity. May God comfort Todd's family and friends during this time of mourning.


    Lockheed, UT cement pairing

    By Sue Vorenberg
    Tribune Reporter
    May 13, 2005

    Lockheed Martin has found its partner in the big dance-off to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The University of Texas regents on Thursday authorized Chancellor Mark Yudof to finalize a partnership between the school and Lockheed to bid on the contract to operate the lab.


    Full Story

    Todd - His death

    Sara, Jon and Tia, Todd's parents -- may you feel the intense love and concern pouring your way. May you find the strength to grieve completely and to forgive the wrong of a few and focus energy on taking in the kindnesses of those who truly care for you.

    I am extremely sad that Todd spent his last days in the grieving process he was unable to finish. I am sad that his death is, in part, a "tragedy of an internal uncontrolled management war", even though his career was spent testing the technologies to prevent a real war. Todd was always the first to admit that diplomacy was not his strength. However, his strength was his strength to plow forward finishing projects using his tenacity and problem solving skills. I personally have no respect for people who spend their time trying to win personality contests. I do respect creative thinkers, risk takers, and the intense energy it takes to get the job done!

    l have to confess to being one of those folks afraid to speak up and speak out - AND admittedly, I am not sure speaking out really helps. Upper level managers aren't really listening as they are busy preserving and defending their own positions, watching other people do the work, and quarreling over who gets the credit. We all observe this behavior and are powerless to change it. Our only power is to change ourselves and possibly where we work.

    Karen Warthen
    MS G770
    Trust your intuition - always!

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Todd's Memorial Service

    The memorial for Todd was quite moving. There were about 1,200 people present; a clear indication of how many friends and supporters that Todd and his family have. I wish Sarah, John and Tia the best of luck in this terribly difficult time.

    Doug Roberts

    The response to the rumor, however, was quite telling

    From Anonymous:

    The IM picture-taking fiasco turned out to be a non-event. Either there never was a work order issued as claimed, or there was, but somebody eventually realized how incredibly stupid it would be to use LANL resources to photograph the memorial service of a former LANL employee whom the late, but not lamented Director Nanos had thoroughly vilified. The response to the rumor, however, was quite telling. A violent response would have been the likely outcome had LANL photographers showed up. I begin to wonder what, if anything the new interim director can do to even start to earn back some of the trust that Nanos and his cronies destroyed during that past year. Monday starts a new week, with a presentation by interim director Kuckuck to LANL staff. It will be interesting to see what impression he leaves.

    Nanos is gone, but his cronies still remain.

    "Send Nanos to NY" fund suggestion


    I suggest any money in the "send Nanos to NY" (to apologize from the
    windows of Macy's) fund be given instead to the family of Todd Kauppila,
    if possible. I hope you can find time to figure out who controls this
    fund and make that suggestion to them.

    - Tinka

    It's official: LM and UT will partner

    From Anonymous:

    Good, now we have a competition.....

    UT, Lockheed to bid on Los Alamos contract

    Austin, TX, May. 12 (UPI) -- The University of Texas voted Thursday to authorize a joint bid with Lockheed Martin Corp. to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.



    A memorial service will be held for Todd Kauppila

    A memorial service will be held for Todd Kauppila at Ashley's Pond in Los Alamos on Thursday, May 12, at 4:00 P.M. A reception will follow at the Elks Lodge at 1600 Trinity Drive in Los Alamos. We want you all to come share in this celebration of Todd's life.

    In lieu of flowers those who wish to do so may make donations to the Todd Kauppila Memorial Fund at the Los Alamos National Bank, account number 32268720.

    John N. Horne

    Normal Postings Will Resume 5/13

    Submissions will wait in the queue until after Todd Kaupilla's memorial service.


    Posting moratorium

    I have received several requests to re-think the moratorium on posts, and so I will make a few exceptions regarding important news. The following article(s) will be for that purpose.


    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Your readers might find it curious

    Your readers might find it curious that we just today received a work order
    for photographs of the events around Ashley Pond tomorrow, 5-12. We were
    instructed to "use discretion" and to try to capture as many faces as

    Curious, no?

    [From an IM Division employee]

    Kauppila memorial set for Thursday

    ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor

    A memorial service will be held Thursday afternoon at Ashley Pond for Todd Kauppila, a nuclear scientist who worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 21 years. The memorial service will be held at 4 p.m., followed by a reception at the Elks' Lodge on Trinity Drive at 5 p.m.

    Kauppila died at the Los Alamos Medical Center Sunday at the age of 40.


    Full Story

    Message to employees from UC President Robert Dyne

    Dear Colleagues:

    Today the University of California announced that it intends to partner with Bechtel National, Inc. to prepare a bid for the competition for the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract. Contingent on the University of California Board of Regents deciding to compete, and the University winning the contract, this agreement also calls for UC and Bechtel to form a partnership to manage the lab on behalf of the Department of Energy. I believe the formation of this strong partnership places the University in the best possible position for a successful bid for continued management of this great institution. A UC-Bechtel partnership allows the excellence in science and technology to continue while management and operations are enhanced and strengthened.

    The teaming agreement with Bechtel, I believe, is in the best interests of the nation, the Department of Energy, the laboratory and the University. Throughout their history, the UC-managed laboratories have achieved stunning scientific and technological successes, and I believe the University's presence plays a major role in fostering that tradition of superior science. I also believe that bringing together the academic, scientific, and technological expertise of the University with the project management, administration and business operations expertise of Bechtel is in the best interest of the nation and of the laboratory.

    This partnership combines Bechtel's world-class program and project management, facilities management, safety and environmental management, and robust government business systems with the University's excellent scientific and technological skills. As part of the team, we will be joined by Washington Group International (WGI) and BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT). WGI is a leading provider of integrated engineering, construction, and management services to the Department of Energy. BWXT is the premier manager of complex, high-consequence nuclear and national security operations.
    As you are aware, the partnership also includes a consortium of New Mexico institutions that will form the Advanced Studies Institute at LANL. These institutions include the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology. The agreement with these institutions solidifies the role of New Mexico universities as part of a bid to compete for the LANL contract.

    For more than three decades, I have had a strong relationship with the UC-managed national laboratories, and I continue to be in awe of the scientific and technological work being done at the labs. I, for one, would like the university's association with the laboratories to continue, but I want to see the final request for proposals before an ultimate decision is made. My primary concern is how we organize ourselves to maintain and nurture the quality of science conducted at the lab, in a culture of strong operations and management.

    It is important to note that the final decision to compete for management of LANL will be made by the UC Board of Regents and the Bechtel National Inc. Governing Board. I expect the Regents will make their decision once the final request for proposals has been disseminated and thoroughly reviewed.
    The scientific accomplishments of the UC-managed laboratories are unparalleled, and the University's contribution is unique in creating and sustaining the environment that nurtured this success. Bechtel's philosophy and management style is not dissimilar from UC's public service model: strong commitment to employees and community; quality technology based on external peer review; openness and an unrestrained voice for laboratory scientists and managers; and a strong commitment to our nation's defense and the national interest. Together, I believe we can continue to provide our nation with the world-class science and technology that it has come to expect from these extremely valuable institutions.

    As the competition process moves forward, I will be back in touch. If you have additional questions or comments, please email me at dynesdesk@ucop.edu. While I cannot respond to every message individually, I will address issues of broad concern on the UC laboratory employee website, in the Our University newsletter, periodic web chats, and through other means of communication.
    Thank you in advance for your cooperation and your efforts to keep your institution at the forefront of research in the national interest.

    Robert C. Dynes

    UC partners on Los Alamos bid

    By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

    Two corporate powers of the nuclear world — Bechtel Corp. and the University of California — are expected today to announce a joint bid for management of the birthplace of the bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

    The alliance brings the nation's largest research university and one of the world's largest engineering firms head to head in competition with teams headed by the nation's first- and third-largest defense contractors, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

    Full Story

    Udall has had nothing to say about closing down Los Alamos Lab

    Jeffry Gardner: The sound of silence

    Udall has had nothing to say about closing down Los Alamos Lab

    By Jeffry Gardner / Tribune Columnist
    May 11, 2005

    Democrats in the United States House of Representatives are lining up to shut down Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Now, listen. Do you hear the congressman from New Mexico's 3rd District rising to the lab's defense? Me neither. The Democrat who represents that chunk of the Land of Enchantment, Tom Udall, who's never at a loss for words, is strangely quiet.

    Full Story

    I considered Todd a friend as well as a former co-worker

    I considered Todd a friend as well as a former co-worker. He will be missed by so many.

    My prayers and thoughts are with Sara and the children. Thanks, Todd…it was pleasure working with you and knowing you.

    Mary Luke

    (Prescott, AZ)

    Scientist Fired in Missing Disks Case Is Dead

    Albuquerque Journal North
    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Scientist Fired in Missing Disks Case Is Dead

    By Allison Majure
    For the Journal

    Former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Todd Kauppila, 41, who
    was fired last year in a security scandal that shut the lab down for several
    weeks, died at Los Alamos Medical Center on Sunday.

    Kauppila, formerly an experimentalist and team leader at the lab's DX
    Division, was fired in September over the apparent loss of two classified
    computer disks that were later found to have been nonexistent. An inventory
    error eventually was blamed.

    Kauppila died of "hemorrhagic pancreatitis," Scott Wilson, associate
    director of the state Office of the Medical Investigator, said Tuesday.

    On Friday, Kauppila had publicly rejoiced over the resignation of lab
    director Pete Nanos, the man who fired him.

    "Every table is packed and the beer is flowing," he told The Associated
    Press as he celebrated with fellow scientists at a Los Alamos eatery.

    Kauppila's wife, Sara, told neighbors that he stayed in bed Sunday,
    feeling dehydrated. Sunday evening she discovered him unconscious.

    Kauppila said he was fired last year because he didn't immediately
    return from a family vacation during a lab investigation into the two
    classified computer disks. Kauppila claimed he was made a scapegoat over the

    In a March interview, Kauppila described frustration that the University
    of California was dragging its feet in dealing with his contesting his

    Kauppila was without life insurance following the firing. Although he
    began contract work for Keystone International on Jan. 20, the contract
    position did not carry benefits.

    "We are all waiting to do what we can to help the children and Sara in
    what ever way we can," said Judy McKenzie, a teacher at Barranca Mesa
    elementary school, where the Kauppilas' daughter Tia attends classes. "The
    students are wanting to help too and they want Tia to come back."

    Neighbor and friend Jane Clements has coordinated local support for the
    Kauppilas. Boy Scouts, the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and the Barranca Parent
    Teacher organization will be providing meals.

    "There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from many, many
    people to provide meals, childcare and other support," Clements said.

    LANL spokesman Jim Fallin said, "We want to offer our sincerest
    condolences and sympathies to Todd's wife and children. During his tenure
    Todd was a friend and colleague to many."

    "Todd was an enigmatic guy and a brilliant scientist," said former LANL
    co-worker Scott Watson.

    University Professional and Technical Employees union steward Betty Ann
    Gunther said, "I admired Todd deeply for his courage in such a difficult
    position and for his ability to be good to people ... No one would have
    suspected him of being, in any way, a poor performer. He was outstanding and
    his friends will tell you that."

    Contributions to the Kauppila family can be made payable to "Memorial
    Fund for Todd Kauppila" Account 322687-20, Los Alamos National Bank, P.O.
    Box 60, Los Alamos, N.M. 87544. For more information, contact Jane Clements,

    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    I will truly miss my friend

    I have been a friend to Todd and his family,Sarah Jon and Tia, for many years. His passing Grieves me beyond belief. Todd, my friend and confidant has passed for no reason. He spent the last few months regrouping to make sure his family was O.K. The Pressure he was under must have been more than his family and friends could understand or not completly see. A strong man he was and he sends a statement that should grasped by all. His world renowned talents in science and dedication to his country should be truly recognized. I will truly miss my friend . Thomas L.Gravlin....Journeyman Machinist Group DX-5....Hydros are (YOU and Us)...God Bless You My Friend...Love Ya...

    Thomas Gravlin


    From a friend of the family:

    I just returned from visiting with Sara. She’s holding up for her kids but is in shock as we would expect. She does have family with her now and some very helpful and concerned neighbors. Both scout troops that her children are involved with have offered their help and support with food etc. The sorority that we belong to will fill in with food as needed, there are 12 of us so that should last quite a few days.

    Sara was actually the person who found Todd and called 911. They resuscitated him but it had been too long. She is extremely exhausted and needs rest. She would appreciated cards etc. from anyone but I do think she’s swamped with visitors. She sends her thanks to all who have called and is happy to know there are so many friends who are concerned.

    She and the families are making some arrangements Tues. There may be a memorial service sometime but maybe not. Thanks again for all your support.

    Former lab worker dies before LANL battle ends

    By Diana Heil | The New Mexican
    May 10, 2005

    In a restaurant on Friday, Todd Kauppila celebrated the news of Pete Nanos’ resignation as director of Los Alamos National Laboratory . “Every table is packed, and the beer is flowing,” he told The Associated Press.


    Full Story

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Any man's death diminishes me

    In 1623 John Donne wrote, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." Strange how these poignant words written so long ago echo this day among the still scarred canyons of Los Alamos.

    I was saddened to hear of the passing of Todd Kauppila yet I have no real understanding of the intense weight that this man bore for himself, for his family, and for all who seek justice and fairness. His death is a death we share. The bell that tolls for him tolls for all each of us.

    My heart and prayers go out for this brother and for his wife Sara and their children, John and Tia. I pray that in the quiet hours that will come, they will come to find the peace that passes all understanding.

    Terry Hawkins

    I, too, wish to express my deep sorrow at the loss of Todd Kauppila

    I, too, wish to express my deep sorrow at the loss of Todd Kauppila, a fine person, outstanding professional, and a person I am delighted to have had a chance to know. Todd was dedicated to his job at Los Alamos National Laboratory and worked sixty hour weeks to save a program that was in deep trouble. For his effort Todd received the LANL's Distinguished Performance.

    I did not get to know Todd until after he left LANL, but I came to respect his strength in the face of adversity and his obvious talent. I also came to respect his friends, co-workers and team members, including John Horne. Clearly, Bechtel, recognized a fine employee when it saw one.

    I will miss Todd, and I know his family and co-workers and friends will miss him deeply as well. It is not often that one meets such a fine human being and employee all rolled into one. I urge all LANL employees to keep Todd and his family in their hearts and minds, as I plan to do. It is important that we lend our support to his widow, Sarah, and his children, parents and brothers and sisters. They were terribly proud of Todd and loved him deeply. They will need our support for some time.

    Betty Ann Gunther

    Aloha, Todd, and Godspeed

    There is to be a memorial fund set up for my neighbor Todd Kauppila and his
    family at the Los Alamos National Bank.

    Aloha, Todd, and Godspeed.

