Thursday, June 30, 2005
He's Taking it Well
Please post. Remind you of anyone?
New Admin Building
Please Post Anonymously: It is obvious to the casual observer that the new Administration Building has a "ship" theme. Please allow me to propose christening this building the "USS Reluctant" as a memorial to our own Captain Morton, from the movie "Mr. Roberts." Ref:
http://www.filmsondisc.com/DVDpages/mister_roberts.htm : "Life aboard a U.S. Navy cargo ship during the World War II Pacific campaign revolves around Executive Officer Doug Roberts, the sympathetic buffer between the maniacal captain and the ship’s crew."
http://www.uss-virgo.com/roberts.htm "...the Virgo was also the AKA601, the USS Reluctant, the ship that carried its wacky captain and crew over history's horizon as the setting of the novel, play and then movie, "Mr. Roberts.'"
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
From the 6/29/2005 LANL NewsBulliten Letters section:
June 28, 2005
While many recent submissions deal with the 9/80 issue, I have not seen anyone mention telecommuting. With broadband computer access now widely available, trusted employees should be allowed to work from home one or more days a week, at times that are acceptable to them and their supervisor (up to group level management). The benefits to parking, gas consumption and traffic congestion are obvious.
Monday, June 27, 2005
The pension fund at Lockheed
The pension fund at Lockheed has enough money for some people:
From Anonymous: I just stumbled onto the UPTE posting of LANL salaries that is claimed to be current as of June 10, 2005. There is a George P Nanos Jr., Z# 141597, hired 8/12/2002 listed as a "regular" ft "SENIOR ADVISOR" in "DIR" with a salary of $235,000.00. By contrast, Robert W Kuckuck is listed as "DIRECTOR", hired 5/16/2005, "Casul" "Lim Term" with a salary of $0.00.
Bush's Bad Idea for Los Alamos
Sixty years ago, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the World War II director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, proved that there are some things that government-university partnerships can do better than any private-sector entity. In just 27 months — from April 1943 to August 1945 — Oppenheimer and his team of scientists produced a combat-ready atomic bomb. The military head of the Manhattan Project, Gen. Leslie Groves had awarded the contract for the new laboratory to the University of California because he understood that no private corporation was capable of attracting the talented scientists needed to meet this challenge.
Important lessons for our national security are implicit in this history, lessons the Bush administration ignores as it prepares to turn over much of the management of the Los Alamos lab to a private defense contractor. Everything we know about the Manhattan Project and the subsequent history of the lab suggests that this is a mistake and a lost opportunity.
The Bush administration is planning the government's first production of plutonium 238 since the cold war, stirring debate over the risks and benefits of the deadly material. The substance, valued as a power source, is so radioactive that a speck can cause cancer.
Federal officials say the program would produce a total of 330 pounds over 30 years at the Idaho National Laboratory, a sprawling site outside Idaho Falls some 100 miles to the west and upwind of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Officials say the program could cost $1.5 billion and generate more than 50,000 drums of hazardous and radioactive waste.
Project managers say that most if not all of the new plutonium is intended for secret missions and they declined to divulge any details. But in the past, it has powered espionage devices.
"The real reason we're starting production is for national security," Timothy A. Frazier, head of radioisotope power systems at the Energy Department, said in a recent interview.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
There's so much low-hanging fruit for fixing at LANL
A comment from thehttp://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/06/retirements-at-lanl.htmlpost:6/26/2005 07:03:16 PM certainly was a pessimistic posting. I don't feel nearly so pessimistic, having watched the disease at LANL take hold over the last 10 years, I think we have real potential.I wasn't really wild about the recompete, particularly since it seemed to be initiated by the politicians in Washington, who don't have a great record of solving problems well.But having gone through the horrible last two years with Nanos at the helm, crashing our ship into one set of rocks after another, all the while blaming the crew down below, I think we have huge potential.The Gross Receipts tax and management fee is going to be an issue, but SNL hasn't gotten to walk on it and is, by many accounts, thriving, so I don't see how LANL is so different that we're just going to curl up our toes and die because of this. The horrendous inefficiency in procurement, HR, facilities (including, if not especially KSL) borders on astounding. Fixing this by making these functions productive, proactive, efficient and turning their customers from the "regulations" to the Laboratory, could potentially save enough money each year to pay the GRT and management fee easily.Throw in functional, lean, efficient program management and I think we could save that amount over again. Tarantino's organization has grown like a weed and is now bigger than I could ever imagine it would be. There are gobs of people in that program "office" that I have no idea what they do, but one thing is for sure: they're about controlling funding, not understanding the work or doing the work.There's so much low-hanging fruit for fixing at LANL it's hard to know where to begin.It is likely to be painful for a lot of the organizations that have been allowed to self-manage themselves into serving as useless impediments to the mission--and the front-line employees are going to suffer for the failures of the institution.I'm sure a lot of those folks come in to work trying to do a good job, but SUP, HR, PM and PADNWP are so massive, hide-bound and clueless about who their customer is and what the mission is that there has been little hope that good people could do a good job.Now let's add to this mix the ghastly management information systems available to these same organization to operate the business, and almost all hope of efficiency is extinguished. Just try to write PR, or check on the status of a new-hire, or see what your spending is against your budget, or see who is charging against your budget that shouldn't be (and should never have been able to) and you'll see what a nighmare our systems are.Oh, and lets not forget the fabulous, $100M+ "Enterprise System" with it's bewildering user interface, and near-requirement to use the 4+ year old Internet Explorer, with it's hundreds of security vulnerabilities and desparate dependence on Windows--with many more vulnerabilities, and we'll see we've been pouring more money down the LANL MIS rat-hole.The damage to programs a 12 week procurement for services incurs is not accounted for directly. We all see lost opportunity every day, and if this were fixed by competent management, the benefits to the institution would be huge. We have a top-fuel dragster of a national laboratory, sitting burning rubber while securely chained to a 10,000 lb block of bureacracy, moving little while spending gobs of effort to do it.Revitalizing LANL is going to hurt these dinasaur organizations, and the people who work for them, sadly. But it's either do this, or continue to watch the body of the institution die from the necrosis brought on by UC's non-management.
My own reasons for having decided to retire this year
I don't usually post to the blog for other than administrative reasons, but there was a conversation going on in thehttp://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/06/non-issue-of-retirement.html
thread to which I felt like contributing. After having done so, I realized that much of the subject material in that thread pertained to my own reasons for having decided to retire this year.
___________________________________"... please explain why you believe LANL produces an environment that leads to productivity throughout the career for the majority of its research staff."
I am not one of the posters referred to by 6/26/2005 04:22:54 PM, but I do have an observation to make on this subject. I believe many researchers at Los Alamos remain productive throughout their careers because they love their work.
I also feel that this past year has changed how many of these same researchers feel about LANL and their work. It is probably not possible to overestimate the damage that has been done to LANL in the last 12 months. People who attempt to attribute the high numbers of people currently retiring solely to the risk of reduced benefits as a result of the RFP don't realize that LANL used to be a great place to work, simply because of the work environment.
I don't feel that all the damage done to LANL occurred just in this past year, either. I think the past 15 - 20 years have seen a gradual erosion of the quality of the work environment at our laboratory, abruptly made completely intolerable to many of us in just this past year.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Retirements at LANL
A comment from the http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/06/figures-from-latest-eb-meeting.html post: I had the same experience with trying to make an appointment. I have been on a waiting list for over a month with no contact from HR. E-mail inquiries to the Benefits office have received an automated "we are swamped, please be patient" type of response. Even an e-mail to UC with a simple question about COLAs received an automated response that they are under an extreme backlog and it would be approximately one week before they could answer the question. To their credit they did answer in about one week. The miniscule retirement numbers projected by HR just don't seem to jive with what we are experiencing in our interactions with the Benefits office. Also, we continue to hear from managers (Kuckuck included) that "retention" is a top priority. Why? Do they know something about departures that we don't and are simply not allowed to share the information? Just in my limited interactions, I know 15 people retiring, 3 Group Leaders that have quit, and 2 more that are getting ready to quit. Something is wrong!
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
University of California officials waited to see the release of the final Request for Proposal to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory, before making a final decision to enter the competition.
According UC's man in charge of that competition, the RFP is still what it's all about.
"Our focus is really around the RFP," said Michael Anastasio, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and designated director of LANL if UC's partnership with a corporate team led by Bechtel is successful.
The RFP and discussions about the RFP have repeatedly emphasized the importance of science and technology, fully enabled by effective management and operational systems.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Journal Staff Writer
The head of the University of California and Bechtel National team preparing for the competition to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory visited with Los Alamos community and business leaders on Thursday to gather input that he said will help shape the team's bid to run the lab.
"It was invigorating," said Michael Anastasio, director of the UC-run Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and head of the UC-Bechtel team now about halfway through preparations on their bid for the $2.2 billion LANL contract.
Journal Staff Writer
Fire protection at Los Alamos National Laboratory is not what it ought to be, according to a recent government report that cites both LANL and the U.S. Department of Energy for failing to implement fixes for long-standing problems.
Issued as an April 29 memo by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which oversees safety at the nation's nuclear research facilities, the report recognizes significant improvements in fire protection and safety at LANL, but notes that efforts to amend shortcomings have not been a priority and numerous problems remain unresolved.
LANL's second in command, Don Cobb, issued a March memo directing the lab to take a series of actions aimed at improving fire safety, including hiring three additional fire safety staffers, increasing the program's budget to $3 million (a 50 percent increase over the previous year) and preparing a follow-up report on actions to address maintenance issues.
But the report notes that more needs to be done.
It states that planning and scheduling are inadequate, self-assessment reviews are not being conducted according to DOE regulations and insufficient time is allotted for reviews and analyses.
The report suggests LANL needs about four more full-time positions to overcome these and other deficiencies— one more than LANL intends to hire.
"Increasing staff appears to be a prerequisite for LANL's taking the next steps of systematically analyzing fire protection issues and developing a comprehensive plan for addressing these issues," the report states.
Letter to the Editor from the Los Alamos "Monitor", posted by request.Compliance: 'Getting it'
Who must take responsibility for the stresses at the lab resulting from the Wen Ho Lee incidents, misplaced disk drive investigation, procurement fraud scandal, lost CREM investigation, workplace accidents, etc.?
We make daily decisions based on personal risk analysis. How fast do I drive? How do I word a critical comment? Should I take the time to get a ladder? That analysis changes when the consequence increases, like with our children's safety, or the survival of the lab.
Some of us at LANL may not have noticed the dramatic increase in the ante for risky behavior in the work place. This awareness is the "it" that we are supposed to "get." I will admit to being disgruntled when, in the early 1990s, Tiger Teams from DOE Secretary Adm. Watkins shut down a large facility during an important experimental campaign.
The crane used in that facility had operated under previous standards for 40 years without a serious accident. However, the consequence of a life-threatening accident became too high to accept.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Is there really a signed UC contract extension to May 31, 2006?
From Anonymous: I am one of those over-50, over 20-years LANL employees who is having a hard time figuring out what to do with the LANL operating contract transition to the new LLC. That is, whether to retire early from UCRS or stick with the transition and suffer the consequences. I have a number of years yet to work productively and I really enjoy my job. Some months ago I decided to position myself for a retirement from UC effective with the scheduled UC end-date of September 30, 2005. Today I received an e-note from the Benefits office (HR-B) indicating that I needed to reschedule my early-July Retirement Interview due to the pre-July departure of my assigned Benefits Specialist. I inquired of HR-B that if indeed the UC contract had been extended to May 31, 2006, that perhaps I would simply defer my Retirement Interview to a date within 90 days of the extension. I asked in addition if the quoted UC extension was "official". HR-B referred me to the All Hands meeting of Friday, June 10, 2005 for "official confirmation" of the contract extension. I again inquired regarding the All Hands meeting that simply it was a matter of verbal recognition of the extension by DOE/NNSA managers...no signed papers, or even verbal concurrence from UC. I further asked if there was a certainty that a signed contract extension exists between UC and DOE/NNSA for continuation of UCRS eligibility through May 31, 2006. I then even further asked if a person could see the document if it exists. The final answer today was: "No, currently, we can not produce a signed copy of the agreement at this time".
