Sunday, March 05, 2006

Comment from an earlier post

I believe "good2go" has hit the nail on the head with this observation.

--Doug

From the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2006/03/us-plans-to-modernize-nuclear-arsenal.html

post:
____________________________________________________

The TCP2 benefits package is only one part of the equation to
the future of scientific work at LANL.

My guess is, DOE wants the LANL scientific staff to stay around just
a little bit longer, but the real future for LANL has already been
planned. It mostly involves production work. Once LANS takes over,
our overhead rates and "stealth" taxes may become so high that only
nuclear production work can be economically justified. Watch closely
how LANS handles their new costs. It could become your guidepost as
to the future of science at LANL.

A LANL scientist making around $120 K per year currently costs a
project close to $370 K per year when burden rates and project taxes
are added. If you see LANS dump increasing costs onto the heads of
each FTE and on to projects (which seem highly likely), then the
future at LANL will become more insecure. Project funds can only
be stretched so far, no matter how important the scientific work.

We should know the status of future FTE costs and project taxations
in short order. Even if you don't work to secure your own funding
at LANL, higher FTE costs and bigger project taxations will effect
your future job security. You might want to pay attention to this.


Comments:
How could there not be an increase in overhead costs? As was pointed out in the "Contractors will be let go?" post, there will be at *least* $290 million less in LANL's 2007's budget. Would anybody like to recompute the loaded FTE cost taking that into account?
 
I think Travis is correct on this one:

" No, Butthead, that's not how Bechtel will do it. There will be more and more contractor positions because they are CHEAPER and now LANL is a for profit laboratory. You can make more money with contractors for whom you have to provide no benefits and whom you can hire for a period of time and then let go. Look for many operations to be outsourced to contractors - such as some CCN groups which are already being moved to the operations side of LANL. That's really close to outsourcing. And those CCN folks, many of whom are tremendously overpaid, will feel the pinch. No more 90k/year for someone with no degree.
# posted by TravisMcGee : 3/06/2006 07:51:20 AM"

Now on this part:

"No more 90k/year for someone with no degree." I hope he is wrong simply because there are a lot of skilled labor people that are far more productive then any college grad could ever hope to. Most of the Phd's that I have worked around lack any common sense and are more of hazard to the establishment then the company can risk. A degree isn't everything. In two decades I've only worked with two Phd's that I would consider well rounded and completely trusted. The others I have had to stop dead in their tracks from killing me or others.
 
I bet most of them can't even find the right thread.
 
Thank you, b-ohica.

Yes, there are some useless PhDs probably making way too much money. But when I read email from some of these folks with no degrees who are paid over 90K/year, and I see your for you're, it's for its, their for there, then for than, etc., I wonder how anyone who writes so poorly can possibly work at LANL. I'm not talking about the kids who have just graduated from high school. I'm talking about folks who are Tech-6s or Tech-7s, who are in their mid to late 40s and supposedly graduated at a time when learning was important. But writing correctly to make a good impression is clearly not important. I suppose they are just following the example set by our illiterate president who is an insult to our country and sets a very poor example for our children.

Higher FTE costs are a real problem, and one reason for these costs is because so many more people have to touch a piece of paper than 10 years ago, and it was more 10 years ago than 15 years ago, etc. Another reason for higher costs is that so many people are saving every possible piece of paper they can save to back up a decision. The numerous directives from the Director and those political hacks at NNSA have fostered another level of paper-touching, the chiefs of staff. These guys have got to go.

The Director and the CIO are being led down the garden path by CCN, and it's going to wind up costing LANL in productivity. The last couple of DIs on email servers and windows shows how little the Director and the CIO know and how much manipulating CCN is doing behind the scenes to try to assure that they are not outsourced. Furthermore there is another move afoot by CCN to force everyone who provides computer support into their organization. Someone has given CCN the power to decide what LANL division do about computing support rather than letting the divisions make their own decisions.

The Director has got to let LANL divisions manage themselves in a way that makes sense to the divisions.

The division leaders have got to let the groups manage themselves in a way that makes sense to the group leaders rather than trying to manage every single aspect of the groups.

DOE/NNSA has got to let LANL manage itself with less interference. Or the FTE costs will continue to spiral upwards.
 
I'm curious how far "down" one has to go to find new LANL managers who are actually slated for TCP2. Exactly what pension plan are the top 20 in - Are they in this boat with the rest of LANL? Or do they have a better deal...
 
