Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thanks, Doug, for The Blog


I want to thank you for last year's Christmas gift to the employees of LANL, namely, this here blog. The community of Los Alamos is intensely conservative, patriotic, and religious--putting to rest forever the silly notion that all scientists are communistic, anti-American atheists--and as such, LANL staff would never, EVER rally 'round a union. (I even tried to get some of my most liberal-leftist friends to join, but they demurred.) But they have rallied around this cyber-union of yours. And the people who've posted to this e-union over the past year comprise the widest possible spectrum of views, not, as LANL Public Affairs "spokespersons" have said, "a tiny minority of malcontents."

So, apart from serving as a valuable pressure valve, has The Blog made any real difference?

My feeling is that it has made a big difference.

I believe that the outrage and frustration expressed on 'LANL: The Real Story', more than any articles that may have appeared in Physics Today, gave UC the cover to offer a golden parachute to the failed former Director. Finally, even his Navy pals Brooks and Foley couldn't keep him in place, struggle though they might.

The concerns expressed on The Blog about pensions, benefits, and working conditions must have filtered through, indirectly if not directly, to Bechtel and UC. When LockMart paid attention to LANL employees, the Bechtel/UC team must have been forced to, also.

Finally, the bureaucrats at NNSA/DOE must also have paid some attention to the possibility of a major exodus by staff over 50 years old. You will recall that hits on The Blog, apart from LANL staff, were mainly by DOE, followed by the corporate competitors, and last of all, UC.

In the last few months, I came to the conclusion that my anger at UC was partially misdirected. When the livelihood of 10,000 LANL staff members is placed against the education of some 200,000 students on UC campuses, which is the principal duty of the premier university in the country, LANL is left behind--not ignored, to be sure, but left behind. It's a bitter pill for us to have to swallow, but that's life.

Given the enormity of the odds we have faced in the last seven years--a hostile NNSA/DOE bureaucracy, an even more hostile Republican Congress, an Administration indifferent to science, and a UC that had other priorities--I would say that Doug's Blog has been amazingly successful and eminently useful.

I salute you, Doug, for your courage and tenacity.

And now, to all my fellow LANL colleagues, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and also a Happy New Year that is better than the last three, at least.


Friday, December 30, 2005

Discussing (or Not) Our Nuclear Future


Discussing (or Not) Our Nuclear Future

A potentially enormous change in the way the US manages its nuclear weapons program is playing out with very little discussion.

Several books have been published this year on Robert Oppenheimer and Los Alamos. They remind us that even when Manhattan Project scientists were working flat out to develop and build the bombs, most of the scientists kept discussing the larger issues of national policy and how the bombs were to be used. Contrast that with today.

At present the major medium of discussion of the future of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and by implication the nation's nuclear weapons program seems to be the LANL blog ( Discussion there of the impending change in laboratory management ranges from apprehension about benefits to character assassination of those figuring in recent Los Alamos controversies. Few comments have addressed the larger issues, and responses to them have ranged from nonexistent to derisive.


Full Article

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Make Mason & Hanger look good

Anonymous submission from "THE DISENCHANTED PANTEXAN"

I have worked at Pantex for almost 20 years and never have I seen such a dismal employee moral as there is a Pantex now that BWXT is there. BWXT is there for the money and anyone who crosses them in hot water ASAP. They don't give a damn about anything but their cost plus award fee. They claim a far superior safety record than the previous contractor, Mason & Hanger, but make no mistake it is through fear and intimidation they run the Pantex Plant. They say they care for their employee but let me give you an example how they do this. Shortly after 9-11 Pantex closed the " West Gate" and everyone entered and exited the plant through the "East Gate". The rate of traffic accidents soared at the intersection of highway 60 & FM 2173.There were two or three serious accidents a month there. You can imagine, 3000 plus people trying to get to work, a two lane farm to market road intersecting with a 4 lane highway with a speed limit of 70 MPH.

And that's not all, one of the most congested rail lines in this part of the country. There are between 150 & 200 trains traveling at 70 MPH
moving through that intersection a day. After a year and a half of this crap and much carping from the workforce it was finally stated to Mike Mallory that their concern for the employees was very hypocritical and a bunch of lip service. They only cared about the employee when an safety event could affect their Cost Plus Award Fee and didn't give a damn about them when they were mowed down by cattle trucks and whatever less than 100 yards from Pantex Plant property. The "West Gate"is open now in the mornings only, I guess they also found that the plant as a whole was perfectly happy to set in their autos for 20 or 30 minutes waiting to get in the gate to go to work. But no, we still set in line in the evenings to get OUT of Pantex. That's not on BWXT's dime.

The former contractor would inform the workforce of their performance and future plans once a year in the form of an all hands meeting at the Amarillo Civic Center, on company time. There have been -0- allhands meetings now that BWXT is in town.

Amarillo is a very conservative area also, but now our Radiation safety workers, and our nursing staff in the medical facility have felt it necessary to join the ranks of unionized workers and our engineers are not far behind. This is a direct result of the BWXT iron fist management style.

In short BWXT has done what Mason & Hanger never could and that is make Mason & Hanger look good.

ADTR still bites

Hi Doug,
Please post anonymously...ADTR still bites...

With what has been posted in the blog about "at will" employee status
for NM workers, NM's previous inability to intervene in UC's actions, and
UC's historical (mis)management of its NM workers, I was wondering about
the new LLC...
1) In which of the 50 States is/will the LANS LLC be incorporated or
chartered? ...Delaware perhaps?
2) Will the new LLC bring with it anything new (better) with regard to
employee rights compared to the soon-to-be-terminated arrangement with the
absentee landlord from the State of California?
3) Will the State of New Mexico have any newfound rights to oversee the
welfare of employees of the new LANS LLC?
4) On a related topic, now that LANL will again be under the flag of UC
but as a disconnected LLC, is it now more likely that employees of LLNL
will never risk severence from UC employment?


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

If management knew how to treat their employees,

Hi Doug;

I have been following the LANL recompete and your blog for the past couple of months. I have to say that I was a big fan of Lockheed/UT as well. (probably comes from being a Longhorn!) Thank you for the insight!

I have always said that if management knew how to treat their employees, there would be no need for my services. I have spent the past 25 years working with Ph.D level scientists in cutting edge sciences and high performance computing. If one has to work, then I believe you should wake up everyday excited about about your job and eager for the chance to perform. If there are people who wish to examine what lies beyond the Lab, I would be happy to discuss the possibilities.

Here is my contact information and my URL with current job opportunities for scientists in computational science, nanotechnology, high performance computing.

Good luck to you to all.

Penelope Clayton-Smith
Quantum Recruitment
214 293-0604

UC's Los Alamos win will impact Livermore

The University of California’s securing a new contract to operate the Los Alamos National Laboratory is a major victory for the university, a victory that will have an impact on Lawrence Livermore Natoinal Laboratory as well.

Having both major nuclear weapons laboratories under the operational umbrella of the same university continues a sibling relationship that has existed since the Livermore Lab was launched in 1952. Certainly, through the years, there have been both cooperation and competition between the two labs in a wide range of areas, and the continuing UC operation of Los Alamos and Livermore will provide a basis for continuity in the positive aspects of the sibling relationship.


Full Story

Los Alamos lab blog site to shut down,2564,ALBQ_19858_4344335,00.html

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Questions, anyone?

Albuquerque Journal
Sunday, December 25, 2005

Questions Surround New LANL Management

By Jennifer Talhelm
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON— The questions began almost as soon as Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced that the University of California would continue to lead Los Alamos National Laboratory.

After a run of embarrassing financial and security lapses, how could the Department of Energy return LANL to the university? Would UC continue to be in charge of safety and security?

The answer, say UC President Robert Dynes and other champions of the new arrangement, is that the Energy Department did not award the contract to UC.

Rather, the contract went to Los Alamos National Security LLC, a group of three corporations— engineering giant Bechtel Corp., BWX Technologies and Washington Group International— and UC.

"It was LANS that was chosen," Dynes said. "This is not the same old world that it was in the 20th century."

But convincing skeptical lawmakers, employees and watchdogs that Los Alamos and UC have entered a new era may be more difficult.

Energy Department officials on Wednesday announced that UC beat a team led by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas. The contract begins June 1, and the winners will be paid up to $512 million over seven years.

UC has run the lab, which now maintains the nation's nuclear stockpile, since Los Alamos was started during World War II. But after the past several bumpy years, culminating in a decision last year to temporarily shut down the lab, UC's leadership has been widely criticized and the Energy Department decided to put the contract to operate the lab up for bid.

Many observers had assumed that because of UC's history, the Lockheed team would win. They were surprised at the news, and rumors swirled that politics played a role in the contract evaluation.

Energy Department officials have said they are confident they made the right decision.

They have offered few details about how the new team will work, however.

Instead, they have described LANS only in broad terms, calling it an "integrated team" that will draw on each member's strengths to manage different aspects of the lab.

Each has experience in science, management, safety or nuclear security and has worked in various branches of the nation's sprawling nuclear weapons complex. UC, for example, will focus on science and technology and on bringing world-class scientists, researchers, advisers and peer reviewers to the lab, Dynes said.

Michael Anastasio, who heads Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and who will direct Los Alamos, said the new team brings the best and the brightest from all four organizations.

But Hugh Gusterson, an anthropologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has studied the nation's weapons labs, said that relationship could turn into a "bureaucratic nightmare" as the members figure out how to divide responsibilities and communicate.

"My prediction is that they will suck up enormous time and resources as they figure out how to talk to each other," he said.

The Energy Department and the team will also have to convince critics things are headed in the right direction.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a frequent critic of the lab, has demanded that the department explain in detail by Jan. 6 how it reached its decision. He said he had "no belief that UC can reverse its record of consistent failure."

A spokeswoman for Barton was not immediately available Thursday to say whether Barton had heard back from the government.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Plans for the blog

Plans for the blog:

Well, my team lost. Life is like that at times -- you move on. I did promise to keep the blog up and running until after the new contractor takes over on June 1, and I will still do that. After July 1, though, I will shut it down. Between now and the feel free to use it to discuss transition issues that are important to you. Between now and July 1 I plan to gradually disengage from LANL, the blog, all the troubles on the Hill; the whole enchilada. It's way past time to put Los Alamos in the rear view mirror. I must say, though, it has been both a pain, and a pleasure running this beast since December 28, last year. I am more than ready to do pull the plug now.

So adios in advance, good luck to you all, see you next time around.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Walkin' Out of LANL while it Stands

From Anonymous:

If it weren’t for Saint Pete,
If it weren’t for Saint Pete,

Walkin’ out of LANL while it Stands*

If it weren’t for Saint Pete,

For the car, and the hard discs,
We've been slammed, by the Congress,
They put us up for bid,
For the things they say we did,
Walkin' out of LANL while it stands.

Most of us, who are vested,
From our hands, pensions wrested,
By the SEB we're screwed,
(Led by Tyler who?),
Walkin' out of LANL while we can.

We had Browne, then the admiral,
With the "buttheads", had his hands full,
Director Bob does what he can,
For the junior Lab's top man,
Walkin' out of LANL while it stands.

They've got plans, and an org chart,
Would be nice, to see our part,
Getting ready for the switch,
Employee's have the itch,
Walkin' out of LANL while we can.

Now they've picked, who will run us,
Hope they're good, on their promise,
Better pull out all your loot,
Before you get the boot,
Walkin' out of LANL while we can.

Get us prepped, for what's coming,
Can't yet tell, who'll be running,
The LLC is here to stay,
Say goodbye to good old days,
Walkin' out of LANL while it stands.

If it weren’t for Saint Pete,

* Sung to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”

Friday, December 23, 2005

How about positive rather than negative?

From: "TravisMcGee"

Doug, you did a great service for LANL even if management at LANL, UC, and DOE never give you credit for it. I heartily endorsed the blog as a way for employees to express opinions about LANL policies since postings to the Reader's Forum were censored. And I also endorsed the blog because of the postings about the CREM incident, the shutdown, safety issues, and management issues in various divisions. And I fully accept that you and Brad, along with anyone else who wanted to, used it to express opinions about which of the two teams was the "better".

However, as I believe has been discussed in many comments, the DOE was incapable of writing an RFP and is just as incapable of evaluating the responses. The limitations put on those who could submit bids clearly made it possible only for large defense contractors to be part of the "team". This is contrary to the warning from President Eisenhower about the "military industrial complex" and clearly indicates the direction that DOE plans to take based, I believe, on direction from the current administration.

Because other national laboratories are also facing the same RFP/bid process with the same expectations of being managed by a team such as UC/Bechtel or LM/UT, all taxpayers should be concerned about the fate of science in this country. Even with a dramatic change after the 2008 election, it will be years before we recover from where we are today, in part because of the tremendous deficit and the cost of the Katrina recovery. If the national laboratories are managed by large defense companies with strong ties to Washington, science will be driven by whoever is in the White House rather than by the needs of the nation and the visions of the scientists.

So, Doug, your team "lost", but the real losers are the American people because another national laboratory has become part of the military-industrial complex, forever to be at the beck and call of a for-profit company. And science will take a back seat to the bottom line.

Yes, one can leave Los Alamos, find a job elsewhere, forget the problems here, but that's not the solution when one considers the effects of these "teams" on science in America. Maybe the answer is to push the rules, to think outside the box, and to hire folks who are not afraid of taking a chance, who take the initiative rather than waiting to be told what to do, and who believe in begging forgiveness rather than asking permission. Maybe the answer is to continue to report on the good and bad at LANL and to remember that the money is not printed in Bechtel's or UC's basement but belongs to the taxpayers who deserve to have it spent wisely and to know when it is not. Maybe the answer will be more blogs, challenging the "rules", anonymous mailings to our congressional delegation, and newsletters anonymously posted on LANL bulletin boards.

I was totally disappointed in the quality of the presentations on Thursday. For several hours all I heard was talk that contained no information. It seemed to be all, "we don't know this, we don't know that". Clearly DOE/UC/Bechtel didn't realize the image that they would portray by being so uninformative. I would have thought that they would have been aiming to impress us with what they already had planned. I would have thought that after the deadline for the bid submission, both bidders would have been preparing for the announcement with the idea of really convincing LANL staff of how much better their management would be compared to what currently exists.

The one characteristic of many of the postings have been utter cynicism. It's wearing to read nothing but cynical comments. The blog has a "Running list of wasteful LANL activities". How about a "Running list of wasteful LANL activities with a suggested fix"? How about detailed postings on a complete reorganization from the employees' perspective that would make LANL work better? Here's what I suggest.