Wednesday, June 22, 2005Robinson Wants to Rejuvenate LANL Journal Staff Writer
If he were director, C. Paul Robinson would seek to rejuvenate Los Alamos National Laboratory's research programs, reconnecting them to advances in science and technology across the nation.
The head of the Lockheed Martin and University of Texas team vying for the future management of LANL, Robinson said the team is more than halfway through developing its proposal to manage the lab in a more streamlined and efficient way.
"We have a plan and we've analyzed what the most serious problems are and how we'd go about solving them," said Robinson, the former president of Sandia National Laboratories, which is managed by Lockheed.
Asked what he perceived were the most serious problems facing LANL, including a labwide shutdown last summer that cost at least $100 million, Robinson said he believes a lack of ownership for the lab's future topped his list.
"It is just very difficult to find people taking ownership for the future of the institution," he said. "There has not been a cohesive force trying to integrate the laboratory for some time."
Having spent the first 18 years of his career at LANL as a weapons physicist, Robinson said he understands some of the problems and concerns facing lab employees and their research.
He said that Lockheed, as manager of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, has always put national interests before its corporate concerns and would do the same at LANL.
"This is all about the national interest," Robinson said.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
The summer doldrums
From Anonymous:We appear to have drifted off into the summer doldrums here on the blog. It has been reported that an 8-month extension to the current UC contract exists. The Tommy Hook affair has faded into disgrace. Retirements are way up. There just doesn't seem to be anything of substance that remains to talk about. CLE has changed from a "UC at any cost" perspective to one of "we must protect our benefits under the next contractor, whomever that might be", which is a good thing. UC, on the other hand, remains stuck on a course of self-destruction, as charted by Bob Foley. I hear rumors that even within NNSA and DOE high-level managers are expressing their disappointment that UC has done nothing to assist the family of Todd Kaupilla. Thanks, Bob. Although, there is now a rumor starting that UC really is "working" on the problem. I wonder if UC would be "working" on the problem had there not been plenty of visibility, as provided by this blog, regarding UC's treatment of Todd Kaupilla. One undeniable improvement has been observed: with Nanos gone, Kuckuck has shown himself to be a much more pleasant person to deal with. Gone is the abusive, shouting, threatening style of his predecessor. Unfortunately one prediction made on this blog shortly after Nanos' resignation was announced is being realized, in spades: A massive suck-up is occurring on the fourth floor, with the refrain, "We tried to tell Nanos this (or that) but he just wouldn't listen," often heard. Bullshit. The fourth floor yes-persons are still fourth-floor yes-persons, and Foley is still calling the shots. Have a nice summer, everybody.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Fees for contract extension, savings to taxpayers
Doug: Please post, from the Jun 15, 2005 Reader's Forum
June 15, 2005
Fees for contract extension, savings to taxpayers
I have not seen any comment regarding what fee would be due to the University of California if it accepts extension of the current contract to the end of next May. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that UC has or will accept the contract extension, for which at least most, and probably all, of us are grateful. However, since the National Nuclear Security Administration/Department of Energy complaint about UC management is that it has not been sufficiently "business-like," consider how UC should respond if it were to oblige. To wit:
It having been demonstrated by the final request for proposals that the value of managing the Laboratory contract is in excess of $60 million per year, a 2/3 year extension should be worth at least $40 million. If UC were to behave in a "business-like" fashion, it would demand this fee in return for accepting the contract extension or threaten to drop the contract on Sept. 1 and leave NNSA (and us, unfortunately) in the lurch. NNSA, as well as Lab staff, should be thankful to UC for continuing to view management of the Lab as a privilege and responsibility to the nation, despite the opprobrium that UC has endured. (I assume here that UC is not under a contractual obligation to accept an extension; not being a lawyer, I haven't read the current contract carefully enough to know.)
A related point that no one seems to mention is the huge amount that UC has saved U.S. taxpayers by accepting a minimal management fee for the last 62 years. Even discounting the war years, and again judging from the RFP, it seems clear that UC has foregone more than $3 billion in current year dollars that were due it for its management efforts. Even allowing for costs related to purported inadequate management, it would appear that the U.S. has come out well ahead in this deal.
Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Retirement Plans
“What is the meaning of “substantially equivalent?”
by Charles R. Mansfield
President, Laboratory Retiree Group, CLE Executive Council
The issue of Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution retirement plans has recently come into national prominence with the financial problems facing United Airlines, General Motors and other corporations. This issue is also a point of contention in the rebid of the contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This is especially true in light of the promise that the new plans will be “substantially equivalent” to the plans offered under the present contract with the University of California.
First, let us examine the differences between these two types of retirement plans. A Defined Benefit plan states that the members of the plan (annuitants) will receive a certain amount of money per month upon retirement. The formula for calculating the amount promised to the annuitant may depend on factors such as age at retirement, number of years of service, and the amount of money earned at or within a few years prior to the time of retirement. A Defined Contribution plan only states that the employee and/or the employer shall contribute a certain amount of money per pay period into an account for the member. Examples of Defined Contribution plans are 401k and 403b programs.
Where does the money come from that is paid to a pensioner from a benefit plan? The simple answer is that the money comes from investment of the account funds. The primary investment vehicles are usually stocks and bonds. Large organizations such as United Airlines and the University of California can take advantage of the efficiencies of scale and the ability to hire competent fund managers (trustees) in order to provide benefits with the minimum cost. What then is the difference between a Defined Benefit and a Defined Contribution plan. The answer is simple. A Defined Benefit plan must maintain sufficient funds to provide the promised benefits during times of economic slowdown. A Defined Benefit plan trustee may have to adjust the amount of payment to the plan in order to ensure sufficient income to cover the costs of operation. Defined Contribution plan compensation varies with the overall national economic health, which determines the return on investment. A trustee may have to adjust the compensation (annuity) from a Defined Contribution plan to ensure the costs are covered. In other words the benefit payments of a Defined Contribution plan may decrease significantly during periods of an economic slowdown.
The concept of pension plan funding is simple. So, what is the problem? The answer can be illustrated by the following story:
If you put a pot of honey in a forest, a bear will come along and put its paw in it. You can’t blame the bear because the bear is doing what bears do. If you put a pot of money somewhere, everyone (Corporate Managers, Legislators, Administrations, Courts, individuals ...... ) will come along and put their paws in it. ....
Why did you put an unprotected pot of honey out in the forest in the first place? This bring us the question of the reliability of the trustee. The job of the trustee is to manage the funds (guard the pot of honey) in a proper manner. Congress set up an insurance program to help make certain that the funds are there for each retiree. Unfortunately, it now appears that the trustee did not do its job in the case of United Airlines. According to some news reports, sufficient payments were not paid into the pension funds and insurance premiums were not paid to the federal insurance plan. >From the news reports it is not certain who the trustee was. It could have been United Airlines, the employees union or a third party who assumed liability for proper maintenance of the fund. Cases of fund mismanagement by all of the above have occurred.
In the case of the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP), the plan has been funded and managed very well. Governors Wilson and Schwarznegger attempted to gain access to the UCRP funds to help balance the State budgets. In both instances they were unsuccessful in their attempts. Why would California Administrations attempt this attack? The reason is simple, the UCRP is so well funded and managed that employees have not had to contribute to the plans for around 14 years (a big pot of honey). Why were the raids on the UCRP unsuccessful? A part of the answer may lie in the recognition of employment contracts under California law. Employees and Retirees of LANL have signed contracts with the Board of Regents of the UC. The State of California recognizes employment contracts as legally binding. Two other factors help protect the UCRP from predation by the State and other governments. First, the Board of Regents of the University was established under an amendment to the state constitution. Second, the funds in the UCRP are not arranged by individual annuitant contributions. This makes establishment of a separate account for LANL annuitants very difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish for those currently enrolled under UCRP.
There is a great deal of confusion and concern about the federal Social Security System in relation to Pension Plans. While Social Security has some outward similarity to a Defined Contribution plan it is neither a Defined Benefit nor a Defined Contribution Plan. The monies in the Social Security system are not invested in the economy and do not grow in value with time. In fact, there is no money in an individuals account in Social Security. The only thing of “value” in a Social Security account is an IOU issued by Congress. Congress has borrowed the money to spend on other programs. As a result, the payments that an individual makes into Social Security are, in effect, taxes paid to fund welfare payments to the elderly.
Questions for employees and retirees to consider
All persons affected by the selection of a new contractor to manage LANL should examine how their economic future will be affected by a new contract and then choose a course of action based on the answers. The central issue is that the Request for Proposals (RFP) states only that the new plan must be “substantially equivalent” to the present plan. The term “substantially equivalent” is a relatively strong statement but it does leave room for interpretation by both the contractor and contractee. Moreover, the RFP requires placing the LANL pension funds in a “separate, stand-alone plan.” Employees and retirees must satisfy themselves that such a plan would have the long term stability of the present retirement plan. From the standpoint of the DOE/NNSA a standalone plan would be transportable between future contractors. It is true that a Defined Contribution plan is more portable by the employee when moving to a new job. This portability is often limited by the number of years of service required for the employee to become “vested” in the plan.
The issue of interpretation is further complicated by the process of contractor selection. The selection of a new contractor takes place in two stages. First, the proposals by various bidders are evaluated and a winner is selected. At that point the DOE/NNSA must enter into negotiations with the winner to work out the details of the contract. It is possible that an agreement could not be reached. This would require that negotiations with the second bidder would begin. The permutations on this process are beyond the scope of this paper.
Once an agreement is made, then it is presumed that each employee will have to make a choice of whether or not to accept an employment contract with the new contractor. The employees may or may not be protected by the employment contracts that they sign. Some states, such as the State of California, do recognize employment contracts as a legally binding instruments. It is my understanding that the State of New Mexico does not recognize employment contracts. The critical question for employees is the degree of stability of any retirement pension under a new contractor.
While this term may have some legal strength, it is still open to interpretation. My personal feeling is that replacing a Defined Benefit pension with a Defined Contribution pension does not meet the standard of “substantial equivalence.” Since the final contract is subject to negotiation, will the present verbal assurances of substantial equivalence be converted to legally binding contract language?
Who will be the Trustee for the Pension Plan?
The relation of the plan trustee to the parties (employer and employee) is of extreme importance. Employers often favor the “company” being designated as the trustee. In this capacity the company can often claim the monies in a pension plan as an asset of the company. Those assets have been lost to the employee in the case of a declaration of bankruptcy on the part of the company. This loss has been extreme when payments to the pension account have been made in the form of company stock (Enron). On the other hand there are cases where employee unions have been able to deplete the assets without employee knowledge. Even the designation of a third party can have its pitfalls.
The ultimate question for employees is “Will any new pension plan have the same assurance of stability as the current plan”?
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Community Meeting and Survey:
At the community meeting with Tyler Przybylek last Sunday, the Coalition for LANL Excellence handed out a survey that we hope as many Lab employees will respond to as possible, as well as a good sampling of retirees. The survey is available at our web site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/COALITIONforLANLEXCELLENCE/, on the home page, with no need to register to download it. Simply click on "Questionaire." The stated purpose of this survey is:
"The Coalition for LANL Excellence (CLE) is attempting to gather information on employee and retiree concerns and possible actions that they may take as a result of the decision to put the contract for the management of LANL out for bid. These data will be analyzed and the results made available to the media and any interested parties. The raw data and any specific personal information that are provided will be held in strictest confidence."
