Monday, October 31, 2005
The Associated Press version of the story.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 31, 2005
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - The Department of Energy says a maintenance worker injured after being exposed to hydrochloric acid at Los Alamos National Laboratory was told to return to work afterward.
The accident occurred amid "what appears to be a work environment of mistreatment and reprisal" in the lab's DX-1 group, the agency's report said.
The worker and another technician told to re-enter a work room after telling a supervisor they smelled acid "both felt that if they refused, it would put their employment status in jeopardy," the DOE's Office of Environment, Safety and Health said in a report this summer. The accident that occurred in October 2003.
Among other things, the report attributed the incident to "poor supervision."
Of the Journal
A Los Alamos National Laboratory worker was injured after he and another maintenance technician were exposed to hydrochloric acid— and the exposure continued after they told a supervisor they smelled acid, but were sent back to work.
The injured worker has decreased lung capacity, according to a June 30 U.S. Department of Energy report.
The accident took place in October 2003, but a report on the accident wasn't published until this summer by the DOE's Office of Environment, Safety and Health. The accident report was triggered only after the injured worker was finally diagnosed with an occupational exposure in February, according to a lab spokeswoman.
The DOE's report says the accident took place amid "what appears to be a work environment of mistreatment and reprisal" within LANL's DX-1 group.
The two technicians who were told to re-enter the work room after smelling acid fumes "both felt that if they refused, it would put their employment status in jeopardy," the report states.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Comments on LANL Blog
Doug/Brad, please post anonymously. Thank you.
Comments on LANL Blog
I’ve read this blog since its inception and finally decided to offer these comments.
1) People have been most willing to lay the blame on UC for mismanagement of the Lab. While this may indeed be true, when I first arrived here in the 1980s, I became aware that the Lab neither wanted nor needed direct UC management, nor did UC want or need direct involvement with the Lab. We certainly enjoyed our autonomous freedom. We got the good UC benefits; they got the good press and enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with us. It seems disingenuous now to blame them for something we neither wanted nor needed.
2) Nanos was a real piece of work, but who knew? Folks on this blog have chastised UC for keeping Nanos when it was apparent he was in over his head. But put yourself in UC’s shoes. How could they get rid of the man while DoE and the US Congress were patting this man on the back? UC was not exactly in good graces with either entity. Getting rid of Nanos at that time would have only provided confirmation that Nanos was right about us.
3) The US Government is in no way trying to save taxpayers’ money by changing contractors of the Lab. The extra money now needed to run the Lab each and every year can and will never be recovered.
4) Excuse me, but to those folks accusing the current administration of nefarious conduct by competing for the Lab contract must remember, as I do, that the very first mention of competing the Lab contract came when our current governor was the Energy Secretary.
5) The new contract will most certainly be given to the Lockheed-Martin group. The rate at which this thing has been drug out can’t all be DoE’s ineptitude. I think it’s to allow everyone to get used to the idea of change.
6) People who extol the positives of future director Robinson must remember that he’ll only be here a few years at most. Corporate headquarters awaits. I saw it happen to Norm Augustine when I worked for Martin-Marietta. Some Lockheed-Martin pencil pusher will follow.
7) The future of the Lab is known, but not by us. It is known by the DoE and will most certainly be known by the new contractor. The first indication of how the Lab may fare in the future is to notice where the new management decides to live. If they choose to work AND live in Los Alamos, it indicates to me that the Lab’s future may be healthy. If they buy homes in Santa Fe, it means they must be worried about the resale values of the homes in a dying town.
"ABC has a long history of anti-nuclear bias including recent coverage of security at Los Alamos National Laboratory and purported dangers at nuclear facilities."
I. THE LATEST FINANCIAL DEBACLE
When I caught up with Robert S. Miller, the chief executive of Delphi Corporation, last summer, he was still pitching the fantasy that his company, a huge auto-parts maker, would be able to cut a deal with its workers and avoid filing for bankruptcy protection. But he acknowledged that Delphi faced one perhaps insuperable hurdle - not the current conditions in the auto business so much as the legacy of the pension promises that Delphi committed to many decades ago, when it was part of General Motors. This was the same fear that had obsessed Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the storied president of G.M., who warned way back in the 1940's that pensions and like benefits would be "extravagant beyond reason." But under pressure from the United Auto Workers union, he granted them. And as future auto executives would discover, pension obligations are - outside of bankruptcy, anyway - virtually impossible to unload. Unlike wages or health benefits, pension benefits cannot be cut. Unlike other contracts, which might be renegotiated as business conditions change, pension commitments are forever. And given the exigencies of the labor market, they tend to be steadily improved upon, at least when times are good.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Excerpt from a longish post on the final Fiscal Year 2006 Energy and Water appropriations bill, which funds the U.S. nuclear weapons program for the coming year.
Linton Brooks, head of the NNSA, added a key element to the discussion last Friday when he told me in an interview that the agency was considering asking for additional money in FY07 for plutonium pit production at Los Alamos for RRW pits. That's a huge deal, though Brooks made an additional point that didn't come through in my story: The pit money for Los Alamos does not mean, he said, that the NNSA is abandoning the idea of eventually building a Modern Pit Facility - a big new bomb factory - somewhere in the future.
My take on this, shared by one of my smart 'splainers I was talking to this afternoon, is that there is little energy now behind the Modern Pit Facility, which will cost gobzillions of dollars. Once it's clear that Los Alamos can do the job in the interim, it will get likely get harder to move forward on MPF.
[In other words, once production-capacity pit production comes to Los Alamos, it stays there. --Doug]
Friday, October 28, 2005
I'm guessing that LANL saw some kind of internet outage at about 3:10 this afternoon, because hits from lanl.gov suddenly dropped to 0.
Rural area was site of FBI search Noshir Gowadia and his wife are relative newcomers to the low-key, high-priced locale
HAIKU, Maui » In rural Huelo, many of the unpaved rutted roads lead to multimillion-dollar homes with manicured lawns and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
And it was in one of these homes, federal authorities allege, that Noshir S. Gowadia kept government secrets about one of America's most formidable weapons, a B-2 stealth bomber.
It is an impressive dwelling, Mediterranean style with blue tile roof, white stucco-looking walls and a view overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Many of the homes in this area have recently been sold for about $2 million each. Gowadia and his wife bought the 2-acre lot for $330,000 in 1999.
During an Oct. 13 search, FBI agents seized classified documents from the house.
Agents said the documents dated back from Gowadia's employment with Northrop -- between 1968 and 1986 or to the early 1990s -- when he was a contract engineer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Friday, October 28, 2005
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SYSTEM
Leaders picked for Los Alamos
The UT System and its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Corp., won't know until about Dec. 1 whether their joint bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory is successful.
But they've already lined up a team of 18 "critical personnel" who would oversee the nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico. Jack Burns, currently vice president for academic affairs and research for the four-campus University of Colorado System, would become a deputy lab director and a UT System employee if the bid is successful. Burns is a professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences.
The lab's director would be C. Paul Robinson, a nuclear arms negotiator for President Reagan who went on to direct Sandia National Laboratories for Lockheed Martin.
The FBI says a Maui resident has admitted to selling classified military secrets to at least eight foreign countries.
The case against the longtime stealth bomber engineer is expected to grow.
It's an investigation that's in its very early stages. They're not even saying which countries -- enemy or ally -- are involved.
He marketed himself as the father of the B-2's unique infrared suppressing propulsion system.
That's what makes the stealth bomber able to hide from heat seeking missiles.
Sixty-one-year-old Noshir Gowadia, born in India, was a naturalized U.S. citizen who worked nearly 20 years at New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory and for defense contractor Northrup Corporation.
Another stand down imminent?
[...]"There is only one thing the Laboratory can do: have a standdown. In Level I, we will view numerous mandatory videos. We will all sign our names to the statement "I will not tolerate a culture of intolerance." No work at the Laboratory shall be performed until we root out everything that can be construed, no matter how tenuously, to be discriminatory. In Level II, we must answer questionnaires regarding our involvements in any discriminatory activities, such as belonging to BSA and donating to United Way. Finally, in Level III, a "Resumption Board" must be appointed to ensure that everyone in the organization is devoid of discrimination, and "Corrective Actions" must be taken before full work activities may be resumed."
[Note: the sarcasm-impaired should not go here
to read the entire letter. --Doug]
Thursday, October 27, 2005
DARRYL NEWMAN, Monitor Staff Writer
Although the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Administration site manager could not comment too much on the contract for the rebidding of Los Alamos National Laboratory management, he did share with the county council the progress that has been made as part of a Tuesday night council meeting.
DOE/NNSA Site Manager Ed Wilmot expressed his certainty that the lab contract will be awarded by the Dec. 1 date that was set.
"The source evaluation official, the person involved in making the selection, was in town last week working with the board," he said. "They are very close to making very strong recommendations. I was very impressed with the source selection official."
Wilmot included comments made by DOE Secretary Linton Brooks stemming from a visit last week.
The Laboratory Hiring Council
From the October 24, 2005 LANL NewsLetter.
The Laboratory Hiring Council
by Tom Bowles,
chief science officer
There has been a lot of discussion about [the Laboratory] forming a
hiring council, [primarily] that this equates to a hiring freeze or a
direction to hire only certain types of employees. I want to reiterate
the statements from [Director Bob Kuckuck] that this is not the case.
The Laboratory has historically managed to budget rather than to
staffing levels. We have hired as many people as possible and have not
simultaneously invested in infrastructure. As a result, we have old
buildings that are expensive to maintain and not enough high-quality
laboratory space; we have not reinvested in our facilities. We have
reduced the ratio of R&D to total TSMs [technical staff members] and
increased the fraction of SSMs [support staff members]. Many of the
problems we face can be traced to the lack of an institutional hiring
plan. These problems are compounded by the fiscal pressures we are
under. It was in response to these issues that the director created
the hiring council. Managing to both budget and staffing is standard
practice in successful organizations. The Laboratory Hiring Council
is charged to ensure that the new hires we bring in position us
optimally for the future. We are working to see where we can transfer
funding across directorates rather than transferring or hiring
personnel. We are exploring options other than external hires to
address increasing compliance needs. We are working to ensure we hire
the best new staff to meet our technical and support needs. Since
students and postdocs are critical to our future work force, we are
not changing the existing processes for their hiring or conversion to
staff the council is not involved in those actions. We are committed
to managing hiring effectively to improve our ability to meet both
staffing and infrastructure needs. The bottom line is that there are
no hidden messages in forming the hiring council. This was done in
response to long-standing issues that need to be addressed. Our goal
is to be proactive in our hiring efforts and to position the
Laboratory to have a strong and viable technical and support work
force for the future.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
By Isaac Wolf
- Nineteen firms have expressed interest in taking over management of Argonne National Lab from the University of Chicago, the Department of Energy announced Friday.Washington, D.C. - Scripps Howard Foundation Wire - infoZine
- Groups interested in managing the half-a-billion-dollar-a-year research lab include research juggernauts Northrop Grumman and Battelle as well as several small firms seeking subcontracts for part of the work
Under the university's management, Argonne has been reprimanded for its handling of nuclear material. According to Argonne officials, nuclear materials were mislabeled - but never unsecured - in 2004.
Despite these problems, the university says it welcomes competition for the non-weapons lab, which focuses on high level physics, chemistry and energy. The lab is 25 miles southwest of the Chicago Loop.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
By H. JOSEF HEBERT
The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 25, 2005; 10:58 PM
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has abandoned research into a nuclear "bunker-buster" warhead, deciding instead to pursue a similar device using conventional weaponry, a key Republican senator said Tuesday.
Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said funding for the nuclear bunker-buster as part of the Energy Department's fiscal 2006 budget has been dropped at the department's request.
(You want to know what I think?)
I just returned from a trip to Ohio State U. to give an invited physics colloquium about some fine theoretical work my colleagues (and I) are doing here at LANL, and also to talk with young people there about conditions at the Lab. Some have the distinct impression that UC has already been awarded the contract. One guy even said he was sure he saw it in print last week. (I disabused him of that notion. I hope nothing happened while I was gone that I didn't hear about...) All the professors, postdocs, and graduate students that I met at OSU were concerned that the events of the past couple of years have done untold and unnecessary damage to a fine scientific institution--one young person called it "the nation's leading resource for science." That's honestly how we are viewed, at least by a significant number in academia.
My own view on the contract bid, which I will restate here for clarification, is that it appears to me that the LockMart/UT team is doing a more professional job of presenting its case, in public at least, than Bechtel/UC. By saying that, I was hoping that the latter team would be prompted to be more forthright in addressing the concerns of all of us (including us semi-retired guys). It appears that they are so hamstrung by legal issues that nothing more will be forthcoming. I truly had hoped for better, but have come to realize that it doesn't do you any good to hope for a savior. -From either camp.
That's just my impression.
Popular Science lists in it's November 2005 issue the top ten worst jobs in science. LANL comes in at #5, under the category 'Nuclear Weapons Scientist'.
WORST JOBS IN SCIENCE
#5 Nuclear-Weapons Scientist
-They've mastered fusion. Next up: filing
This job hasn't been any fun since the disastrous espionage trial against Wen Ho Lee in 1999. Now it's gotten worse. Lee was a naturalized citizen who had worked for 20 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory's highly prestigious X Division, where some of the world's biggest eggheads handle the applied physics of our nuke stockpile. The FBI suspected him of selling secrets to the Chinese.
After some seriously abusive jailhouse tactics, for which an appalled federal judge apologized, Lee pled guilty to one, almost trifling, count of mishandling classified data and was immediately released (the judge sentenced him to the 278 days of solitary confinement he had already served). Nevertheless, the X Division's sterling reputation had been badly tarnished.
Not long after, more classified data-storage tapes went missing and then showed up behind a copy machine, and the FBI returned for more interrogations... er, interviews.
Then, in 2004, came an eye-burning laser accident with an intern, and yet another case of missing data tapes. In a lab-wide lecture, the since-retired director called his scientists "buttheads" and "cowboys" (never good for morale) and ordered a lab shutdown so that the scientists could learn to file paper like pro bureaucrats, not absent-minded professors.
But wait, those last missing tapes? An FBI investigations concluded that they probably never existed in the first place; it was all a clerical error. But the damage had been done. For the first time since Oppneheimer, the federal government put Los Alamos's management up for industry bid, offering an annual $79-million contract - nearly 10 times as much as the University of California is now paid to run the lab - and fed-up scientists are retiring in droves.
