Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Halliburton Whistleblower Demoted

CORRUPTION-US:
Halliburton Whistleblower Demoted
William Fisher

NEW YORK, Aug 30 (IPS) - Whistleblowers -- those who go public with allegations of waste, fraud and abuse -- continue to have a tough time, despite a law protecting them and repeated assurances from the White House, many government agencies and Congress that they maintain a policy of zero tolerance for retaliation.

The latest victim of apparent retaliation is Bunnatine H. "Bunny" Greenhouse, the senior contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers, who objected -- first, internally, then publicly -- to a multi-billion dollar, no-bid contract with the Halliburton company for work in Iraq.

...

The government is increasingly using the "state secrets" privilege to block whistleblowers' suits. The State Secrets Privilege gives the federal government the ability to dismiss legal cases it claims would threaten foreign policy, military intelligence or national security.

It was used in 2002 in the case of Notra Trulock, who launched a defamation suit against Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese American computer scientist charged with stealing nuclear secrets for China from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Pres. George W. Bush said national security would be compromised if Trulock were allowed to seek damages from Lee.

Lee -- who had been imprisoned for 278 days in solitary confinement -- eventually pled guilty to improper handling of classified data and was cleared of all charges relating to espionage.

[...]

Full Story


Enjoy, if that is the right word, the last few months

From Anonymous:

"Numb" seems to best describe the state of LANL these days. There is a slow, but apparently growing awareness that no matter who wins the contract, the days of UC and the UC retirement and benefits programs will soon be over at LANL. It will be an LLC that runs the place after December, no matter who wins the bid. Recent threads (http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/directors-instruction-provides.html, http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/best-wishes-to-contestants-in-this.html) show that while there are still a few staff who don't seem to understand that the days when UC ran LANL are almost over, most people now "get it".

Given the recent repeated demonstrations of management ineptness at LANL (post docs breathing acid fumes, requiring hospitalization and not reporting the incident for a week; the AM-241 contaminations followed by LANL PA trying to keep the news buried; the supposed "classified" Mac and the subsequent airing of confused and conflicting policies regarding how to excess computers at LANL, and more LANL PA stonewalling) it looks like the UC/Bechtel consortium does not stand a chance. Not that these most recent screw ups were necessary to demonstrate that it was time for a change, although I guess it can't hurt to prove the point.

Between now and the new year it should finally become a quiet news period as far as LANL is concerned. We can expect traffic on the blog to taper off, barring any more "oopsies", until the new contractor is announced. This is as it should be. Enjoy, if that is the right word, the last few months of UC's stewardship of LANL.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blogger Faces Lawsuit Over Comments Posted by Readers

Sent in by a reader:

BY DAVID KESMODEL

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE

August 31, 2005

In a legal case being watched closely by bloggers, an Internet company has sued the owner of a Web log for comments posted to his site by readers.

Traffic-Power.com sued Aaron Wall, who maintains a blog on search engine optimization – tactics companies use to get themselves to appear higher in searches at Google, Yahoo and elsewhere – alleging defamation and publication of trade secrets. The suit, filed in a Nevada state court earlier this month, also listed as defendants several unnamed users of the blog.

At issue are statements posted in the comments section of Mr. Wall's blog, SEOBook.com. Many blogs allow readers to post comments, often anonymously, and Mr. Wall's blog included several reader submissions that blasted tools sold by Traffic-Power.com.

[...]

Full Story


Does anyone have numbers to compare versus total employment numbers?

From non-attributed:

There was a lot of talk about retirements around July 1st due to the UC retirement adjustment for that date. Does anyone have numbers to compare versus total employment numbers?

______Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Nov Dec
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006



--


Monday, August 29, 2005

Best wishes to the contestants in this week's oral exams

Comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/more-on-lanl-macintosh.html

post:

Well, it does begin to sound as if KOB did actually jump the gun on this one. Yippee, chalk one up for UC. Why is it, though, that UC & LANL can't even win one without sounding like the Keystone Kops?

Best wishes to the contestants in this week's oral exams, while we're at it.

Director’s Instruction provides guidance on hiring of UC retirees

August 29, 2005

The Laboratory has modified procedures for rehiring retirees, under guidance from a new Director’s Instruction issued last week.

Revisions to the policy on rehiring retirees were based on a recommendation from a team chaired by Mike Burns of the associate directorate for weapons programs (ADWP). This team reviewed a 2004 Director’s Instruction on returning retirees and recommended modifications. This team subsequently joined the “Fix-It” initiative created by Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck to investigate and brainstorm solutions to issues raised by staff and various Laboratory organizations. The “Fix-It” initiative is led by the Chief Science Office (CSO).

[...]

Full Story

Sunday, August 28, 2005

More on the LANL Macintosh

From: Anonymous:

Sources inside KOB TV are not happy with the Albuquerque Journal's version of the story about the LANL Macintosh computer. According to the Journal article, KOB reporters "jumped the gun" with their story about the computer having classified material on its disk.

According to these sources, LANL refused to grant a phone interview to KOB reporters last Thursday. Instead, this email was sent at 7:00pm from James Rickman [LANL spokesperson] to KOB:

Los Alamos National Laboratory Statement Regarding Salvaged Computer with Los Alamos Documents

August 25, 2005

* Los Alamos National Laboratory does not recycle computers used to process classified information.

* LANL's property accountability system did identify the Apple computer referenced by KOB-TV as a computer formerly used at the Laboratory in a training organization that neither produces classified information nor is housed in a classified area.

* The Laboratory will investigate to determine why the hard drive had not been removed from the machine, which is standard procedure when recycling unclassified computers.

KOB staff indicate that indeed, they did find dozens of documents on the hard drive....including memos, emails, timesheets....some with the word classified on them. The FBI asked staff if the documents were really classified and were told that KOB staff would be in no position to verify that. They did indicate that one email was entitled 'Transmitting Classified Material'.

Prior to the story, a KOB reporter spent all day Thursday on the phone with the auction site, Sandia Labs and Los Alamos. For most of the day, Los Alamos denied the computer was even theirs.

Sandia ran a check and found it did not belong to them and told the reporter it was likely Los Alamos', but a Los Alamos spokesperson said it wasn't theirs and that it likely belonged to Sandia Labs.

Initially, the reporter wrote an entire story around that angle---that this mysterious computer was not being claimed and yet it had Los Alamos material on it.

Then at 7 pm on Thursday, the memo from LANL spokesperson Rickman was received at KOB.

That's why the story was reported the way it was. It calls into question WHAT are these documents....and could they be classified? KOB feels that LANL's side of the story was included in the report as well (LANL's claim that the computer did not contain classified material and that it was used for training purposes). Therefore KOB staff believe the report was quite the opposite of a 'disservice to the community'...as LANL accused the report as being. The story calls into question 2 things: HOW could a computer with LANL material be sold to a KOB photographer....and should the community be concerned that classified material may have been leaked.


The Invasion Of The Chinese

[Speaking of tracking unwanted visitors, this Time Inc. story is pretty interesting. --Doug]

Cyberspies (And the Man Who Tried to Stop Them)
By NATHAN THORNBURGH

It was another routine night for Shawn Carpenter. After a long day analyzing computer-network security for Sandia National Laboratories, where much of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is designed, Carpenter, 36, retreated to his ranch house in the hills overlooking Albuquerque, N.M., for a quick dinner and an early bedtime. He set his alarm for 2 a.m. Waking in the dark, he took a thermos of coffee and a pack of Nicorette gum to the cluster of computer terminals in his home office. As he had almost every night for the previous four months, he worked at his secret volunteer job until dawn, not as Shawn Carpenter, mid-level analyst, but as Spiderman—the apt nickname his military-intelligence handlers gave him—tirelessly pursuing a group of suspected Chinese cyberspies all over the world. Inside the machines, on a mission he believed the U.S. government supported, he clung unseen to the walls of their chat rooms and servers, secretly recording every move the snoopers made, passing the information to the Army and later to the FBI.

[...]

Full Story

How outrageous are these latest claims?

A comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/lanl-assails-tv-news-report-on-laptop.html

post:
_______________________________________
The fact is that we should, of course, defend ourselves against outrageous journalistic charges. The question is: how outrageous are these latest claims? I'm told that the Macintosh computer in question did in fact have material on the disk that was marked as classified. If so, how were the KOB reporters to know that it was "simulated" classified material? We should wait until all of the facts are known before jumping to judge the parties involved.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

LANL Assails TV News Report on Laptop

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

A report by KOB-TV, saying that a used Los Alamos National Laboratory computer bought at an auction by one of the station's news photographers contained items marked "classified," has drawn a strong rebuke from lab officials.

The story, which aired at 10 p.m. Thursday, reported that a news photographer bought the Apple computer at an auction and was surprised to find the hard drive contained information. The report listed memos and time sheets, some of which had the word "classified" on them, among the items still on the computer's hard drive.

LANL spokesman Jim Fallin said the news station "jumped the gun" by airing the story the way they did.

[...]

Full Story


Ex-LANL computer is focus of investigation

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
August 27, 2005

A surplus computer from Los Alamos National Laboratory sold at a public auction is at the center of a federal investigation into whether classified information was on it, and why readable files were not removed before its sale, authorities say.

KOB-TV of Albuquerque reported Thursday night that one of its photographers bought an Apple computer several weeks ago. "In the computer ... we found documents labeled classified," KOB reported.

[...]

Full Story


Friday, August 26, 2005

Lab probes computer story

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

An Albuquerque television station reported last night that a used computer purchased at auction was said to contain classified information.

A LANL spokesman said this morning the lab was investigating, but that it was highly unlikely the computer had classified information.

A 10 p.m. news segment, reported by Mindy Mizelle on KOB-TV said a news photographer from the station purchased the machine and was surprised to find that it contained a hard drive. He was further surprised to find that it contained data.

The report said the hard drive contained memos and time sheets from the laboratory, some of which were marked classified.

[...]

Full Story

Media Reports on Recycled Computer

To/MS: All Employees
From/MS: Robert W. Kuckuck, DIR, MS A100
Phone/Fax: 7-5101/Fax 7-2997 (fax)
Symbol: DIR-05-323
Date: August 26, 2005
Subject: Media Reports on Recycled Computer


By now most employees have seen or heard about media reports
concerning a recycled Laboratory computer with intact files that
was purchased at an auction house by an employee of KOB-TV. I
would like to update you on what we currently know about this
issue.

The Laboratory's property database shows that the computer with
the serial number provided by KOB-TV was purchased by the
Laboratory in late 2002 and recycled in July 2005. The computer
had four owners, all of whom worked in an organization that does
not process classified material and which is located in an open
area. As such, the Laboratory has no reason at this time to
believe that the machine contains classified information. In
fact, the Laboratory does not ever recycle computers that have
been used to process classified information.

The images of what the KOB reporter termed "classified"
information that were shown in last night's televised report
appear to be phrases that are contained in two unclassified memos
regarding the handling of documents that were openly sent to all
employees during the time the computer was in use.

Laboratory security personnel are examining a copy of backup files
from the computer's hard drive and are working with the computer's
most recent user to confirm that the machine does not contain
classified or sensitive information. A preliminary review
indicates that no classified information was housed on the machine
at any time.

As could be expected, the provocative nature of the KOB-TV story
has led our sponsoring agencies and others to inquire about the
incident. We have apprised them of the true facts and are
cooperating fully in these inquiries.

Because of this situation, I want to remind all employees that the
Laboratory does have established procedures in place that are
designed to prevent incidents like this from occurring. Every
Laboratory employee should ensure that they follow these
procedures prior to declaring a computer as excess. Responsible
mitigating actions include user certification that the hard drive
on a computer has been wiped or degaussed prior to the computer's
removal from the user's organization.

Standard Laboratory procedures also call for removal of hard
drives and other memory devices from computers prior to public
sale. The Laboratory is investigating why the computer's hard
drive had not been removed and why it still contained readable
files. I will keep all of you updated on this issue as we learn
more.

LANL classified data turns up on auction computer

LANL classified data turns up on auction computer



Last Update: 08/26/2005 8:18:14 AM
By: Reed Upton

Los Alamos National Laboratory is investigating why an Apple computer bought at a computer auction in Albuquerque contained LANL documents, including items marked “classified.”

An Eyewitness News 4 photographer bought the computer. When he got it home he says he was surprised to see a hard drive in the machine.

“I was just amazed,” he says. “I thought maybe it was a drive that wasn’t used and that’s why they left it in there. But when I powered it on, it was unexpected to see that there was information still left in there.”

[...]