1. Elminate all COS's because they contribute nothing.
2. Return budgets to the groups, not the divisions.
3. Eliminate the CIO.
4. Rescind the last 6 months of DI's.
5. Move the property, computer support, HR, and financial people back into the divisions.

How about positive rather than negative? How about a posting that says, "Today I had problems with such-and-such so I talked to xyz who told me how to fix my problem and it worked." Let's move on positively, but at the same time let's make sure that we continue to communicate to DOE and UC that we expect them to do the right thing for Todd's family and that we will continue to remind them of their obligation to treat LANL employees honestly and fairly. And until they have done what's right for Todd's family, LANL employees will not believe that they will be treated honestly and fairly.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Details scarce on contract decision

ROGER SNODGRASS,, Monitor Assistant Editor


Harold Agnew, who was director from 1970-79, had a lighthearted suggestion about Michael Anastasio, director of Lawrence Livermore, who is to become LANL director under the new contract.

"This decision will make poor Michael Anastasio unhappy," he said in a telephone interview from southern California. "Michael did a really good job at Lawrence Livermore and I don't think he really wants to leave there. But I have a solution - Michael should work at Los Alamos for a little while then get a doctor's certificate that says at 7,600 feet he can't operate. Then he goes back to Livermore and they hire Paul Robinson (Lockheed's choice to be director) to take his place and everyone's happy."


Full Story

California Is Surprise Winner in Bid to Run Los Alamos

Published: December 22, 2005

In a surprise finish to months of battle, the University of California prevailed yesterday in its bid to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, the storied weapons research center in the mountains of New Mexico and the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

The university teamed with the Bechtel Corporation, the world's largest construction and engineering company, and two other industrial giants to win the contract. It is the first time the laboratory's management has been put up for bidding. Federal officials announced the winner in Washington yesterday.


Full Story

Michael R. Anastasio has been chosen to lead
Los Alamos National Laboratory. He currently
leads its rival.

Linked from Slashdot

This blog is linked today from, a high-volume tech news site. The running list of wasteful activities on this blog's sidebar is specifically pointed out there. Lots of people are reading about how LANL conducts business today.

Here's a link to the slashdot article:


On the subject of yesterday's announcement

From Anonymous:

On the subject of yesterday's announcement, and the cost figures that
were subsequently published which identified each competitor's bid amount:

Basically, what this means is that LAA won... but lost over a lousy
87M. What this says to me is that DOE needed a justification (a weak
one) for sticking with UC, when the LM-UT team had the stronger
proposal. I had a bad feeling when they announced the delay. I just
knew it was going to get yanked from underneath them.

What a message to send as they put the LLNL contract out to bid: don't
bother spending the money on a proposal, since we're just going to let
UC retain control anyway. They'll never get a response to their RFPs
again, except from UC.

UT System loses bid for Los Alamos lab

University of California keeps nuclear weapons unit despite recent series of scandals

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

The University of Texas System lost a spirited competition for control of the nation's pre-eminent but troubled nuclear weapons laboratory Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded a seven-year contract that could pay up to $79 million each year in management fees to a team led by the University of California, which has run the Los Alamos National Laboratory for six decades but recently came under fire for a series of safety and security scandals.


Full Story

The $1.3 million man

Profile: Michael Anastasio

December 22, 2005

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio will become director of Los Alamos National Laboratory when Los Alamos National Security takes over the lab’s management next year.

Anastasio, a nuclear physicist, was leader of the combined University of California and Bechtel National partnership that was chosen by the Department of Energy on Wednesday to run LANL. He was named director of LLNL, located an hour east of San Francisco, in 2002.


Full Story

To Secretary Bodman

From Anonymous:

Dear Secretary Bodman,

Given a choice between two competitors, you have, in true DOE fashion, chosen the worst solution. First, by your decision to select them as the new contractor, you have richly rewarded the University of California for their failures at LANL in recent years.

Second, you have demonstrated to Lockheed Martin the value of providing a well-run operation for DOE (none).

But hey! You got your pit production team all together in one place. Congratulations!

Color me gone, you folks can party without me.


Disappointed in DOE

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

To Secretary Bodman

From Anonymous:

Dear Secretary Bodman,

I am saddened to see that UC/ Bechtel was rewarded the contract for
LANL, but what was more disheartening was the fact that no one
mentioned anything about the most important issue to every employee
at both LANL and LLNL. That would be their retirement plan and
medical benefits.

After two years of listening to people express their concerns I have
found that benefits is all that the people care about, and yet DOE
and NNSA have ignored these concerns entirely; leave few viable
avenues to take. Having examined these available avenues I would
venture to say that there should be mass exodus from both LANL and
LLNL shortly before the contract date takes affect. Understanding how
callus DOE and NNSA can be, it is my hopes that this is exactly what
happens. I myself look forward to participate in this mass evacuation
of the premises.

As I have said many times before most people think that because the
UC won the contract they are going to remain a UC employee and that
it will be business as usual. I am sure that this is not the case. I
believe that all current LANL and LLNL employees will become "LLC"
employees, whereby all contribution to their UC retirement will
cease; and that they will have to start all over again unless they
retire. I am beginning to wonder how many out of the 12,000 employees
at LANL and the 8,000 employees at LLNL realize what is at jeopardy
or understand that they must find time to make plans for their future.

Having heard nothing about LANL's HR being swamped with request for
retirement applications my question is, does anyone that is age fifty
really want to hand over their retirement funds to the new
corporation so that they can do as they wish with them, taking the
chance of losing everything that they have worked for over the last
few decades. Are the people of these two facilities brain-dead or is
DOE and NNSA banking on their ignorance to prevail, in hopes that
you'll have enough qualified people to keep the doors open? I hope not.

And then finally you say that politics had no part in this fiasco,
but I have my doubts. If that be the case then why does rumor have it
that Michael Anastasio's new salary will be $1.3 a year whereby he
can retire at 100% his wage after five years of service? Now you tell
me that this is justified. No wonder he was bucking so hard for UC / Bechtel

Thanks again for your time.


3:36 pm: Reaction to awarding the Los Alamos contract to UC team
By The Associated Press
December 21, 2005

(AP) - Reaction to Los Alamos National Security, a team led by the University of California, winning the Department of Energy contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory:

"We are honored and excited that the Department of Energy has selected our team and given us the opportunity to lead this vital national security science laboratory." _ Michael Anastasio, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who will head Los Alamos when the winning bidders take over next June.


"I was extremely disappointed. We were told the scoring was very close." University of Texas System Chancellor Mark Yudof, who said that at least for now, the UT System has no plans to appeal the decision.


"It's a blue Christmas for America." _ former lab whistleblower Glenn Walp. He and another investigator were fired from Los Alamos in 2002 after talking to the DOE about investigations into alleged mismanagement, fraud and cover-ups at the lab.


"We wish the University of California-Bechtel team every success with its new contract to manage one of the nation's most important scientific institutions." _ The Los Alamos Alliance, the competing team led by the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin Corp.


"What does it take for UC to suffer the consequences of screwing up? Lockheed wasn't a great alternative, but it is hard to see how UC could possibly have been given a vote of confidence. We expect a continuation of the era of chaos at Los Alamos." _ Danielle Brian, executive director of a Washington-based watchdog group, the Project on Government Oversight.


"We want to get this team to be upfront about whatever changes they're going to make and to just be honest with people." _ Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., talking with lab employees at the Hot Rocks Java Cafe in Los Alamos. Udall's congressional district includes Los Alamos.


"Los Alamos has had a proud history, one of great scientific and technical achievement, and today's decision by DOE will allow the laboratory's great work to continue under strong leadership well into the future. _ New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former Energy Department secretary.


"They really look like they've got a good handle on what they want to do and how they want to do it." _ Joe Ladish, who retired from the lab after 29 years and is a member of the Coalition for LANL Excellence.


"Based on the track record by the University of California and the seemingly invulnerable culture of mismanagement at Los Alamos, I am surprised to learn that the current contractor has been invested with new trust. I have minimal hope and no belief that UC can reverse its record of consistent failure." Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


"Los Alamos National Laboratory has benefited tremendously from its six-decade association with he University of California. I am confident that this new management team will ensure that LANL remains one of our nation's most important research laboratories." _ Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.


"DOE was faced with a very difficult choice. I am certain the quality of each team made the other better." Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.


"The most valuable asset the lab has is its people. When I spoke with DOE officials this morning I emphasized the importance of ... making this transition to a new management relationship successful so that Los Alamos keeps and continues to attract the most talented scientists and researchers possible." _ Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.


"This is a big win for the University of California and it recognizes the academic prowess of the nation's premier public research institution. I was overjoyed to hear the news." Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.


"The Department of Energy's decision ... is terrific news for UC, for our state, and for research science in this country." _ California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.


"Today, DOE has recognized this impressive collaboration between public and private entities and afforded continued opportunity to bring innovation and reform to the labs." _ Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, D-Calif.

Copyright 2005 Santa Fe New Mexican

Wonder if the result of this competition was fixed ahead of time

Of course neither the proposals from the two teams nor the NNSA’s scoring
criteria have been made public, but on the basis of past performance alone,
it’s hard not to wonder if the result of this competition was fixed ahead
of time by political deals, rather than being settled on the basis of more
objective criteria. In any case, I now fear greatly for the long term
prospects of LANL. Institutional inertia, of course, will probably keep it
going for decades more, but I fear the continued steady decline of its
mission, and the quality of its staff, and ultimately the fate of the city
of Los Alamos itself. It appears LANL will not get the new beginning it
deserves and badly needs, but just more of the same……. This saddens me
more than I can say.

Bill Godwin

Facts regarding the LANL contract competition

I have been given some of the facts regarding the LANL contract competition:
  1. The LAA team received outstanding scores from the SEB, in the 850 - 900 range out of a possible 1,000.
  2. They outscored the LANS team in all areas except for Science and Technology, but they were only slightly outscored in this area.
  3. As a result of the total scores of both of the competitors being not overwhelming in favor of one or the other teams, the SEB decided to make the determination on the basis of cost.
    • The LAA total cost was bid at $599 million over 7 years
    • The LANS total cost was bid at $512 million over 7 years
    • Delta = $87 million per year over 7 years
Therefore, for a difference in cost that is 5 times less than the cost of last year's shutdown over the seven year period of the contract, the SEB and DOE elected to chose the UC consortium as the next contractor for LANL.

This new information only reinforces my opinion that the decision to select the UC-led consortium was a huge mistake, or pre-ordained.

In addition, I have received this copy of a letter (below) written by Joe Barton to Secretary Bodman.


December 21, 2005

The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman
Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Bodman:

As you know, over the past several years the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has held numerous hearings to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse of government resources at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. These hearings have also reviewed several security breaches that have put our national security at risk.

Most recently, in 2004 several safety and security incidents by the University of California (UC) - DOE's contractor at the site - resulted in a seven-month stand-down at Los Alamos that cost the taxpayers approximately $370 million in lost productivity.

Based on the track record by the University of California and the seemingly invulnerable culture of mismanagement at Los Alamos, I am surprised to learn that the current contractor has been invested with new trust. I have minimal hope and no belief that UC can reverse its record of consistent failure.

I ask that the Department provide a detailed briefing regarding this action, as well as the decision documents developed by the procurement panel that provide the basis for the new contract award no later than Friday, January 6, 2006.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Thank you,

Joe Barton

Memo from Pete (in undisclosed location)

My personal comments on the new contract

The University of California has served as a benign, but absentee landlord of Los Alamos for 63 years, providing an aura of scientific and academic respectability to the Laboratory, and in return, basking in the glow of the Lab's significant achievements in scientific research, a tremendous payback for the American people. While UC managed the retirement system, one of the finest in the nation, and provided benefits to the staff of the Lab, including in-state tuition to the nation's leading university system, the real management of the Lab, including all its faults, was always from Washington, DC.

The Bush Administration and the Republican Congress decided to privatize LANL three years ago. They have finally succeeded, but not quite fully in the way they had imagined, I am sure. The need for the re-bid was excused by raising alarms about security, safety, and business accountability, and these alarms were amplified by the media all out of proportion to their actual seriousness. Shortly after former Director Nanos' shutdown of the Lab last year, which lasted for seven painful months, some of my colleagues and I searched through the official records on these so-called scandals, and found that there was not a dime's worth of difference among the three major nuclear weapons national laboratories: Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore (also run by UC), and Sandia (run by Lockheed-Martin).

In order to provide the appearance of a more business-like approach to running the Lab, UC first approached Lockheed-Martin to be their junior partner in the re-bid; when LockMart declined the offer, Bechtel agreed to be an equal partner. The final choice for NNSA/DOE was therefore an exercise in marginalia: which of the military-industrial corporate giants would do the job, assuming that scientific/academic issues were not paramount? The academic and public service aura of 63 years of UC affiliation with Los Alamos--let's not mistakenly call it "management"--may ultimately be compromised to some degree, as yet unknown, by the profit motive of a corporation, to whose pockets will flow an extra load of national debt from American taxpayers of the future. However, if Bechtel takes over the management of certain procurement and business procedures and improves them from within the Lab, then that will certainly be positive. Moreover, if the research parts of the Lab are somehow shielded from the manufacturing of nuclear weapons components, then that, too, will be a good thing.

In the end, the retirement system will be "separate but equal"--so they say. The employees' kids will still be able to go to UC as in-state students. And, if Department of Energy Secretary Bodman is to be believed--and I see no reason to doubt his sincerity--science will be promoted at Los Alamos, focusing on national security, but realizing that national security is not at all served by weakened science.

The real questions that remain are: Will any light be shined on the poor management of LANL that originated from NNSA/DOE? Will Congress hold anyone in DC, including themselves, accountable for the serious disruption of work and morale at Los Alamos over these last three years?

-Brad Lee Holian, Lab Associate
(Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 1972--LASL, then LANL ever since)

This about sums it up

You may post these if you like,
but I prefer that they remain anonymous.

A limerick:
There once was a lab called Los Alamos
That was going to be run by ... who knows
It could be Lockheed
Or the old guys, indeed
Either way, this process blows

But I really prefer haiku:
Cold winter morning
Los Alamos announcement
Merry Christmas, y'all


Let's hope for the best

Please post anonymously--

I was very concerned about how basic science would
fare under Lockheed/UT, and about the lab's identity,
and my own identity: scientist working in the national
interest, or cog in the military industrial complex.

