Sunday, July 31, 2005

What attributes does a top-level manager at LANL need

Doug,

I think this comment from the "Productivity" post deserves top billing. The topic being discusses was what attributes does a top-level manager at LANL need to posses in order to be effective. Could you please elevate it?

Thanks,

Anon.


_______________________________________________________________________
A good upper manager at LANL needs to have the ability and courage to push back against unacceptable requirements which the contractor and DOE attempt to mandate. UC in particular has been completely and totally spineless when it comes to saying "No!" to DOE upon receipt of yet another stupid bureaucratic requirement from them.

To give a counter-example of this attribute: Cobb.

Just because DOE is the customer most certainly does not make them always right. It is the poorest customer that usually needs the most guidance, and DOE is certainly the poorest customer that I have ever had to deal with.

Elevate a couple of buried posts

Hi Doug,
I'd like to elevate a couple of buried posts from a previous thread that I believe could lead to a very interesting discussion:
__________________________________________________________________
7/31/2005 09:06:22 AM:
"The feeling that I get on this blog is that TSM's generally feel that their PhD managers are rather poor performing as leaders, even though they may be technically excellent in their particular field.

I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on the possibility of having highly qualified MBA's in management instead of PhDs. For instance, what about technically competent people (BS or MS level engineers with extensive R&D experience) with an MBA from Harvard as an associate director or division leader? Assuming the person was an effective high-level manager (in industry that does mean "hands-off"), would they be respected by LANL technical staff?"
7/31/2005 10:30:30 AM
"The last couple of comments really get to the heart of the matter. Just what IS the set of skills/tools that an effective senior manager at the lab needs? It's a lot easier to say what managers (or anyone else) are doing wrong than to identify the "right" way to do things, in a comprehensive way that doesn't lead to requirements tripping over each other."


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Productivity

Doug, please elevate this comment to a top-level post.

_____________________________________

One of the keys to DOE’s behavior are the assumptions built into the system. DOE assumes that the Laboratory management and workforce will provide productivity as a matter of course. The Lab’s workforce has historically been productivity focused, and DOE has had to provide all the other requirements: safety, security and compliance to keep the Lab’s from making too many politically costly mistakes.

Here is the catch: the Lab management and much of its workforce no longer provides productivity. We have a lot of people at the Lab who have bought into the bureaucratic way of life both at a management and working level. DOE should no longer assume that productivity would just take care of itself. This is been going on for a long time, but Nanos accelerated the process both through his hiring and the various policies that he initiated.

This is why there needs to be a systematic rollback of Nanos’ decisions, almost everything he did hurt productivity (there are exceptions!). Almost everyone he hired for a management job is not committed to productivity, but rather bureaucracy that provide the illusion of safety, security and compliance for DOE’s consumption. The net result is a Lab that produces nothing but safety, security and compliance and the destruction of the balance of “responsibility” that implicitly assumed that productivity was something the Lab would take care of. Instead of management that values productive work including science, we now have management that rolls over and plays dead.

I look up the management chain and for the most part, I feel nothing but distain and certainly little or no respect. There are exceptions, but not many. It’s time to clean house.

Sandia worker accused of using lab credit to buy electronics

WASHINGTON (AP) - A former employee of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque is suspected of using a government purchasing account to buy computers, iPods and even a robotic dog and possibly selling them on eBay, according to a federal search warrant.

Federal investigators asked for the warrant to search the Albuquerque home and storage shed of Peter Micono, who had worked for Sandia for 20 years before he was terminated in 2004 for failing to return to his job after medical leave.

According to the warrant, managers suspected a problem in August 2004 after they couldn't find items Micono had purchased while he was on medical leave from the lab. Micono reportedly purchased laptop and desktop computers, digital cameras, digital music players, a robotic dog and accessories for the dog.

[...]

Full Story

LANL Tests More Sites for Radiation



By Adam Rankin

Journal Staff Writer

Federal and laboratory radiological specialists are checking two locations out of state as a precaution to see if a Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher contaminated by radioactive americium-241 may have spread the contamination beyond his house and car.

While he would not say where the team was dispatched, lab spokesman Jim Fallin said the contaminated researcher visited his wife and mother and may have spread the contamination to those locations.

"We know we are dealing with an issue related to contamination, and we are going to exercise extreme caution and take the conservative route," he said. "We want to go with the most conservative approaches here and make absolutely certain we are doing what we can to protect the general public."

LANL officials have said this week that due to the small levels of americium detected off lab property, the contamination poses no credible risk to the general public.

A radiological team also surveyed three other homes in Los Alamos County in addition to the researcher's home, where some contamination was discovered and removed earlier this week.

[...]

Full Story



Friday, July 29, 2005

Santa Fe Police Wrap Up Whistleblower Beating Probe

Associated Press

SANTA FE — Santa Fe police have wrapped up their investigation into the beating of Los Alamos National Laboratory whistleblower Tommy Hook and were preparing Friday to turn the results over to the district attorney.

"It will be up to them to decide whether any charges would be filed against individuals involved in this whole incident, including Mr. Hook,'' Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson said.

Johnson had announced seven weeks ago that Hook's beating outside a topless bar was not related to his status as a whistleblower at the nuclear weapons lab.

"There's nothing new'' to contradict that, Johnson said Friday.

Police said the altercation was an "isolated incident'' that began when Hook struck a pedestrian in the club's parking lot.

Authorities have not released the names of the other men involved.

[...]

Full Story


Am-241 Incident

Here is an example of the importance of reporting all the facts in a press release.

I have been following the Am-241 contamination incident in the news and on the LANL:The Real Story blog for the past two days. From what I read, I assumed that the person was contaminated by handling Am-241 metal. The deployment of the DOE Radiological Assistance Program team to survey the persons car and home made me believe that this was a very serious incident. Reading that the person plus five more people, who worked in the same area, were put on a bioassay program further increased my concern. Reading that people were sent home while experts cleaned the workspace and the person's car and residence did nothing to reduce my concern.

Today, a responder to the blog said that the material the person handled were encapsulated uranium nitride pellets externally contaminated with Am-241. Adam Rankin of the Albuquerque Journal said:
"We were not told how the individual was contaminated or in what form the americium was in. I only happen to know the shipment contained uranium nitride pellets because I got a copy of Wallace's e-mail, which did not make it clear that the pellets were externally contaminated, if that is indeed the case. We were told such questions were under investigation.
Remember, that being a reporter is like being blindfolded in a dark room and having a few hours to describe its contents and their purpose (my emphasis).
That said, I am always open to information that will improve my stories and their accuracy. Please, don't hesitate to contact me or get me the information."

But this is not the end of the story. What remains unanswered is:
What was contaminated? Were the vials or the pellets inside contaminated?
How did the material get contaminated? Were people at the source of the delivery, the delivery person, or the person(s) who received the material contaminated?
How big a deal is this? What is the risk of getting cancer to those contaminated?

Larry Creamer, LANL Retired
78 Granada Dr.
Los Alamos, NM 87544
(505)672-9433
lcreamer@mindspring.com

Contaminated Lab Worker Back Home

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

A Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher who was contaminated by a dose of radioactive americium— and in turn contaminated his car and parts of his house— was allowed to return home Wednesday evening.

A team of federal nuclear incident responders finished decontaminating the researcher's home late Wednesday afternoon, according to LANL spokeswoman Kathy DeLucas.

The researcher was contaminated by a sample of americium-241 received July 14 in a package shipped from a neighboring plutonium research facility at the lab. The contamination was discovered 11 days later by a radioactivity control technician on Monday.

[...]

Full Story


DOE priorities -- Safety, Security, Compliance

From the LANL NewsBulliten Letters to the Editor:

July 27, 2005

DOE priorities -- Safety, Security, Compliance

The letter indicating unhappiness at losing the Laboratory's goal of productivity (Bernard Foy -- 7/22/05) indicates that the Lab unilaterally decided to prioritize safety, security and compliance while ignoring productivity. It wasn't the Lab that made the decision. Those of us who attended the Department of Energy panel discussions at the 2003 (or so) Waste Management Symposium heard that safety, security and compliance are the top three performance measures for all DOE labs. That's it, plain and simple.

The number one priority for evaluating a contractor's performance is safety. Number two is security. Number three is compliance. I was there and I heard an audience member ask Ines Triay of DOE where in the scheme of things did productivity occur. "It is not a priority," was the answer. So, until that edict changes, the Lab's mission does not include productivity unless we want to provide something that our mother agency does not value.

--David Yeamans


DOE Investigates Ex-Sandia Lab Worker

By T.J. Wilham
Journal Staff Writer

A trio of iPods, laptop computers for the kids, a robotic dog to show off to family and computer equipment to sell on eBay were all paid for with tax dollars. Now, they have landed a former Sandia National Laboratories technician in hot water.

Federal agents recently served a search warrant at Peter Micono's Northeast Heights home looking for the items that the employee is accused of purchasing with a Sandia account.

Micono has not been charged with a crime.

When some of the purchases were made, Micono was on an eight-month leave of absence due to medical reasons, the search warrant states.

Micono was terminated in October when he didn't return to work, according to the warrant.

The investigation, which was conducted by the Department of Energy, has been submitted to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


[...]

Full Story

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Decontamination operation conducted at local home

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

Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos County conducted a decontamination operation at the home of a lab employee in White Rock on Wednesday.

LANL spokeswoman Kathy DeLucas stated in a news release that the decontamination operation was conducted after an investigation confirmed the presence of contamination in the employee's workspace.

[...]

Full Story

Given the quality of some of the posts and comments here,

I feel it only appropriate to share this on the blog:

Thursday, July 28, 2005; Posted: 6:01 p.m. EDT (22:01 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A man who compared a woman's anatomy to a carburetor won an annual contest that celebrates the worst writing in the English language.

Dan McKay, a computer analyst at Microsoft Great Plains in Fargo, North Dakota, bested thousands of entrants from North Pole, Alaska to Manchester, England to triumph Wednesday in San Jose State University's annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire," he wrote, comparing a woman's breasts to "small knurled caps of the oil dampeners."

[...]

"We want writers with a little talent, but no taste," San Jose State English Professor Scott Rice said. "And Dan's entry was just ludicrous."

[...]

Full Story

--Doug

Report deals with LANL's impact on health

Report deals with LANL's impact on health


DARRYL NEWMAN, Monitor Staff Writer

SANTA FE - A federal agency has issued through a report that no harmful exposures to chemical or radioactive contaminants from Los Alamos National Laboratory are occurring, nor are the current conditions expected to cause illness in the future.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reviewed data recorded from 1980-2001 and presented its findings to the Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board on Wednesday afternoon.

[...]

Full Story

Similarities between LANL and NASA

From Anonymous:

I find myself feeling irate that we have 7 astronauts in space who are facing the same kind of reentry that killed their predecessors in the last shuttle flight. Yes, I am aware that NASA now says the lost foam from the liftoff didn't damage the orbiter, but NASA has grounded all future shuttle flights, which suggests it doesn't have much faith in the safety of the shuttles. The part I find so appalling is the fact that the shuttle Discovery was found unfit to fly on June 28 and NASA sent it off anyhow. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/28/AR2005072800035.html
Maybe this set of astronauts will survive and I hope and pray that they do, but what I see is an agency so concerned about publicity that it didn't listen to its own safety advisory team. It appears that only luck prevented a disaster and we still don't know that such a disaster has been prevented.
I think of LANL's many failures to enforce safety rules and to repair reported hazards over the years, which resulted in accidents such as the one that caused a laser burn to a student's retina, and radiation uptakes, and numerous near misses. LANL advertises a deep concern for the safety of its employees but in the end fails to enforce its own rules over and over again -- usually in an attempt to get work done in a hurry, to meet deadlines, or just because they think something else is a higher budgetary priority.
Nanos tried to solve the problem with a stick. That approach was an utter failure. I just see a model of LANL's problems in the current NASA Discovery problem. The only possible solution is the ability to face the truth and to tell higher ups what they do not want to hear. It would help a lot if telling the truth wasn't career suicide and coverups were.