We are hoping to be able to hand this survey out at the Lab, and possibly receive responses there, but for the cost of a 37 cent stamp, those reading this can get us started on analyzing responses so that we can publish some data in time for interested parties to have some real idea about employee concerns and possible actions. Please make this survey known to your friends and colleagues. It should only take about 5 minutes to fill out. In order for this to have some validity, we hope to receive responses from a large majority of Lab employees (PLEASE: only one from each).
The Sunday meeting was taped and is showing on PAC-8 (http://www.vla.com/pac8/) this week and will hopefully be shown on Labnet as well as other local cable TV stations. Those who were not there may wish to hear for themselves the responses of the NNSA representatives to the many questions that were asked. For example, a recent posting asked about possible layoffs due to the statement "Subject to the availability of funds . . . " Tyler Przybylek said this qualification had to be in there because a federal official cannot guarantee an expenditure that Congress has not approved. Moreover,the funding level for the Lab will have ben established before the changeover. They are also expecting greater efficiencies under the new contract. Of course, we all remain concerned about the impact of increased fees and gross receipts taxes. We also asked about the possibility of an employee representative in the new "Governing Board" model for governance. Their response was they would have no objection to this if a contractor proposed it. An Employee Association has been discussed by some. Perhaps it is time for such ideas to receive greater consideration.
I would also like to take this opportunity to respond to some inaccurate or objectionable postings. One posting (6/12/2005 07:15:00 PM) suggested that the Pension I would become insolvent because there are no new employees to provide benefits for older employees. This shows a complete misunderstanding of what a Defined Benefits pension plan is all about. Unlike the upside-down pyramid scheme of Social Security, each individual's contributions and corresponding employer contributions to a tax-advantaged Defined Benefits program are supposed to grow through prudent investing to cover the cost (in an actuarial sense) of the employee's retirement. Tyler Przybylek and Roberto Archuleta made it perfectly clear that DOE would stand behind the viability of their contractor's pension plan should market conditions result in a shortage of funds. What was also clear, however, was that once they reached a "full and final" agreement with UC on the transfer of funds from UCRP (which they expected would entail extensive negotiation), they would no longer stand behind the pensions of those who remained in UCRP. That will remain the fiduciary responsibility of the Regents. It should be noted that the LANL component of UCRP fell to 107% of funding last year from 115% the previous year. This was owing to market conditions and the lack of any recent contributions for each employee. This may improve somewhat with improved market conditions this year, but unless there is a big upturn in the market, contributions will no doubt have to resume soon. However, there will be no new contributions to UCRP for LANL retirees.
The other posting that I must object to indicated that the CLE has not sufficiently "bothered" or "annoyed" Senator Domenici (6/10/2005 02:20:38 PM)
comment to a 6/10/2005 08:34:00 AM post) and the following comment that this may be because the son of one of the Executive Committee members is an up and coming Republican lawyer. In regard to the latter, I can assure you that I for one don't even know who he is talking about, and that such considerations never came up at any of our meetings. As for the former, we have sent much correspondence to our Senators and Representatives and had many communications with their staffs, some of whom have attended our meetings to learn of our concerns. Although we may have "bothered" our Senators and Representatives, we certainly hope we have not "annoyed" any of them. We don't believe that is a good way to get a favorable response.
Finally, in regard to the concerns raised in the original post cited above (6/10/2005 08:34:00 AM) that CLE was viewed as a small group of people who believed "UC must win the contract at any cost," I would like to clarify that most of us came together over concerns about the lack discussion of pension and health care benefits in the draft RFP. However, we quickly realized that these concerns not only affected us as individuals, but the very nature of the Laboratory in the future. We have not taken any stand with regard to any potential contractor, except to respond to some statements from Northrop Grumman that appeared to indicate an emphasis on pit production and waste cleanup as opposed to scientific excellence. We anticipate being able to work with the NNSA and the new contractor (whoever it is) through the transition period to ensure that employee benefits are preserved to the greatest extent possible, so that Los Alamos will be able to continue to attract outstanding scientific talent. We also hope to be able to work with the new contractor after the new contract is in place to improve Laboratory cooperation with the surrounding communities.
CLE Executive Committee member
I debated whether to post the preceeding submission
I debated whether to post the preceeding submission. Ultimately, I felt that it in a way captured the essence of what is currently wrong at LANL. The mere fact that there are people out there who hold this point of view should indicate to even the most self-absorbed LANL employee that there are serious problems at LANL which are not being dealt with. I agree with one of the comments: the post is ugly but it is not clueless, and ignoring what this person has to say would not be the right thing to do. I see the submission, and others like it as a wake-up call.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The non-issue of retirement
From Anonymous: LANL employees seem to think that the threat of a thousand or so employees retiring because of the fear of losing some benefits is going to sway the government. Frankly, everyone that I know that does business with LANL believes that its mission could be accomplished with 1/2 the staff that are currently there. People who believe this include former LANL scientists, DOE/NNSA staff, and the subcontractors to LANL who currently perform most of the critical operating functions. LANL has coasted on its once sterling reputation for high quality science and engineering for all too many years. Please, employees, go ahead and retire en-masse so the new M&O (hopefully L-M) can bring in the forces necessary to acheive the culture change necessary.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Figures from the latest EB meeting
A comment from the
How about these figures from the latest EB meeting?
Each AD addressed their anticipated near-term staffing losses and needs. However people did this task in such different ways it is difficult to compare the data.
ADSR identified ~ 65 people that it will need to replace or acquire
ADWP identified ~ 290 TSMs and 115 Other
ADTR identified ~ 70 FTE.
ADWEM identified ~ 55 FTE (predominately in areas needed to support OE. (Programmatic needs had not been assessed)
ADTS identified ~ 73 FTE.
ADA identified ~ 15 FTE
ADSFO did not report as they had completed their workforce review yesterday.
HR data currently shows ~290 pending retirements.
LMC-SNL noninterference letter
From an Anonymous Sandian:
This is from a Sandian who thinks that LANL staff might be interested in the following letter. It was recently reissued to SNL management and staff when Tom Hunter took over from Paul Robinson. LMC has been issuing this letter periodically for several years. My earliest version goes back to 1998. Here's the text of the latest version:
I am writing to reaffirm the promise made by Lockheed Martin to the Department of Energy regarding how our Corporation conducts its management responsibility for Sandia National Laboratories. Lockheed Martin has long respected Sandia's maxim of "exceptional service in the national interest." Accordingly, we recognize that for Sandia to fulfill the extraordinary mission requirements of the Laboratories, complete objectivity and independence of judgment must be assured. Lockeed Martin also recognizes that at no time should Corporate interest be placed above the national interest. Even the appearance of this circumstance would be unacceptable.
Be assured that Lockheed Martin will continue to uphold the integrity and independent objectivity that has enabled Sandia to advise the US government on sensitive matters and to fulfill its responsibilities in certifying the safety and reliability of the US nuclear stockpile. Should you ever be confronted with a situation that has the potential to compromise Sandia's independence, you are to contact the undersigned immediately. Appropriate action will be taken to ensure Sandia's ability to provide objective advice to the government at all times. Our corporate culture promotes the highest sense of ethics and integrity.
This Corporate wide commitment to ethical business practice permits us to confidently undertake the tremendous responsibilty associated with the management and operation of Sandia. We are proud of Sandia and greatly value our relationship.
We look forward to many more years of close association with Sandia and we are committed to sustain our excellent record of performance.
Sincerely, Robert J. Stevens, President, Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Diana Heil | The New Mexican
June 17, 2005
Fraud allegations announced this week against two Los Alamos National Laboratory workers have no connection to whistle-blower Tommy Hook's beating at a Santa Fe strip club June 5, lab officials said Thursday.
Hook says a fellow lab auditor who lured him to the bar also worked on the investigation of the two lab employees accused of fraud this week, his attorney, Bob Rothstein, said Thursday.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
What has been done?
From Anonymous: It was exactly one month ago at Bob Kuckuck's first all-hands meeting that Don Cobb said "They were already working on it." when he was asked if UC could do something for Todd Kaupilla's family. Todd Kaupilla was scapegoated (fired) over the non-existent "missing" CREM incident that didn't happen last July. Todd died recently, uninsured at the time of his death as a result of having been fired by UC/LANL. I would like to know what has been done in the month that has ensued since Cobb promised that actions were being taken.
There are beginning to be some good questions
In both this blog and Eric’s blog (http://scienceatlanl.blogspot.com/
), now that the non-productive whining and personal attacks have died down, there are beginning to be some good questions about just what science LANL ought to do to keep science alive here, what sort of projects might be more suitable here than in universities, and what sort of projects might attract and retain the kind of new talent the lab would like to have.
Let me suggest that raw counts of peer-reviewed journal articles are NOT the relevant statistic here. Academia produces floods of peer-reviewed papers on obscure and sometimes trivial topics that concern only a dozen or two people in the world, and will be largely forgotten in a decade or less. For LANL the relevant statistic is this: in how many cutting-edge fields of obvious significance to the world’s current major problems is LANL truly a leader?
When LANL was born, it was to solve a cutting edge problem of immediate and pressing concern to the nation: to build a successful nuclear weapon before the Germans did. That was a problem of sufficient scope and importance to draw the best minds in the country. What problem(s) does LANL address today that are of that magnitude, and would excite and draw today’s best young minds?
There certainly are enough challenging problems around, such as:
- Figuring out how to more efficiently convert mass to energy in a controlled fashion, to solve the world’s future energy needs
- Understanding the nature and possible impact of global warming, and predicting what steps might be the most cost-effective in mitigating the effects’
- Figuring out practical and cost-effective means of guarding our boarders against entry of WMDs, whether nuclear, biological or chemical.
- Figuring out how to better detect and control pandemics – natural or human-created.
If LANL wants the public and the government to continue to support real science here, and if LANL wants once again to draw the best minds in the country, then LANL has to be, and has to be seen to be
, working on some of the most challenging and interesting and important issues of the day. Notice the “has to be seen to be” part! You not only need to really be working on critical stuff, you need to learn how to market yourselves and the importance and relevance of your work as well. In this respect exposure in peer-reviewed journals may be of far less importance than exposure on the evening news or in Scientific American.
So to those of you pondering the future of science at LANL I would ask: what cutting-edge problem(s) of obvious real world significance is LANL currently working on that would excite today’s best young graduate students?. If you can’t find a satisfactory answer to that, then you may have identified LANL’s underlying problem.
Associated Press Lockheed Unveils Los Alamos Bid Team
06.16.2005, 03:06 PM Lockheed Martin Corp. and the University of Texas said Thursday they are teaming up to bid for a government contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Both Lockheed and the university are vying to replace the University of California, whose contract to run Los Alamos expires on May 31. With about 8,000 university employees and 3,000 contract workers, the lab is one of three chief installations responsible for maintaining the nation's nuclear arsenal.
Now would be a good time to put more emphasis on things that we would
like to see done rather than what is and has been wrong. I would like
to see specific statements of how people think LANL should be regulated
and managed in the future.
Subjects of particular interest would be management structure, security/safety
regulations and procurement procedures. I have my own ideas
about these and will submit them should you decide to start such a thread.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
June 15, 2005 Two Los Alamos National Laboratory employees are suspected of fraudulent purchasing activities and the cases have been turned over to authorities, the nuclear weapons lab announced late Wednesday.
One of the employees is accused of misusing credit cards meant to purchase gasoline for lab vehicles. Officials at the northern New Mexico lab said the employee admitted to buying about $3,000 worth of gas for acquaintances in exchange for money.