As for the younger braniniacs, surely they can find a job in academia, right? Not exactly, lamented one X Division scientist, who declined to be quoted for fear of retribution. Since most of their work is classified, there's often no record of having ever published anything.
--Original article as printed in Popular Science, November 2005 pp76-77
We placed ahead of semen washers and Orangutan pee collectors, but behind manure inspectors and human lab rat.
Have a happy day!
Nuclear Materials Technology
My friend says, "I can hear the chant around the Lab even now: "We're Number Five! We're Number Five!"
(If Bechtel/UC wins, can we also chant: "Seven more years! Seven more years!"?)
A few reminders
Now might be a good time to remind everybody of a couple of issues regarding the use of this blog.
- Those wishing to comment on an existing post must register with blogger.com in order to do so.
- Anyone may request that material be posted to this blog, either attributed or anonymously, so long as the subject material meets the posting guidelines.
- I have made identical offers to members of both the Los Alamos Alliance and to the LANS LLC regarding the use of this blog to disseminate any material pertinent to the bid process that they felt would benefit the LANL community.
- I request that contributors to this blog remain civil, and to adhere to the posting guidelines. Anyone who ignores this request will be banned from the blog, and I will lodge a complaint with blogger.com against owner of the account from which the unacceptable contributions originated.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT
) said on Tuesday third-quarter profit rose a better-than-expected 39 percent as the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor boosted sales of electronic systems, government satellites and deliveries of its C-130J transport planes.
Lockheed, which makes fighter jets, cargo planes, Patriot missiles and sells a range of technology services, also raised its full-year profit forecast, largely due to a one-time gain from a stock investment, and made its first forecast for 2006 profit, within the range of Wall Street's estimates.
To my colleagues at LLNL
This is my response to the anonymous LLNL employee that you posted under "Watchdog group returns to the hill"
To my colleagues at LLNL:
I’m sure you are all aware of the issues that have brought us to this point in the contract competition. While the security of a continuation of UC “leadership” may be desirable from an emotional standpoint the facts of what has occurred at your sister lab should make you wary.
Arrogance and ignorance are not complimentary traits but they are both traits that the UC hierarchy possesses in abundance. It is the lethal combination that made Nanos refuse to admit his gross incompetence and allowed him to cripple a vital national asset. If he had done this on his own I would not be so concerned for you. However, the backing and encouragement that he received from Foley and UCOP should cause you to worry. Even now that the facts have become public UC refuses to admit their willful misconduct, which resulted in the death of our colleague, Todd Kauppila. At every step throughout this tragic series of events UC management has stonewalled and lied in a coordinated effort to try to deflect the blame that they have earned.
When dealing with ethically and morally bankrupt individuals, such as those that infest the upper echelon of UC, you should all be aware that what happened to us could happen to you. I consider myself fortunate that the ineptitude that UC displayed in their handling of the CREM II incident was also displayed in their attempted cover up of the facts. Had they been competent in the art of deception I might have faced stiff punishment for something that never occurred. The next person that ends up in the scapegoat's pen might not be so lucky. These people have shown their true colors and it’s only a matter of time and circumstance before they again exercise their prerogative to punish the innocent in order to protect themselves.
I hope that the coming changes that you all face will not be as painful or as costly as what we have endured over the last 1.5 years. As you make your decisions don’t make the mistake of forgetting what happened in Los Alamos or delude yourself into thinking it can’t happen again. Your vigilance is all that will ensure a smooth transition.
Best of luck,
John N. Horne
Journal Staff Writer
Safety and security improvements, the next generation of nuclear weapons and preparing for a new lab manager were among the topics that Los Alamos National Laboratory director Robert Kuckuck discussed during a wide-ranging speech to lab employees Monday.
During the hour-and-a-half-long meeting, which was open only to lab staffers, Kuckuck praised workers for improving lab operations that were at the center of embarrassing administrative, safety and security lapses in recent years, according to lab spokesman Jim Fallin.
"(Kuckuck) wanted to make sure people understood that he recognizes that were it not for the hard work and due diligence displayed by the staff here, we would not be where we are," Fallin said. "And it's a much improved position from where we were a few months back."
October 25, 2005
“Thank you for an outstanding year, I am proud to be part of this Laboratory.”
-- Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck
Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck praised the progress Lab employees have made in the areas of stockpile stewardship, science, threat reduction, security, safety and business operations over the last year. “This Laboratory is essential to the country, it is going to remain essential – that is not going to change,” he said during a talk Monday in the Administration Building Auditorium at Technical Area 3.
Finally, he explained the Lab’s transition project designed to prepare for “the most efficient transition and orientation of new management” under the new contract. He said that it is important to deliver a fiscally sound Lab, good community relations and high work force morale. A Web site will be established for daily communications on the transition.
Monday, October 24, 2005
The Churn that is Los Alamos
Submitted by "W76 LEP"
The idea that a new contractor is going to land inLANL
without a huge disruption to LANL
and the LANL
workforce is fiction. Attached
is an ad that ran in
the Santa Fe New Mexican this weekend. The ad, posted
by UT, is for several positions in the new LANL
win the contract on December 1. This certainly is
the purgative of the new contractor, but the ad is for
several job descriptions that are in STB
These jobs are at the TSM
level, not at the level of
division leader or even group leader. Imagine, UT is
advertising for TSM
level jobs (already), yet the
Robinson/Cook piece on the future of LANL
only minor changes are coming. It is not like LANL
does not have deep bench strength in the area of these
postings. Taken to its logical conclusion, LM
going to bring in hundreds of new personnel to LANL
should they win the contract. Wonder why the LANL
staff is so stressed about a new contractor coming on
board? Everyone wants better management, business
systems that work, and a relation with congress and
DOE that keeps us from being a punching bag. However,
what is the real intention of LAA
? What capabilities
and functions are going to be maintained?
Brad and Doug (I think) have both called out LM
being a better choice for LANL
in the future.
However, I am not convinced based on the evidence
presented. Either new LLC
will bring business systems
and operations, but the is present LANL
[For the record, I have not stated on this blog which LLC
I favor, Nor will I, until after the contract winner has been announced. This venue is available for all to express their views, and I have no intentions of influencing what is presented here. Brad, like any other contributor is free to speak his own mind. --Doug]
Watchdog group returns to the Hill
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
SANTA FE - Citing rapid and uncertain changes bearing down on the nuclear weapons complex, one of New Mexico's most persistent disarmament groups has decided to return to its roots in Los Alamos.
The Los Alamos Study Group will open a new office on the Hill beginning in early December.
"It is the end of an era at Los Alamos, one way or another," said Greg Mello Friday. "We thought it would be good to be closer to the lab and part of the community."
At a press conference Friday, Mello discussed disagreements between House and Senate versions of funding for nuclear weapons activities for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
2010, Welcome to LAPPP (Los Alamos Pit Production Plant)
Doug, please accept this submission for anonymous posting on your blog.
___________________________________________________2010, Welcome to LAPPP (Los Alamos Pit Production Plant) former site of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Finally, it is out in the open: last week NNSA announced its plans to turn LANL into a pit production facility. An earlier post on this blog discusses whether or not last year's Nanos debacle was actually part of a clever conspiracy to change LANL's mission from "National Science" to "Plutonium Pit Production". Regardless, the cards are now on the table. The questions raised by this recent announcement (see http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/10/nuclear-agency-looks-to-expand-lanl.html) include
Sometimes things change for the better, sometimes for the worse. This new "mission" for Los Alamos is a change for the worse.
- How can Los Alamos not become the next Rocky Flats?
- Can science and pit production coexist? Because
- Who wants live near and work at a pit factory? And finally,
- Given this newly-revealed mission that NNSA has in mind for LANL, does it really matter who wins the contract?
Journal Staff Writer
A project to increase security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory has continued to draw criticism from several Los Alamos groups, despite plans to break ground on the project within the next few days.
The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce, the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, and the Los Alamos Ski Club, with the support of the Los Alamos County Council, have all lined up in opposition to two security checkpoints that would control traffic on West Jemez Road between the Omega Bridge and Camp May Road.
Citing post-9/11 security concerns, the National Nuclear Security Administration, a quasi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy, has been planning to upgrade the security around the lab for years, according to NNSA staff.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Op-ed pieces from today's Sunday Albuquerque Journal
At the behest of an avid, or at least insistent blog reader, these op-ed pieces from today's Sunday Albuquerque Journal are presented. They seem to be shortened versions of posts that have already made their appearance here on the blog.
You will see the followng and then follow the links:
Letters to the Editor
Storefronts Favor Lockheed
OTHER VOICES: First of all, let me restate my original objection to the
whole benighted idea of privatizing Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is
based on faulty assumptions about "failures" (unique to LANL, allegedly) in
accounting, security, and safety that have occurred over the last seven
years, and an even faultier assumption that the University of California has
been "running" Los Alamos all these 60-odd years, just like it runs its
campuses in California. The decision to compete the contract is without
objective basis, but it is a fait accompli— it will be done— and as a
result, LANL will be different in almost every aspect, no matter whether
Bechtel (and UC and other minor players) or Lockheed Martin (and University
of Texas and other minor players) "wins" the bid. (Sunday, October 23,
Giving Lockheed Control of LANL Would Be Disastrous
What would former President Eisenhower think of the competition to manage
Los Alamos National Laboratory? One indication might be the warning from his
1961 farewell address: "We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted
influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will
persist." (Sunday, October 23, 2005)
Saturday, October 22, 2005
The conspiracy theorists might have gotten it right after all
It appears that the conspiracy theorists might have gotten it right after all. Or not. As far as the end result goes, it really doesn't matter. Bottom line, as is now clearly identified in John Fleck's Albuquerque Journal story
, NNSA plans to turn Los Alamos into a pit factory by 2010.
In case you are having trouble remembering, the conspiracy theorists claimed that Nanos was brought in as LANL director, without the benefit of a national search, at the insistence of Admiral [Captain, whatever] Brooks for an express purpose. Nanos' mission: disrupt the shit out out of the lab, and by so doing run off as many people as possible, easing the transition of Los Alamos National Laboratory from a science laboratory into a pit factory. Oh, and by the way, coincidentally replacing the now shut-down Rocky Flats.
As I said, it really doesn't matter at this point whether the conspiracy theorists were correct or not, the end effect appears as if it will be the same.
What makes all of this interesting is the convoluted path we all had to take to get here. First, our out-of-control former laboratory director did everything in his power to run off as many non-DOE/NNSA customers as possible. Through this same process, he also managed to run off a large number of non-weapons scientists. Then, as soon as is was deemed an appropriate waiting period, NNSA announced that by 2010 LANL will be a Rocky Flats replacement pit factory, producing 30 - 40 new pits per year.
A very interesting question to ponder is where does this leave the two LLCs with respect to winning the contract for LANL? For that matter, in what new perspective does this news allow us to view Paul Robinson and Don Cook's recent "science mission statement"? If NNSA really does want to turn LANL into just a pit factory, without all that nuisance "science" getting the way, could it be that LANS really is the shoe-in as the next contractor?
Journal Staff Writer
Whoever wins the contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory will have to take care of the lab's people if they want to keep the contract, the U.S. nuclear weapons program's top official said Friday.
"The most valuable resource at Los Alamos is not the high-tech equipment, but the people," Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said in an interview.
The University of California has managed Los Alamos for the federal government since it was founded during World War II. But amid management scandals, Brooks' agency has opened the contract up for bid.
Copyright © 2005 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
Federal officials are considering asking for more money to expand Los Alamos National Laboratory's plutonium manufacturing capabilities, the head of the U.S. nuclear weapons program said in an interview Friday.
The money would allow Los Alamos to make new plutonium parts for the "Reliable Replacement Warhead," the nation's first new nuclear weapon in a decade and a half, said Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Sometime after 2010, Los Alamos could be making plutonium parts for 30 to 40 new warheads per year, Brooks said.
Journal Staff Report
Two women who work at Los Alamos National Laboratory maintain they have suffered harassment and retaliation for filing a 2003 lawsuit alleging the lab pays its female employees far less than men.
In two separate new suits, filed in federal court earlier this month, Veronique Longmire and Laura Barber maintain they were "harassed and intimidated by LANL managers" via "inappropriate comments and interactions" after initiating the 2003 pay litigation.
The new suits also contend that in retaliation for filing the pay complaint:
Longmire and Barber were passed over for promotions, despite "demonstrated performance and extensive experience."
Their requests to pursue educational opportunities were denied, "while similar requests from male employees were approved."
They were given lower employee evaluations and lower salary increases. Both women are employed in the lab's Technology Transfer Division.
Friday, October 21, 2005
What's in a name? (The lighter side.)
When Los Alamos emerged from the secrecy of the Manhattan Project after World War II, it was given a name that could be spoken out loud and a mission for the good of the country: Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, or LASL for short--LASL rhymes with "hassle"--and the mission was declared to be "science."
Some years later (about 20 years ago), the name was changed by Congress in its infinite...uh...wisdom to Los Alamos National Laboratory, or LANL for short--LANL sounds like "flannel" with the "f" kicked out of it--and the mission was changed to "nationalism."
Now, there is a great revival of interest in Washington for "faith-based" initiatives in government, and therefore, some see the possibility for much more secure funding for the Lab by cashing in on this new trend. They might even imagine doing research, scientific or engineering, on "Intelligent Design," no matter what the subject. (For example, X Division could begin to do "Intelligent Bomb Design.") So some say the Lab's name could therefore be changed to Los Alamos Faith-Based Laboratory, or LAFBL for short.
I oppose doing this to the Lab for two reasons: (1) strict separation of church and state, and (2) the acronym when pronounced out loud.
Crabs in a bucket
There is a pattern of mutual destructiveness that has been fostered at LANL in the past several years by bad management. Some program managers, in their infinite capacity for malicious interference, have caused furious struggles among the staff for diminishing resources in work for others, LDRD, and even some dibbles of programmatic money for basic research in support of weapons physics.
It reminds me of an old Mexican parable. A stranger comes into a dusty Mexican village and sees some kids playing in the street with a bucket sitting nearby. It seems to him as if there's furious noise and splashing going on inside the bucket. The stranger moves closer, looks down into the bucket, and sees it has several crabs inside, struggling madly to get out. But there's no lid on the bucket, and he tells the kids that they should put a lid on to keep the crabs from escaping. One of them, an older girl with pigtails and bright black eyes, looks at him with deep scorn and says, "Mister; everybody knows you don't need a lid on a bucket of crabs! When any one of them gets near to climbing out, the others pull him back down."
It's just a parable. Right?