Full Story


A used LANL Macintosh computer

From Anonymous:

On KOB TV news at 6AM this morning (Channel 4, reported by Monica Armenta) , there was a brief story that a KOB photographer bought a used LANL Macintosh computer that had a hard disk with classified information on it. He bought it from a company that sells surplus LANL and SNL computers. Nothing more at this time.

If true, this would be the last nail in the coffin for UC.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

There was an itty-bitty radiological contamination at Sandia today

Comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/story-on-continuing-safety-scandals-at.html

post:

There was an itty-bitty radiological contamination at Sandia today, they immediately sent an email to all employees, cordoned off the area, gave an update on the employee's safety...seems it was a very minor amount of contamination on a glove. So looks like the Labs are learning from mistakes...be open, be quick, do the right thing, everybody is happy. Accidents will happen in the best of environments, so the issue is recover and learn lessons, not cover up or blame, etc.


Stanford bound

Science Magazine - 5 Aug 2005

"Stanford bound.
....
... Hecker, who served as LANL's director until 1997 and stayed on as a scientist before retiring from the lab last month, is going to Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation this fall as a visiting professor. There, he'll continue his work on curbing proliferation and nuclear terrorism and teach courses on science and nuclear security. Hecker says the looming new LANL contract clinched his decision to leave the New Mexico lab...."

LANL computers weather daily cyber assaults

[Given that there has already been some discussion on the blog about this... --Doug]

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

On a $15 million a year budget, Los Alamos National Laboratory is waging a daily battle against a barrage of threats to its computer network.

Alexander D. Kent, deputy group leader for the lab's network engineering group, said 25,000 computers processing about 850 gigabytes of data in 20 million legitimate sessions a day are facing a growing risk.

A graph of Internet sessions between May and mid-August this year shows at least five million "malicious" sessions on slow days and 10-15 million during peaks.

On weekends, when LANL activity slows, 90 percent or more of the computer activity appears to be malicious.

[...]

Full Story

Laboratory is responding to employee concerns

From the 8/25/2005 LANL NewsBulletin:

By Steve Sandoval

August 25, 2005

Marquez speaks to state committees at Fuller Lodge

Associate Laboratory Director for Administration (ADA) Richard Marquez told state legislators Wednesday in Los Alamos that the Laboratory is committed to addressing employee issues while also continuing to meet its programmatic missions.

At a joint meeting of the state Information Technology Oversight and Legislative Laboratory Oversight committees in Fuller Lodge, Marquez said Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck understands that employees are concerned about the state of the Lab given the contract competition for management of Los Alamos as well as residual concerns about the suspension of Laboratory operations. He said Kuckuck “has taken it upon himself to bring an era of calm to the frenetic pace of activities at the Lab.”

[...]

Full Story


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A photograph taken by a friend


Doug:

A comment on the "Harassment" post reminded me of a photograph taken by a friend of mine (Thanks, Sid) on the lower Windsor Trail this spring. He and his girlfriend saw the sign while out hiking (really, it was already like that). Maybe you could post it.

Thanks,

-Anon

Harassment Policy (AM 711)

From Anonymous:

Could you post this please Doug? The Dir talks the talk does he walk the walk?

_________________________________________
To/MS: LANL-All
From/MS: Robert W. Kuckuck, DIR, MS A100
Phone/Fax: 7-5101/Fax 7-2997
Symbol: DIR-05-283
Date: August 24, 2005
Subject: Harassment Policy (AM 711)


We all have the right to work in a productive environment that is
free of harassment of any kind and I want to remind all of us of
the Laboratory’s harassment policy. Harassment, as defined under
Laboratory policy (AM 711), is prohibited and is in conflict with
the Guiding Principles of Workplace Conduct as described in our
Code of Ethics and in the Equal Employment and Diversity Policy
Statement issued by Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. In each
directive, the guiding principal calls upon each of us to become a
personal leader in attaining a workplace of inclusion and creating
an environment where all workers are treated with respect and
common courtesy so that we all have an opportunity to reach our
full potential.

There are different forms of harassment, including sexual, racial,
ethnic, sexual orientation, and gender, that can create disruption
at work. Harassment is not tolerated at the Laboratory, it is
hurtful and demonstrates a lack of respect. It creates
interpersonal problems, results in lost productivity, contributes
to low morale, and may result in costly lawsuits.

Harassment continues to be a problem in today’s workplace across
the country and includes actions ranging from overt behaviors to
creating a hostile work environment. Federal and state laws, as
well as Laboratory policy (AM 711), prohibit harassment, and such
behavior will be dealt with quickly and appropriately, with
disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Managers and supervisors must immediately respond to and deal with
complaints of harassment or with behaviors that could be
harassing. Managers and supervisors must also inform employees
that harassment violates Laboratory policy. Employees and contract
workers who believe they have been harassed by any person on
Laboratory property should report the occurrence to their
immediate supervisor or to Staff Relations at 7-8730. The Ombuds
Office (5-2837) and the HR-Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity
(7-8695) are also available to all workers who believe they may
have experienced harassment.

I want to emphasize that treating each other with respect and
common courtesy is a Guiding Principle
in our Code of Ethics. We must all continue to strive to be an
employer of choice — from the research we conduct to the way we
treat each other.

A story on the continuing safety "scandals" at LANL

From Anonymous:


I was approached by a reporter yesterday, who wanted to do a story on
the continuing safety "scandals" at LANL, which, as all people "in the
know" know, is "run" by UC. (I cannot reveal my source, as you can well
understand, nor can I reveal my name, for equally oh-so-obvious
reasons.) I told him what I had read about the complete history of
safety "problems" at LANL, including the fact that things appeared to
get worse just after the shutdown. (Thanks, Brad, for those letters to
the editor at Physics Today.) Of course, "worse" means that even though
entire experimental facilities were shut down, so that no serious
injuries could possibly have occurred, there was a plethora of
stress-related minor injuries that required medical treatment. Now that
we are "back up and running full bore," some more injuries have
happened, and I told him that that was to be expected at a major
national laboratory, but that I doubted things were somehow terribly
much worse than before the shutdown. As long as any work whatsoever is
being done at Los Alamos, there will always be some level of accidents
that occur. Once again, the world should not panic at every incident,
and management at the Lab should treat individual cases with concern.
Punishment for mistakes should not be the norm, unless the
individual(s) involved are repeat offenders in ignoring common-sense
safety procedures. I suggested to the reporter that scientists tend to
be very conservative about lab safety and national security; for
example, they don't run around throwing lighted sticks of dynamite at
each other as noontime pranks, as some in Congress seem to think.

The reporter then asked about the "culture of arrogance," and I replied
that arrogance at Los Alamos most often comes in the form of directives
from upper managers who never bother to walk around and talk to the
scientists "in the trenches." When managers (a few, at least) do take
the time to find out what their former colleagues are up to and what
their concerns are, they are not inclined to shut down the entire
Laboratory for months just for appearances sake, nor to curry favor
with certain off-the-wall, angry-for-the-benefit-of-TV-cameras
Congressmen. Nor are they likely to be caught out short, as when the DX
Division leader was frogmarched into the Director's office to call
Linton Brooks up on the speaker phone about "missing" CREM, only to
tell him that she thinks it's all a bookkeeping error, to which Brooks
moans, "Oh, don't tell me this is just another one of those 'nothing
really happened at Los Alamos' stories!"

The reporter then told me that it looked to him as though there really
wasn't a story here (again) at Los Alamos about safety "scandals." He
thanked me and said that he wished he could have gotten a straight
story out of LANL Public Affairs spokespersons. He said all he got was
smoke and denials and more smoke. (Why am I not surprised?)

So, the bottom line is, don't look for a frenzied media exposé on "Yet
another safety scandal at LANL!" in the very near future. But don't
credit LANL or UC "spokespersons" for that.

Request for comments

[How about it? An anonymous request for comments. --Doug]

Doug
Slow news day. How about some comments on the soon to take affect RDL/FMD reorg in spite of a new contractor-LOCKMART or BECTAL in a few months.


Teams seeking LANL job set for interviews

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
August 24, 2005

Both teams seeking to take over management of Los Alamos National Laboratory are scheduled to meet next week with government officials for a series of interviews .

Rod Geer, a spokesman for the team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the University of Texas system, said his team is preparing to answer questions by the National Nuclear Security Administration's Source Evaluation Board.

The meetings are closed to the public, Geer said. And it's unclear where they will take place.

[...]

Full Story

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Book Review: The E-bomb by Doug Beason

[The last few days have been slow news days, so what the heck. --Doug]

Book Review: The E-bomb by Doug Beason
By Kirkus Aug 23, 2005, 16:14 GMT

Directed energy is the wave (and not just the microwave) of the future, the source of weapons that will prove to be revolutionary.

Imagine, writes Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Beason, that an angry mob has surrounded the American embassy in New Delhi—for though our friends today, the Indians can turn on us at any minute—and that some of them are carrying weapons.

[...]

Full Story

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pension Rights: What the Rest of the Complex is Experiencing

LANL employee are obviously worried about the impending contract change,
and with good reason. The lab has remained isolated from the game of
musical chairs that AEC/ERDA/DOE has played with site contracts across
the complex, but now it may be your turn in the barrel. Perhaps my
experience will be illustrative of what to expect. I hired in at the
Pacific Northwest Lab in Richland in the spring of 1974, managed at the
time by Battelle for the AEC. Due to down turns at Hanford in 1988 with
the decision not to restart N-Reactor, my wife and I (a metallurgist)
went to Savannah River. I went from working on the new production
reactor program at Hanford, to working in the physics group at Savannah
River Lab on exactly the same project. Our clearances transferred of
course, but absolutely no time in service. The integrated contract at
Hanford allowed for transfers between Battelle, Westinghouse, Rockwell,
and United Nuclear at Hanford, but no such provisions were ever written
for between-site transfers. I can tell you from experience that a
deferred pension with no COL adjustment rapidly degrades to the value of
doodly-squat over the years. If you think the DOE or contract teams
have remedied this situation in the last 17 years, think again. The
cost savings associated with terminating pension rights are just too
tempting and easy to cut. Case in point - the new contract at Idaho
National Laboratory. The parent company to Westinghouse Savannah River
Company (Washington Group International) teamed up with Battelle. A
number of our colleagues have been tapped to move west. Unfortunately,
WGI has announced that they will only maintain continuity of benefits
for majority owned' affiliates. And guess what? WGI is only a 49%
partner in the new INL contract. All those lucky folks that get to
experience the beauty and grandeur of Idaho get to do so with deferred
pensions from SRS, or an actual pension if they quality. Of course at
SRS, the pension formula uses 0.012 times years of service, with a 50%
vesting factor only after 15 years, going to 1.0 when age and years of
service reach 85. If I were to get tapped, my total pension after 30
years of service split between PNL and SRL would amount to ~13% of my
current salary, forever frozen in 2005 dollars. So instead of worrying
about loosing your COL, I suggest that is not the half of your worries
if UC leaves and some hungry contractor comes to town. With ~15,000
already laid off from SRS, and thousands more from Rocky, Mound, and
Fernald, the contractors have simply used this as an opportunity to pick
up decades of expertise at bargain prices. I now work with individuals
with split pensions from Rocky Flats, Mound, and PNL, all trying to make
enough to save for a decent retirement. DOE has talked about the
benefits of portable pensions for years, but frankly there is no
down-side from their perspective to treating us like so many migrant
nuclear workers. Highly educated, and highly skilled in the arts of
nuclear materials production, separation, use, storage, etc., but
frankly who else is going to pay these salaries for our specialized
skills? I always assumed that DOE would come to its collective senses
and realize that this is simply gutting the chances for attracting the
next generation of talent into the complex. They talk the talk, but the
bottom line is dollars. It is simply easier to rob thousands of the
chance for a meaningful pension, and allow contractors to shuffle us
hither and yon across the complex. Expect a separate 'cleanup'
contract, with worker's professional careers channeled into a backwater
of alphabet soup contractors, with pension benefits subdivided and
isolated at each hand-off. Good Luck, and God Bless.

Signed, Been There, Done That

More on anonymous comments

If someone can offer proof that they have suffered retribution as a result of using this blog to express their opinions, then I offer the use of this blog to publicize the details of the retribution. Names, times, dates; factual descriptions of the retribution. Proof is a requirement for those wishing to use this blog for that purpose, as are names and all other pertinent information.

The LANL PA division has stated, in writing, that LANL employees are guaranteed their first amendment rights, to include expressing those views via a blog so long as

1. it is not done during work hours,
2. it is not done using LANL resources, and
3. the employee does not represent oneself as an official LANL spokesperson.

