Sunday, April 30, 2006

Avian flu panic = Tamiflu sales = Rumsfeld

Not LANL-related, but the following has some of the same character as what is happening at LANL. Sent to me by Anonymous:
___________________________

That’s an interesting equation. Isn’t it? This is where I read about it.


The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world. CNNMoney.com


Read article:


http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/31/news/newsmakers/fortune_rumsfeld/

also

http://www.freemarketnews.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=1443

Patent agreement

As I read my LANLS employment form, it appears the patent agreement says "we own it all" as opposed to the older one.

My recollection of the UC patent agreement was "if it is on the job and job-function-related we own it; else, you can have it". The new form says "while you work for us, we own all your inventions".

Before everyone lights up the "LANS is evil" lights, please be aware that this LANS agreement follows standard industry practice; I'm not all that upset, just curious.

Anybody else looked at this?

thanks

ron

Audit adds to UCs image problem

Your readers may find this of interest. Please sign me as a "Soon to be a former LLNL worker"

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Policy Raises LANL Concerns

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

LOS ALAMOS— Los Alamos National Laboratory workers aren't just worried about their pensions. Some are worried about job security.

When Los Alamos National Security, a private company known as LANS, takes over lab operations from the University of California on June 1, members of a LANL labor union worry they will become "at-will" employees— meaning they will no longer be protected by a worker-friendly California labor law and can be fired without cause.

The prospect has national security implications, according to worker rights advocates, who think LANL employees will hesitate to raise health, safety and security concerns for fear of losing their jobs.

"That's not a very comfortable feeling— if you don't know from one day to the next if there's a manager who might've had a bad weekend, comes in one morning and tells you you're fired," said Manny Trujillo, president of the lab's University and Professional Technical Employees union.

[...]

Full Story


Friday, April 28, 2006

Audit: Former Los Alamos director Nanos got signing bonus


By ASSOCIATED PRESS
April 26, 2006

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - An independent audit of the University of California's compensation practices found former Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Pete Nanos received $25,000 for taking over the lab in 2002.

The special payment was not approved by the regents of the university, which has run Los Alamos for the federal government for more than 60 years.

Nanos received additional compensation in the form of cash payments for an automobile allowance and extra life insurance.

[...]

Full Story


Thursday, April 27, 2006

The “at will” concept

Doug,

Even though I’m out of here May 31st, if you post this please do so anonymously. Under the Contra Costa post of
4/19/06 the following exchange is posted:


I've seen this talk of "at will" status for all LANL staff thrown around quite a bit. Does anyone know the real story? LANS has been coy about this subject. Will this truly be the case after June 1st? Has anyone asked this question of LANS during the Q&A at meetings?

# posted by 14MEVs : 4/19/2006 11:59:57 AM

Read the "Employment at Will" section of the LANS employment application form, and decide for yourself.

http://lansllc.com/LANS%20Employment%20Application%203-27-06.pdf

# posted by Roderick Spode : 4/19/2006 12:14:14 PM

In discussing the “at will” concept with a colleague today I took the person to Spode’s post to help explain. The LANS Employment Application pdf file at the address that Spode posted no longer contains the terms “at will” on the LANS form. This says at least two things; 1) LANS is continuing to make changes on the fly without letting people know (who knows what else they are changing?); and 2) LANS is reading the blog (surprise, surprise!). Thanks to you and Brad for all the hard work and providing a forum for discourse. Best wishes to both of you for the future.

A LASL employee and proud of it!



DOE Announces New Policy for Contractor Benefit Reimbursements

Doug -

For the interest of the blog's readers - anonymously, please.

http://energy.gov/news/3555.htm

The full Directive (PDF) is available at the link at bottom of the referenced page.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The following statement from regents' chairman Gerald Parsky has been distributed to the news media.

Michael Reese
Associate Vice President, University Affairs

* * * * * * * * * * *
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 24, 2006
University of California Office of the President
(510) 987-9200


STATEMENT BY UC BOARD OF REGENTS CHAIRMAN GERALD L. PARSKY
ON THE PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS AUDIT OF UC COMPENSATION


The University of California Board of Regents again met today in its second special meeting in as many weeks.