(-from an anonymous teller of parables)
In doing a web search I did find this site for LANS, and there is a pdf downloadable fact sheet there.http://www.lansllc.com/
New hand out material
is available at the Los Alamos Alliance storefront office. I requested an electronic copy of it for distribution on the blog. It is entitled “Science with the Mission in Mind”, and was written by Paul Robinson and Don Cook. Here are the first few paragraphs:
“Science with the Mission in Mind”
Paul Robinson and Don Cook
A core purpose in creating the Los Alamos Alliance team was to find better ways to support, nurture, and increase the breadth, depth, and impact of scientific research at Los Alamos. The Alliance team recognizes that LANL is—first and foremost—a national security laboratory with a core program in nuclear weapons. Los Alamos’ first mission: to create, maintain, and modernize the nation’s nuclear deterrent, remains a continuing responsibility. We also recognize that a broad interpretation of national security must always be taken, allowing room in the mission space for all science and technology which has the potential to benefit the National interest. In fact, such a view was written into the Request for Proposals for the Management and Operation of the laboratory.
This broad interpretation of national security includes:
• understanding major threats to the nation
• developing means to protect against or counter these
• seeking to prevent technological surprise by any adversary—now or in the future
• striving to create new strengths for our nation
It also includes:
• developing new energy sources, and increasing the efficiency of energy use
• finding ways to assure the security of important national infrastructures
• developing better means for environmental protection and remediation
All of these national security missions depend on having the best science available to the Laboratory. Sustaining the scientific capability of the Laboratory, in addition to understanding the lab missions today and delivering on them will require cultivation of a “best-in-science” laboratory environment culture that necessitates investments in cutting-edge, high-risk science. It also requires that we constantly hone the skills of present staff, seek to build and sustain world-class science capabilities, and enable recruitment of the very best science and technology graduates.
Creating a laboratory to meet these challenges is what we have called “Science with the Mission in Mind.” It is not a new concept; you can see its origins in the Los Alamos Laboratory of the early 1940s. Early Los Alamos workers could not have been successful in the Manhattan Project without close collaboration and teaming to achieve that mission. Their motivation was not science alone, not mission alone, not science stove-piped from mission, but science and mission integrated. It is that combination that made Los Alamos such an important laboratory then, and sustained it for so many years since.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Science Magazine, 14 Oct 2005, p. 218
A key facility for hydrodynamic tests faces questions that could impact a U.S. nuclear weapons complex in transition
Experts inside and outside the U.S. government agree that researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are not blowing up stuff often enough....
.... But all is not well at DARHT. Completed in 2003 to replace an older, less capable instrument, the $350 million facility has missed a series of technical deadlines. A report last month by the DOE inspector general (IG) says the problems could delay refurbishment of the W76, a warhead aboard submarines that officials worry might be degrading over time. "Without critical hydrotest data, scientists lose one of their most important tools for evaluating … the performance of key weapons components and the reliability of the stockpile," says the new IG report. *
DOE officials disagree with the IG's assessment, saying the hydrotest program is on track and has provided outstanding data this year. ....... http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5746/218
MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP OF SCIENTISTS
Doug, with respect to the incipient thread on the alternative (and therefore correct...) interpretation of the checkpoint survey, could you post (anonymously) a link to this web page?http://www.stargate-consultants.ca/artalma.htm
It's one of the most insightful views of morale and an R&D organization that I've ever read. When my wife, whom I asked to read it as a reality check, got to the parts on "Managerial Actions that May Inhibit Employee Need Satisfaction" and "Why Are We Not Motivating and Leading our Scientific Staff More Effectively," she durn near cried -- as did I when I read it the first time. Do you recognize anything here?
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Checkpoint survey - an alternative interpretation
Letter to the Newsbulletin
Oct. 19, 2005
Checkpoint survey - an alternative interpretation
I examined the data from the "Checkpoint Survey" and come to somewhat
different conclusions than detailed in the Daily Newsbulletin article on
Oct. 14. On the one hand, I would agree that there seems to be high
confidence in the safety and security of operations. But the disturbing
part emerges when one examines trends over the past three years in
questions associated with morale, communication and confidence in
management. There is a sustained downward trend, or notable drop, for the
following survey questions:
* I have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the
Laboratory as a whole
* I feel that existing channels for employee communication with upper
management are adequate
* The Laboratory keeps employees informed about matters affecting them
* I would recommend [the Laboratory] as a good place to work
* Laboratory management will act on problems identified in this survey
* Productivity in my group has increased during the past year
* Priorities or work objectives change so frequently I have trouble
getting my work done
* I feel the Laboratory encourages and supports innovation and creativity.
It also is important to note that "Morale in my group is high" is at the
subterranean level of 32 percent and "Managers are held accountable for
unethical behavior" has plunged to 37 percent.
What can be done about this? I am increasingly disturbed by the lack of
meaningful dialogue between management and staff on these issues, and on
the whole issue of "what went wrong" in 2004. Granted, we are in the period
of waiting for the contract award, but wouldn't it be advisable for the Lab
director and the associate directors to act on the low state of morale and
We have just been through a period termed by Physics Today as the "annus
horribilis," a period that I would characterize as the worst times of the
institution in 60 years, and I can't recall being invited to a single
meeting to discuss problems faced by the technical staff. (One exception is
a meeting held by ADSR Terry Wallace, which wasn't exactly advertised to be
along those lines but apparently went there anyway.) We appear to be in
"head in the sand" mode when it comes to fixing the gulf of mistrust
between management and staff. It would appear that there is an abundance of
reasons for pessimism about our future prospects.
From today's LANL NewsBulletin:
October 19, 2005
Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck will speak to Laboratory employees next Monday morning, Oct. 24, in the Administration Building Auditorium at Technical Area 3.
In the 10:30 a.m. talk, Kuckuck will discuss how Laboratory employees' exceptional efforts in 2005 are helping him change the perception of the Laboratory; what Lab workers are doing together to create a better place to work; and why he believes the future of the Laboratory is a bright one.
Employees who have L and Q badges can attend the talk in the auditorium. Standard escorting rules are in effect for all other badgeholders. The talk will be broadcast live on LABNET Channel 9 and on desktop computers through Real Media and IPTV technology.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Rumor confirmation request
________________________________I was told last night that Nanos is now in Albuquerque working at KAFB. His new position is Director for Nuclear Weapons for the Air Force. Have you heard anything about this? I'm trying to confirm it.
Last Best Chance
Submitted by Kevin Boland:
You are invited to attend a Santa Fe screening of Last Best Chance
The Henry L. Stimson Center, in cooperation with the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), will hold a public screening of the film Last Best Chance on Saturday, October 22, 2005 from 2:00-4:00 p.m., at St. John’s College (Great Hall) in Santa Fe, New Mexico as part of its Local Worldviews initiative.
Following the film, nuclear security and proliferation experts will participate in a discussion with the audience on the various issues raised in the film.
Last Best Chance is a docudrama that shows the threat posed by vulnerable nuclear weapons and materials around the world and underscores what the stakes are. It was produced by NTI, with additional funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
This Local Worldviews
event is free and open to the public. Additional information is available online at www.stimson.org/newcentury. Information about NTI and Last Best Chance is available at www.lastbestchance.org.
High school student interested in a career in physics
The following is a submission which the author requested be submitted anonymously. I usually reject submissions that attempt to invite religious discussions on this blog because I believe that the workplace should adhere to the same principals of separation of church and state that was one of the founding precepts of this country. I personally don't care what religion or sect or cult an individual feels strongly about as long as that person does not try to influence me with his beliefs. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that many "true believers" simply can't keep it to themselves, in the work place or out of it.
However, this particular submission request, naive though some of the questions it poses are, seemed somehow to warrant feedback from the "scientific community". Not only that, but it had no misspellings in it (highly unusual for a submission request to LANL, The Real Story).
___________________________________________________I am a high school student interested in a career in physics, and I stumbled across the LANL blog some time ago and have been following it for a while. A lot of the discussion of management there has made me question whether I want to go into physics as a career, but I've been told by people who would probably know not to pay too much attention to all of that. What bothers me more is the constant criticism of religion. Are that many scientists really atheists? I'd heard of the stereotype, of course, but in my experience before now I hadn't really found anything to support it-- very smart people seemed to be able to believe, though they usually don't completely agree that all the stories are absolute scientific fact. And that's what I'd say about myself. But when you hear you people talk, it seems like no one believes, at all, and that you hate anyone who does. When you put that on top of the fact that it seems like everyone complains about the things that go on there, it seems like a really horrible place to work. And maybe a really horrible field to work in at all.Is that right? Will I be told some physics secret in college or graduate school that negates the possibility of God and answers all questions? And if so, why don't y'all just give it to us now? And will college and graduate school turn me into someone who seems to hate the rest of the world? I'm sure not everyone there is like this, but it seems like it sometimes.Thank you for your time
Monday, October 17, 2005
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
Doug Beason, associate director for threat reduction at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has put himself out there in his new book, "The E-Bomb."
Literally. He was a test subject during an experiment of the non-lethal weapon system called "active denial." Active denial is one of several forms of directed energy (DE) that are under development in the American arsenal and one of the two main electronic weapons featured in the book, an insider's unclassified look at warfare's future defenses.
Beason has also put himself into a controversial arena, heavily guarded by competing weapons bureaucracies on one hand, and peace and disarmament activists on the other. Human rights groups, for example, complain that active denial, a flash of unendurable pain that leaves no marks, might also be used for torture.
"It hurt like hell, but I'm glad I did it," Beason said during a recent interview about his encounter with the active denial beam.
NOW OVER 400,000 VISITS TO "THE BLOG"
Job well done!
Only about one more shoe to drop...
________________________________________It isn't just St Pete who has marked NIF as dead. There have been manyscientists at LLNL calling it bad names for years.. mostly pork names.And like all the bad news that various scientists at LANL would speakabout other LANL scientists and projects for years.. the NIF talk hasperculated to the top of the sewage chain. The snide comments about NIFfrom scientists at other DOE facilities just added more floaters.In the last 6 years, Secretary Abraham and Bodman both had listed NIF asa dead program. Even Hobson's House committee listed it as useless atone point but I am guessing the large California delegation changedthat. The main reason I have heard these days for killing NIF is thatmost of the scientists there dont believe it will ever work.Which seems to show that we as scientists have communicated poorly withthe American public for the last 10-20 years. I do not see the populistscientists that talk to the average American in a clear way. I look atmy copy of Feynman's lectures, Sagan's Cosmos and realize how theyopened my mind to things that my school system didnt have. I rememberreading Isaac Asimov's books on science and beginning to learn to askbigger questions about everything from the human body to black holes. Ialso remember bringing up some questions in these books in college andLANL as an intern and being told that anyone who read crap like that gotthe ignorance they deserved..For many years, we have shown this scorn and lack of empathy forpeople's beliefs, thoughts, and actions.. Instead of trying to openhorizons, we act like aristocrats right before the French Revolution. Wedeserve this money because we know better, you cant understand usbecause you believe in God, and a ton of other slights that have buildup into torrent of hate towards us. And yes... this country willprobably rue the effects of the Anti-Science Revolution as the Frencheventually did guillotining(sp) of the masses.. but to be honest some ofthose people brought it on the rest :(.These days, the budget of this country will be decided on questionslike: pay for a nuclear laser fusion device or pay for grandma'smedicine.. [and a bridge to nowhere Alaska, and pork here and there.. ]but Mom and Dad are going to focus on the medical and fuel bills and saythat has a lot more priority than some whiney scientists who wouldprobably just piss on them for going to church on Sunday anyway.Anyway.. thats my beef.
Comment of the Week
It's only Monday, but I've already picked out the "Comment of the Week".
Submitted by "Finknottle" on the
______________________________________________"Is THIS the real reason for LANL's seven years of trouble?"
I would say "No." Look for complicated conspiracy theories if you prefer, but the real causes for our problems at LANL lie with us, our management, and with the complete disengagement of the University of California. LLNL and LANL have needed strategic planning for a long time. UC provided none. Our lab has repeatedly needed tactical planning and damage control. We received none from UC, and we provided none for ourselves.
UC lost the contract for LANL because it deserved to. It really is that simple. It is past due time for a change.
Oh, and that Cheryl Rofer person ("WhirledView" blog author of the commentary piece that precedes this article) did get one thing right in pointing out that many LANL staff are voicing "an almost religious hope that Lockheed will make everything okay when they win the contract." But, since she clearly has never been to LANL and seen the deplorable state of management here, she has no way of knowing that things will only improve when Lockheed takes over. She could do a better job of sounding less ignorant when pontificating about conditions at LANL
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Is THIS the real reason for LANL's seven years of trouble?
This is a story, sent to me by an anonymous contributor, of the people who fill the hallowed Halls of Congress, deciding the fate of the Lab, but elected by our fellow Americans. Scientists should read on, regardless of the pain this may cause. -BLH
A friend of mine sent along a copy of "Greetings from Idiot America," by Charles P. Pierce (sorry, but it's behind a firewall, and you have to pay $2.95 to see it) from the latest Esquire. I don't think I've ever read this magazine before--it's one of those things with half-naked young ladies draped over the cover, which, strangely enough, isn't something that usually entices me to pick up a copy, but this one article has all the vigor and passion that most of our media have wrung out of their press, replacing it with tepid timidity and vacuous boosterism for whatever the polls say is most popular today.
It begins with a description of a tour of Ken Ham's new creation science museum in Kentucky, with its dinosaurs wearing saddles and its bland Adam, which we learn is naked but sculpted without a penis, and the train of well-fed Middle American boobs lining up with great earnestness to parade through the patently bogus exhibits.
WHAT IS IDIOT AMERICA?
The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It's not too much antimodernism, or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power, the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who know best what they are talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage.
And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.
In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it “common sense.” The president's former advisor on medical ethics regularly refers to the “yuck factor.” The Gut is common. It is democratic. It is the roiling repository of dark and ancient fears. Worst of all, the Gut is “faith-based.”
It's a dishonest phrase for a dishonest time, “faith-based," a cheap huckster's phony term of art. It sounds like an additive, an artificial flavoring to make crude biases taste of bread and wine. It's a word for people without the courage to say they are religious, and it is beloved not only by politicians too cowardly to debate something as substantial as faith, but also by Idiot America, which is too lazy to do it.
While I think faith is insubstantial, I'll grant the writer license--its proponents believe it is substantial, which makes their thin gruel of “faith-based” this and that, particularly unpalatable. The main point is something that has long bothered me--we've replaced the esteem for real knowledge and skill with vague notions of “faith.”