I did not want to be associated with Lockheed, especially
after reading their advertisements glorifying our
military. The Lockheed slogan is "We never forget who
we're working for"--but they don't say who that is.
Is it the taxpayer? The average American? Or guys
in the Pentagon who sign the checks?

UC is not perfect, but I was planning my exit (but keeping
that to myself) in the event of Lockheed. Only now
is it clear that some of the best scientists I know around
here were doing the same.

Let's hope for the best.

Anonymous Ph.D.

Employees of the "new corporation"

From Anonymous:

Most people think that because the UC got the contract that they are going to remain UC employees and that it will be business as usual. The truth is, they will not. They will become employees of the "new corporation" whereby all contribution to their UC retirement will cease and they will have to start all over again, unless they retire. I wonder if they realize this or not. Does anyone at age 50 really want to hand over their money to the new corporation so that they can does they wish with it. If they do I say, what a bunch of fools.

Who runs either lab is irrelavnat to what most people are concerned about. I would venture to say if managment came out and told all of its employees that if they stay they will only have a 401k and no medial, at least 50% of the employees would walk off the job tomorrow. Why is it that non one is addressing the most important part of this entire two year event. Are people just stupid?

Bid protest

ONLY post if you can do so anynomously.

A question was asked in a recent string about a potential lawsuit by the
non-winner. Rather than a lawsuit, the non-winner's first option would be a
bid protest. Assuming LAA LLC immediately availed itself of this
opportunity, the ensuing process would be cumbersome, with the NNSA needing
to make a decision on the bid protest within 100 days. If anyone's
interested in reviewing how the process works, you may find this on the
General Accounting Office's web site at

Sign me, Disappointed
in Northern New Mexico.

Ethical state

Please post Anonymously
Given the current ethical state of the Republician Congress it be interesting to see who of the New Mexican Congressional Delegation gets seats on the board of Bechtel. Bechtel has a history of hiring top politicians in return for favors re Weingarten and Schultz to name two. Now they can add a Senator to their board.
UC has never done much for Northern New Mexico much less New Mexico while Lockheed has done a lot for Albuquerque. Why should we expect UC to start benefiting New Mexico now that it is once again business as usual.

Posters on the "LANL: The Real Story" blog are disappointed

Please post anonymously.

I see that many posters on the "LANL: The Real Story" blog are disappointed
that the University of Texas System and Lockheed did not win the contract.

What your readers should know is that UT is no panacea.

Several complaints about its audit director have been received in the past
year - UT
finally released the complaints after a ruling by the Texas Attorney
General's Office.

What UT will still not release is the report detailing unethical and
unlawful acts committed by its audit director -

Why would UT do this? The audit director is the brother-in-law of one of
the UT regents. This is a clear example of UT's commitment to oversight.

If retaliation, corruption, and incompetence are what concerns most of your
readers, LANL may have received much of the same from UT anyway, except with
the added disappointment of "more of the same" with UT and the added element
of by-law nepotism.

Perhaps the devil you know is better than the one you don't (and that is a
sorry choice to face in life), but your readers should not be saddened by
UT's loss.

My hope for your readers that are LANL employees is that the rigor of the
bid process and documented past performance of UC will mean that stronger
attention to compliance and safety will occur.

UC keeps contact to run Los Alamos National Laboratory

By Sue Vorenberg
Tribune ReporterJames W. Brosnan
Scripps Howard News Service

December 21, 2005

Posted 10:55 a.m. WASHINGTON - The University of California will continue its 62-year-run at the helm of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a congressional source close to the negotiations said.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman will announce today that UC beat out Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, in the first-ever competition to manage the nation's premier weapons laboratory, the source said.

There will still be a new corporate presence at the lab, however. Bechtel Corp., another defense contractor, partnered with UC in it is bid.

And the lab will get a new director, Michael Anastasio, now director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who is leading the UC and Bechtel team.


Full Story

UC gets contract to run Los Alamos Lab

UC gets contract to run Los Alamos Lab

Last Update: 12/21/2005 10:49:48 AM
By: Associated Press

LOS ALAMOS (AP) - A team led by the University of California and Bechtel Corporation was chosen Wednesday to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Sources told The Associated Press that the UC team had beaten out the second competitor, a team led by the University of Texas.

It was the first time in the lab’s 63-year history that the contract had been put out to bid.

The University of California has run the lab since the lab was formed in World War II to build an atomic bomb.

It also marks the first time a corporation has helped manage the northern New Mexico nuclear laboratory.

The seven-year management contract is worth up to $79 million a year.

An “all-hands meeting” for workers is scheduled Wednesday afternoon to discuss the announcement.

Energy Department officials decided to put the contract up for bid after a series of safety and security problems at the lab in recent years.

The contract originally was expected to be announced December 1st, but Department of Energy officials asked for more time.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Numerous source have called to tell me that the Associated Press is running a story that says UC won. Stay tuned.


Last Call for limericks

One last opportunity for a limerick or two. Anybody have one they would like to send in?


Another flight enroute from Austin

From Anonymous:

Chartered Hawker Jet enroute from Austin, too - N990DF, although this one isn't registered to UT, maybe they upgraded their ride from the twin turboprop to the jet in celebration? They used a chartered jet during a visit to KLAM earlier this fall, although it was from a company based in Austin.

It's too early for Santa Claus...

Anonymous Please -

N6271C, a Beechcraft Super King Air 200 owned by the University of Texas, has filed a flight plan to leave Austin at 8:00 am CST, to arrive in Santa Fe at 9:47 am. No sign of a UC plane enroute. This size plane is often used to ferry management groups around. Not conclusive, but suspiciously interesting.

Los Alamos contract decision expected today

By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican |
December 21, 2005

The new management team for Los Alamos National Laboratory will be announced today, ending more than two years of speculation for thousands of workers employed by the nuclear facility.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has scheduled a news conference for noon today, and lab officials planned to broadcast it to employees internally. ( will cover the news conference live.) Lab Director Robert Kuckuck has scheduled an employee meeting for 3 p.m., spokesman Kevin Roark said.

The announcement will mark a new chapter for the lab, which has been managed by the University of California since World War II. Now the university and its private partner , Bechtel National, are competing for the job with a team that includes the University of Texas and Lockheed Martin Corp.

The head of the Los Alamos Realtors Association said town residents are split about predicting who will get the contract.

“People are very excited that it’s finally going to be announced,” Realtor Tracy Langford said. “Our community needs for this decision to be made so we can move forward.”


Full Story

Live audio stream of Bodman Announcement

KSFR 90.7 FM
to Broadcast DOE-LANL
Contract Press Conference
Live on Air and Streaming

(Santa Fe, Dec. 21, 2005) -- KSFR will broadcast the Department of Energy
contract-award press conference live at noon December 21.

It can be heard as part of KSFR's AT Noon midday news live at 90.7 FM or
via live streaming at

Shortcut to Windows Media Player streaming link is at:

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Today's the Day for LANL

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

The wait is almost over for thousands of Los Alamos National Laboratory employees eager to learn who their next manager will be.

Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman is scheduled to announce the winner of the seven-year contract— worth up to $79 million dollars— today in Washington, D.C. The current lab manager, the University of California, has teamed up with engineering firm Bechtel National and other industrial partners in its bid to continue operating the lab. That team is competing against another academic-industrial alliance, led by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas.

"Certainly the employees of the lab are anxious to know (the winner)," said UC/Bechtel spokesman Jeff Berger. "And it will be very good for them, I think, to have closure and to know how this process ends."

The process began in 2003 on the heels of a series of well-publicized security and management scandals. That's when former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced that LANL's operating contract would be put up for bid for the first time in the lab's 63-year history.


Full Story

A new comment, elevated to top level post

Well-written, well considered. I like it already.

From the



1) Whoever gets the contract, there will be big changes at LANL. All of the attention LANL has had will highlight areas for change, whether for political or operational reasons.

The new contractor will have wide latitude in making changes. Do not expect a lot of questions to be asked. Expect a Nanos-like attitude restructuring/house-cleaning, though less abrupt. There will be an obligatory restructuring, but there will also be strategic refocus on the LANL approach.

2) The contractor has strong political support. The details of the award have been hashed and ratified to a high degree within Washington. They will have specific direction and will have discussed responsibility and oversight in detail.

3) Most folks (inside and out) will see the change as a defeat of LANL, with a takeover by LLNL management or SNL management. A bitter pill indeed.

4) Do not be surprised if there is not unanimity on the DOE staff. They probably were told to match their answer with a political reality.

5) Expect some appreciation for the LANL managers who have been riding out this difficult storm. If they leave, it will not be with a boot in the rear.

6) Expect more attention to compliance and safety. The new guys will need to prove they are better.

7) The problem with DOE inability to manage their responsibility has NOT escaped high level attention. The fact that the creation of the NNSA with a touch of autonomy (deeply undermined by Bill Richardson under Clinton's specific instruction) is still flawed is likely to lead to another run at improved government management of the US nuclear weapon establishment.

8) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of your friends in Washington!

The Mountain

Energy secretary to announce winner of bid

San Francisco Business Times - 1:22 PM PST Tuesday

U.C. will learn Los Alamos contract decision Wednesday

The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will announce the winner of the $79 million contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico on Wednesday morning.

The University of California and the University of Texas both made bids on the seven-year contract with private companies -- U.C. with San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. and U.T. with Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp.

The University of California is the nation's largest university system, and the University of Texas is the second largest.

Bechtel and U.C. are equal partners in their bid, but Lockheed is the lead partner in the U.T. bid.

The University of California has managed Los Alamos National Laboratory since the lab was created by the Manhattan Project during World War II. The lab, birthplace of the United States' atom bomb, remained a central site for nuclear weapons research and development.

After several security lapses and administrative mistakes, the Department of Energy put the lab's management contract up for a competitive bid.

Samuel Bodman, the energy secretary, will announce the winner of the bid at a news conference.

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.

Another Request

Doug, Please post this online.

I'm a reporter at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, and at our statewide show- The California Report.
I'd be very interested in hearing from LANL employees by email or phone Wednesday after the DOE announces who will manage LANL.

I'd like to give our listeners first hand impressions from the people most effected by this change-- the scientists and other staff who work at Los Alamos. I'm interested in your impressions, even if you prefer to remain anonymous… but we will want to identify you by name (and title if possible), to include your thoughts in our broadcast report- to be aired across the state Thursday morning.

You can email me at
Or call me at 415 553-2289.
I'll need to hear from you as early as possible after the announcement to meet our deadlines.
We're looking forward to hearing from you.

Cy Musiker, Reporter
The California Report/KQED Public Radio
2601 Mariposa St. San Francisco, CA 94110
415 553-2289. Cell: 415 819-4195

The California Report, examining the people and issues of the Golden State, is heard weekdays on 23 public radio stations across California. A production of KQED Public Radio, 88.5 FM San Francisco/89.3 FM Sacramento.

DOE to announce LANL contract

By Sue Vorenberg
Tribune Reporter

December 20, 2005

The wait to find out who will run Los Alamos National Laboratory is almost over.

The Department of Energy announced this morning it will reveal the winner of the contract to operate the lab on Wednesday at 12 p.m. in Washington D.C.

The news will come through a press conference with Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman.

The announcement was originally scheduled for Dec. 1, but was put on hold to give the National Nuclear Security Agency more time to review the paperwork.


Full Story

Subject: Announcement by Secretary Bodman

To/MS: All Employees
From/MS: Robert W. Kuckuck, DIR, MS A100
Phone/Fax: 7-5101/Fax 7-2997
Symbol: DIR-05-439
Date: December 20, 2005

Subject: Announcement by Secretary Bodman

Secretary Bodmanís office has informed me that the Secretary will
personally address employees tomorrow regarding the selection of
the new management and operating contractor for the Los Alamos
National Laboratory. While the Secretary is unable to physically
be at the Laboratory tomorrow, he feels it is important that
employees hear the announcement directly from him.

We will videoconference Secretary Bodmanís address tomorrow at
noon MST. You will be able to view his address on your computer
using Real Media or IPTV, on Labnet Channel 9, or in any
auditorium or conference room that has Labnet capability. A list
of these facilities can be found at The Main
Auditorium will not be open for this announcement.

Tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. MST, I will hold an all employee meeting in
the Main Auditorium. This meeting will be broadcast on Labnet
Channel 9. You can also view this meeting on your computer using
Real Media or IPTV, or view it in any auditorium or conference
room that has Labnet capability.

Last of the pre-announcement stats

Number of Hits on the blog on
12/20, as of 12:00 pm (High Noon)









Request: PREDICTIONS of who will win the LANL competition

Doug, do you mind posting this online?

Attention, LANL Bloggers: I'm a science writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. I'm writing a story for tomorrow's paper, an advance article about the forthcoming LANL decision, due at mid-day Wednesday. For my advance story, I'd like to include PREDICTIONS of who will win the LANL competition -- predictions by present or former Los Alamos staffers (no one else, please!!) who are WILLING TO BE IDENTIFIED BY NAME. Please send your prediction to me at IMPORTANT: Include your full name, your job (present or former) at Los Alamos, the years you worked there, AND (this is important!) your phone number and address for verifying purposes, if necessary. (We won't run the phone number or address -- we only need them for verifying purposes, if necessary.) Please file your prediction by 5 pm California time TUESDAY.
-- Keay Davidson
Science Writer

SF Chronicle

New hiring procedures?

From Anonymous:
Please post anonymously.
I was scheduled to interview for a position with LANL but then was told all openings were put on hold and there were new hiring procedures. Does this have to do with the new contract being awarded and what new procedures? Thanks

Secretary Bodman to Announce Los Alamos Contract Decision

Rebecca Neale, 202/586-4940 Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Media Advisory
Secretary Bodman to Announce Los Alamos Contract Decision
WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 21, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman will announce the selection of the new management and operating contractor for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
NOTE: Media wishing to attend the event should arrive at the Department of Energy no later than 1:45PM on Wednesday, December 21. Journalists outside the Washington, D.C. area may participate via teleconference. Please contact Rebecca Neale in DOE Public Affairs at 202-586-4940 no later than 12:30PM on Wednesday, December 21, to obtain call-in information.
WHO: Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman
WHAT: Announcement of the Los Alamos contract competition decision
WHEN: Wednesday, December 21, 2005
WHERE: U.S. Department of Energy
Small Auditorium
1000 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20585

The announcment date and time has been set

Tyler Przybylek has just notified Lockheed that the announcement will be made tomorrow, December 21 at 2:00pm EST. The announcement will likely be made by Secretary Bodman.