    Khalil J. Spencer
    1799 Camino Uva
    Los Alamos, NM 87544

    Last night the Kauppila family lost their loving husband/father, Todd

    Hi Doug, Here is some additional info regarding our friend Todd. You
    might want to post this.....

    Some of you may have worked with Todd on visits or conferences. He
    was only 40 and had been fired from DX for the CREM (non) issue. His
    wife works as a receptionist at the high school and doesn't make much,
    as you can imagine.

    Last night the Kauppila family lost their loving husband/father, Todd,
    formerly of DX Division. He passed away suddenly due to a massive
    heart attack.

    Please lend your support and prayers to Sara, Tia, and John during
    this sad time. There is a memorial fund set up for the family at LANB
    (please see information below).

    Account # 322687-20
    Memorial Fund for Todd Kauppila

    In Memory of Todd Kauppila

    It is with great sorrow and a profound sense of loss that I must convey the following information.
    At 11:00 P.M. on 08 May, 2005 my dear friend and mentor Todd J. Kauppila passed away at the age of 41.

    Todd is survived by his wife Sarah, son John, daughter Tia, his father and mother John and Marie, sister Diana, and brother David.

    Because of the support that so many of you have shown for Todd and his family over the last ten months, you should know that your thoughts and prayers have helped to sustain them. In the coming trials that they will face I know your continued prayers and assistance will be a blessing to them.

    Todd dedicated his life to his family, whom he loved dearly, and to his science on behalf of the nation. He rose to be a world renowned leader in his chosen field. He served with pride and distinction knowing that the data that he collected was critical to the security of the nation that he loved. To those that knew him he was also a loving husband, father, and a devoted friend whose loyalty was beyond question. It is those qualities that will cause us to miss him the most. Todd was also deeply involved with local charities and veterans groups. Today this community and this nation are much poorer because of his passing.

    I hope you will join me in praying that the Lord Jesus Christ will look after his soul and will ease the pain of this tragic loss for his family and those of us who knew and loved him.


    John N. Horne

    After two years filled with controversy

    Los Alamos director steps down

    The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory announced last week that he is stepping down after two years filled with controversy and troubling news from one of the nation's leading weapons research facilities.


    Full Story

    This is from today's radio interviews by Sen. Domenici:

    01:52 Domenici says he believes Robert Kuckuck will serve well as an
    interim director at Los Alamos National Laboratory as the NNSA moves
    forward with the process to award a new operations contract for the

    02:47 Domenici says he is troubled by reports, factual or not, that
    senior scientists are opting for early retirement because of
    uncertainty over the LANL contract process. He stresses that all
    employees will have at least six months after DOE lets a new contract
    to decide whether the management plan is personally advantageous. He
    encourages the media to carefully report on the contract process.

    13:32 Domenici says he is not aware of any DOE and NNSA plan to
    establish a permanent pit manufacturing facility at LANL. He says a
    decision on creating such a facility has been put off, but that the
    intent is not to place such a plant in Los Alamos.

    15:18 Domenici says he does not see the federal government effort to
    recover $14 million from the University of California for the
    security shutdown last year as an effort to keep the University from
    making a bid to retain the management contract at LANL.

    16:18 Domenici says there's no question that the discord over the
    LANL shutdown played a role in Dr. Pete Nanos decision to resign as
    director of the lab. He says he believes Nanos believes he did what
    had to be done for the lab and that it was time for him to move on.
    Domenici says the laboratory and its mission are "bigger than the
    grousers" who should get on board to restoring LANL's image as being
    on the "high rung of the ladder of excellence."

    Dr. Pete Nanos joins DTRA Team!

    From: Tegnelia, James (Jim) CIV, Director
    Sent: Fri 5/6/2005 12:51 PM
    To: DTRA-ALL
    Subject: Dr. Pete Nanos joins DTRA Team!

    I am pleased to announce that Dr. G. Peter (Pete) Nanos will be joining
    DTRA in the next few weeks to help us plan and administer research and
    development directions. Dr. Nanos, a retired Navy vice admiral, is a
    tremendous resource for the agency and we are most fortunate in being
    able to tap his capabilities.
    Dr. Nanos brings a wealth of science and technology experience to DTRA's
    extant and new missions. Prior to assuming the leadership of Los Alamos
    National Laboratory, one of the nation's premier nuclear weapon
    laboratories, he was LANL's principal deputy for Threat Reduction,
    responsible for the Biosciences, Decision Applications, and
    Nonproliferation and International Security divisions. Dr. Nanos came
    to Los Alamos from the U.S. Navy where he commanded the Naval Sea
    Systems Command.

    As DTRA continues to expand into new mission areas-especially with the
    U.S. Strategic Command's Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction
    assignment- I look forward to Pete's integration of science and
    technology into our full-range of national security tasks. He is not a
    stranger to our mission, operations and many of our people. He will
    bring the same vision and sense of purpose that he has shown in each of
    his previous positions. His wealth of contacts in the Department of
    Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, and the departments of
    State and Defense will serve us well.

    As I have said before, we have a lot of work to do to fulfill our
    current mission and all future challenges, and to have Pete-a sailor,
    scientist and patriot-join our team is an exciting addition.

    Please join me in welcoming Dr. Pete Nanos to the Defense Threat
    Reduction Agency!

    James A. Tegnelia

    I am going to resign from the union in a very public way

    From Anonymous:

    [...] I just read the New Mexican article on line about Nanos' upcoming transfer to Steve Younger's old DOD job (or something similar).

    I went ballistic when I read Manny Trujillo's comments supporting Nanos and
    trashing the "prima donna" scientists. I believe that Trujillo has damaged any
    chance the union might have had to bring in any new LANL scientists. If these
    quotes are at all accurate, he should resign from the presidency of the union;
    if he doesn't do so, I am going to resign from the union in a very public way.
    Backstabbing of one group of LANL workers, who have endured the stress of Nanos'
    unwarranted shutdown, by another group of workers, who have also suffered, is
    unacceptable behavior for a union claiming to represent all of the workers and
    staff--I want no part of any such organization headed by such a person. Again I
    say, if these quotes are at all accurate, then Trujillo is no better than Nanos.
    They should go off to DOD together!

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    Power Equals Responsibility


    You guys and gals have done great work and I congratulate you on your success. I posted about you and your blog a second time here. If you get a chance I'd like you to read it. http://agonist.org/story/2005/5/8/201835/7126

    Best wishes for the future.

    Sean-Paul Kelley
    The Agonist

    Power Equals Responsibility
    Sean-Paul Kelley | San Antonio | May 8

    The Agonist - I've followed this story pretty closely over the last few weeks, even checking in at the blog from time to time. There is no question that this dedicated and patriotic group of employees utilized the power and anonymity of blogging to lay Nanos low. Everything I know about Nanos indicates he deserved what he got, too. It warms my heart to see these employees, honorable and partiotic lot that they are, actually made Los Alamos a better place.

    All that being said, I worry that a more unscrupulous group of folks might someday soon attempt to do the same thing to someone else, someone utterly unlike Nanos. Perhaps a small clique of disgruntled employees who dislike a very effective and honorable boss will begin a whispering campaign of slander and libel. If (when) that happens, I promise it'll create an environment whereby managers cannot make any hard decisions and organizations will be run by people walking around on eggshells. How is something like this to be prevented?

    Look, I'm not criticizing the folks at Los Alamos. What they did needed to be done. But I do fear they've opened a Pandora's box to people with less integrity and dishonorable intentions. And as much as I love blogging, it needs to be used responsibly, as the vast, vast majority of bloggers have used it. I'm just pointing out the obvious here. Any thoughts?

    On the 9/80

    From Anonymous:

    On the 9/80:A prompt return to 9/80 would be an easy victory for Director Kuckuck and a signaled return to normalcy. However, UCOP -- read that Admiral "Sly" Bob Foley-- has vetoed a return to the 9/80 for the foreseeable future. You'll hear about this brain infarction next week.

    The LANL Enterprise System

    Numerous people have sent the following in reference to the LANL enterprise project. It has been repeatedly suggested that the LANL EP is a candidate for investigation regarding the costs of its development and value provided, and in fact it is listed on the "Running List of Wasteful Activities" sidebar link.

    One comment listed there:

    "Allowing a project such as the enterprise project to spend $200 million to install a system that will not deliver what it has promised to deliver. Giving that same project carte blanche to pay astronomical fees for contractors who have already proven that their greatest expertise is their ability to justify why they didn't deliver."


    At a recent UT System Regent's meeting,

    Please post. You can use my name: Stefan Wray

    Beware of Univ. of Texas/Lockheed

    You may not like the mismanagement of UC and want a new lab contractor,
    but there is reason to be worried about the Univ. of Texas getting
    involved. UT System sees one big reason for getting more involved in the
    lab management business: money. At a recent UT System Regent's meeting,
    there was clear ignorance on the part of Regents as to what actually takes
    place at Los Alamos. Expect another absentee landlord looking for prestige
    and government dollars.

    Nanos' Exit Good for Lab

    Albuquerque Journal North
    Sunday, May 8, 2005

    Nanos' Exit Good for Lab

    EDITORIAL: Los Alamos National Laboratory director Pete Nanos is
    stepping down next week— perhaps not coincidentally on the same day the new
    lab management contract is expected to go out to bid. He was brought in
    almost 2 1/2-years ago to tighten things up in the wake of procurement and
    security scandals. Measured by journalists' crude standard— if you've made
    everyone on every side of the story mad, you've probably got it about right—
    Nanos could be said to have done a good job.

    Lab employees, outraged when Nanos publicly characterized them as
    "cowboys" and "buttheads" who couldn't be bothered to follow routine
    security procedures, continue to complain loudly on the Internet about his
    hard-nosed management style. Members of Congress, judging by Michigan
    Democrat Bart Stupak's tirade on the subject Thursday, appear unconvinced
    that the lab's problems can ever be fixed and are talking— surely only that—
    about closing the place. Meanwhile, University of California officials, on
    whose watch the scandals occurred, went into a snit when federal officials
    questioned the wisdom of their 60-year monopoly on the lab management
    contract and continue to play coy about whether they'll bid on the new one.

    The problem, of course, is that making everybody mad may be good
    journalism, but it isn't often good management. A retired vice admiral,
    Nanos already had one strike against him when he took over— Los Alamos
    scientists have resented military interference since the earliest days of
    the Manhattan Project. And as Department of Energy officials found out when
    they began talking about letting private industry take over running the lab,
    those scientists correspondingly treasured their historic association with
    the country's premiere intellectual institutions, including the University
    of California, and were prepared to desert if the link was broken.

    It remains to be seen who bids on the LANL management contract. But
    Nanos' departure (for, appropriately, a Defense Department job) may augur
    well for the future of the lab. So, too, his replacement, a veteran UC
    administrator from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who may be
    better suited to restoring collegiality on The Hill.

    Saturday, May 07, 2005

    Under Fire at Work, Los Alamos Director Will Move On

    Doug, please post this article that I found on "The Agonist". The link is


    Thanks, Anonymous

    Under Fire at Work, Los Alamos Director Will Move On
    William J. Broad | Albequerque | May 7

    NYT - G. Peter Nanos, a retired Navy admiral who sought to put Los Alamos National Laboratory on a sound management footing but alienated many employees with his brusque, top-down style, is stepping down as director to take a post at the Pentagon.

    Director of Los Alamos Nuclear Lab to Resign
    Albequerque | May 6

    NYT - The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, who led it through two years of turmoil but irked some workers with his brash style, is resigning.

    Pete Nanos will be replaced May 16 by an interim director who will oversee the federal nuclear lab until the University of California's management contract expires in September, the school announced Friday.

    Here is the blog that brought him down.

    Comments -
    By Sean Paul in USA: Intel and Policy on Sat May 7th, 2005 at 10:10:24 AM PDT

    From the 5/6/2005 posting entitled “Auditors say lab too costly”:

    From Anonymous:

    “The Energy Department has questioned $14 million worth of shutdown costs as unallowable under its contract with the university. In an unrelated audit, the agency’s inspector general found that the Energy Department and the university miscalculated fixed payments allowed to government contractors for home office expenses. For the last five years, the overpayment has totaled $21 million and escaped the government’s attention in part because it never asked the university for itemized expenses, according to the inspector generals audit. For that same reason, the government never noticed that it mistakenly had agreed to pay $8 million in university operational expenses of no benefit to federal taxpayers.

    Energy Department officials appear inclined to surrender any claim to the $21 million but may seek reimbursement from the university for about $880,000 in clearly unwarranted university charges to the government. These included $140,000 in costs for student recruitment and donations.”

    Excuse me. Did I read this correctly? DoE, because of its sloppy oversight, let UC get away with $28 million in unallowable charges, and now doesn't intend to ask for them back…and Congress is going to let them get away with this?? Is there a sweetheart deal going on between DoE and UC? If so, just how fair is the lab recompetiton? You reporters out there reading this ought to follow this up. Something very, very fishy is going on in the DoE, and perhaps in Congress. Is there a quiet deal with the California delegation somewhere? If a company doing business with the government was found to have overcharged by $28 million, you better believe the GAO would want it back, with interest and perhaps even penalties. So how come the DoE gets away with it?

    Which leads to another related question: Los Alamos Lab and the University of California have come in for a good deal of public criticism from Congress and others, some of it fair, some not. But conspicuously absent in this finger pointing has been the DoE. In the end, the DoE owns the lab, UC just managers it. So the DoE is ultimately responsible for the poor management of the labs, and has clearly been complicit in covering up problems there for years. And the DoE concurred on the long lab shutdown, which must have cost the taxpayers close to a billion dollars, though the DoE is trying to low-ball the costs by not counting everything. So how come no one is talking about firing the DoE staff that is supposed to have managed the lab and UC. How come no one is proposing closing down the DoE, who after all haven't invented anything of use yet?

    Seems to me the real ire of Congress and the public ought to be focused on the DoE, where the buck really stops, rather than on UC and the labs.

    One last limerick

    What a beautiful day it will be
    On the 16th of May when I see
    Nanos driving away
    In his Volvo of gray
    But I grieve for the folks in D.C.

    The most hated of men in LA
    Will be leaving the 16th of May
    We will all line the streets
    As he leaves in defeat
    Middle fingers held high on display

    Security Costs Could Shut Some A-Bomb Labs, Experts Warn

    Published: May 7, 2005

    WASHINGTON, May 6 - The cost to protect materials for nuclear bombs from terrorists is rising so high that the Energy Department will need to close some weapons laboratories, or at least consolidate the weapons fuel that they hold, government officials and outside experts are warning.

    Security costs threaten to eat into the budget for building and maintaining warheads, the experts say.

    After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the department re-examined potential threats to the 13 laboratories and other plants across the country where it has what it calls "special nuclear materials," or plutonium and bomb-grade uranium. The department theorized that attackers might not try to steal the material, but rather fabricate a nuclear bomb on the spot and detonate it.