Sandia worker accused of fraud

By Maggie Shepard
Tribune Reporter

July 28, 2005

A 20-year employee of Sandia National Laboratories is under investigation, suspected of using a lab credit account to buy dozens of computers and electrical items - including a robotic dog - for his own use.

Peter Micono's house and shed in the 4000 block of San Andreas Avenue Northeast were the subject of a federal search warrant as authorities looked for laptops, monitors, iPods and other items they say Micono bought while working at the labs, according to the warrant.

[...]

Full Story


Journalism’s Backseat Drivers

The ascendant blogosphere has rattled the news media with its tough critiques and nonstop scrutiny of their reporting. But the relationship between the two is more complex than it might seem. In fact, if they stay out of the defensive crouch, the battered mainstream media may profit from the often vexing encounters.

By Barb Palser
Barb Palser, AJR's new-media columnist, is director of content for Internet Broadcasting Systems Inc.

"We see you behind the curtain..and we're not impressed by either your bluster or your insults. You aren't higher beings, and everybody out here has the right--and ability--to fact-check your asses, and call you on it when you screw up and/or say something stupid. You, and Eason Jordan, and Dan Rather, and anybody else in print or on television don't get free passes because you call yourself 'journalists.'"

– Vodkapundit blogger Will Collier responding to CJR Daily Managing Editor Steve Lovelady's characterization of bloggers as "salivating morons"

"Please join us in this conversation. It's where the future is."

– Greensboro News & Record Editor John Robinson, announcing a new "open source journalism" initiative at the paper

[...]

Full Story

[Brief mention of the LANL blog in this story]


LANL Worker's Home Decontaminated

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

A federal team of nuclear incident first responders was busy surveying and decontaminating a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee's home Tuesday and checking to see that the contaminated worker didn't spread radioactivity elsewhere, according to lab officials.

"The contamination is very low level, but is serious," wrote Terry Wallace, LANL's associate director for strategic research in a Wednesday e-mail to employees.

"The health and safety of the employees is the absolute first priority, and the present analysis is that only one employee is affected," he wrote.

The uranium researcher at LANL's Sigma complex was contaminated by a sample of radioactive americium. It was part of a July 14 shipment from a neighboring plutonium research facility at the lab, though the Sigma facility is only equipped to handle uranium. The contamination was discovered Monday.

[...]

Full Story


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Los Alamos Worker Exposed To Radiological Contamination

Associated Press

LOS ALAMOS — A decontamination team is cleaning the home of a Los Alamos National Laboratory worker who was exposed to a radiological contaminant while working at the northern New Mexico lab.

An investigation confirmed that contamination was present in the employee's workspace and on his clothing, the lab said in a statement issued Wednesday. A survey by the decontamination team also detected trace amounts of americium 241 in the worker's car and trace amounts inside his home.

[...]

Full Story



Should LANL adopt Google's motto and try to live by it?

From Anonymous:

I would prefer to post this anonymously lest I be accused of being a pie-in-the-sky idiot. Nevertheless, I think it is a good idea.
************************************************************************************************************************
I just received my latest issue of Fast Company, a magazine devoted to improving business management. This month there is an article on Google, probably the fastest growing company in the US. In the description of Google and its way of conducting business is the company's motto. "Don't be evil." I would suggest that this motto might be a good way for LANL to leave its past behind and move into a new, better future. Of course everyone, including management would have to buy into it. For info about the motto see:
http://www.business-journal.com/WhyGoogleandDontBeEvilIsCool.asp . Unfortunately, the article is not on line but the magazine does have a website at:
http://www.fastcompany.com/homepage/index.html
Should LANL adopt Google's motto and try to live by it?


OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE CONTAMINATION EVENT

From:
To: Recipient List Suppressed:
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 4:15 PM
Subject: OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE CONTAMINATION EVENT

LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY
A DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY/UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LABORATORY
Communications and External Relations Division
Public Affairs Office

CONTACT: Kathy DeLucas, 505-667-5225, duke@lanl.gov 05-060

OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE CONTAMINATION EVENT

A decontamination team made up of experts from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos County are conducting a decontamination operation at the home of a Laboratory employee today. This action is being taken after an investigation confirmed that contamination was present in the employee's workspace and that the employee had received radiological contamination to his skin and his personal clothing while working at the Laboratory.

Upon discovery of the contamination incident by a Laboratory employee on Monday, health physics and nuclear response experts were sent to the employee's house as part of the Department of Energy's Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) team to survey the employee's car and residence. The survey detected trace amounts of americium 241 in the car and in several locations inside the employee's home.

Americium 241 is a man-made metal produced when plutonium atoms absorb neutrons in a nuclear reaction. The largest and most widespread use of americium-241 is as a component in household and industrial smoke detectors, where a small amount is used in an ionization chamber inside the detector.

Experts involved in the investigation have estimated that the amount carried off site is a fraction of the radioactivity contained in a typical residential smoke detector.

Officials are also examining any possibility that the contamination was more widely spread to other locations. However, the extremely low levels of radioactive material found at the employee's home do not pose a credible risk to the general public.

An investigation is underway to determine the origin of the contamination and whether established safety procedures and protocols were followed.

"Our first concern is to ensure that every employee is safe and that the general public is protected," said Laboratory Director Robert Kuckuck. "We believe that this has been accomplished."

"It is important that we establish the causes of this event and whether our institutional procedures were adequate and followed so that we can learn from this incident and take appropriate measures to prevent this from happening in the future," Kuckuck added.

The researcher has been placed on a special bioassay-sampling regimen. These are tests that reliably measure the amount of americium in a urine sample, even at very low levels. Using these measurements, scientists can estimate the total amount of americium 241 present in the body. Tests are also being conducted to determine if any americium is present in the researcher's lungs.

Five coworkers who work in the same workspace have also been placed on similar bioassay sampling regimens.

Workers in the facility where the contamination occurred were sent home Tuesday afternoon so experts could complete radiological surveys and clean up any residual contaminants in the building. Subsequent testing has confirmed that no other employees in the facility have been contaminated.

RAP is NNSA's first-responding resource in assessing such situations and advising decision-makers on what further steps could be taken to evaluate and minimize the hazards off site. Specific areas of expertise include assessment, area monitoring, and air sampling, exposure and contamination control.

RAP is capable of providing assistance in all types of radiological incidents. Requests for assistance may relate to facility or transportation accidents involving radiation or radioactive material. RAP's support ranges from giving technical information or advice over the telephone to sending highly trained people and state-of-the-art equipment to the accident site to help identify and minimize any radiological hazards.

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

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and national security concerns.

-30-

For more Los Alamos news releases, visit World Wide Web site http://www.lanl.gov/news/index.php?fuseaction=nr.subject


Why we are not as productive as we could be


Hi Doug
Could you post this anonymously ?

Could you post this page 6 from IMP 352.0, Implementation Procedure on the blog. It is a pdf file
and I don't know how to do this. I would put it as a response to the productivity issue.

I think it is a nice illustration, why we are not as productive as we could be. I really wonder, what a level 8 milestone would mean. And also once you take an average inflation of 4 lower milestone/per one upper we will get 84=4096 milestones a year.
Assuming 240 days in a working year, will give us 17 milestones a day. Further assuming
it takes 20 minutes to write a report fo every milestone, we will be roughly using 6 hours a day
working on these milestones. I wonder if this is the "Foley" business model?

Americium241 Contamination Closes Sigma Complex until at Least Thursday

From Anonymous:


Please post this anonymously....

Yes, kiddies. It seems that NMT11 believes that it can send Americium241 contaminated viles to anyone in the Lab, and CYA it with a simple "Radioactive Material Inside" sticker.

Here's the real story: MST6 was expecting Uranium only--with no hitchhikers, and ten days ago an individual got contaminated while handling what he thought were Uranium-only filled viles. Unfortunately, he didn't find out until yesterday those viles were laced with Americium241 and he was contaminated. By pure luck the RCT had a Alpa monitor and picked up something "abnormal". See this is a Uranium facility and not equipped to handle let alone monitor Alpha or Gamma radiation when it inadvertently gets shipped there. Who knows who else NMT11 contaminates with this stuff in its shipments to unsuspecting facilities!

The poor unfortunate researcher and technician, not only got exposed, but took it home with them, and over the last ten days to who knows where else in the community at large. Teams are out now trying to decontaminate at least one persons home.

To their credit, MST6 Group Management and MST OPS made everyone who resides in the building get a full body scan, and had them evacuate the building until the RCTs could investigate and decontaminate areas that turned up hot--like the stair rails, door knobs, PC equipment, chairs and who knows what else (ventilation system?). No one can return to this facility until at least Thursday.

This situation makes you hope that the Anti-nuclear bidders win! Whoever takes over LANL had better realize just what a mess it will be inheriting.


Advisory board criticizes Laboratory productivity

From the LANL NewsBulletin:

July 22, 2005

Advisory board criticizes Laboratory productivity

Once again, a panel of outside experts has assessed the Laboratory and the other national labs and provided some interesting insights -- that will probably be forgotten. While I don't agree with everything in the report of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, I think we should pay attention to two excerpts about plutonium work here. (The full report is publicly available at www.seab.energy.gov/publications/NWCITFRept-7-11-05.pdf online.)

On page 91 of the pdf:

"[Technical Area] 55 is a remarkable facility. The attention to detail at every level of manufacture is to be commended. It is obvious that processes have been laboriously developed to provide a quality product safely. However, the manufacturing priorities appear to be: (1) Safety, (2) Security, (3) Quality. The one missing element is: Productivity. The enormous investment made in the TA-55 facility has not yielded anywhere near the productivity levels this facility should be capable of attaining."

And the panel's recommendation, on page 54:

"NNSA should focus TA-55 on pit production until CNPC is fully operational, by making the following changes: remove Pu 238 to another location; relocate pit surveillance to LLNL SuperBlock, relocate plutonium R&D to SuperBlock or CMR, relocate gas gun efforts to Jasper."

Had the panel analyzed other large Lab facilities, it would have discovered the same inattention to productivity, so this issue goes beyond plutonium work. The message is clear: be a productive facility, or your funding will be eliminated.

It is long past time to abandon the hierarchical view of safety and security at Los Alamos. The hierarchical view holds that safety and security are the top goals, or priorities, or objectives, or whatever you may call them. With the changing of the guard at the Lab, it is time to adopt a new view (once in place, but now forgotten) that the top goal of the Lab is productivity, and that safety and security are integral to how we accomplish the mission. Otherwise, many more facilities will find their best and most interesting scientific work transferred to our friends at Livermore or elsewhere in the complex, as this panel recommends for TA-55.

--Bernard Foy


More on procurement costs

From the LANL NewsBulletin:

July 25, 2005

More on procurement costs

I'm glad to hear that Albert Jiron is in favor of reducing procurement costs and delays. I think that we all are.

However, Supply Chain Management (SUP) has no record of reducing costs. For a number of years the Department of Energy has required all contractors to report costs by "Functional Categories." Procurement costs are contained within "General Support" costs. These reports can be found at http://www.mbe.doe.gov/progliaison/scfa.htm online. Since fiscal year 2000, the cost of running the Lab's procurement system has increased by $9.5 million (84 percent) from $11.3 million to $20.8 million. By contrast, the costs of running the procurement systems at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - systems operating under similar conditions - have increased by 22.9, 21.7 and 49.6 percent, respectively.

I don't think that this increase occurred on Albert's watch. Hopefully, under Albert's direction these costs will be reduced. Assuming that DOE continues to publish these reports, we'll see what the fiscal year 2006 numbers look like.

As an aside, what are "institutionally imposed requirements?" They sound like self-imposed requirements.