What do you think will happen?
To those current lab workers who believe the DOE and think they're safe from the reduced compensation and pension benefits of new hires -- GUESS AGAIN!
What do you think will happen within the first couple years of a new contractor?
Pay raises for everyone are based, in part, on your salary compared to your peer group. Once the group that you are being compared to starts to have reduced benefits and salary, you won't be getting much in annual raises. Expect 1% raises for the next 20 years.
Also consider what will happen as you move up the ladder. There won't be any more increases in pay with increasing responsibility if people outside the lab are being hired for the same jobs at substantially reduced compensation. There will also be significant incentive for the new contractor to hire people outside the lab over current employees so that the lab may reduce the "over-compensated" pool of grand-fathered employees. Expect significant difficulty in obtaining promotions, no pay increase with promotions, and an increasing number of managers from outside LANL.
Then there's always the fact that the new contractor will be able to change benefits for everyone with only 60 days notice. If you've got 20 years or more left, the probability that this will happen within either the next 20 years or at the next bidding cycle is quite significant.
The bottom line: Don't be placated by the RFP's and DOE's assurances that only new employees will have reduced benefits and current employees will be protected. Eventually the reduction in benefits will catch up with EVERYONE!
Thus, all current employees should be fighting ferociously to protect compensation and pension benefits for ALL EMPLOYEES, both current and future.
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org
, Monitor Assistant Editor
Asked if he would have shut down Los Alamos National Laboratory last July, the captain of the Lockheed Martin team vying for the LANL contract said on Tuesday, "Absolutely not."
By Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY
Like a growing number of employees, Peter Whitney decided to launch a blog on the Internet to chronicle his life, his friends and his job at a division of Wells Fargo.
Then he began taking jabs at a few people he worked with.
His blog, gravityspike.blogspot.com, did find an audience: his bosses. In August 2004, the 27-year-old was fired from his job handling mail and the front desk, he says, after managers learned of his Web log, or blog.
A blogger can even get the ear of Congress. Douglas Roberts, a computer scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., started a blog (lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com), and anonymous posters blasted management as incompetent. During a House subcommittee hearing in May, the blog was mentioned in a discussion about the fate of the nuclear research facility.
"I was quite surprised. I had no idea it would be this popular," Roberts says, adding that lab management has been supportive of his blog and that he believes blog policies in general are unnecessary.
Says lab spokesman Kevin Roark: "Open, honest, constructive discussion of issues is a good thing ... (but) the personal attacks were unnecessary and disappointing."
When I read your post from NewsMax on the Blog (6/13, 8:05 PM), I was surprised at the slanted "reporting" (sic) and the distortions in the story. I decided to check what "NewsMax" is - who owns it, and what is their agenda. That is not difficult to do. One of the top returns that one gets by simply Googling "NewsMax" is entitled "NewsMax by the Numbers", concerning NewsMax's upcoming IPO and the facts about ownership that are revealed in the prospectus that is required to accompany the IPO. One URL for a report on the prospectus is http://conwebwatch.tripod.com/stories/2002/nmstock.html. The following is quoted from this URL:"According to the prospectus, [Richard Mellon] Scaife owns about 7.2 percent of NewsMax Media, expected to drop to 5.8 percent after the IPO. That's not exactly surprising, given that CEO Christopher Ruddy used to work for Scaife at his newspaper near Pittsburgh. Scaife's official stake -- and you have to wonder, given Scaife's reputation as the moneybag behind a lot of hardline conservatives, if he didn't kick in even more than his official share of the company indicates -- makes him NewsMax's third largest shareholder. At the top is Ruddy, with 32.6 percent (27.1 percent after the IPO), followed by Michael Ruff (with 25 percent, or 20.3 percent after the IPO), described in the prospectus as a former real estate developer in Dallas and current president of Icarus Investments, a venture capital firm. There are a total of 190 stockholders of record.All totaled, Ruddy and the company's directors -- who also include Arnaud de Borchgrave, late of the Washington Times; former Navy admiral Thomas Moorer; and Lord William Rees-Moog, a former editor and current columnist for the Times of London -- control about 64 percent of NewsMax Media through stock ownership and stock options, which would drop to 53.5 percent after the IPO. Interestingly, Scaife is not listed as a company director, but his stock is counted with the rest of the other named directors."
I think you are generally scrupulous about keeping obviously biased "news" sources off of the Blog, or at least identifying them as opinion pieces when appropriate. In this case, no such caveat is evident. I think the Blog readers really need to know where the NewsMax commentary is coming from ideologically, whether one agrees with the sources or not, and I request that you post the foregoing and attribute it to me.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
Current and retired employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory took their last chance to converse with the official in charge of the bidding process that will weigh heavily on their working conditions next year.
Tyler Przybylek, the chair of the Source Evaluation Board that will evaluate proposals for managing the laboratory contract, answered questions from nearly 200 people for more than two hours at a public meeting Sunday.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Dave Eberhart, NewsMax.com [Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part series on the nation's nuclear weapons laboratory. Part two: "Troubles at Los Alamos Mask Record of Achievement."]
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
The recent case of a Los Alamos whistleblower – and his claims that he was beaten by thugs who don't want him to talk about corruption at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab – has raised fresh questions about what is really going on there and prompted some nuclear community heavy hitters into defense mode.
Linton Brooks, National Nuclear Security Administration director, pointedly apologized to Los Alamos employees June 10 for characterizing the laboratory as suffering from "a culture of noncompliance" in a recent report to Congress, saying it was "an extremely poor choice of words."
June 13, 2005
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - A federal official has offered some assurances to Los Alamos National Laboratory employees worried about their pensions and benefits amid the quest for the next lab manager.
"We want the pension and benefits plan to be fair, protective and equivalent," said Tyler Przybylek, chairman of the board of National Nuclear Security Administration officials who will evaluate bid proposals to run the lab.
Weekly Radio Pete
00:00 Domenici says he leans toward believing the investigative findings of the Santa Fe police and the FBI on the beating of a whistleblower from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He says it will be inexcusable if the allegations that LANL was involved in the altercation are proven to be false. He says such incidences make it more difficult for the laboratory to continue making progress on resolving its problems.
11:04 Domenici says he does not believe the beaten whistleblower's accusations will be detrimental to the University of California's bid to retain the LANL management contract.
17:39 Domenici says that as chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee he is ready to gain subcommittee and committee passage of a bill to fund the national laboratories and New Mexico water projects next year. The FY2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill will increase funding for the New Mexico laboratories.
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
SANTA FE - New Mexico legislators on the Los Alamos National Laboratory oversight committee used their first interim meeting of the season Friday to brainstorm about priorities for the rest of the year.
The select panel, composed of members of both houses, tossed several ideas around but returned most often to questions about the uncertainties surrounding the new contract to manage the laboratory.
Journal Staff Writer LOS ALAMOS— The future remains uncertain for employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory as the Department of Energy seeks bidders interested in managing the lab.
But a federal official offered some assurances Sunday at a public forum Sunday regarding the fate of LANL employee and retiree pensions and other benefits that hang in the balance.
"We want the pension and benefits plan to be fair, protective and equivalent," said Tyler Przybylek, chairman of the National Nuclear Security Administration Source Evaluation Board.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
The new tier I pension plan
From Anonymous:A point most people seem to have missed. If you ROLL into the new tier I pension plan, it is a plan that will have no new employees in the future. All new employees are part of the new tier II pension plan. As such the tier I plan cannot possibly survive without ever increasing costs to the remaining employees. Yes, it is a little bit like social security, with fewer and fewer young people supporting the old retired workers. Well, if it won't work for social security, why would a system with no new employees coming in work? The answer is simple, you will contribute vast amounts of money AND much like social security, you will receive less than you expected in the future. IT CAN BE NO OTHER WAY! How would you like to be in the last handfull of people in the tier I plan? Take my word on this, lawyers are not accountants, and this whole thing of two pension plans CAN NOT WORK. If you choose to "bail out a boat", chooose UC "inactive status", at least it still has a lot of freeboard.
One interpretation of Brooks' Message of Last Week
From Anonymous:Ambassadar Brooks appeared candid and reaching out to the LANL communitywithin the constraints of the discussion. He even acknowledged that the language he used "culture problems" was extreme and thought a more appropriate word would be a minority. He announced that the UC contract has been extended to 31 May 2006, to allow more time for the tranistion. He encouraged people to wait and not rush into retirement, and utilize this transition time to do what is best for them. Overall a positive meeting, he reached out to LANL, both he and Secretary Bodmann consider LANL a crown jewel.
So within the constraints, it is important for us at LANL to focus and build upon the positive for us all and not harp on the past wrongs or rights. Bad news for science is that LDRD could be reduced, but he acknowledged its value at the core and we hope he is more effective in communicating this. I hope more people who value the LANL quasi-academic culture and want to continue to do great science here take a leadership role in the future of lab, voice their opinions.
One of the problems clearly is that it makes fiduciary sense for the older folks to retire, but this should not be confused with LANL not being a good place to do science. Personally optimism is the best path forward and having folks like Brooks reaching out to LANL is good and we should try to create synergy with this rather than just fight it. I think UC has this strategy honed for the proposal and the staff should help, and of course critically assess it in a balanced manner. I misse dall the RFP stuff because that is a separate matter of concern to people who are older, wiser, and have more financial issues at stake, and I hope respectfully that they can collect their favorable UC pension, and come back to work at the lab as fellows/consultants to transfer the 60 years of institutional inteligence to the younger and very capable newgeneration...
This is the best for LANL science, national security and the world.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005UC's Lab Contract Extended to May 2006 Journal Staff Writer
The University of California's contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory has officially been extended eight months.
The university's contract, which had been scheduled to terminate at the end of September, will run to the end of May 2006 in order to accommodate the pending competition over who will run the weapons lab in the future and to provide a transition period for a possible new contractor.
Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, made the announcement to Los Alamos laboratory employees Friday during an all-hands meeting.
"That was the first order of business," said LANL spokesman Kevin Roark.
Roark said the contract extension includes language that would allow a further extension of the existing contract, but NNSA officials didn't anticipate that would be necessary.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Could someone who attended today's meeting with Brooks and Przyblek kindly post a summary of what happened?
From Anonymous:I agree that the CLE is a hard-working group of people. However my initial assessment of them was that they were a small a collection of people who had taken the "UC must win the contract at any cost" point of view. If that is still the case, then they are a misguided group of hard-working people. UC has allowed the worse damage LANL has ever incurred to happen during the past year, in the person of George P. Nanos. The fact that LANL was allowed to be spun so completely our of control by one person underscores the complete inability of UC to manage our laboratory. If, on the other hand, the folks of the CLE are now focusing on helping to ensure that the next contractor will provide LANL employees with the best contractual working conditions possible, then I say more power to them, and we should all help them to that goal.
Ok, about Tommy Hook:
On the one hand I receive daily complaints that comments are turned off so that people can't spew more venom on the subject , and daily complaints that there are too many articles about the story on the other hand. So let's make this posting the last one on Tommy Hook, and I'll leave comments turned on for a while. Spew away.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Anonymous Cerrillos Road merchants
From Anonymous:Street wisdom (i.e., coming from anonymous Cerrillos Road merchants in the vicinity of the infamous bar "Cheeks") has it that Tommy Hooks was beaten up by "six Española guys" who were worried that Hook was going to expose a racket they had going to smuggle goods out of LANL.
Makes more sense to me than anything else I've heard about this whole business.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
(06-09) 17:23 PDT Albuquerque, N.M. (AP) --
An attack on a Los Alamos nuclear lab auditor outside a bar was unrelated to his status as a whistleblower, authorities said Thursday, calling into question the man's allegation that he was beaten to ensure his silence.