    Full Story

    Now, lets have a FACTUAL discussion!

    From Anonymous:

    I applaud your call to start working the issues. I
    have been at the Lab for more than 20 years, and my
    highest management position was Group Leader. I have
    worked with many managers at higher levels, including
    some EB members.

    The first and foremost issue I see today is that group
    leaders have lost their ability to lead, because their
    budget has been moved up to the division, and they
    don’t have any control over it. One of the things
    that Nanos did right, when he first became director,
    was to review in depth what the group leader role was.
    Unfortunately, he didn’t follow through. I suggest
    we resurrect that research and implement it ASAP.

    The second issue is the Enterprise Project. We need
    to ask why such a large investment is needed, at the
    expense of science and infrastructure at the Lab. In
    particular, to support the previous issue, it has to
    allow for individual cost codes for groups.

    Third – the overhead issue. Nanos cut down on
    overhead but not on the overhead work. This causes
    all sorts of possibly illegal cost accounting
    shenanigans. We need a realistic overhead rate,
    coupled with an effort to decrease overhead work.

    Fourth – choose group, division and directorate
    leaders who have demonstrated their ability to lead
    people. Not “project leaders”, “program managers”,
    etc. I think you know who I am referring to, but lets
    start avoiding name calling.

    Lets also recognize that running the Lab today demands
    an immense amount of administrative work, and that
    “chiefs of staff”, “special assistants”, “senior
    advisors”, etc., are an unfortunate consequence. LANL
    needs to work with DOE to decrease the requirements
    that generated this busy work, but as long as the
    requirements exist, these people need to be
    appreciated like everyone else. (disclaimer: I am NOT
    in any of these categories).

    Now, lets have a FACTUAL discussion!


    Friday, May 06, 2005

    Phase, 2: Damage Control

    Step 1 has been accomplished, Director Nanos has resigned. Step two is now ahead of us: we must start performing damage control on what is left of LANL. I suggest that we begin by addressing the the items listed in the "Running list of wasteful activities at LANL". Much thought has gone into producing this list of all that is badly dysfunctional at LANL, and therefore it provides one starting point for us to collectively begin to repair that which is broken. If the new director decides to pitch in and help, so much the better.

    In the coming days the focus of this blog will be reoriented towards a longer term set of goals. The time to review past mistakes, judgment errors and injustices, while not completely behind us, is now of secondary interest. At this point we need to regroup, and begin to plan our path forward. It is my intent to help focus the users of this blog towards that productive end.


    Domenici blasts LANL remarks

    CAROL A. CLARK and ROGER SNODGRASS, lanews@lamonitor.com, Monitor Staff Writer

    Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., blasted Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, for being out of touch with the history and value of the Los Alamos National Laboratory during a telephone conversation this morning.

    "Why do we have to have this lab?" Stupak asked Jerry Paul, Principal Deputy Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration during a House investigative hearing Thursday.

    "How are you going to fix it?" he asked again later. "What is going to change with the new manager?"

    Domenici said comments that Los Alamos should be closed because of problems were made by someone who doesn't know about what Los Alamos does.

    While the laboratory has had some problems, Domenici said, "the problems are on the way to getting taken care of.

    "The laboratory is the United States of America's science security blanket. While this lab does many things in the interest of national security, it is also our security against science breakthroughs that might adversely affect our people."

    Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Thursday that Los Alamos has filled a significant role in national security since its creation as a top-secret World War II project to develop the atomic bomb.

    "Anyone who would question the lab's importance clearly does not have an understanding of all that this lab has done and continues to do for the country," Bingaman said.

    Domenici was also unhappy with the answers about the lab provided by the NNSA deputy administrator.

    In answer to the question of how to fix the lab, Paul referred to an unfinished study that has been cited by NNSA Ambassador Brooks to justify a possible $3 billion cut in the weapons laboratory budget over a number of years.

    "What is so special at LANL?" Stupak continued. "Why do we need Los Alamos? What can't be transferred some place else?"

    Paul said an outside group was examining that question concerning the entire complex and its critical missions.

    "Where do they need to be done and what are the critical missions that are needed?," he asked.

    The study, commissioned by Rep. David Hobson, R-Ill., chair of the subcommittee that holds the pursestrings for the energy department, was due at the end of April, but Paul said it is now expected at the end of May.

    Sen. Pete Domenici objected recently to funding assumptions based on a study whose conclusions had not been adopted.

    "I was very disturbed by the quality of the representation by the NNSA (DOE). The gentleman who appeared seemed to me to be poorly equipped and grossly uninformed about the laboratory," Domenici said.

    "How he could do such a terrible job of describing the value of the lab is beyond my understanding, and I will complain directly about that to DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman and NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks."

    Los Alamos has written another chapter in deterrence

    From Anonymous:

    Hey Doug: I found this under the Diana Heil post "Nanos to Leave Top Job".
    It's very telling and I think it deserves its own spot on the Blog.

    Several bloggers were concerned that Nanos, like an evil cyborg, would hold grudges and retaliate from Washington. Please know that we in Washington know Nanos already. He fouled up his nest here before he fouled up his nest there. He has no friends here other than his family. Worry not and enjoy your victory. Congratulations on another job well done for the Nation's security. Los Alamos has written another chapter in deterrence.

    News on Nanos Resignation


    This blog would not have even come to existence

    In my humble opinion, this blog would not have even come to existence, were it not for a poor decision by Jim Fallin last summer (whether he was under instruction from Nanos I couldn't tell). There is a lot of good stuff in this blog, along with the dirty laundry and the whining -- not so different from the Newsbulletin (except the spelling and punctuations are better in the Newsbulletin). I was shocked a few years ago to find that some of our high-level managers were "too busy" to read the Newsbulletin -- but that was how you find out what employees were thinking!However, should the bloggers take credit for Nanos's departure? I doubt it. His biggest limiting behavior is the lack of discipline: there is no check of his temper, his language, his thoughts; this lack of personal discipline would have gotten him sooner or later. I expect the wiser managers to find out what employees are thinking. Do not dismiss this blog as the whining of a few malcontents. Many loyal LANL employees have contributed to this blog with good intentions. The biggest lesson here for the wiser managers is this: do not try to take away anyone's freedom of speech. You can't, and you'll lose. Karen



    The University of California today (May 6) announced the appointment of Robert W. Kuckuck, a veteran in national laboratory management, a former National Nuclear Security Administration official and a leading expert in nuclear weapons testing and treaty verification technologies, as interim director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. UC President Robert C. Dynes, acting with the approval of U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, appointed Kuckuck interim director, replacing departing director George Peter Nanos.

    Kuckuck will take office on May 16, 2005, and is expected to serve through the remainder of the university's current contract to manage Los Alamos. Nanos will be stepping down to take a new position with the U.S. Department of Defense.

    "Bob Kuckuck has the knowledge and expertise to provide strong leadership for Los Alamos," said Dynes. "His depth of familiarity with the laboratory, the university, and the missions of both institutions, as well as the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy, makes him an excellent choice for this position.

    "Bob's expertise in nuclear weapons and his fundamental understanding of how strong management and science must coexist in a national laboratory will be invaluable to the ongoing and important work of the lab."

    A nuclear physicist who has taken on a variety of leadership responsibilities up to the highest levels of laboratory management, Kuckuck has extensive experience in the nuclear weapons complex having worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

    In his more than 35-year career at Lawrence Livermore, Kuckuck held a number of management positions including deputy director of the laboratory from 1994 to 2001. Additional positions included assistant program leader, solid state lasers from 1975 to1977; assistant associate director for nuclear testing from 1977 to 1979; program leader for treaty verification research from 1979 to 1981; deputy division leader (diagnostics physics) from 1979 to 1982; deputy associate director for nuclear design from 1982 to 1984; and associate director for nuclear test and experimental science from 1984 to 1991. He began his career at Lawrence Livermore as an experimental physicist.

    From 1992 to 1994, Kuckuck was special assistant to the University of California for laboratory management. From 2001 to 2002, Kuckuck was deputy administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration with responsibility for internal operations and organization restructuring. After leaving NNSA in December 2002, Kuckuck was appointed senior advisor in the Office of Laboratory Management working on laboratory oversight issues.

    "I am both honored and pleased to serve as director of Los Alamos National Laboratory," Kuckuck said. "The scientific and programmatic achievements of Los Alamos under UC management have been extraordinary. I look forward to working with these dedicated and capable people, many of whom have been my colleagues over the years."

    Kuckuck received his Ph.D. in applied science from the University of California, Davis, his masters in physics from Ohio State University and his undergraduate degree in physics at West Liberty State College. In 2003, Kuckuck received the Department of Energy Secretary's Gold Award. DOE's highest honor, the award citation by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham recognized Kuckuck for "superior leadership" and for "vision, dedication and commitment to excellence . . . that have directly resulted in the advancement of initiatives that are strengthening the nuclear security of the United States of America."

    Kuckuck is married to the former Marilyn Kiger, and they have three adult daughters.

    Dynes received approval for the interim action from UC Board of Regents' Chairman Gerald Parsky and chairman of the regents' Committee on Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories Peter Preuss.

    As interim director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Kuckuck will earn $355,800 annually and oversee an operation with a $2.2 billion budget and a work force of approximately 13,500. The director's salary, like that of all other UC employees at the laboratory, is paid from funds derived from the federal DOE contract. No general funds from the state of California are used to pay the director's salary.

    LANL director Nanos to join U.S. Department of Defense

    Nanos served as director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, first as interim and then as permanent director, for more than two years beginning in January 2003. He is stepping down to take a new position at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency for the U.S. Department of Defense in Washington, DC.

    "Pete has done a remarkable job under extraordinary pressures and circumstances these past two years. He has been a stalwart agent of change at the laboratory," said Dynes. "His determination to move the laboratory forward, along with his commitment to excellence, have resulted in many notable and lasting improvements in virtually all areas of the laboratory's operations.

    "Because of his strong leadership, the nation can be confident that Los Alamos is a stronger, safer and better-managed laboratory today. I wish Pete the best of luck in his new endeavor."

    During his tenure, Nanos led Los Alamos National Laboratory through what some, inside and outside the lab, consider an unprecedented period of change, uncertainty and challenge.

    In his two years as director, the laboratory completely revamped its business models and procurement systems, overhauled its overhead rates, reducing costs associated with scientific research, reshaped the lab's organizational and management structure to improve performance and productivity, reestablished the nation's ability to manufacture PITs, took aggressive steps in support of reinvigorating basic and applied scientific research in all areas, restarted waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southern New Mexico, completed a comprehensive waste management agreement with the New Mexico Environmental Department, re-energized the lab's presence and partnerships with surrounding communities and pueblo governments, restructured and strengthened the lab's security and emergency response posture, enhanced its involvement in our nation's scientific and foreign assistance programs abroad, and re-engineered its data sharing and information management systems.

    During this same period, the laboratory continued to distinguish itself in the fields of basic and applied research, capturing numerous national and international science awards including eight R&D 100 Awards in 2003, eight American Physical Society Awards in 2003, five R&D 100 Awards in 2004 and three E.O. Lawrence Awards from DOE in 2004.

    Nanos' insistence on development of a standardized common set of overarching management principles ultimately led to the adoption of five critical management priorities -- safety, security and compliance; national security mission; science in support of the lab's mission; business management and community partnerships.

    Acknowledging his primary responsibility to ensure safety and security of the lab, Nanos suspended all laboratory operations in July 2004 following a series of safety and security related incidents. He then personally managed and directed one of the most comprehensive and complex restart programs ever conducted within the Department of Energy's complex.

    "It has been a sincere honor to work at this most prestigious laboratory. While there have been many challenges, I believe there have been many more successes, not so much because of what I may have done, but because of the men and women who care so much about this great institution," said Nanos. "It is they who deserve all the credit for what has been done here and it is they, the laboratory's staff, who will always have my deepest and most heartfelt respect and admiration.

    "There is no other place that equals Los Alamos. I believe the lab's finest hour, with the university's strong leadership, lies before it."

    As part of ongoing competition preparations, the University of California is conducting a thorough review of potential senior management team members. The university is looking at a full range of candidates, including the incumbents. Only after the final request for proposals has been released by the DOE will the university know DOE's specifications for the senior management team.


    The University of California manages three national laboratories on behalf of the Department of Energy. Today, Livermore and Los Alamos laboratories each employ more then 8,000 UC staff and have combined annual operating budgets exceeding $3.5 billion, while Berkeley Lab has approximately 4,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $500 million.

    The laboratories are major sources of scientific and technical strength for the nation in fields ranging from national security to basic physics, biotechnology, climate studies, computer development, materials science, energy, and the environment. The laboratories contribute to the country's economic competitiveness through research partnerships with industry and engage in math and science education for students and teachers at all levels.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

    Los Alamos develops and applies science and technology to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent; reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and terrorism; and solve national problems in defense, energy, environment and infrastructure.

    # # #

    For more information about the UC-managed national laboratories:


    For more news and information about the University of California:


    Energy Secretary's Statement on Los Alamos Lab Leadership Changes

    Friday, May 6, 2005

    Anne Womack Kolton, 202/586-4940

    Energy Secretary's Statement on Los Alamos Lab Leadership Changes

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The following is a statement from Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman on leadership changes at the department's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The University of California today announced that LANL director Dr. Pete Nanos will be stepping down and that Dr. Robert Kuckuck will serve as interim director.

    "Dr. Pete Nanos has led Los Alamos National Lab during a challenging time. He instituted a number of sound business practices that have helped Los Alamos remain one of the premier labs in the world. While serving as director, Dr. Nanos demonstrated vigor and resourcefulness learned during his many years in the U.S. Navy. I thank him for his service to our department and our Nation, and I wish him the best of luck in his new responsibilities at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

    Bob Kuckuck brings an enormous wealth of experience to this task, having served at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and in Washington at the National Nuclear Security Administration. I look forward to working with him in his role as interim director."

    Director Kuckuck could benefit from considering the following advice

    From Anonymous:

    Ok, Nanos is gone. Hurray. Now what? There are a slew of problems that he left behind. They range from personnel to procedural. From policy, to personality. I suggest that Director Kuckuck could benefit from considering the following advice:

    1. Listen to what staff are saying on this blog. A lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to identify many of the problems with LANL, and what some of the solutions to those problems are. You might want to look at the running list of wasteful activities, http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/04/running-list-of-wasteful-activities-at.html.

    2. Take a good, hard critical look at the remaining top level managers at LANL. Nanos was not the only problem manager at LANL.

    3. Start mending fences. The previous director, Nanos, did a lot of damage to LANL staff, and to LANL customers.

    4. Take a good hard look at the LANL PR department, and their policies of censorship and deceit. They aren't fooling anyone, but they are continuing to do damage to LANL's credibility.