--Bruce McReynolds



Tuesday, July 26, 2005

CU bids for Los Alamos

University joins consortium seeking to operate facility

By John C. Ensslin, Rocky Mountain News
July 26, 2005

BOULDER - The University of Colorado has a small part in one of two competing bids to operate the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

CU is one of 22 research universities so far that have joined in a consortium with defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas in a bid submitted this week to the Department of Energy.

[...]

Full Story


Monday, July 25, 2005

Bid for lab includes fewer partners

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 25, 2005

LOS ALAMOS - A Los Alamos National Laboratory official says a proposed academic network that would cooperate with the nuclear weapons lab has fewer potential partners than those already working with the lab.

In submitting its bid Tuesday to manage the lab, a team headed by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas touted a national network of universities and institutions that would work with Los Alamos lab.

[...]

Full Story


Blog Hit History


Recent posts have requested information on the hit rate trend for this blog. The graph at the left shows the complete history of hits. The tallest peak which occured around April 30 corresponds to the first NYT article, followed shortly after by another spike caused by the NYT article being linked on the Drudge Report for two days. I believe the next big peak around May 18 corresponds to a flurry of stories about Nanos' resignation. The next big peak around June 8 was caused by the Tommy Hook business.

--Doug

The Sisterhood: Sandia from Z Division to Z Machine

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

This is the first of an occasional series of articles on Los Alamos National Laboratory's sister labs in the nuclear weapons complex.

ALBUQUERQUE - A visitor from Los Alamos looking for comparisons between Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory might not be entirely surprised by what has become of the Manhattan Project's old Z Division, now SNL, six decades later.

Sandia's Albuquerque facility is located inside Kirtland Air Force Base on the southeastern edge of the city on a dusty 12-square-mile expanse of desert with plenty of room to expand, unlike Los Alamos' 43-square miles cramped on strips of mesa tops and straddling deep ravines.

Hulks of new buildings are sprouting up in bunches these days in both locations, although those at Sandia tend to be lower to the ground.

[...]

Full Story


Same Old, Same Old

From Anonymous:

Same Old, Same Old, as the story goes. The DOE has said their intention is to make changes at LANL and across the complex, however, the procurement process will continue to keep small businesses on the outside, unless you are selling pens and pencils. Both competitors will have little or no incentive for change after award of the contract. Lockheed Martin made what was viewed as a good effort to include the participation of small business, however, at the end of the day they have failed and the DOE has failed all small businesses again. The Lockheed Martin approach resulted an outcome that included only a letter of thanks. The RFQ, however, was costly for each small business that applied. A lot of time and money to respond to what was advertised by Lockheed as an good opportunity. Everyone know that it is small businesses that are risk takers and who will make the changes necessary to move the country forward in growth and innovation. Not dinosaurs like Bechtel and Lockheed and certainly not the U of C or U of T. DOE, another missed failed opportunity.



Inability of UC to admit that it has made mistakes

A comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/07/bid-to-run-lanl-formidable-duel.html

post:
___________________________________
As the months drift by, I'm sometimes jerked awake, as though within a nightmare, by the possibility that UC might actually win (re-win) the contract. Having started as a fully gung-ho UC sucker, Nanos's ongoing, relentless work of turning over his own shared-with-UC rock finally showed me that no-way, no-how, should that corrupt organization be given the contract again, but still--the ever-startling epiphany keeps coming back: no, it really _could_ happen.

The worst of it wasn't Nanos, or The Emperor (Foley), it's the remarkable, ongoing, abundantly demonstrated inability of UC to admit that it has made mistakes, specifically with the shutdown and with the capricious, untimely, irrational, counterproductive, and purely vengeful withdrawal of 26 days of freedom every year from its workers ("our people are our greatest asset") here. Recently, waves of awards connected with the "restart" gave the impression that management was buying (cooping) personnel as co conspirators in the shutdown (by having them accept cash gifts for their "efforts" with the restart), and UC's amazing ongoing refusal to reinstate 9/80 points to the same, horrible disease within: these guys just can't admit when they've made a mistake.

_That_ is the reason UC must not win the contract again. Otherwise, it'll just be more of the same old cover-up-ridden Reign of the Self-Congratulatory.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

I'm Convinced

Posts like this one have convinced me that anonymous posting on the blog should continue to be supported.

--Doug

----------------------------------------------

I'm a manager (GL) and I read this blog faithfully; and post here too -- anonymously. Believe it or not, retaliation is alive and well within the management community.

I find the blog useful in several ways: current news not available via official means, a sense of the "pulse" in the Lab, and as a means for venting in the face of senseless edicts.

I believe UC reads the blog but just gets defensive and blames the employees. If LM/UT isn't reading this blog and developing plans to win back the employees, they are missing a tremendous opportunity.

I support keeping the blog anonymous. Enlightened managers can gain a perspective not available through official channels (UC's filters). Employees have a way to blow off steam and/or offer constructive comments to improve LANL operations.

The fact that the blog is so public is unfortunate; and an indictment on UC. If UC woke up one morning and decided the employees weren't the source of all their problems, they might create an internal forum for healthy debate. If that were to happen, the blog might not be necessary. Until then, this is our only venue.

My vote, Doug, is to keep the blog alive and anonymous. There's lots of water yet to run under our bridge and retaliation is alive and well in Los Alamos (the Lab and the town).


Free Advice

Doug-
The following is my personal view and not an official statement of LANL or UC in any capacity.
There is a need for open, candid, responsible discussion of issues at LANL. That is one mechanism for identifying problems and correcting them. I have tremendous respect for the value of getting many perspectives on important issues. There also is a great need for institutional loyalty and support for decisions that are made, unless there is a huge organizational disfunction that benefits everyone to get involved in the solution. This has to be rare. When everyone weighs in with nitpick-level criticisms of day-to-day management issues, the organization degenerates into chaos and no one is well served.
A properly moderated open forum in the News Bulletin or on the Lab yellow-network website and a trusted Ombudsman office ought to exist to serve that function. (Note that most organizations are vulnerable to negative publicity and are sensitive to how they manage this kind of function. In fairness to LANL and its community relations organization, given LANL’s extreme vulnerability, many enemies, and critics, bridging the gap between openness and responsible institutional self-protection has to be difficult. I like and respect C. Paul Robinson, but wonder whether his tolerance of your blog might be slightly influenced by its apparent anti-UC bias and potential to enhance the LM/UT chance of winning the contract. )
I am glad you are thinking about eliminating anonymous postings on your blog. I believe that you have operated under an incorrect assumption that ‘because there are things at LANL that need corrected and because there is not and effective open forum for discussing those things, then an open, PUBLIC, forum based primarily on news media stories and posted rants with anonymous commentary is the right solution.’ In fact, while your LANL:TRS blog has provided news reports and discussion and opportunity for angry people to vent, it has done unfair, immeasurable, and largely irreparable damage to LANL, to a number of people, and lab organizations. It airs both real and unsubstantiated problems in public while we are in the middle of a highly-politicized and potentially injurious debate over the future of LANL. I count it as aid and comfort to the enemy.
You could have hosted open discussion without opening the door to the malicious and imbalanced and public attacks that have appeared here. However, instead of being a moderator to a balanced and responsible forum, you appear to encourage a negative polarization and mob-think. Some have said that anonymity is necessary to enable people to be open. My experience at LANL is that most people are extremely willing to share candid views with each other and with management. Free-flowing candor is frequent in open meetings as well. I think that the justification you claim is minimal.
While I would prefer LANL:TRS did not exist, if you continue it, you can make it better by requiring attribution. Comments ought to be signed. If there is some comment that is legitimate but really would put a person’s job at risk, you should decide if YOU want to front for that person by providing them with a pseudonym. You assume an important responsibility, not unlike that of a reporter quoting an anonymous source. Is the source reliable? Is the comment appropriate? This will eliminate trolls, ringers and imbalanced weighting by a few in the discussion.
While you have posted rules for engagement, they are often breached in favor of your bias. You should be balanced in administering the rules.
Regards,
Gary Stradling

The Manhattan Project's 'secret town'

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. -- Kay Froman Johnson still remembers the steep, rough road she traveled up to the secret town where her physicist-father moved his Chicago family in 1943. Once she arrived, the 11-year-old was enrolled in a school so unstructured that when she and another fifth-grader decided to promote themselves to the sixth grade, no one even noticed.

I thought it was a big adventure," says Johnson, 73. ''And everybody was new. Everybody didn't know what was going on here. And none of the daddies said anything."

[...]

Full Story


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Bid to Run LANL a Formidable Duel

By Rebecca Trounson
Los Angeles Times

The competition for the newly lucrative contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory is now a head-to-head battle between two formidable teams: on one side, the University of California and engineering powerhouse Bechtel; on the other, the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest defense contractor.

At stake is not only the day-to-day operation of Los Alamos, the vast nuclear weapons design center that stretches across 40 miles of New Mexico high desert. The contract winner also will claim a key role— potentially for the next two decades— in advising policy-makers on the safety and reliability of the nation's aging nuclear stockpile and whether new bombs are needed.

[...]

Full Story


LANL's academic network compared

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

A Los Alamos National Laboratory official said the lab's current network of academic alliances is already three times the number the University of Texas System has included in its proposal with Lockheed Martin for managing Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"We'd have to cut way back to get down to 33 agreements and partnerships with universities in this country; and we'd have to get rid of a fair amount of classified research and developmental projects as well," said Terry Lowe, acting program manager of LANL's Science and Technology Base Programs (STB) Office.

[...]

Full Story


Friday, July 22, 2005

Use this post to complain about the blog

Hi, all:

People started to complain about my having openly considered disabling anonymous posting. Feel free to complain about that here.

--Doug

"Surprise" meeting

I had a "surprise" meeting with C. Paul Robinson a while back one day when I was at a restaurant in Albuquerque where we were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. We ended up having what turned out to be a longish conversation about, of all things, blogs. At the time, Paul told me that he was concerned about inaccurate information then being presented on LANL, The Real Story regarding Lockheed Martin's pension plan. I extended to him an offer to use the blog to present factual information. I also told him that I had extended the same offer via email to our then brand-new interim Director Kuckuck (whom I never did hear back from, btw.).

As it turned out Paul did not take advantage of my offer, but for a very interesting reason as was explained to me in a recent email that I received from him. In that email. Paul explained that Lockheed Martin actually has an official corporate policy in place that addresses the use of blogs. I will include the paragraphs from his email which explain that policy:

I learned that there is indeed a written policy within Lockheed Martin with
respect to Blogs. It is entitled Release of Information (Personal
Statements.) It begins with a 'freedom of speech' statement that "any
employee may express individual beliefs or convictions with respect to
legislation, government action, public officials, candidates, and other
public interest issues, but that employees must clearly state, however,
that such expressions represent a personal view". These expressions must not
convey, indicate, or imply that such an opinion is or is not the view of
Lockheed Martin management, or that the employee is acting as a spokesperson
for or on behalf of Lockheed Martin or its entities.

The policy points out that this policy "applies in all cases, including but
not limited to interviews with news media, and personal websites, blogs (web
logs), Internet chat rooms, and bulletin boards whether accessed using
personal computing and information resources, or Lockheed Martin's computing
and information resources."

As you can see, Lockheed Martin's official policy regarding freedom of speech issues is very much like LANL's own policy. LM's policy regarding the use of blogs, however, extends beyond the above description regarding an individual employee's use of blogs, as the following excerpt from his email explains:

[...]Lockheed Martin's policy on Blogs is specifically supportive of such a genre as Blogs,
as an important tool for communication of individual views, but it forbids the
Corporation from 'usurping' the Blog for its own, corporate purposes.