This blog has extremely high visibility, with members of congress, the senate, UCOP, LMCO, numerous news organizations, and not a few legal groups reading it daily. UC does not want to be reading about any more management mistakes at LANL on this blog, in The New York Times, or anywhere else.

Again, a purported fear of retribution or retaliation for using this blog as a forum of discussion does not carry much weight with me as a rationale for anonymous posting. In fact, I was, and continue to be somewhat ashamed at the timidity of LANL staff in general when it came to speaking out against the "egregious" mismanagement at LANL, that was clearly demonstrated on July 16 of last year, and which continues today.

--Doug

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Anonymous comments.

This is one of those deals where I'm the focus of criticism no matter what I do. When I turned off anonymous comments I received a barrage of criticism and requests to turn it back on. When I turned it back on, the reverse happened. The majority of "contributors" to the blog seem to want anonymous comments left on, which leaves me (and Brad) in the position of being the blog garbage collectors, and accordingly being criticized for "censoring" the blog.

So, I guess that's the way we will leave it, unless somebody can come up with a better, workable idea.

--Doug

Major disruption in internet service at LANL on Friday

From Anonymous:

There was a major disruption in internet service at LANL on Friday. I'm told it was because of a worm attack on unprotected Windows systems. Can anybody supply details? Rich Marquez would like to make LANL an "All Windows, All the Time" operation. Friday is a glimpse of LANL's future, if Marquez is still around to implement his plan come December.

Schwarzenegger backs UC bid for nuclear laboratories

Governor tours Lawrence Berkeley lab's facilities

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER



BERKELEY - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threw his strongest support yet Friday behind the University of California's efforts to keep running two nuclear weapons labs in two states.

In a bit of a coup for the university, the governors of both New Mexico and California now have endorsed UC's partnership with Bechtel National and others to bid for management of the birthplace of the bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

What's unclear is what the backing from Schwarzenegger and New Mexico Democrat Bill Richardson is worth.

[...]

Full Story

Friday, August 19, 2005

We could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble

From Anonymous:

Please post this article. We could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble had we screened our previous CEO.

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/96/open_boss.html

Kuckuck is positive about science; emphasizes safety

By Hildi T. Kelsey

August 19, 2005

It is clear to me that this Laboratory does science like no one else does science.”
--Laboratory Director Robert Kuckuck


Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck noted several of the many positive contributions of the Lab and discussed the need for safety improvement at a all-employee talk Thursday in the Administration Building Auditorium at Technical Area 3. “We need to feel good about what is happening [at the Lab] and work our way through the difficult parts,” he said.

While the director was complimentary of the Laboratory’s science efforts as well as its role in weapons design, the Lab’s national radiation source recovery program and recent success at DARHT, safety was a key priority as he outlined his goals. In general, Kuckuck said he wants to change how employees think about they way they do their work and react to incident and safety elements.

[...]

Full Story


Ex-LANL worker files defamation suit

[Free version]

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
August 19, 2005

A retired Los Alamos National Laboratory employee accused and later cleared of trying to purchase a car with lab money has sued the lab, two television-broadcast companies and others claiming defamation, breach of contract, fraud and other charges, state District Court records show.

Lillian Anaya and her husband, Mel, of Santa Fe County sued LANL, some lab workers, CBS Broadcasting Inc., the owner of Albuquerque's KRQE News 13 and Tri-City Auto Sales of Phoenix, among others, according to a civil complaint filed Wednesday.

The Anayas allege defamation, false-light invasion of privacy, breach of contract, fraud and other injuries related to an investigation and later broadcasts concerning the disputed purchase of a Ford Mustang with a lab credit card, according to the complaint and other sources. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

[...]

Full Story

Mustang Charges Prompt Lawsuit

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

In 2002, Lillian P. Anaya was accused of trying to buy a souped-up $30,000 Mustang with her Los Alamos National Laboratory purchase card.

During the subsequent investigations and media coverage that ensued over allegations of financial mismanagement and fraud at LANL— including several congressional hearings— Anaya spent 10 months on paid investigative leave before finally being exonerated in June 2003.

Then-LANL director Pete Nanos said of the allegations: "There was no Mustang."

Now, the 32-year LANL veteran purchaser and her husband are seeking compensation in a defamation lawsuit for what they say was pain, suffering and financial hardship resulting from the allegations, which appeared nationwide in press reports and were frequently cited by lawmakers as an indication of LANL's woes.

[...]

Full Story


Thursday, August 18, 2005

What did the director talk about this afternoon?

Comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/one-more-submission-from-gary.html

post:

____________________________
"retirement incentive"

Hey anybody out there...what did the director talk about this afternoon? thanks in advance

A never-ending saga that changes its ending daily

A comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/wikipedia-listing.html

post:

_________________________
And now, as of today, the entry reads:

"George Peter (Pete) Nanos was the former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from January 2003 to May 2005. As of 2005 he was the shortest serving director of the laboratory. He took the helm at Los Alamos in the wake of a string of allegations and scandals involving security, safety and business issues. Initially he was given the title "interim director", but in July 2003 he was made a permanent director by the University of California without any further search. Scandals continued during his tenure including: a case of suspected missing classified disks (which turned out never existed, but were thought to be missing due to inadequate record keeping practices), improper charges on lab credit cards, and a student injuring her eye with a laser ([1] PDF). These scandals motivated Nanos to stop all normal operations at the lab for nearly seven months (July 2004 to January 2005) to examine and supplement the Laboratory's procedures and practices. The shutdowns could have cost as much as $367 million USD [2]. During an address to Laboratory personnel, he characterized alleged rule-breaking scientists at the Lab as "cowboys" and "buttheads," causing an uproar amongst personnel who felt Nanos had little respect for their efforts to function under what they saw as perpetually defective management practices. He left Los Alamos to take a job at the Department of Defense (specifically the Defense Threat Reduction Agency). The year he left there was a large spike in retirements [3] and an employee-run blog attacked Nanos [4] and his management of the institution. Nanos left under a cloud of employee discontent, missed programmatic milestones and lingering security and safety issues. His successor was Robert W. Kuckuck, who took office on May 16, 2005."

-A never-ending saga that changes its ending daily.

Director’s Instruction, guidance issued on alternative work schedules

By James E. Rickman

August 18, 2005

A Director’s Instruction (Adobe Acrobat required) and formal guidance for managers regarding alternative work schedules was released Wednesday. The new alternative work schedule is scheduled to be implemented during the pay period beginning Sept. 12.

A master-management memo (Adobe Acrobat required) from Laboratory Director Robert Kuckuck emphasizes the need to balance employee work-life issues with delivery of programmatic commitments, customer service and internal support.

In addition to the Director’s Instruction, the Laboratory also released a management planning guide and a set of frequently asked questions and answers to assist managers in developing work schedules in their organizations. The master-management memo reiterates earlier guidance that alternative work schedules must incorporate conditions of supervision and must be developed and approved by management.

Lynn Boland, acting leader of the Human Resources (HR) Division, said the three alternative work schedules available for Laboratory personnel are as follows:

• 5/40—in which employees work a standard eight-hour day, five days a week.
• 9/80—in which employees work four, nine-hour workdays and one eight-hour work day on a Friday one week, and then four, nine-hour workdays with a Friday off the next week.
• 4/10—in which employees work four, 10-hour days each week in organizations where it makes programmatic or operational sense to do so.

Under the alternative work schedules program, the Laboratory will maintain regular business hours within each organization between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“The goal of alternative work schedules is to allow programmatic commitments and deliverables to be met while maintaining the quality and responsiveness of service and support to the Laboratory, and to support the work-life balance needs of employees where possible,” Boland said.

Schedule changes will be allowed twice a year—at the beginning of the first pay period in May 2006 and the beginning of the first pay period in November 2006. In certain cases where it is necessary to accommodate a major life change (such as care for a seriously ill near relative, the death of a spouse, etc.), schedule changes may be permitted outside of the two regularly scheduled change periods, Boland said. As with every aspect of the alternative work schedule program, all changes must be developed and approved by managers.

Employees on the 9/80 schedule must take at least a 30-minute lunch break each workday.

When a holiday falls on a day that a full-time, nonexempt employee would have been scheduled to work more than eight hours (an employee working an alternate work schedule), supervisors may approve the employee to work an extra hour or two hours in the same week, or the employee must report the difference as vacation time.

Exempt employees are expected to work the extra hour or two hours at some other time during the same workweek, or to use discretionary absence with a manager’s prior approval.

If a holiday falls on an employee’s regularly scheduled 9/80 Friday off, the work day immediately before the holiday may be observed as the holiday.

Criteria for employees to be on a 4/10 schedule have not changed, said Boland. The 4/10 schedule may be used when an organizational unit within the Laboratory must be on the schedule to meet programmatic and customer demands.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

One more Submission from Gary Stradling

[I apologize in advance to those of you who find Gary Stradling's submissions to this blog to be repetitive and pedantic. Please don't send me any more mail on the subject. While Mr. Stradling is well within his rights to use this forum to express his views, there will probably come a point when repetition loses its effectiveness. I hope it will become obvious to all when we have truly reached that point, so that the various players might recognize that there are more productive ways to use this blog. --Doug]

_______________________________________________

Doug-
I suggested that the motivation of angry bloggers here was a "lust for vengeance" We have heard from John and Scott who said that their objective in participating in this blog is to find justice (John) , and from Scott: (1) Justice for those who have been mistreated, (2) better Leadership for all of us, and (3) an end to lies and excuses. The others don't seem willing to own up to their objectives. (Finknottle could not stand the heat and left the kitchen without mentioning why he showed up in the first place.)

Just for fun (cool, dispassionate, and logical fun), lets refer to the dictionary.

Lust noun -to have a very strong desire to obtain something

Vengeance, noun -punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong.

Justice, noun
o the quality of being fair and reasonable
o the administration of the law or authority in maintaining legal fairness

Lead verb
-to show the way to others, usually by going ahead of them
-to control, direct, or command others
-to have a principal part or guiding role in something
-to bring about a particular outcome

Vigilante n-somebody who punishes lawbreakers personally and illegally rather than relying on the legal authorities

Mob n- a large and unruly crowd of people
v-to attack somebody in a large group

To continue the discussion, using dictionary definitions, justice is fair and reasonable, hardly a description of the mob-like vigilante activity taking place here. A really accurate description of this activity and the apparent and expressed motivations would be: 'A very strong desire to have punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an (unjust) injury or wrong.' That has a fair correspondence with "lust for vengeance."

If those disciplined after the CREM incident (if they were disciplined for doing something wrong, does it really matter to their culpability whether the overall exercise was about a lost disk or an accounting error?) went thru a legal and systematic process which determined their level or responsibility and punishment and if they have legal recourse in the courts, is this not the process of legal justice working? I do not understand the legitimate role of this vigilante blog in bringing supposed wrong-doers to another kind of "justice", i.e vengeance, outside of legal channels.

Given that DOE and UC both supported Pete Nanos in his decision to stand down the Lab, painful as it was to all of us, I again do not understand a concept of "justice" that would seek to drive him or his subordinates from their places of authority, much less hound them at subsequent jobs. Again this sounds like extra-legal vigilante vengeance.

To Scott- with regard to leadership: Leadership does not take a poll, average the results, and follow the mob, though that seems the ideal of those who post and comment here. My experiences with Pete Nanos were not frequent, but he seemed to have a clear vision of a need to resuscitate the lab and the weapons program, to find a tack that would steer us out of the shoals we had been in for a number of years. He wanted to use RRW to do that, to gain some headway, to reinvigorate the staff, and to train new people. He was intensely interested in correcting the business and management problems LANL had been struggling with. Those ARE leadership qualities. (I think that persuasiveness, effective communication, charisma with groups are also leadership skills, but Pete did not seem to master those nor did his staff effectively help him here.) In the middle of this, the ship Los Alamos narrowly avoided hitting an iceberg, we lost headway, and some of the crew mutinied. I argue that we had been in dangerous waters for some time and that we are still at similar risk. These rants are not helping the situation. They will not encourage anyone to take initiative without taking a poll first. Your actions are not serving your stated objectives of either justice or leadership.

With regard to lies- -an anonymous geyser of invective (in·vec·tive n- an abusive expression, or language used to attack or blame somebody) certainly does not serve to further a cause of truth but in fact provides a cover for untruths to be maliciously spread.
Gary


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Los Alamos mishaps may cost UC

Two employees inhale toxic fumes at lab in latest case of employee injury
By Diana Whitaker
DAILY BRUIN CONTRIBUTOR
dwhitaker@media.ucla.edu

The University of California-operated Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is currently being considered for new management, has seen another series of mishaps this summer that could be potentially damaging to the university's bid position.