From what I have seen out here on the blog people seem to believe that the "fantasy four" Mara, Anastasio, McMillan, Knapp are to remain UC employees who will be allowed to retire on the primary UCRP while the rest of the bottom feeders get the next bone/r that the UC Regents is about to throw us very soon. I hope that this is nothing more than misinformation, but if it's not then my next wish would be to have the "fantasy four" suffer the same fate as we are about to. Having said that I am sure that there are a few hundred other snakes in the grass that are making deals with the UC at this very minute at your expense. The objective is to find out who they are and take notes so that if and when this goes to court they can be crucified and their retirement revoked.
 
One way to see who is being rewarded is to compare the list of new ADs to the names of LANL employees who were on the UC/Bechtel team helping craft the response to the RFP. Those guys are going to get rewarded BIGTIME. The structure is going to be announced on Thursday. Who is going to stand up and ask Anastasio how many of the ADs belong to the good-old boy UC/Bechtel club?
 
"Who is going to stand up and ask Anastasio how many of the ADs belong to the good-old boy UC/Bechtel club?"

Not a single person, and even if there was one brave soul he or she would never get an answer. The structure that will be announced Thursday will speak for itself. My question is, who is going to publish the names of those people and if possible their slaries? At that time we will have the list of lords who will require your loyalty.
 
At the retirees briefing way back in January Mitchell answered this question: "As of June 1 will yours and Mike's benefits/salaries come from LANS or from your parent company?" He answered without hesitation that starting June 1 his, Mike's and everyone's would come from LANS.
 
So I have another question for you. Are the "fantasy four" going to be allowed to retire under the primary UCRP before June 1st and then double dip from LANS? If so then why can't we get the same benefits? After June 1st when the UC changes it's mind and forces us onto a spin off retirement plan will the "fantasy four" being going down with the ship or sitting at the top laughing? It's always good to have those who wrote the rules suffer the brunt of their own doings.
 
"I suppose they are just following the example set by our illiterate president who is an insult to our country and sets a very poor example for our children."

The sweeping hyperbole of such an allegation is breathtaking. What kind of example does it set for our children to have an educated adult propagate the zealotry of a Michael Moore and the cheap-shot comedy of a Jay Leno in a very public forum, which was created to debate serious issues affecting thousands of people, many of whom can have significant impact on our country's security? And what sort of "credibility" do such partisan outbursts impart to the many credible opinions voiced here?
 
"teraBYTEMEsa" is correct in taking TravisMcGee to task: Sweeping hyperbole and breathtaking zealotry have no precedent on this blog. Let's get the facts straight: Our most beloved perpetual-wartime president in American history is demonstrably NOT illiterate. He was caught on videotape as he was reading "My Pet Goat" to schoolchildren on 9/11/2001. And while Mr. Bush is also, undeniably, intellectually lazy and living in a bubble, he is not at all unrepresentative of the American people, 50% of whom elected him in 2000 (by an 11% margin--5 to 4) and 51% of whom re-elected him in 2004.

Facts are facts, and they deserved to be spelled out--correctly and dispassionately.

[-Editor]
 
On the contrary, hyperbole and zealotry have much precedent on this blog. And it appears that they, rather passionately packaged in self-righteous sarcasm, have the support of one of its editors. Unfortunately, there is insufficient time to take every instance to task, so we have to content ourselves with exposing only some of the more blatant examples.
 
"On the contrary, hyperbole and zealotry have much precedent on this blog. And it appears that they, rather passionately packaged in self-righteous sarcasm, have the support of one of its editors."

And which editor might that be?

--Doug
 
The holian-than-thou one.
 
Careful, now: Brad is "Yin" to my "Yang".

--Doug
 
Right. I'm the conservative, dispassionate one.
 
I'm not going to touch the yin/yang remark.

Look, I have been reading this blog for quite a while because most of the issues discussed affect me too. And I get the free-for-all nature of the general discussion. But since you did establish guidelines, I have to conclude that not anything goes. I am aware that during these very tying times at Los Alamos and beyond, tempers and personal grudges will come to the fore (including my own). But I remind myself that this blog has a huge audience and a serious agenda, and, it may surprise you to hear, I care very much about what these discussions may effect. So I take exception to those episodes that I believe are counter productive to our mutual cause. If I am wrong convince me with logic; I don't respond well to cynicism.
 
... trying times ...
 
Sorry, it's not quite clear to me what you are objecting to. I haven't seen any recent discussion that was "counter productive to our mutual cause". You might not like the tone of some of what was said, but pretty much everything that has been submitted lately has been on-topic.

