Tuesday, January 31, 2006
You might not be surprised to learn that many of the current LANL staff remain clueless about the transitition, UC, and the whole mess. Some people still appear to feel as if the system, and UC in particular, "owes" them. 'Severance pay', my ass.
A letter from today's LANL NewsBulletin:
Jan. 24, 2006
Have they considered?
Since the log jam of letters on transition finally seems to be moving through the system. What are the options for University of California employees who choose not to transition to Los Alamos National Security LLC? Since they are essentially "closing a campus," what is the severance package that UC will offer? Does it include preferential hiring at other UC facilities, severance pay, training apportionment? Or, have they even addressed this? Seems like something which should be considered and definitely included in information being presented.
Fire Ruins LANL Bid Materials
Journal Staff Writer
An arson destroyed documents and office equipment related to Lockheed Martin's failed bid to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, but fire investigators aren't releasing many details, citing the sensitive nature of an investigation into the blaze.
A moving trailer containing paper files, computers and other office equipment went up in flames in Albuquerque either late Jan. 21 or early Jan. 22, according to Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Wendy Owen. The trailer was parked at moving company Arpin of Albuquerque, 4525 Paseo Del Norte NE, Owen said.
"It did have materials and equipment related to our Los Alamos proposal," she said by phone Monday.
Albuquerque Fire Department spokesman Capt. Mike Paiz said investigators aren't releasing many details about the fire because they don't want to jeopardize the investigation. But he did confirm Monday that the fire was "definitely arson."
"They found evidence to support an accelerant used," he said.
A woman who answered the phone at Arpin of Albuquerque declined to comment.
Monday, January 30, 2006
A) Keep up the good work!
B) Please post the following anonymously, since these days it is well to
follow the old adage and assume nothing, and trust no-one -- well, perhaps,
Those who believe that UCRP is more stable than any spin-off would be well
advised to read the chronicles of Charles Schwartz, Prof. Emeritus, UC
UC Faculty Weigh in against UCRP-LANL (and LANSLLC)
Mr. Gerald Parsky, Chair
Board of Regents
University of California
RE: Action Item 5C (January 18, 2006)
Dear Chair Parsky:
The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) has serious concerns about proceeding with a permanent division of assets between UCRP and the LANSLLC prior to disclosure of the relevant terms of the contract between UC, Bechtel, Washington Group International, BWX Technologies and other private sector partners. No spin-off of assets should occur while the text of the partnership agreement remains secret from employee organizations. If significant details of the partnership are still being worked out, this is a further reason to defer action on Item 5C. The officials representing UC in ongoing partnership negotiations should not be given authority to spin-off UCRP assets at the same time.
We further ask that the unwind be delayed until there is full disclosure of the following:
(1) Which UC officials and Regents are (or expect to be) individually affiliated with the LANSLLC or its private-sector partners;
(2) Whether and how much they are (or expect to be) paid for this affiliation;
(3) To what extent their fiduciary responsibilities to the new entity or its private-sector partners are separate from their responsibilities to UC; and
(4) What procedures are in place to assure that the separation of the pension plans of the two entities is done at arm's length and with no disadvantage to continuing UC employees?
We raise these issues because we believe that Item 5C has a potential for conflict of interest that would not have arisen if UC had either lost the contract to manage LANL or retained it outright. Here, UC is transferring management of LANL to a for-profit private entity that it does not control but with which it continues to be involved. This creates an obvious need for additional safeguards, not present in Item 5C as currently written, that would make the relationship between the two entities more fully transparent. We know from the LLC’s website, for example, that you, Chair Parsky, are on its Board, but we do not know to what extent you are accountable to UC in this role; neither do we know whether recently-resigned VP Mullinex (and/or his successor) will be on the LLC Board while acting in this matter for UC. Delegating responsibility to him to spin-off assets of UC employees without knowing what other responsibilities he may have to the new entity is in our view fraught with problems.
The "Addendum Report" (5C Attachment 2) prepared by the Segal Group says, “The amount of assets and liabilities to be transferred to the successor contractor's defined benefit plan is not known at this time. Furthermore, the methodologies and assumptions that would be used to calculate the amounts (if any) to be transferred are not yet determined.” The Report is replete with discussion of “policy issues” based on the actuarial differences between the LANL component of UCHP and UCRP as a whole in relation to the funding (or underfunding) of future liabilities. Employee groups are entitled to know what these policies issues are, and the likely impact of these issues on how soon employee pension contributions will begin at UC and LANL, respectively, and how much it will cost UC and the new LLC to meet their respective defined benefit obligations. The possibility that those making these policy decisions may owe a separate (perhaps primary) loyalty to the LLC raises the question of whether the methodology for transfer of assets will indirectly subsidize the corporate owners of the LLC at the expense of past, present and future UC employees. This question is underscored by the stated reason for urgency in Item 5C: that UC hopes to transfer pension assets in a way that facilitates UC’s forthcoming bid to manage Lawrence Livermore through a similar corporate partnership.