Intelligent Design--creationism--is such a good example of that phenomenon.
On August 21, a newspaper account of the “intelligent design” movement contained this remarkable sentence: “They have mounted a politically savvy challenge to evolution as the bedrock of modern biology, propelling a fringe academic movement onto the front pages and putting Darwin's defenders firmly on the defensive.”
A “politically savvy challenge to evolution” is as self-evidently ridiculous as an agriculturally savvy challenge to Euclidean geometry would be. It makes as much sense as conducting a Gallup poll on gravity or running someone for president on the Alchemy party ticket. It doesn't matter what percentage of people believe they ought to be able to flap their arms and fly, none of them can. It doesn't matter how many votes your candidate got, he's not going to turn lead into gold. This sentence is so arrogantly foolish that the only real news is where it appeared.
---On the front page.
---Of the New York Times.
Within three days, there was a panel on the subject on Larry King Live, in which Larry asked the following question: “All right, hold on. Dr. Forest, your concept of __ how can you out-and-out turn down creationism, since if evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?”
And why do so many of them host television programs, Larry?
The article in question is by the vacuous Jodi Wilgoren. Nobody at the New York Times seem to get it: they are one of the mothers of Idiot America, nursing the country on a strange ideal of balance, where every example of expertise is precisely neutralized with a dollop of inanity, which is treated as if it is as equally valuable as the actual facts. It's sad to see how far we've fallen.
The country was founded by people who were fundamentally curious; Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, to name only the most obvious examples, were inveterate tinkerers. [Note: A REPUBLICAN President, Theodore Roosevelt, belongs in this list of highly educated, scientifically credible politicians, two of whom--Jefferson and Roosevelt--are among the four enshrined on Mount Rushmore. -BLH.] (Before dispatching Lewis and Clark into the Louisiana Territory, Jefferson insisted that the pair categorize as many new plant and animal species as they found. Considering they were also mapping everything from Missouri to Oregon, this must have been a considerable pain in the canoe.) Further, they assumed that their posterity would feel much the same as they did; in 1815, appealing to Congress to fund the building of a national university, James Madison called for the development of “a nursery of enlightened preceptors.”
It is a long way from that to the moment on February 18, 2004, when sixty two scientists, including a clutch of Nobel laureates, released a report accusing the incumbent administration of manipulating science for political ends. It is a long way from Jefferson's observatory and Franklin's kite [and REPUBLICAN Roosevelt's treatises on natural history] to George W. Bush, in an interview in 2005, suggesting that intelligent design ought to be taught alongside the theory of evolution in the nation's science classes. “Both sides ought to be properly taught,” said the president, “so people can understand what the debate is about.”
The “debate,” of course, is nothing of the sort, because two sides are required for a debate. Nevertheless, the very notion of it is a measure of how scientific discourse, and the way the country educates itself, has slipped through lassitude and inattention across the border into Idiot America where fact is merely that which enough people believe, and truth is measured only by how fervently they believe it.
That's a contrast that hurts: we've gone from Enlightenment America, which strangely enough all the idiots still revere, to George W. Bush's Idiot America. Can we please bring it back?
Idiot America is a collaborative effort, the result of millions of decisions made and not made. It's the development of a collective Gut at the expense of a collective mind. It's what results when politicians make ridiculous statements, and not merely do we abandon the right to punish them for it at the polls, but we also become too timid to punish them with ridicule on a daily basis, because the polls say they're too popular anyway. It's what happens when leaders are not held to account for mistakes that end up killing people.
You would be surprised at how much email is sent to me telling me to stop being so derisive, that harsh language and ridicule turn people off and repel the very ones we're trying to persuade. My reply is like the one above; by refusing to ridicule the ridiculous, by watering down every criticism into a mannered circumlocution, we have created an environment where idiots thrive unchallenged. We have a twit for a president because so many people made apologies for his ludicrous lack of qualifications. We need more people unabashedly pointing out fools.
I'm doing my part to fight Idiot America. I hope more people join me.
One must remember that for every door that closes another one opens
____________________________________Thank you Doug,Now that we know this blog is going to be shut down in June of 2006 Iwould like to take this time to say thank you for all of yourdedication to the cause. I did not discover this blog until longafter it was establish but once I did I used it to my advantage andothers, not that it is going to make a hill of beans anyway. The bloggave me the opportunity to post as a third person throwing outconcerns that were not necessarily mind. They were concern that camefrom people at LLNL that were scared to death of expressing theiropinions in fear of being fired or suffer some form of retaliation.In some respects I would say that people such as this get what theydeserve. Regardless this is my last post on this blog and I amrelieved that this is all coming to an end soon.The bottom line is that no matter what you think or feel about howthe labs are being contracted out there is absolutely nothing you oryour unions are going to do about it. Those in higher places havetheir minds made up and it will be done as they wish.This eye opener came after careful examination of the jobs that wereavailable to be filed. There is nothing new happening at my facilitythat I could see as making great leaps and bounds in an area that wasto the benefit of the nation, and the projects that were had theirfunding cut by DOE. This was simply because the labs approach toeverything is not geared to compete with the private sector to wherethey actually have to turn out a final working product on time and onbudget. This is about to change, I hope.For now I am finding myself participating in the very sameexperiments that I did ten years ago. The only difference is that wehave more up to date diagnostic equipment. Knowing this my questionhas always been, why are we bothering? For now we are doing nothingbut re-making the wheel by using stockpile stewardship as a crutchfor the sole purpose of keeping people employed, in hopes thatsomeday our facility will once again be needed. In the real worldthey call this busy work and that normally leads to a RIF of whichDOE is giving you in a very nice and mannerly way. From what I have read out here over the last few months I have foundthat most of the posts are just a lot of finger pointing and blamingsomeone else for the way of the times. Most of the posters believethat they are special and cannot be replaced and for some reasonthink that they are owed something. That's sad. The system owes younothing, not even the time of day. Mr.Bodman made that very clear inhis speech at LLNL, if you didn't catch it. I only wish I could postthe three .avi clips that I have from that speech for you all tolisten to but no one seems to have the space for such things on theweb. He told it like it was and I respect him for that.After listening to these clips many times I too was upset, especiallyknowing that I was going to be forced out the door before I wasfifty-five, having to freeze my retirement and start all over againfor the next ten years in order to have enough to live on. The factis, "it is what it is" . One must remember that for every door thatcloses another one opens and I have assisted the opening of mind. Itis "all good" regardless of the circumstances and I intend to makethe best out of it. I suggest that you all do the same.As I read in a post out here someone said that until the labs canprove that they can do something useful for society and the worldother then nuclear weapons they will continually be down sized andjobs will be banished, is the absolute truth. The nation labs mustchange their thought process. To do this the contractor would be wiseto get rid of the old, meaning all of those fifty years of age orolder as soon as possible and keep the young whom they can groom totheir standard operational procedures. Knowing this I would expectthe private entity to make cuts shortly after the take over. They arenot going to tolerate dead weight or excessive overhead. Be wise andprepare for this event.Good luck people. I am ready any time they are.Have a good day.Thanks Doug. You are truly and inspiration.
By BEN BOVA, Special to the Daily News
October 16, 2005
The biggest change in warfare since the invention of gunpowder is taking shape today.
Directed energy weapons such as lasers, microwave and particle beams are coming out of the laboratory and testing grounds; soon they will be used on the battlefield. The "ray guns" of old comic strips such as "Buck Rogers" are becoming reality.
They will change the face of battle. For the most part, directed energy weapons are defensive in nature. They are weapons of pinpoint destruction, capable of shooting down aircraft and missiles, but rather useless if you want to blow up a building or a city.
In a military/political environment where we want to defeat enemies who are shooting at us without causing "collateral damage" to nearby civilians, beam weapons might become of prime importance.
A new book tells the story: "The E-Bomb," by Doug Beason (Da Capo Press, 320 pages, $26).
Dr. Beason is an acquaintance of mine; he is an associate director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and previously served on the White House staff for the president's science adviser in both the Bush and Clinton administrations.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Panel offers ways to keep U.S. edge in science
Submitted by Craig Fulton:
Doug, I thought blog readers might find this of interest, especially the
second key recommendation that is noted in the article...
Panel offers ways to keep U.S. edge in science
- Emma Vaughn
Los Angeles Times
Friday, October 14, 2005
Washington -- The U.S. government must take immediate action to enhance
science education from kindergarten onward to secure the country's economic
and technological leadership, according to a National Academies panel of
scientists, educators and business leaders.
With so much knowledge and low-cost labor available around the world, U.S.
advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to
erode, the panel said. To preserve what the panel called our "strategic and
economic security," a coordinated federal effort is needed to create new
industries offering higher-wage jobs.
The National Academies comprises several independent agencies that provide
advice to the government on scientific, engineering and medical issues. The
panel's report, released this week, was compiled at the request of Congress.
"We are still the largest research-oriented economy in the world," said
panel member P. Roy Vagelos, former chairman of Merck & Co. "But we're
aging. Our technical infrastructure is aging."
The panel attributed U.S. global leadership in the 20th century to
scientific achievement, saying that 85 percent of the increase in per-capita
growth could be attributed to advances in technology. With countries such as
India and China taking active measures to increase scientific education and
research, the panel fears that the U.S. advantage will diminish drastically.
"These other countries have studied the long-term success of the U.S.
economy and have recognized that we have great universities," Vagelos said.
"They're copying what they think we did to succeed."
Other nations will "continue to have the competitive advantage of a low-wage
structure," the panel said, making it even more critical that the United
States invest in preventing a possible sharp loss in the U.S. lead in
science and technology.
It called for a series of actions, costing as much as $10 billion a year,
including doubling the federal government's research budget in fixed
increases over the next seven years.
The panel warned that if immediate action was not taken, the United States
could find itself forfeiting many high-skill jobs to other countries. For
example, the report notes, in 2004, U.S. universities graduated about 70,000
engineers. By contrast, India produced about 350,000 engineers, and China
Identifying the nation's need for high-quality jobs and reliable and
affordable energy as the two primary challenges facing the United States,
the panel structured its summary around four key recommendations:
-- Improve science and math education in elementary and secondary schools by
annually recruiting 10,000 teachers in those areas with four-year college
-- Sustain and strengthen the federal commitment to basic research by, among
other things, increasing funding, awarding new research grants to young
scientists and creating within the Energy Department a new agency for
"out-of-the-box" thinking on energy research.
-- Make the United States the most attractive place for research by funding
scholarships and fellowships in the sciences for U.S. citizens and
facilitating visa processing and residence permits for talented foreign
scholars who want to work in the United States.
-- Ensure that the United States becomes the best place in the world for
innovation by modernizing the patent system, rewriting tax policies to
foster innovation and assuring affordable broadband Internet access.
Where to learn more
The report is online at books.nap.edu/catalog/11463.html
October 14, 2005Checkpoint Survey results in
Nearly eight in 10 University of California Laboratory employees who completed the 2005 Checkpoint survey are generally proud to be associated with the Laboratory and are satisfied with their work. And more than six in 10 respondents said they would recommend Los Alamos as a good place to work.
The findings were compiled recently by Compensation, Analysis and Systems (HR-CAS), which analyzes the results and distributes them to Lab managers.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Submitted by "Roderick Spode". [We seem to have a number of P. G. Wodehouse fans out there. --Doug]
Doug, please accept this submission for your blog. It is only my opinion. I believe it is an accurate assessment of our current state, but regardless, it is only my opinion.
______________________________________________Prediction: We will start to see the rats beginning to abandon ship soon. The biggest rats will be the first to go. The writing is clearly on the wall now: UC has lost the contract bid (deservedly so, if the rumors about the unbelievable cluster-f*ck that their orals turned into are true). What am I talking about? DESERVEDLY SO, GIVEN
UC'S PERFORMANCE THIS PAST YEAR. The two widely different storefront operations should underscore this reality to even the most obtuse
LANL scientist. Will we see any concerted effort on the part of upper
LANL management to help the staff populace at large deal with the upcoming transition issues? Or (HINT) will it be every rat for himself? I (the hint gave it away, no doubt) believe that we will start to see
ADs, CIO's CFO's, Chief Whatevers saying "Adios" soon. Division leaders? Probably not, at least not right away, unless they are of retirement age. Division leaders are considered second or third-tier managers. Their jobs are secure, for a while anyway. I give them year before the new "Alliance" top managers get to know them well enough to give them the old "thumbs up" or "down". Sadly, the good ship
UC appears to have lost it's rudder, and is drifting in choppy waters. It's every person for him/her self.
Senate Appropriators Provide No Construction Funding for National Ignition Facility
FYI Number 100: June 28, 2005
Senate Appropriators Provide No Construction Funding for National Ignition Facility
The Bush Administration has encountered considerable difficulty in securing funding for several nuclear weapons program initiatives last year ( http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/154.html) and this year. As previously reported, House appropriators continued their opposition to funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a modern pit facility, and enhanced test readiness in H.R. 2419, the FY 2006 Energy and Water Development bill (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/073.html.) The Senate Appropriations Committee took a different approach, providing the requested funding for the pit facility and test site readiness and had a generally more favorable treatment of RNEP (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/099.html).
Reversing these roles, the two appropriations committees have opposite views regarding the National Ignition Facility which would produce temperatures and densities consistent with a nuclear explosion. In February, the Bush Administration requested $460.4 million for Inertial Confinement Fusion Ignition and High Yield Campaign, a 14.1% or $75.5 million reduction from current year funding of $535.9 million. Within this request, the $141.9 million construction funding request for NIF was, according to a DOE budget document, "consistent with the approved project baseline." The document states that "FY 2006 realigns funding priorities to provide support for the NIF construction and the demonstration program necessary to meet the ignition goal." The request included reduced funding for the High-Energy Petawatt Laser Development, while providing for construction of the OMEGA Extended Performance laser project at the University of Rochester.
The House Appropriations Committee bill disagreed with the Administration's requested funding reduction in the overall program by providing an additional $5.5 million to current year funding, bringing the House number up to $541.4 million. As detailed in FYI #73 ( http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/073.html ), House Appropriators were supportive of NIF, saying in very clear language: "The Committee continues to view ignition demonstration as the primary benchmark for success in this program. The Committee commends the Department's effort to projectize the ICF program . . . ." The ICF section ended by stating, "The Committee recommendation provides $141,913,000 for construction of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the same as the budget request."
