Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Domenici to address Lab work force Thursday

[If anybody feels like sending me a summary of what was said at this meeting, I would be happy to share it here. --Doug]

New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici is scheduled to speak to Laboratory employees at 1 p.m., Thursday from the Administration Building Auditorium at Technical Area 3.

Domenici will talk about the future of the Lab in light of the award of a new operating contract for Los Alamos, as well as the overall national vision for science and research, according to a news advisory from his press office.

Standard escort rules apply for admission into the auditorium to hear the talk. The talk also will be broadcast on LABNET Channel 9 and on desktop computers using Real Media stream and IPTV technology.

Domenici also is scheduled to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lab's new Radiological Laboratory Utility Office, phase one of the planned Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project at TA-55.

To read an all-employee memo from Laboratory Director Bob Kuckuck, click here (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

Pete looked and sounded more upbeat about the Lab than at any other time in the last three years. Reading between his well-scripted lines, I conclude that:

(1) NNSA is an unmitigated disaster that he is going to deal with in the next few months. He didn't say the unmitigated D-word exactly, but his meaning was ominously clear.

(2) He is REALLY, REALLY glad that Kuckuck is the interim Director of LANL. By inference, he realizes that Nanos was also an unmitigated disaster as Director, and that there will be no more ill-advised shutdowns at LANL, ever again.

(3) He touted the Bingaman-Alexander plan to boost the physical sciences nationwide, beginning at the nation's premier scientific laboratory, LANL--sorry, my Livermore friends, but Pete is from NM, not CA--where LDRD will be guaranteed 8% of the budget by law, if Pete gets his way.

All in all, it was a stellar political performance before a very friendly audience, by one of the leading Senators in the country. And he still has some gas in his tank, so don't count him out at the plate as he rounds third.
(-Sorry about the mixed Oil Patch and baseball metaphor.)
Pete was clearly in pain with his right elbow. They have inplanted a nerve stimulator to deal with the disability in his right hand and it was clear it was bothering him.

The overall message was the same old "Don't worry, be happy" that we've heard before. He did suggest that the NNSA beaurocratic chickenshit wasn't what he had in mind when he created the agency, but he offered no real relief.

The hope that there will be Federal color-blind scholarships based solely on merit was a non-starter, and he knows it. It was stupid to even float the idea, as we know there are already too many white boys in college already.

I expected Anastasio and D'Agostino to say a few words, but they didn't.
Well I hope St Pete wasn't blowing hot air, but a lot of the things he said are going to be hard/not-possible.

From Brad's list

1) It is almost impossible to kill/change a bueracracy when it has been established. What usually happens is that yet another layer is added to watch the layer below it to make sure it does what it is supposed to. Pete is going to need to get support from the House Republicans to remove NNSA.

2) I dont want to go that far with Pete's inferences. This was the fellow that people railed over his "Just get over it" comment a year ago.

3) The Bingaman-Alexander plan is a great idea.. but unless it gets a lot more sign-ons or somehow it can be shown that we can't catch up with the China/Iran block without it.. the money isnt going to be spent.

[Personally, I would like #1 and #3 to occur.. but I think political realities are against it.]
LANL is currently authorized for 8% LDRD. To implement it would require an increase in the G&A rate.
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