    5. Use common sense. Exercise respect in dealing with LANL staff. Your predecessor did not, an look where it got him.

    If Director Kuckuck attempts to do the above, he will find LANL staff working with him, and that will be a healthy change for LANL.

    Letter from Bob Dynes to LANL employees

    Dear Colleagues:

    As you are aware, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Pete Nanos has announced that he will be taking a new position with the US Department of Defense. Pete has been an agent of change at LANL, and the laboratory is a stronger and safer place as a result of his leadership. I fully respect his decision to join the Department of Defense, and I wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors. He has been deeply committed to the mission of the laboratory, and I am grateful for his tireless efforts over the last two years.

    I am pleased to announce that I am appointing Robert W. Kuckuck as interim director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, effective May 16, 2005. For many of you, Bob is no stranger and has been intimately involved in nuclear weapons research and programs for more than four decades. Bob has extensive experience in the national laboratory and nuclear weapons complex, having worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. He will be an excellent asset to Los Alamos, and I know you will give him a warm welcome when he arrives.

    Director Nanos' departure comes as we continue along the path of competition. I do believe that the strong policies and procedures that Pete put in place at the University's direction, coupled with the continuing excellence in your scientific and technological work, have placed us in a highly competitive position. The University is continuing its preparations for the forthcoming competition and we are awaiting the final request for proposals. It is our sincere hope that the final request for proposals places a strong emphasis on science and technology and offers the necessary security and protections for employees. I expect the UC Board of Regents will make a decision regarding competition after the release of the final RFP.

    As we look to the future, I am confident that with your help, Interim Director Kuckuck will be able to continue to foster the highest levels of excellence in science and management performance of this laboratory, one of our nation's scientific jewels.


    Robert C. Dynes

    Nanos to leave LANL’s top job

    Nanos to leave LANL's top job

    Diana Heil
    The New Mexican
    May 6, 2005

    Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Pete Nanos is off to a new job in Washington, D.C., and on May 16 an interim director will take over, according to sources reached by The New Mexican.

    Nanos, who has held an unpopular post in troubled times, will step down from the lab's top job and take a new post with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency with the U.S. Department of Defense, according to a five-page, embargoed news release from the University of California, the lab's manager, that was leaked by an anonymous government official Thursday.

    The announcement, scheduled to be released today, said Nanos will be replaced by Robert Kuckuck, a veteran in national laboratory management who formerly worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

    Reached at his home Thursday, Kuckuck said he will be happy to speak about his new appointment at a news conference scheduled for today. "I'd prefer to stick with the protocol they set up," he said.


    Full Story

    Few at the Los Alamos national lab will be surprised at today's news that the lab's director is stepping down

    I didn't have time to develop more audio yesterday from that two-hour
    hearing, but have pertinent comments here:

    SANTA FE (2005-05-06) -- 7 a.m. -- Few at the Los Alamos national lab will
    be surprised at today's news that the lab's director is stepping down. The
    rumor mill has been abuzz for weeks on that subject. Anonymous posters to
    a webblog about Los Alamos even got Nanos' replacement right - he's Robert
    Kuckuck, who has been involved with other national labs.

    The timing of Nanos' departure also fits with conjecture on the internet
    rumor mill. They say it's to clear the decks for a decision by the
    University of California to announce its intention to bid for the Los
    Alamos contract.

    So far the school has not said whether it will enter the open-bidding
    competition. But sources tell KSFR that installing a new director not
    tainted by controversy could make the school's position stronger. That
    webblog, caught the attention of members of congress holding a hearing
    about Los Alamos issues yesterday. Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado
    called it no more than high-school-style whining.

    And Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak asked an energy department official
    why isn't it possible to shut down the lab and move its science to other

    The smarter managers will read blogs, looking for real problems that need to be fixed

    The Unbearable Rightness of Nick Denton
    By Glenn Harlan Reynolds

    [...] Denton noted, "Asymmetric warfare has come to the workplace: managers may sometimes have the power to hire and fire, but the peasants have the internet now." He also suggested that this might be a bigger burden for larger organizations than for small ones.

    That seems to be the case, with regard to the ultimate large organization, the United States government. According to a report by Bill Broad in the New York Times, employee-bloggers are giving the Los Alamos National Lab, and the Department of Energy, fits:

    "A 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.

    Full Story

    Auditors say lab too costly

    Some lawmakers suggest firing staff, shutting down Los Alamos facility
    By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

    Federal auditors say the government overpaid almost $30 million to the University of California for national lab management offices in Oakland and elsewhere over five years, atop $14 million of inappropriate costs at UC-run Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Lawmakers were incensed at those costs Thursday, with one Republican congressman suggesting firing the entire Los Alamos staff and a Democratic congressman talking of shutting the lab down.


    Full Story

    Rep.: Why Not Close LANL?

    Rep.: Why Not Close LANL?

    By Michael Coleman
    Journal Washington Bureau
    WASHINGTON— Exasperated U.S. House members on Thursday condemned a "culture of non-compliance" at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and one congressman suggested closing the famous nuclear weapons lab for good.
    "We have a lab here that is a constant problem," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, said during a Capitol Hill hearing. "Why do we need this one? Is there any really unique science that can only be done there? Why do we need Los Alamos?"


    Full Story

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    I made an organized Word document with a table of contents, an upgradeable index, and working hyperlinks

    I got frustrated with having to scroll down to find a particular post. So, I made an organized Word document with a table of contents, an upgradeable index, and working hyperlinks. Now I can find things by date, by topic, and by keywords. The hyperlinks connect to published news articles and to the comments on a particular post. I will upgrade the format and may add a database later on.

    It took me about 30 minutes to construct this document. I have one for April and will add one for May and for other months as needed.

    I am willing to email this draft document and its improvements to others. At the moment, I am not willing to post it to the world. Doug may convince me otherwise. ;-)

    If you would like a copy of the document, please contact me.

    I do not work for the Lab, for the government, or for any bidders. I just wanted to be able to find key information on the blog.

    Eric F


    Latest intel

    From Anonymous:

    Here's the latest. Nanos has informed UC and LANL that he has taken another position. The announcement will be made on May10 and his last day will still be May 13. The celebrations will commence immediately. All hands on deck to pipe the admiral overboard.

    The blog did not scapegoat innocent employees

    Borrowing from a comment on the



    [...] Any MC [Member of Congress] that defends the waste of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars caused by the ill-advised stand down at Los Alamos, that defends the denial of due process to American citizens, and that denigrates Americans who exercise their freedom of expression to uncover waste, fraud and abuse, does not deserve the respect of the people who elected them. The indisputable facts are that (1) the blog did not misappropriate Federal money, not one dollar; (2) the blog did not scapegoat innocent employees; (3) the blog did not deny due process to persons accused of wrongdoing; (4) the blog did not brag that tax dollars were being used to bankrupt American citizens who were only pursuing venues of equity and fairness; (5) the blog did not engage in favoritism in promotion; (6) the blog did not cover up security infractions by senior laboratory executives; and (7) the blog did not threaten retaliation against worker for exercising their legal rights. The blog did report in full accordance with the Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act the seven preceding indiscretions committed by others. In which camp should Members of Congress pitch their tents of support? I respectfully ask that question and then proceed to rest my case.

    When they put a loose cannon in charge of a national lab

    Borrowing from a comment on the



    [...] it was our intent to raise this travesty to the congressional level. People who hold the purse strings should realize that when they put a loose cannon in charge of a national lab that bad things tend to happen. It is congress that needs to remove their heads from the sand. Indeed, there is no culture of noncompliance here. Just because some megalomaniac makes the claim doesn't make it true. The problem is one that the great author Tom Clancy proclaimed in an interview on C-SPAN. He said, 'In my experience the average congressman has an IQ lower than the average truck driver, not intending any offense to truck drivers.'Congresswoman DeGette seems to confirm that theory. As previously stated, these people work for us and they are doing a poor job of oversight if they allow the likes of Nanos to have free reign.

    Congress blames bloggers

    From Constant's pations blog, found here.

    Congress blames bloggers

    Congressional oversight? Not at all.

    Congress has gotten into the Nanos-defense game. It all started long ago, when the Cold War ended. No longer was the US willing to spend the money needed to get the job done right.

    The years of neglect culminated in 9-11 and continue today.

    Yet what was most telling during the recent hearing was who stood up for DoD. Was it the evil DHS or DoJ that came to Nanos' rescue?

    Not at all.
    QUOTE: Colo. Congresswomen [stet] Diana DeGette was more explicit in placing the blame on the bloggers as representing the "culture of noncompliance." "Management gets it," she said. "I've got the blog right here. Page after page of anonymus people complaining like high school students. Gee, I don't like Nanos I wish he would go to hell.ENDQUOTE
    I recently read a similarly well-articulated position.

    Indeed, the very "leadership" which needs to get to bottom of things has done a typical DC-180-turn.

    Throw the attention onto those who dare speak.

    That's not leadership. It's more of the same DC-speak which precipitated 9-11.

    Clearly Congresswoman DeGette didn't read this list of questions. If the Congresswoman has the time to read a blog full of "whiny" comments [which is another matter, they're not], then obviously her staff has the time to read something containing more substance.

    We eagerly await her response:

  • Will the Committee dare ask any of the questions posted on the blog?

  • Will Congressman DeGette actually read the contents of the blog?

  • Why so quick to blame the messenger at a time when the messenger is the only catalyst for Congressional oversight?

    Congratulations DC, you exceeded my expectations. I was expecting you to take quite a while to show your true colors.

    The nation can soundly sleep, knowing the failed management practices which prompted UC to remove Nanos are thriving in the halls of Congress.

    Beware of bloggers!

  • The Congressmen got it half right

    From Anonymous:

    The Congressmen got it half right, which isn't bad for them. There is a culture problem at LANL. The part they got wrong was where the problem resides. It is in upper management, not in the other 14,000 LANL employees where the cultural problem lurks. If Congress does not want to hear about it, then there is some very bad news for them. The NY Times story on the management problems at LANL was only the beginning. Once Nanos is gone, LANL will have one bad manager less. But he wasn't idle during his reign of terror: he collected a passel of mediocre (at best) to incompetent (at worst) upper managers around him. The only way to fix that is to have a new contractor come in and clean house.

    Congress had better get used to hearing about problems at LANL, because the problems are not going to go away by themselves, and now lots of people are aware of them. Thanks to Bill Broad and numerous other reporters the rest of the country is starting to hear that LANL has serious management problems.

    Unintended consequences

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held another in its series of hearings on management problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory today, with testimony mostly mostly DOE officials, including Ed Wilmot.

    There was nobody to defend LANL or UC, and more to the point thre was nobody to defend the blog.

    The blog was referenced several times, mostly by Rep. Bart Stupak of Mich and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colo., both Democrats, who pretty much used it as another stick to beat the lab with, a sign of the incorrigable culture.

    While "it was about time" for the shutdown in July, said Stupack, "this action was controversial. Bloggers fulminated against Pete Nanos."

    Colo. Congresswomen Diana DeGette was more explicit in placing the blame on the bloggers as representing the "culture of noncompliance." "Management gets it," she said. "I've got the blog right here. Page after page of anonymus people complaining like high school students. Gee, I don't like Nanos I wish he would go to hell.

    So, prithee bloggers, now that you see even Congress paying attention, perhaps you could let them know, in a concise way they can understand, who is to blame. You? Manager(s)? UC? NNSA? DOE? Congress?

    Are there substantive, qualitative contributions that are coming out of this discussion, or is it merely proving that all information that comes out of the lab has to be controlled or else it will be irresponsibly interpreted and used against even well-intentioned people?

    Los Alamos wants large nuclear storage dump

    Associated Press
    May 5, 2005

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy to expand a nuclear waste dump at Los Alamos National Laboratory is drawing criticism.

    The nuclear weapons lab is running out of space to permanently bury low-level radioactive waste, said Tony Stanford, Los Alamos facilities and waste operations division leader. The expansion would increase the lab's Area G atop a mesa adjacent to San Ildefonso Pueblo by about 30 acres to 93 acres.

    Former San Ildefonso Gov. Gilbert Sanchez has denounced the plan.


    Full Story

    Advice to the bidders

    Advice to the bidders

    A first step in any significant management decision is a strategic situational analysis, commonly known as a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Here is one insider’s view (non-management) of the situation at LANL just prior to the release of the RFP. Give it the credence you see fit.


    § A large Q-cleared workforce. Replacing a cleared employee takes two years for recruiting, relocating, clearing, and training and five years before they can become effective in many of the highly specialized fields. Having a large pool of already-cleared workers facilitates quick responses to changing work requirements.

    § Uniquely skilled scientific and technical support personnel. LANL has people who have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do things done nowhere else in the world. This applies to both TSMs and technicians, as there is nowhere else to learn the specialized skills required at LANL other than OJT. These people are not fungible goods, and their skills are not easily duplicated elsewhere.

    § Support facilities and equipment that would difficult or prohibitively expensive to duplicate elsewhere.

    § An attractive physical location and a positive academic reputation help to recruit high-caliber personnel.

    § A national security mission (especially as regards to nuclear weapons and effects) human knowledge base (tribal knowledge) that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

    § Scientific personnel with extensive personal relationships in the international advanced physics, chemistry, and biology communities, facilitating informal communications channels and collaborations. These relationships reduce the delay between scientific discovery and implementation.


    The principle weaknesses at LANL are with the existing management, an area where a new contractor could have an enormous positive impact.

    § Failure To Manage Employees

    o Internal Communications. Senior management is seen as disconnected from the reality of the workplace and is unable to communicate a consistent, empowering corporate vision of LANL’s future to the rank and file. Employees are in public revolt against current senior management.

    o Completing bureaucratic paperwork has become far more important than getting the job accomplished – we have become the work-free safe zone. Technical employees are frustrated by a focus on that places CYA paperwork higher than technical accomplishments and high-quality work output.

    o Unionized support trades are expensive, inefficient, and demoralizing to the non-unionized workforce. They are seen as an obstacle to success rather than a partner.

    § Failure To Manage The Organization

    o There is no consistent organizational development plan to grow supervisors into managers and instill a culture of managerial professionalism up and down the chain of command. While several functions have the term “leader” in their title, few actually lead.

    o LANL needs a two-ladder professional development system, one ladder being the technical side and the other being the management side. In too many circumstances, senior technical people are promoted into management positions due to their technical skills and fail because they don’t have the organizational and people skills to be effective. Having a PhD. in the hard sciences doesn’t confer the skills required to become an effective leader or manager.

    o Newly-promoted people spend far too much time in “Acting” positions. The time to decide if a person is qualified for the job is before they are promoted, not after they are in office. Conversely, there is no effective way to identify and remove or reassign under-performing personnel.