We did so for two reasons.

First, public concerns about UC senior management compensation are among the most important issues facing the University of California.

Second, time is of absolute essence if we are to restore the public's trust in the University and its compensation policies and practices. It is crucial that we take these steps so we can return our focus from compensation to the fundamental teaching and research missions of this University.

Today we accepted the findings from the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit, which we as a board commissioned when the compensation concerns first came to public attention last fall.

The focus of this independent inquiry is the ten-year period beginning January 1, 1996, and ending on December 31, 2005. It covers current incumbents and past holders of the top 32 senior manager positions, plus one vice chancellor whose compensation has been the focus of numerous news story and legislative hearings. That means a total of 64 individuals.

Let me stress that the focus of this audit is to provide the public with full disclosure of all compensation and to identify failures to comply Regental policy. It is not in any way to suggest any wrongdoing on the part of the recipients of this compensation. In many cases, these individuals may be learning for the first time that there were failures to comply with policies in regard to their compensation.

This represents just the first of three audits. It is followed next week by the release on May 2 of the Bureau of State Audits opinion, which I am told covers a wider group of University employees.

Then, by the time of the May Regents' meeting, the University Auditor will have completed the internal audit covering the remaining members of the Senior Management Group not already included in the PwC audit. As well, the internal audit will include findings on travel and entertainment expenses. If we as Regents are not satisfied with those results, we will have them independently audited.

Taken together, these three audits add up to one of the furthest-reaching and most rigorous inquiries ever conducted on University of California compensation. They further underscore both the seriousness with which we all take this issue and our resolve to address the underlying problems these findings reveal.

Last week I asked Regent Hopkinson, in her capacity as chair of the Special Committee on Compensation, to provide the Regents with a detailed plan of action, beginning immediately and continuing into the May meeting of the Board, for possible implementation of each and every recommendation made to us two weeks ago by the Task Force on UC Compensation, Accountability, and Transparency.

Mindful, in particular, of the Task Force recommendation that there must be specific consequences for violations of compensation policy, the Regents will also determine, on a case-by-case basis beginning at our May meeting, how people should be held accountable for policy violations and other acts deemed to be inappropriate by the independent, state and internal auditors.

The Regents have an obligation to make our determinations with full knowledge of the facts, so we expect as part of this process that President Dynes and others on the campuses and at the Office of the President will come forward to provide us with a full explanation in open session of his views and understanding of what has transpired over these last few years.

It is important, too, that we make sure the disciplinary actions are warranted and appropriate to the individual circumstance. We must weigh, for instance, a number of factors:

Is the violation moot because the employee is no longer with the University or no longer receiving the benefit?

Does the violation involve a failure to seek formal approval from the Regents for a benefit to which an employee is entitled under policy?

Does the violation involve a benefit that, though not approved by the Regents, is nonetheless permitted under policy?

Or does it involve a clear violation because it was not approved by the Regents, not provided for within policy, and therefore not entitled to by the employee?

These are among the questions we must consider in the days and weeks ahead as we move forward in weighing the findings.

The audit can be found at: www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/compensation/audits.html
******************************
********
Susan Houghton
Director of Public Affairs
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808, L-797
Livermore, Calif. 94551
Email: houghton3@llnl.gov
Phone: 925-422-9919, Fax: 925-422-8554

LA Monitor - Audit: Nanos got Signing Bonus

Submitted by Anonymous:
_______________________________

Doug,

This article in the Tuesday LA Monitor includes
additional info about the UC executive-level benefit
irregularities. Apparently, even our friendly, ol'
Uncle Kuckuck partook of illegal executive goodies.

Of course, all this messy audit business of executive
perks will likely dissapear once LANS takes over on
June 1st. What a wonderful world!