The most recent incident resulted in the hospitalization of one employee.

In June, two employees at Los Alamos inhaled toxic fumes. One spent six days in the hospital in July after suffering prolonged respiratory symptoms, while the other experienced temporary shortness of breath.

Breaking with protocol, lab management was not informed of the incident until Aug. 3, more than a month and a half after it had occurred.

[...]

Full Story


Re: Anonymous Posting

From Anonymous:

Most of the discussions regarding anonymity have overlooked an important constituency -- the thousands of contractor employees and local merchants who do business with LANL. Many of you out there worry about what your group or Division Leader might do if they caught you reading the blog, or could trace one of your comments. As a member of the not-employed-by but immediately-affected-by LANL group, I can tell you that the rest of us stakeholders are keenly aware that the due process you are entitled to (which apparently doesn't always occur) as a condition of your employment, does not in any way extend to protecting the expression of our views and opinions.

Please keep an avenue open for posting anonymous comments.

To: LANL Contractor Candidates

In order for Los Alamos National Laboratory to move forward as a viable scientific institution from the troubles inflicted upon it from the outside (by Congress, the Clinton and Bush Administrations, and DOE, and exacerbated by an opportunistic news media) and inflicted upon it from within (by the previous Lab Director), it will be necessary for the next contractor to remove from positions of power -- Division Directors and above -- any who hold the view that shutting down LANL was a necessary action by a bold visionary to preserve the scientific output of the Laboratory.

I am saddened by the continued silence from the University of California about these cataclysmic events in the life of Los Alamos National Laboratory. On the day of the announcement of the bids, Mike Anastasio (UC's candidate for Lab Director) failed to say anything like what C. Paul Robinson (Lockheed Martin's candidate) said, namely, that the shutdown would not have happened on his watch; to paraphrase Robinson, why administer chemotherapy to a whole community when one person has been diagnosed with cancer?

The upper Lab managers who have endorsed, whether explicitly or tacitly, the need to shut down the entire Laboratory for over a half year should look to escape, as did the former Director, to a comfortable position courtesy of the UC bureaucracy, since it now appears unlikely that UC will be awarded the contract.

-Brad Lee Holian

Cutting of the 2% COLA

From Anonymous:

Question to UCDC.EDU Washington, DC

Dear Sir,

Please see the attached .ppt presentation. It clearly states on page 15 paragraph two that if a UC employee does not retire before the new contract takes over he or she will not be a retiree of the UC system. This consequently means that they will not get the 2% COLA now or in the future. We at LLNL have heard that the UC system had intended to get rid of the 2% COLA not only for us new retiree but to all that had retired before us as part of a cost cutting agenda. Is this true? I and 2,900 other people at LLNL need to know this in order to make plans.

On the subject of anonymous comments

On the subject of anonymous comments, "the demise of the blog", etc., I want to share my thoughts.

First, I became tired of being this blog's garbage collector. Increasingly over the past few months, vicious, mean-spirited, cowardly anonymous comments had been appearing which I simply deleted. The final straw, of course, was the recent tastless attack on Todd Kaupilla.

I initially created this blog with the capability to post anonymous comments turned on because of the real atmosphere of fear and retaliation that existed at LANL in January, 2004. I acknowledge that to an extent, that atmosphere still exists in locations throughout the lab. However, the mechanism of anonymous comments were increasingly not being used for that purpose. Rather, they were more often being used "get back at" somebody the submitter did not like. Fear of retaliation was not an issue.

Emailed anonymous submissions are still a supported mechanism for interested participants to present information on this blog. Admittedly, now that anonymous comments are no longer supported, the free flow of discussion is somewhat impeded. Given the number of email messages that I have received expressing concern that the lack of an anonymous comment capability will limit the blog's usefulness, I am willing to reconsider returning that option to this blog.

But with the following understanding:

  1. I have installed a logging system. The IP address of every machine that connects to the blog is recorded, with a time stamp. Perhaps the knowledge that abuses of the privilege of submitting comments anonymously can now be attributed to the submitter will be all that is necessary to stem the flow of poison pen letters.
  2. I would prefer that people use their own names when submitting comments, unless there is a real reason not to. If, in the opinion of the poster, anonymity is essential to avoid damaging one's work environment, I would like to see a pseudonym used, to make it easier for readers follow discussions.
To allow those who are interested to supply feedback on this topic, I will turn on anonymous comments for this post.

--Doug

Wikipedia Listing

From Anonymous:

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

The blog; anonymous comments

Hi Doug. Just some comments to you (unless you think it would help in some way, then please feel free to post it)

I read the blog almost every day. So does my 13 year old son. I've only made one post...the thank you note for everyone's support...but even during the summer doldrums when there wasn't much for folks to talk about, reading it gave us hope that the people who wronged us might still be held accountable for their actions because bloggers still voiced such dissatisfaction with their workplace.

I will admit that recent, hateful comments are obnoxious. We are, however, made of sterner stuff than to read a comment like the one made about Todd and think of it as anything other than blather. Yes, it hurt, but in the end, all the anonymous poster did, really, was ruin any hopes he had of anyone caring what he thought. Looking at it from another way, things like that ... comments which rile up our supporters... help to keep memory alive of the events that happened here. People are slowly forgetting all the bad stuff that happened and getting comfortable again in their jobs, figuring the system will take care of itself and such things will never happen to them (or not caring at all how or why, but resting comfortably with their paychecks being regular.) People like Mr. Stradling are convincing them that all is well and we're the bad guys (a job he's been hired to do???) Even I agree that censoring comments we don't agree with is wrong...and would not wish to be the one having to decide what to censor or not! I truly don't see things from Mr. Stradling's point of view and thus he is the enemy for thinking as such...but he has a right stand on the other side and to voice his opinion.

I agree, in general, that those who choose to post anonymously can be viewed wimps. On the other hand, over the months since Todd was fired, I started to resent some good friends because they did not come forward and defend Todd more. I found out later from people I know and trust that they had been threatened (directly, not implied) by managers. Yes, we are talking about some of the same managers that Mr. Stradling defends. These are people with families to feed, so while I still, on an emotional level, resent that they did not step forward, I see, on a logical level, why they did not. Retaliation is not only a possibility, it is very likely and has already been threatened in some cases. This mess was a conspiracy and all the players except Nanos are still here. A side note in response to Mr. Stradling's comment to John Horne about having proof...we have it and they will see their day in court. In the meantime, no proof is offered on either side in this forum. It's a place to vent, to share opinions, to commiserate.

I guess what I'd like to see is for an avenue of anonymous posting to still be available. I've noticed that a few have just given first names and maybe that's the answer. Or maybe encourage people to have forum names so ones who cross the line can have their accounts suspended? I just hate to see the chatter come to a screeching halt....and it seems that it has (John's letter to Bingaman should have gotten 30 comments by now!)

Thank you for your consideration. Regardless of your decision, I still appreciate and thank you for all your efforts.

Sincerely,
Sara Kauppila

I second Bernard's suggestion

I second Bernard's suggestion for Gary Stradling. After all the space that Gary has taken on this blog to espouse his own points of view, I think it would be educational for him to ask (and actually listen to) other LANL employee's opinions regarding former director Nanos.

Unfortunately, I suspect that Gary is one of those people does not listen well to others, especially when their ideas differ from his own. Nevertheless, if he were to try, it would be educational for him and for the other readers of this blog.

--Doug

Suggestion for Gary Stradling

I have a suggestion for Gary Stradling. Talk to your co-workers and others
in your building at LANL and take an informal poll. How many agree that
Pete Nanos "was a decisive man of vision and courage," and how many agree
(as I do) that his term as director was disastrous for LANL? Keep track of
responses and report back to the blog. Tell us the number interviewed, the
number responding in either direction, and give us a rough idea of those
interviewed (TSMs, management, technicians, etc.) and the breakdown in
organizations (i.e. support vs. staff). Summarize your findings here.

Some will argue that this is all useless, that Nanos is (thankfully) gone
and we must move on. But I will disagree: we need to know whether lessons
have been learned from the 2004-5 debacle, and where LANL management is
headed in the years to come. If we collectively realize that enormous
mistakes were made, we can begin to repair them. But if we think that the
Nanos approach was basically correct, we are in for many more years of
conflict. So Gary's survey could prove quite instructive for the future.
(By the way, I have already told Gary that in my organization, the poll
numbers are dramatically one-sided.)

-- Bernard Foy

Safety Mishaps Spotlight LANL

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

The two recent high-profile safety mishaps at Los Alamos National Laboratory come at a time when the U.S. Department of Energy is looking to resuscitate a complex-wide safety management plan that DOE officials feel has been neglected.

In the last month, two LANL workers inhaled a noxious combination of hydrochloric and nitric acids— sending one to the hospital for six days— and a uranium researcher spread small amounts of radioactive americium-241 contamination to homes and another laboratory in four states.

Both incidents are still under investigation and one worker has been placed on investigative leave in the fume inhalation incident.

The accidents, which this year include a beaker exploding in the hands of an undergraduate student intern, also come at a time when the management of LANL by the University of California is under intense scrutiny.

[...]

Full Story



Saturday, August 13, 2005

Letter to Senator Bingaman

Senator Bingaman:

I am writing to you about an issue that is very important to me and I believe should be important to others in the United States Government. My name is John Horne and I work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Until 23 September, 2004 my supervisor was Todd Kauppila. I know you are familiar with Todd and you might recognize my name since it was so widely publicized during the summer and fall of 2004. The events following 06 July, 2004 have changed my life and the lives of many people close to me in ways that cannot be remedied.

It is hard for me to believe that the furor and subsequent unwarranted punishments meted out to largely uninvolved personnel could be allowed in an institution that is operated for the benefit of this nation’s citizens. The facts surrounding this series of events are truly disturbing. In my view the actions taken against us represent an abuse of positions of power and authority by many highly placed officials at LANL, DOE, NNSA and politicians in the United States Congress. Todd and I served this country for more than two decades and in the end we were used to provide cover for an unethical management hierarchy and political machine that ran out of control.

Early in 2005 I became aware that hearings would be held in the Energy and Commerce Committee by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas. Both Todd and I spoke with Dwight Cates who is on the Committee staff. We explained the facts of the case as well as the evidence we possessed that proved the attempted cover up of the actual facts. We were confident that our information would be of interest to the committee. To our dismay we were never contacted again by Mr. Cates and when I viewed the hearings on C-span I was appalled at the testimony of Linton Brooks and George P. Nanos. Since I was forced into one of the central roles of this debacle I can assure you, first hand, that their testimonies were not representative of the facts.

Because of the extended time frame surrounding these events it is not efficient to provide the necessary details in this letter. The purpose for writing to you is to inform you of the unethical and quite possibly illegal actions of the aforementioned officials and politicians. I am asking you to consider re-opening the inquiry into these events and to take the opportunity to meet with me so I can give you a detailed description of the events that occurred here in 2004 and 2005.

There has been an enormous cost to this period of LANL history. That cost is measured in the many hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars, the needless destruction of lives and careers, and the loss of life of one dedicated American, Todd Kauppila. Because of this, I respectfully ask for your assistance.

Sincerely,

John N. Horne

Turning off anonymous comments has had the effect of stifling the debate

Doug--

I understand why you have chosen to curtail anonymous postings here but I'm afraid the decision has completely stopped the exchange of information on the blog. I think that the comments made about Todd in this venue were despicable. However, this has been a time filled with difficulties and the words of a few unthinking individuals are the least of our problems. Turning off anonymous comments has had the effect of stifling the debate at a time when that debate is critical. I would like to know what people think with regard to the posts I have made wether it be positive or negative.

I have a responsibility to sign my name to the things that I have said. There is little more they can do to me at this point anyway. Many others rightly fear reappraisal from management and will not engage in the discussion without anonymity. I hope you will reconsider your decision.

Regards,

John Horne

The Blog’s Eventual Demise?

Since the end of anonymous posting via comments to posts I’ve been wondering whether this is a good thing or not. It is good to not have to wade through some of the online garbage generated by a few anonymous posters. On the other hand, it is possible that it will lead to the Blog’s defacto demise.

While getting rid of the electronic garbage that many spew at their managers, co-workers, the Lab and World at large is unabashedly good. One also needs to recognize that it may have a downside. Many of the best posts to the Blog were in response to the other posts. This was the wonderful side effect of having one person’s ideas spur others to considered thought. Sometimes the considered thought was in direct response to the garbage. It was worth not paying attention to the posts that had nothing but venom to get to these hidden gems. Many if not most of these voices were anonymous. While the anonymous mechanism is not dead, it is short-circuited. It takes more effort to make a post now and this will drain some of the energy from the Blog.