    § Failure To Manage The Business

    o Strategic Planning. The LANL vision statement is a cornucopia of Dilbert-speak platitudes. There is no strategic planning, but there are many management retreats. Yes, part of this is the political vagaries of the appropriation process, but part of it is that LANL management has been unable to lay out a clear vision of the laboratory’s national mission, concrete steps towards what needs to be done, and then deliver on the promises. Mismanaging technology projects (e.g.: DARHT, LANL’s NIF) with a “cost plus” attitude has destroyed credibility with the funding organizations. Management focus is on CYA paperwork and fear of audits rather than on deliverables and meeting commitments.

    o Marketing. LANL management has failed to diversify aggressively into homeland security, biology, and other up-and-coming areas to broaden the laboratory business base and cultivate Work for Others (WFO). Developing new customers (and maintaining existing ones under WFO is left to individuals and is unsupported by the organization. Contracts for WFO are not treated as a corporate commitment, driving customers away and leading to a nuclear weapons monoculture at the lab.

    o Bloated Overhead Functions. There is a wasted duplication of support functions because centralized support organizations are non-responsive to mission needs, creating an “underground economy” in indirect labor. Forcing support functions to develop a customer-focused attitude and consolidating functions will reduce overhead and eliminate many “almost full-time but not quite” jobs scattered about the organization.

    o Financial Management. Unstable and arbitrarily-adjusted budgeting diverts attention and manpower away from program execution. Management information systems are crude and obsolete. Arcane (and arbitrarily applied) overhead rules that change in the middle of the fiscal year damage budgetary credibility.

    § Failure To Manage External Relations

    o Management has failed to sell LANL’s role in national security to the body politic. They should take a lesson from NASA and reach out not just to the academic elites but also to the general public at the Scientific American level. No need for cartoons, but publicity on how LANL supports national science and national security would help counter the negative publicity of past years.

    o Manage the quality of LANL-sponsored papers and presentations at conferences. Many of them are science-fair show and tell posters rather than real research.


    § The contract recompetition will provide the opportunity to restructure the entire organization along corporate lines, consolidating many now-dispersed and inefficient overhead functions and breaking up the little fiefdoms.

    § The new contractor’s fee and payment of NM GRT will probably hit the budget for $100M, or equivalent to perhaps 750 FTEs. The promised exodus of near-retirement UC workers will affect not only the technical staff, but also many of the support people. A retirement incentive program targeted at support personnel would help bring the overhead rate under control without invoking a RIF. Turnover at LANL under UC is well below national norms, leading to people “retired in place.” An opportunity to replace these people through retirement will revitalize the organization.

    § Recent crises have brought attention and money to fix long-standing problems such as RedNet. Exemplary execution of the RedNet project will improve LANL’s credibility with NNSA/DOE.

    § A new pit manufacturing facility at LANL will bring stable funding but will require a huge capital investment and long-term congressional commitment. LANL must resist being forced into pit manufacturing in the existing TA-55 facility as it is unsuited to the task and will be more hazardous than a purpose-built manufacturing facility. The argument must be based on embracing the MPF mission and doing it right, rather than undertaking a high-risk activity at a facility ill-suited to production flows.


    § Anti-nuclear forces are gathering political support to shut down anything associated with nuclear weapons, including LANL. These people are working in concert with a vocal minority that has a strong resentment towards people of academic achievement. These anti-academics resent the market-matching salaries that LANL personnel enjoy.

    § Environmental cleanup will consume an ever-larger portion of a gradually-declining operating budget. In this zero-sum game, shortchanging science will become the norm, driving away the best researchers.

    § Pete Domenici’s retirement will provide opening for opportunists like Hobson to cripple the nuclear program. Heather Wilson as his heir-apparent will have zero seniority in the Senate and will not be able to “bring home the bacon” that Domenici does.

    § The mass exodus of experienced personnel will take their tribal knowledge with them. Experienced people are already soured on Nanos’ double-dipper edict and many will take their knowledge with them in July.

    The federal government is refusing to pay for some of the costs

    KSFR 90.7 FM
    4 p.m. May 5, 2005

    There’s word from Washington that the federal government is refusing to
    pay for some of the costs associated with last year’s shutdown of
    operations at the Los Alamos national lab.

    Los Alamos suspended work after reports two computer disks with classified
    material had disappeared. An investigation later concluded they never
    existed. Nuclear security investigator Jerry Paul told a congressional
    committee today that the majority of the stand-down costs should be
    reimbursed to the University of California. But he says the energy
    department isn’t going to pay the university for more than $14 mnillion in
    salary costs.

    That committee met to discuss the range of problems at Los Alamos.
    Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan asked who would fix the lab if the
    director leaves, as is widely rumored.

    The committee says they’ll call Los Alamos officials to a later hearing.

    Audio at

    It occurs to me that your leader may be a wakusoyo

    As a former representative of several vendors to the lab, I've been reading the blog to see how things might be going with my old friends at LANL (perhaps the real focus was first lost when the name changed from LASL).

    It occurs to me that your leader may be a wakusoyo - a Tewa term of considerable derision but perhaps relevant given the cultural context(s). The Mimbres bowl shown is a possible example according to Brody and Swentzell in To Touch the Past - The Painted Pottery of the Mimbres People of an ancient wakusoyo. "In modern Pueblo thinking, any man who thinks himself bigger - that is, better - than others and does not do his own work or assume equal responsibility for the welfare of the group is called a wakusoyo, a person with a penis that is too big... and not required to carry his own weight." (pg 35)

    Both I and my wife have worked closely with a couple retired admirals and found them to be politically adroit and able to lead effectively even when they seem uncertain of the real mission. I suspect you are the victims of an exception that was chosen because he was "exceptional" and the quality of that choice is now becoming apparent. As a Colorado resident, I am grateful that you are now the keepers of the Rocky Flats inventory and hope that at least that mission survives the current woes.

    I have listened to the Win Ho Lee story (5 CDs of material told from his POV). I suspect that you're now collectively paying the penalty for that travesty foisted on you by Lee's carelessness, Richardson's inquisitorial zeal (great that he now may get some payback though I grieve for my native state) and FBI/Chris Cox stupidity, all choreographed by the Lab management of the day. I was sorry to see Sig H depart and believe that even his detractors would be more comfortable with him back at the helm (please forgive the Navy metaphor). Hard to imagine that much has gotten done in the last 10 months (I thought things might be better for the labs and for the holy grail of national security under King George - bunker busters and maybe the NTS revived, you know...) and that's inexcusable - heads must roll but will they be the right ones?

    Yours in tragicomedy,

    Anon (I may wish to again someday sell something to the Lab)

    New top-level thread on the safety meeting

    (Note to Doug: How about setting up a new top-level thread on the safety meeting, as it's a little off topic for this one?)

    We've had periodic safety meetings ever since I've been at the lab, which is now a loooong time, and they are not a bad thing, although they're not my preferred way of spending time. Done correctly, they can be both interesting and informative. Does anyone else remember when Don Liska, a world-class mountaineer, gave a safety talk on hypothermia (to an organization whose people spent a lot of time outdoors and therefore had an interest in the subject) illustrated with scenes and anecdotes from his trips to the Himalayas, etc.? I would just about have paid money to sit in that safety meeting.

    The objectionable thing about this particular one wasn't so much that we had to take the down time for it, but rather the one-size-fits-all nature of the thing. T, LANSCE, SUP and DX divisions, to name a few, have obviously diverse needs when it comes to electrical safety. Given that Bodman wanted this done (and Pete told the truth for once in asserting that something similar is happening at other labs), it would have been more productive to have a brief (and less condescending -- more on that in a minute) opening statement, followed by Gordon's fairly good presentation, followed by dispersing to our own organizations for some serious introspection on electrical-safety issues specific to those organizations. Doing things this way simply continued the trend toward disempowering line organizations where the specific awareness of issues lies. That can't be right.

    Incidentally, did everyone catch the frigging Admiral's jape about half of all electricians being below average? One could say the same of lab directors. The man seems incapable of making the most rudimentary statement without going out of his way to offend somebody.

    Our next (interim) director

    From Anonymous:

    As someone previously observed, at best Kuckuck will be a caretaker and at worst an undertaker. He lacks the vision, spirit, and drive to be a dynamic leader. The image that most often comes to mind is that of the proverbial Dutch uncle. However, he is well connected to both NNSA and UCOP but has seldom used that influence to help Los Alamos. Even so, I wish him and Glenn Mora the best.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Latest intel

    From Anonymous:

    Actually I don't have any fresh intel. I'm hoping that by getting this posted those better in the know will supply the rest of us.

    On a related note, how about that Nanos performance today, eh? You almost couldn't tell that he only has 7 more days here.

    On yet another note, my spidey sense tells me that big-ish news is just around the corner. Perhaps LM & UC will announce that they have decided to partner with each other, but with LM on top. It might be an interesting weekend, news-wise.

    Ed's Food Market is closing

    From Anonymous:

    When I went to get something for lunch yesterday, I saw that Ed's Food Market is closing. The cashier indicated the reason was that business had fallen off sharply since the standdown. I see this as a very worrisome indicator of the damage done to both the lab and the town by Nanos's reckless policies.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Spotted on the Big Tesuque Trail

    (Near Santa Fe, NM for you out-of-towners)


    Reminder on coyrighted material

    Hello Doug,

    Recently it seems that there is an increase in posting whole articles from newspapers and other sources that own the copyright on the material being posted. This has been an issue
    in more widely-read blogs (dailykos.com, for example), and posters there are reminded to excerpt a minor part of copyrighted articles and supply web pointers to the articles themselves--even if they require a free or non-free registration to read at the original source.

    In your early-blog days this might not have been so important. However, your blog is now more widely read (NYT article this weekend must have been a major boost), so I think you should remind your posters, by a post and by inclusion in posting guidelines, that copyrighted material cannot be copied entirely into blog postings. Let's keep you out of nuisance situations.

    [Thanks for the reminder, poster. --Doug]

    Oddly, they don't mention avoiding the new parking garages

    From Anonymous:

    To someone who thinks of Los Alamos as an experimental facility, it may seem reasonable to require that everyone have electrical safety training. However, there are also a great many theorists and computational scientists here. We do nothing more electrical than turning our office lights and computers on and off, using the microwave at lunch, and answering the phone. The microwaves are duly posted with warnings about the dangers of over-heating water.

    The people who need electrical training already have it as part of their training plans. On the other hand, our training plans already include instructions on what to do in a lightning storm, an earthquake, etc. Oddly, they don't mention avoiding the new parking garages - which are apparently unsafe in winter, due to lack of snow and ice removal, and unsafe in spring, summer, and fall, due to lack of lightning mitigation. We had a dandy lightning storm this afternoon, and, being safety conscious, I worried that someone might have been foolish enough to have parked on the top floor of the parking garage. Well, I suppose it's just being consistent that we should have training on not sticking forks into electrical outlets or driving fork-lifts into power lines or other things that have nothing to do with the actual jobs of much of the workforce.

    In short, obviously some people need electrical training, but having EVERYONE attend two hours of electrical safety training is a waste of time and dollars. It may be well intended, but it's heavy handed and not very effective. Better to take that money and fix the parking garages.

    Could it be the UC Regents are here on 5/4?

    From Anonymous:

    Our group office fax machine received these ARAMARK Catering orders in error from the Director's office a couple of days ago. Could it be the UC Regents are here on 5/4?

    The faxes are for meal orders which seem to be for lunch and afternoon breaks for two outside visitors (UC Regents) and up to 18 LANL participants for the dates of 5/4 and 5/5. The event is sponsored sponsored by the Director's office; Purpose of Meeting: "Formal Working Meeting, UC Regents". They're having Plated Grilled Chicked Salad (dressing on side) on Thursday, and BBQ Beef Brisket on Friday.

    The Numbers

    People have asked me how many contributors to the blog are there.

    I would like to know as well. The fact is, that of the roughly 6,000 current submissions to the blog (comments + post submissions) the overwhelming majority are fully anonymous by the time I receive them. There truly is no way to know how many distinct individuals have posted to this blog, nor is there any way to get a histogram of posting frequency. When asked by Bill Broad, science journalist for the NYT what my "gut feeling" was regarding the number of distinct posters, I said between 200 and 500. Gary Stradling, for whatever reason, insists that it is between 12 and 20. The truth is nobody knows, nor will they ever. You can look at the variations of individual writing styles and formatting preferences and make your own conclusions, to include that they are all being done by me, if you like. Your estimate will be as good as anybody else's, (except for maybe Kevin and Gary's).


    Wow, we had Pete all wrong

    From Anonymous:

    Look what he's done for LANL:


    Did anybody else notice how closely the cost for the parking facility ($5.6 million) matches the amount of money Pete cost UC ($5.8 million) for his unwarrented shutdown?


    Latest Intel

    From Anonymous(s):

    Nanos will be going to Washington next week to talk to Brooks, and to testify. May 16 is now the big day.

    If you had dealt with Nanos directly

    From Anonymous, from the



    While you make some good points, "Nanos did his best to address the problems he saw here" is going too far.

    If you had dealt with Nanos directly, as I have, you would know that he had a penchant for making bad snap decisions based on no information. People stopped asking him questions in manager meetings as he would make up an answer on the spot, and you were stuck with it. When you tried to help him see there were better paths forward, all you got for your efforts was to be yelled at and threatened.

    Nanos never tried to look at what the real problems were, and he never tried to work toward real solutions. The shutdown of unrelated projects in a lab with an excellent safety and security record just sent the message to our sponsors that they should send their money elsewhere, enhancing the probability of the permanent shutdown you fear.

    My path forward is to put constructive posts on the running list of wasteful activities, and hope we will soon have a director willing to listen.

    What is now important about this blog

    Eric, in the insightful May 2 posting “Evolution of a blog” has raised a question which is not only valid, but fairly profound as well. The blog phenomena is fairly new, and we are just beginning to understand the impact and power blogs can have on the complex structure of society. Blogs have already had a visible impact on the news media, costing at least one over-zealous commentator his longstanding job. Doug’s LANL blog is beginning to show the impact blogs can have on corporate governance, and I suspect that impact will in the long run be fairly significant, and largely for the good.

    What is now important about this blog is that it is no longer a relatively private conversation among LANL staff and a few concerned outsiders -- it is increasingly a widely-read public document and forum, and the opinions expressed, and the manner in which they are expressed, will inevitably shape the opinions of those whose support the lab will need in the future.

    As others have commented, blogs, especially those with anonymous postings, attract not only those with constructive and insightful things to say, but also those few who simply need to air their personal frustrations and hatreds and issues. With signed letters to the local newspaper, one comes to learn whose rantings can be ignored and who is likely to have something useful to add to the discussion. With anonymous postings to a blog it is not always so easy to sort through the noise to find the useful signals.