This policy, Paul told me, was why he had not used the LANL blog to provide factual information about LM's benefits program. However, he went on later in the email to offer me his own personal views regarding the utility of blogs in the corporate work environment, and he gave me permission pass those personal views on to whomever might find them interesting. Here, extracted and paraphrased from the email is what Paul told me were his own
personal opinions regarding blogs:

So, in summary I was quite impressed by the openness of the interchange, and by Paul's offer to me to pass his views on if I chose to do so.

--Doug


More on LANL Procurement System

From the 7/22/2005 LANL NewsBulletin Letters to the Editor Section:

1.
Purchasing process

Albert Jiron completely missed, or ignored, the point that Steve Ashworth made in his recent letter to the Reader's Forum.

Jiron's July 7 letter says:

Over the last several months, statistics show that almost 90 percent of all purchase requests (PRs) are incomplete when received by SUP procurement. A review of the data and direct discussions with requesters shows that a large number of requesters are not aware of institutionally imposed requirements that must accompany a purchase request.

When 90 percent of purchase requests submitted by thousands of intelligent, competent people are incomplete, it says that there is something profoundly wrong with the purchasing process. Perhaps some form of training will help, but I suspect that dedicating FTE's to this is not the answer.

I suggest that if the procurement process, instructions, forms, etc. were clear and concise, these same "requesters" should be able to get it right at least 90 percent of the time. Rather than devote time and resources to training people to use a complicated and convoluted system with partially hidden requirements and poorly communicated rules, SUP should be devoting those resources to attacking the process.

--Bruce McReynolds


2.

Response to purchasing process

In a July 20 letter to the Reader’s Forum, Bruce McReynolds highlights exactly the type of issues we are investigating and fixing as we endeavor to improve procurement. As I stated in my previous letter, “Supply Chain Management (SUP) Division readily acknowledges that we have weaknesses in our procurement processes. We are in the process of mitigating identified weaknesses …” Indeed, we currently are determining how best to improve and streamline numerous aspects of our processes, including instructions, forms, etc. like McReynolds mentioned.

But there is another crucial aspect to improvement. As pointed out in my July 8 master management memo, “A review of the data and direct discussions with requesters shows that a large number of requesters are not aware of institutionally imposed requirements that must accompany a [purchase request].” Because of the nature of Laboratory operations, we are obliged to build complexities and requirements from multiple sources into our purchasing systems. These complexities probably never will be reduced to a merely rote process.

However, systems improvements coupled with training are an effective, cost-efficient way to rectify procurement difficulties arising from a misunderstanding of institutionally imposed requirements. It is important to note that the target audience for training is designated individuals within organizations who have been or will be assigned specific authority to generate purchase requests. We do not intend to bog down bench scientists with training that they might not benefit from.

We are taking a systems approach to improving procurement. That means we are focusing on improving our processes, such as simplifying paperwork and instructions, enhancing requester awareness of institutionally imposed requirements through training, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of procurement staff, among other improvements.

These improvements, when taken in the aggregate, will help improve our acquisition capabilities and reduce our acquisition costs. Reduced costs can mean more available funding for programs, while improved acquisition capabilities can mean fewer delays to programmatic work. I believe these are outcomes we can all support.

--Albert Jiron, acting Supply Chain Management (SUP) Division leader


Renewal at Los Alamos Weapons Lab Resurrects Deeper Debate

by Forrest Wilder (bio)

While a bidding war for control of the US’s top nuke facility pairs two state universities with two corporations, critics are asking questions that won’t appear in either team’s proposal.


Jul 22 - As the 60th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approaches, one of the nation’s top nuclear weapons laboratories is seeking new management. Or more accurately, the Department of Energy is sponsoring a competitive bidding war for control of the Los Alamos National Laboratory – the first since the lab’s secretive genesis during World War II as the Manhattan Project, the birthplace of the bombs that devastated out those Japanese cities.

But the contest over who will run the nation’s premier nuclear arms facility has prompted activists to ask harder questions than just those concerning who will operate the facility safer and more efficiently. Some critics challenge the very wisdom of what they see as an administration trudging headlong into another nuclear arms race.

[...]

Full Story


UC will keep Livermore lab contract for two more years



CONTRA COSTA TIMES

The University of California will manage Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for at least two more years, as the UC regents authorized an extension of the contract to operate the lab through September 2007.

The contract was due to expire Sept. 30, 2005, along with the Los Alamos National Laboratory contract. All three of UC's contracts to manage Department of Energy labs, including Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, are being put up for competitive bids following a series of security, safety and accounting blunders at the labs.

[...]

Full Story


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Panel warms to lab director

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

SANTA FE - Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Robert Kuckuck told a state legislative committee he was trying to change external perceptions of the laboratory after a decade of extreme stress.

At the same time, he said he wanted to instill an atmosphere of "civility, trust, communication and respect," inside the laboratory.

"The lab is in a state of overload," he said, adding his biggest goal was to streamline the workload.

"I can't imagine the lab more overworked than it is now," he said.

He described a recent tendency to try to fix too many things at the same time.

"We want to prioritize, triage it, sort out what needs to be done now," he said, in contrast to things that will change again under the new management, which is supposed to take over June 1, 2006.

[...]

Full Story

Deconstructing Los Alamos


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What is a “Chief of Staff” and why do we need them?

From Anonymous:

Please post anonymously:

There are a number of blog threads [T Division Problems Run Deeper; T Division: The Real Story; General advice about managers] commenting on bad (or psychopathic) managers and especially Chiefs of Staff. I would like to ask the questions:

1. What is a “Chief of Staff” and why do we need them?

2. What qualifies a person to be a Chief of Staff?

3. Who is responsible if her or his behavior gets retaliatory or abusive (these postings, at least for the most part, are not misogynist, as one poster suggested; it just happens that most Chiefs of Staff are female)?

Officials comment on bids

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

New Mexico's congressional delegation and top officials of the two universities involved in the competition for the management contract of Los Alamos National Laboratory appraised and elaborated on the two primary submissions announced Tuesday.

"I am pleased to see two strong bids emerge from this application process," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., in a press release. "The proposals partner industrial and academic institutions together to place the future excellence of LANL as paramount. It is imperative that the Department of Energy move forward deliberately in this process to protect full benefits for employees and find a strong scientific-based proposal that promotes economic development."

[...]

Full Story


Anti-nuclear bid for Los Alamos seeks to change lab's mission

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - Two anti-nuclear groups have filed bids to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory, with the aim of dismantling its nuclear weapons research and turning the lab's research program toward the environment.
Santa Fe-based Nuclear Watch of New Mexico and California's Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment submitted a joint 24-page proposal Tuesday to manage the lab for the Energy Department.
They suggested reversing direction for the lab where the atomic bomb was developed 60 years ago, turning its future toward research on environmental restoration, renewable energy, green manufacturing and combatting global warming.

[...]

Full Story

Message from UC President Dynes


From the 7/20/2005 LANL NewsBulletin:

Dear Colleagues:

Yesterday, the University of California and Bechtel-led team submitted our bid proposal, responsive to the Department of Energy Request for Proposals, for the future management of Los Alamos National Laboratory. We fully believe that this is a strong, winning proposal that builds upon the tremendous scientific and technological history of Los Alamos, while bringing in industrial partners that will ensure strong business, management, safety and security practices.

[...]

Full Story

Lab-management contenders submit bids

By Diana Heil | The New Mexican

July 20, 2005


Tuesday marked the end of an era, as two big-time bidders put forth their concepts for running Los Alamos National Laboratory in the first-ever competition held by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The University of California has operated the lab since 1943, when the federal government was in a hurry to build the atomic bomb. Now, no matter which team wins in December, a for-profit corporation will be in the picture.

Even if UC wins, it won’t be the same old UC as lab manager. Three industrial partners, Bechtel National, BWX Technologies and Washington Group International, have joined UC in a limited-liability corporation called Los Alamos National Security.

[...]

In a slam against last year’s management decisions at LANL, Robinson said he doesn’t believe that halting work for months is the way to fix problems: “Why administer chemotherapy to everyone if there’s one case of cancer?” Errors should be fixed on an individual basis, he said, and basic functions at the lab, such as financial accounting controls, must be put in place immediately.

[...]

Full Story


UT Forms Big Alliance for LANL Bid

By Adam Rankin

Journal Staff Writer

The first-ever competition to run Los Alamos National Laboratory formally began Tuesday, with one of the bidding teams making a last-minute announcement it had formed an alliance with more than 30 universities.

The team headed by Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas said the alliance would improve the team's strength in science and technology research.

t is going up against the University of California— the only manager the lab has ever had— and Bechtel National in a federal Department of Energy competition to capture the $2.2 billion-a-year LANL contract.

[...]

Full Story


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Los Alamos in CU sights

By MATT WILLIAMS Colorado Daily Staff Writer


Count CU in.

University of Colorado faculty members confirmed to the Colorado Daily that CU will join a group led by the University of Texas system and Lockheed Martin in a bid to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

"Working with the University of Texas, we formed an LLC to manage the lab called the Los Alamos Alliance, and part of that is the Alliance Academic Network," C. Paul Robinson, head of the Lockheed Martin team, told The Albuquerque Tribune on Tuesday. "We have a list of about 30 universities that have joined us, including Johns Hopkins, the University of Colorado, University of Arizona, University of Michigan, Georgia Tech and others."

[...]

Full Story

"Mission Accomplished"?--Not by a long shot

There have been several comments on the blog concerning the need for such a forum now that Nanos has left. Some have even suggested that, having succeeded in ousting Nanos, the blog should be discontinued. I would like to strongly urge you to resist such advice for a number of reasons:

1) Remember "Mission Accomplished!"? There is every reason to believe that the blog will prove necessary in the future as an
anonymous forum for exposing injustice, waste and abuse at LANL.

2) When the history of "blogs" is written, I would not be surprised if LANL-THE-REAL-STORY is accorded prominent mention; what we accomplished was unprecedented. There is a clear and urgent need to maintain this precedent to ensure that other sites can enjoy the same freedom that we now have.

3) And do not forget for a minute that the minions of corporate and government power are already plotting ways to eliminate or restrict this threat. The power of anonymous communication that blogs have now bestowed on every person must surely rank as a new water shed for free speech, right up there with the invention of the printing press. Except now, you don't even have to be rich enough to own a printing press, or radio station; everybody's voice can be heard! It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the precedent-setting LANL blog will play a role in future legal challenges, as others attempt to exercise this right.

So, carry on and "Never give a inch." (Hank Stamper's motto in Ken Kesey's "Sometimes a Great Notion.")

Thanks

-David E. Hanson

LANL contract bids are in

LANL contract bids are in


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

The Lockheed Martin partnership with the University of Texas system will include a consortium of 30 additional academic partners, their spokesman said today.

The University of California-Bechtel partnership's new entity will be known as LANS (Los Alamos National Security, LLC), they reported.

Proposals are due today in the competition to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, a role UC has played for more than six decades.

Michael Anastasio, leading the LANS effort, said the UC-Bechtel proposal was delivered Monday to the prescribed office in Albuquerque.

"We got a receipt and a picture," he said.

C. Paul Robinson, the Lockheed Martin team's capture executive for the contract, said his team's basic package was delivered today and included 20 copies of the proposal in 30 large boxes.

[...]

Full Story

Los Alamos bidders tout their strengths


Teams turn in proposals today

By Sue Vorenberg
Tribune Reporter

July 19, 2005

The packages didn't come from Santa Claus, but officials will find a host of freshly delivered boxes this morning at the National Nuclear Security Administration's Albuquerque office.

Their contents: Reams and reams of paper from the two teams bidding for the contract to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory.

[...]

Full Story




Monday, July 18, 2005

I would appreciate insight from current employees

From Anonymous:

Recently, I have engaged in very preliminary discussions with LANL staff regarding TSM employment in a national security position. Given the recent changes at the laboratory, and the potential for more in the future, I would appreciate insight from current employees as to whether I should pursue this position.