The recently-released Senate Appropriations Committee report (109-84; see http://thomas.loc.gov/) took a completely opposite approach to construction funding for NIF (project 96-D-111), stating, "The Committee directs that no funds shall be expended for this project." (See second-to-last paragraph below.) The report explains this action, and funding recommendations on related programs, as follows:
"Secondary Assessment Technologies- The Committee recommends $77,332,000, an increase of $16,000,000. This program plays a critical role in developing the Advanced Scientific Computing effort to validate experimental data in modeling the yield performance of our nuclear systems and the impact of aging of materials. This program supports hydrodynamic and high-energy-density experiments.
"As a result of NNSA's [National Nuclear Security Administration] decision to focus on construction of the National Ignition Facility [NIF] rather than focus on stockpile research there will be an increased reliance on the Z facility at Sandia and the Omega laser at the University of Rochester to support critical R&D efforts. As such, the Committee directs the NNSA to support additional experiments on Z machine and Omega laser using the increase in funding. Failure to provide adequate funding would prevent the labs from meeting the necessary campaign milestones.
"Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield
"The Committee recommends $314,023,000, a reduction of $4,482,000 from the budget request for the Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaign. This allocation restores $61,000,000 in funding to the Support of Stockpile and Inertial Fusion Technology program that was cut from the budget request.
"National Ignition Facility [NIF]- The Committee is disappointed in the long-term funding outlook for Weapons Activities contained in the fiscal year 2006 FYNSP. Compared to the budget request in fiscal year 2005, Weapons Activities funding is reduced by $3,000,000,000 over the next 5 years. This decline is likely to have significant programmatic impacts and drastically curtail NNSA's scientific capabilities. It is difficult to conceive of a single program not being severely impacted, including NIF, as a result of the declining budget. The Committee is cognizant that the modest funding reduction of $25,000,000 in fiscal year 2005 to the NIF program forced NNSA managers to rebaseline the entire project. As a result of the rebaselining effort, the NNSA has made the decision to support the NIF construction effort at the expense of the Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaigns, putting in jeopardy critical high energy stewardship research at Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. The fiscal year 2006 budget cuts experimental programs that are essential in obtaining scientific data for ASC codes. The budget proposes the elimination of the Inertial Fusion Technology program that supported research on the Z machine and High Average Power Laser program. Currently, NIF is able to operate four beamlines, making NIF the most powerful laser in the world.
"The NNSA has not completed the rebaselining of the NIF program, and the Committee directs that no funds be expended on project 96-D-111 [National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory] in order to focus on supporting a comprehensive stewardship program.
"Ignition- The Committee recommends $68,800,000 to support experiments at Inertial Confinement facilities to demonstrate the principles of thermonuclear fusion. Sufficient funding is provided to support computer simulation, target fabrication, and target design calculation.
"Support for Other Stockpile Programs- In order to avoid drastic cuts to the ICF program, the Committee recommends restoring funding to $41,000,000 to perform experiments on the Z-machine to validate computer models as well as experiments on OMEGA at the University of Rochester, NY. This is an increase of $31,128,000 above the budget request.
"NIF Diagnostics, Cryogenics and Experimental Support- The Committee provides $30,000,000. It is clear from recent advances in target research that targets may hold the key to significant increases in efficiency. Targets with cryogenic fuel, composite ablators, foams, double shells and advanced hohlraum designs can compensate for limitation for both indirect and direct target concepts. The Committee directs the Department to provide $10,000,000 from within available funds to accelerate development of targets to support experiments on NIF, OMEGA and Z-machine.
"Pulsed Power Inertial Confinement Fusion- The Committee's recommendation provides $10,900,000, a $910,000 increase over the budget request for pulsed power ICF to assess Z pinches as drivers for ignition and high yield fusion.
"University Grants/Other ICF Support- The Committee provides $7,700,000 for research assistance in high energy density science, a level consistent with fiscal year 2005.
"The Committee recommendation includes $5,000,000 to Nevada Terawatt Facility. Within the funds provided, $3,000,000 is for research into strongly magnetized highly density energy matter and $2,000,000 is for construction of the high energy, short-pulse laser system.
"Facility Operations and Target Production- The Committee provides $54,623,000 as requested to support operations on OMEGA and Z-machine. Funds will support target production, engineering support, and maintenance.
"Inertial Fusion Technology- The Committee is disappointed that the budget completely eliminated funding with this account. As such the Committee has restored the funding to $41,000,000 and provides $6,000,000 to prepare Z-machine to support extended operations.
"NIF Demonstration- The Committee recommends $50,000,000 to support the NIF Demonstration program. The committee directs the NNSA to use this funding to support Stockpile Stewardship responsibilities necessary for closeout costs or other impacts as a result of the halt in construction and installation.
"High Energy Petawatt Laser Development- The Committee strongly supports the OMEGA petawatt laser and provides $10,000,000 an increase of $7,000,000 above the request. The funding supports the development and testing of two short pulsed laser beams to support the existing capabilities at OMEGA in Rochester, New York. The Committee recommendation includes an additional $7,000,000 for university grants and other support. Of this amount, $3,000,000 is provided for continued development of petawatt laser at the University of Texas at Austin; $2,000,000 is provided to the University of Nevada, Reno to continue its collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories on highly diagnosed studies of exploding wire arrays and implosion dynamics. The Committee provides $2,000,000 to Sandia National Laboratories for Z-Petawatt Consortium experiments using the Sandia Z-Beamlet and Z-Petawatt lasers.
"Construction--Project 96-D-111- The Committee directs that no funds shall be expended for this project.
"The Committee directs the NNSA to continue working with the Office of Science and the NSF on interagency coordination and support of high energy density physics and high intensity laser science. The Committee recommends that the Department form a High Energy Density Physics Advisory Committee, drawn from the scientific and technical community, to assist in this effort. The Committee further directs the Department to provide to the Committee a plan for funding and managing non-defense high energy density physics research and facilities development by March 1, 2006."
DARRYL NEWMAN, Monitor Staff Writer
When Los Alamos County received its last gross receipts tax revenue payment for fiscal 2005, county staff discovered revenues have decreased by 12.7 percent when compared to fiscal year 2004.
The last payment from the state was received Aug. 15 and signified the completion of the 2005 total. Although county staff anticipated a decrease during the fiscal 2006 budget development process, they did not expect to see such a drastic decline.
"This decline is seen across the board," County Finance Manager Steve Lynne said on Wednesday. "It's basically everything combined together. We had projected a decrease and it turned out to be more than we expected."
Most of that decline, Lynne said, stemmed from two sources: the change in business practices at Los Alamos National Laboratory in respect to its contingent worker program and a decline in local construction activity.
Deputy Director for UC-Bechtel
_______________________________________I am a LLNL retiree who is still involved as an associate and work part time. I an very familiar with the bidding process and what is happening. Recently on your Blog, it was discussed that the proposed Deputy Director for UC-Bechtel would be John Mitchel. Do yourself a favor, as I am sure that NNSA/DOE will do, and check his recent work experience and how he did at Y-12. My question is how did UC select this person as Deputy? Do they really want the contract or did Bechtel overrule UC on their main player in the LLC?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I almost feel sorry for Lockheed Martin
Submitted by "Finknottle":
You know, I almost feel sorry for Lockheed Martin and their crew of "alliance helpers" if they do win the contract for Los Alamos. There will probably still be a small core of talented, experienced, hard-working staff on site when the keys to the joint are handed over. There will, unfortunately, be a larger core of burned-out, browned-out, embittered, and even passively-aggressively malicious staff on hand to greet the new management team.
The years of neglect and inept management at LANL will have left the new landlord with a system that is entrenched in bureaucracy, brainless procedure, inefficiency, and rampant apathy. Not to mention an ambiguous mission.
There will be some trash to be hauled. Then, the new top-level managers will need to work very hard at earning the trust of LANL staff if there is to be any hope of improving the work environment here, which quite frankly sucks badly at present. In part, that trust will have to be earned by clearing out some of the lesser-quality second and third-tier managers that have become a part of the landscape. The process could take years.
The mission: what will C. Paul tell us that our mission is? Pit manufacturing? Bomb maintenance? Something a bit more appealing, scientifically speaking?
Foreign nationals: what will be the new policy regarding FNs? In the past they have played an important role at LANL. What about after June 1, 2006?
Cleaning up the operational side of the house is one thing. Important, yes, but without a mission that will reverse the trend of talent migrating outwards, and instead cause scientists to again want to come to Los Alamos because of exciting work opportunities, well, we will end up with an efficient pit manufacturing facility. Thanks, but no thanks to that.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
By Hildi T. Kelsey
October 11, 2005
The Laboratory has formed a partnership with the College of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara to create the Institute for Multiscale Materials Studies (IMMS). The newly established institute is designed to meet critical training, recruiting and staff retention needs for a wide range of current and future national security missions.
UC, Santa Barbara will initiate a new graduate emphasis area in multiscale materials and mechanics in the chemical engineering, materials, mechanical engineering and computer science departments to grant graduate degrees to students pursuing advanced education both at UC, Santa Barbara and at IMMS facilities in Los Alamos.
More discussion on Lockheed pension plan
FYI, there are some interesting excerpts that could be taken from the GAO report (see below) that concern LANL (and SNL and LLNL).
Of course, this is directly relevant to the post on Monday:
Monday, October 10, 2005
The reason it's relevant is that LockMart is almost certainly to be one of the companies that is used in the 'benchmark' mandated by the DOE order mentioned in the GAO report.
Given that LockMart is one of the 800 lb. gorillas in the defense industry, this can't help but eventually pull our benefits package down in the long run, irrespective of the comments from Jan Moncallo (post of 10/07/2005 03:23:00 PM, Response to recent announcement by Lockheed Martin regarding reduction in benefits), to wit: "... Lockheed Martin benefit programs have no relationship to the benefit program designs for Los Alamos employees".)
From: someone at Sandia
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 2:23 PM
To: someone at Sandia
RE: GAO report
Nope, guess again.
Among other things, our pension and benefit package is way too high, according to the GAO.
Wonder what DOE will do about this, or to us, as a result? Just guess.
"To ensure that the value of each contractor’s employee benefits are
comparable with its competitors and that costs are reasonable, DOE Order
350.1 requires its management and operating contractors to periodically
benchmark the value of their employee benefit packages
retirement pensions, health care, death, and disability
—with those of
organizations with whom the contractors compete in hiring employees.
The DOE order requires that if the value of a contractor’s benefits exceeds
the average benchmarked value by more than 5 percent, the contractor will
provide DOE with a plan to adjust the benefits so that they fall within 5
percent of the benchmarked value."
"The benefit value studies conducted for Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos,
and Sandia in 2004 show that the value of employee benefits for these
laboratories exceeded the benchmark by more than 5 percent in several of
the four primary categories of benefits. More importantly, the studies
showed that the overall benefits for those three laboratories exceeded the
allowable 5 percent variance for the overall benefits (see table 2).
Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos both had benefit values that far
exceeded the benchmark and, in many categories, both laboratories
exceeded all comparators. For example, pension benefits for both
laboratories exceeded those of all 15 comparators and were nearly twice
those of the benchmarked value. Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and
Sandia were highest or second highest in most benefit categories.
defined benefit pension was second highest of all 15 comparators and
exceeded the benchmarked value by 68 percent.
In contrast, the value of
benefits for Idaho and Oak Ridge did not exceed the 5 percent allowable
From: someone at Sandia
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 1:31 PM
To: someone at Sandia
RE: GAO report
Such as 2.5% raises??
From: someone at Sandia
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 1:25 PM
To: someone at Sandia
2. Department of Energy: Additional Opportunities Exist for Reducing Laboratory Contractors' Support Costs. GAO-05-897, September 9. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-897
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d05897high.pdf
Eisenhower Rolling in His Grave
Submitted by Rick Sterling: from today's 'Daily Californian'
Eisenhower Rolling in His Grave
By RICHARD STERLING
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
In his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961 President Dwight D. Eisenhower
warned, "We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,
whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The
potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will
It is not only persisting; it is prevailing. The world's largest military
contractor appears poised to take over management of the birthplace of the
atomic bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is a sign of how much things
have changed that there is barely any mention of concern. The corporate
media, which made missing disks at the lab national news, is quiet.
Politicians who created an opportunistic witch-hunt of "Chinese spy" Wen Ho
Lee are silent. And a hand-picked panel goes through the motions of
evaluating whether the UC team or Lockheed Martin team will be the future
manager of the nuclear weapons lab.
UC has managed Los Alamos since its beginning in 1943. Under Robert J.
Oppenheimer, the scientific and technical team performed the remarkable feat
of designing and testing an atomic bomb in 27 months. The project began at
the height of WWII, when Nazi Germany invaded several countries under
"pre-emptive war" in "self-defense." Japan was already on its last military
legs when atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The work of the
nuclear weapons labs has been controversial ever since, especially after the
collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Eisenhower said, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as
one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." His experience made him wary
of war proponents and profiteers. Lockheed Martin is just such a war
proponent and profiteer. Sometimes called 'the company that runs the
empire,' The company is intertwined with the Bush administration. Company
vice president Bruce Jackson, by his own account, wrote the Republican Party
foreign policy platform. The document "Rebuilding America's Defenses," which
guides U.S. military strategy, was principally written by former
communications director Thomas Donnelly. The current National Security
Advisor Stephen Hadley comes from the law firm representing Lockheed Martin.
Lynn Cheney is a former member of the company's Board of Directors.
The company's influence and its consequences can be seen in the invasion and
occupation of Iraq. As we now know, intelligence was grossly distorted. The
result is the current military-political situation, which even some
conservatives acknowledge is a disaster. Despite its role in promoting the
disaster, Lockheed Martin's business is booming. Prior to the war their
stock was about $40 per share. Now it is over $60-a 50 percent rise in two
years while most stocks fell.
With its great wealth, a corporation like Lockheed Martin undermines the
democratic process. They influence who goes to Congress and how they vote.
For example, Heather Wilson is New Mexico Congressperson on the House Select
Committee on Intelligence. According to www.opensecrets.org, Lockheed Martin
is her largest donor. Is it any surprise that she has pushed resolutions
calling for more nuclear weapons funding?
The National Nuclear Security Administration has been very "LM-Friendly" in
the bidding process. After the management contract was first offered by the
administration, Lockheed Martin announced it would not bid. This sent shock
waves through the administration and the company's friends in Congress. The
administration consulted with Lockheed Martin, then revised the rules and
contract to the company's liking. The cost of managing Los Alamos will go
from about $8 million per year under UC to nearly $80 million in the future,
a truly amazing increase especially since one of the goals is 'efficiency.'