    Clearly the anonymous feature of this blog was crucial to its early success, given the climate of retribution that existed. But now the LANL staff has to decide if the anonymous feature has largely outlived its usefulness, and if the license anonymity provides to some for less-than-wholesome expressions is beginning to do your cause more harm than good. Clearly you don't want to stifle the useful exchange of information, or constructive discussion. On the other hand, it may be time to begin to limit, voluntarily or otherwise, at least those postings which are just personal attacks or snide comments about other postings, colleagues, other divisions, labs or universities. These don't help your cause ­- in fact they tend to create a stereotype of the LANL staff as immature, arrogant prima donnas out of touch with the real world. That is not at all an accurate portrait of the general LANL staff, so you don't want this now widely-real blog to help create that stereotype.

    What you will now need to do is to balance your desire for unfettered discussion and free expression with the reality that your key supporters in the DOE, Congress, and the public are watching what you write, and judging LANL by what you write, and adjust your postings accordingly.

    I would suggest that if your posting is truly constructive and focused toward where LANL goes from here, then you ought now to be willing to sign you name to it, and that most postings ought now to be signed. And if the content of your posting truly requires anonymity (and some still will), than at least be sensitive to the impression your wording will give to those who eventually have to decide whether or not to fund and support the lab.

    We could ask Doug to undertake a more strenuous monitoring of the blog, but I suspect he is already overwhelmed with just maintaining it in it present state. A much more fair and mature approach would be for posters themselves to simply undertake to be more sensitive to the impression their postings may have on the wider audience.

    Bill Godwin, Los Alamos

    Why I was was not allowed to have Whiteout

    From Anonymous, from the



    Wow .. it's been 10 years since I left LANL, and it seems things have not changed one bit -- I know some of you there will argue that it has only gotten worse, but that's really hard to imagine.

    My favorite story was why I was was not allowed to have Whiteout. Apparently, according to the Safety folks, it was classified as a "hazardous chemical" so I needed a special "Hazardous Materials Storage Cabinet" to house it, and a "Hazardous Materials Handling and Disposal Plan" on file, and "Hazardous Materials Handling Training" before I would be allowed to have Whiteout. We're talking about *WHITEOUT* here.

    They didn't appreciate it when I laughed at them, told them they were ridiculous, and needed to find REAL jobs.

    I left LANL for industry, and have never been sad I did it. LANL will never again attract the 'best and the brightest' until they change ALL of their management practices. Until then, they will retain the dull, the useless and the lazy, and attract only the naive or otherwise unemployable.

    Acting Associate Deputy Director

    From Anonymous:

    This just came out, I thought you would all like to see it.


    From: "John D. Immele"
    Subject: Acting Associate Deputy Director

    TO: Leaders
    FROM: Deputy Director / National Security
    DATE: May 3, 2005

    Effective May 9, 2005 and with the concurrence of the Director and
    UC Office of the President, I am appointing Micheline Devaurs as
    Acting Associate Deputy Director, National Security Planning and

    In this new job, her major duties will be to lead development of a
    unified, long-range strategy for the institution and to work with
    the Deputy Director for National Security in coordinating work of
    the Nuclear Weapons, Threat Reduction and Homeland Security Councils
    to assure high-level issues requiring strategic planning are
    addressed. She will integrate program, science, business and
    infrastructure components into an institutional strategic plan. Her
    job will also involve linking strategic planning and program
    development initiatives, and recommending changes in program
    development strategy. As backup for DDNS, Micheline will help lead
    efforts to take advantage of the workforce review process to ensure
    that recruitment and retention link closely with Laboratory and
    division strategies. Combined, these duties are of major importance
    to the Laboratory's future success.

    Micheline's talents are uniquely suited to this new position. In
    leading the Strategic Research directorate on an acting basis and
    prior to that as leader of the Decision Applications Division, she
    has demonstrated great strength as a planner and developer of
    strategies. Please offer Micheline your congratulations and offer
    her your help in this new role.

    John D. Immele
    Deputy Director / National Security
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

    This ought to stir things up

    From a certain Emmett Smith :

    Considering what I know is and could be going on there, I had always assumed that the jobs at LANL were very tightly controlled and that the environment was more regimental and unforgiving than I could imagine. I believed that the people working there were accepting this life style in order to make a contribution to their country, their science, and mankind. I thought that they understood that it had to be this way. The only democratic right that I thought existed at LANL was that you were all there by choice. Somehow, it was not reasonable or patriotic to ask, “What have you done for your $2 billion lately?” After all, you are controlling the information that could end the world and I would not begin to think that I should be trusted with this.

    Now I find out that what you have done lately for your $2 billion, in your 20 plus years of isolation, is to convince yourselves that you are brilliant, understand everything, cannot be replaced, and the world should know who you are and what you do for a living. You think that it is silly to mention that no classified material should be written on this Blog when the very least you could do is say it over and over again. You actually believe that your continued association with UC will overcome the worldwide damage you have done to your facility’s credibility. You seem to be celebrating that the New York Times has noticed and made this Blog public. Aren’t you the famous ones.

    You cannot have clerical errors, the world cannot know that you have clerical errors, you cannot have misplaced disks found behind copy machines, no one can know about possible misplaced information, and you cannot have safety issues. You cannot have 3,000 “issues”. The process and people that caused this need to be eliminated. $850 million is a very small price to accomplish this considering the possibilities.

    I do not want my country’s enemies, or allies for that matter, to know that one of our nuclear research facilities is having personnel problems. I do not want them to know that information concerning the names, number of dependents, and addresses of every employee working there may exist at some facility outside of LANL and that they may be disgruntled. Do you really think that terrorists are above capturing or attacking you or your family as you venture out of your isolation? Do you think that your daughter is now safe as she attends college on the UC campus? Do you think that I am imagining scenarios that they haven’t already thought about? I do not want them to know that the same types of sophomoric problems may have occurred at other facilities. I do not want every spy in the world to know your name, phone number, address, and what you used to do before you retired fr! om LANL. I do not want every spy in the world to know who will be bidding on your management contract so they can get a head start on their infiltration plans. I do not want every maniacal terrorist on the planet to know that a undetermined number of you rocket scientists with security clearances will be gathering on May 14th at Ashley Park. I do not want to hear about what they are doing and can do at Lawrence Livermore or Sandia on this Blog. I do not want the world to know that LANL is a creaky old system. I do not want every garage bomb builder to know where you defecate your waste. Do you feel violated and compromised yet? If not, keep writing. I wonder how much our enemies would have paid for this intelligence report on this country’s nuclear research capabilities that you are building for them for free. I now know more about what they are doing and can do at LLNL than I had learned after living less than an hour from the facility for over 40 years. Some one may hav! e wanted to keep it that way. I probably could have found out but some one may have noticed what I was trying to do just as they should have noticed that I am reading this Blog. I cannot even send emails to secretaries at other facilities and I always thought that this was a good thing. Every time you write on this Blog you are taking it upon yourself to decide what should and should not be classified and you are putting yourself and your family at risk. If our enemies had to at least work for this information, our intelligence organizations might have a chance of intercepting them. At the very least, you are painting a picture for our enemies to exploit politically and set us back in our negotiations with other countries to control nuclear weapons and keep them out of terrorists’ hands. How can we demand that others control their nuclear facilities when ours appear to be out of control?

    I have seen civil service organizations grind themselves to a standstill as they assumed self-importance and complacency. The next thing that happens is that everyone starts arguing about whom to blame for a major screw up. Since Dr. Nano will apparently be leaving for trying to prevent it, you can blame him. As far as I can tell, all that Dr. Nano did was realize the seriousness of the situation and step on a few prima toes that actually needed to be stomped on or cut off. We need to clean house there. In the interest of national and world security, I am for closing LANL down until Nano eliminates all 500 or 2,000 of you who do not understand what you hold in your hands or the urgency and anonymity with which you should be working. I will not feel safe or secure until you are all gone. I hope the intelligence agencies are already watching you. I suspect that LANL will be! much better off with some fresh meat and a new militaristic attitude but if your departure sets our research back a little, it’s worth it to avoid the alternatives.

    Blog News

    The LANL Blog
    01:12pm MDT, 2 May 2005

    Yet another media storm rose up over the weekend about the LANL blog, triggered this time by a New York Times story. My favorite bit: Doug Roberts, comic book hero.

    But is it me, or is there an irony in Glenn Reynolds, guru of the blogogeneration, learning about a cool blog from a story in The New York Times. That's about as MS as the MSM gets.

    E-mail this item

    More blog news

    Blogosphere XVI -- The Bloggers Strike Again!

    Today's New York Times has an article by William Broad, "At Los Alamos, Blogging Their Discontent", detailling how "A 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." The blog, set up by Doug Roberts, "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 laboratory employees contribute to the blog." Roberts estimates, however, that 200 to 500 employees have used the blog since it was set up in January of this year.

    While the blog has received criticism from some Los Alamos management and their defenders, it is obvious that the blog has not only allowed employees to blow off steam but also brought their complaints to public view. Blogs open up institutions, public and private, to transparency -- to scruitiny by the public -- and this, IMNSHO, is, by in large, a good thing. It should make government administrators and policy makers, corporate executives, and law enforcement officials more thoughful in making decisions once they realize that such decisions may soon be available to millions on the Internet.

    Blogs also, of course, open the door to cranks, screwballs, bigots, and anyone with a hate or conspiracy agenda to spew venom to millions -- and, often, the reader may not immediately see the difference between legitimate protest and "whacko" publishing. Certainly, such people could always go out on street corners to rail against perceived injustices and conspiracies. I remember seeing them all over downtown New York City years ago, often up on orange crates (even though we said "up on a soapbox") -- but now they can go home, sit at the computer, and reach millions. Further, in the old days, the listeners knew the difference between "Crazy Joe" on the crate in Union Square and Edward R. Murrow, Fulton Lewis, Jr., or Drew Pearson on the radio. On the Internet, it is not yet as easy to discern differences between reasonable commentaors and those "from Mars". One must study and question cotent rather that just accepting it as fact.

    So, the Blogosphere is ripe with promise for transparency but is fraught with intellectual danger. We, the readers, must be alert and critical.


    Post a Comment


    The Star-Mangled Banner

    From Anonymous:

    The Star-Mangled Banner
    (with sincere apologies to Francis Scott Key)

    Oh, say, can UC, by the dawn’s early light,
    It’s not proudly we failed, while the nation stood screaming,
    Whose broad gripes and fobars, thro’ the perilous fight,
    O’er the ramparts we wretched, while Lockheed stood scheming.
    And about NNSA? Will they have it their way?
    With Nanos in charge, there’s no reason to stay.
    O say does that star-mangling banter still rage?
    O’er the blog of UC, and the depth of their grave.

    Congress to Hear Update On LANL

    By Adam Rankin
    Journal Staff Writer

    Congress to Hear Update On LANL

    By Adam Rankin
    Journal Staff Writer
    Less than a week before its government contract competition officially gets under way, Los Alamos National Laboratory will again be the focus of a congressional hearing. Lawmakers will gather in Washington on Thursday to hear testimony about ongoing management concerns at the weapons lab.

    The upcoming hearing will be the fourth since 2003 held by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations dedicated to the topic of LANL and its management under the University of California.

    Officials with the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, charged with overseeing the nation's nuclear programs and their security, are expected to answer questions and update House Energy and Commerce lawmakers on improved management and security at the New Mexico weapons lab.

    Next week, DOE and NNSA plan to release a final request for proposals outlining their requirements for the future manager of LANL.

    So far, defense contractors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are the only companies that have announced their intentions to compete for the contract. University of California officials have said they are preparing as if they will compete, but a final decision won't come from the school's Board of Regents until after the final request for proposals is released.

    An aide with the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations said the hearing is meant to be about "routine oversight" and an update on issues raised during the subcommittee's March 18 hearing by LANL director Pete Nanos, NNSA chief Linton Brooks, and DOE's security and safety director Glenn Podonsky.

    At that hearing, Nanos told lawmakers that LANL officials "identified more than 3,000 issues," ranging from safety compliance to permitting, that needed to be fixed over the coming years.
    Posters on an independent Web blog started by a lab employee have predicted in recent weeks that Nanos will soon resign as lab director. But University of California officials have said they continue to support Nanos, and lab spokesmen say such rumors have been floating around for months and are unsubstantiated.

    A witness list for Thursday's hearing has not been released, but LANL spokesman Kevin Roark said neither Nanos nor any University of California officials are expected to testify.
    LANL has been the focus of congressional scrutiny since late in 2002 following a series of financial and management problems. In 2003, DOE announced it planned to put the LANL contract up for competitive bidding for the first time in its 62-year history when the University of California's contract ends in September.

    LANL's security over classified information was brought into question last summer, when lab officials announced they couldn't locate two computer disks that investigations later concluded never existed.

    A cure for Mad Boss Syndrome


    Scott Rosenberg's Links & Comment

    News of Salon, Salon blogs, and the world

    Source for article

    With the controversy over John Bolton's nomination to become Bush's ambassador to the U.N., it's been possible for the administration's supporters to paint Bolton's opponents as whiners. The Democrats, it seems, don't like Bolton because he's, you know, tough. Raises his voice. Pushes around his inferiors. Well, ask the Republicans, what's wrong with that? Shouldn't we want a tough guy at the U.N.? We're the strongest nation on the planet! Why should we care if one of our diplomats is a hardass? We're supposed to reject an appointment because the guy yells?

    Of course, if you've been following the story, you may understand that the issue here isn't one of bad manners -- it's about bad management and bad judgment. Bolton isn't just a tough guy; he's a tough guy who apparently used his ire to bludgeon intelligence reports into the shape he sought. It's one thing to push around your subordinates; it's quite another to push around the information on which the lives of Americans and American troops depend. The reason Bolton's nomination strikes so many observers, including me, as so profoundly wrong is that it's precisely Bolton's management style -- one shared by, and endorsed by, the Vice President's office -- that led to the debacle of American intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion.

    In the "whatever happened to those WMD?" game, the Bush team has been pretty successful at shrugging off blame or diverting it at the intelligence community: Darn that CIA! How could they have misled us so badly? But Bolton's confirmation hearings stand as a blunt reminder of what really happened: Bush's men hammered the intelligence "community", raged at their troops, threw fits and tantrums and delivered threats and ultimatums until the information flowing up from the field matched the fantasy their ideology dictated. When that fantasy collided with the reality on the ground in Iraq -- look, ma, no WMD after all! -- these men turned around and said, well, we acted on the best information we had at the time. First they pushed around their subordinates; then they blamed their subordinates. Classy! And, sadly, genuinely dangerous in the realm of national security, which is why the intelligence field has a strong tradition of trying to keep its reports insulated from the political tide -- one more tradition, like the Senate filibuster, that the pseudo-conservatives of the Bush cadres are casually tossing overboard.