For background, I am a mid-career professional (MS only) with approximately 7 years of experience on DOE programs. I would like to be vague about the position of interest, but will note it is either in the S or N divisions. Ideally, my next career move will serve as a springboard to further opportunities in the safeguards/nonproliferation community, either at LANL or elsewhere.

I have read many old posts on this site and am familiar with the RFP and site management issues. These have been quite useful and I thank the contributors for the recruitment aids, although that might not have been the original intent. Understandably, most of the posts are tailored to those later in their careers with the most at stake. I am curious, however, how those "in-the-know" would approach my situation, given all that you see day-to-day at the Lab.

Thanks in advance.


T Division Problems Run Deeper

From Anonymous:

T Division Problems Run Deeper
I have had no interactions with the COS, but I find the somehat
ad hominem remarks about her to be unpleasant and perhaps misplaced.
The real problem lies in the gutless T Division "leadership." In the
past, T Division leaders have valued science more than gamemanship, funding,
or long lists of meaningless publications, and the staff members generally
felt that they were "one of us." This is no longer the case.
During the past year we have had some world-class and still very
productive senior people retiring. More importantly for the future of the Division, some
very talented young people have left for academic positions. This hasn't
happened because of the COS. The decline of this once-renowned Division began before
the present COS and before Nanos.
The staff had no real input into the selection of the Division
leadership. More involvement of staff in these appointments would be
a very welcome change at LANL.

I don't quite know when the transition occured

From Anonymous:

I don't quite know when the transition occured. When
I came to Los Alamos in the late 70's, it was
acceptable to come at 8 (or even a little later) and
go at 5. We did exceptional creative, productive work,
and nobody did any timekeeping. Now, people are often
evaluated by how early they come and how late they
stay. No matter that they are too tired and
demoralized to do anything other than to spend all day
in meetings...

I refer you to an article on

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/printout/0,8816,1083900,00.html

in Time magazine that shows how morale
improves when employees are evaluated on
accomplishments rather than on presence. This does
not require 9/80 - the "business case" is self
evident.


I think this qualifies as both waste and fraud

From Anonymous:


Have you read this?:

http://www.lanl.gov/news/index.php?fuseaction=nb.story&story_id=6918&nb_date=2005-07-18

Unless I missed something here, all Divisions will have to have this Dedicated Procurement Representative (DPR) supplied at the respective Divisions' expense.

There are two problems here:
First, the procurement system should not be so complex that special training and "dedicate" people are required to successfully procure things.
Second, this is an added cost of doing business but is done so in the stealth mode: it does not show up as either G&A or as a procurement tax.

I think this qualifies as both waste and fraud.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

"T Division: The Real Story"

The following comments to the post about psychopathic bosses should be
entitled "T Division: The Real Story".

They are not an exaggeration. The last two years has seen the morale in
T Division drop lower and lower. Group leaders no longer are allowed to
lead and make decision about hiring, promotions, etc. The halls abound
with rumors about the sysadmin who left, the ISSO who is leaving and not
being replaced because the COS does not think it's important to ensure
that secure computing in the Division is done correctly (after all, it's
only the DOE, the NY Times, CNN and FoxNews who care about it), the
sysadmin who might leave, the group admin staff who are thinking about
leaving, etc.

1. Most people agree that Pete Nanos was an abusive director. His
departure was certainly a welcome turn at LANL. However, it did not
automatically eliminate some of the like-minded individuals who were put
in positions of authority and continue to act in this tyrannical manner.

This is the situation with the Chief of Staff in our division. This
person behaves very much like Nanos though on a smaller scale. Of
course, she can do so only with the acquiescence of the division leader,
so he can be considered complicit. She has become increasingly bold in
her meanness, as nothing has been done to curb her arrogant behavior.
Her actions seem to be largely designed to satisfy an insatiable
personal thirst for power and control, certainly not with the well being
of the division in mind.

As a mid-career staff member, my knowledge of many of these actions is
second hand, but I have seen and heard enough to know there is a real
problem and it is getting worse. Though many of her actions may appear
administrative in nature, they are affecting the scientific output as
well as the spirit in the division. As is often the case with people of
this ilk, her sycophantish behavior toward her superiors is in stark
contrast to her vituperative behavior toward her inferiors. My group
leader tells me that even group leaders fall in the latter category.

However, the greatest injustices are done to those least able to push
back, namely the support staff and contractors. She treats secretaries
with condescension. Those most favored (generally the most obsequious)
have been rewarded at the expense of those less favored. All are afraid
to make any decision without first getting her approval and don’t dare
point out any error on her part; i.e., they can’t do their jobs effectively.

Another serious repercussion is our loss of computer support. For a
number of years, some groups have used contractors for this purpose.
These people, mainly Lab retirees, are very capable and dependable, as
well as willing to work whenever needed. Her justification for their
elimination is ostensibly the Contingent Worker Plan, though the
fluctuating work load would seem to make this task well-suited for
contingent workers. Unlike many other contingent workers, these people
are retired and have no desire to become regular UC employees again. The
real purpose of the present course of action seems to be to get more
employees reporting to the CoS, who is close-minded and has no computer
competence. These dedicated workers have suffered indignities that no
regular employee would tolerate. In the interim, Lab programs and
science will be the inadvertent casualties as computer systems fail and
there is no one available to fix them.

All of these support people live in constant fear for their livelihoods.
This CoS makes arbitrary and unreasonable demands, often based either on
animosity toward the unfortunate worker or poor understanding of the job
to be performed. The people who know the job requirements best have been
disempowered. Her threats are not idle, and retaliation for anything
less than blind obedience is sure. A number of highly competent people
have departed to other organizations where they hope to be appreciated
and humanely treated.

Can anything be done about situations like this? Though it took a long
time and great damage was done in the meantime, the consensus of LANL
employees, though largely anonymous, did eventually prevail over Nanos.
Hopefully the stated Lab policy of fair treatment in a nonthreatening
environment is more than idle words.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/08/2005 10:40:39 PM


2. To the 7/8/05 10:40 poster,

Yes, T Division s____ because Alan and Paul have turned management over
to Audrey. Actually it's not management but more a series of hatchet
jobs. Of course they have done what she does, ingratiated themselves
with their managers, in this case Paul with Alan and Alan with Terry
Wallace. Either Terry does not know about the hatchet wielding COS or
also sanctions her behavior.

Maybe a new blog is necessary. Call it
T Division: The Real Story!

Anybody in T Division brave enough to stand up and take charge?

PS: If you look through the archives, this problem was described back in
January or February, and there have been other postings that have
alluded to an out-of-control COS. So there are other T Division folks
who are unhappy, but they are probably voting with their feet!
# posted by Anonymous : 7/10/2005 08:27:39 AM

3. I know the Chief of Staff described in the 7/08/2005 10:40:39 PM
post, and she scores high on all of Hare’s Factor 1 personality
characteristics: “glibness and superficial charm; grandiose sense of
self-worth; pathological lying; cunning and manipulativeness; lack of
remorse or guilt; shallow affect (i.e., a coldness covered up by
dramatic emotional displays that are actually playacting); callousness
and lack of empathy; and the failure to accept responsibility for one's
own actions.” She has no empathy whatsoever with others, but can tear up
in the presence of her superiors when her judgment seems to be
challenged -- all the while plotting her next step.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/10/2005 09:11:00 AM

4. It was first brought up on the blog some months ago, but it’s now
high time that the problem with the T Division Chief of Staff be
redressed. This person used the stand-down as an opportunity to seize
power and has been out of control ever since. For God’s sake, this ain’t
the Lab Director and solution should be easy.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/11/2005 09:20:22 PM

5. I have also witnessed the injustice the T-Division Chief of Staff
has perpetrated on the computer support in the Division. She has driven
out dedicated, hard-working, competent people who served T-Division well
in order to establish herself as someone to be feared and has the
arrogance to think she is an expert on computer needs and issues. Won't
someone in Management take a look at what this Chief of Staff is doing
to T-Division?
# posted by Anonymous : 7/11/2005 09:28:27 PM

6. Why doesn't the appropriate LANL manager check out what it happening
in T Division with the CoS? This bully is running people out of the
Division and continues to exercise complete and willful control over
people too afraid to stand up for themselves for fear of being
retaliated against. Don't turn a blind eye to this Nanos graduate!
# posted by Anonymous : 7/12/2005 09:40:24 PM

7. wow -- so many complaints about T division! Has a single one of you complained to Bishop? To Wallace? Guess what -- posting to the Blog is not the same as taking action. I wonder why so many posters seem to think that an anonymous posting to the blog will result in someone being fired.

There really are many mechanisms for filing a complaint, and although everyone seems to have a story about why this might not work, it really does make a difference most of the time.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/12/2005 09:55:48 PM

8. Having worked with the T-Div COS in a previous position, I am not surprised that her nasty disposition and attitude of "get to the top any way you can" has continued. This woman is a disgrace to all and a fraud. She barely has a high school education and her previous position of supervising a very small group ended in utmost failure. Can we say "blackmail". If she doesn't get what she wants, suddenly she is a victimized employee, sexual harrassment, racial or sex discrimination....oh many things to chose from. I pity T division and I encourage you to speak out where it counts, I wish I had, because maybe, just maybe she would not have made it any further.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/13/2005 12:11:51 AM

9. The comment at 7/12/2005 09:55:48 PM suggested that those who are dissatisfied file a complaint. Get real. That is not going to work. And, furthermore, the problem does not lie with the COS. It is the manager who appointed this COS and has failed to provide suprvision and to check up on results that is at fault.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/13/2005 04:37:02 PM

10. The Chief of Staff in T Division makes $112K? That’s more than the average scientific PhD staff member. She has no scientific training, but that doesn’t stop her from arbitrarily making decisions that directly and indirectly affect (often hurt) science.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/13/2005 08:11:36 PM

11. The T-Division Chief of Staff, Audrey Archuleta, is a mean-spirited person with a veneer of sweetness. The tough medicine, which the division leader and his deputy apparently thing she is providing, is really poison. Audrey‘s ambition goes beyond all bounds of decency. It would be difficult for anyone to believe such behavior without witnessing it. Even for LANL, which is not known for good managers, she is a disgrace. Like Nanos, it would be a good deal to be rid of her even if she continued to receive her specious salary.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/13/2005 09:27:44 PM

12. Hey, there must be someone who thinks the T Division Chief of Staff is doing a good job. Let’s hear from them.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/13/2005 09:47:35 PM

13. To: 7/12/2005 09:40:24 PM "Don't turn a blind eye to this Nanos graduate!" I found that an interesting remark so did a bit of digging to find out what this meant. So the T COS graduated from the Nanos DDP and worked for J "no morals/integrity" Kaye (Nanos' COS). What a piece of work Kaye is. I have heard that she is still prowling the 4th floor and is very closely aligned to several folks up there.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/13/2005 10:16:22 PM

14. Apparently there are a lot of people who have many issues with the T division Chief of Staff. Personally I just know of what she has done with computer system administration in the division. It is a looming disaster with the groups prohibited from making relevant personnel decisions. Of course, this couldn’t have happened if the division leader and deputy hadn’t allowed her to take over the process, so they share the blame. One example of her asinine decision making was assignment of basically janitorial duties to one of the overworked computer administrators. Shortly afterwards, he left the division.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/14/2005 08:27:32 AM

15. To: Terry Wallace
Serious allegations have been made regarding the T Division Chief of Staff. Could you investigate?
# posted by Anonymous : 7/14/2005 05:39:19 PM

16. Tell me why you all do not think the many posts in this thread about the T-Div COS are not made by one person with a personal issue? Your standards for providence are zero, yet you are willing to facilitate the destruction of a person's career in public. What will you do when the baleful eye of envy or malice turn to you?
# posted by Anonymous : 7/15/2005 11:27:34 AM

The criticisms of the T-Division COS are not the postings of a single individusl.