--Doug
 
The bottom line is that it doesn't matter who is in office, because at least 50% of the nation is always going to be pissed off at all times. I guess in 2008 when the whitehouse is over turned we'll once again be a nation of greater irreconcilable differences. Here again it will be a matter of nothing getting resolved, but at least the news media will be happy and they will play up the election as a success whereby they will tell you what you want to hear and convince you that they have solved the worlds problem. The question is, will there ever be a middle of the road? I seriously doubt it. Do I have a solution? No, well at least nothing that is politically correct.
 
Doug,

I thought I had made it quite clear what I am objecting to, but perhaps what you are asking me to do is clarify why I think it is counter productive to our mutual cause. Here goes: when someone posts a comment, be it on-topic or not quite, and includes a gratuitous remark about the President that, if nothing else, is partisan and personally offensive, I can't help remembering that the President is the chief executive who, among many other official duties is also the boss of the Secretary of Energy, who in turn, is the person who supervises the people who have a big role in controlling the future of LANL. Now, I am not implying that it is OK to malign someone who can't hurt us, nor am I claiming that the President takes a personal interest in what happens at the Lab level. But I fail to see how gratuitous maligning of the chief executive can possibly be productive to our cause.

b-ohica,

Any remarks I can make about your comment will be judged as nitpicking. If anything your estimate that "at least 50% of the nation is always going to be pissed off at all times" is IMHO conservative. And as for your own response to your rhetorical question about "a middle of the road" I have nothing constructive to add, except to say: I agree.
 
All I can add on a personal note here, trying to maintain some semblance of a sense of humor in these "trying times," is to remember Harry Truman's quote that contained the words and the wisdom about "the heat" and "the kitchen."
 
Yes, well I'm glad we have all that behind us now.

--Doug
 
Well who am I to refuse an offer of a truce, unless I misconstrue Brad's personal message, which is largely conveyed by his quotation marks themselves. I'll assume they are not meant to ridicule my choice of words to describe our present circumstances, and I'll assume they are not telling me to get out of the kitchen/blog if I won't take the heat/opinions with which I disagree.

I am also glad we have all that behind us now, but this is tempered by b-ohica's warning that "here it comes again" from that direction.
 
terabyte mesa,

How could it be a partisan outburst from a Teddy Roosevelt Republican? And maybe I should have said scientifically illiterate which is certainly not hard to prove. As far as maligning the President who is our "big boss", please remember the words of
Voltaire who said, "I disapprove of what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it". However, if you agree that what was said about Bill Clinton for 8 years and Hillary for longer than that was just as terrible as my calling Bush an illiterate, then we're on the same page.

Perhaps our country worked much better when the President got the most votes, the VP got the second most number of votes, and there were no Democrats or Republicans or Tories or Whigs or whatever.

However, back to the issue of how LANL will be managed under LANS. Oh, don't forget that we are now debating this because Washington thinks privatization is the way to go, and don't forget that the guy in the White House appointed the guy who is a buddy of Admiral Butthead.
 
Travis,

We're on the same page and I consider you a colleague in arms, along with my other Teddy Roosevelt Republican colleague, who uses TR's famous quote as his moniker thus: speak but [STICK]. If you must know, I was, and continue to be, personally offended by the treatment of both Clintons by their political enemies.

I will grant you that our country worked better when the President happened to be elected unanimously, but that George was one of kind. Nevertheless, as was previously stated in an updated version of Churchill's famous quote: Democracy is a bad form of government, but it beats the crap out of whatever is in second place. So until someone of Washington's, or Lincoln's, or Roosevelt's (both), or Truman's caliber comes along, the only thing we can hope for is a little more civility in our discourse.

I have no idea who Admiral Butthead is.
 
Well, Mr. Big Bite: let me elucidate you:

From http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Peter_Nanos
_________________________________

George Peter Nanos
From Wikiquote



About him

* He stood up and took the heat and did what needed to be done. The lab is in far better shape than it was before.
o S. Robert Foley, retired admiral who oversaw weapon's lab management
* Pete has done a remarkable job under extraordinary pressures and circumstances.
o Robert C. Dynes, president of the University of California
* He didn't listen to his own people even though he claimed he had an open door.
o Peter Stockton of the Project on Government Oversight in Washington
* He was the worst thing to happen to Los Alamos National Laboratory in its entire 63 year history.
o Doug Roberts, LANL retiree with 20 years service, and creator of the "LANL, The Real Story" blog.

 
Well, I'll be damned! Here I thought I was the ONLY Teddy Roosevelt Republican left alive! And it turns out that TB and TM are with me on the same bully page! What doesn't get smoked out on this here blog of yours, Douglas...
 
Remember that an Editor's job is to clarify things for those who need clarity, not for those who already see things clearly (-they have other, bigger problems).

[-Editor. #2.]
 
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