The contract was awarded

From Anonymous:

Please post anonymously!!!!!

The Chief of Staff for HR was just heard saying that the contract was awarded
last nite. She has a copy in her hands. She did not indicate who the winner

The GAO Report on the Shutdown

Note that the cost of lost future business from customers who walked away from LANL as a direct result of the shutdown is not taken into account, nor is the cost of the lost expertise represented in the experienced staff who left.


Some of you might find this interesting

A map of were some of the blog visitors have come from during the period 12/13/2005 - 12/19/2005.


Report: Cost of shutdown still unknown

By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican |
December 20, 2005

The government is unclear about the cost of a major shutdown last year to address safety and security concerns at Los Alamos National Laboratory , a new report says. But almost all programs at the lab have recovered from the delay, and the costs associated with the shutdown appear to be reasonable, a report by the Government Accountability Office says.

The report was issued Monday to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas , chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The report examines the shutdown’s costs and its effect on lab research programs.

The lab estimated the cost of the shutdown at $121 million, and the National Nuclear Security Administration , which oversees the lab, put the cost at $370 million. Each group counted the costs differently.


Full Story

Cost of Lab Stand-Down Unclear

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

The federal government was justified in reimbursing the University of California for most of the cost of last year's work stand-down at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a new federal report concludes.

But that same report, released by the U.S. General Accountability Office, also finds that the exact cost of the shutdown cannot be determined.

Former LANL director Pete Nanos brought all but the most critical lab operations to a halt in July 2004, after a student was partially blinded by a laser and officials reported that two classified computer disks were missing. Lab officials later determined the disks never existed.

LANL estimated that the stand-down— which for some lab operations lasted 10 months— cost $121 million. A separate National Nuclear Security Administration review put the cost as high as $370 million. But according to the GAO report, neither of those numbers is accurate because LANL did not track actual time spent on stand-down activities like safety reviews and training.


Full Story

BWXT teams with University of Chicago for Argonne Lab

Hi Doug, I saw this on line today...

---- Online

BWXT teams with University of Chicago for Argonne National Laboratory
December 19, 2005

BWX Technologies Inc. has announced it has teamed with the University of
Chicago as a member of its group to rebid the management and operations
contract at the U.S. Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory. The
University of Chicago has successfully operated ANL since 1946; its contract
with the DOE to operate the laboratory ends on Sept. 30, 2006. Also
partnered with the University of Chicago is Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.

BWXT complements the team by bringing experience in the safe, secure and
efficient management of nuclear operations and will provide expanded
capabilities and resources to the mission and future vision of ANL.


Full Story

Monday, December 19, 2005

Some of my favorite contributions

Recently there have been criticisms of the community, and the quality (or lack thereof) of contributions to this blog. I prefer to focus on what has been positive, and in that spirit, I would like to review some of my favorite contributions. Leading off is the "Nanos Limerick Contest" from last February when he was still at LANL. The cleverness and humor provided a much needed lift to spirits during the worst time many of us have experienced at the lab.

Over beer this weekend, my friends and I decided that
the tale of Pete Nanos and his war on the laboratory
deserved a poetic treatment. Given the obscenely
ludicrous nature of the situation, the limerick seems
the most appropriate form for this. So we came up
with the idea of a Pete Nanos limerick competition.

After a few false starts (hmmm, what rhymes with
CREM?), we came up with a few to get the ball rolling:

Director Pete Nanos has said,
if you do science you are a butt-head.
So he stopped all work,
that moronic jerk!
Now science at LANL is dead.

Under LANL's new management plan,
if you try to do science you're canned.
Shall we instill a revolt?
Or just give up and bolt?
Either way, it's "game over," man.

Quoth Nanos, "Disks are missing, oh dear!"
"They're neither here, nor here, nor here!"
"You're all cowboys, I say."
"Now we'll do it MY way!"
Make way for intimidation and fear.

These cowboys have met their match!
Just watch, the bad actors I'll catch!
Guilty or not, I'll fire the lot!
With ten men, I'll start over from scratch.

Security lapses must stop!
So Nanos decides to play cop.
After half a year,
the verdict is clear:
Barcodes: a billion a pop.

Oh Nanos, why don't you just leave us?
Your actions really do grieve us.
Those missing disks?
Just labels amiss!
If we're butt-heads, then you must be Beavis!

This was followed immediately by a Nanos Haiku challenge, which promptly produced this gem:


Navy admiral -
Peter Principle applies:
in over his head
These two contributions alone were clearly worth the price of admission.


Report: Cost of Security Shutdown at LANL Unknown

By Jennifer Talhelm/
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A temporary shutdown of the Los Alamos National Laboratory during a security flap last year might have cost as much as $370 million, but the exact amount can't be calculated because of the way the lab recorded its activities, congressional investigators said Monday.

Officials in July 2004 ordered a halt to virtually all work at the Los Alamos, N.M., lab after reporting that two computer disks containing classified information had disappeared and that a student working at the lab was partially blinded in a laser accident. Officials later determined that the disks never existed, but some lab activities didn't resume until this spring.

The report was done at the request of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, who wanted investigators to examine the cost of the shutdown and whether the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration should have reimbursed the lab for costs during that time.

The lab, which is run by the University of California, estimates the shutdown cost about $121 million, while the NNSA estimates the cost was as high as $370 million.

In its report Monday, the Government Accountability Office found that neither was accurate and that GAO investigators also couldn't determine the expense because of the way the lab tracked its activities.


Full Story

Announcement date rumor update

The latest rumors from numerous sources are that the announcement date has been postponed again. Expect the announcement to be made anywhere between next Wednesday and next March.


Stats for the blog by COB, 12/19

Number of Hits on the blog on
12/19, as of 5:00pm









Future of Lab To Be Discussed Tuesday at Los Alamos Disarmament Center

Dear LANL folks and other readers --

My name is Greg Mello. I'm the director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a
research and educational NGO located in Albuquerque (main office,
library, etc.) -- and, starting this month, also in Los Alamos.

On Tuesday we're having an open house; details can be found in the press
release below. Perhaps most of you won't be all that interested, but a
few of you might be curious as to who we are, what we are up to, or what
if anything we might know about the policy context of the coming
transitions at LANL.

Most of the time, the Center will be staffed by volunteers, but on
Tuesday after work you can meet the staff and at least some of the board.

Of possible general interest, we've just put together a little
background piece on Lockheed Martin, at The piece
isn't all it might be, but some of you might want to follow some of the
research leads.

Press Advisory: For Immediate Release 12/17/05
Future of Lab To Be Discussed Tuesday at Los Alamos Disarmament Center

Study Group Board, Staff, To Be Available at Open House
Contact: Greg Mello or Fatima Portugal: 505-265-1200 in Albuquerque;
505-661-9677 in Los Alamos; cells 505-577-8563 and 505-795-8025 respectively

Los Alamos – On Tuesday, December 20, at 5:30 pm, the Study Group will
host an informal get-together at its new Los Alamos Disarmament Center.
The suggested theme of the evening will be the future of Los Alamos
National Laboratory (LANL). Light refreshments will be served.
Background papers and relevant books will be available for purchase.

The Center is located in downtown Los Alamos at 1362 A-2 Trinity Drive,
midway between Trinity Drive and Central Avenue, directly across Central
(and about 300 feet south) of the Bradbury Science Museum.

As of this writing, the new operating contractor for LANL has not been
announced. “The deeper issue, however, is not just who will run the lab
but what the lab will do,” suggested Study Group Director Greg Mello.
“On November 7, Congress tentatively directed LANL to make the plutonium
cores (“pits”) for the nations nuclear stockpile, and approved a roughly
billion-dollar new building to facilitate that work at LANL. Will LANL
actually do that work, and if so at what scale, for how long, and with
what result?”

Other topics of possible interest to the Los Alamos community that might
come up Tuesday include:

* Should LANL continue to operate an on-site nuclear waste disposal
site? If so, what are the long-term implications for economic
development and environmental protection on the Parajito Plateau? Does
perceived environmental amenity have economic value? Is there some
transcendent reason to permanently pollute the land?

* Should LANL conduct research involving potential biological weapons
agents, the preferred alternative in a current environmental impact

Lurking in the background are larger questions still, such as whether
the U.S. should develop new kinds of nuclear weapons, as planned and now
under way at LANL and the other two nuclear weapons laboratories, and
whether the U.S. should attempt to comply with the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) (which the International Court of Justice
has unanimously ruled requires full nuclear disarmament) and if so, how?

Tuesdays session will just lightly touch on some of these rich subjects.
We anticipate an informal, free-flowing discussion in which interested
visitors will be able to buttonhole the staff and board of directors of
the Study Group, get acquainted, and flag subjects of common interest
for future discussions. Come one, come all.


Greg Mello
Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice
505-265-1207 fax
505-577-8563 cell
(signal very weak in the office; messages
on cell phone may not be received promptly)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Likewise disappointed

I am as tired of the rumor mill as anyone, and likewise disappointed in NNSA, DOE, and our two sparring Congress people (Dominici and Hobson) for all of their their respective contributions in failing to meet the announcement deadline of 18 days ago.

Regardless, latest rumors have Dominici flying in to Los Alamos tomorrow.

Unless something else far more important comes up. Again.


Another Bump in the Road for Bechtel/UC?

[Rumor: Bechtel/UC will be announced as "winner" of the LANL contract sweepstakes...THIS WEEK!
...or early next year...or by spring, for sure...or early summer.]

Former lab worker: Firing is retaliation
Ex-group leader claims he was let go for criticizing $200 million program
By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican

A former Los Alamos National Laboratory group leader says he was fired for speaking out about fraud and waste in the lab’s procurement division. Harry J. Rodas, 60, said he was fired Oct. 31 at the end of his probationary period. Rodas said the lab hired him in October 2004 to help turn around the division, which spends more than $1 billion a year. The lab’s procurement division buys everything from ammunition to chemicals, Rodas said. Rodas has not filed a lawsuit but has hired a lawyer to send a letter demanding more than $263,000 for one year’s salary, health-insurance premiums and damages. The letter was sent by attorney Lynne Bernabei of Washington, D.C., to the University of California, which manages the lab, on Nov. 17. The university is reviewing the matter and communicating with Rodas’ lawyer, spokesman Chris Harrington said by e-mail Saturday.

“We firmly believe that the laboratory has strong and effective business management and procurement practices and policies in place,” Harrington said by e-mail.

Harrington did not comment further.

Rodas, a lawyer and former generaldivision manager with the U.S. Postal Service, said he was hired from outside the lab to bring “best business practices” there. He also spoke out about the lab’s Enterprise Project, a $200 million program proposed in 2003 and “intended to integrate the lab’s finance, accounting, human resources and procurement functions in one automated system,” according to Bernabei’s letter.

“They have gone through $200 million developing a system that is a disaster, that has never worked completely,” Rodas said in an interview. “It works today; it doesn’t work tomorrow. They have deliberately and very, very methodically eliminated people who would rise and say this doesn’t work.”

Rodas said he was hired to help improve the procurement division’s image. “It was a big show,” he said.

In 2004, two former lab workers were indicted by a federal grand jury on theft, fraud and embezzlement charges. The indictment alleged that Peter Bussolini and Scott Alexander of the facilitiesmanagement division used lab purchase cards to buy thousands of dollars worth of personal items, like lawnmowers and remote-controlled airplanes.

Bussolini and Alexander pleaded guilty in October 2004 to charges of conspiracy and mail fraud in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

And two investigators, Glen Walp and Steve Doran, were looking into allegations of missing property and fraud when they were fired by the lab in 2002. They were rehired in 2003 to report directly to the university.

Shortly before he was fired, Rodas received a “highly favorable” performance review on Oct. 6, according to his lawyer. “This success is a testament to his management and leadership abilities,” the review states.

But Rodas was fired Oct. 31 and was told he was not a suitable fit for the position, according to Bernabei’s letter.

Rodas said he was fired “because the politics changed. It was an issue of get rid of (me) or admit to the world and (Department of Energy) that we have gone through $200 million and gotten nowhere.”

Bernabei wrote that the lab “illegally terminated Mr. Rodas’ employment because he reported fraud, gross mismanagement, and gross waste of public funds to his supervisors within the lab, and was perceived to have threatened to disclose them to the Department of Energy and the University of California.”

The lab illegally retaliated against Rodas under the California Whistleblower Protection Act, Bernabei wrote, and violated his First Amendment rights.

Bernabei also discussed ways to settle the situation without her client filing a lawsuit.

“It is clearly in LANL’s interest to resolve this dispute at this time prior to the initiation of litigation, which will be costly and undoubtedly cause further public embarrassment to the laboratory,” Bernabei wrote.

Bernabei asked for one year’s salary, which Rodas said is about $113,000; payment for health-insurance premiums to the university’s health-care plan; and $150,000 in damages for loss of future income and pain and suffering.

Rodas said he spoke publicly about his case because many people at the lab are treated badly and subjected to “management by intimidation.”

He also said during his interview that he has never worked for Lockheed Martin Corp., Bechtel National or any other companies competing to win a new contract to manage the lab. He also said he did not own stock in those companies.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

An unpleasant aspect of our community


I would like to see this comment from the post elevated to a top level post. It brings to light an unpleasant aspect of our community that I have also noticed, and of which I am also ashamed.

Paradoxically, I am making this request anonymously, because I live in this community and I have to work here as well. I suppose that makes me a coward also.


You can portray LANL staff as "the poor downtrodden" if you wish, but the reality is that the majority of staff were (and still are) cowards in the face of abusive management. With but a few exceptions, LANL staff were afraid to speak out against former director Nanos and his cadre of yes-persons.

Up until just recently, staff were still claiming that they required anonymous posting rights on this blog for fear of suffering reprisals from management. The reality is that the majority of people who work at LANL are cowards, and deserve exactly what they got from past and current LANL management, and from whatever the new contractor chooses to dish out.

There have only been a notable few who were not afraid to face up to management at LANL and the University of California; we all know who they are because they used their own names when expressing outrage at the inept and abusive treatment that is the hallmark of LANL and UC managers.

I am proud of those few who had the morals and ethics to take a stance regarding the unbelievable acts of incompetence and abuse that occurred at Los Alamos this past year. I am ashamed of the rest of you.

Comment of the week

A comment from the


What if the county council authorized 'automobile check points' on all three roads into the lab. They could build little huts in the road which would be manned by police officers. I realize that the 10,000 LANL employees would have a very difficult time getting to work. The last of them might make it in about 4:30 each day....