Tommy Hook, 52, suffered a broken jaw, a herniated disc and missing teeth in the attack outside the Cheeks nightclub in Santa Fe early Sunday. He has said the beating was carried out by thugs intent on keeping him from talking about alleged financial irregularities at the nuclear lab.
But investigators disputed that account Thursday, saying the attack occurred after Hook's car struck a pedestrian while leaving the club.
"Facts, evidence and information obtained during the course of this investigation has led investigators to believe that the altercation involving Mr. Hook is an isolated incident and is in no way related to Mr. Hook's whistleblower status at the Los Alamos National Laboratories," Santa Fe Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson said in a statement.
Last Update: 06/09/2005 6:29:09 PM
By: Associated Press
SANTA FE (AP) - Santa Fe police believe a Los Alamos National Laboratory whistleblower beaten outside a Santa Fe bar could have been attacked because he allegedly struck a pedestrian in the parking lot.
They do not believe the beating of Tommy Hook had anything to do with his status as a whistleblower.
Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson says the investigation is leaning toward a fight in the parking lot leading to the beating Sunday.
Letter to Congressional Delegation from CLE
By now, most of your readers know about the community meeting with Tyler Przybylek this Sunday, 2-4 pm in the High School Duane Smith Auditorium, thanks to the story you posted from the Los Alamos Monitor on 6/8 and an earlier post (comment to 6/7 8:21 am question) of the Coalition for LANL Excellence (CLE) press release regarding this meeting. I don't know how many of your readers may have gone to the Coalition website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/COALITIONforLANLEXCELLENCE/
as a result, but for those who have not, I am forwarding the attached documents posted there: a recent letter
from the CLE to our Congressional delegation regarding some of our concerns, and two attachments 
to that letter detailing some of LANL's accomplishments. We have already seen some response to a principal concern -- namely the lack of a signed extension to the UC contract -- as evidenced by your 6/8 10:26 pm post of a story about a statement from Tom Udall, as well as other responses we have had from Congressional staffers. We hope that many of your readers will find these documents useful and that they will also come prepared to Sunday's meeting with questions about remaining concerns with the RFP.
for the CLE
(you can attribute)
(By the way, Attachment #1 was not produced by CLE, but we have Doug Post's permission to post it; it is a freely available LAUR. I find it mentioned on your site, but I don't believe it is posted.)
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
Emerging from an afternoon briefing Wednesday, Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson said the Santa Fe Police Department investigation in the case of Tommy Hook "is progressing very well."
Johnson said intense media scrutiny called for extra precautions in the investigations, adding that FBI agents continued to work very closely with the local police.
"We are not at a point where we can release details," he said. "There are still people we need to talk to."
While hesitating to set a specific time for additional information, Johnson said, "Hopefully, it will be within a couple of days."
The party may rival LANL's
From Anonymous: Adm. Steidle (ret) of NASA is going at end of the month. The party may rival LANL's.http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=16881
Thursday, June 9, 2005 11:53 a.m. EDTFBI Leaking to Tar Los Alamos Whistleblower
The FBI is leaking information to discredit the account of a Los Alamos National Laboratory whistleblower who says he was severely beaten in an attempt to silence him, an investigator charges.
Tommy Ray Hook, an auditor who has accused the nuclear weapons laboratory’s management of accounting irregularities, was hospitalized after being beaten by several men in the parking lot of a Santa Fe, N.M., topless bar.
"When they were beating him up, they were telling him, 'If you know what is good for you, you will keep your mouth shut,'" said his wife, Susan Hook.
But Peter Stockton, a senior investigator at the Project on Government Oversight - a watchdog group that is assisting Tommy Hook - has accused the FBI of leaking another version of events.
By Diana Heil | The New Mexican
June 9, 2005
WHITE ROCK — By the end of the week, police detectives and FBI agents might be able to unravel the mystery behind the brutal beating of Tommy Hook in the parking lot of a Santa Fe topless bar early Sunday morning.
Hook, 52, is a Los Alamos National Laboratory auditor who told his wife he went to Cheeks bar late Saturday night to meet a secret source who knew about fraud at the lab, but the person never showed up. He left in an ambulance with a broken jaw, a back injury, damage to his teeth and a concussion. He spent two nights at St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.
No arrests had been made as of Wednesday evening. And investigators came to the conclusion it was premature to release details about the incident.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Beating Victim Stands By Account
Journal Staff Writers A lawyer representing a man involved in last weekend's beating that left Los Alamos National Laboratory whistle-blower Tommy Hook severely injured says the fight had nothing to do with LANL.
"This was an altercation in the parking lot of a topless bar, nothing more," lawyer Doug Couleur said. "This has absolutely nothing to do with Hook's employment, his witness status, his employment status, or any of that."
Hook, who has said he was attacked after being lured to Cheeks on Cerrillos Road by a caller who promised information about alleged fraud at the lab, reiterated Wednesday that his attackers told him to keep his mouth shut.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 8, 2005; 7:15 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. -- There's no evidence a Los Alamos lab whistleblower who was beaten up outside a topless bar had been in a minor accident in the parking lot or had cavorted with dancers at the bar, his lawyer says.
Tommy Hook, 52, suffered a fractured jaw, a back injury and other injuries in the beating early Sunday. He was released Tuesday evening, a hospital spokesman said.
Posted on Wed, Jun. 08, 2005
Udall asks DOE to move quickly on contract extension Associated Press
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - A New Mexico congressman said Wednesday that extending the University of California's contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory would create stability for employees while the federal government moves forward with a competition for the lab's next manager.
Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., contends the timeline of the process has generated anxiety about employees' status from the time the university's contract ends in September until the new contractor takes over in July 2006.
SANTA FE, N.M., June 8 - Los Alamos National Laboratory, which unlocked the secrets of the nuclear age, is pondering a new mystery: Who beat up the whistle-blower?
Early Sunday morning, Tommy Ray Hook, an auditor who has accused the laboratory's management of accounting irregularities, was severely beaten in the parking lot of Santa Fe's only topless dance club.
Mr. Hook, 52, is not sure how many men attacked him but he told CBS News they delivered a message: He should keep his mouth shut.
Mr. Hook suffered a fractured jaw, concussion, herniated disk and other injuries, including boot marks on his face. He was released from the hospital Tuesday night.
As in any good mystery, multiple versions of what happened are playing out as the local police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, private investigators, reporters and people from a variety of organizations interested in nuclear issues vie to uncover the truth.
Representative Bart Stupak, again
Comment from the
This posting does not relate to the current string but I found it interesting watching C-Span today. Representative Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, made an impassioned speech proposing that a certain organization be prohibited from using Federal monies to investigate its scientists for the purpose of pressuring and prosecuting them for speaking out on important issues. One of Mr. Supak's supporter, Representative Rosa De Lauro, D-Conn, said that when all else fails we have to rely on the statements of scientists who must be free to speak up and give their assessments consistent with their professional training. Managers should not be permitted to interfere with scientists thus speaking out. The consensus that Supak and De Lauro were trying to develop was that the lives of Americans might be jeopardized by suppressing scientific inquiry and comment.
The organization that Stupak and Rosa De Lauro were speaking of was not Los Alamos National Laboratory upon which a significant fraction of our national security against nuclear threats and blackmail rests but the Food and Drug Administration. The irony is that we have heard Representative Stupak before. He was the same Congressman that supported our previous Director who used Federal funds to scapegoat, abuse and prosecute Los Alamos employees. Amazingly, Mr. Stupak berated the very scientists at Los Alamos who were concerned over the impact of programmatic and personnel actions on national security. They were the scientists who were concerned about their 63-year old institution and their professional careers both of which had been focused on achieving a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent and on preventing the ominous possibility of nuclear terrorism.
Where do we go?' meeting Sunday
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
In times of doubt and uncertainty, go to the source.
A Los Alamos organization, trying to keep a handle on the issues about a new contract at Los Alamos National Laboratory has asked Tyler Przybylek, chair of the Source Evaluation Board in charge of the competition, to keynote a community meeting.
The meeting will be held Sunday at Los Alamos High School in the Duane Smith Auditorium from 2-4 p.m.
A final Request for Proposal for the new contract was issued on May 19, but that was only the beginning of what may well be a yearlong process of preparing to bid, bidding, deciding, negotiating and crossing over to a new contract with the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Comments on Hook News Posts
People have been asking "Why are comments turned off on the Tommy Hook posts?"
The answer is that many of the comments were so crass and crude that I deleted many of them, and turned off the ability to add any additional comments. I will post any news regarding Hook as it becomes available, but providing a comment mechanism on this story has not been a good idea.
NNSA director and DOE Source Evaluation Board chair to address employees
From the LANL NewsBulletin
June 8, 2005
Linton Brooks, National Nuclear Security Administration director, and Tyler Przyblek, chair of the Department of Energy's Source Evaluation Board, will hold an all-hands meeting from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday, in the Administration Building Auditorium at Technical Area 3. The talk is open to all Laboratory workers with access to the Administration Building Auditorium and will be shown on LABNET Channel 9. It also can be watched on desktop computers using Real Media
and IPTV technology. A call-in number will be set up; check Friday's Daily Newsbulletin for that number.
By Diana Heil | The New Mexican
June 8, 2005
On Tommy Ray Hook’s 30th wedding anniversary Tuesday, he slept in his own bed rather than one in a hospital , where he had spent two nights recovering from a severe beating.
“He’s still pretty out of it,” said Bob Rothstein, the attorney for the Los Alamos National Laboratory employee. Hook, 52, has a fractured jaw, a back injury, damaged teeth and perhaps more. Rothstein hopes to read the full medical report today.
Meanwhile, interest groups, FBI agents, police detectives, lab workers and journalists across the nation want to know why Hook was pummeled by a group of assailants outside Santa Fe’s only topless bar and allegedly told to keep his mouth shut.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Stories Differ On Auditor's Beating; Lawyer Questions Lap-Dance Claim
Journal Northern Bureau
SANTA FE— Differing accounts have emerged about the activities of a Los Alamos National Laboratory whistle-blower before he was beaten outside a Santa Fe strip club early Sunday morning.
A dancer at the topless bar Cheeks said Tuesday afternoon that Tommy Hook had received a lap dance inside the club earlier the night of the beating.
But Bob Rothstein, attorney for the long-time LANL auditor, said a private investigator who talked to employees of Cheeks on Cerrillos Road was told that Hook didn't interact with any of the club's dancers.
There was no improper behavior, no tips for dancers or anything like that, Rothstein said.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
From the 6/7/2005 Los Alamos Monitor Letters to the Editor:Time to retire
Recent ads about "life after the lab" and stories of pending retirements due to the possible contractual changes here lead me to believe that many will join the ranks of retirees shortly.
Beside planning well for their financial future, I hope the new retirees will think about the many opportunities they will now have to bring their talents to bear on the many volunteer services they can perform here.
The RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) at our Senior Center has already a membership of approximately five hundred and needs more members!
Similarly, I hope they will consider the advantages of the many fine programs for physical and mental involvement and social participation at our senior centers and find they are not only meant for "old geezers."
Robert A. Nunz
Community-wide meeting, regarding the LANL RFP
Doug- this is important and I haven't heard a word about it. Can you put the following bit on the front page of the blog? Post:
Attend a community-wide meeting, regarding the LANL RFP, at the Duane Smith Auditorium on Sunday June 12, 2005, from 2-4 pm.
Integrity and Openness
Our workforce expects and upholds high ethical standards, reflected in our science and engineering and in our relationships with our employees, customers and community. We communicate candidly with a consistent message. We share news with full transparency in an honest, prompt and open way. “ - the above is a quote from the Laboratory website. It is listed as one of our core values.