Currently there is a panel called the Source Evaluation Board reviewing the
bids of UC and Lockheed Martin teams. The composition of the board suggests
there will be little independence or debate. Administration director Brooks
appointed administration attorney Charles Przybylek to head the evaluation
board. He in turn appointed the board members. There are no representatives
from Los Alamos staff. There are no independent representatives from the
military, academia or industry. The board is comprised only of
administration staff members, people with ultimately the same boss, working
in an administration known to prize 'loyalty' above all else. Instead of an
objective evaluation, it looks like a charade.
UC has not helped its own case. To retain management of Los Alamos, UC has
allied with Bechtel, a company infamous for its water privatization efforts
in Bolivia and huge no-bid contracts in Iraq. UC has made efforts to 'shape
up' the lab to meet the demands of critics. The appointed management has
been a disaster, compounding problems of image and morale.
Given all that, does it matter who manages Los Alamos? I think so. Whether
or not the daily management of the lab is better under Lockheed Martin,
there are bigger issues at stake. The outcome may influence U.S. foreign
policy and international relations. The company's potential takeover of the
nuclear weapons lab will be a milestone in "the disastrous rise of misplaced
power," where a military contractor steers government policy, conflict is
promoted for profit and nuclear war is more likely.
Richard Sterling is a UC Berkeley engineer. Reply to email@example.com.
By Isaac Wolf
October 11, 2005 in News
WASHINGTON, D.C.-—Defense firm Northrop Grumman is considering making a proposal for the Argonne National Laboratory East as the October 14 deadline to express interest in managing this University of Chicago-run research center draws near.
Argonne—a non-weapons facility that focuses on theoretical work including physics, computing, and math—is one of five national laboratories put up for competitive bidding by the Department of Energy, following widespread mismanagement of the Los Alamos National Laboratory by the University of California system.
Problems at Los Alamos included security and safety breaches, prompting the Department of Energy to put the labs up for competitive contracts in January 2004. While forcing universities to improve their management practices, the competitive bidding process allows commercial defense groups with strong political alliances—such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop—to jockey for the labs.
Monday, October 10, 2005
BETHESDA, Md. (AP) - Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. will no longer provide traditional pension plans to new salaried employees in part to cut costs, offering them instead defined contribution retirement plans.
In a letter to the company's 85,000 salaried employees, Lockheed said Thursday it will contribute money to accounts for the new workers that give them the option to invest the money as they choose.
However, as of Jan. 1, new hires won't be offered a pension where they receive regular payments after retirement based on years of service and salary.
Lockheed Martin has about 8,000 employees in New Mexico - about 7,600 of them work at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.
Lockheed spokesman Tom Jurkowsky said new salaried employees at Sandia won't be affected by the cut because the lab offers a separate pension plan.
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
Responding to technical information from a Los Alamos geologist, a federal auditor found that drilling techniques for deep-test wells at Los Alamos National Laboratory might have distorted some of the results of a water monitoring project.
An inspection report released on Friday by the Inspector General of the Department of Energy concluded that LANL's methods may have been allowable under the guidelines, but did not meet the requirements of the applicable environmental law.
Additives used in the drilling procedure may have masked the presence of radioactive contaminants and "compromised the reliability of the groundwater contamination data," according to the report.
Bob Gilkeson, an expert in drilling methods for monitoring low-level contaminants, said Friday that he took the matter to the Inspector General because he believes that the laboratory, with the encouragement of the New Mexico Environment Department, has installed many wells that do not provide accurate information.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Anonymity and the law
For your Bloggers who are interested in what kinds of attacks may be made on their anonymity, have them look at this Delaware case. A city Councilman tried to make the Internet Service Provider (ISP) give up the identity of an anonymous blogger who criticized him. The trial court required the ISP to give it up if the Councilman showed met a standard of good faith: i.e., (1) that they had a
legitimate, good faith basis upon which to bring the underlying claim; (2) that the identifying information sought was directly and materially related to their claim; and (3) that the information could not be obtained from any other source.
The Delaware Supreme court overturned the trial court’s decision and imposed a higher standard: the Councilman (the Plaintiff) has to meet the same standard that he would have to meet to defeat a motion for summary judgment, i.e., the defamation plaintiff, as the party bearing the burden of proof at trial, must introduce evidence creating a genuine issue of material fact for all elements of a defamation claim within the plaintiff’s control. See page 22 of the opinion for the elements of a defamation suit. You can find the opinion athttp://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/delawarestatecases/266-2005.pdf
Apparently the rise of blogs has resulted in a spate of these suits across the country. The Delaware Court raised the bar on disclosure of the anonymous blogger because it held that an important element of the relief that a criticized public figure seeks is exactly the unmasking of the anonymous blogger – exposing the blogger to public ridicule, possible retaliation or retribution. This would put a damper on the first amendment right to free speech, which particularly includes the right to anonymous free speech. Therefore the public-figure plaintiff should be required to meet a higher standard.
Los Alamos NM 87544
P.S.: this message is not intended to be anonymous
Journal Staff Writer
When Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists in 1988 first proposed building an enormous machine to take three-dimensional X-rays of exploding nuclear weapon parts, they thought it would cost $30 million.
Seventeen years and more than $300 million later, it still does not work.
Some major nuclear weapons projects launched over the last two decades suffer similar problems, from a massive laser in California at least $2 billion over budget to Los Alamos' inability to make plutonium bomb parts four years after it was supposed to.
By MATT WILLIAMS Colorado Daily Staff Writer
Sunday, October 9, 2005 12:07 AM MDT
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is synonymous for many with decades of frenzied bomb making and mushroom clouds
But CU-Boulder physics professor Jerry Peterson has a more pressing scientific inquiry these days at the world-renowned lab in New Mexico: He's part of an advisory committee studying how cosmic rays annihilate streams of digital information - the nearly infinite series of zeros and ones that speed across wireless networks.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Privatizing Los Alamos National Laboratory
Brad and I agree on all points except one: that the idea of privatizing Los Alamos National Laboratory is a "benighted" one. I say this because it is obvious to anyone who has taken a careful look at operations at LANL that the University of California has done a miserable job of managing the facility for quite some time. The events of the past year only underscore this point.
Given this, what other options exist to turn LANL into a professionally-managed operation? Find another university to run the place? That was rhetorical, of course. Universities simply are not efficient managers of anything but universities, and usually not even then.
The only choice available to those of us who wish to help dig LANL out of the hole that it has dug itself into is to get a professional management team installed, and industry is the only place you have any hope of finding one of those.
That said, I agree with Brad's assessment that the Lockmart-led Los Alamos Alliance looks to be the hands down favorite. The indicators of this are everywhere, not the least of which is in how the two LLC's chose to locate and operate their storefront operations.
The Storefronts: A Clue to Who Will Win
First of all, let me restate my original objection to the whole benighted idea of privatizing Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is based on faulty assumptions about "failures" (unique to LANL, allegedly) in accounting, security, and safety that have occurred over the last seven years, and an even faultier assumption that the University of California has been "running" Los Alamos all these 60-odd years, just like it runs its campuses in California. The decision by the present Administration of the Federal Government to compete the contract is purely ideological and without objective basis, but it is a fait accompli--it will be done, and as a result, LANL will be different in almost every aspect, no matter whether Bechtel (and UC and other minor players) or Lockheed Martin (and University of Texas and other minor players) "wins" the bid. The benefits and pension plans will no longer be the same, no matter who wins; but more importantly, the day-to-day operations, including how science is done, will also change irrevocably.
I visited both bid teams' storefronts yesterday and talked at considerable length with both, expressing my concerns and listening to their responses. My concerns were: (1) How will the management structure (dictated by the business partners of the two teams, Bechtel and Lockheed Martin) affect the management of science at LANL? (2) Was the shutdown a mistake? (3) Is the "hiring freeze" (or "constraints" or whatever) the idea of the corporate partner on the team, and is it a good idea? (4) What will be done about the impending brain drain of retirees who will want to preserve their investments in the old UC retirement system? (5) How will the corporate partners lure new scientists into working at LANL, and what is the team's vision of the future of science at Los Alamos? (Another way of putting this last point is, what is each team's definition of "national security"?)
As to management, both Bechtel and LockMart will change operations for the better, of that I am convinced. But LockMart will likely encourage a parallel path for scientists to rise in rank and salary, alongside managers, with easy transitions back and forth. Moreover, the LockMart team emphasized the importance of allowing staff to transfer to different places within the Laboratory, particularly when there arise personality conflicts between group leader and staff member, or when the staff member wants to contribute to new and different projects. LockMart--sorry for focusing upon the two corporate leaders, but I see their roles as becoming dominant after the contract has been awarded and the rubber hits the road--was unique in stating their goal of making possible genuinely lifelong scientific careers at Los Alamos, rather than simply hiring to programs and money. They are proud of the general outlines of the Sandia style of management, and I must say that Sandians I have talked to universally like C. Paul Robinson, and they are generally supportive of the management structure there, because it is carried out in a very professional manner. Sandia managers feel their first priority is to enable their workers to succeed in accomplishing their goals. -At least most of them have this clearly in mind, and they are given training to make it work. "Making it work" means, to them, communicating with the staff, and not just once a year at raise time.
The principal difference between Bechtel and LockMart with regard to the shutdown was that Bechtel seems to be somewhat ashamed of their partner, UC, and its passive-agressive way of mishandling the shutdown, while LockMart was positive-definite about never allowing such a general catastrophe to occur on their watch. The anecdote was repeated, namely, that you don't give everyone chemotherapy when one person has been diagnosed with cancer. Both Bechtel and LockMart spokesmen distanced themselves from the present hiring freeze, saying that this is a local decision, not one imposed by either bid team. Demoralization of the LANL staff seems to be the inevitable outcome of any UC decision, it would seem.
LockMart seemed most proactive in their response to the impending brain drain of retirees, emphasizing their commitment to keeping people who decide to retire from UC whenever their expertise is essential to continuity of delivering LANL's national security objectives, including the basic science component. The most important component to this continuity is mentoring of younger scientists, and they pointed to LANL retiree John Richter's course on weapons design for young people at Sandia. Regardless of which military-industrial corporate entity wins the contract, there will be more focus on national security, but it appears to me that LockMart is more forward-looking. They and C. Paul Robinson talk about expanding the definition of national security to the understanding and protection of the country's infrastructure, the technology of energy conservation and reducing dependence upon imported oil, computer simulations of climate modeling, epidemics, and terrorism, and a host of other problems that loom on our country's and the world's horizon. On the other hand, Bechtel fell back on what seemed to me to be a defensive position, namely, repeating words extolling the glories of the past scientific achievements of the UC system. (I got my PhD at UC Berkeley, so these, of course, are stirring words to me; however, I see UC's lack of support of the Lab in the last year and a quarter, and my ardor wanes.)
The bottom line is, it looks to me that, if the storefronts are any indication of the performance of the two bid teams in their day-long prelim exams, LockMart has most likely won the contract. And (at least under the terms of engagement in this unfortunate exercise), from what I've seen and heard from the two teams, Lockheed probably deserves to win.
-Brad Lee Holian, Lab Associate
By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
October 8, 2005
LOS ALAMOS -- C. Paul Robinson, possibly the next director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, says Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas have made training new scientists a big part of their proposal to take over management of the lab.
"We think the available work force with advanced degrees in science and technology is woefully low in the country," Robinson said in a Wednesday interview. "So we'd better do double duty -- not just nuclear weapons but whatever threatens the security of the nation."
Friday, October 07, 2005
A few reminders
Now might be a good time to remind everybody of a couple of issues regarding the use of this blog.
- Those wishing to comment on an existing post must register with blogger.com in order to do so.
- Anyone may request that material be posted to this blog, either attributed or anonymously, so long as the subject material meets the posting guidelines.
- I have made identical offers to members of both the Lockheed Martin Alliance and to the UC/Bechtel LANS LLC regarding the use of this blog to disseminate any material pertinent to the bid process that they felt would benefit the LANL community.
- I request that contributors to this blog remain civil, and to adhere to the posting guidelines. Any one who ignores this request will be banned from the blog, and I will lodge a complaint with blogger.com against owner of the account from which the unacceptable contributions originated.
CAROL A. CLARK, email@example.com, Monitor Staff Writer
Michael Anastasio announced Wednesday that John Mitchell, who has served Bechtel as president and general manager at three DOE sites, will become deputy laboratory director should their team win the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract.
During an interview in a conference room at Los Alamos National Bank, Anastasio and Mitchell displayed good-natured confidence that their team, Los Alamos National Security (LANS), will place first when the competition concludes on Dec. 1.
If that happens, Anastasio, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and president of the LANS team, will become LANL director.
Anastasio has some 25 years experience working with people at LANL. He has a brother living in Albuquerque and he knows New Mexico overall quite well.
Response to recent announcement by Lockheed Martin regarding reduction in benefits
In response to the previous post, and to one comment made on an earlier post regarding the recently announced reduction in Lockheed employee benefits, I requested of the LM Alliance staff that we get an official response from Lockheed Martin, and the Alliance on what impact this would have on LANL employee benefits, should the Alliance win the contract. Here is the response that I got.--Doug_____________________________________Lockheed Martin recently announced to employees changes in current and future employees’ benefit programs. While these changes reflect the competitive market and industry trends for employee benefits, the Lockheed Martin benefit programs have no relationship to the benefit program designs for Los Alamos employees. The Los Alamos Alliance will present employee benefit proposals to the NNSA for their review and approval by 31 Jan 06, in compliance with the LANL RFP requirements. In a recent communication, Dr. Paul Robinson, Los Alamos Alliance Laboratory Director, states, “DOE has publicly said the Laboratory’s new M&O contractor will provide transferring employees with benefits that are substantially equivalent to those they enjoy today. We intend to fully meet the intent of this DOE requirement.”Jan MoncalloVice President, Human Resources
Lockheed Martin Technical Operations
Pension Changes to Affect New Workers
By Renae MerleWashington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 7, 2005; Page D01
Lockheed Martin Corp., one of the largest private employers in the region, announced yesterday that it will cut its benefit plans to eventually save the company $125 million to $150 million a year.
Employees hired after Jan. 1 will be ineligible for the company's traditional pension plan, which guarantees workers a percentage of their salaries upon retirement, and will not qualify for retiree health care benefits.
ALBUQUERQUE -- A University of California group has the experience and leadership to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.
That was the message yesterday by the head of a team that is competing to manage the lab for the federal government.