CUCFA plans to pursue formal inquiries into this matter in concert with other employee groups. As faculty concerned with the best interests of UC, we take this opportunity to write in the hope that the Regents will avoid making another mistake by following the advice of an administration that has been insensitive to issues of conflict of interest.
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Internal Revenue Service audit on the University of California Regents?
Is it time to request an Internal Revenue Service audit on the University of California Regents? It seems kind of strange that the UC’s retirement fund is short almost exactly what they have spent on the development of the new LANSLLC, which would include the increased salaries for new management.
Here’s how we are hearing it in the trenches.
The word is that it took $200M dollars and almost two years of time to develop the new LANSLLC contract where all during that time we were paying for the participant’s travel, food, lodging, and perks. I will assure you that they were not staying at the hotel 6. We also hear about an
expenditure of $100M dollars on administrative fees that were mysteriously overlooked during the negotiations, but those funds had to be found somehow. And finally there’s Mike Anastasio’s exuberant salary being reported to be $1.3M a years, up from his previous $420K a year. So here is some food for thought.
Is it possible that the UC used approximate $350M of the UCRP funds in order to finance a scheme that in the end could only lead to depriving its employees of their hard earned entitlements? Or, was it something else?
Could it be that the UC’s claim to a windfall shortage is false information entirely, so that the surplus did not have to be handed over to LANSLLC to kick-start their pension plan.
As an outsider I still view either one of these scenarios as a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment. So what do you say? Should we have the IRS investigate the issues at hand or just let the UC/ DOE once again get away with one more act of defiance in the face of its employees?
All of what was stated above is purely hear-say, rumor and speculation but if you look at the numbers and the most recent attempt by the UC to separate LANL and LLNL from the primary UCRP in order to escape all current and future liabilities, then maybe the rumors are not that far away from being the truth.
I say it’s time for an audit. Maybe once the IRS opens up a case, those missing funds will somehow materialize and we will not have to start contributions, as they claim.
I personally do not trust the UC / DOE at this time. How about you?
The Rat Patrol
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The Six Breaches of Trust
The Six Breaches of Trust
or, there are hell of a lot of things they did not tell you when you signed up for this outfit.
During the incoming director's presentation of the executive team on Jan. 19th he seemed taken aback by the tone of the questioning. The questions were not actually rude in language, but usually contained a sense of distrust or started from an assumption of hostile intent by the management. Afterwards, Bob Kuckuck actually sent an email around to the staff emphasizing the esteem he holds for the incoming director, and promising that we will feel the same way after a short period of time. The new management team should understand that they are entering the laboratory as the representatives of a DOE/NNSA/UC management that has frequently violated the trust of the laboratory staff. They have to dig their way out of a hole where all the presumptions are against them. The six major breaches of trust are:
1. Nanos' firings
2. Lab shutdown
3. Perimeter project
4. Retirement ruse
5. DOE's imaginary culture
6. Science lip service
1. Former Director Nanos fired (or forced into retirement) numerous people. Many of those firings were based on the flimsiest of causes. For example, in the laser safety case there was no pattern of misconduct with a string of injured people coming out of that lab. Instead, there was one injury, exaggerated in severity, and no systematic pattern of injuries. In the security cases it has been policy to fire workers responsible for security infractions, usually after several instances. The CREM incident did not even appear to be a first security infraction for some of those workers. We have always believed that the management would tolerate imperfection in our service to the lab, as long as the staff’s intent was to address the goals of the lab. Most importantly, the continued failure to rectify these unfair actions indicates ethical problems at the top.
2. Lab Shutdown. This interfered with many projects and careers of people who were not in any involved with any misconduct. The lab projects are frequently developed through the efforts of the staff and involve a direct relationship between the sponsor and the project leader. The managers usually do not help develop that relationship and do not have an earned right to interfere. They have the right in the management structure, but have not earned the moral authority to stop delivery of the work. The cultural of misconduct named as a cause only existed in the imagination of foolish managers.