On May 18th, I emailed the letter below to UC President Dynes, with a copy to the UC Board of Regents. On May 23 (when he had an email address) I sent a copy to our new lab director. I received an acknowledgment that my email had been received by the Board of Regents. To my surprise and disappointment, I have not received an answer or an acknowledgement from either President Dynes or Director Kuckuck.
There are many ways to interpret the lack of response. The one I choose to believe at the moment is that both President Dynes and Director Kuckuck are very busy, and that this issue has slipped off their radar screen.
Sometimes senior managers need to be reminded to do the right thing, just like the rest of us. I really believe that it is in the best interest of the UC, laboratory, the nation, the workforce (us), the Kauppila family, and Director Kuckuck for him to re-address the issue of Todd Kauppila’s firing quickly and thoroughly, and bring this matter to closure. If you believe so as well, please send an email or a note to Director Kuckuck, asking that the issue be resolved. Thanks in advance for your help.
Dear President Dynes:
I watched on video the recent conference that you held, with Bob Foley and Bob Kuckuck, at Los Alamos. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us.
I believe that the question asked by a member of the audience regarding the case of Todd Kauppila was phrased in such a way as to make it difficult for you to answer on the spot. I'm therefore going to ask it in a different way:
Many - perhaps most - of us at Los Alamos believe that Todd Kauppila received unfair and injust treatment from our former director. I request that you re-examine the circumstances, conclusions, and actions taken with respect to Todd. I believe that doing this is very much the best action for UC, the lab, Todd, and the nation.
If you find that Todd's actions were such that he deserved firing, then so be it. If you find that there was ambiguity, please err on the side of compassion. If you find that indeed an injustice was committed, then please move quickly to correct it.
It was clear that you, Adm. Foley, and Bob Kuckuck were blindsided by the question at the meeting. That, in itself, sent a message to us. Please be aware that this issue of Todd Kauppila's treatment, in addition to being of critical importance to Todd's family and friends, is at the heart of many of the concerns we at Los Alamos feel for the role of UC, the role of laboratory senior management, and what kind of a laboratory Los Alamos will be in the future. Please go the extra mile to insure that the decision with respect to Todd met acceptable standards of justice, fairness, and compassion, and that we all need not feel ashamed of former Director Nanos’ actions in this matter.
Philip M. Howe
Los Alamos Staff Member
Cy: UC Board of Regents
LANL Worker Beaten at Club; Whistle-Blower Told To Keep Mouth Shut
Journal Northern Bureau
A Los Alamos National Laboratory whistle-blower scheduled to meet with a congressional investigator this week was severely beaten early Sunday by a group of men he says told him to keep his mouth shut.
Tommy Hook, a 23-year LANL employee, has a broken jaw, a herniated disc in his back, broken teeth, can barely talk and fades in and out of consciousness, said his wife, Susan. He was assaulted outside Cheeks, a strip club on Santa Fe's Cerrillos Road.
"When they were beating him up, they were telling him he needed to keep his mouth shut," she said. " 'If you know what is good for you, you will keep your mouth shut,' '' she said the attackers told her husband.
Hook has filed for whistle-blower protection with the Department of Energy over what he says was retaliation for information he provided on alleged financial irregularities at LANL. He also has a lawsuit alleging retaliation pending against the University of California-run lab.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Thank you for all you have done
To Doug: . I wrote the following before the post about you retiring. I wish you the best, hope you find good things in your future, and hope you will always know that you did good for us. …To all of Todd’s friends and supporters on the blog, I would like to thank you for all you have done. I would thank each of you personally no matter how long it took if I knew who you were, but I guess it’s fitting to thank you here on this forum. Your voices of concern, donations to the memorial fund (and other fund raising efforts like selling those pins) and overall support are truly appreciated. Donations to Todd’s memorial fund have been generous and the children and I will be ok until we can decide what to do. I want to thank Doug for setting up this blog. The longer UC/LANL delayed the employment grievance process, the more anxious Todd grew to get his story out. He and John Horne had been thinking about going to the press with the story, but it was prudent to remain quiet. At one point there was a newspaper story that talked about how the missing CREM was one of the biggest news stories of 2004 in Los Alamos and that the mystery had yet to be figured out. Knowing that to be untrue, it was a turning point for Todd, the point at which he decided that getting the truth out was paramount even if it did give the lab time to invent defenses. There were reporters that Todd and John Horne trusted to take a shot at the story, but when they found out about the blog and realized that the story could be posted in their own words without worry of information being misconstrued by a reporter, it was clear that they should post it here. The blog also provided moral support and it helped all of us, even the kids, to know that there were people on our side and that people really did care. I can honestly say that this blog and all the people posting positive comments gave Todd the drive he needed to continue fighting, and made his last days hopeful ones. He died knowing that Nanos was leaving and knowing that there was a good case to gain some restitution and justice for what had been done. As for that case, I can only say that I will definitely pursue whatever I can to gain justice for Todd, but will have to find the balance between what I must do to keep my family safe and what I can do to make sure that those responsible pay for what they’ve done. Someone posted a comment about continuing to help the kids and I financially. While much appreciated, I’m embarrassed to take any more of your money. What I really need from you is for you not to forget what happened and to continue to post your opposition to the political bullying that killed Todd and will continue to kill science in Los Alamos. My sincerest thanks to you. Sara Kauppila
Interesting NNSA spin on the shutdown
Interesting NNSA spin on the shutdown from Jerry Paul, Principal Deputy Administrator for NNSA on May 5, 2005.
"...much remains to be done in order to bring the laboratory up to appropriate levels of performance for safety, security, and environmental compliance. Our work is not finished."
"The NNSA was consulted prior to Director Nanos' decision to stand down activities."
"...we in NNSA felt that inattention to safety procedures at the laboratory presented a greater problem. Together they led us to believe that a culture of non-compliance existed within the laboratory. ... It is this culture that we, and the laboratory's senior managers, are trying to reverse"
"...it is apparent that the vast majority of the costs are allowable costs, and thus are reimbursable expenses by the government."
"...and $8 million of costs for the first two days of the stand down."
Biomoda's stewardship of a LANL technology
Compared to the horror of Tommy Hook's beating my newest story about LANL's technology stewardship bungling seems almost inconsequential. As a whistle-blower regarding the fraud of a public company with ties to organized crime, physical assault or death is a terrible possibility. Reading the story on your blog about Hooks' beating emphasizes the high price of being a whistleblower. It also strengthens my commitmentment. That said, I've put up a new story on my blog that provides some more documentation and details about Biomoda's stewardship of a LANL technology. I hope you can link to it again. I got over 200 hits from LANL.gov and 232 from gov.va.net.kc--whatever that is. The .gov tells me that maybe somebody, somewhere in a position of authority will finally do something.
Keep fighting the good fight.
Could you please post this.
None of us are anonymous!
Whistleblower Beating: Details Emerge
The phone reception was awful on the conference call describing the assault on Los Alamos investigator Tommy Hook. But here's the information I pieced together, based on what I could hear his wife, his lawyer, and his partner say:
Last Friday, Los Alamos auditor-turned-whistleblower Tommy Hook got a phone call at his Albuquerque home. It was late -- past ten-thirty at night, and Tommy was getting ready to go to bed. He had had shoulder surgery recently, and a stroke about a year-and-a-half before that. So he needed his rest.
3 p.m. Update: Tommy Hook
KSFR 90.7 FM News
3 p.m. Update: A man who has been labeled a whistleblower at the Los
Alamos National Laboratory is in critical condition after being severely
beaten up in Santa Fe Saturday night.
The wife of Tommy Hook says her husband had gone to the bar in the belief
he would meet someone who had information about fraud at the Los Alamos
Hook was scheduled to testify at a congressional committee hearing later
this month. He and a colleague said they were forced to suppress evidence
of purchasing fraud they allegedly had found at the lab.
There’s word that members of the congressional committee’s staff will
arrive in Santa Fe tomorrow to begin an investigation. Hook’s lawyer says
Santa Fe Police Chief Beverly Lennen has turned the matter over to the
Lawyer Bob Rothstein says it appears the beating was a message to Tommy
Hook not to testify as a whistleblower.
Los Alamos Whistleblower Assaulted Over Weekend
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 6, 2005
Contact: Beth Daley, Project On Government Oversight, 202-347-1122 email@example.com
PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY AT 3:00 P.M. NM Time, 5:00 P.M. EDST
Los Alamos Whistleblower Assaulted Over Weekend
Days Before Congressional Investigators Arrive
Whistleblower Tommy Hook is still hospitalized today after being
brutally assaulted over the weekend. A group of three to four
assailants threatened Hook to keep silent, in apparent reference to
his upcoming Congressional testimony on fraud at the Los Alamos
WHO: Suzanne Hook, wife of Mr. Hook; Chuck Montano, co-worker who
blew whistle with Mr. Hook; Bob Rothstein, attorney representing Mr.
Hook and Mr. Montano.
WHAT: Press conference to receive statements concerning situation
with Mr. Hook.
WHERE: Law firm of Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom &
Schoenburg, 1215 Paseo De Peralta, phone# 505-988-8004.
TO CALL IN: Conference line 1-888-446-2816 and enter #57632.
WHEN: Today at 3:00 p.m. New Mexico time/5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight
Mr. Hook was slated to testify before the House Energy and Commerce
Committee this month. Congressional staff from the Committee were
already scheduled to arrive Tuesday, June 7th to investigate Tommy
Hook's allegations. Also flying out tomorrow is the Project On
Government Oversight's Senior Investigator Peter Stockton who
investigated the 1974 murder of nuclear whistleblower Karen Silkwood
in his previous position as a Congressional investigator.
Mr. Hook had planned at the end of last week to meet an individual who
claimed to have corroborating information about fraud at Los Alamos.
That individual never attended the meeting. Late Saturday evening,
someone who might have been posing as that individual called Mr. Hook
and asked to meet with him at a bar in Santa Fe. He went to the bar
and waited but that person never showed up. When Mr. Hook got into his
car to leave, attackers pulled him out of the car and brutally
assaulted him. The assailants threatened Mr. Hook to keep silent. A
bouncer at the bar intervened and broke up the attack. Mr. Hook was
hospitalized in an Emergency Room with severe trauma to his face and
head, including a fractured jaw, and a herniated disk. He is heavily
medicated today and unable to speak to the media.
Mr. Hook and whistleblower Chuck Montano appeared on CBS Evening News
early this year. That segment can be viewed here:
http://pogo.org/video/facethenation.rm. Audit reports conducted by Mr.
Hook and Mr. Montano in 2002-2004 found a disturbing pattern of
financial irregularities in the Los Alamos Lab' procurement division.
In compliance with Department of Energy (DOE) requirements, Mr. Hook
and Mr. Montano produced a report assessing the Lab's contracting
operations. Lab supervisors refused to allow the report to be
submitted to DOE, instead submitting a report that glossed over the
problems identified by Mr. Hook and Mr. Montano.
Mr. Hook and Mr. Montano filed a whistleblower retaliation suit
against the University of California and supervisors at the Lab in
March, 2005. A copy of the complaint has been posted on POGO's Hook &
Montano resource page here:
"As our nation celebrates the revelation of Deep Throat's identity, we
should be mindful that blowing the whistle on corruption is still
dangerous. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tommy Hook and his
family. We have grown to admire Tommy's courageousness and integrity
over the many months we have worked with him. This assault will only
steel the resolve of Tommy Hook, Chuck Montano, and others to tell the
truth." said Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government
Mr. Hook and Mr. Montano's allegations echo concerns raised by
whistleblowers Glenn Walp and Steve Doran in 2002 and 2003. Mr. Walp
and Mr. Doran's whistleblowing resulted in a series of Congressional
hearings on Los Alamos National Laboratory. More background
information about Los Alamos can be viewed in POGO's archives:
POGO investigates, exposes, and seeks to remedy systemic abuses of
power, mismanagement, and subservience by the federal government to
powerful special interests. Founded in 1981, POGO is a
politically-independent, nonprofit watchdog that strives to promote a
government that is accountable to the citizenry.