These check point are scheduled to last (just coincidentally, of course) until this nonsense stops. We are being held hostage by idiots, and I think we need to up the ante.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Security run amok

Doug, I sent this letter in slightly different versions to the Monitor, New Mexican, Journal North and congressional delegation. I thought your readers may be interested.

If you want an object lesson in security run amok, go to the Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos and find the documentation there for the security upgrades planned for West Jemez Road. The NNSA security experts, not to be outdone by the Homeland Security guys who demonstrated their competence so dramatically in Louisiana and Mississippi during and after the recent hurricanes, are securing LANL against unspecified terrorist threats by constructing a 20 million dollar complex of guard stations and loop-de-loops at the corner of Diamond drive and West Jemez road that looks like a cross between the toll gates at the Oakland Bay Bridge and the fun house ride at Coney Island.

This complex is perfectly calculated to isolate Los Alamos from three of its four prime tourist attractions: Bandelier National Monument, the Jemez mountains, and Pajarito mountain ski hill. Maybe we can make up for it by offering tourists the opportunity to be shaken down in genuine government security inspections by genuine government security inspectors. Save a trip to the border.

Employees at the laboratory have endured for decades increasingly inane security and safety rules that make work without addressing real problems, but at least they get paid to put up with this stuff. Business people and ordinary citizens going about their daily lives receive no such compensation, and ought to complain: security restraints on citizens of this country have passed from illusion to fantasy, and serve primarily to provide opportunities for government contractors. Enough is enough. I’m tired of taking off my shoes and emptying my pockets for the government.

If you think this is stupid, so do a lot of your neighbors. Write letters to the people who can stop it: Udall, Domenici, and Bingaman. Telephone your County Councillors or go to the Council meeting Thursday night the 22nd and tell them to stand up to these turkeys.

George Chandler
1208 9th Street
Los Alamos
NM 87544

505 662-5900 Fax 662-5777 Cell 280-3110

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Like UCRP, Sandia's pension plan is still overfunded

Doug - no need to post this anonymously

Comment on Sandia pension fund shortfall

Assuming that the statement about the Sandia pension plan needing an
infusion of cash by 2010 is true, one
still ought not be alarmed by the $7 million number. As a private entity
(and unlike UCRP), Sandia's
pension plan reports are probably not publicly available, but one can
sensibly estimate its size by
comparison to LANL, since the institutions are of comparable size and annual

LANL's share of UC salaries is roughly 10%, and therefore should account for
roughly 10% of UCRP
assets and liabilities. The latest UCRP annual report
shows assets of roughly $41 billion and liabilities of about $37 billion.
LANL's share of this would amount
to ~$4 billion. For LANL, a $7 million shortfall would amount to less than
0.2% of assets and less than 1% of
annual salaries.

I suspect that what the statement really means is that, like UCRP, Sandia's
pension plan
is still overfunded thanks to the high returns on stock investments during
the 90's and may not require
any contributions by the employer (and perhaps the employee) at this time.
At some point that will no longer
be true. In the case of UCRP, the 2005 annual report estimates that time to
be 3.2 years in the future. Note
that this doesn't mean the plan is out of money - it simply means that
employer and employee will need to start
putting money in again, as was the case until 1990.

For those contemplating retirement under UCRP, I strongly recommend looking
at the annual reports available at
the above URL (1997-2005). There is a wealth of detail available in them -
probably much more than would
interest most folks. Given that the new contractor will be a private LLC, I
would suspect that such detailed
reports are unlikely to be the norm in the future. In any case, similar
information certainly won't be available
for whatever assets are rolled over into the new plan in time to make an
informed decision on the plan's fiscal

Jim Amann
LANL Retired

Sandia pension fund shortfall

From Anonymous:

I don't know the best way to get the electrons on this, but my source
tells me that the issue of the Sandia Newsletter dated Dec. 9 has a
major story "Pension plans update..." on the status of the SNL
pension, including the fact that by 2010 -- or earlier -- it will
need capital infusion to the projected tune of $7M.

Latest rumors

From Anonymous:

Announcement likely December 19-20. The Director will hold an
all-employee meeting shortly after the DOE press conference
announcing the selection. No details will be presented in the press
conference or all-employee meeting.

Further, rumor has it that it is UC/Bechtel that will be announced.

No announcement

4:20 pm MST: no announcement today.


Audio: Tracking down two rumors about LANL

KSFR 90.7 FM News

Audio: Tracking down two rumors about LANL

December 15, 2005 -- Tracking down two rumors: Yes, one injury in a minor
explosive incident. No, a small building did not blow up accidentally.

We hear from Los Alamos National Laboratory spokeswoman Kathy DeLucas on
KSFR's Morning News Hour.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

LANL contract bid resource guide

LANL contract bid resource guide
December 14, 2005

Links and resources on the bid to run the lab:

Senator receives French medal

ROGER SNODGRASS,, Monitor Assistant Editor

The French Nuclear Energy Society Monday awarded Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM, its highest award, the Grande Medaille de l'Academie des Sciences on Monday.

Domenici is scheduled to return from Europe today. His staff said the senator expects Congress to be in session through next week.

Pressed by reporters for word on the contract competition at Los Alamos National Laboratory during a conference call Tuesday, Domenici said, "I can say that Christmas will not pass without a contract."


Full Story

Dec. 14, 2005 -- Now it's two.

KSFR 90.7 FM News

Audio: Both New Mexico senators unaware of LANL contract date

Dec. 14, 2005 -- Now it's two.

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman joins Sen. Pete Domenici in acknowledging he
has no information when the LANL contract will be announced.

Domenici told the Santa Fe New Mexican that he has heard no date but has
reason to believe the announcement could be made before the Los Alamos lab
shuts down for a week on December 24.

In a telephone interview with KSFR this morning, Bingaman said he, too,
has no concrete informaton on the award-announcement date. Listen to the

Two serious explosive accidents have occurred at LANL in the last six months

This anonymous submission falls under the "rumor" category, as there is no way to verify its accuracy.

Doug and Brad,
Attached is a contribution to the blog that I need to
submit as an anonymous contribution.
I am no longer associated with
the laboratory but have learned the information from
an HE scientist friend with first hand knowledge.


Two serious explosive accidents have occurred at LANL in
the last six months. Last Summer an explosive accident
occurred that blew out the walls of a building and injured
two technicians who now have permanent hearing loss.

In the last few days a piece of explosive was given to a
visitor which spontaneously burst into flames resulting in
second degree burns to his hands and body and the inhalation
of very toxic fumes by him and those in the vicinity.

So the UC management of LANL has learned how to increase
the rate of explosive accidents in the laboratory while
keeping the information out of the press.

UT waits for Los Alamos decision

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

11:35 am: Sen. Domenici: 'Reason to believe' Los Alamos contractor to be selected before Christmas

By Andy Lenderman | The New Mexican
December 13, 2005

New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said this morning that he has reason to believe a decision on the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract will be made before Christmas.

When asked by telephone whether Northern New Mexico would have an answer to the contract competition, Domenici said, “The bad thing about it is you don’t want to give people a hopeful Christmas and then they don’t get it.” But he said he would answer the question as best he could.

“I hope so,” Domenici said from London, where he was traveling home from a European nuclear power conference. “And I have reason to believe that Christmas will not pass without there being a contractor selected for Los Alamos.”


Full Story

Monday, December 12, 2005

New tenent this Friday in the Motorola Building

Submitted by Anonymous:

New tenant information -

Lockheed Martin Company (LMCO) has executed a sublease for the Veriscape, Inc. space on the 4th floor, and will be moving into the Research Park ("Motorola Building") on Friday, December 9, 2005.

We welcome LMCO to the Research Park, I know they will enhance the current mix of valued tenant at the Research Park.

Bringing a new tenant into a facility can be a logistical dilemma, and while we are making every effort to keep the inconvenience to a minimum, there will be an amount of activity on Friday. We have reserved the freight elevator for LMCO for a number of hours during the day, and their moving van parked in the loading zone.

Please be patient on Friday; however feel free to call me with any outstanding issues.

Please distribute this information to your staff and co-workers

Thank you all.

Mary-Jo Griffin

Lessons (not) learned

Someone pointed out to me today that the Public Affairs Office is once again imposing long delays on letters submitted to the NewsBulletin, presumably for reasons similar to the July, 2004 censorship campaign. It was PA's decision to impose those extreme restrictions last year that was largely responsible for the decision to create this blog.

If this is again the case, it is an indication that the deep, underlying management problems which existed at LANL under the previous director still remain. Whatever the reason that letters are not being published, or are being published after month-long delays it indicates that there has not been a lessons learned in this particular regard.

Speaking of lessons learned: I clearly recall the former director having promised to deliver a lessons learned about the CREM incident "once he had the facts". He did this at one of his all hands meetings in February. It was at this meeting that he told former DX Division leader Mary Hockady, "I want you to help me with this!"

Recall, the purported 'lost CREM' episode was one of the two justifications used by the former director to support his decision to shut the entire laboratory down. Recently I read that our present director plans to deliver this lessons learned message to the next contractor, but not to LANL staff. What's with that? Perhaps we need to have a "lessons learned" on lessons learned (or not) at LANL.


Today's rumors

Rumors received today (12/12/2005):

  1. Just got it from a manager in an AD's Office that it is UC/Bechtel. -- 10:17am
  2. The announcement will be made this Thursday (last day of session before Congress breaks for Christmas). No word on who they will be announcing as the winner, however. -- 1:14pm


Sunday, December 11, 2005

With bid to run Los Alamos, UT picks a hot potato

Nuclear aspect angers critics; officials say benefits outweigh risks

09:26 PM CST on Sunday, December 11, 2005

By HOLLY K. HACKER / The Dallas Morning News

Los Alamos National Laboratory is best known as the birthplace of the atomic bomb. But lately, the New Mexico weapons lab has been known more for a string of safety and management problems, from missing classified data to employee credit card abuses.

So why does the University of Texas System want to step in and help run Los Alamos?

Any day now UT will learn whether it, together with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, has won a contract to manage the lab. The University of California has run Los Alamos since 1943, when the lab was secretly created under the Manhattan Project.

Recent security lapses and other troubles led the Department of Energy, which owns Los Alamos, to hold its first-ever competition for the contract.


Full Story

It would another two to three weeks

From Anonymous:

Hi Doug,
Perhaps you already know this, but I was at a conference in New York last Thursday, Dec. 7, where a senior Lockheed official said he had been told by DOE that morning it would another two to three weeks before the contract announcement would come.

You're welcome to post this, but please don't use my name,


Do the right thing

An extremely unofficial poll of Sanda staff has recently favored UC to win the bid. I sincerely hope this does not come to pass, for a couple of reasons. Primary among them is that I have 20 years of experience with the University of California. It has led me to conclude that there probably is not an organization out there that could do a worse job of running LANL. I keep replaying the events of 2004: Nanos, the shutdown, UC: Dynes, Foley. Los Alamos has a proud scientific heritage. LANL deserves better management than the embarrassment we lived through in 2004.

I have had a couple of opportunities to meet face to face with Paul Robinson. I trust my first impressions, and they tell me that he is an honest, principled person. I look at what LM has done since taking over the Sandia contract from AT&T in 1995 , and I see how that management style could benefit LANL.

Here's hoping that DOE/NNSA/the other decision-makers will do the right thing in the coming days.


Why the different treatment when other National Labs Fails?

Submitted by Anonymous:

Doug, I thought about posting this as a comment, but think it might be
worthy of its own posting. What do you think?

Interesting difference....

When NASA's contractor run lab - JPL - lost $100 millions in two doomed
unmanned missions to Mars several years ago ... I don't recall Congress,
GAO, POGO, or the media asking for Caltech to be replace as the manager and
operator of JPL or force the contract for JPL to go out to bid... so I
looked up an old news story on about how blame was handled....

Goldin Accepts Blame for Lost Mars Missions
By Andrew Bridges
Pasadena BureauChief

29 March 2000

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin said Wednesday he
accepts the blame for the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar
Lander spacecraft, saying he had asked the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
to do the impossible.

"I asked these people to do incredibly tough things, to push the limits,"
Goldin said in comments to reporters after addressing employees at the
Pasadena facility.

"We were successful and I asked them to push harder. We were successful and
I asked them to push harder and we hit a boundary. And I told them that they
should not apologize. They did terrific things and I pushed it too hard. And
that's why I feel responsible."

Goldins talk came in the wake of two reports released Tuesday that were
sharply critical of how NASA ran its two Mars 98 missions, both of which
failed late last year.

"We put them in a box there was no way out of, really," said John Casani, a
JPL veteran who spearheaded the inquiry into the loss of the Polar Lander
and its companion microprobes, Deep Space 2.

A second report, authored by Thomas Young, looked instead at NASAs overall
Mars program. The report took NASA, JPL and industrial partner Lockheed
Martin Astronautics to task for running a program that was under-funded,
understaffed, overworked and that ran unacceptable risks.

"In my efforts to empower people I pushed too hard and, in doing so,
stretched the system too thin," Goldin told JPL employees gathered in von
Karman Auditorium. "It may have made some failure inevitable."

"We were successful and I asked them to push harder. We were successful and
I asked them to push harder and we hit a boundary. And I told them that they
should not apologize. They did terrific things and I pushed it too hard. And
that's why I feel responsible."

But, Goldin said, he would not seek a NASA response that was punitive,
prescriptive or that would seek to micromanage affairs at JPL or at

JPL is federally funded and owned by NASA but, unlike other NASA centers, is
managed by the California Institute of Technology, a private university. It
is responsible for the lions share of NASA's deep space missions -- a role
it has had since the Mariner 1 mission in 1962, its first attempt at a
planetary spacecraft.

"When you have brilliant minds like you have at JPL, what you say is, Here
is the problem, here is the challenge and I leave it to you to define it,"
Goldin said, essentially asking JPL to be its own "doctor" in analyzing its
Mars program. Goldin added that the program should culminate in the landing
of astronauts on the Red Planet.

David Baltimore, Caltech's president and a Nobel laureate in physiology and
medicine, told JPL employees not to become complacent about risk, nor to
lose their sense of audacity.

"One day we will look back on the Young report as a healthy midcourse
correction in an exciting program of exploration," Baltimore said.

Wikipedia prankster confesses

Wikipedia prankster confesses

By Katharine Q. Seelye

The New York Times

It started as a joke and ended up as a shot heard round the Internet, with the joker quitting his job and Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, suffering a blow to its credibility.