UC bid leader Michael Anastasio says his integrated team would help Los Alamos lab -- in his words -- "remain the great national security and scientific laboratory that it's always been."
The Department of Energy is reviewing bids to run the lab. The DOE is expected to announce the winner by December First. The seven-year contract could be extended up to 20 years.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
Those with questions about the coming change in management at Los Alamos National Laboratory are about to find some new resources in town.
On Wednesday, the Los Alamos Alliance opened a storefront in a small business center on Central Avenue, across from the post office.
C. Paul Robinson was on hand to talk about plans and answer questions. The former director of Sandia National Laboratories is the designated director of LANL, should LAA be chosen to manage Los Alamos.
"We as managers don't have to have the best ideas, but we are obligated to harvest the best ideas and organize the great programs to fulfill them," he said, touching on central themes of the partnership.
Los Alamos Alliance storefront handout material
As mentioned in the previous post, I offered to place informational material from both of the LLCs that are bidding on the LANL contract on the blog for the blog readers to access. I met yesterday with representatives of both the Los Alamos Alliance (LM/UT/CH2M Hill/Fluor), and the LANS (UC/Bechtel/BWXT, etc.) LLC.
This morning I received from the Los alamos Alliance the electronic versions that I had requested of the handouts which are available at the Alliance storefront office. Here they are:
- Los Alamos Alliance FAQ
- A Letter from C. Paul Robinson
- Academic Network Listing
- LANL Tuition Fact Sheet
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
After reading about the grand opening of the Lockheed/UT/friends Alliance LLC storefront office in Los Alamos today, I decided to go LLC window-shopping. The LM storefront operation was my first stop. Their brand new office is just around the corner from Starbucks at 1789 Central Ave. According to the story in today's Albuquerque Journal, business hours for the Los Alamos office will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
I showed up at about 3:15, and found lots of people milling about. Roger Snodgrass of the Monitor was interviewing Paul Robinson, and Andy Lenderman of the New Mexican was there as well. I met lots of the LM alliance folks, all of whom seemed quite interested in hearing what issues the community wanted to bring to the table regarding the new contractor who would be assuming the LANL contract next June.
After I had finished meeting and talking with the LM alliance folks, I decided to drive over to the UC/Bechtel "storefront" office located on the Motorola building. The Motorola Building? That's the one up the the back gate road on the way to the Pajarito Ski area, just across from TA-3. After wandering the building for about 10 minutes searching for signs to lead me to the the LLC, I finally found their office on the same floor as the Hot Rocks coffee shop, down a long hallway on the second floor. I signed in, and the receptionist brought a harried-looking Bechtel person up to the front to meet me. He turned out to be a nice guy, but I got the distinct impression that the UC/Bechtel LLC is not accustomed to having people just "drop in" for a chat. After a few moments, I made him the same offer as I had made the LM folks: if there was any material about his LLC that he wished to have distributed on the LANL blog, I told him that I would be happy to let him use the blog's venue to disseminate it.
The UC/Bechtel LLC did not have material available for dissemination just yet. The LM/UT group, on the other hand, readily accepted my offer, and will be sending me electronic versions of their informational material soon, at which point I will make it available here.
For me it was an educational experience. I encourage any LANL employee who wishes to learn more about the next contractor that will be running our laboratory to stop by both facilities, ask questions, and get a feel for both LLCs. One of them will be our boss starting June 1.
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 5, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - An investigation by the U.S. Department of Energy has found that security managers at Sandia National Laboratories routinely recorded telephone and radio conversations of security workers.
Conversations with people outside Sandia also were recorded without their knowledge, according to a copyright story in Wednesday's edition of the Albuquerque Journal.
Secure nukes at 1 site
By James W. Brosnan
Scripps Howard News Service
October 5, 2005
WASHINGTON - An advisory panel is telling the Department of Energy it should consolidate its nuclear bomb-making facilities, including units at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, into one isolated, secure site to make a new generation of warheads.
The recommendation made Tuesday by the Secretary's Energy Advisory Board, if adopted by the administration and Congress, could mean Los Alamos would no longer make the plutonium "pits" for bombs, that Sandia would no longer test components with a highly radioactive pulse generator, and that neither lab would test high explosives or store large amounts of nuclear material.
Include the Kauppila family fund
Submitted by Ron Minnich:
I think LANL employees ought to call the local United Way, during this year's fund drive, and ask that they include the Kauppila family fund in the list of supported charities this year. They can set it up so that employees have to explicitly designate this fund, if United Way are unwilling to make it one of the standard recipients; but it ought to be possible for Lab employees to contribute to the Kauppila family fund via United Way.
My request alone might not make a difference; employees can consider contacting United Way to make this request. Possibly, if enough people request it, United Way would accede to this request.
Also, I think, given the lack of action at the federal level, that it might be appropriate for the Oversight Committee in our state legislature to investigate what happened to Todd. I believe this Committee could compel testimony, under oath. Jeanette Wallace, in town, is on this committee. I think the questions surrounding Todd's firing need to be resolved. Even those who support Pete's actions in this matter would, I assume, welcome a chance to clear the air.
Consider contacting your local state legislator and requesting that the Oversight Committee initiate its own investigation.
Journal Staff Reports
LANL Bidder Is Opening Offices
The Los Alamos Alliance, the team led by the University of Texas System and Lockheed Martin Corp. that is bidding to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, is opening offices in Los Alamos and Española.
The Los Alamos office at 1789 Central Ave., Suite 3, will open at 2:30 p.m. today. The Española office at 810 North Riverside Drive, Suite E, will open in mid-October.
Beginning Thursday, business hours for the Los Alamos office will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
A Wish List from a concerned Los Alamos staff member
UC Regents and President Dynes: I wish you would openly, publicly state that the 2004 lab shutdown was a disastrous mistake and a dramatic over-reaction. I wish you would attempt to open a dialogue with the technical staff about how you plan to address safety and security incidents without elevating them to the level of national crisis. You need to specify how you will gather input from the staff in this effort. I wish you would publicly state that there will NOT be another shutdown.
NNSA: I wish you would acknowledge what Brad Holian has made obvious, that safety and security problems at LANL are comparable to - not dramatically worse than - what they are at other DOE facilities. I wish you would testify to Congress honestly and accurately instead of pandering to their pre-conceived characterizations. Instead, you have been complicit in making LANL the favorite punching bag for Congress.
Lab Director and Associate Directors: I wish you would admit that at least some of the disciplinary actions taken in 2004 were unfair (especially Kauppila and Horne), and that you would correct them. These actions were all about making it seem to Congress that you were just doing something, and they compromised fairness and integrity. Scientists will leave the institution if they do not have assurance that discipline is measured and that civil rights are respected.
Lab legal staff: I wish you would work on behalf of the technical staff at the laboratory, not just the director. I wish you would focus on ethics, not just legal technicalities.
LANL Public Affairs: I wish you would stop presuming that you know how the technical staff feels about the lab shutdown. You could, for example, pick up the phone and ask us. I wish you would work on behalf of the technical staff, not just the director.
Science Council: I wish you would be an independent voice for the technical staff, advocating substantive changes enabling us to get our jobs done and helping to preserve an atmosphere of creativity and innovation. Instead, you have become a wing of the director's office. I wish you would communicate to us what you are doing.
Ambassador Linton Brooks: You have publicly apologized for calling LANL a "culture of non-compliance," and I thank you for that. But you have not, to my knowledge, returned to Congress to retract the statement made in Congressional testimony. You need to make it clear that many previous assertions made about LANL operations and LANL scientists were unfounded, and even irresponsible. This is about more than just hurt feelings: national security has been damaged by making it harder to attract funding.
Congressman Hobson: I wish you would take the time to visit LANL and actually find out what we work on here. I wish you would acknowledge that nuclear weapons aging is a real problem, not a ploy to prop up a jobs program. I respect your anti-nuclear advocacy, but instead of promulgating an intelligent debate on the issue, you have reduced it to a series of provocative sound bites. I wish you wouldn't allow budgetary bickering to substitute for rational national security policy making.
US House of Representatives: I wish you would drop the vituperative rhetoric. Stop using LANL, selectively, as a favorite punching bag. To blame UC management for incidents at LANL is a crude, unjustified, ridiculous bit of deception. Senators Domenici and Bingaman have both publicly stated that "the Congress has a propensity to over-react." You should listen to them.
Newspaper Journalists: I wish you would stop taking events out of context. You are free to report on what happens at LANL, good and bad. But you have the responsibility to report the full story, not the alarming sound bites. If your editor limits the column inches available for your story, tell him you refuse to print unless you have sufficient space to get the story right. It is a matter of professional integrity and service to the public.
Senator Domenici: You have been a stalwart supporter of science and engineering in nuclear weapons R&D. But you have forgotten that advances in national security depend on a broad base of technical excellence in many other endeavors, even some basic research areas. The mission of the lab has broadened beyond nuclear weapons to national security, including environmental security, infrastructure security, health security, and computer security -- this happened decades ago. I wish you would nurture these other areas just as much as the nuclear weapons complex.
Anti-nuclear advocacy groups: I wish you would acknowledge that nuclear weapons R&D is sustained by the US Congress, and is not simply some selfish attempt to preserve jobs for PhDs. I wish you would stop demonizing LANL scientists. You could start by reading Hugh Gusterson's book.
C. Paul Robinson and Lockheed-Martin: I wish you would acknowledge that the problems at Sandia are just as severe as they are at LANL, even if they are out of the public eye.
My technical colleagues at LANL: I wish you would start fighting back by speaking out about unfairness and bad decisions.
Pete Nanos: I wish you would apologize. I wish you would publicly acknowledge your mistakes, especially in the way the CREM incident was investigated.
-- Bernard Foy
Please post this link to the Wikipedia entry for George Peter Nanos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Peter_Nanos
Los Alamos Alliance to open offices
The Los Alamos Alliance, led by The University of Texas System and Lockheed Martin Corp., will open community outreach offices in Los Alamos and Espanola.
The Los Alamos office - 1789 Central Ave., Suite 3, - will open at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The Espanola office, located at 810 North Riverside Drive, Suite E, will open in mid-October.
Beginning Thursday, business hours for the Los Alamos-based office will be Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday.
Comments on the LANL Bid
Comments and criticism (favorable and unfavorable) welcome.
Rick Sterling, email@example.com
Los Alamos, Lockheed Martin and US Militarism
"The conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience ?...we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." (Pres. D. Eisenhower, farewell address, 17 Jan 1961)
This warning by General Eisenhower seems very prophetic today. It is highly likely that the world's largest military contractor will soon take over management of the legendary nuclear weapons facility at Los Alamos. It's a sign of how much things have changed that there is barely a mention of concern. The corporate media, which made missing disks at Los Alamos Lab national news, is quiet. Politicians who created an opportunistic witch-hunt of Wen Ho Lee are silent. Meanwhile a hand-picked panel comprised entirely from a single agency goes through the motions of evaluating whether the University of California team or Lockheed Martin (LM) team should be the future manager for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). They are scheduled to announce the contract winner by December 1.
First a little background on Los Alamos:
During the height of WWII President Roosevelt authorized urgent work to build an atomic bomb. Professor Robert Oppenheimer of UC Berkeley was selected to lead and manage the effort. In a truly remarkable effort the "Manhattan Project" completed the design and successful test of an atomic bomb in just 27 months. It was an amazing achievement yet many leading scientists expressed concern when the bomb was dropped on two Japanese cities killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. Even more scientists expressed opposition as Los Alamos and Livermore Labs continued to design and produce nuclear weaponry over the decades since then. More recently the work at the labs has included pure science, stewardship of the stockpile, and the development of means to test the weaponry without a physical test. Through the ups and downs the laboratories have been dutifully managed by the University of California.
But times are changing. A new breed of military hawks has assumed full power in the US. They argue that the the 21st Century should be the "new American century" with US interests prevailing around the globe. Domination of space and usable nuclear weapons are priorities. They also have a strong preference for privatizing government and public service sectors.
Beginning with the Wen Ho Lee affair, there have been a series of highly publicized `scandals' at Los Alamos. In parallel with the intense publicity, much of it overblown, there has risen the call to privatize the management of the nuclear weapons labs. Thus we see the University of California team now competing against Lockheed Martin team. Both teams have corporate and university elements. Does it matter who manages Los Alamos National Laboratory? I think it does. The outcome may influence US foreign policy, international relations and the likelihood of nuclear war in the coming years. It will affect the character of the lab, percentage of pure science research and prospects for the lab to evolve and tackle other issues.
In 1946 General Eisenhower said, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." His experience made him hate war and be wary of war proponents and profiteers. Lockheed Martin is just such a war proponent and profiteer. Sometimes called 'the company that runs the empire', Lockheed Martin has an incestuous relationship with the Bush Administration. The Republican Party foreign policy platform was written by LM Vice Pres Bruce Jackson. The document "Rebuilding America's Defenses" which guides current US military strategy was principally written by former LM Communications Director, Thomas Donnelly. The current National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley comes from the law firm which represents Lockheed Martin. Lynn Cheney is a former member of the LM Board of Directors.
Eisenhower was concerned that military corporations would use their influence to profit through conflict and warfare. Intelligence, reports and policies could be influenced by the corporation's profit motive.
L-M influence and consequences can be seen in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As we now know, intelligence was grossly distorted. The result is the current military - political situation which even most conservatives acknowledge is a disaster. Lockheed Martin, on the other hand, has done very well. Business is booming. Prior to the war their stock was selling for about $40 per share. Now its value is over $60 - a 50% increase in just two years while most stocks went down.
Lockheed Martin's influence extends from the White House to Congress. Heather Wilson is the New Mexico Representative covering Los Alamos. According to www.opensecrets.org , LM is her largest donor, giving twice as much as the next contributor. Is it any surprise that she has pushed resolutions calling for more nuclear weapons funding? Would anyone be surprised if she was favorable to the LM bid to take over Los Alamos National Laboratory? Lockheed Martin donates strategically to both Senators from New Mexico. Only the most naive person could think these donations do not influence the politicians.
The process of selecting the future management shows a very "LM friendly" approach. After the management contract was first offered by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Lockheed Martin announced that it would not be bidding. This sent shock waves through NNSA and LM's friends in Congress. NNSA consulted with LM then revised the rules and contract to LM's liking. The cost of managing Los Alamos will go from about $8M/yr under UC to about $79M/yr in the future, a truly amazing increase especially since one of the goals is `efficiency'.