LA Monitor - Audit: Nanos got Signing Bonus - Apr 25

http://lamonitor.com/articles/2006/04/25/headline_news/news02.txt

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Tired Ewok



Submitted by Anonymous:
___________________________________

A few items noted from today's presentation by Mike Anastasio. He looked like he was getting tired of what must be his daily beatings by Bechtel. The presentation was light in content, but there were a few items of interest. Here they are, in no particular order:
  1. Of the 9,414 offers that LANS, LLC has sent out, almost 2,500 have been accepted.
  2. LANS plans to reduce lab property footprint by 2 million square feet, or about 20%. Not clear what all the implications of this will be.
  3. LANS has set a nice fuzzy goal of 90% internal customer satisfaction regarding procurement issues.
  4. A hotline was promised that would enable LANS to identify candidate at-will employees to set free, er, I mean, that would enable at-will employees to call in to identify what they perceive as productivity impediments. The impediment would then be removed. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.
  5. Quality of life is going to improve.
  6. Sites that aren't closed to reduce footprint will be cleaned to a gleaming perfection, inside and outside, and "fix-it" teams will roam everywhere for the first 90 days, magically solving 60 years of legacy facility issues without spending any overhead $.

The only real interesting thing to happen was when Bernie Foy (bless your heart, Bernie) leaped to his feet to ask the first question when Q&A started. The question had to do with the much-anticipated budget shortfall of $290 million for FY 06, and how did LANS intend to handle that. Answer: (can't remember exactly, but went something like) "we will reduce footprint, efficientize like crazy, consolidate, tighten belts and integrate, integrate, integrate."

Rumors Circulating:
  1. LANS is hoping to get 750 people per year to retire (the goal is for 1,500 to be gone by 2008).
  2. No additional costs to LANL will be incurred as a result of the transition. [Editor: Huh?]
  3. LANS plans to reduce salaries next year, and to counter any complaints by saying, "Well, we didn't riff anybody. Yet."
All in all, not a totally inspiring afternoon.

Most UC execs got sweet deals

Most UC execs got sweet deals
Audit says perks to 68% of top employees violated regents' policies -- board member calls longtime problem a 'systemic breakdown'

Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack, Chronicle Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Los Angeles -- The University of California gave most of its top executives bonuses, housing allowances or other perks that weren't publicly reported or approved by the governing Board of Regents in violation of its own policies, according to a report released Monday.

A $1.5 million audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the university system's outside auditor, focused on 32 top administrative jobs and the 63 men and women who have filled them over the past 10 years, plus one additional manager, former UC Davis Vice Chancellor Celeste Rose.

The audit confirms the findings of a series of Chronicle stories over the past few months, but it shows the problems were more pervasive than has been reported.

Among its major findings, the audit disclosed that UC President Robert Dynes or his designees made more than 90 "exceptions" to university policies or procedures to grant extra benefits to 44 of the 64 executives.

[...]

Full Story


Sunday, April 23, 2006

UC pays salary of ex-lab chief in Virginia job

UC pays salary of ex-lab chief in Virginia job
Separation pact lets Nanos qualify for retirement plan


Tanya Schevitz and Todd Wallack, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, April 23, 2006

When the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory resigned last year, the University of California, which runs the lab, agreed to keep him on the payroll in a new job for up to 28 months so he would qualify for the university's retirement plan, according to a copy of the director's separation agreement obtained by The Chronicle.

The university is paying the annual salary of $235,000 for G. Peter Nanos, who is now at a job with the Defense Department's Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Virginia.

In September 2007, when the former lab director will have accrued the five years of employment required to vest in UC's retirement plan, "Director Nanos' employment with the University will end," according to the agreement.

The terms of Nanos' departure were negotiated last spring, while UC was preparing to bid for a new contract with the Department of Energy to continue running the atomic weapons complex it has run since World War II. UC's control of the lab was in jeopardy because of years of security lapses and allegations of fraud and mismanagement at Los Alamos.

[...]

Full Story

-----

So, at last, we have in print what most of us thought privately:

"The agreement also requires that 'Senior administrators at the University ... will say nothing that is or could reasonably be construed as disparaging about, of or concerning Director Nanos.'"