A man in Nashville, Tenn., has admitted that, in trying to shock a colleague with a joke, he put false information into a Wikipedia entry about John Seigenthaler Sr., a former editor of The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.

Brian Chase, 38, who until Friday was an operations manager at a small delivery company, told Seigenthaler he had written the material suggesting Seigenthaler had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.

Seigenthaler discovered the false entry only recently and wrote about it in an op-ed article in USA Today, saying he was especially annoyed that he could not track down the perpetrator because of Internet privacy laws.


Full Story

Lab Foundation Deserves Credit

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation caught some grief recently because the lab's manager, the University of California, has been billing the federal government (read taxpayers) for its contributions to the foundation— the lion's share of the organization's budget. That problem was that the reimbursement wasn't strictly provided for in the contract between UC and the Department of Energy, according to federal auditors.

Foundation officials say the wording of the contract, through some oversight, doesn't reflect the actual terms of the funding agreement between the DOE and UC that was put in place when the foundation was established in 1997. At that time, foundation officials say, DOE agreed that as lab manager, the university could pass the costs of funding the foundation's scholarship and education programs along to the taxpayer. To satisfy the auditors, the contract language will have to be changed, and foundation officials are confident that will soon happen.

Critics have made much of what appears to be a technicality. What they want to imply is that while UC and the lab are reaping the public relations benefits of the foundation's largess— it subsidizes math, science, tutoring, mentoring and other programs in area secondary schools and doles out almost half a million bucks a year in college scholarships to area youth— it costs them nothing because the taxpayers ultimately foot the bill.


Full Story

Another Editorial from the Albuquerque Journal

Publication:Jnl Final Edition 8/2005-today; Date:Dec 9, 2005; Section:Op-Ed / Letters to the Editor; Page Number:17

Machines That Keep U.S. Nukes Reliable Are Not ‘Toys’ BY MICHAEL R. ANASTASIO, THOMAS O. HUNTER AND ROBERT W. KUCKUCK National Laboratory Directors

A recent Albuquerque Journal editorial characterized the work being done at the national laboratories as involving “nonfunctioning toys” and “trinkets.” This view misrepresents both the importance and the complexity of the challenge facing the nation as it seeks to maintain the nuclear deterrent in the absence of nuclear testing.

For more than 10 years, our science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program has successfully met this daunting challenge. The Journal editorial diminishes this success and it mischaracterizes the commitment and effort of the dedicated men and women who support this vital mission.

We would like to set the record straight and offer a few important facts.

A decade ago, the United States chose to stop underground nuclear testing and, instead, certify the safety and reliability of its nuclear weapons stockpile by other methods. This new approach, the nation’s Stockpile Stewardship Program, required the development of many largescale experimental facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Nevada Test Site. These facilities extended state-of-the-art capabilities well beyond what was available a decade ago.

With all great scientific challenges, there are inherent risks. Yet successive administrations, the Department of Energy and the Congress have directed the national laboratories to proceed with the development of a suite of scientific tools necessary to minimize these risks and maintain our nuclear deterrent without fullscale nuclear testing.

Policymakers funded an ambitious plan to rapidly advance the science and technology necessary to understand the aging effects on nuclear warheads, components and materials and simulate the extraordinarily complex behavior of a nuclear detonation using large computers.

In addition to the cuttingedge computer models and other analytical tools yet to be developed, the plan also required large-scale test facilities necessary to validate the computer models. These experimental machines are not “toys” as labeled by the Journal; they are essential to certify the safety and reliability of nuclear warheads without underground testing as well as assist in solving warhead aging problems that might arise.

These critical experimental systems and facilities include the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrotest (DAHRT) Facility at Los Alamos, the Z Machine at Sandia and the National Ignition Facility at Livermore. Many of these tools are in active use today while others are still under development. Yet all of these tools have provided excellent data and results that have been invaluable to the assurance of the safety and reliability of the nation’s stockpile.

For the last 10 years, the laboratory directors have successfully employed the expertise of the scientists and engineers of the national laboratories to assure the secretaries of energy and defense and the president of the United States of the safety, security and reliability of all the nation’s nuclear weapons. It is a solemn responsibility.

Continued success of this effort requires these facilities to provide the scientific and engineering capabilities to sustain confidence in this approach. Because they are first-of-a-kind facilities, there can be adverse impacts on cost and schedule, but we remain committed to fulfilling our responsibilities as cost-effectively as possible.

No task can be more important than providing confidence in our nuclear deterrent to our government. We are committed to that mission for all of America.

Michael R. Anastasio is director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Thomas O. Hunter is Sandia National Laboratories director; and Robert W. Kuckuck is Los Alamos National Laboratory director.

Editorial from the Albuquerque Journal

Publication:Jnl Final Edition 8/2005-today; Date:Dec 9, 2005; Section:Editorials; Page Number:16

Senator’s Claims May Nuke Lab Reputation

It seems inconceivable that employees at a federal nuclear weapons facility who were disciplined for security breaches would be rewarded with raises, bonuses and cash awards by the same managers who sanctioned them.

That’s precisely what occurred at Sandia National Laboratories two years ago, according to Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Sandia has yet to fully respond to Grassley’s well-documented accusations, but considerable damage to Sandia’s reputation has already been done.

Sandia disciplined a number of employees amid a rash of security breaches that included stolen computers, a missing set of keys to a high-security lab and guards caught sleeping on the job.

Grassley, a vocal critic of lax security at national nuclear facilities, claims:

Nine of Sandia’s 14 disciplined employees were immediately given cash bonuses.

Some disciplined employees received pay raises.

One employee who was suspended for five days received an $18,500 bonus three months later.

While on disciplinary leave, one employee was given a $3,000 “recognition award.”

Grassley blames former Sandia president C. Paul Robinson, who now heads up a Lockheed Martin Corp./University of Texas team competing with the University of California/Bechtel Corp. to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The long-term, multimillion-dollar Los Alamos management contract was supposed to have been announced Dec. 1, but the National Nuclear Security Administration announced an indefinite postponement just days before the deadline.

Grassley’s charges may end up affecting Los Alamos management contract deliberations, which would be unfortunate. On balance Lockheed Martin’s record at managing Sandia has been good. Arguably, it has been better than the University of California’s track record at Los Alamos.

Los Alamos, perhaps the world’s best known nuclear weapons facility, has been through its own high-profile security problems in recent years.

Grassley’s allegations warrant a full explanation from Sandia administrators and Lockheed executives who hope to manage another lab whose ability to keep secrets is synonymous with national security.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Rumor Fusion

I thought it might be interesting to present a summary of all the rumors that have been sent my way during the past few weeks regarding the contract announcement. In roughly chronological order, here they are:

  1. LM had been awarded the contract.
  2. UC had been awarded the contract.
  3. Representative Hobson had been spotted storming out of of a meeting, furious.
  4. The contract announcement would be delayed.
  5. The contract announcement would be made on December 9.
  6. The contract announcement would be made by December 5.
  7. The contract announcement would be made on December 8.
  8. UC had won the contract, but Representative Hobson (re: the referenced meeting, above) had furiously sent the verdict back to the jury.
  9. NNSA, er, wasn't ready for the contract change over.
  10. LM has won the contract, announcement to come "any day now".

Stay tuned.


LANL has learned nothing from the occurrences of 2004

Excerpt of a comment from the


The worst part of this is that LANL has learned nothing from the occurrences of 2004.
During a recent CREM reduction (within the last three weeks) a LANL employee received his CREM statement and found that he had five items on his statement when he actually owned only one. Not only that, but the one item that he owned wasn’t on the statement. While all of the items were eventually found the discrepancy proves that LANL still does not effectively track and account for CREM. This is the same type of database error that led to the catastrophe of 2004. With only a minor change in fortune this person could have become the focus of a witch-hunt similar to that which we faced in July of 2004. Nothing has really changed.

Former jury foreman says Rocky Flats has not been cleaned up

December 9, 2005

DENVER - A lawmaker who was the foreman of a grand jury that investigated the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons factory is disputing allegations the site has been cleaned up.

"The only thing that got cleaned up at Rocky Flats was the Colorado taxpayer," Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, said Thursday.

Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell declared the 10-year, $7 billion cleanup of Rocky Flats complete Thursday, making it the first former nuclear weapons site to be totally remediated.

Contractor Kaiser Hill Inc. finished the project early and for much less than the initial cost estimates, which ran as high as $70 billion.

McKinley said he plans to introduce legislation next year that would expose what he said were environmental crimes committed at the site. He said he will expose the continuing safety threat.

Rocky Flats manufactured plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads until it was shut down in 1991 because of safety problems and the end of the Cold War. Most of the 6,240-acre site northwest of Denver is being converted to a wildlife refuge, but state and federal health regulators must still verify the cleanup.


Full Story

Friday, December 09, 2005

Owens draws line on blogs

State workers told not to post remarks from state computers

Gov. Bill Owens on Thursday warned state employees that they would be subject to disciplinary action if they use state computers to post comments on political Web sites.

The directive came after the Rocky Mountain News informed the governor that anonymous and sometimes caustic postings from someone using the nickname "Real Deal" had been traced to a computer in the governor's office, which has more than 100 computers.

"Real Deal" has taken potshots at Republican "flunkies" and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar.

The user called former GOP congressman Bob Schaffer a "weisel" (sic) and Democratic state Rep. Angie Paccione "that crazy woman."

The News this week asked the governor's office about "Real Deal's" identity and other possible blog posters using state computers.

Mark Salley, the governor's spokesman, said Thursday that the state doesn't know who the blog poster is or whether it is just one person.


Full Story

Lessons learned from CREM incident

Letter to LANL Newsbulletin
Dec. 5, 2005

Lessons learned from CREM incident

On Feb. 25, during an all-hands meeting with Department of Energy Secretary
Samuel Bodman and Senator Pete Domenici, the former laboratory director
answered a question by stating that there was an ongoing effort to document
"lessons learned" from the way that the DX Division CREM incident was
handled and investigated. Has this inquiry come to completion? Is a final
report available? If not, what is the status of the effort? If it was
discontinued, why?

I pose this question in the interest of improving the Laboratory's capacity
to document lessons from past mistakes. These will be valuable lessons to
pass to the next contractor of the Laboratory.

--Bernard Foy

Editor's Note: As part of the transition to a new contract, Director Bob
Kuckuck plans to discuss last year's Lab-wide [suspension of operations]
with the new contractor in the context of lessons learned. As part of the
discussion, Director Kuckuck will give to the new contractor a summary of
the [suspension of operations]: what led to it (and it's more than the DX
CREM incident), how incidents were investigated, how the Lab stood up (self
assessments and corrective actions), lessons learned and recommendations.
Director Kuckuck has asked his external Senior Advisory Group (SAG) to do a
lessons learned study for him. Interviews are being conducted with several
associate directors, division leaders and staff members. The SAG will bring
their observations forward to the director for discussion so that he will
be able to advise the new contractor and the National Nuclear Security
Administration on lessons learned and recommendations.

Sitting on a "naughty stool"

Comment from the

Sitting on a "naughty stool" for two hours in a corner of the room
just thinking about sexual haressment would be more beneficial than
this LANL on-line training course. Reading the strict timing guide
lines for viewing each page, it sounds like something dreamed up by
a wicked dominatrix. I guess any of the male staff who fail these
strict timing limits on even a single page should be branded as
"bad boys" who will most definitely need to be punished.

U.S. unveils report on problems at Hanford

U.S. unveils report on problems at Hanford

By Warren Cornwall
Seattle Times staff reporter

Amid pressure from Washington state political leaders, the U.S. Department
of Energy on Tuesday released a closely held report that is critical of
some work at a plant being built to clean up some of the worst
contamination at Hanford's former nuclear-weapons factories.

But in the version released to the public, the department blacked out
portions related to criticism of spending by Bechtel National, the
contractor building the plant, and to contract disputes between the
department and Bechtel, according to a complete copy of the report
previously leaked to The Seattle Times.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bid announcement date


The more astute among you will have noticed that the latest estimated bid announcement date has come and gone. The actual announcement date will apparently be whenever DOE and NNSA can get the process under sufficient control to support their decision, whatever it turns out to be. I just hope it happens before Christmas.


NNSA bets big contract fee will create change

ROGER SNODGRASS,, Monitor Assistant Editor

The Los Alamos Site Office is taking a break.

Officials at the local office of the National Nuclear Security Administration that oversees Los Alamos National Laboratory said Wednesday that means they are concentrating on getting ready for the changes in store under the new contract.

Herman Le Doux, who is leading a LASO team preparing for the next manager at the lab, said the $79 million in fee that will be available would drive many changes.

"This is the first time in the history of LANL that we will have a Limited Liability Corporation managing the laboratory for NNSA," he said. "The fact that it's an LLC and will have a significant portion of the fee at risk necessitates that we do business differently from the site office standpoint."

The three-month effort, called a "strategic pause" and dedicated to "re-engineering" oversight policies and procedures is expected to continue through February.

Bernie Pleau, LASO's public affairs officer said the basic nature of the supervision would be changing under the next contract.


Full Story

Science: Bush Bashes Better

U.S. Nobel winners fret over Bush research policies
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Two American Nobel Prize winners said Thursday they are worried about President Bush's attitude toward science and accused his administration of ignoring important research findings.

By Bertil Ericson, AP

"There is a measure of denial of scientific evidence going on within our administration, and there are many scientists who are not happy about that," said Roy J. Glauber, who shared this year's physics prize with fellow American John L. Hall and Germany's Theodor W. Haensch. Their research on the quantum nature of light has resulted in more precise optical clocks and measuring systems, and is used in today's satellite positioning systems.

Glauber also said some U.S. Congress members are more concerned about the political consequence of research projects than their scientific importance when they decide where to allocate money.

"(The projects) are not evaluated scientifically, they are only evaluated politically," Glauber said, but did not give details on specific projects.


Full Story

NM Schools Get Science Boost From LANL

Study Flunks State Science Standards
By Kavan Peterson - Nearly half the states flunked an examination of statewide science standards for elementary and high schools. - infoZine - The State of State Science Standards 2005 appraised the quality of statewide K-12 science standards required to be in place this school year by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Adopting new science standards is the first step leading to NCLB science testing required in every state by 2007.