From the POGO Blog
Violence Against the Truth
The label "whistleblower" has negative connotations for many: they think it means "snitch," "tattle tell," or "traitor." But these are meanings propagated by those afraid of being exposed, afraid of the truth. By telling people that they are disloyal to the team if they speak up, the wrongdoers hope to keep the truth pent up by conflicting loyalties. "I know this is wrong, but what would my boss, my co-workers think if I told others..."
This is not the way it should be. When higher loyalties call – namely, duty to the public – workers should always be free to communicate problems without fear of retaliation, be it ostracization, demotion, being fired, or worse. And they should not be threatened and physically attacked. But whistleblowers are truly the patriotic ones despite the myths, because they face metaphorical violence of all sorts – verbal, emotional, occupational – and, rarely, even "real" violence as well.
Which is what happened to Los Alamos National Laboratory auditor Tommy Hook this weekend.
On Saturday night Hook went to a Santa Fe bar to meet a person claiming to be a fellow Los Alamos whistleblower that called that night. When the person did not show, Hook left the bar after two drinks. In the parking lot he was pulled out of his car and beaten so badly by 3 or 4 men that he had to be taken to intensive care. Hook did not provoke these men. The men concentrated on kicking his head, and Hook's family thinks the men would have killed him if it hadn’t been for the witness who had just walked out of the bar.
The men didn’t try to take Hook's wallet, his watch or his car; they just told him to keep his mouth shut if he knows what's good for him. Tommy Hook was expected to testify before Congress this month (and talk to a congressional investigator this Tuesday--tomorrow) on possible fraud at Los Alamos (scroll to the bottom of this link for info on Hook). Welcome to the reality of whistleblowing.
From Domenici's weekly radio address:
02:08 Domenici says he is sure DOE will carefully review the pensions plans offered by various bidders for the operating and management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory. He says firms like Lockheed Martin and others will have to show that their overall pension programs are solvent. He says he believes most bidders will offer similar pension plans for LANL employees. He again reminds LANL workers that they will have six months after a contract is awarded to review the pros and cons of any new pension plan for the lab.
Oracle hinders procurement
From the 6/6/2005 LANL NewsBulletin:
June 2, 2005
Oracle hinders procurement
On May 6, I went to my eye doctor to get [a] new prescription for glasses and new computer glasses. On May 9, I tried to enter the new Oracle procurement system to order my computer glasses. I found I couldn't make the order because I'm a sub-contractor.
Okay, I understand that. So I went to my group secretary to have her place the order. My frames weren't in the system. Finally, after another day or two, the group secretary got my order placed in Oracle. Then my deputy group leader doesn't have my order to approve. Supply Chain Management (SUP) called to ask if [my deputy group leader is] an acting. No, he is not. He's been in this position for some time. SUP moves and can't be reached. On June 1, I heard if your request isn't approved in two days it drops out of the system. I don't know if this is true, but if so, it seems to be a little short. Group leaders and their deputies don't always have the time every day to check for things they have to approve.
It is now four weeks since I went to the eye doctor to get new glasses and four weeks since I started trying to get it through the new procurement system. My computer glasses have still not been ordered by my eye doctor because an approved purchase request hasn't been entered. Now, I may not be extremely inconvenienced by not having the new computer glasses, though I am getting more headaches. But I've heard from at least two other sources that the same thing is going on with safety shoes. That could negatively impact an employee being able to work, especially if the worker has not needed safety shoes in the past and doesn't have any. It would have been nice if the catalogs had been fully loaded and the new system fully tested before it was given to the users as ready-to-go.
By the way - I got my regular eye-glasses less than two weeks after I ordered them; but they were paid for by insurance and check.
Sunday, June 05, 2005
None of this information is concrete and probably has a few inaccuracies in it. But there has been a report that has been confirmed by two sources that Tommy Hook was brutally beaten Saturday night at his home.
He is currently hospitalized for severe injuries. That much is substantiated by two sources. The details are still sketchy but apparently 4 men lured Mr. Hook from his home and attacked him. Mr. Hook was scheduled to testify before congress on Monday or Tuesday. One of the attackers allegedly made the statement that he was not going to live to testify. The attackers were scared away by a vehicle that stopped to assist Mr. Hook. Has anyone else heard about this to either confirm or deny it?
Information on Tommy Hook can be found by going to these links:
Temporary connection problem
My ISP has made some changes which will affect access to the web server that I use to host attachments referred to by the blog. Some of the sidebar links, and some of the links to attachments referred to in postings here will not work for the next day or so.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Spike in retirements creates worry
By Sue Vorenberg
June 4, 2005
One thing about smart people - they have options.
In the wake of problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory, some of the smartest people in the country are starting to exercise those options - by retiring. And that trend has lab officials worried, said James Rickman, a lab spokesman.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Indicators of the scientific productivity
Congratulations on your retirement! I recently did the same thing after 20-plus years at LANL. I predict that you will be relieved but not necessarily less busy.
For the Blog, I offer the two attached graphs that are indicators of the scientific productivity of UC and non-UC DOE labs. These graphs also give some comparative insight into the records of UC and Lockheed Martin as stewards of science at their respective Labs. The data are annual publication rates of the Labs between 1978 and 2002, obtained from ISI's SciSearch engine by searching "Articles" at each "Location". The UC Labs are LANL, LLNL, and LBNL. The Non-UC Labs are ANL, BNL, ORNL, and SNL. I couldn't get good data for PNNL because of ambiguities in the "Location" search for that lab's name(s).The first graph
simply compares the average annual publication rates over the years for the UC and Non-UC Labs. The 'averages" were obtained as follows: UC = (LANL+LBNL+LLNL)/3 and Non-UC = (ANL+BNL+ORNL+SNL)/4. The data were not normalized for the respective Labs' staff size because the historical workforce data were lacking, so the significance of the absolute magnitude of the numbers may be arguable. What is clearly significant, however, are the trends over 25 years (the solid lines are linear least-squares fits). The publication rates of the UC Labs have increased by an average of 34 papers per year while the increase for the non-UC Labs has been 11 papers per year. The UC Labs are threefold winners by this criterion. When compared to the growth of the ISI publications database, the non-UC labs have actually *lost*
about 1/3 of their "market share" over 25 years while the UC labs have gained market share by approximately 30%. The trends for each individual Lab more-or-less track the averaged data shown.The second graph
compares the data for the weapons labs, LANL, LLNL, and SNL. The LANL publication rate started out in 1978 approximately twice those of LLNL and SNL. The latter two were approximately equal in 1978. The average growth rates for the two UC labs have been about the same (LLNL slightly greater), and the growth rate for SNL under AT&T was about the same as the average for the non-UC labs (see above). The story has been different, however, in the eight years since Lockheed Martin was formed and became the SNL contractor in 1995. The publication output of SNL has actually *dropped*
significantly during this period. This appears to contradict some recent statements about the scientific stewardship of Lockheed Martin by Paul Robinson (which in any case were unsupported by any data).
One can make the argument that SNL, as primarily an engineering institution, is not expected to publish at the rate of LANL and LLNL which are primarily scientific. However, I don't think the technical demographics of SNL have changed so much since 1995 that that alone can account for SNL's decreased productivity (and even if it has, that would be the Contractor's and Director's doing, wouldn't it?). I have to suggest that much or all of this effect can be blamed on the corporate "culture" (that word again) fostered by Lockheed Martin and their upper management at SNL.
I am fully aware that publication rates are an incomplete measure of scientific health and accomplishment, but they are certainly one valid indicator. Moreover, the trends are even more significant than the annual data, especially when the trends are stable over many years. My conclusion is that UC as a contractor for the UC Labs has been an outstanding steward of science, quantitatively far superior to all of the non-UC contractors, and especially superior to Lockheed Martin which seems to have actually had an adverse effect on the scientific and technical productivity of SNL.
End of post. Feel free to attribute the post to me, but I gratefully acknowledge the help of anonymous "others" in interpreting these data.
The role of the Public Affairs Office at LANL
From Anonymous:Doug, an interesting dialog on the role of the Public Affairs Office at LANL has begun in the http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/06/beaker-blast-injures-lanl-worker.html thread. Could you elevate John Bass's comment of 10:03 PM to a top level post? Thanks.
I'd like to say something about the comment:
"But again, I think that Public Affairs dropped the ball. The rumor mill was already winding up before they said anything at all. Then they don't tell the whole story either. They made it sound less sever than it was. I also agree that some of the news about LANL is sensational - but we can't seem not to be in the news either."
I work in Public Affairs.
As long as I've been reading the blog I've seen lots of comments about PA (not PR) "dropping the ball" and engaging in all kinds of "spin-meistering." I'll address that only with regard to the above comment.
What does "dropping the ball" mean beyond shoulda, woulda, coulda? The only thing we can do when we take a call from the media is relay the facts.
The majority of us have journalism backgrounds, and we are conditioned from the beginning of our education not to engage in speculation. We aren't the ones who say we downplay anything. Someone else does that.
The media will believe what they want to believe about LANL and form their own conclusions, no matter what we tell them. It's a herd mentality, and for us it's based on all the bad press we've accumulated since Wen Ho Lee. If you think they'll remember good things and the good science when there may be more manure to pile on the heap, then you don't know media.
Do they do it intentionally? A few do; others do and honestly don't know they are doing it, and a precious few are indeed professional and balanced enought to know what they are doing. But, they ALL want the story, and it's from that point unfortunate delineations begin. Most all have short memories while others, depending on their personal preferences (or agendas) have longer ones. Take a bunch of facts, throw them in a shaker along with hazy impressions, preconceptions, a pinchof a response from the subject and shake it all up. You tell me what you get. I l'll tell you it's different every time. You can only do your best to get your side of the story out.
It's a problem PA addresses every day. There aren't simple solutions and proceedures to "fix" the situation, It takes time, and a lot of "one step forward, two step back."
"They don't tell the whole story."
Consider this: What DIDN'T they use that we DID give them.
The people I work with are very experienced, very good at their job and have the best interest of the Laboratory's employees in mind when it comes to doing their job. I wish I had spent most of the years in newsrooms with the same caliber of people I work with. It's real easy to say "PA should do this." That's easy from the outside when you don't have the facts and other considerations of an issue, and don't have to make the decision.
There have been some pretty snarky comments about some of the PA people in the blog. Do you know them...personally? When you have a camera or a microphone in your face...well...ask somebody who had to do it on an easy topic, like their science. Think it's easy?
The Lab is a target because of what it is. Think Manhattan, it started there. It's a source of pride for us, massive hate from the activists, and something more ulterior to others. Some of our detractors are in bed together with each other with one objective in mind - GET LANL. That, by the way, is NOT a comment about those involved in the competition. No where near them.
You know who I mean. They want "Saved the world from nuclear danger" on their headstone. Symbols are very big to them.
We get the headlines because we are, have been and will continue to be the target because we are the symbol. Does anyone really think that anyone or anything OTHER than the people who do the work here will really solve the problem?
Ya'll give me a call, anytime.
Broadcast Media Specialist
Public Affairs Office
Journal Staff Writer
With uncertainty about who'll be running Los Alamos National Laboratory in the not-too-distant future, retirements from the lab are continuing to mount up.