    The Bolton saga strikes a chord with the American public because we've all worked with, and most of us have worked for, a Bolton or two in our time, and we know how it goes: Mad Boss shouts at the top of his (it's usually, though not always, a male phenomenon) lungs until the things people say to him match the things he wants to hear.

    I first encountered the world of Mad Bosses in various jobs I held as a college kid and later as a fledgling journalist. I assumed that this was the way of the world -- that somehow the role of Being In Charge carried with it a dose of generic rage, and that all bosses would inevitably, at some point, explode and abuse their employees. The macho culture of old-school American newsrooms certainly spawned its share of Mad Bosses, and I'd have my run-ins with them. For me, one of the grand things about leaving the comfortable nest of the newsroom and helping found a company was doing my small part to shape a different, more civilized workplace culture, in which people treated each other -- superior and subordinate alike -- as colleagues, not kicking posts.

    I came to realize that Mad Bossism was not an inevitability; it is, in fact, an anachronism. It flows less from power than from frustration at powerlessness. The boss explodes because the world won't bend to his will -- and it's supposed to! What good is being boss if it won't?

    This has given me a tad more empathy for the bulging-veined, red-faced bosses of my past, though I'm firm in my determination never to work anywhere near the type again. The truth is, it's no longer as easy as it used to be to get away with this kind of behavior: Joe or Jane Subordinate is going to be blogging every last twitch of Mad Boss's tantrums. Just look at what's happened to the director of Los Alamos National Labs, G. Peter Nanos. If the postings about him on a largely anonymous Los Alamos insiders' blog are true, he's a classic Mad Boss. Yet the scientists and engineers who work for him, having reached their limit, aren't giving up; they've used the Web to shame him. Mad Boss may have met his match in Mad Blogger.

    I can't say I'm sad to see the field so leveled. The Web is criticized, and often rightly so, for the incivility of so much of its dialogue. But here's one instance in which it can actually help counter the sort of offline incivility that for too long has been simply a given of the workplace.

    Partnership Bids Intensify Lab Contest

    What one month ago was a UC-dominated contest for management of the Los Alamos National Laboratory has now become an all-out battle between three likely university-corporate partnerships.

    Two top bidders who had earlier dropped out of the race, the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin Corp., re-emerged last month after the National Nuclear Security Administration, who runs the bidding competition, revised the contract to encourage corporate competition.


    Full Story

    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Why the mandatory "Electrical Safety" all hands meeting on Wednesday?

    From Anonymous:

    Why the mandatory "Electrical Safety" all hands meeting on Wednesday? Good question.

    To me this looks like UC trying to make it look appear as if it is "business as usual" at LANL, in an attempt to offset the glare of negative publicity (from the UC perspective) generated by the New York Times article.

    The play unfolds something like this: Wednesday finds our fearless, safety-conscious LANL Director George P. Nanos leading his his loyal staff down the path to safer electrical appliance theory and practice, and *surprise* a few days later he is is "summoned" to answer a higher calling at DHS, where he *must* go in order to serve our nation even more richly than he did while at the helm of LANL.

    I guess UC thinks we will be taken in by this scripted scenario. Actually, it is kind of clever, because really, what else can UC do to get rid of Nanos and not look totally stupid? Send off Nanos with a glowing tribute? Sure, LANL staff would certainly appreciate watching Nanos receive accolades from UC, wouldn't they? That would definitely further endear UC to the staff here. Let him slink off into the night? While I find that a perfectly acceptable scenario, I can see how it might reflect badly on UC to simply allow their darling director run off into the night.

    Be assured of one thing, however: it is not business as usual at LANL.

    The following is a message to employees from Laboratory Director Pete Nanos

    From Anonymous:

    I'm glad to see he's putting his last days to good, productive use.

    Mandatory electrical safety all-hands meeting on Wednesday

    May 2, 2005

    Editor’s note: The following is a message to employees from Laboratory Director Pete Nanos.

    In the interest of improving our electrical safety performance and in line with a recent Department of Energy-wide letter, I am taking actions to bring specific focus on electrical safety during the month of May.

    In the recent letter, Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman emphasizes the importance of fixing electrical safety problems such as inadequate work planning, working on energized systems without proper personal protective equipment, and failures to perform zero-energy checks. Secretary Bodman urged facilities in DOE to demonstrate improved electrical safety performance.

    I am further committing [the Laboratory] to excel in the complex with regards to electrical safety.

    Electrical safety includes everyone, no matter what your job, so I am kicking off this focus at an all-employee meeting on electrical safety for Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Administration Building’s Main Auditorium. The meeting or viewing of a video of the meeting will be required. Managers should document attendance or viewing of the video if an employee is on travel or out sick.

    At Wednesday’s meeting, we will discuss several recent electrical safety incidents and lessons learned from them. While no one was hurt in the incidents, the potential existed for injuries. These incidents are indicators that a bigger problem exists, and we must refocus our efforts and attention to a higher level.

    Managers are currently involved in a behavior-based safety training program to achieve excellence in safety performance. The elements involve training both managers and employees, which integrate the best-in class behavioral observations. Based on the Dupont Safety Training Observation Program, or STOP, it is designed to develop a sustainable system, which drives continuous improvement and holds every employee responsible for his or her own safety, behaviors and the safety of those around them.

    The Behavioral Excellence Initiative—and the Safety Training and Observation Program (STOP) it’s built around — teaches that all safety incidents are preventable. A strong safety culture rests on vigilance. Safety is not a single destination; it’s an ongoing journey we must commit to and embark on daily.

    The behaviors of others directly influence your safety and security at the Lab. I want you to know the significance of recognizing the importance of electrical safety as well as the value of locked-out/tagged-out safety systems, and we will discuss who to report safety hazards or procedure violations to and how to bring those issues forward.

    In addition, electrical safety will be briefed at Tuesday’s Laboratory Information Meeting. All nested safety and security meetings this month also will focus on electrical safety. Managers should also take this opportunity to dedicate management walkarounds to electrical safety, using guidance cards that will come out this week.

    Wednesday’s mandatory meeting will be broadcast on LABNET, Channel 9 and will be available on computers via Real Player technology.

    LANL after Nanos

    I retired four years ago but I still have a considerable stake in what happens with this lab, both with my financial investments in Los Alamos and in the fact my spouse still works there. If this place goes to hell so does our future.

    Director Nanos did his best to address the problems he saw here. The fact his military style wasn’t effective doesn’t mean the problems he recognized aren’t real. Focusing on criticizing him diverts attention from those problems, and provides us an excuse to avoid seeing ourselves realistically. The signs that this lab is in trouble are unmistakable, and we need to get over Nanos and look at our future.

    We need to understand that nobody is indispensable. LLNL can design and build bombs, they can diagnose our bombs as well as or better than we, and somebody else – SNL, for example, could do so also - by hiring only a few guys from here. In fact a fresh set of designers and experimenters with a few basic facts may be able to do a better job than the creaky old system at Los Alamos, hobbled as it is by the accretion of scientific shibboleths, engineering myths, and institutionalized resistance to change.

    Recently we were offered the example of Rocky Flats: shut down in spite of there being no replacement in sight. Please understand that they don’t care - Congress on a whim giveth and taketh away, without reason or logic. It has been our Senators’ clout, not our scientific talent, that has held this place together but even they are getting exasperated by our inflated self-importance. Besides, so many scientists are retiring from LANL now that there is not going to be any science left to manage when Lock-Mart gets here with UT in tow, and their job will be like the job at Rocky Flats and Hanford: clean it up and turn it into a park. There will be jobs not for 4,000 scientists and engineers and 8,000 support personnel, but for 200 or so sanitary engineers and greenskeepers. The economic development folks will be marketing Los Alamos as a low-rent retirement community. The only science will be nostalgia at the Bradbury.

    The last about 16 years of my tenure at this lab were spent in the weapons business. I was at the test site as that was winding down. That program had two basic tenets: (1) the laws of physics are displaced by received wisdom at the NTS, and (2) the nation couldn’t do without nuclear testing. Now the principal activity at NTS is not T but E: storing waste at Yucca Mountain. All but a few of those indispensable guys are somewhere else.

    After the test program closed down, I migrated to hydrotesting in Los Alamos – where the tenets were three: (1) the laws of physics are displaced by received wisdom, (2) the rules of safety and security are displaced by received wisdom, and (3) the nation can’t do without Los Alamos hydros. Last I heard they’re trying to salvage what they can from DARHT, having basically sacrificed their entire experimental capability to get this one machine working, and it only barely does: only one axis can deliver a hydro shot, at a rate of one or two a year. Meanwhile I hear they’re popping off hydros at LLNL like firecrackers, in a completely contained modern facility.

    There is no science done at this lab that can’t be done somewhere else. None. Most, maybe all, of the new technology in the nuclear weapons program is adapted from somewhere else. The days when Bradbury or Agnew could snow the military and Congress into believing that Los Alamos is magic and indispensable are gone. We have to compete with other institutions and multinationals and we can’t just rest on our reputation and watch our retirement funds grow.

    Some guys have had a field day on this blog anonymously mocking those who have tried to suggest constructive planning activities, but you may want to pay some attention to their basic message: we are going to have to convince a budget-axing Congress that there is something in this County worth $2 billion a year, other than Bingaman’s or Domenici’s support on some logrolling scheme. Scientists who don’t do cleanup and want to have a career here need to be ready to help the next Director develop and staff serious core programs related to nuclear weapons that can be sold to DOE and Congress. That means playing well with others. That means starting now so when the next director arrives we have something for him to work with – a program and a team of willing workers.

    George Chandler

    1208 9th Street

    Los Alamos NM 87544


    505 662-5900 Fax 662-5777 Cell 280-3110

    The misuse of science is such a waste

    I'm glad to run across the NY Times article [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/01/national/01alamos.html] about your blog [http://www.lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/]. I appreciate the links to other discussions about UC-LANL and "culture" that give me a closer perspective than I have had in some time.

    I get upset when I hear once again how UC LANL needs "reforming", and along the same lines that failed several times before. The resulting effects damage international security, good science, and most importantly, unnecessarily distresses good people.

    Ironically, the administrators of a scientific laboratory will not apply science to analyzing, assessing, and resolving the current laboratory situation.

    I'm obviously no good at getting this across to senior management, UC, or DOE. But if a voice from the wilderness (then as now) might be of service to the current discussion, to convey the enormity of the laboratory's situation, please feel free to use them.

    The misuse of science is such a waste.


    The latest intel

    From Anonymous:

    The latest intel is that there will be an announcement this week
    about Nanos' departure. Unfortunately, this same intel says that the
    parting message to GPN will be along the lines of:

    "You did a wonderful, wonderful job here. Dodge has been cleaned up,
    the swamp has been drained, your mission is accomplished, you now
    clearly must move on to even greater things."

    I suppose it would be foolishly optimistic to expect anything other
    than the above, since it will be UC who will be delivering the
    message. Given how badly UC has handled the LANL situation to date,
    why should we expect any better of them now? Rather, it will be with
    no great surprise that we find ourselves listening to them compound
    the insult that their director has heaped on us since last July by
    paying him complements upon his departure.


    Unless Mara and Kuckuck actually have ethics. And spines. And
    any self-respect that they wish to keep.

    The evolution of a blog

    A month ago, this blog contained the musings of a small number of people about the future of LANL in science, in national security, and in its continuing health. Now that Bill Broad’s article has been published, this blog is visible around the world. Its hit rate has increased ten fold. The most recent people browsing the site are reading many pages. They include a few people from other parts of the world, people from LANL’s competitors, people from LANL’s funding agencies, and people from potential bidders on the LANL contract. They include friends and enemies.

    1. Should the articles on the blog or the comments on the articles change in the realization of this new audience?
    2. Should the blog become more sophisticated, for instance having a way to find postings by topic, in order to present a good impression on our expanded audience?

    I would appreciate clear discussion on these points.



    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

    From Anonymous:

    From today's New York Times: (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/02/national/02arnold.html?hp)
    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a prediction in January in a speech proposing changes to the way public pensions are managed in California...

    ... he has retreated on some proposals, like the ones on public employees' pensions and redistricting.

    Got the following from a retiree who is back as a consultant:

    From Anonymous:

    Got the following from a retiree who is back as a consultant:

    I was up at the Lab Friday. Rumors are many and rampant but one that seems universal, and credited openly to people in high places on the third and fourth floors who might know, is that UC has decided to dump Nanos in the next week or so to try and salvage their bid for the contract. Some say they will bring in an interim team with folks from LLNL.

    I think that it's time for a party

    From Anonymous:

    I think that it's time for a party. I suggest we gather for a bring-your-own-whatever party sometime on May 14 at Ashley Pond or one of the neighborhood parks. I have no agenda for this gathering, but if you are looking for a theme let's call it "triskaidekaphilia." Post your comments and, if there is interest, I will make it happen.

    Is the University of Texas fit to run a nuclear laboratory?

    From Anonymous:

    Is the University of Texas fit to run a nuclear laboratory? It already has many serious problems with security, safety, mismanagement, discrimination, sexual harrassment, retaliation, transparency, intellectual freedom, and whistleblowing. The sleaze and arrogance factors are also very high.

    The following is a very small sample of recent problems in the UT system:


    Issues: Computer Security (2003)

    Hackers break into the UT computer system and access personal data on 55,000+ students, faculty, and alumni because UT stupidly used social security numbers as IDs. UT delayed a public acknowledgment of the break in, until the press starts asking questions.

    Sources: Joshua Benton, The Dallas Morning News, Business News; 3/7/2003; Kris Banks, “Hackers break into U. Texas computer system”,
    University Wire; 3/6/2003

    Issues: Computer Security (2003)

    34 major vulnerabilities are identified in UT computer systems.

    Source: Patrick McGee, “University of Texas System Considers Audits of All 15 Campuses”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Business News, 8/7/2003.

    Issues: Science Mismanagement, Integrity (2002)

    Mismanagement, poor record keeping, illegal selling of body parts in willed-body program at UT Hospital. In addition, body parts carrying infectious, and even fatal, viruses could have been accidentally sent to dozens of research facilities across the nation. Furthermore, the ashes of dozens of donor bodies had been mixed, so that family members who had requested them could not be sure they were getting their loved ones' ashes. Allen Tyler was fired as head of the cadaver program at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He allegedly made more than $4,000 by selling fingernails and toenails to a pharmaceutical company and might have sold other body parts.

    Sources: “A look at scandals in the U.S. involving alleged sales of human tissue”, AP Worldstream, The Associated Press, 3/10/2004; Kevin Moran, “University of Texas Hospital Suspends Body-Parts Program”, Houston Chronicle, 8/7/2002

    Issues: Science Mismanagement, Integrity (2002)

    The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center tested an experimental cancer drug on 195 patients without informing them its president, Dr. John Mendelsohn, had a financial interest in the medication.