California 97 A
Virginia 96 A
Massachusetts 94 A
SouthCarolina 93 A
Indiana 91 A
NewYork 88 A
NewMexico 86 A




In New Mexico, which ranks near the bottom on nearly every education ranking, education officials were elated to go from an "F" to an "A" this year. The state's new science standards were designed in partnership with scientists at New Mexico-based Los Alamos National Laboratory, state Education Secretary Veronica Garcia told

"What we're dealing with in New Mexico are the growing pains of education reform. Our standards recently have become much more rigorous and as we get our teachers better trained to meet the higher standards we believe student achievement will follow," Garcia said.


For more of the story, go to:

Full Story

Please sign me "Harassed"

Submitted by Anonymous:


Please post this anonymously.

All managers and mentors now must complete the mandatory course #36129, Sexual Harassment Prevention by 12/23. I am including the first screen of the course to show the commitment that UC and LANL have in reducing sexual harassment in the workplace. We MUST spend 2 hours on-line regardless of the actual time needed to complete the training!

Interestingly enough, the mandatory 2-hr course contains about 200 slides with roughly 30 minutes of real content.

Please sign me "Harassed".


Sexual Harassment Prevention AB1825
Course 36129

Length and Time Requirement
This course requires the person taking the course to spend 120 "interactive" minutes in the course. This course is managed by a very sophisticated learning management system ( LMS ) that tracks where you are in the course, how long you spend on each page and when you meet the criteria for course completion and credit. If a person spends more than 3 minutes on any one page, the timer quits counting the minutes. A person taking the course must be on each page between 10 seconds and 3 minutes, but average about 40 to 45 seconds per page (complete 197 pages in 120 minutes). If a person spends only 10 seconds on each page, gets to the last page in about 33 minutes and then lets the course sit on the last page for 90 minutes, the interactive timer in the LMS would record only 36 minutes in the course. Since the course requires one to spend timed interactive minutes, it is best to take the course at the predictive pace established by the vendor so that interactive minutes are logged and the total number is 120 minutes or more. LANL has authorized several employees to access the vendor's course progress/completion records to monitor the actual time spent in the course by any worker.

California Lab AB 1825 sets seven specific quality standards for the required training. Two pertinent training standards are established in the text of the law that says, " . . .shall provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment." The UC Office of the President has contracted with a company that develops and delivers mandatory online courses. LANL selected this interactive delivery method to meet this California law. The course, delivered from a server in California , requires each participant to log 120 interactive minutes before it allows the worker to proceed to the credit page. No one at LANL has authority to override the 120 interactive minute standard or give credit for workers who are able to complete the online course in less than 2 hours.

Wishing for a new contract

By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican |
December 8, 2005

LOS ALAMOS — This Christmas season, kids in Los Alamos wait for presents, and their parents wait for a decision.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is expected to end the anxiety and apprehension soon by announcing who will manage Los Alamos National Laboratory. Experts at the National Nuclear Security Administration have yet to finish a report and make a decision. An announcement date, initially expected Dec. 1, has been delayed. “No decision has been made,” NNSA spokesman Al Stotts said Wednesday. At least some take the pending change about what company will sign their paychecks, and dominate the area’s economy, with humor. “We’re running at neutral,” said Michael Wismer, a Los Alamos County councilor and lab employee. “In general, what that means is there’s anxiousness and hesitancy to make big, long-term decisions until the future of the lab is determined.”


Full Story

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sandia security incident revisited

ROGER SNODGRASS,, Monitor Assistant Editor

In the final lap of competition for the management contract of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a batch of documents has surfaced reviving questions about "alleged security breaches, misconduct and sham discipline involving some 15 Sandia officials," including the former director of Sandia National Laboratories Paul C. Robinson.

The description comes from a letter, dated Dec. 16, 2004, written by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to Department of Energy Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman. Grassley expressed dissatisfaction with the official's response to a yearlong effort to get to the bottom of misconduct at Sandia National Laboratories, dating back to 2001.

The material emerged Sunday on the web blog, LANL, the Real Story. The blog has been devoted to issues related to past and future management at the laboratory.

An anonymous writer included Grassley's letters to officials of the Department of Energy as reference material to a submission that was critical of Lockheed Martin's management.


Full Story

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Biosafety lab re-scoped

ROGER SNODGRASS,, Monitor Assistant Editor

A 3,200-square-foot building at Los Alamos National Laboratory has stood unused for more than two years, snagged in legal battles and safety issues.

Last week, the National Nuclear Security Administration gave notice it would begin a more rigorous environmental impact analysis on the Biosafety-3 laboratory that was built in 2003, but remains unoccupied.

Previously, an environmental assessment with minimal public input was used to permit construction of the building.

With construction underway on BSL-3 laboratories at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and LANL, citizens groups at the two labs filed suit in federal court, seeking an injunction on the facilities and calling for a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).


Full Story

After Verizon, Are Pension Freezes on the Way?

From Anonymous:

These might be of interest to people who are wondering about pensions
and where they are going in the future. Doug or St Brad (sorry its just
too funny of an idea).

After Verizon, Are Pension Freezes on the Way?
Other Telecommunications Companies Could Follow Verizon's Lead to Cut

Basically, companies are moving away from pensions faster than you can
say mississippi, and it will be something that will probably be looked
at by either of the LLC's in the coming years.

Senator Says Sandia Handed Out Bonuses After Disciplining Employees

By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer

Sandia National Laboratories publicly disciplined employees over security problems two years ago while privately giving them bonuses, according to a U.S. senator whose staff has been investigating the issue.

In letters to Sandia's federal managers last year, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, called for a federal investigation into allegations that the disciplinary action was "a smokescreen designed to protect everyone involved and to deceive the public."

The letters became public over the weekend.

At the time they were written, Sandia managers were scrambling to deal with a series of high-profile security problems, including stolen computers, a lost set of keys to a high-security lab area and guards caught sleeping on the job.

In one case, according to Grassley, an employee was given a five-day suspension because of the security problems, then given an $18,500 bonus three months later.

Sandia officials would not comment Monday on specific cases but acknowledged that some people disciplined did get raises.

"Some employees who had been disciplined ... were given compensation increases to their pay," Sandia spokesman Michael Padilla said in a written statement. "Annual increases are given for reasons consistent with Sandia's compensation system."


Full Story

Monday, December 05, 2005 problems, again has been having problems again today, sorry for the inconvenience.


A.J. taps ex-Los Alamos investigator as police chief

By Mike Branom, Tribune
December 5, 2005
A former security investigator at a Los Alamos National Laboratory wrongly fired three years ago, leading to a $930,000 settlement, will be Apache Junction’s first permanent police chief since 2003, pending City Council ratification.

Glenn A. Walp was announced as City Manager George Hoffman’s pick on Monday. If the selection is approved at Tuesday’s council meeting, Walp will take over in January with a starting annual salary of $99,800.


Full Story

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Rio Grande nourishes the Pueblo people

Nice article from the Dallas Morning News.

Congressional correspondence

Dear Doug,

Please post the submission below and the included related documentation anonymously. When I initially emailed the documentation to you (ZIP format), your email server rejected the email because of the large file attachment size (~ 9 MB). Therefore, I've chopped the documents up into several emails. There should be five emails in addition to this one containing various documents (most in PDF format).

I highly encourage you to post the Congressional correspondence in its entirety. Thank you for your tireless efforts in maintaining the blog and promoting an environment of open discourse on the issues concerning the management of Los Alamos, Sandia and other national laboratories. Your work has ensured the free flow of information that would otherwise have not been possible without such a forum. Please email me if you have any questions or need clarification on anything.

Respectfully -- Anon.



Blog entry starts here:

As the award of the lucrative management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory looms, it is apparent that the contract will likely be awarded to the team dominated by defense giant Lockheed Martin – the Los Alamos Alliance. Besides the glowing endorsements from the consortium themselves, no in-depth reporting of substance regarding Dr. C. Paul Robinson has surfaced in the media. The public perception of the former director of Sandia National Laboratories has been skillfully managed by a cadre of Sandia public relations personnel. The image of Sandia has been rigidly controlled by corporate structure of rules and regulations that prevent employees and contractors from publicly commenting on internal failings at the laboratory. Many of the security concerns and management problems that have been reported regarding Los Alamos also routinely occur at Sandia. Sandia employees are forbidden to speak with local, state and federal elected and appointed officials without first notifying their chain of management (see enclosed Sandia Internal Directive number ID012, “Executive Early Notification Policy”). Since Sandia is an at-will employer, the corporation can terminate employees at any time – for any reason. This arrangement is an effective deterrent for preventing staff from airing security, quality assurance, management, or any other concerns outside of the controlled environment of the Laboratories – even to federal officials. Under Los Alamos’ current operating manager, University of California, only certain upper management personnel (see LANL Implementation Procedure IMP 744.1 07/12/2005) are considered at-will employees. This policy will almost certainly be an integral part of the public perception management machinery at Los Alamos should Lockheed win the contract. At-will employment clauses might be appropriate for private sector service industry organizations, but certainly not for a government-owned research laboratory that performs key nuclear weapons work.

Sandia received almost $2.4 billion in funding in 2004. Under Lockheed, some Sandia staff members’ performance appraisals are impacted by how much funding they bring into the Laboratories; this practice has increased as budgets have tightened. You won’t find this tidbit of information anywhere public; you’ll have to talk to Sandia managers or tech staff who work for organizations that depend on Work for Others (WFO) projects for large portions of their funding. These people are scientists, not salespeople, and shouldn’t be evaluated on how effective they are at fundraising. The mission of Sandia and other national research laboratories is to conduct research, and apply that research to endeavors that are beneficial to the nation – not to be just another Beltway Bandit. Placing public trust and safety in the hands of a small number of corporate executives that have a vested financial interest in suppressing negative information seems irresponsible and dangerous – especially for institutions that design, produce and verify munitions in the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Traditionally, Los Alamos has carried out the research and design behind weapons in the nuclear arsenal, and Sandia has verified that the science behind the work is valid, and that these devices will function correctly (“stockpile stewardship”). If Lockheed emerges as the winner of the contract to manage Los Alamos, one private entity will oversee both roles; Lockheed, in essence, will be both the “doers” and the “checkers.”

There have been criticisms that if Lockheed wins the contract to manage Los Alamos, it would give the huge defense firm a monopoly on nuclear weapons work. In attempts to dispel these concerns, Dr. Robinson has repeatedly quoted “key instructions” he claims were given to him by Lockheed when he took over as Sandia: “Don’t ever let anybody try to put corporate interests before what you and your people think are the national interests.” Since Lockheed signs Dr. Robinson’s paycheck, that statement just doesn’t seem very convincing. Lockheed is in the business of making money and pleasing their stockholders. It is apparent from the included correspondence (Senator Charles Grassley, the DOE IG, and the NNSA) that there is a lot of information that was not made public regarding Dr. Robinson’s actions in the wake of the Bay Report. This is the advantage that a private corporation has over a public entity in management contracts such as Sandia’s and LANL’s. These corporations can claim that results of internal investigations and “independent assessments” are “proprietary,” and shield them from public scrutiny, just as Lockheed and Sandia did with the Bay Report. This, despite the fact that Sandia is a taxpayer funded institution. The contract to manage Los Alamos will entail managing over two billion dollars of gross operating funds annually. If Lockheed wins, it will further its domination of the weapons and weapons delivery areas for the corporation.

Many may argue that oversight mechanisms built in to these management contracts provide adequate safeguards. Since the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have historically done an extremely poor job of oversight, this arrangement does not bode well for security and science at these laboratories. Besides an inadequate number of personnel to accomplish their assigned tasking, management at the NNSA and the DOE are simply not willing to do their jobs (see enclosed correspondence between Senator Grassley and DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman dated 12/16/2004). Recent news reports indicate that NNSA’s Los Alamos office incredibly isn’t even ready to manage the new operating contract. This speaks volumes about the incompetence of the agency and its ability to perform capable oversight of the contract. The contract recompete should not be a surprise to the agency; they’ve had at least over a year and a half to prepare.

The NNSA site office at Sandia isn’t any better. They seemed to be confused when the issues that sparked the Bay Report publicly surfaced, even though Sandia personnel had repeatedly reported similar problems to their office numerous times in the prior years. Something seems to be seriously broken in this system, and it needs to be fixed before Lockheed descends on Los Alamos. The corporation has been allowed to operate almost unchecked at Sandia since taking over the contract in 1993. It is standard operating procedure at Sandia for management to repeatedly deny anything is wrong, discredit or fire (at-will employer) those that raise alarms, and delay/deny in their interactions when it comes to Congressional inquiries. A key tactic is to age the problems until they become irrelevant. The management and oversight contracts facilitate all of this. The bottom line is that Lockheed is a private corporation, and as such, is afforded a much higher level of confidentiality when it comes to day to day operations. The Sandia NNSA site office seems to float along with the current, not bothering to properly follow up on reports of security problems until they are forced to do something.

It is extremely difficult for the taxpaying public to get an accurate picture of the working environment at Sandia because of the secretive nature of the work, and the firm control management maintains over its employees. Following the Bay Report, Lab officials ramped up their public relations machine into high gear – both outside and inside the Sandia. The Bay Report is a supposedly “independent” examination of a series of security and management failures at Sandia. It has never been released to the public, despite being paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Dr. Robinson, Sandia president at the time of these failures, paid Mr. Norman Bay and several others $200,000 of the publics’ money to perform the assessment. This occurred only after over two years of constant pressure from Senator Charles Grassley’s office, contrary to what Dr. Robinson stated in a letter (enclosed) distributed to all employees on June 26, 2003. Senator Grassley, the Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, even had trouble getting Sandia to turn over a complete version of the report; he was constantly stonewalled by Sandia’s Executive Vice President Dr. Joan Woodard (see enclosed correspondence from Senator Grassley to Spencer Abraham, dated June 17, 2003). It seems asinine that a senior U.S. Senator has to beg the head of the Department of Energy for an uncensored copy of an “independent” investigation that was funded by tax dollars, that concerns an institution that receives billions of dollars in public funding.

