Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Letter in Newsbulletin: The Future of the Lab

May 22, 2006

The future of the Lab

Now that we have made our decisions after months of fretting over the details of retirement plans, it's time to turn our attention to a much more important question. What will the Lab be like after the transition is complete? Some things I've heard over the last few months make me concerned, even skeptical about the future of the Lab.

First, I don't believe a model of a profit-driven enterprise can benefit the Lab. Certainly there are processes employed by the best companies that could greatly improve the Lab, but there are fundamental differences in the purpose of a national laboratory that require unique approaches. We are required to charge our customers the cost of our work, not more, not less. Unless we sell pits for $1 billion each, we will never make a profit nor should that be a goal.

More importantly, the 20 some "key personnel" are my greatest concern. If they are going to focus on the award fee and their bonuses, the Laboratory is doomed. Their sole mission must be to create an environment that makes the Lab the institution at which scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff would most like to spend their careers while convincing the National Nuclear Security Administration, Congress and the American public that we are taking care of the taxpayer's dollars, the environment, our workers and our neighbors.

The Department of Energy believes it will take seven years to make the needed changes. How many of the "key personnel" are committed to seven years at the Lab? If any of them think they can straighten things out in a couple of years and move on, I have a simple request: don't bother starting and give us someone who cares. Recreating the Lab that once was will take years, driving it into the ground can be accomplished in short order. Jim Collins in "Good to Great" described the great leaders in corporate America, identified through extensive research, as incredibly ambitious but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves. In our case, the institution is LANL, not LANS.

--Duncan Hammon

Comments:
Consider that of 15 Directorates, only eight can be considered to be mission oriented, even if you include non-traditional science and WFO mission. One more is related solely to cleanup and the remaining six are just to keep the doors open.

However, all these ADs will be ranked the same. In the NNSA, they distinguish between program-related managers and support managers. The program managers are called Deputy Administrators (DA): The support managers are Associate Administrators (AA).

Under the DAs, there are Assistant DAs (ADA)- sort of like our division leaders. Under the AAs, though, there are only office directors, a role with much less influence than an ADA.

So, NNSA knew well enough to delineate between support functions and mission functions, but LANL did not. I find this telling and believe it bodes "well" for the support side and less well for the mission (read "work") side.

As to the key personnel, they are only committed to being here for two years, but there are the sneaky words about offering a retention incentive in the RFP. My guess would be that it is in the form of a fee-based bonus.

I believe the lab would be better served by making it clear that those that work on deliverables (and their managers) are more important than ANY support function.
 
I hear there's going to be a new "dress code." LANS lanyards will be required, of course! But no shorts, no open-toed sandals, no T-shirts, no miniskirts, no spike heels, no lip gloss--and that's just for the "boys." The "girls" will have to be real...professionals...in their dress AND attitudes. That's just in preparation for even harder times, boys and girls: -Time clocks with strict desk attendance.

We are The Corporation. (You've been living the dog's life up 'til now. Suck it up. SIT!)
 
I hear there's going to be a new "dress code." LANS lanyards will be required, of course! But no shorts, no open-toed sandals, no T-shirts, no miniskirts, no spike heels, no lip gloss--and that's just for the "boys." The "girls" will have to be real...professionals...in their dress AND attitudes. That's just in preparation for even harder times, boys and girls: -Time clocks with strict desk attendance.

We are The Corporation. (You've been living the dog's life up 'til now. Suck it up. SIT!)

And the problem is, what? I sure the American public really feels sorry that you can no longer look like something that walks the Vegas strip or college campus.
 
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?