The University of California is and always was LANL's absentee landlord. -What a shame.

But at least the "swamp" has been drained: Nanos is gone!

-Brad

An oasis for the wealthy

Highest U.S. concentration of millionaires is in Los Alamos, N.M.

Los Alamos is a New Mexico town whose name, for many people, conjures images of — millionaires?

According to a recent study, Los Alamos — not New York or Los Angeles — has the country's highest concentration of millionaire households. One out of every five households boasts a net wealth of $1 million or more, excluding the value of its home, reported Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, which commissioned the study.

[...]

Full Story


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lawsuit filed against UC over lab's pension program

Employees say new plan will reduce benefits, quality at nuclear facilities
By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER


A labor union and four workers contended in a lawsuit Tuesday that the University of California and a UC/Bechtel National-led team were forcing more than 9,000 employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory to swap one of the nation's plushest pensions for lesser benefits and driving workers away from the nuclear-weapons lab.

At stake is the University of California pension that has drawn thousands of workers to design and maintain U.S. nuclear explosives at both Los Alamos and its sister lab, Lawrence Livermore in the Bay Area.

[...]

Full Story


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Announcing two community forums

TCP1 or TCP2
Facts and Analysis

Announcing two community forums to provide independent unbiased analysis and facts about the choices LANL employees are facing. (Absolutely no solicitation).

Thursday, April 27th 2006
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Hilltop House, Los Alamos

Thursday, May 11th 2006
3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Research Park, Los Alamos

Speakers: Donna Skeels Cygan, Certified Financial Planner & Ron Pattison, Certified Public Accountant

Please RSVP to 505-661-2263


UCSC Student Assembly Resolution against UC Managed Nuclear Weapons Labs

[Presented FWIW. One of those items that popped up on my google LANL news alert. --Doug]

by Students Against War Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2006 at 4:48 PM
In addition to counter-recruitment, SAW is engaged in a number of ongoing campaigns, one of which is having our university system end their management of the Los Alamos and Lawrence National Laboratories -- which between them are responsible for the research and development of every single nuclear weapon in the US stockpile. Considering that the Bush administration reportedly refuses to take the nuclear option off the table for a possible conflict with Iran, this campaign is as timely as it has ever been. Below is the full text of a Student Assembly Resolution written by SAW members calling for the UC to end their management of the labs.

University of California, Santa Cruz
Student Union Assembly RESOLUTION:
University of California Sever All Ties
with Nuclear Weapons Laboratories,
Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Labs.


Whereas, the University of California, in partnership with the Bechtel Corporation, was awarded the management contract of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) on December 21, 2005 and continues to manage the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and


etc. etc. etc. [...]

Full List of "Whereases", with a "Therefore" and a few "Be it furthers" thrown in...

Legality of LANL transition challenged

ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor

With coordinated announcements in Los Alamos and Livermore, Calif., a union representing laboratory workers filed suit Tuesday to enforce employment rights and pension commitments.

During a press conference in Los Alamos, local officials of the University Professional and Technical Employees, said they were seeking relief from what they consider to be a "coercive" process that forces employees to make important employment decisions based on inadequate or erroneous information.

The complaint on behalf of approximately 10,000 employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory arises during a transition to a new management contract at the laboratory. As of June 1, the contract transfers from the University of California, a nonprofit entity operating under the laws of the state of California, to Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a profit-making corporation composed of UC, Bechtel National, BWX Technologies and Washington Group International. The limited liability corporation has been established in the state of Delaware.

Chris Harrington, a spokesman for UC said in a prepared statement Tuesday that the university does not comment on pending litigation.

[...]

Full Story


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

LANL Retirement Options Spreadsheet

Hi Doug,

This spreadsheet I wrote is making the rounds. A couple of folks have
suggested posting its location to the blog. Please do so if you think
it's appropriate. The location is:

http://home.covad.net/~lankeny/ss.html

Lee Ankeny

LANL Changes Lead to Lawsuit

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

LOS ALAMOS— The current and incoming Los Alamos National Laboratory managers are forcing lab workers "to make truly impossible and coerced" decisions about their future at the lab, a LANL labor union is alleging.