    Source: Todd Ackerman, “University of Texas Cancer Center Changes Drug-Study Policy after Conflict”, Houston Chronicle, 7/1/2002

    Issues: Computer Security, Child Pornography, Retaliation (2004)

    The University of Texas Police Department is investigating whether 10 physicians and other employees at the university's Health Science Center at Houston who were found to have misused university computers by viewing pornography have also violated child-pornography laws. Cynthia M. Davis, the Houston campus's audit manager, who initially investigated the 10 employees and found that they had used university computers to view pornography was retaliated against for reporting the misuse.

    Source: Robin Wilson, “U. of Texas Investigates Possible Violations of Child-Pornography Laws”, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 2004, Volume 50, Issue 24, Page A10


    [Lots of stuff deleted. I'll put a link of it up later --Doug]

    Issues: Sexual Harassment (1994-1997)

    An alarming analysis of sexual harassment problems at UT based on interviews of female students, 1994-1997.

    Source: http://www.theglassceiling.com/glass/ww1_39.htm

    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    I had the honor to work with the scientists at Los Alamos in 1990

    From Anonymous:

    I just wanted to say, I had the honor to work with the
    scientists at Los Alamos in 1990. It was a classified weapons
    program. Security was tight and appropriate. I never saw or felt
    any compromises were ever made to our countries security. If a
    individual was cleared to the level needed to work on the
    program, there was a openness among the employees in working to
    achive that goal. This was one of the attributes of making
    things work, often things that probably were just dreams, but we
    all made things work and ultimately, for the good of freedom.
    The Berlin wall fell shortly afterwards, it was with the
    conviction and hard work of the LANL employees that helped make
    this happen. I give you all my sincere blessing in continuing
    the great achievements you all have and will do in the interests
    of freedom and for this great country.

    Open debate and dissenting views have always been at the heart of Los Alamos’ culture

    Open debate and dissenting views have always been at the heart of Los Alamos’ culture. This Blog is simply the extension of the Laboratory’s cultural identity while the Lab’s management removed internal avenues for discussion. In the past, dissenting views have played a key role in helping the Nation’s security. Los Alamos has earned a reputation for unparalleled integrity in providing scientific advice in support of the National security. This integrity was earned through over fifty years of service and key to this character has been intense internal dialogs on all the issues that the Laboratory is charged with stewarding.

    Some visitors to this forum have suggested that the Blog is full of “whiners” or have suggested that it is a threat to our National security. These suggestions are made out of ignorance about the Laboratory and its history. At its origin, the Laboratory was endowed with a spirit of debate, and open discourse on important issues. All characteristics associated with the best in American society.

    Early in the existence of the Laboratory, a key decision was made after vigorous debate regarding the degree of openness within the confines of the secret Laboratory. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves led the opposing sides of this debate. Oppenheimer favored openness with the hope that many keen minds would be exposed to critical problems improving the chances for solution. Groves favored secrecy and compartmentalized work. Oppenheimer won and we are all safer and more secure for it. The success of the Manhattan Project was in large part due to the open atmosphere inside the Laboratory during WWII.

    Thus open debate and dissent on important issues became a cornerstone of the Los Alamos culture. I submit that this cultural characteristic is as American as apple pie and stands at the very core of Los Alamos’ identity. This Blog is a result of the view that current Laboratory management stood squarely opposed to these values. As a result, the employees sought alternative avenues to discuss issues critical to them and their future. In the past there would have been vigorous internal dissent and most of you visiting would have been completely oblivious to it, but safer and more secure as a result. Now that dissent internal to Lab has been shutdown, it has spilled onto the Internet. Many of the employees now believe that the Laboratory management cannot be trusted, do not harbor dissent and are not interested in debate. This Blog is the reaction. Above all, the culture of Los Alamos values the truth, open dissent and honest debate.

    The people working at the Laboratory entered into a social contract that included the legacy of Oppenheimer with the right to open debate and dissent within the Laboratory. There is the perception that current Lab management does not seem to understand this and have violated this social contract through their recent actions. There are many reports of the management attacking the Laboratory’s culture. These reported attacks have included an assault on the spirit of debate and dissent. In essence the employees feel that management turned their backs on the legacy given to them. The reaction of the employees could have been expected. Given the opportunity to engage in a dialog in an unfettered environment such as this Blog, people did what came naturally to them.

    Hopefully the future will allow the necessary dissent and debate to occur within the confines of the Laboratory making this forum an unnecessary outlet. Hopefully the United States will have this Laboratory to help protect the Nation with the best in science. It is tragic that seemingly inept and careless management is destroying the Laboratory during a time when the Nation needs scientific answers to critical security issues. September 11th taught us all that we are at risk. Our National defense depends on our supremacy in Science and Engineering. This supremacy is not secure and a true National resource is slipping from our collective grasp. This need not happen.

    One way to interpret the mission of the Laboratory is to help provide the Nation and its citizens greater safety and security. If the Laboratory continues to decline, all of us will be less safe and less secure.

    These views are mine as a private citizen.

    Posted by Bill Rider to LANL: The Real Story at 5/1/2005 06:42:06 PM

    Getting Nanotized down there?

    From Anonymous:

    Getting Nanotized down there? Then take a look on what Pete Nanos did to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI! It is interesting that wherever Pete goes, the established experts leave and the contractors move in. For Nanos, the end justifies the means and it appears the end for him is money.

    The Houston Chronicle's Version

    May 1, 2005, 7:52AM

    Bloggers threaten lab chief's position

    Scientists and engineers at Los Alamos are calling for change

    New York Times

    A blog rebellion among scientists and engineers at Los Alamos, the federal government's premier nuclear weapons lab, is threatening the tenure of its director, G. Peter Nanos.

    Four months of jeers, denunciations and defenses of Nanos' management recently culminated in dozens of signed and anonymous messages concluding 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," scientist and Nanos defender Gary Stradling 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."

    It's a delicate time for the lab. The University of California, which has helped run the lab for the government since the days of the Manhattan Project, faces close scrutiny in Washington as to whether its contract should be renewed.

    Resignations and fears of a mass exodus have roiled the waters. Some analysts think that, given the public outcry, the university will have to abandon Nanos in order to make a tenable bid to keep its contract.

    Nanos would not comment.

    It's funny

    From Anonymous:

    It's funny. UC has remained paralyzed during the past 9 months in the face of the growing discontent that their chosen director, Nanos, has caused at LANL. Apparently UC president Robert Dynes feared that any action UC took would generate bad publicity. Dynes seems to have been thinking that if UC stayed real quiet and did absolutely nothing then the whole Nanos thing would just blow over.

    The blog, the NY Times article, and the ensuing media circus is the result of their inaction, thus achieving exactly the opposite goal that they were wishing for.

    Acrimony between LANL scientists and director blogs its way into public view

    From Anonymous:

    Acrimony between LANL scientists and director blogs its way into public view
    From http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/01/national/01alamos.htm (to log in, as usual, use the cypherpunks01 or infojunkies user/pass if you want to avoid being individually cookied)

    Remember all those Chicken Little news reports last year, breathlessly telling a rapt public audience that the Los Alamos National Labs had "misplaced" two removable storage devices containing DoE-classified (ie, Sigma-class) nuclear weapons information? It was all an inventory error. But apparently, even though the guy who made the error had already been sacked, and had personally admitted to his error, the Director of LANL, a petty management tyrant, wasted six months leaving the labs closed and giving the employees he disliked everything from tongue-lashings to dismissals, using the "incident" as an excuse.

    However, the Net has once again come to the rescue of those who are otherwise intimidated into silence; the employees at the normally highly secretive research lab have broken their silence and posted hundreds, thousands, of posts and comments criticizing the leadership of the lab. Now it looks increasingly likely that Nanos will be "reassigned" elsewhere - ie, the University of California, which runs the lab for the Department of Energy, has been embarrassed into acting.

    For anyone who still thinks that all anonymity should be banned... consider whether the truth about the real abuses of power at LANL would ever have come to the public's attention without the ability for those who Nanos held power over to criticize him without fear of reprisals (which, allegedly, he dealt out capriciously, vindictively, and prolifically).

    Not only that, but it's a juicy blog, full of all kinds of little tidbits of life inside a world-class government lab with thousands of employees and billions of dollars in budgeting... surprise, the same infighting, backbiting, and petty human interpersonal friction goes on there as does anywhere else. It's just that there, the stakes are a lot higher - if LANL is mismanaged, whether by unnecessarily shutting down its many useful and groundbreaking research projects, or by intimidating skilled and valuable scientists into resigning, it's not only wasting our money, it's endangering us all. That lab is a key component of the US's lead in technology, weaponry, and secure nuclear material recovery and storage, and it's got a hell of a lot of responsibility.

    To see that some pointy-haired Dilbertesque boss is in charge of it just reaffirms my agreement with KMFDM's statement: We don't run Washington, and nobody really does.

    The blog itself is at http://www.lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/ ; now that it's gotten such widespread public attention, who knows how long it'll hold up under the rush of visitors, or the pressure of management on its author, who, remarkably enough, is a LANL employee and doesn't hide his own identity. Brave, but I bet he's updating his resume and checking job postings. But if they fire him for it, it'll just make matters worse.

    All in all, a very interesting bit of human drama at what most of us perceived as a monolithic unemotional piece of government machinery. Surprise, humans are still humans, no matter how advanced their degrees, how white their lab coats, or how tall their ivory towers.

    ( At Los Alamos, Blogging Their Discontent )

    Director George Nanos may be the wrong man for the job

    From Anonymous:

    When I was captain of a naval ship I was convinced the Navy's command structure, which put the executive officer in charge of operations -- and allowed the captain to make a contrary decision, (after error was easier to know and with less loss of face for undoing it,) was superior to what I had known in civilian life.
    I have had no experience with a troika, where three heads are better than one. But the obvious invitation to "cut-throat 2 against 1" has always come to mind when I thought of it.
    Leaderless structures are great, in my view, for teams assigned tasks that require genius to see them through. They are not possible at the top where general leadership may guide many teams but not be replaced by any. I believe this blog comes close to being such an extremely flat structure -- and is proving its value to nations, even worlds.
    Now LANL has become a national focus for worrying how to proceed when a national mission gives signs that it is in peril and the President and his cabinet will have to solve an incumbency and structural problem and set a precedent that history tells us most nations fail to solve.

    Director George Nanos may be the wrong man for the job. If he knows it he will resign.
    If he is the right man for the job he will pull LANL together, (in spite of all he may have done right or wrong,) by changing course, doing right and talking straight on the issues. If he's been largely right, the course change won't be great. But it is not possible, if what the public has read has a scintilla of truth, for the Director's former course to have been completely right.
    If he is the wrong man for the job -- and does not know it -- this blog has served a terribly useful and timely purpose: it has highlighted a profound problem our President and his cabinet must solve. Abraham Lincoln used his cabinet and his own genius all the time -- often to solve problems similar to this one. President Bush will have to do the same.

    Management style

    From Anonymous:

    I am not surprised to hear that Dr. Pete Nanos is having a problem because of his management style. I was a GS-14 female manager in the Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) command of the Department of Navy where Nanos was originally promoted to admiral as Director. At that point of SSP history, the management style had deteriorated to one of exaggerated ego's and extremely bad management. Nanos made his power known and the ranks did not cross his line. Just a word of caution, however. Nanos was just one of many very bad directors and, in the years preceding my retirement, I wished many times that Nanos were still there. My point is that you never know what will come next.

    All los alamos rejoices that he is leaving

    From Anonymous:

    The publicizing of the Blog to the outside world is unfortunate -- the blog as been a great forum for discussion within the LANL community. However, dropping into this discussion without background, a critical eye for what is real vs whinning, and understanding what los alamos does means that external posters/readers get a very filter view of why the blog is here.

    (1) Lanl has an essential national security mission. This mission is very complex, and requires that LANL personnel perform dangerous and difficult experiments and tasks. In general, the safety record is outstanding, but certainly not perfect.

    (2) Lanl has oversight from DoE, Defense nuclear facilties safety board, NM state regulators, and is a favorite target of about a dozen non-governmental groups that either oppose nuclear weapons or research using nuclear materials. This regulation is compounded by the fact that Lanl has been doing danergous stuff for 60 years, spread out over 43 square miles. In those 60 years standards changed, and regulation exponetionated.

    (3) During the Clinton administration DoE changed dramatically; not only were anti-nukes encouraged to question, they were given funding and even made part of DoE thru POGO. This created a hostile environment between the mission side of the house and the regulatory side of the house.

    (4) In 1992 President Bush (the first) sign a deal to stop testing the nuclear arsenal with the caveat that over ways would be developed to assure the deterrent was reliable. For many legislators this was hailed as "peace dividend", that would mean more money for their projects or priorities. However, it is much more expensive to assure a weapons will do what is suppose to without actually firing it!

    (5) UC has managed the lab for 60 years. However,
    "managed" means something different here. For the most part the Federal Government wanted UC involved by signing the paychecks, and nothing more. This is reflected in the annual fee paid UC by the government to operate Los Alamos -- 8 million dollars. With this management fee UC plows more than half back into research and collaboration with universities. It is a non-profit in the fullest sense of the phrase.

    (6) In the mid-90s a series of crisis hit the DoE complex, and suddenly it was important to find a scape goat -- UC. The last of these was accounting corruption by a very, very small minority of criminals in procurement.

    In the end, Nanos was stood up as a leader -- he failed because he is totally over his head. He failed because confronted with the compexity he relied on bully tactics. He failed because in his confusion with the task relied on hiring yes men.

    All los alamos rejoices that he is leaving

    NAVSEA Employee's Perspective

    My name is Peter Duffy and I am a GS-15, senior engineering manager at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI. NUWC is a component of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which as most of you know Mr.Nanos led as a Vice Admiral before his retirement. I've attached a link to an article I wrote concerning my experience when I exposed, to the Naval Inspector General, corrupt behavior by several Senior Executive Service (SES) employees in NAVSEA, one who reported directly to Mr.Nanos. In the end the SESers were removed from the federal government but not until I was personally put through an ordeal that no one should experience for standing up and doing what is right.
    Admiral Nanos had a responsibility to me, as the leader of NAVSEA, to ensure my welfare after reporting this corruption. He failed me and he failed his organization. I do not think it is a coincidence that he retired on the same day that the SESers, who were the subjects of my complaint, were forced out of the federal government. I was shocked when I heard that Admiral Nanos emerged in a leadership position at Los Alamos. I was appalled when I read that Admiral Nanos had called on Los Alamos employees to expose wrongdoing of their fellow employees at Los Alamos. I feared for the welfare of anyone who might do so.
    Pete Nanos' scorched earth leadership style works because most people understandably fear taking him on. They know there will be a price to pay. He is the classic playground bully ... and your blog is rallying the students to surround the bully.
    My best wishes to Los Alamos.
    Peter L. Duffy

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