BUT, in fact they are evidence that communication between the T Division Director and his TSMs has totally broken down!
# posted by Anonymous : 7/15/2005 04:58:19 PM

17. One of the most important people in a division that does classified computing, as T Division does, is the ISSO. T Division has sailed through all the DOE audits because we have had a very meticulous ISSO who dotted every i and crossed every t. That person is leaving T Division, in part because of the micromanaging, nontechnical CSO, and this nontechnical CSO has decided not to replace the ISSO but let nontechnical group admins assume most of the responsibilities.

I am not posting this because I have a personal issue with the COS. I am posting this as an example of a very poor decision made by someone who has no business making this decision. And I wish that everyone in the division who does classified computing would discuss this with the division management. However, as the previous poster wrote, "communication between the T Division Director and his TSMs has totally broken down". Wallace needs to get involved quickly, or he's going to have egg on his face if there's a serious problem with T Division classified computing.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/15/2005 05:47:21 PM

18. The big problems in T Division are due to the lack of effective and responsible leadership. Alan Bishop is basically a nice man, certainly not a psychopath. However, he is apparently in over his head and not prepared to deal with difficult personnel and programmatic issues. The authority of the groups to deal directly with their concerns has been usurped by the division office, but the division office has not done the job, resulting in the loss of both good people and programs.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/16/2005 12:46:58 PM

19. Is Bishop a nice man who can't deal with the complexities of his position, or is he a clever man who encourages another (the COS) to be his hatchet person (good cop - bad cop)?

He is certainly aware of issues within the Division and is afraid to address them headon with the staff without the COS at his side or in a very controlled situation with time constraints that limit real discussion.

It doesn't help to have Bishop gone to Bechtel for weeks helping Bechtel write the science side of Bechtel's contract bid and leaving the running of the division to Dotson. This has left a vacuum which the COS has used to her advantage. She has such a control over the division that a group leader may not even reclassify his group office admin without her permission.

Since the COS position can be abused, it is one that must be tightly defined and rigorously supervised or it becomes the tail wagging the dog. A COS should never be permitted to have any authority over any techincal aspects of a division, including computer support. A COS should never be allowed the power of dictating to groups which admins they may and may not promote. The COS works for the division; the division staff do not work for the COS. Except in T Division.
# posted by Anonymous : 7/17/2005 10:19:53 AM

For Los Alamos staff, it could be end of era; Bids due Tuesday from UC, challenger

The moment of truth is approaching for scandal-shaken Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of California-run nuclear weapons lab.

Los Alamos scientists conducted the first test explosion of an atomic bomb 60 years ago this weekend, in the predawn darkness of rural Alamogordo, N. M., on July 16, 1945. In the six decades since, UC has managed the nuclear weapons lab under an exclusive contract to the federal government.

[...]

Full Story



Power and Money in Los Alamos Contract

July 17, 2005 latimes.com : Business

  • The UC system, which has run the sprawling nuclear weapons lab since World War II, is battling its critics and an imposing challenger.

  • The competition for the newly lucrative contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory is now a head-to-head battle between two formidable teams: on one side, the University of California and engineering powerhouse Bechtel; on the other, the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin, the nation's largest defense contractor.

    At stake is not only the day-to-day operation of Los Alamos, the vast nuclear weapons design center that stretches across 40 miles of New Mexico high desert. The contract winner also will claim a key role — potentially for the next two decades — in advising policymakers on the safety and reliability of the nation's aging nuclear stockpile and whether new bombs are needed.

    [...]

    Full Story



    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    Blast from the past

    Hidden in the mountains of New Mexico, Los Alamos is the dark heart of the US nuclear weapons industry. But, 60 years after the horror of Hiroshima, the birthplace of the bomb is now facing oblivion. Brian Cathcart reveals why the world's most infamous laboratory could go out with a whimper

    Sunday July 17, 2005
    The Observer


    Imagine a big ski resort, but out of season - Los Alamos has that feel. Drive in after the ear-popping climb from the valley and you find the air as fresh and clear as you would expect at 7,500ft. Above the town, pine-covered slopes rise to the lip of the Valles Caldera massif, while overhead, huge, guttural ravens twist in the thermals.

    [...]

    Full Story


    End this obscenity

    Doug,

    Please elevate this comment from the

    http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/07/something-is-very-much-wrong-here.html

    post to a top level submission and give it the title of "End this obscenity".

    Thanks.

    ---------------------------------------------------
    Anonymous said...

    You are right, 07:52:09 PM. Lots of people read this blog. I have seen UCOP, LM, DTRA and DOE on the blog. It is safe to assume that many people within those organizations know full well what many of us feel about Nanos, and UC. In fact, unless all the folks at those organizations are complete fools as well, they know that Nanos is not to be trusted in an upper management position.

    What remains to be done is to bring the corruption of the system sufficiently into the spotlight that we can facilitate putting to an end this obscenity of Nanos continuing to be paid an exhorbitant salary as an apparent reward for having wreaked havoc ln Los Alamos.



    Friday, July 15, 2005

    Something is very much wrong here

    From Anonymous:

    I was looking at an earlier post to the blog, and the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Here's the post, dated June 27:

    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.

    This reeks of corruption. The worst director in the entire history of LANL abruptly left in disgrace last May after having done untold damage to the lab, and UC is still carrying him on the payroll. I would love to see one of the reporters who frequently writes about LANL dig into this one. Adam Rankin, are you interested? How about you, Heather Clark? Ian Hoffman? Keay Davidson? Sue Vorneberg? Diana Heil? Roger Snodgrass?

    Something is very much wrong here.

    Former LANL employees who have been showing up in Washington

    A comment from the

    http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/07/skinny-on-retirements.html

    post:

    As a DOE employee working at Forrestal, it is rather amusing, although not surprising, to see the large numbers of former LANL employees who have been showing up in Washington in the last several months, either working for us, other agencies, or private companies.


    Draft final report of the Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure Task Force

    Here's the draft final report of the Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure
    Task Force, titled Recommendations for the Nuclear Weapons Complex of the
    Future, dated July 13, 2005.

    More Training Madness

    From the July 15 LANL NewsBulliten:

    July 13, 2005

    Purchase request

    I notice that I am going to have to attend a training course if I wish to continue writing my own purchase requests (Training sessions begin this month for Lab purchasers). An employee from Supply Chain Management (SUP) Division is quoted as justifying this new training by explaining that “Earlier in the year procurement statistics showed that as many as 90 percent of all purchase requests received by procurement were incomplete in one form or another…”

    We have a diverse population here at the Lab; some of the best and brightest scientists and engineers in the world, professional administrators from all over the U.S. and presumably the best in the area for the locally advertised posts .…. and collectively we still get 90 percent of our purchase requests incorrect?

    Doesn’t this imply that the fault lies with the purchase request system rather than the people trying to use it?

    It costs my sponsor (DOE) about $1,200 a day to employ a scientist at the Lab; a half day course for all the PR initiators in my group alone is going to cost DOE about $10,000. Has anybody estimated how much it will cost to train some thousands of people across the Lab? I suspect we have just handed DOE a multi-million dollar increase in the cost of doing business with the Lab. How about we spend that money fixing the system?

    --Steve Ashworth


    Report Suggests Changes For Labs

    By John Fleck
    Journal Staff Writer

    The United States needs new, easy-to-maintain nuclear warheads and significantly smaller staffs at its nuclear weapons labs, a senior Energy Department advisory panel has concluded.

    The Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure Task Force, in a draft report made public Thursday, calls for a centralized nuclear weapons factory to be built, consolidating work that's scattered among old Cold War-era plants and the labs.

    Where the new plant might be built remains a question.

    [...]

    Full Story


    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    What does that leave us?

    From Anonymous:

    Terry Wallace took some heat for his July 11 ADSR Emailgram in which he was characterized as sounding like yet another LANL/UC management apologist. He also had a few messages of support from people stating that the Emailgram was never intended for public dissemination on the blog, and that an upper manager could never publicly admit to the troops that devastating management mistakes had been made in the past year.

    While I personally suspect that Terry might actually be one of the better managers at LANL, there is the fact that strictures imposed by UC absolutely forbid any official voice of LANL to admit the embarrassing, obvious shortcomings of UC in their amply demonstrated inabilities regarding the management of LANL. Thus, all managers at LANL are thereby rendered impotent in the capacity of helping to put the disastrous events of last year behind us, which in turn would allow LANL to start a healing process.

    Compounding this conspiracy of denial, of course, is the cadre of "Nanos Loyalites" who remain. To admit the errors of last year would be to admit complicity: clearly not an option for the self-serving, self-centered yes-men left behind after Nanos' abrupt departure on May 6. We all know who those people are.

    What does that leave us?

    No options, at least under the dubious leadership of UC. What, then does this leave us?

    Lockheed Martin. On the positive side, LM seems to have done a pretty decent job in running Sandia these past years while UC was helping to dig LANL's grave.

    On the negative side, how much worse could LM be than UC?


    The cost of the graduate education that Pete Nanos received from the Princeton University physics department

    From Anonymous:

    I looked at the only paper that Pete Nanos ever published ("Polarization of the blackbody radiation at 3.2 centimeters," The Astrophysical Journal, volume 232, pages 341-347, 1 September 1979) and compared the people named in the acknowledgements with the current staff listing for the Princeton University physics department. By this method I identified Edward Groth as someone who might shed light on the nature of the graduate work that Nanos performed. I sent the following message to Edward Groth (identifying details are deleted).

    Dear Edward,
    I am a graduate of the (department deleted) in (year deleted) and a (number deleted)-year staff member at Los Alamos. Recently there have been claims regarding our former director, George Peter Nanos, that he did not receive a legitimate degree from Princeton but instead received some kind of special treatment under a junior officer's program. His only publication mentions your name. Can you shed any light on this question? I will not make use of your name but would like to post your reply on the Los Alamos web log if you are willing.
    For background see postings near the bottom of this URL:
    http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/07/tragic-life-oppenheimer-and-bomb.html
    Thanks,
    (name deleted)

    I received the following prompt reply.

    From: Edward Groth
    Subject: Re: Princeton physics department in 1974
    Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 09:46:04 -0400
    To: (address deleted)
    X-Proofpoint-Spam: 0

    (name deleted) -

    Revisionist history is just wonderful!

    You may use my name.

    My wife and I were good friends with Pete and his wife when Pete was a graduate student here.

    He was a couple of years behind me in graduate school. We both worked in the same group (the Gravity Group) and had the same thesis advisor, the late Dave Wilkinson. His thesis was the first attempt to measure the polarization of the microwave background. He only achieved an upper limit - most CMB experiments in those days were upper limits or had big error bars. In fact, CMB polarization has only been detected in the last few years.

    It was a fully legitimate thesis - he built the hardware, ran the experiment (on the roof of Jadwin Hall) and analyzed the data.

    He went through the program just like any other grad student - spending the first year working in the lab (where he helped on my project) and then studying for and passing the general exam before working on his thesis.

    So far as I know, he did not receive any special treatment from Princeton. In those days - Vietnam War era - military people were not held in high regard on college campuses.

    The junior officer program paid for him to go to graduate school. He went to Annapolis, then served on a ship, then came to graduate school. I believe the deal was that he owed the Navy two years of service for every year they paid for him to go to graduate school.

    The NSF paid for me to go to graduate school. So far as I know, no one has accused me of not having a legitimate degree.

    (end of response)

    In summary, the cost of the graduate education that Pete Nanos received from the Princeton University physics department was paid by the Navy in return for additional years of commitment but he was not treated differently from any other graduate student. In my own experience, the Princeton preliminary and general exams were highly rigorous.


    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    Predicting the demise of the blog

    Well, I'm back from vacation, and I see that a few anonymous people have been predicting the demise of the blog in my absence. Be assured, that as soon as it becomes apparent that this blog is no longer needed I will be happy to shut it down.