3. Perimeter Project. The new perimeter project is a direct attack on the quality of life in the community. The highway in question is our access to the recreational opportunities of the Jemez Mountains and the ski area. Other than the lab, the economic life of the county is from spin-off businesses and the few tourists that come here for a day. The promotion of spin-off businesses is good for the lab and good for the community but the undeveloped part of the Los Alamos Research Park will now be isolated behind the gate. The tourists usually visit the museum or the historic district, and then Bandelier, or vice versa. The perimeter project will force such tourists to go through the new lab security gate, certainly a blow to their enthusiasm for a continued visit. The county council foolishly tried to work with the DOE, who apparently care nothing about the town, and waited too long to take legal action. In fact, the facilities that matter are not close to the road, except for a few new buildings, such that one could accuse DOE of putting the new buildings in locations that support a bureaucratic land grab.
4. Retirement Ruse. The retirement plan is under threat from a DOE/NNSA/UC eager to back out of their expensive promises to the staff. There are two issues here. First, a small LANL only group will not be statistically representative the population as a whole, hence the plan will not have a reliable statistical basis to project future needs. In a large population of diverse people one can use national statistics to accurately project future costs. UCRS is now near statistical breakeven, and is such a large diverse group that the statistics are likely accurate. Our health oriented little group will not be near those projections and the little LANL plans will be born broke, or at least in uncertain health. Second, the new pension funds will have none of the state constitutional protections of the UCRS. When UCRS was doing well numerous parties tried in vain to raid the excess. The best the potential raiders could do was to not contribute to UCRS until the stock market run ended. The new plan must have similar protections, but how? The retirees should organize and hire their lawyers now. They are certainly a potentially injured class and should be ready to file a lawsuit when any decision is announced.
5. DOE's imaginary culture. DOE/NNSA has maintained a campaign to destroy the public image of the laboratories workers. The worst part is probably the testimony to Congress about a LANL culture of lax safety, poor security, and no financial accountability. These are just knowably false statements (I think my mom used to call that lying) from the leaders of DOE/NNSA and are often nationally distributed in the press. The truth is that we have an outstanding safety record and have passed numerous audits of property, classified material, and purchases with relatively few problems for an organization of this size. If the statistics are good where is the culture problem? We should probably call it "the DOE/NNSA culture of lying about our culture".
6. Science Lip service. We are all aware of the numerous "we like science" statements. This is not backed up by concrete action. The cost environment for science is increasingly unfavorable. The international visitor situation is unworkable. The safety hysteria is a problem for the student programs. I personally do not want to take students on as they could do something foolish, cause a small injury, and then that could get blown-up into my actual termination. Now the managers are even going to have input into laboratory directed exploratory research, the last vestige of peer review within the lab. This overall trend will endanger recruiting and retention of staff, and deteriorate the scientific base.
In conclusion, this is the situation the new management team faces. The staff is distrustful and hostile over a long series of issues. You have to dig yourselves out of a big hole.
Just so you know, Nonombre
Friday, January 27, 2006
By HEATHER CLARK | Associated Press
January 27, 2006
The University of California Board of Regents last week voted to create the separate fund for the nuclear weapons lab _ called the UCRP-LANL Plan _ and remove it from the overall UC pension fund. The DOE must approve the change.
The decision has outraged lab employees and retirees, who fear the smaller retirement fund would put their pensions at greater risk.
The UCRP-LANL Plan would have had a market value of $4.3 billion had it existed last June, compared with UC's total pension fund worth $41.8 billion at the time.
Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., sent a letter Friday to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman asking him to reject UC's plan.
Also, a letter from Udall (form letter, but a letter nevertheless) that was sent to several concerned citizens in response to mail received.
Thank you for contacting me about the recent press reports
regarding the University of California's decision to transfer existing
LANL retirees from the University of California Retirement Plan
(UCRP) to a new entity, following the lab management contract award to
Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS). I appreciate hearing from
you about this issue and share your concerns about this development.
While we all anticipated some uncertainty during the transition
to the LANS management team, I was surprised to see the recent
proposal regarding existing retirees. I, as well as the entire LANL
community, had received assurances from those administering the
contract bidding process that existing LANL retirees would see no
changes in their benefits. Once I learned of these plans, I immediately
contacted the University of California and National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) for an explanation of their actions.
I realize that as retirees plan for the future, they need to know
that their pension benefits will be reliable and not fluctuate. Please rest
assured that I will continue to press the relevant parties for a proper
explanation so that we all can better understand the proposal.
Thank you again for contacting me about this very troubling
development. I will be in touch with you again once I receive a
satisfactory explanation of the situation and what it might mean for the
entire LANL community. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me
if you have further concerns.
Very Truly Yours,
Member of Congress
This popped up today on the UC Bencom site.