Currently there is a panel called the Source Evaluation Board (SEB) which is evaluating the bids of the UC and LM teams. The composition of the SEB suggests there will be little independence or debate. NNSA Director Brooks appointed NNSA attorney Przybylek to head the evaluation committee. He in turn appointed all the committee members who are all from NNSA. Why are there not representatives from the LANL science and technical staff on the evaluation board? Why are there not independent representatives from the military, academia and industry? On a decision of this significance it would be appropriate. Instead, the entire committee is comprised of NNSA staff members, people with ultimately the same boss, working in an Administration known to prize 'loyalty' above all else. Instead of an objective evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the management teams, it seems guaranteed that the pre-selected favorite will 'win'. If so, it will be a milestone on the road of misplaced power, making conflict and war more likely.
President Eisenhower also said, "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." (April 16, 1953.)
Monday, October 03, 2005
One of the many ironies
Should the UC team in the end lose the LANL contract to the
Lockheed-Martin/UT team, one of the many ironies will be that UC had an
opportunity, early on, to team with Lockheed Martin and probably assure
that they would retain the contract, perhaps even unopposed. Lockheed and
UC were in talks way back at the beginning, when NNSA first announced that
they would compete the contract, but these talks were broken off. Rumor
(unconfirmed) at the time was that the reason the talks broke off was that
UC insisted on having majority control and relegating Lockheed Martin to a
junior partner role. More recent stories about a public disagreement in
front of the orals committee over the division of responsibility between
Bechtel and UC would seem to support that assessment.
ADSR Emailgram - October 3, 2005
Submitted by Anonymous:
> From: Nancy Kurnath
> Date: 2005 October 03 09:53:05 MDT
> Subject: ADSR Emailgram - October 3, 2005
>> ADSR Emailgram
>> October 3, 2005
>> This week, the Director set up a hiring council to review all
>> personnel transactions: hires, conversions, internal transfers and
>> promotions. The purpose of the council is to assure that there is an
>> institutional rationale for hiring given the fiscal constraints of a
>> continuing resolution and projected decline in Defense Programs (DP)
>> funding. Unfortunately, shortly before the Director's announcement,
>> there was an internal communique in HR that announced a "hiring
>> suspension, effective immediately." This message was widely
>> circulated and interpreted as a "hiring freeze." To be honest, the
>> HR message caught me by surprise. Although the EB has been
>> discussing the need for a hiring policy and hiring council, there has
>> been no discussion of a hiring freeze. In fact, within the last
>> couple of weeks I have met with a number of groups regarding the
>> question of a freeze, in particular a freeze of post-conversions, and
>> I have stated that ADSR would continue to hire TSMs (including
>> post-doc conversions) until May 2006. The reason I was (and I still
>> am) confident that we will need to continue to fill the technical
>> ranks of the laboratory is reflected by the work force profile:
>> Directorate 2001 FTE 2005 FTE Total Change
>> ADSR 1754 1478 -276
>> ADA 1279 1367 +88
>> ADO/SFO/TS 1244 1713 +469
>> ADTR 1108 1283 +175
>> ADWEM 1483 1770 +287
>> ADWP 1924 2093 +169
>> The total number of employees in ADSR is down 276 in the last 5
>> years, and this decline is most significant in the TSMs. The table
>> does not include students, which has remained constant at about 350
>> in ADSR. In short, the lab has grown in the last five years, but the
>> science divisions have seen significant declines in numbers of TSMs.
>> The largest growth in employees has been in the ranks of SSMs. The
>> SSM series includes administrative and managerial jobs in
>> non-technical professional and administrative staff occupations. SSM
>> jobs are in general recognized professional or administrative
>> occupations that require specialized knowledge normally gained
>> through the combination of a bachelor's degree (or higher) and
>> relevant, progressively responsible experience. Since 2001 there has
>> been an increase of 873 SSMs (compared to an increase of 264 TSMs Lab
>> The hiring council is reviewing the present job searches and
>> advertisements. This amounts to more than 1,000 job actions, which
>> is clearly not sustainable in the present environment of a
>> constrained budget. Further, in my opinion, the job mix that is
>> presently being advertised is not in the best interest of the
>> Laboratory if it is to remain the preeminent national security
>> science center. LANL has a strategic hiring plan and it states:
>> "In the implementation of the Laboratory's primary core mission, a
>> vigorous science-based stockpile stewardship program will be
>> conducted to maintain confidence in the safety, reliability, and
>> performance of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. This program
>> requires the development and utilization of a revolutionary new suite
>> of computational and experimental facilities coupled with a creative
>> program of theoretical science. A second core national security
>> mission will be pursued in threat reduction. The programs embodied in
>> this component of our mission are designed to prevent the
>> proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, provide technical
>> underpinnings for arms control initiatives, develop non-nuclear
>> military technologies, and provide analyses and advanced technologies
>> to protect our nation's critical infrastructure. As a third
>> component of the Laboratory's mission, a set of programs will be
>> developed and implemented to provide technical solutions to other
>> strategic problems affecting global security, including those related
>> to energy and environmental security, and the application of
>> bioscience to strategic national needs. The programs carrying out
>> these mission elements will be designed and managed to assure that
>> they are synergistic and mutually supportive. Further, to be
>> effective, these programs must call upon strong scientific and
>> engineering capabilities that are of high quality and of the
>> appropriate size and breadth to meet present and future programmatic
>> Clearly, "programmatic needs" is the engine for staffing plans. The
>> TSM rank carries much of burden for science and program, although the
>> support for the science through the TECH, OS, AS and SSM series are
>> essential. Within ADSR the balance between TSM and SUPPORT appears
>> to be near optimal for the most part. Retirements, transfers, or
>> personnel leaving ADSR (any job classification) must be addressed or
>> the program will suffer.
>> I believe that the hiring council will bring some much needed fiscal
>> reality and a reimplementation of the LANL strategic plan. It will
>> cause a delay in some hiring actions and cancel others. However, I
>> believe that the focus on revitalizing the science base will be great
>> for ADSR, and consequently, for maintaining the science base. We
>> will move forward in hiring the best and brightest. I know that many
>> of you, especially those of you that are post-docs, are quite
>> concerned about your future potential for employment at LANL. Within
>> ADSR, we have had to manage to budget and budget risk for a decade.
>> These same constraints will now be applied to the entire laboratory.
>> Consequently, I expect that the hiring council will not have a
>> significant impact on ADSR hiring practices.
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
Los Alamos National Laboratory announced last week that it would take steps to "constrain hiring" in the "near future."
The announcement was made to employees in a memo on Wednesday by laboratory Director Robert Kuckuck, who blamed tight budget projections over the next two years for the new policies.
A laboratory spokesman emphasized the plan was not a freeze.
"This is absolutely not a hiring freeze," said Kevin Roark of the LANL Public Affairs Office, but rather a measured response to the current budget uncertainties.
Submitted by Anonymous:
______________________________Los Alamos Monitor
Monday, October 3, 2005
The LANL culture
For those, and there are many, who doubt the wisdom of the 2004 shutdown, some new and very troubling information has surfaced in the form of a LANL Occurrence Report (FIRNGHELAB-2005-0005). It describes an accident which happened in DX-1 on 10/02/2003, not reported until 03/31/2005.
It is an absolute horror show, involving failure to stop work, inadequate training for a hazardous task, intimidation of workers by management, etc. Virtually every sin in the book, with management playing the heavy. Two employees were left with serious, permanent, lung damage. Unlike the Martinez case, they can't sue LANL and the managers, because of the Workers Compensation laws.
LANL employees should be able to access this report online. The reports, once available to the public, are blocked from public access since 2002. Perhaps they don't want to shock us?
What I find deeply troubling is that the managers involved, who were directly responsible for this accident, have not suffered for their actions. They are still in management and some have been promoted.
This is an incredible message to send to other managers and the workforce. I believe they should have been terminated, for cause; or at minimum removed from management with no prospects for a future management position. But, read the report and decide for yourself. It is a real horror show.
Manhattan Project was no disgrace
October 3, 2005
For many years, researchers at the University of Colorado have benefited from its association with Los Alamos National Laboratory. Now CU is among the universities in a consortium, organized by the University of Texas system, bidding to manage the lab in partnership with Lockheed Martin. If the bid succeeds, those benefits will continue, so we hope it does.
However, we're more than a little puzzled by CU's eagerness to declare that none of their work with the lab has been classified secret, and more particularly, none has been related to weapons.
I would like to thank you for your comments as well . Todd was a brilliant scientist and I know he would have loved to have been involved in the enterprise that you described. He was a man of unparalleled drive, passion, and ability. He deserved to be a part of an organization that would support and encourage him rather than throw him to the dogs for political expediency. The fact that you never had the chance to meet him and the fact that we have lost him is a profound loss for all of us.
We thank you for your condolences and wish you the best of luck in your venture.
John N. Horne
Sunday, October 02, 2005
A post for the blog in response to Tracy Colyle's post
Thanks for your comments, Tracy. For years Todd only put up with the horrible politics because he so very much loved the science. Your company would, indeed, have been a good place for him. Good luck.
An odd mixture of shadenfreude and empathy
From: David A. Poling
If the blog goes away I shall miss it. I was one of those whom Brad referred to as the ones who know what knobs to twist.
I retired early three years ago when it became clear the Lab put no value on my experience( a dozen NTS shots). The blog has allowed me to follow what has been going on at the Lab in a way that would otherwise have been impossible. It has provided me with an odd mixture of shadenfreude and empathy. I saw all this coming years ago but no one would listen. An institution with no agreed upon mission is adrift and subject to forces pushing it in any random direction. This makes it ripe for some opportunist or opportunists to highjack and crash.
There was a time when anonymous comments to posts served a purpose
Doug, please post this anonymously.
Congratulations on revoking the ability to post comments anonymously. Also, congratulations on showing your willingness to shut down the blog when has been demonstrated that it is time to do so. I wish there were more people in management at LANL who had integrity to take themselves
out of the picture once it became obvious that they were no longer providing a service.
There was a time when anonymous comments to posts served a purpose. The entire upper management chain was corrupt at the time of the shutdown, and until the blog came along there was no way to fight them. This blog did expedite, or facilitate, even, Nanos' removal as director. Left behind were more corrupt and/or incompetent managers, but we do not need anonymous comments to weed them out. By now, thanks to your blog, we all know who those managers are, no need to repeat their names. The normal process of contractor change-over will take care of them, and they know that.
I encourage you to keep this blog up and running in its current mode until after the new contractor assumes control of LANL on June 1. There are many important issues that will need to be discussed in the interim, and your blog is the only place where those discussions can occur.
I chose to request that you post this message anonymously, not because I fear an abusive supervisor, but because of my position within LANL and my desire to not draw undue attention to myself.
By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican October 2, 2005
The men and women choosing who will manage the nation's premier nuclear-weapons laboratory include a former submarine officer and a lawyer praised for his honesty.
Thomas D'Agostino, a deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, and Tyler Przybylek, the agency's former general counsel, will play a big role in deciding who runs Los Alamos National Laboratory next year.
Todd and LANL
For years I have wanted to start a business that focused on basic and
applied research where companies could participate and benefit from
world class research without having to give up rights to national or
university labs. I believe I have finally hit upon the right balances
and over this summer have been working on the business plan. In the
course of research on national labs I pulled info down on LANL but
left it till I had to actually start writing on it specifically. I
also began the search for an Executive Director for our lab. Two days
ago, I found your blog. It took two days to read everything in it and
referenced by it.
Based on what I read, I wanted more info on Todd. He seemed to be a
good candidate for my lab, maybe director depending on his overall
background....so...I googled him....and much to my dismay, found out
about his death. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
I applaud your decision to drop anonymous posting, Doug. A few months ago
it was necessary, but that is past and it's time people begin to stand up
in public for their views. And perhaps it will filter out the worst of the
negativity and personal attacks.
Response to 3:22- Lab chief plans to constrain hiring.
3:22- St. Pete lost his Sainthood, his credibility, and his straight Republican ticket when he sided with Nanos. From his penning of his "Open Letter to Los Alamos" to his continued refusal to investigate what really happened up here during the summer of 2004, everything he says now is as suspect as if it came from Vice Admiral Butthead himself.
John N. Horne
Y'all have convinced me
Thanks to all who have helped me to decide on a phasing out schedule for this blog!
I has become clear that the time for allowing anonymous comments has come, and gone. To those of you who still claim to be at the mercy of malicious, vindictive managers who would use the knowledge of your posting on this blog against you, I say "Grow some spine, stand up to the jerk."
To those of you who say that disallowing anonymous comments will kill the blog, I say, "Let's have a wake!"
If traffic drops to zero because it is too much work to send an email, as compared to clicking on the "Post a comment" link, then I say "Geez, I've run out of spoons for feeding you all, and you don't really need a blog any more, clearly. Look elsewhere for a venue to complain about your problems."
It's been an interesting ride, but we can all start to think about getting off it now. Comments from now on will be allowed to registered blogger.com members. And, before some smartass rushes to create an "anonymous" account just to prove to me that he can do so, be advised that I will delete any comments that come from such accounts.
Brad and I will keep the blog running in this more civilized, responsible mode for a while longer. Myself, since I am coming back as an associate soon, I have an interest in keeping a discussion forum open until a new contractor is selected and has taken over from the existing contractor.
Until then, cheers, and feel free, as always, to email your complaints, comments, suggestions, etc. to
Of The Journal
Los Alamos National Laboratory director Robert Kuckuck has set forth a plan to "constrain hiring" at the lab in the face of an expected budget decline over the next two years.
In an e-mail to all LANL employees this week, Kuckuck announced creation of a Laboratory Hiring Council to review all job postings and hiring requests.
"Our objective is to manage a stable work force and a sound fiscal profile," Kuckuck wrote.
Kuckuck's plan is not a hiring freeze, stressed lab spokesman Jim Fallin.
"Thinking of it that way represents a complete misunderstanding," Fallin said.
By BRIAN NEWSOME THE GAZETTE
The University of Colorado system’s partnership with the military on space and energy research is fueling a debate about academia’s role in the business of war.
In July, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs signed an agreement with the Army and Air Force to explore near space, a slice of the Earth’s atmosphere too high for most jets and too low for most satellites. Now, the CU Board of Regents is considering a partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was invented 60 years ago.
By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
October 1, 2005
Los Alamos National Laboratory has created a nine-member council that will manage all the lab's hiring and have the power to approve or reject hiring by all its divisions.
Director Robert Kuckuck said in a memo to employees Wednesday that the action was being taken because of tight budget projections for the federal Department of Energy and a pending change in who will manage the lab.