    However, given that we are, as an earlier post put it, in the midst of the doldrums with at least another 7 months before the next contractor is named, I would have suspected that there was still a use for the LANL blog. I plan on coming back (at the request of my group) as a laboratory associate next month. If, after I return and it becomes clear to me that all problems have been solved; that everything is well at LANL, then there will clearly be no further need for this particular forum and we can all have a going away party for LANL, The Real Story.

    --Doug

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    A Nuclear Family Vacation

    Slate.com has a series going on the US nuclear weapons production complex, on the 60th anniversary of the complex. LANL's part can be found by clicking on the "Tuesday" link.

    http://slate.com/id/2122382/entry/2122387/

    --Doug

    Nanos was wrong in his decison to shut us down last year

    A comment from the

    http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/07/never-repeat-summer-of-2004.html

    post:

    Through commitment, leadership, and dedication, I believe that we will never repeat the summer of 2004.

    Through better leadership is how a repeat of last year's disaster will be avoided. Director Nanos, with the complicit approval of UC, did more damage to LANL last year than any other person or event in LANL's history by using faulty reasoning and poor judgement in deciding to shut the entire laboratory down.

    Terry [Wallace], I approve of your attempts to put a positive spin on last years events, but in the end you come across sounding like another management apologist.

    Nanos was wrong in his decison to shut us down last year. Until you can admit that, you remain a part of the problem.

    Look for minor RFP mods

    A comment from the

    http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/07/roll-out-those-lazy-hazy-crazy-days-of.html

    post:

    Here's an informed prediction to keep the blog afloat: Look for minor RFP mods, SOON, that will be an excuse to extend the bid deadline. The gang that can't shoot straight, or to be perfectly accurate that can't seem to agree on how many pages should be in the IWD, is lobbying hard in the East to get NNSA to extend the bid deadline. My guess is that the Department of Enablers will give them a free pass. Why not, they've already given them 60 years.

    Never repeat the summer of 2004!

    ADSR Emailgram
    July 11, 2005
    -Terry C. Wallace, Jr. (terryw@lanl.gov)

    Last year on July 16, the Laboratory Director took the extraordinary step of stopping all work at LANL. The rationale for the stand down was that LANL lacked formality and accountability, which resulted in work being done that did not meet safety, security and compliance requirements. The suspension began one of the most difficult and traumatic periods in Los Alamos' history, and echoes of the stand down and subsequent corrective actions still effect all of the staff. Today, I find that Divisions within SR are quite conscious of doing their work quite safely. Although there have been accidents, very few have been due to personal behaviors. Even though I really dislike the term "culture" (the word has somehow become a negative bludgeon at LANL), the key for LANL is to embrace the business practice of continuous improvement in our safety culture. The concept was popularized in Japan 20 years ago where it is known as "kaizen." Continuous improvement in safety (and compliance) means that we should continually review our practices, and everyone contributes to suggestions for improvement. It cannot be done from top-down directives (although all management has to be totally committed to the process), and must be integrated into how we view our work. I do believe that is happening within the lab. I also realize that many work processes that have been implemented in the last year have worked against the staff taking ownership of safety. I believe that we have an opportunity to balance processes and behaviors, and that LANL is capable of being the most productive and safe science factory in the complex.

    One of the consequences of the stand down is that all the subsequent actions have become fodder for investigation and analysis. Nothing is richer for investigation than the cost of the stand down. The costs, in terms of charges to G&A, programs, and missed milestones have been investigated by several congressional committees, NNSA, and now in the next few weeks, by GAO (Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress charged with examining matters relating to the receipt and payment of public funds). The GAO is now focused on understanding the impact of the stand down on programs from a milestones/deliverables and schedule perspective (the focus is not financial). ADSR will be briefing the GAO audit team on the following topics:

    (1) Explanation of the science programs (what we do, who is the sponsor, and general background).

    (2) Discussing FY04 activities - major accomplishments and impacts to program due to the stand down - Were milestones missed? Was a recovery plan necessary? Did we move milestones to FY05? etc.

    (3) Discussing current program status in FY05 - Is there any continued impact from the stand down? What is being accomplished? etc.

    It is my hope that this will be the last of these audits and we can focus on the future. It is inevitable that LANL will again be in the news with negative comments from the audit.

    Through commitment, leadership, and dedication, I believe that we will never repeat the summer of 2004.

    Not just a bomb factory...

    Los Alamos Bioscience Center Receives NIH Funds

    [Associated Press, Monday, July 11, 2005]

    LOS ALAMOS — A Los Alamos National Laboratory center devoted to the study of proteins in cells is among 10 facilities nationwide that are getting money from the National Institutes of Health.

    The centers as a group will receive $300 million over the next five years. Los Alamos expects to get $3.7 million a year over the period.

    The lab's Integrated Center for Structure and Function Innovation will collaborate with other institutions and in the first phase of the project they will submit findings to the Protein Data Bank, a public repository of three-dimensional biological structure data. Researchers can use the databank to access information that will help them understand the function of proteins, predict the shape of unknown proteins and compare protein structures from normal and diseased tissue.

    Los Alamos' center will develop new technologies and ways to determine some of the elusive protein structures, the lab said in a news release Monday announcing the funding for the facilities, part of the next generation of research stemming from the former Human Genome Project.

    Those include proteins from higher organisms, such as humans, as well as those that combine with other proteins to form complexes and special proteins that work to communicate with other cells.

    Tom Terwilliger, principal investigator for Los Alamos' center, said that understanding the three dimensional shapes of proteins — the molecular machines of the cell — is important in understanding how cells work, understanding disease and creating new drugs.

    Not all protein structures are easy to determine. Thus, six of the new centers nationwide, including the one at Los Alamos, will focus on the more difficult proteins and new ways to study them.

    Scientists successfully mapped the human genome five years ago, and researcher now see the next step as understanding how cells work, especially what proteins do.

    Proteins are widely used in cells for everything from enzymes to receptors, so scientists say that understanding their structure and function is essential.

    The National Institute of Health's national effort, the Protein Structure Initiative, was created in 2000 to find the three-dimensional shape of a wide range of proteins so as to understand what role they play in disease. The focus now is to rapidly determine thousands of protein structures.

    Saturday, July 09, 2005

    Lab retirements higher this June

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

    Los Alamos National Laboratory's retirements, which typically peak in June, have exceeded numbers for the last two years, officials report.
    They also reported total employment numbers are up.

    From Oct. 1, 2004, (the beginning of the fiscal year) through June 30, 2005, a laboratory spokesman said there were 448 retirements. June alone saw 272 people retire.
    With three months to go in the fiscal year, that amounts to a 5.4 percent rate for the first 9 months.

    For the last two fiscal years the percentage of retirements was 3.1 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.
    The June numbers are closely watched because employees who retire that month are eligible for the next year's cost of living increase.

    In the past two years, said James Rickman of the public affairs office, retirements have spiked at about 100-125 in June and then leveled off.
    This year's numbers have been of particular interest because of a competition for the contract to manage and operate the laboratory.

    In the two years since former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced the competition, officials have been concerned about the possibility of a wholesale departure of employees from the laboratory as the policy machinery for accomplishing the change has been under a lengthy period of development and uncertainty.

    The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Linton Brooks, New Mexico's two senators, Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman, and Gov. Bill Richardson have all urged lab workers to stay the course.

    Employee concerns about retirement provisions included in a draft of the request for proposal for the competition were addressed, to some extent, by revisions to the final document.

    A transition period between the old and the new management entities was extended, guaranteeing employees a six-month window before they would have to decide whether to stay or retire, on one hand, or retire and start again with the new employer as another option.

    Regardless of who wins, the contract will be awarded to a new entity.

    The University of California, the current manager, has joined the competition in partnership with a corporate team led by Bechtel. UC-Bechtel's most visible rival is aeronautic and defense giant Lockheed Martin and a consortium that includes the University of Texas System.

    Compared to some of the worst-case scenarios and under the shifting circumstances that have been stressful for many, the number of retirements may be considered a moderate figure.

    "Even as recently as the last week, some people were wildly speculating this would be the month we would see more than a thousand people walk out the door with their retirement," Rickman said. "That has not happened."

    In fact, the total number of terminations (retirees plus 210 people who have quit or left for other reasons) is less than the total number of new hires since Oct. 1

    The net gain, with 658 terminations in all and 794 new hires, amounts to 136 additional people in all.

    There is still the issue of the "brain drain," that worries officials at the laboratory, with 43 percent of the retirees coming out of the weapons program and another 14 percent from homeland security.

    These are areas central to the laboratory's mission in which experience and knowledge are at a premium.

    That is a problem that's being addressed, Rickman said.

    Meanwhile recruitment is going strong, he said, adding, "The lab is growing, not dying."

    © 2003 Los Alamos Monitor All Rights Reserved.

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Are you one of the chosen 140?

    Santa Fe New Mexican - July 7, 2005

    Richardson vs Wen Ho Lee

    . . . . . . . . . In the Wen Ho Lee decision, Appeals Judge David Sentelle singled out the names of Richardson, Acting Director of DOE, Intelligence & Counterintelligence Notra Trulock and Edward Curran, former direct of the DOE Office of Counterintelligence.

    “These three individuals in particular have been identified as likely sources of the leaks, but were unable (or unwilling) to identify the leaker(s).”

    . . . . . Chris Garcia, New Mexico political science professor said, “ . . . such a revelation would have to be considered negative. But I think there would be a tremendous damage control measures” Garcia said. “The governor and his staff are pretty good at that.”

    “The bad news for Richardson is that it would be an unpleasant episode for him, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center of Politics. “Some of his former colleagues, like Bill Clinton, might be unhappy with him.”

    “The good news (for Richardson) is that besides you and me there are probably only 140 in the country who remember Wen Ho Lee. Someone like Bill Richardson has overcome a lot of obstacles. He could overcome this.”

    A Tragic Life: Oppenheimer and the Bomb

    Book Review by Peter J. Kuznick
    History is never so simple as we think. Who are the good guys in the history of nukes? Oppenheimer? Teller? Truman?

    Here is an excerpt from Kuznick's book review:

    Although it would be some time before Oppenheimer discovered how this dramatic competition to achieve geopolitical goals formed a backdrop to the use of the atomic bombs, he, unlike Truman, felt an appropriate revulsion at what he had helped achieve. When Oppenheimer met Truman for the first time on October 25, 1945, Truman asked Oppenheimer to guess when the Soviets would develop a bomb. When Oppenheimer said he did not know, Truman shot back that he did: “Never.” Unnerved, Oppenheimer said at one point, “Mr. President, I feel I have blood on my hands.” The president, furious at Oppenheimer, informed David Lilienthal, “I told him the blood was on my hands—to let me worry about that.” Apparently relishing this story, Truman later offered alternative versions. He told Dean Acheson, “I don’t want to see that son of a bitch in this office ever again,” and another time called him a “cry-baby scientist.”

    General advice about managers...

    Is your boss a psychopath? (by Alan Deutschman)
    You may not be alone.

    Pension funds in the LLC black hole

    The current state of pension funds throughout the United States is very un
    healthy. People are loosing any chance of retirement due to "corporate
    loopholes" that allow travesties such as the United Airlines default. We are
    about to be put into a new system that will be backed by an LLC. This means
    that only the assets of the LLC are liable, while the managers can skate...

    To see the situation as analyzed by AARP, look at
    http://www.aarp.org/bulletin/yourmoney/pension_roulette.html.
    Here, you will find what has happened to five different people, plus get an
    insight to what will happen to many future retirees. The estimated pension
    shortfall is now at $450 Billion!

    So, thank you Rep. Hobson, R. Ohio, for putting us into the same situation as a
    large segment of the population for a few campaign contributions and your
    anti-nuclear stance. You are well on the way to creating another burden on the
    taxpayers, and a reduction of quality of life for people that dedicated their
    lives to help protect your freedoms.