In June of 2003, it was announced to the public amidst great fanfare that Sandia senior management had swiftly disciplined personnel and held them responsible for their actions. The Vice President for National Security and Arms Control, Mr. David Nokes, was given the ultimatum to resign or be terminated. Portions of the disciplinary letter given to Mr. Nokes include:

“You made very serious management decision errors which violate Sandia’s Code
Of Ethics and Business Conduct, Corporate Business Policy 400.3.7, as well as
the trust of the Laboratories, by (1) refusing to fully cooperate in an investigation
and (2) directing the destruction of evidence… You obstructed access to
information… By ordering the destruction of the [computer hard] drive you made
it impossible for the Laboratories to prove the absence of espionage or other
serious issues…”

These excerpts are taken from correspondence from Senator Grassley to Linton Brooks in a letter dated October 5, 2004 (enclosed). Shortly after the hard drive was assigned to an investigation, Mr. Nokes ordered a subordinate, Mr. Joe Quinby, to “get rid of the evidence” by destroying the drive in question. Mr. Quinby complied by smashing the hard drive with a sledge hammer; he is still happily employed by Sandia. Approximately two weeks after Mr. Nokes was forced to resign due to gross misconduct (June 25, 2003), Dr. Robinson initiated the process of reinstating Mr. Nokes’ security clearance on July 9, 2003 – completely out of the public eye. In the same letter to Linton Brooks dated October 5, 2004, Senator Grassley states, “The need to reinstate Mr. Nokes’ Q clearance was driven by a 1-year ‘no fee’ consulting contract awarded to Mr. Nokes by Dr. Robinson on July 15, 2003.” The stated purpose on the clearance reinstatement paperwork was to allow Sandia’s new management team to “have classified discussions with Mr. Nokes” in order to pick his brain – but they never did, according to the DOE Inspector General’s office. Several weeks later, Sandia chose not to continue the consulting contract, and Mr. Nokes’ security clearances were transferred to the State Department, where he works to this day. Dr. Robinson’s behavior seemed completely bizarre, as he and Mr. Nokes had made it a point to publicly spar in the press about “how much they disagreed with each other” (see Albuquerque Tribune piece dated June 27, 2003 Shortly after the media attention died down, almost all of the employees “disciplined” as a result of the investigation were given generous cash bonuses and raises. One individual involved, Mr. Dave Stout, was given a $19,200 base pay raise and a $5,000 cash award – highly unusual amounts considering the average staff raises at Sandia.

This pattern of payoffs and cover-ups is business as usual, not the exception within Sandia. The management operates with impunity, often ignoring their own rules they’ve created for themselves when it’s convenient. Staff members openly deride the required annual ethics training, and speak of its irony. Management employs sham disciplinary measures to appease Congressional investigators and the public when solid proof of wrongdoing escapes the controlled environment of the Laboratory. It is an atmosphere devoid of accountability and oversight. Cronyism and arrogance is endemic in the management chain. All of this is extremely unfortunate, as the great majority of the scientists and supporting staff are competent and hard-working people

Two Sandia Corporate Investigators tasked with performing internal investigations at Sandia tried in vain for several years to get Sandia management to address rampant security issues and incidents of theft, only to be repeatedly retaliated against and stonewalled. Their whistleblowing to Senator Grassley’s office, the resulting political pressure, and public scrutiny finally forced Paul Robinson to take some sort of action. The investigators’ jobs were saved only by the intervention of the Senator’s office. In the year leading up to Dr. Robinson’s commissioning of the Bay Report, he repeatedly refused to meet in person with the investigators, even though senior management publicly claims that “We take security issues very seriously.” The Corporate Investigations department was realigned to report directly to Sandia executive management after the Bay Report was released so they could keep a close eye on what they were doing. Management claimed it was “to ensure a clear line of communication” between the investigators and senior executives. Furthermore, employees that are engaged in carrying out senior management’s dirty work are regularly disposed of and paid off with taxpayer money. Mr. Ron Putnam, the former manager of the Corporate Investigations department, was fired early in March of 2005 after only eleven months on the job. Shortly after firing Mr. Putnam, Sandia gave him a “separation package” in return for a non-disclosure agreement – again, courtesy of taxpayer funds. This is a highly unusual arrangement, given the circumstances. Something definitely seems squirrelly here.

It is frightening that this is the environment in which nuclear weapons components are produced in, and under which our nation’s nuclear stockpile is certified. Sandia management makes it clear to staff that they are at-will employees. Their actions inside the Lab demonstrate that “troublemakers” are dealt with swiftly and severely. Employees see firsthand what happens to those who raise concerns, even within the Laboratories; it is an environment controlled by fear. Most people just can’t afford to lose their jobs – period. Sandia management knows that most employees have nowhere else to go in the area. Unfortunately, scientists definitely aren’t flocking to Los Alamos these days. Los Alamos employees can look forward to a similar system if Lockheed wins the contract.

It is a tragedy that beaten down LANL employees have reached the point that most don’t seem to care who wins; they just want the suspense to end so they can get on with their lives. The only logical solution to these problems is to turn the management of the Laboratories back to the government. Entrusting the security, design, and certification of nuclear weapons to a profit-driven private enterprise is reckless. Lockheed spent almost $10 million dollars on over 100 Congressional lobbyists in 2004 alone – from the looks of their profit statements, it has been paying off. Dr. Robinson has engaged readers of this blog in the past. Since it is likely he will soon be the new director of LANL, it seems only fair that he explain the reasoning behind some of his puzzling management decisions and policies during his tenure as President of Sandia. Will all employees be converted to at-will employees under the new contract? Will employees be forbidden to speak directly with elected officials under no fear of retribution or firing if they perceive safety or security issues are imminent dangers? Will Lockheed bring their opaque management style and draconian public relations tactics from Sandia to an institution already suffering from dreadful morale? Will Dr. Robinson promote an atmosphere that encourages employees to come forward with security and safety concerns, or will he refuse to address them because of the risks of embarrassing Lockheed and increased Congressional scrutiny? The employees of LANL deserve truthful answers to these questions, not a bunch of PR dodge ball.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

LANL: Feds deny plutonium missing from lab

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
December 3, 2005

The federal government has shot down allegations that plutonium is missing from Los Alamos National Laboratory, as claimed by a nuclear-watchdog group earlier this week.

“We don’t think anything’s missing,” spokesman Don Ami of the National Nuclear Security Administration said. “We just think there’s a discrepancy.”

There are two different databases used to track plutonium and plutonium waste, and different rules, or reporting requirements, for each, Ami explained.


Full Story

Friday, December 02, 2005

Why aren't we hearing anything about a class action law suit against UC

Submitted by Anonymous:

As we approach the announcement of a new contractor at the Laboratory -- I can't imagine I'm the only one who wonders with the acknowledged mismanagement of the Lab by UC, per DOE's decision to compete. Why aren't we hearing anything about a class action law suit against UC in this regard and the affect of this mismanagement on the loyal workforce? Most attorneys I know suggest calling our last secretary to explain his decision.

Comment of the Week

From the


The resonant frequencies of an object tell a lot about it.

A glass rings when tapped. A solid log emits a different sound than a rotten one.

People and organizations respond to shocks and stresses different ways. Some are productive, constructive, and resilient. Others are selfish, complain of unfairness, and demand that the world align with their local interests.

The response of some elements of the laboratory to the series of impulses, from the Tiger Teams to the shut down, indicate that there are pockets of "soft" material scattered thru LANL that has degraded over the years and either needs to be re-annealed or replaced with good, solid material.

We generally do not get to prescribe the impulses we experience, but we cannot usually fake our responses.

The new contract will provide an opportunity to reconstitute the good, solid material that ought to be LANL.

Board blasts nuclear security office

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
December 2, 2005

The head of a federal safety board has sharply criticized the National Nuclear Security Administration's plans to handle the pending management change at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Leaders of the NNSA's Los Alamos Site Office, who oversee the lab on behalf of the federal government, have planned a three-month "strategic pause" to hire new staffers, reorganize and focus on how to do a better job. That office oversees the lab on environmental, safety and security matters, for example, with about 120 people.

The criticism has prompted U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to call on Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to oversee the transition, if needed.


Full Story

Lab, UC officials discuss Appendix F in Washington

From the 12/2/2005 LANL NewsBulletin:

December 2, 2005

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio, standing left, and other Laboratory and University of California staff were in Washington, D.C. for an Appendix F pre-brief meeting earlier this week. Center with back to camera is Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck. At left is John Birely of UC and John Immele, Los Alamos' deputy director for national security. Far right (to left) are Buck Koonce of UC, Glenn Mara of the Director's Office, Bob Foley, UC's vice president for laboratory management, Sharon Eklund of the UC Office of the President and Bill Wadt of the Prime Contract Office (PCO). Appendix F is the Laboratory's annual report card from the National Nuclear Security Administration. It consists of 10 objectives, six for mission and four for operations, and span the work of the Laboratory ranging from nuclear weapons, science and strategic programs, to business systems, infrastructure and the work force. Later that day, a holiday celebration was held at the Laboratory - Lawrence Livermore offices in the nation's capital.

Image Credit: Chinua Benford for Los Alamos

LANL Bio Safety Lab Review Set

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

A new environmental review begins this month for Los Alamos National Laboratory's controversial $4.1 million Biological Safety Level-3 Facility, designed to study live infectious agents like anthrax and plague.

The National Nuclear Security Administration announced this week that it will prepare an environmental impact statement, beginning this month, with public input on the scope of the study. The process will take at least nine months, and it could be January 2007 before lab operations begin, according to John Ordaz, an NNSA environmental stewardship manager.

The BSL-3 lab has been sitting idle since it was built two years ago. It was originally scheduled to open in the spring of 2004, but the opening was delayed following a legal challenge and NNSA's decision to redo studies on the environmental impacts of the lab.


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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Something you don't hear about every day

Russian squirrel pack 'kills dog'

Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was barking at them in a Russian park, local media report.

Passers-by were reportedly too late to stop the attack by the black squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly lasted about a minute.

They are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh.

A pine cone shortage may have led the squirrels to seek other food sources, although scientists are sceptical.


[Yes, you are absolutely correct: this has nothing whatsoever to do with LANL. Except for the part about the sceptical scientists, that is. --Doug]


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Latest Intel on the Bid Announcement Date

The latest info suggests that the bid announcement will be made on December 8.


We just need a football team

Submitted by Anonymous:

I think one of the worst things about the shutdown was how various
divisions, groups, and people reacted and did things during it. A lot of
division/group managers went into duck and hide mode like a puppy who
had been hit on the nose for the first time. This seemed to amplify a
lot of bad habits they had in berating and undermining their employees
which basically rolled downhill. I got to ghost in a lot of meetings,
and basically you would hear one thing in the SET, and then the people
from it would redirect it as something completely different in order to
maintain their petty kingdoms.

Other personnel and management took the shutdown for what it was
publicly listed as "a time to figure out what things are broken and
fix them." Those groups spent the time looking around and fixing things.
Some of them were later berated by division or other management for not
cowering.. but some still went along and fixed problems.

Basically I think that the biggest waste of the 350+ million dollars was
that the underlying lab culture is based so much on fear, fiefdom, and
false fanfare that it couldn't solve anything without a complete change
of middle and upper management. It seems that in some divisions, you
only get promoted by the amount of dirt you have on others... or at
least that is what people are going to say whether it is true or not.

LANL isn't a den of thieves.. its problems are more like the politics you
see at any university.. lots of backstabbing, bullying, pissing on each
other, and dwelling on far past slights. We just need a football team.

LIVERMORE Nuclear lab gets OK to double plutonium U.S. Energy Dept. approves storage of 300 bombs' worth

Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
Thursday, December 1, 2005

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to double the amount of radioactive plutonium that can be stored at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, enough for as many as 300 nuclear bombs, agency representatives said Wednesday.

Energy Department officials approved the increase less than five months after a scientific panel for the agency urged that virtually all the plutonium now stored at Livermore be removed from the growing city to a safer, more remote site, probably in a desert in a different state.

The change will allow plutonium from other nuclear sites, including Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, to be shipped to Livermore for the lab's program of studying long-term decay of nuclear bomb parts and finding ways to maintain the bombs.


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LANL Transition Web Site

Submitted by Anonymous:

Has anyone else noticed that those kids on the school bus look like they are trying to escape?

Recent Comments

Comments from the



WhoseYourDaddy sez:

"Bottom line is taxpayer moneys aren't supposed to just be donated or dolled out for nothing in return."

You mean as was done for months on end during our shutdown? $357 million was doled out, by DOE's reckoning, for nothing in return.
Yeay, Pete! You da man!

Us DOE blokes hardly even noticed that we were getting less than usual for our $$ during those seven months.

I hear that the WFO customers were pissed, though.
doe guy - How much is the country getting from your 3 month shut down, I am sorry, your 3 month "strategic pause?"
Papa P,

You have me confused with the University of California. It was their own George P. Nanos who ordered the shutdown, and it was UC president Bob Dynes who implicitly supported that decision. I say "implicitly", because he never said "boo" about the matter for about 7 months. He just let his director run rampant.

Since you ask, however: What the country got in return was a $357 million bill, paid for the the US taxpayer. For that, the country got bupkis.

You might be interested to know that the University of California continues to pay this famous former lab director $235,000 more dollars per year to remain hidden from sight somewhere in the Pentagon.

More of your tax dollars at work.

However, perhaps you were referring to the next strategic pause for LANL, the one they will be enjoying as a result of the Los Alamos NNSA Area Office not being quite yet ready to handle the contract transition.

In which case, the tax payer can expect the same return on their dollar as they received from the last shutdown, only this time you will be able to credit NNSA for the wastage, instead of UC.

Plutonium Unaccounted For

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

POJOAQUE— More than 660 pounds of plutonium at Los Alamos National Laboratory is unaccounted for, a Maryland-based environmental watchdog said Tuesday.

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research compared public records data from the nation's weapons and disposal sites with a 1996 U.S. Department of Energy report detailing plutonium waste inventories. IEER researchers discovered large inventory discrepancies at Los Alamos, said institute president Arjun Makhijani, who co-authored a report on the findings.

"We've got three sets of books with plutonium numbers in waste, and they are so far apart that they cannot be reconciled by any reasonable means," Makhijani said at a news conference in Pojoaque.

Makhijani said his findings raise serious environmental, regulatory and security questions. The amount of unaccounted-for plutonium, a radioactive by-product of nuclear weapons manufacturing, can be used to make dozens of bombs, according to the report. There's no evidence the plutonium has been stolen or has left LANL, Makhijani said, but "it is the responsibility of the Department of Energy and (LANL manager) the University of California to guarantee that it has not gone off site."


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Group faults lab on plutonium records

By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican |
December 1, 2005

A Maryland nuclear-watchdog group says Los Alamos National Laboratory should do a better job of keeping track of plutonium.

Various organizations involved in monitoring the weapons lab say they believe much of the highly radioactive atomic-bomb ingredient referred to in a new report is buried as waste at Los Alamos.

But authors of a report released Wednesday by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research want managers of the federal lab to explain what it says are “major discrepancies” in accounts of plutonium at LANL.


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