Among the latest to say goodbye is Doug Roberts, creator of the high-profile blog "LANL: The real story" and a 20-year veteran computer scientist at Los Alamos. He intends to retire from the lab next month.
Though he will continue to oversee the wildly popular blog— on pace to surpass one million page views this month, cited by Congress and covered by national media— Roberts said he no longer wants to stay on at LANL. His last day will be July 1, years before he was planning to retire, he said.
"Walking away from a place after 20 years is not easy to do," he said. "LANL was badly damaged by the events of the past year— a number of customers left and a number of my colleagues left and for that reason I felt it was time to move on."
Despite some negative comments and occasional mud slinging, employees are still posting constructive thoughts on ways to improve LANL management and the lab's work environment, Roberts said.
"People are focusing on real issues and spending a lot of time proposing ways to fix some of our troubles," he said.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Honest and unintimidated communication
2 June 2005
This is to thank you for the wonderful job you've done in providing a virtual community for LANL employees to deal with their justifiable concerns. I don't know you in person but am impressed by your ethics and courage. The whole LANL community has benefited from your work.
The argument has been made that such a forum for frank discussion by LANL employees is injurious to the Lab's future, i.e. that Congress or the DOE will interpret the blog as whining or ungratefulness on the part of the employees, who would then be punished. The corollary is that employees should stay quiet and should instead trust their managers, politicians, etc to look after them.
Golly, does anyone really feel that his options in this great free country of ours are so limited that he would voluntarily cede his right to lawful dissent? I think that a long-term employment relationship, like a marriage, does best with honest and unintimidated communication. In the long run, LANL will be stronger for having real 2-way communication. The best team players are volunteers who are self-motivated. LANL would be weaker for having one-way, push-down diktats and an intimidated, resentful workforce.
Thanks again for your great work fostering real communication.
Abe Jacobson (retiring 1 July from LANL)
Earth and Space Sciences Dept.
University of Washington
A few Douglas Adams quotes that seem appropriate to this blog
Here are a few Douglas Adams quotes that seem appropriate to this blog, to Doug, and to LANL.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?
Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn't have a good answer to.
The two that seem to apply best to this blog are:
A computer terminal is not some clunky old television with a typewriter in front of it. It is an interface where the mind and body can connect with the universe and move bits of it about.
All it takes to fly is to hurl yourself at the ground... and miss.
To me, Doug, through this blog, hurled himself at the ground and missed.
What has been done?
From Anonymous: I was at the all-hands meeting a few weeks ago where President Dynes introduced us to our new director. I was also present during the questions session when it was asked if there was anything that UC could do to help the family of Todd Kaupilla. After much fumbling, Cobb finally answered the question with "We are already working on it."
I would like to know what has been done.
What, if anything has changed since Nanos left
Could you please make this comment from the http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/05/i-feel-timing-is-at-best-questionable.html thread a top level post? I've been wondering what, if anything has changed since Nanos left. With Marquez' recent post I am pretty much convinced that the answer is "Almost nothing".
LANL has always had the means of catching people who misuse the internet. Maybe they got a new, better tool, but LANL has caught and appropriately disciplined numerous employees over the years.
I don't know what Marquez was trying to do with his email if not to scare people. There are people who misuse their computers, but LANL rarely does anything to them. It would jam up the already jammed up Staff Relations beyond hope. Of course one could say Staff Relations is beyond hope for lots of other reasons as well. And, Lord knows, Rich Marquez is the last person in the world who should be pointing fingers. The skeletons in his closet -- and office, would fill the Physics Auditorium.
The real reason not to misuse your computer is that, if LANL, wants to fire you, they can audit your computer and fire you for dirty jokes you emailed or any number of other minor offences. Normally they only do this if they want to get rid of you for something else that is not necessarily against the rules. As for people sitting and surfing the web, during my worklife at LANL, I saw many students who were given no work to do but who hoped to look busy so they surfed the web all day for the summer. They would have much preferred to do some real work but their "mentors" did not do their jobs. This is really hard on ambitious students who are hoping to learn something and make new career connections at LANL. Instead, they have to fight to stay awake.
It is also true that LANL managers frequently try to harass people out of their jobs by assigning them no work. These people are usually at their wits end due to boredom and humiliation. Of course, if they are caught surfing the internet -- this could give managers a chance to fire them. These people are really between the devil and the deep blue sea. Do they hope for a change of management or do they quit and move the family to a different job? If they are scientists and haven't published in years, as is customary at LANL, they will have a really tough time finding a new job.
There are also people who have work who surf the web all day. I onced worked with a guy who spent his time buying model railroad parts on ebay, managing and imaginary stock portfolio, and buying accessories for his truck/camper from his office computer. It wasn't very hard to detect that he was doing so. His stuff flew off the printer all day long. No high tech detective work required. He still works at LANL and, as far as I know, still does nothing. But he didn't get fired in spite of all the he did. A contributing factor to his remaining at LANL, he claimed, was that every time a member of S-Division sent him a dirty joke he saved it, just in case they were inclined to try to fire him. I also noticed that he was acutely away of who had power and who didn't and was very cozy with those who did.
Underfunded Corporate Pensions
The issues with the LANL pension may be only a small part of much larger national story. See this latest GAO report.
Article Title and Link (click on the link below to access the article):
GAO: Underfunded Corporate Pensions 'Severe and Widespread'
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Here are excerpts from a message that I recently sent to my management and colleagues at LANL:
It is with mixed feelings that I now announce that I plan to retire from LANL at the end of this month. I have enjoyed 19 of my past 20 years at LANL, but not too surprisingly, I have not enjoyed this last year very much. On the positive side I have, ignoring for the moment the disruptions of past year, had the pleasure of working with award-winning teams of professionals during the previous 20 years, and I will enjoy those memories. Hopefully I will be able to continue my associations with my LANL colleagues in the coming years as an associate of LANL.
LANL Staff Member
As regards the blog, I plan to continue to maintain it (with help) until such a communication mechanism is no longer needed at LANL. The additional burden on my time that this blog created during this past year has been significant, but worth it in my assessment. To that end, several colleagues have generously offered to help with the task of keeping the blog running and focused on LANL's problems, and on identifying solutions to those problems.
Somehow the famous words of another "Doug" come to mind: "So long, and thanks for all the fish."
Companies with severely underfunded pension plans
Just Saw an interesting thing on TV tonight. Quickly flashed across the screen were companies with severely underfunded pension plans and most likely to default. Yes, Lockheed Martin, did flash across the screen. So my question to Robinson is, if you claim to do such great science, how is it your company can't manage money? I'm a LANL employee, and I look to a company that is forward looking, with a 9/80 schedule and flex time and a work at home policy (that is definitely not UC under Foley). But quite frankly, if you can't provide me some semblance of the retirement package I thought I was going to get , I can do without Lockheed Martin and you. The reason we are "cashing in" on our retirements is that a future with Foley at the helm sucks too. There is a long time between the award, and the time in which we have to choose to retire. Much time to worry. I ask you (Robinson) and UC to respond to this blog, and give us some direction and hope. Right now, both options suck, so why not retire? At least, the UC retirement is "over funded". Please make an arguement. Just a note, most people can do science with their eyes closed, its called dreaming. Give us that chance again. If we have to worry about our families and their financial outcome, it's difficult to dream.
Missing Magazines Highlight Staff Distrust of Los Alamos Management
From letters to Physics Today, June 2005 Issuehttp://www.physicstoday.org/vol-58/iss-6/p16a.html
As a former employee of Los Alamos National Laboratory, I read the article "Missing Magazines Highlight Staff Distrust of Los Alamos Management" (PHYSICS TODAY, March 2005, page 26) with a sense of deja vu. The September 2001 issue of PHYSICS TODAY, which contained an article by Toni Feder quoting some of my reflections on past LANL management policies, should have arrived at the lab in early September. That issue never appeared in my mailbox, however, nor in the mailbox of any of the other many subscribers in the LANL theoretical division, as far as I could ascertain. The October issue arrived on time right at the beginning of October, and in my 11 years at LANL the September 2001 issue was the only one never delivered. I was perplexed about it at the time and contacted PHYSICS TODAY requesting that a replacement issue be sent to a different address.
I'm certainly a coincidence theorist, so it remains 150% inconceivable that LANL could have a policy of suppressing distribution of PHYSICS TODAY, no matter how disreputable the current laboratory director may regard it to be. But even if such suppression were the case, it would be far from the most capricious of policies experienced by employees there.
When I arrived at LANL in 1990, the laboratory offered a most promising research environment, as it continued its diversification from pure weapons work in the aftermath of the cold war. The Wen Ho Lee security nonscandal of the late 1990s, however, left it a shaken institution.
I departed the laboratory in the fall of 2001, concerned that it would be many years before that earlier positive environment could be restored, and that any restoration would require unerring management, ample funding, and plenty of luck. I was not optimistic about the probability of any one of the three, much less all three together. But I had not imagined just what a challenge the first would prove to be, with the accounting nonscandal of 2002 exposing to the outside world the continued lack of informed decision-making process, ignorance of actual working conditions, and lack of coherence from week to week. The current director, G. Peter Nanos, has achieved only the remarkable feat of making his predecessors' tenure appear unerring, at least by comparison.
Although some of the wounds have been self-inflicted, many of LANL's underlying difficulties result from inconsistent directives from Congress and funding agencies, sometimes the result of high-level political infighting. LANL remains an institution with pockets of world-class scientific excellence embedded in an institutional structure that effectively hinders rather than nurtures them. But what is left at an institution when all those who can secure high-quality jobs elsewhere choose to do so, and where does that leave our national security interests?
Ithaca, New York
Beaker blast injures LANL worker
|Publication:Santa Fe New Mexican; ||Date:Jun 1, 2005; ||Section:Santa Fe ElNorte; ||Page Number:11 || || |
Undergraduate student also suffers minor cuts from explosion
By DIANA HEIL The New Mexican
A Los Alamos National Laboratory post-doctoral researcher and an undergraduate student suffered injuries when a small beaker exploded in the researcher’s hand Friday, spewing glass against their bodies.
After visits to Los Alamos Medical Center, the student returned promptly to work, but the researcher did not.
MONITOR STAFF REPORT
A post-doctorate and an undergraduate student working in TA-9 were treated for minor injuries and released from Los Alamos Medical Center.
A gram-level amount of a chemical called diamino tetrazole was being weighed when it suddenly exploded in a student's hand about 10:40 a.m. on Friday.
The student had an injury akin to a firecracker going off in the hand and may require some additional treatment, LANL spokesperson Kevin Roark said in an interview this morning.
Another student received some minor scratches to the face from shattered glass.
DEADLINE EXTENSION ON STRAW POLL:
I'm extending the deadline for votes in the San Francisco Chronicle's straw poll of present and former Los Alamos staffers until 10 am New Mexico time Wednesday, June 1. The reasons are:
1. The situation unexpectedly changed Thursday (May 26), when Northrop-Grumman announced it was dropping out of the race. Hence, I want to give people who previously voted for Northrup-Grumman the opportunity to change their votes should they wish to do so. (No obligation.)
2. FAR more people voted than I expected, and many of them sent very long, thoughtful and detailed explanations of their reasons for voting the way they did. Honest to God, I need more time to read through them all and to decide what material to use and what material to exclude from my final newspaper story. (I can't begin to use it all!)
I welcome additional votes in the interim, should anyone else wish to jump on the already crowded bandwagon. Again, the vote is open ONLY to PRESENT OR FORMER Los Alamos staffers!!! Full instructions on voting — including the important question of whether you wish to retain anonymity (be sure to let me know!) — appear in my previous e-mail, posted at this site on Friday, May 27.
Thanks to all of you who have already voted.
— Keay Davidson / Science Writer / San Francisco Chronicle