One might propose that now we will only the well-written and thoughtfully considered postings. I think many of the best posts were part of the interaction between people that now has some new barriers to overcome. It is basically a friction placed in the communication channel that will effectively filter out some of the positive posts along with most of the negative posts. The negative posts have had two principal characteristics: manager A is not doing a good job, or is incompetent, or made a bad decision, and the ad hominem attack where manager A is a bad person therefore their decision is also bad. Most negative posts were the former. As a result bad managers and bad policies came to light. The end result has been positive for the Lab most notably in helping to show Nanos the exit. I am concerned that many of those posts may never be made under the new rules. The attack on Todd K. that precipitated the change in the Blog rules was uncommon, but not uncommon enough.

Is ridding the Blog of these unfortunate posts worth effectively filtering out some of the other useful posts? On the bright side, it will be an interesting experiment in how online communities function. We might ask the question of whether the negative energy is necessary for the community to flourish? What is the critical point where the Blog will fizzle? Of course forces external to the Blog could also take advantage of this, most notably the Lab’s Public Affairs Office.

The Blog began in response to the Lab’s inability to engage in a constructive dialog internally. The Blog has more than filled this void. Recently, the Newsbulletin has improved its reader’s forum. The Blog also became one of the sources for unfiltered news about the Lab with links to news articles about the Lab regularly posted here. I have noticed that the Lab Newsbulletin does not consistently put articles in the “LANL in the News” portion of the LANL homepage. This is especially true if the article is negative. In my daily reading of the news online, I visit both the Lab Homepage and the Blog. For the last year, the Blog has almost always been more informative. It has become my source of news about the Lab in the same sense that the Newbulletin used to be.

My main observation is that the energy level of the Blog is already noticeably diminished. Whether the community at large adapts to the new rules and the Blog returns to its former vitality, only time will tell. If this does not happen, the Blog may ride off into the sunset.

Bill Rider

Real and permanent damage

I would like to respond in part to the following statement made by Gary Stradling and also to make a few comments that I believe are important at this time. Mr. Stradling recently made these statements:

"Doug-

Interesting that some here count the character assassination of a
living, working, diligent Laboratory employee (manager or not) to
carry less weight than the defamation of a dead friend. Whether the
accused be Jeep, Fred, Sue, Phil, Micheline, Tom, Pete, etc., these
are people who have focused decades-long careers on serving the
nation and the Lab, to the best of their abilities, and whose future
careers can be destroyed by your “many venomous, mean-spirited
anonymous comments.”

It is the most transparent hypocrisy to claim innocence in
anonymously slandering someone ‘because they deserve it (though we do
not need to prove it)’ but to decry the defamation of a friend.

Gary"

Mr. Stradling makes his statements based on his own bias and without the appreciation of the real and permanent damage that has been done directly to a few and indirectly to the entire laboratory. Todd Kauppila's career was the first to be destroyed and ultimately he lost his life. That is real and tangible and cannot be compared to Mr. Stradlings claim that comments here are destroying the careers of the people he listed. In fact, several of the people that he mentioned engaged in actions that are by any measure unethical and, in my opinion, quite possibly illegal. George P. Nanos, Sue Seestrom, and Kevin Jones worked together in an attempt to vilify both me and Todd as well as to bolster the erroneous statements made by the Director on 14 July, 04. It is a fact that Nanos knew on 17 July, 04 that nothing was missing and we had not engaged in the wrongdoing he described. From that date forward every dollar wasted on the shut down and the punishment of innocent employees were federal funds spent to protect the personal interests of LANL, UC, and other government officials who refused to admit their errors. I may be a layman but the term fraud comes to mind. The dollars we supply to the government are not there for the purpose of avoiding personal embarrassment. In any case it was hardly worth the hundreds of millions that it cost.

As for careers in ruin, the destruction of my decades-long career also has predated that of any of Gary's friends. As was the case with Todd I am also not guilty of wrongdoing and the accusations made against me by the laboratory were completely false. Such are the values of the people Gary Stradling chooses to defend. His statements are opinion. I can back my statements with documentation and the testimony of witnesses willing to come forward. That is not venomous or mean-spirited, it is a fact. Just because the truth is not pleasant doesn't mean that we should ignore it.

There has been a disturbing unwillingness on the part of Congress to truly investigate this matter. Both Todd and I spoke with Dwight Cates at the House Energy and Commerce Committee. When he heard what we had to say they opted to allow only Linton Brooks and Nanos to testify. I have made Senator Bingaman aware that Nanos' testimony was not truthful but as of this writing I have not heard back from him or his staff. I have also made him aware that there is a great deal of information that has not yet been brought forward on this issue. Naturally the laboratory wants that situation to continue. I would like the opportunity to state, for the record, the transgressions committed against American citizens who were working in the service of their country. I would like to state, for the record, that Todd Kauppila was a great American who worked tirelessly for this country and that the loss of his expertise is a national tragedy. I would like to state, for the record, that the abuses that so many have suffered at the hands of these unethical officials should never again be allowed.

Many people had a part in the events of last summer but special attention should be paid to our former Director. Not only did he orchestrate the misrepresentation of events but he shut down and critically weakened a crucial national asset during a time of war for personal gain. These are acts that, in my opinion, deserve the most severe penalties available. I will post the letter that I wrote to Senator Bingaman and I hope that those of you who agree with me will make a point to contact the Senator and urge him to take a closer look at the events that have so negatively affected the nation, the Lab, and the community at large.

Sincerely,

John N. Horne

Friday, August 12, 2005

Comment on "Venomous, mean-spirited anonymous comments."

From Anonymous:

I am from LLNL and I know that I should have a blog of my own but I don't think that anyone even cares about what is going to happen or believes that they have any say so. The attitude is, why bother they are going to do what they want to anyway. I guess that is why LLNL ans LANL re in the shape they are today. For that matter it is for that very same reason that our government is the way it is. People just don't care, but when they don't get what they want they bitch until hell freezes over and blam everyone but themselves.

Well this brings me back to the reason I am saying anything at all. I have noticed that there is more concern about bad mouthing people who I do not know then there is about your own welfare. I would think that all of the posts concerning anything but talk about retirement, benefits, and the up and coming contract should be abolished. Just don't post them and then no one will know the difference. Concentrate on the most important issues.

What should be happening on this blog is developing a movement for getting the people from both labs focused on a single objective. That objective should be to have everyone with a start dates of 1986 and earlier planning a mass exodus the day before the contract takes affect. This would mean that in June of 2006 , 2,700 people at LANL should be walking out the door. On Sept 28th of 2007, 2900 people from LLNL should be walking out the door the day before the contract takes affect. Lets give them what they want. I am.

Any ideas on how to get the word out and moving forward?


Comment on "Venomous, mean-spirited anonymous comments."

From Anonymous:

First, regarding the comment of Jim Hill : 8/12/2005 08:48:54 AM, I do
indeed "subscribe to the notion that the hue and anonymous cry raised by
this blog led to the ouster of Nanos." I don't think that the blog did it
alone, but I really feel that it was a major contributing factor.

As far as criticizing inept (or worse) managers on the blog, the problem, as
I see it, is that there is no other outlet. The Upward Appraisal system does
not work. The majority of the employees do not submit Upward Appraisals.
Most of the submittals have come from the very disgruntled (often
deservedly) employees. And, most of the appraisals that I see have
criticized management two levels up most severely.

These Appraisals often end up as more as a popularity contest. Since we are
no longer allowed to name NAMES, I cannot give some examples of individuals
who got excellent upward appraisals from a small fraction of their staff
meanwhile being subtlly abusive of others and embarrassing LANL by
incompetent project management!

The fact is that LANL managers at all levels seems quite unwilling to
address problems of any sort, in particular problems with their subordinate
managers. For one thing, the typical Division Director never EVER walks the
turf, except for the required Management Walkarounds. So, in a typical LANL
Division, the Division Director gets to each group once per year for about
one hour! A few have held brown bag lunches but that seems to have gone away
after Nanos became Director.

I do not have a solution to this problem. Good management would be a
solution but our problem is bad management!

Re: Venomous, mean-spirited anonymous comments

From Anonymous:

Are venomous mean-spirited comments improved by being signed? I, too, focused a decades-long career on serving the nation and LANL to the best of my ability, yet I found myself labeled an "enemy of the Laboratory" in one of your [Gary Stradling's] recent signed posts. Because a person disagrees with management does not make them an enemy of the Laboratory. To disagree with management publically requires courage because it is almost guaranteed to destroy one's career. The British have a term that you might consider using instead of your insults, "the loyal opposition." Those of us who are brave enough to point out the lack of clothes on the emperor are also loyal to the laboratory.

Re: Root cause of the chemical uptake incident has not been addressed

From Anonymous:


Having once been a graduate student (I am an engineer, so that when I got my
PhD, I could get a REAL JOB and did not have to endure the indentured
servitude of one or more post-doctoral positions) and a having been a line
manager at LANL, I can tell you that I was scared $#itless about having
students (UGS & GRA) and Post-Docs in a laboratory environment at LANL.
Things that I and my cohorts did as grad students send shivers up my spine
these days. The post-docs in particular are under time pressure to get the
experiment done and the papers out before their appointment expires so they
have a strong focus on the work and little thought about the consequences of
error. And they, like us, regard most of the LANL required training as
little more than LANL management boarding up their backsides as well as
providing jobs for the chronically unemployable training staff so there is
some disrespect of many of the safety guidelines and the IWD process. These
post-docs have university experience and regard most of the safety stuff as
an impediment to getting their work done. Of course, that is wrong, but that
seems to be what many of them feel.

So, as a line manager, supervisor, or mentor of students and/or post-docs,
one is in continual jeopardy should that student or post-doc suffer an
injury. I know of one instance where a supervisor directed a student to stay
out of the lab. Shortly after that conversation, the student went into the
lab and got hurt. The supervisor and his GL both got two weeks off without
pay. The judgement was that the student should have been watched to assure
his absence from the laboratory.

Clearly one can see the motivation to NOT report accidents.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Abolishing Academia at LLNL

From Anonymous:

Abolishing Academia at LLNL


Contract FY 2007

For the first time in my career I can honestly say that the plan to establish a corporation to manage LLNL employees is an absolute brilliant venture, if the mission is to restructure the system without fear of law suites.

For me, my only question to the University of California and to DOE is; just how kind will they be to their loyal employees after twenty to thirty years of service when in fact it was their dedication to duty during the cold war era that kept this country free. For many of us it is imperative that the answer to this question be delivered on time and without procrastination by April of 2007.

So with that said I am going tell you what the employees of LLNL believe they are in for and quite frankly I do not believe that their worries are far from being the truth.

Fears about the new contractor taken as facts:

I cannot say that all of the above bullets are a bad idea but please give the people who are fifty year old with twenty years of service a golden handshake before Sept 29th 2007 and above all retain the medial benefits for all. The medical benefits are the most important thing one can have.

LANL Contract Proposal Pay close attention to page 15-second paragraph and page 16.

The DOE rule du jour

From Anonymous:

I am trying to post an anonymous comment to:

Thursday, August 11, 2005
No wonder no one wants to report accidents

COMMENT:
The DOE rule du jour is that any time that there is a screw up (e.g., safety
incident), there must be a guilty party. After all, we have a goal of zero
incidents. Thus, any incident cannot be an "ACCIDENT." LANL management has
bought into this.

For instance, the DOE is demanding that the lady who got suckered into the
Mustang thing should be punished because SHE DID NOT PREVENT IT!

It is really easy to be on you high horse at the DOE when you major safety
concern is a paper cut!

Venomous, mean-spirited anonymous comments.

Doug-

Interesting that some here count the character assassination of a
living, working, diligent Laboratory employee (manager or not) to
carry less weight than the defamation of a dead friend. Whether the
accused be Jeep, Fred, Sue, Phil, Micheline, Tom, Pete, etc., these
are people who have focused decades-long careers on serving the
nation and the Lab, to the best of their abilities, and whose future
careers can be destroyed by your “many venomous, mean-spirited
anonymous comments.”

It is the most transparent hypocrisy to claim innocence in
anonymously slandering someone ‘because they deserve it (though we do
not need to prove it)’ but to decry the defamation of a friend.