    -Anon.

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    The "self-licking ice cream cone"

    UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT

    America's atomic-bomb laboratories are about to be overhauled. It promises to be a tricky business

    JUST over 60 years ago, Robert Oppenheimer demonstrated the power of a partnership between the American government and academia. His team of university scientists developed and built the first nuclear bombs in a jumble of buildings at Los Alamos in the New Mexican desert. The team achieved its astonishing success in just over two years.

    The University of California has run Los Alamos National Laboratory since that inception in 1943. But an embarrassing series of security and safety lapses at the laboratory, which recently resulted in the temporary suspension of all classified work for several months, has led the government to insist that the university find an industrial partner when it rebids for the contract to manage the place on July 19th. The contract is open to competition, and a rival bid is expected from another university with a commercial partner.

    Los Alamos is one of three national laboratories working on nuclear weapons. For more than half a century, the University of California has run two of them—Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, which specialise in nuclear science—on behalf of the American government. The third—Sandia National Laboratories, which is responsible for the non-nuclear components and systems engineering for America's nuclear weapons—is managed by Lockheed Martin, an engineering firm. The contracts for managing all three will now be put out to tender.

    Work at the labs has shifted considerably since the testing of nuclear weapons was suspended in 1992. Instead of weapons development, America's nuclear-weapons scientists have been engaged in “stockpile stewardship”, a programme designed to ensure that the country's warheads will continue to function predictably as they age. This work involves computer simulations of how a weapon would explode, and “subcritical” tests that do not involve full nuclear detonations.

    The labs have two large physics experiments under way. The first, at Los Alamos, is an oversized X-ray machine that uses non-fissile material to examine what happens when a pit—the fissile core of a nuclear weapon—implodes. In a weapon, this implosion triggers the nuclear explosion; in the lab, the explosion is thankfully absent. The second experiment is the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which is intended to generate temperatures and pressures approaching those created by the pits, in order to detonate small pellets of nuclear explosive.

    Politics is currently threatening the NIF, which is being built at Lawrence Livermore, in California. It was supposed to be completed, at a cost of $1.4 billion, in 2003. To date, $2.8 billion has been spent on it—a figure somewhat complicated by the mingling of construction and running costs—and the facility is still an estimated four years from completion.

    On July 1st, the Senate voted to stop construction completely, action that was part of a $31 billion energy and water appropriations bill. Pete Domenici, a Republican Senator from New Mexico who heads the relevant subcommittee, made the proposal. His state includes both Los Alamos and Sandia (though Sandia also has a site in California).

    Although the decision appears to threaten the facility, it could be just a piece of political manoeuvring. John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a Washington-based defence consultancy, wonders whether Mr Domenici might be positioning himself for a meeting later this summer, when he must get together with members of the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives, whose chairman is from California and therefore unlikely to agree to the cuts. Nevertheless, Mr Pike says, there are still questions to be asked about the role of the ignition facility.

    Most researchers agree that the NIF is scientifically important for the study of nuclear fusion; more controversial is whether it is necessary for stockpile stewardship. Sidney Drell, a physicist and arms-control specialist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre, in California, says the project is “integral” to stockpile stewardship. Mr Pike, however, describes it as a “self licking ice-cream cone—a thing that exists for its own sake and serves no purpose”. Some physicists agree, though not on the record.

    Three recent internal reviews of the facility by the Department of Defence and the Department of Energy go so far as to suggest that without it America would move closer to resuming nuclear testing. The longer the country relies solely on computer simulations to check for faults, rather than on the micro-explosions the NIF would make possible, the less certain the Department of Defence is that the warheads will perform as expected.

    But stockpile stewardship has other functions. It retains a coherent body of nuclear expertise in America and (which is slightly different) it prevents nuclear scientists from being lured overseas. Unfortunately, the uncertainty about the future has lowered staff morale, potentially damaging this secondary function of keeping weapons scientists in America. At Los Alamos, the appointment of an irascible former admiral as the lab's director did not help, although he has since been replaced. An unofficial blog that allows disgruntled staff to publish anonymously lists gripe after gripe. Older staff—some 39% are aged 50 and above—have been retiring at unprecedented rates, afraid that their generous pension packages will be cut if the University of California fails to win the contract. At Lawrence Livermore, some 300 researchers were made redundant last year after Congress slashed the NIF's construction budget.

    Yet there is hope for a brighter future. A fundamental rethink of the way in which America maintains its nuclear weapons is on the cards. Congress recently authorised a two-year study to determine whether a new approach to maintaining warheads would be possible. The so-called reliable replacement warhead programme aims to work out whether it is possible to make cheaper weapons without nuclear testing, by modifying existing components. The programme could present opportunities for demoralised nuclear scientists.

    Historically, the University of California has managed the labs on a not-for-profit basis. To encourage competition for the management contract, officials at the Department of Energy plan to increase the management fee, to allow an element of profit. Indeed, a University of California internal memo reads, “Extrapolating from a recently negotiated DOE contract with Lockheed Martin to manage Sandia, we imagine we could double the $15m fee.” Higher fees should secure better management and improved working conditions for staff.

    After much soul searching as to whether the university should be conducting nuclear work at all, its senior management has decided to go ahead with a bid in partnership with Bechtel, an engineering and construction firm based in San Francisco. The University of Texas has announced it will also bid for the contract, in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

    Whichever succeeds—the result will be announced by December 1st—it is probably a smart idea to keep the nuclear-science labs managed at least in part by academics. Historically, university management has proved better for long-term research projects than corporate governance. The research culture at universities is open and flexible. This attracts talented scientists and stops them wandering to places where their talents might be put to uses of which the American government might disapprove.

    Copyright © 2005 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

    Link to original


    The skinny on retirements...

    KSFR 90.7 FM News
    Santa Fe

    Actual LANL retirements already ahead of last year

    LOS ALAMOS (2005-07-05) -- Retirements of University of California
    employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the first nine months
    of the 2005 fiscal year are 78 percent ahead of last year's 12-month
    total.

    Spokesman James Rickman tells KSFR the laboratory has recorded 448 actual
    retirements for the nine-month period Oct. 1, 2004, through the end of
    June 2005. That compares with 251 for all of last year and 235 for the
    full 2003 fiscal year.

    He says uncertainty over the bidding process for the lab's contract is
    adding to the number of retirements.

    Rickman says the number of retirees typically peaks in the month of June
    each year as eligible employees calculate the seasonal advantages of
    retirement. Last year's June peak was 125 retirements, or half the total
    for the full year. The number retiring in June 2005 was 272.

    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/ksfr/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=7
    91869

    © Copyright 2005, KSFR

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer...

    Those lazy days of summer are upon us. Some folks who have been posting here on The Blog have been getting kinda cranky. They think we should close this sucker down because it isn't doing anything useful. If you look at the "Current Graph of Hits On This Blog" (side panel), you'll see a gradual decline over the last month. (And NO, it doesn't just coincide with my temporarily taking over maintenance of The Blog! -Though the decline may have been exacerbated, I suppose.)

    Who knows? Maybe there will be some news at the end of the month when the bids for the contract are finalized. In the mean time, it seems to me that The Blog serves a useful purpose in lancing the boil of crankiness. Nothing will be done, I assure you, before The Blogmeister (Doug Bloggerts, whose cyberthrone can be approached with the incantation, "O Blog One"), roars back into town on his bike with bugs in his teeth.

    But go ahead and comment away, my friends. It really is your blog, so tell us what you think. Now don't be shy...

    [And as of today, July 11, 2005, I'd say the discussions on this blog have been far from shy, but rather, quite lively indeed. Some people have even dared to question your Temporary Blog Janitor! And that's good! We all need our pot of comfortable assumptions stirred now and again. So, my vote is to keep this blog open for more of the same kind of stirrings. -Brad]

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Yet another Manhattan Project (post 9/11)?

    `What ifs' rule virtual world of terrorism
    Using computer models, Los Alamos researchers simulate terrorist scenarios in a frantic effort to deter another 9/11 in America

    By Ariana Eunjung Cha
    The Washington Post
    Published July 5, 2005

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. -- Deep inside the cavelike laboratories of the legendary research center that created the atomic bomb, scientists have begun work on a Manhattan Project of a different sort.

    In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, they have been constructing the most elaborate computer models of the United States ever attempted. There are virtual cities inhabited by millions of virtual individuals who go to work. There are virtual power grids, oil and gas lines, water pipelines, airplane and train systems--even a virtual Internet.

    The scientists build them. And then they destroy them.

    [...]

    Full Story

    [Interesting top story of the day take by the Santa Fe Reporter, "LANL scientists simulate terrorist attacks. Next they plan to simulate beleaguered employees working for unstable government laboratory." -anonymous post]


    Monday, July 04, 2005

    The shining new "Manhattan on the Hill"?

    Scientists back new US nuclear weapons
    Posted: 07/04
    From: ABC Australia

    The current United States nuclear weapons stockpile should be transformed into new types of nuclear weapons, according to an internal report recently compiled by senior scientists at three main US nuclear laboratories.

    The overall nuclear weapons projects currently costs the US Energy Department more than $US6 billion a year and is likely to increase under future projections.

    The report concluded that the current approach to maintaining the US's nuclear arsenal "looks increasingly unsustainable" and "could lead to increased risk or increased uncertainty in warhead certification".

    The report called for "a new approach" to reduce the expanding SSP cost and enable further reduction in the number of nuclear weapons.

    The report also clarified the goal of this new approach as achieving "a more affordable, sustainable, and responsive (nuclear) enterprise" that could replace the current heavy-yield, Cold War-type stockpile with new types of nuclear weapons that are "more manufacturable, more certifiable, safe, secure, and reliable".

    [...]

    Full Story


    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    I am seeking some input

    Dear Bloggers-

    I am considering a postdoctoral position at LANL with thoughts of perhaps transition to a TSM if such an opportunity presents itself. I am trying to gather as much information as I can on what the LANL experience is like and that is the reason for this post.
    I recently interviewed with two groups at LANL and can say that both presented
    the possibility for conducting exciting work with people who can be described only as professional and of the highest character. At the same time, I realize that this was an interview and this setting most likely influenced the behaviour of all involved. Therefore I am seeking some input on what the postdoctoral experience is like at LANL without the pressure of the interview setting and with the benefit of anonymity. Thanks very much for any constructive input!

    Cheers,
    Pete Karpius

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    Guest Maintainer of the Blog


    Reminder:

    On July 1 I officially retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory after working here for slightly more than 20 years. On July 2, I am hopping on the bike pictured to the left and traveling some 5,000 miles during a two week trip through British Colombia. During that period, the blog will have a guest maintainer: someone whom I greatly respect -- Brad Holian. Brad, as you recall, was one of the few LANL staffers who had the courage to take a public stand over the justifications that were then being presented to us for why LANL had been shut down on July 16 last year. It is Brad's safety article that was subsequently published in the December, 2004 issue of Physics Today that set the record straight regarding LANL's safety history and trends. I think the article is probably worth a reread: http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-57/iss-12/p60.html. Brad retired this year, but has since returned as a Laboratory Associate, working three days per week.

    Please be respectful of the posting guidelines during Brad's tenure as guest maintainer of the blog. Submissions should continue to be sent to lanlblog@parrot-farm.net.

    --Doug

    New lab boss to head security

    Ray Juzaitis, once slated to lead Livermore lab, set to head homeland security at site
    By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

    The scientist once slated as chief of Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons lab finally has won among the lab's most-coveted jobs: head of intelligence, nonproliferation and homeland security.

    Ray Juzaitis, a well-regarded former chief of weapons design at Los Alamos, the New Mexico sister lab to Livermore, is the latest to drop a career in H-bombs for a crusade to keep weapons of mass destruction from being used.

    [...]

    Full Story


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