Gary


Root cause of the chemical uptake incident has not been addressed

From Anonymous:

The root-cause of the chemical uptake incident has not been addressed at
all. For years, management at TA-48 turned a blind eye to the fact that
the (retired) facilties manager was saving money by taking critical major
equipment such as air handlers off of the preventive maintenance
schedule. When you have 40 year old equipment that is running at full
capacity and is 20 years past its design life, you have to maintain
it. The equipment in this case, vacuum pumps as I understand it, is 15 to
20 years old. KSL has fallen down on doing repairs due in part to the
massive paperwork mountain required to get any work done now. and no one
wants to pay for repairs or maintenance in any case. DOE proudly says that
they build buildings, they don't maintain them. Management doesn't want to
take program money to pay for maintenance on programmatic equipment even
though their facilties tax doesn't cover it.
So you end up with old unmaintained buildings full of old unmaintained
equipment and accidents happen.


Stress in a LANL discipline issue

From Anonymous:

Todd Kauppila is not the first LANL employee to suffer pancreatic hemorrhage from stress in a LANL discipline issue. In another, lesser known case, a LANL employee suffered the same illness due to a bleeding ulcer which perforated the intestine and eroded the pancreas. Interestingly enough, this person had not had an alcoholic drink in over 20 years. This person had also been disciplined by LANL and was taking legal action to clear his name. Luckily for him, he had not been fired and still had medical insurance. The result was a multiple week hospital stay and a long recovery period at home. This person barely missed death. Unfortunately, Todd wasn't so lucky. For the rest of us, these are lessons the ways stress can kill and the incredible cost of standing up to LANL.



No wonder no one wants to report accidents

From Anonymous:

Reporting the acid accident got one of the participants put on administrative leave -- usually a prelude to some sort of punishment up to and including termination. No wonder no one wants to report accidents. It is like offering oneself up for sacrifice.

A more intelligent appoach to safety incidents would not punish those who are involved unless they blatantly ignored known safety procedures. Of course, those who blatantly ignore safety procedures would never report accidents under any circumstances.

The only way LANL will get employees to report accidents would be to grant them immunity from punishment for doing so. The use of the carrot is not something LANL management knows anything about. LANL management believes in the stick only.



Los Alamos lab incident sends worker to hospital Report hints at problems with ventilation system

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Thursday, August 11, 2005

n the second reported major incident in recent days of mishandled hazardous materials at University of California-run Los Alamos National Laboratory, a lab employee was hospitalized for six days with "pneumonia-like symptoms" after inhaling dangerous fumes.

Another employee suffered temporary shortness of breath after exposure to what an in-house investigative report at Los Alamos called "hazardous chemical vapors," but was not seriously hurt.

The incident, which occurred June 16 but was not investigated by the New Mexico lab until Aug. 3, is still under scrutiny by lab officials. One employee has been placed on leave pending its resolution, lab officials said.

The investigative report hinted that something was wrong with the lab's ventilation system, which it called "degraded," but no further details were available Wednesday.

[...]

Full Story


Radioactive Blunder Fuels Criticism of Los Alamos

By SASHA VASILYUK
Contributing Writer
Thursday, August 11, 2005


A mishandling of radioactive material by a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee spurred criticism of UC’s management this week.

According to a lab report released on Monday, an employee’s mishandling of a radioactive substance, americium 241, resulted in contamination of his home in New Mexico, houses of his relatives in Colorado and Kansas, and the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in Pennsylvania, which received a contaminated shipment from the employee.

[...]

Full Story


LANL workers urged to report injuries

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
August 11, 2005



Los Alamos National Laboratory managers are again stressing the need to report work-related injuries, a recently obtained lab report shows.

Two employees were overexposed to hydrochloric- and nitric-acid fumes June 16, according to the report, which was released by the watchdog Project on Government Oversight on Wednesday. “Neither worker reported to occupational medicine on that day,” the report reads.

A lab spokeswoman confirmed the report’s credibility .

Top lab managers did not learn of the incident until Aug. 3.


[...]

Full Story


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New Submission Policy

New Policy:

Due to the increasing number of "poison-pen" anonymous comments that have been appearing on this blog in recent months, the anonymous comments feature is no longer available on LANL, The Real Story.

Anonymous post submissions are still allowed: mail your submission to lanlblog@parrot-farm.net with the request that it be submittied anonymously.

--Doug Roberts

Turning Point

We jointly encountered a turning point on the blog today. We had one too many venomous, mean-spirited anonymous comments appear (see preceeding posts for details). As a result, we have a new policy regarding anonymous comments in effect:

Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. When it is abused, there should be consequences. Unfortunately, to date there have been no consequences when an anonymous poster abused his privilege by using that mechanism simply to spew poison.

The new policy is: if you step over the line, your anonymous privileges are at risk.

No more free ride.

Responsibility is now a requirement, not a request.

Those who choose to attempt to use the ammenity of anonymous posting that is offered on this blog to spew venom, to irresponsibly defame others, or in a like fashion choose to be non-productive members of this particular blog community run the risk of having their true identities exposed.

I not sure I can say it any simpler than that, but I'll try: don't say anything anonymously on this blog that you would not say as yourself, were you not, for what ever reasons, too afraid to use your own identity.

Anonymous postings were offered on this blog to prevent LANL staff from being retaliated against for having pointed out problems at LANL. It was not a free ticket to post malicious, mean-spirited, slander about people who work (or worked, in the case of Todd Kaupilla) at LANL.

--Doug

Hold anonymous posters accountable for their actions

From Anonymous:

Doug:

Please post this comment from the http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/two-los-alamos-lab-workers-inhale.html post at the top of the blog. There needs to be some way to hold anonymous posters accountable for their actions, and I believe that it is time to start, beginning with whomever posted the referenced bit of bile, described below.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.


________________________________________________
There has been one recent poster of anonymous comments on this thread who has been particularly malicious and cowardly, attacking Todd Kaupilla, who, now that he is dead, cannot defend himself.

I requested that Doug delete the comments, but for the record,

1. Todd died of a massive pancreatic hemorrhage.
2. Stress may have been a factor.
3. Alcohol was not a factor.
4. Attempts at character assassination of this type are particularly venal.

I will be attempting to find out who you are, so that I can expose you for the person you are. You stepped over the bounds; we will now find out who you are, and then we will let every person who reads this blog know who you are. We will, via the blog, announce who you work for, and how you used government equipment to perform a base, cowardly attempt at inflicting further pain on the family of Todd Kaupilla. We will make sure that your supervisor is aware of your cowardly behavior. If you are married, we will make sure that your spouse knows what you did. We will teach you the price of irresponsible behavior. We will be requesting that LANL review the logs of IP traffic. We will ask them to search for the string "Hey I would not do that. Look what drinking did to Tod K.", and when they have found the LANL host that the message orinated from, we will request that disciplinary actions be taken against you.

You can run, but you cannot hide.

Late reported accident hospitalized lab worker

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

Los Alamos National Laboratory management learned last week that two employees apparently suffered work-related injuries in June.

A lab statement on Tuesday said two postdocs had inhaled "aqua regia," a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, on June 16, while working at the laboratory. One of them was hospitalized for six days in July.

The incident is now under investigation.

Kathy Delucas of the LANL Public Affairs Office said this morning that the laboratory could not disclose the work location or division involved in order to "maintain the integrity of the investigation."

[...]

Full Story

LANL Worker Put On Leave After Accident

By Adam Rankin
Journal Northern Bureau

SANTA FE— A Los Alamos National Laboratory worker has been placed on leave after two researchers inhaled acid fumes during preparation for an experiment.

The accidental inhalation of concentrated nitric and hydrochloric acids sent one of the researchers to the hospital for nearly a week with respiratory problems.

The accident occurred in early June but was not reported until July, after one of the researchers returned to work from the hospital. LANL management did not learn of the incident until Aug. 3, according to a lab news release.

LANL director Robert Kuckuck told employees in a labwide e-mail that all workers have the right to stop work if they feel conditions are unsafe.

"... I will back your decision 100 percent," he wrote.

LANL radiological specialists have recently been dealing with the spread of americium-241 contamination by a LANL researcher who did not follow procedures when opening a package labeled with a radiological tag.

[...]

Full Story



DOE probes another LANL mishap

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
August 10, 2005



LOS ALAMOS — A Los Alamos National Laboratory employee was hospitalized for six days in July after being exposed to fumes from a toxic chemical, the lab reported Tuesday. A second employee was exposed to the same mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids, but was not hospitalized .

The lab’s top management apparently didn’t learn of the early-June incident resulting in the hospitalization until Aug. 3.

Now a third employee has been placed on paid leave while lab officials and federal Department of Energy investigators look into the incident and why Director Robert Kuckuck was not informed until last week.

[...]

Full Story

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Two Los Alamos Lab Workers Inhale Chemical Fumes

Associated Press

LOS ALAMOS — A Los Alamos National Laboratory worker has been placed on leave pending an investigation into an incident in which two other employees inhaled chemical fumes, resulting in the hospitalization of one of them.

The two workers were mixing concentrated nitric and hydrochloric acids to form a highly corrosive liquid that is used in etching and other procedures. The two were conducting lab work with the mixture when they inhaled fumes.

Lab management didn't learn of the incident, which apparently happened in June, until Aug. 3. The incident is under investigation and one employee is on leave pending the outcome, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the lab.

[...]

Full Story


Predictable culture of a weapons lab

A comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/conflict-adverse-managers.html

post:
______________________________
I am glad that this thread is going on.

From Hugh Gusterson's books (Nuclear Rites and others), it is clear that conflict aversion, bullies, and victims are part of the predictable culture of a weapons lab.

There are ways out of the difficulties engendered by the end of the Cold War, fear of retaliation, and loss of a strong mission.

The most common way is to get sensitive talented leaders and reward them for fixing things. Punishing leaders for trying to fix things has been tried before. It tends to drive away many of the people with leadership skills.

I hope that not only will the winner of the contract fix some of the ongoing difficulties of the lab, but that people who understand what neeeds to be fixed and how to fix it will start talking with each other beyond the confines of the blog.

Error at lab spreads nuclear material Contamination from Los Alamos found in 4 states

[A longer version than the AP story]

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

The apparent mishandling of a potentially hazardous radioactive substance by an employee of the University of California-run Los Alamos National Laboratory has resulted in contamination of sites in four states, according to a report released Monday.

Traces of the substance have been found in homes in Colorado and Kansas that the Los Alamos employee visited, his own home in New Mexico, and also at the Pennsylvania laboratory where the employee apparently shipped a contaminated package via FedEx.

Los Alamos doctors are monitoring the health of the employee and five lab colleagues who might have been contaminated by the substance, radioactive americium-241. So far, none show ill effects, lab officials said Monday.

[...]

Full Story


Monday, August 08, 2005

Contaminated package express mailed to Pennsylvania

Associated Press

A package sent from Los Alamos National Laboratory contaminated a Pennsylvania lab with a tiny amount of radioactive material, according to a report.

A Los Alamos lab worker sent the package July 20, before realizing that he had been contaminated with americium 241, according to a Los Alamos lab incident report made public Monday by the Project on Government Oversight, a lab watchdog based in Washington, D.C.

[...]

Full Story


Domenici: Los Alamos National Lab faces period of change

By Andy Lenderman, The Santa Fe New Mexican Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

New management of Los Alamos National Laboratory will lead the lab into a period of great change in the next decade, U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Friday.

The management will likely be more hands-on, Domenici said during an interview in Santa Fe, and the lab must unify around keeping its status as a leader in nuclear weapons development.

He also said employee pensions should be protected at the lab, a major employer in Northern New Mexico.

[...]

Full Story


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Comment of the Week

Comment of the week, lifted from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/report-faults-worker-for-lab.html

post:

One thing LANL has always been good at: implosion.


Conflict adverse managers

From Anonymous:

I was thinking about the recent content of the Blog, the good
thoughtful posts on Lab productivity and leadership right next to the
heaps of bile that are seemingly ever-present. What might the good
and bad side of these posts have in common?

Many people have observed an almost systematic “quality” of LANL
management: conflict aversion. The desire to avoid conflict at all
costs seems to permeate every aspect of Laboratory management. It
explains the lack of rational focused peer review that our programs
suffer from. Rather than offer positive criticism that might result
in a better product, the manager offers up empty platitudes so that
everyone can feel good. This comes through how personnel problems
are handled, where people who dare to bring up or deal with problems
are often viewed as bigger problems than the slackers who do little
or nothing. Managers are not chosen to get things done, they are
chosen to get along with everyone and make nice with all the
employees and other managers. Perhaps worst of all it explains the
Laboratory’s seeming capitulation to the micro managing of DOE and
its overwhelmingly negative impact on every aspect of the Lab’s
operations.

I remember being drawn to the chapter “Confront the Brutal Facts” in
Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” because it described management
cultures that were so refreshingly different from our own. There he
describes great companies that all have a character of always
focusing on solving their problems rather than basking in their
accomplishments. Management meetings described by Collins are
energetic debates where problems are laid open for all to see,
dissected, analyzed and solutions are crafted and acted upon.

LANL’s culture is almost the direct opposite. One might go so far as
to attribute some of the nasty posts on the Blog as an outlet for the
disaffected at LANL who have suffered the years of inattention by
management. Rather than deal with conflict upfront, it is
continually put off until it boils over. LANL is full of festering
wounds that management has ignored for years. Some of the most
vitriolic posts on the Blog merely expose these institutional
injuries. The entirety of the LDRD and Great Science versus Weapons
Program debate is associated with the Lab’s management’s inattention
to this issue for many years.

Why has LANL management developed this character? And what can be
done to start choosing people who deal with problems forthrightly
rather than avoid them?

Perhaps the change will come in the form of Lock~Mart, in any case we
would be best served by starting to change right now.


The Kiss of Death: Nuclear Weapons Stealth Takeover

My google news alert caught this phrase in an article:

"Some people say Domenici is a sucker for big science. And they may be right." -Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), when asked at a press conference last week if his vigorous support for his state's Los Alamos National Laboratory had helped create a culture of complacency that contributed to last month's security and safety lapses.

So before the flood of criticism starts about the obvious orientation of the article, read about the group that produced the piece,

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=section&sectionName=about

Then check out the piece itself for an alternate view:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=MOR20050807&articleId=813


And then, I suppose, let the flood of cricism start. Regardless of one's view, however, there is some interesting perspective in the article.

--Doug


Saturday, August 06, 2005

From the LLNL Public Affairs Office

From Secretary Bodman's visit last week. There is mention of LANL towards the end of the piece.

http://www.llnl.gov/pao/news/news_releases/2005/SF-05-08-01.html

Report Faults Worker For Lab Contamination

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

The Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher who was contaminated by americium-241 and spread the contamination to his home, car and several out-of-state locations did not follow proper lab procedures, a LANL report states.

According to the internal incidence report, the LANL researcher did not adhere to LANL's shipping and receiving procedures when he opened a package from a neighboring lab facility that was contaminated with americium, a radioactive decay product of plutonium.

[...]

Full Story


Friday, August 05, 2005

NIF Threatened with Closure

After battling technical challenges and cost overruns, the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is 80% complete. Three recent independent reviews of the US Department of Energy (DOE) facility say it is well managed and on schedule to meet a 2010 deadline to attempt fusion ignition. But political maneuverings in the Senate threaten to shut down the project.

On 30 June, in a late-night showdown, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), chair of the Water and Energy Appropriations Subcommittee, succeeded in cutting $224 million from the $337 million fiscal-year 2006 budget request for NIF. The proposed cut would cancel construction work on the project, on which $2.8 billion has already been spent. Moreover, $50 million is included in the proposed budget to close out NIF.

Matt Letourneau, Domenici's spokesperson, insists that "the senator wants to see what scientific experiments can be carried out at NIF. . . . The intention is not to kill it. And it is certainly not the case that the senator is being provincial." But in the budget Domenici added more than $33 million for fusion-related activities, the majority of which went to research for the New Mexico-based Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories.

[...]

Full Story (Subscription Required)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

University of California Launches Employee Ethics Hotline

From Anonymous:

I wonder when this will be announced by UC: http://press.arrivenet.com/pol/article.php/677276.html This was the only source I could find for this story. It says the hotline is already in place.



A recurring theme

From Anonymous:

Today's WWG (
Weapons Working Group - Nuclear test planning coordination) went very long (8:30 to noon) and covered the alpha test exercise at NTS. A recurring theme (tactfully put) was the damage NANO's LANL shutdown did to our national security by delaying solutions to a key national security problem. I'm ashamed he's still on the UC payroll.



Employee Turnover

From Anonymous:

This sure sounds like the way people describe the Lab:

http://www.abqjournal.com/biz/377211outlook08-04-05.htm



Companies Can Cure the Turnover Disease

By Barry Milligan
For the Journal
FROM THE EXECUTIVE'S DESK: Employees are the lifeblood of all businesses. However, many businesses, particularly businesses that rely on large numbers of low-wage employees, have extraordinarily high employee turnover. This turnover is stifling to businesses; it costs them both directly to replace departing employees and indirectly through increased operating costs, lost business opportunities, diminished customer service, and lower employee morale.
The estimated cost to replace an employee is between 50 and 300 percent of the employee's salary. So, with the costs so high, why is employee turnover so high? Because many, if not most managers view high employee turnover as an acceptable price of doing business.
There is no single cause for high employee turnover, but several issues are endemic to many businesses that suffer with high employee turnover.
They include:
  • Poor communication, such as one-way top-down communication with no communication channels for employees and miscommunications between departments.
  • Mismanagement. For instance, uncaring, incompetent, unprofessional managers and lack of respect and support from management.
  • Lack of recognition and reward. For example, managers who use shallow, mechanical praise and recognition and rewards that employees don't value.
  • Lack of training and advancement opportunity. Most employees, especially younger employees, are looking for the opportunity to learn and advance.
  • Compensation. A recent Gallup poll revealed that more than 70 percent of employees are at least somewhat dissatisfied with their compensation. W. Michael Kelly, the director of research for the Saratoga Institute, found that unhappy employees will change jobs for as little as a 5 percent pay increase.
    This is by no means an all-inclusive list of causes, but it is a good example of the types of problems that businesses with high employee turnover are infected with.
    To deal with high turnover, businesses need to become employers of choice. An employer of choice is defined as a business that competes for employees and consistently wins; it is able to attract, hire and retain the employees it desires. Employers of choice do not have high employee turnover.

  • [...]

    Transcript from yesterdays visit of the Secretary of Energy

    [This post presumably refers to Secretary Bodman's recent visit to LLNL described in this link:

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/12300685.htm

    --Doug]

    From Anonymous:

    Is the complete transcript from yesterdays visit of the Secretary of Energy going to be available to us any time soon? There was a lot said yesterday that I want to read over again to make sure I heard him correctly. Please cite the URL where I can find this information in writing and on video.

    From what I heard was, " he was sorry to see the mass exodus but he'd do his best to replace us as fast as possible". I need to verify these words are correct. The second comment was, " congress will not be funding NIF anymore and that he could not see the relationship between NIF and stockpile stewardship". Needs to be verified too.

    Can anyone see the handwriting on the wall?

    Thanks

    Traces of LANL metal found in other states

    [A slightly different version of the story.

    --Doug]

    By ANDY LENDERMAN The New Mexican |
    August 4, 2005

    A Los Alamos National Laboratory employee spread radioactive material into Colorado and Kansas while visiting his wife and mother, a lab spokeswoman reported Wednesday.

    However, the levels of americium 241, a man-made metal, pose no health hazard, lab spokeswoman Kathy DeLucas said.

    “The levels, of course, are very, very low,” DeLucas said. “They are easily detected by our instruments, but they present no health hazard. We now believe that we have captured all material that has traveled off site.”

    [...]

    Full Story

    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    REQUIRED SKILLS

    Doug:

    This comment was at the end of the "waste fraud, etc." post, which by now is pretty far down the stack. It is obvious that a fair amount of thought went into this contribution [are you listening, Gary?], and that it deserves top billing.

    Thanks,

    Anon
    _____________________________________
    What amazes me is that LANL job ads will have REQUIRED SKILLS that say things like "Extensive knowledge of LANL policies and procedures", "Extensive knowledge of LANL organization", etc and then they post it as "open to all" and then hire someone from the outside with absolutely no idea of what we are about.

    You can apply for a job... respond in detail to each required and desired and have 20 years of LANL experience and not even get an interview. And get a canned HR letter that says you didn't meet the job requirements. Or even get an interview and then realize you were just a data point in the HR matrix. It's like the job is already wired. Or they don't know who they want but they know who they don't want. HR - why not just get rid of you and let the hiring official do what he wants anyway..HR is totally ineffective-but really good this time of year establishing ORC limits, pay raise limits, enforcing salary management, and working managers through the grievance process, etc.

    LANL won't reclass someone to the next higher level but they will hire someone from the outside at the higher level. And no career growth.. once you claw your way to a position you better settle in for a long haul because that's it for you unless you know or blow someone.

    I have 3 decades of years here but just not quite old enough for leaving to be survivable. I certainly hope someone pays attention to what goes on and makes changes. I just can't pack in all in yet like some.

    Add up all the salaries of Barb Stine, Bob Day, Tony Stanford, Fred Tarantino and his hired admin, Mitch Harris, Ray Wallace, Al Jiron, Carolyn Mangeng, Scott Gibbs, Vann Bynum, Dave Beck, Rich Mah, Rich Marquez, Don Cobb (I could keep going) and every other ineffective manager or former manager out there, etc and see what you come up with for numbers. Divide it all in half, run some job ads, and we could get people in here who actually can work and could could really whoop some ass and get something done. And save money. Some of the worst here are the Rocky Flats hand me downs. They came here like roaches escaping a flood and we end up with all of them spreading the Rocky Flats poison around. No wonder Rocky went away. We'll soon be the Los Alamos Environmental Research Park.

    This lab is rampant with waste, fraud, and abuse. You don't have to steal or cheat the system. Just stay long enough and know someone and you can be one of them.

    Just another $.02 from a DRIVELER and bitter poster.

    Doug - thanks for NOT being a Jim "Baghdad Bob" Fallon and suppressing the voices of LANL.

    Coming Unglued

    Doug, Saw this, and thought it apropos of something. Common sense for the common man. Possibly worth posting. The whole article is in the Food and Dining section of the Washington Post (Food 101). The link to the article is broken, otherwise I'd give it to you.

    Coming Unglued

    By Robert L. Wolke
    Wednesday, August 3, 2005; Page F01

    I have often wondered about the safety of the glue used to attach those little labels on fruit. It annoys me because some fruit (e.g., plums) can be damaged by peeling off the label. While I wash the fruit after I peel the labels, how safe is the stuff they use to hold the labels on?

    Jeff Cooper, whom you will instantly recognize as "the father of modern combat pistol shooting," ( http://www.dvc.org.uk/{tilde}johnny/jeff/aboutjff.html ) has written, "Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." In spite of my never having fired a pistol in combat, I tend to agree with Father Jeff.



    On the other hand, Horace (65-8 B.C.), another great philosopher, although perhaps lesser known in certain circles than Cooper, wrote, "Who can hope to be safe? Who sufficiently cautious? Guard himself as he may, every moment's an ambush."

    I must agree also with Horace. There is no such thing as absolute safety, except in the wishful mind of the observer.

    Regarding the safety of ingested substances: Every substance, without exception, is hazardous in large enough amounts and harmless in small enough amounts. The weight of a lethal dose of potassium cyanide, for example, is at least a few hundred times the weight of label adhesive that one might ingest on an apple.

    So even if the adhesive were pure potassium cyanide (which, of course, it isn't; it is U.S. Food and Drug Administration-certified food grade), you'd have to eat a few hundred sticky apples to die from it, and the apples themselves would have killed you long before that. So "fear not, dear friend, but freely live your days" (Robert Louis Stevenson)..............................

    Robert L. Wolke (http://www.robertwolke.com) is professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. His latest book is "What Einstein Told His Cook 2, the Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science" (W.W. Norton, 2005). He can be reached atwolke@pitt.edu.


    Contaminant traced to Kansas and Colorado

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

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory employee found to be contaminated with low levels of radiation last week contaminated homes visited in Kansas and Colorado over the weekend before the person's condition was discovered.

    A Department of Energy Radiological Assistance Program team was dispatched to the undisclosed locations in the two nearby states, a laboratory official said, and their response to the event has been completed.

    "We did remove some items from the out-of-state locations that he visited," said Kathy Delucas, a LANL spokesperson. "The levels were very low. They are detectable with instrumentation, but pose no health risk. We believe we have captured all material that went off site."

    The contaminant has been identified as americium-241, the most common isotope of the element.

    [...]

    Full Story


    Alternative Work Schedule

    From Anonymous:

    Someone must have made the business case!

    ----- Begin Included Message -----

    From:
    Date: Wed, 03 Aug 2005 13:45:02 -0600
    To:
    From: Distributions
    Subject: LANL-ALL916: Alternative Work Schedules
    Mime-Version: 1.0
    X-PMX-Version: 4.7.1.128075
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
    X-MIME-Autoconverted:



    To/MS: All Employees
    From/MS: Robert W. Kuckuck, DIR, MS A100
    Phone/Fax: 7-5101/Fax 7-2997
    Symbol: DIR-05-286
    Date: August 3, 2005
    Subject: Alternative Work Schedules


    During my first few weeks here at LANL, I heard from many of you
    about the benefits of flexible work schedules. I promised to take
    a close look at the issues and concerns and I am now very pleased
    that we are in a position to go forward with a plan for
    reinstatement of alternative work schedules for all LANL
    employees.

    It is important for us to realize that, while the principal
    purpose is to provide flexibility for people to balance work ­
    life issues, the major requirement of alternative work schedules
    is to allow the Laboratory to deliver programmatic commitments and
    meet customer needs while continuing to maintain the quality and
    responsiveness of service and support within the Laboratory.
    Thus, a fundamental principle is that alternative work schedules
    must be managed by managers. Work schedules must be based on
    management ­ developed and approved organizational plans which
    incorporate conditions of supervision.

    In general, the program will mirror much of what was previously in
    place. While the details will be forthcoming and formalized in a
    Director’s Instruction, I want to stress that the guiding
    principle for implementation of alternative work schedules will be
    a focus on programmatic and customer concerns. Managers will be
    required to balance employee work schedules with programmatic
    deliverables and customer service. It is imperative that both
    employees and managers plan and manage work schedules to ensure
    internal and external access to information and services. Managers
    will be provided with tools and guidance for planning to meet the
    needs of all stakeholders.

    As the largest employer in Northern New Mexico, we recognize that
    the decisions we make have the potential to affect our neighbors
    in surrounding communities. We have held informal discussions
    during the past several months with various community stakeholders
    and will continue to do so as we proceed through implementation.
    We have attempted to recognize and balance the needs of those
    stakeholders with the needs of our employees, this institution and
    our programmatic requirements.

    Employees are the Laboratory’s greatest asset ­ in fact, employees
    ARE the Laboratory. I believe in supporting people in balancing
    the professional and personal aspects of their lives. Our target
    date for implementation of new work schedules is the pay period
    beginning September 12, 2005. Over the next few weeks, you will
    receive more information explaining the details of the program to
    help with your planning. We will continue to take input from our
    customers and stakeholders, as well as all of you, to assess and
    evaluate the success and effectiveness of this program.

    Thank you all for your continuing support of this great Laboratory.

    DOE Reviews Infectious-Disease Lab Plans

    By Adam Rankin
    Journal Staff Writer

    A federal review released Tuesday urges the U.S. Department of Energy to better coordinate plans for five infectious disease research labs— including one already built in Los Alamos— to ensure none are duplicative and that security concerns are properly addressed.

    Efforts that were spurred by previous admonitions to increase planning around the construction and operation of DOE research labs— designed to study such diseases as live anthrax and plague— have fallen off and need to be renewed, wrote DOE's Inspector General Gregory Friedman in a letter accompanying the review.

    And while DOE has undertaken some initial actions to create a central entity to coordinate such infectious disease research as a result of the current report, "more needs to be done," Friedman wrote, to integrate the work within DOE and other federal agencies.

    The report served as fodder for DOE and laboratory watchdogs that have long opposed the agency's efforts to study biological agents in laboratories beside nuclear weapons research facilities.

    "Bio labs could be tempting targets (for terrorists)," said Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico. "You would think there would be a national effort to coordinate security and make them more secure."

    [...]

    Full Story


    Kuckuck: Leaders are good listeners

    From the 8/3/2005 LANL Dail NewsBulletin:

    By Hildi T. Kelsey
    August 3, 2005

    Greeted by applause, Laboratory Director Robert Kuckuck on Monday talked to Director's Development Program (DDP) participants about his views on leadership and answered related questions at a meeting in the Jemez Room of the J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center at Technical Area 3. Although Kuckuck just recently learned of the program, his perspective was that the Los Alamos DDP was one of the better ones, adding “and I designed the one at Livermore, so that is saying something.”

    During his talk, Kuckuck said, “People are the strongest component of leadership.” He noted that it is important to truly listen to what individuals are telling you. “People know if you are listening or not. You really have to listen to make it effective,” he said. According to Kuckuck, watching body language and reading signals during interactions also are important.

    [...]

    Full Story

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    Team Looking into Spread of LANL Contaminant

    Aug. 2--A special team of investigators has been dispatched out of state to see if a Los Alamos National Laboratory worker exposed to radioactive material spread it beyond New Mexico, a spokeswoman said Monday.

    And one other lab employee's home has shown signs of slight contamination, spokeswoman Kathy DeLucas said.

    The first employee was exposed to americium 241 last month while at work, and trace amounts of that material were later found at the employee's home and in his car, according to the lab.

    Lab officials have said the contamination poses no credible risk to the general public.

    [...]

    Full Story


    Space Committee fiasco

    Doug,

    Please bring to light this ongoing fiasco by the Space Committee and the lab/DOE funding cycles. Engineering Division is being moved out of TA3-410 during our busiest time of the fiscal year. Our usual business cycle is very slow during Oct/Nov/Dec when no groups know what money they have or what projects they can complete. This is the time to move someone, do training, scope projects. We then have a backlog of work that all gets funded about June 15 and now we're in a mad rush to complete equipment installations and facility upgrades before Sept. 30. Some of us will be moved twice in the next 50 days and yet we're still trying to meet deadlines.

    I would appreciate any corrections, but as far as I know, this is what is happening: Moves like this send ripples all through the lab. If ENG misses deadlines supporting programs, then programmatic work misses deadlines. We have excellent DL, GL, DGL, but I'm so afraid they'll get sick of this bs and leave, and then we'll be left with the managers that others post about.

    All this money will be spent shuffling us around, so that we can rush into the Fall doldrums once again when no one has any money to do work. This seems like the stupidest possible way to do business, and yet this is what we are forced to do all because of EXTREMELY BAD PLANNING from the Space Committee and Bruce Scott.

    A Frustrated TSM in ENG

    Hook report goes to DA

    Tuesday, August 2, 2005

    SANTA FE - A spokesman for the Santa Fe Police Department confirmed a report on the beating of Los Alamos whistleblower Tommy Hook had been sent to the District Attorney Monday.

    "Our records division actually sent it over (Monday) morning," Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson said, adding that a few remaining transcripts would be delivered later.

    The AP reported that DA Henry Valdez said Monday he expects it will take about two weeks to review a police report on an investigation into the June 5 beating of Los Alamos National Laboratory whistleblower Hook.

    [...]

    Full Story


    Los Alamos Radiological Contamination Tracked



    Associated Press

    LOS ALAMOS — Investigators are trying to determine whether a Los Alamos National Laboratory worker exposed to radioactive material spread it out of state.

    "We're monitoring everywhere he tells us he went,'' said Kathy DeLucas, a lab spokeswoman.

    The employee was exposed to americium 241 while working at the lab, and the contamination was detected July 25 on his skin and personal clothing, lab officials have said.

    A survey by a decontamination team also detected trace amounts of americium 241 in the worker's car and trace amounts inside his home.

    Investigators are trying to figure out when and how the worker was exposed, DeLucas said.

    The contamination posed no risk to the public, lab officials have said.

    "Again, though, the contamination levels are very, very low,'' DeLucas said Monday. "But we want to make sure that we catch anything that went off site.''

    She declined to say where the decontamination team went out of state.

    [...]

    Full Story


    DA has report on whistleblower's beating

    Source: AP











    SANTA FE -- The case of a Los Alamos National Laboratory whistleblower who was beaten outside a Santa Fe topless bar is now in the hands of District Attorney Henry Valdez of Santa Fe.

    He says he expects it will take about two weeks to review a police report on an investigation into the June Fifth beating of Tommy Hook.

    It's up to Valdez's office to decide whether anyone will be charged in the incident.

    Valdez said yesterday he couldn't discuss specifics, but said there were several witnesses to the incident.

    Hook contends the beating was meant to keep him quiet.

    Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson has said the beating was unrelated to Hook's status as a whistleblower.

    Police say it was an isolated incident that began when Hook struck a pedestrian in the parking lot.


    Second LANL employee exposed to radiological contamination





    Last Update: 08/02/2005 7:44:05 AM
    By: Associated Press

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - Investigators are trying to determine whether a Los Alamos National Laboratory worked exposed to radioactive material spread it out of state.

    A lab spokeswoman, Kathy DeLucas, said Monday another lab worker’s home has shown signs of slight contamination.

    The first employee was exposed to americium 241 last month while at work. The lab says trace of amounts of americium 241 were found at his home and in his car. DeLucas says the lab is monitoring everywhere the worker has told the lab that he went.

    Lab officials have said the contamination poses no risk to the general public. Americium 241 is mostly used as a component in household and industrial smoke detectors.



    Monday, August 01, 2005

    Waste, Fraud, Abuse at LANL

    From Anonymous:

    Why is it that the lab commits the same crimes over and over and over and no one wants to deal with it? I've been a tech all the way up through line management. I've confronted division management and suffered their wrath. I've done division management dirty work and been pushed off to the side afterwards. And watched their advancement.
    Examples:
    A DL single handedly destroyed DX Division. What was his punishment? A 2 year change of station to Headquarters and then back to the lab as a Program Manager. I always thought change of station and being a Program Mgr was what you got for doing something good for the institution and a reward.
    The above DL's Deputy, didn't get the DL job and just disappeared. After much searching where did he turn up. Yep - at headquarters on a change of station. But he just packed up and went. No appointment. Now - Program Manager. If it had been you and me we would have been fired. He got his hand slapped and then promoted.
    A former DDL from above moves into a deputy AD slot and is still just as mean and nasty as when she was a DDL. She is rewarded beyond your imagination - see below.
    The lab contact who manages the KSL taxi announces that the lab is significantly cutting back on the taxi service to save a million plus and recommends expanding LA Bus service across the lab. Coincidence that he is also a part owner of LA Bus? And lab management lets it happen.
    Upper lab managers come in from the outside. They know absolutely nothing about LANL but suddenly they start making sweeping changes. And things don't get better but worse. Plus they all come here from the outside and then hire their admins and support staff external from Bechtel NV, etc. At high salaries. Like Northern NM doesn't have a pool of people to do admin type work.
    Ineffective managers are promoted into positions and they bring equally ineffective managers along with them. Do you see SUP as a better division lately? It's not only who you know, but who you blow. You don't have to know supply chain management to run supply chain management right? And of course, anyone who knows performance surety and AB must know supply chain mgmt also.
    Managers across the lab continue to manage through belittlement, harassment, intimidation, meanness, spitefulness, micromanagement, ... and they are allowed to get away with it. Rewarded even. The job may get done but at a huge HR price.
    A DL of a facilities division is removed and made a DL of a new waste division. This move fails and he is then moved to a Special Projects position at an AD level so he could keep his salary. His deputies were all put into DL slots and they all manage as above. And the lab allows it.
    Divisions are destroyed. Groups are destroyed. By managers that are not in it take to take care of the people, but to advance themselves at all costs because they know they can fail and still win. By employees that poison everyone around them and even if they have a good manager bring them down because they don't want change and accountability. Employees not held accountable. They get to work, go eat breakfast at the cafeteria, go for an early lunch and get back late, leave early. And no one says anything. Eat on your own time. Work when you are here. Employees that have absolutely no respect for fellow workers. Noise. Music. Grab-ass'ng. No accountability. Poor team leaders that can't control their people. Employees that abuse overtime.. 30 hrs/week or more in OT. At time and a half. Managers let it happen. No one cares.
    No career development. No career paths. Employees allowed to lanquish in obscurity for an entire career when they could bring so much to light. They have so much insight into what has worked, what hasn't worked, and what may work.
    Isn't this all waste, fraud, and abuse? I could go on and on and on. Of course, I only have 25+ years of observation of LASL and LANL to base my thoughts on.

    Blogger power

    [Note: There are one or two inaccuracies in this piece, most notably that I have not yet come back as an associate, although I plan to in a month.]

    --Doug

    ______________________________________________________________

    BY Dibya Sarkar
    Published on Aug. 1, 2005

    More Related Links

    Last December, Doug Roberts, a software engineer at the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory, was driving down Interstate 25 from Albuquerque when he pulled into Arby's, a fast-food restaurant. He was frustrated and unhappy.

    The preceding months at the laboratory had been difficult. Peter Nanos, the lab's director, temporarily shut down lab operations last July so he could investigate computer security and safety problems. Lab employees who were unhappy about the shutdown and critical of the director discovered they couldn't get their letters published in the lab's electronic Daily Newsbulletin, which had canceled its readers' forum. A local community newspaper was accepting letters from Los Alamos employees, but Roberts and others couldn't get the feedback they wanted through the local newspaper.

    [...]

    Full Story


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