The University Professional and Technical Employees union, along with four individual lab employees, filed a class-action lawsuit in California Superior Court Tuesday challenging the legality of the ongoing management transition at the lab.

The lab's current contractor, the University of California, is scheduled to hand over management duties June 1 to Los Alamos National Security— a private company whose partners include engineering giant Bechtel National, UC, Washington Group International and BWX Technologies.

[...]

Full Story


Union files suit against lab to block pension plan changes

By Bonita Brewer
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

A labor union that also represents Lawrence Livermore Laboratory workers has filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking Los Alamos National Laboratory's new management from "coercing" workers to transfer out of their current pension fund in exchange for future job guarantees.

"Thousands of employees working at the Livermore national lab will very soon be facing a very similar decision," Jelger Kalmijn, president of the UC Professional and Technical Employees, predicted at a press conference today in Livermore.

Like 8,500 workers at the Livermore lab, Los Alamos employees in New Mexico currently work for the University of California under its management contract with the U.S. Department of Energy. But as of June, Los Alamos will be managed by Los Alamos National Security, a new quasi-private organization comprised of UC and Bechtel Corp.

The UC has said that if it votes to enter the upcoming competition for the Livermore management contract, which expires in 2007, it will again partner with Bechtel in a joint bid. Union officials said Tuesday there are indications the DOE guidelines for Livermore will be a "mirror image" of those in place for Los Alamos.

[...]

Full Story


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

SUBJECT: Interim Performance Summary Initiative

To/MS: LANL-Employees
From/MS: Robert W. Kuckuck, A100
Phone/Fax: 7-5101/Fax 7-2997
Symbol: DIR-06-166
Date: April 18, 2006


SUBJECT: Interim Performance Summary Initiative

As part of my desire to ensure the transition to a new management
and operations contractor occurs in the best interests of
employees, the Laboratory will conduct an interim performance
summary exercise prior to closeout on May 31.

The Laboratory’s organizational structure will change under Los
Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), which will assume management
and operation of the Laboratory on June 1. In some cases the
changes mean that current managers and peers will be mapped into
new organizations. Additionally, employees, including current
managers responsible for evaluation of employees, may be choosing
to retire or to decline employment with LANS. Because the
Laboratory’s usual Performance and Salary Management process spans
from August 1 to July 31, employees will have completed 10 months
of performance by the time LANS begins a new era of Laboratory
leadership.

To help ensure that an accurate record of employee performance is
preserved despite potential organizational and personnel changes,
I am asking employees to participate in an abbreviated interim
performance summary initiative beginning this week. This
abbreviated process will provide for employee self-assessments and
completion of manager performance summaries, but will not require
development of Overall Relative Contribution (ORC) scores and
subsequent organizational normalization meetings.

In order to successfully complete this interim performance summary
initiative by May 31, 2006, all employees must adhere to the
following schedule:

• employee self-assessments completed by May 5;
• performance summaries completed by managers by May 31.

The Laboratory is coordinating this effort with LANS as part of
the transition process. This coordination envisions that in July,
new organizations under LANS will develop ORC scores and hold
normalization meetings incorporating information captured by the
interim exercise. In August, organizations will conduct meetings
between employees and managers in anticipation of a Performance
and Salary Management exercise for fiscal year 2007. Salary
adjustments will be determined in September.

While I am reluctant to require additional work during this
overwhelming period, I believe that an interim performance summary
initiative is beneficial because it gives employees the benefit of
being reviewed by their current line management in the context of
their current peer group. This will more accurately reflect the
value of the hard work you have provided this institution from
August 1, 2005, to May 31, 2006, when the current University of
California contract expires.

Those with questions about the interim exercise should consult
their managers or their organization’s Human Resources (HR)
generalist. Thank you for your cooperation.


PRESS RELEASE ** PRESS RELEASE ** PRESS RELEASE

Doug, please post on BLOG.

Thanks,

Manny Trujillo

Monday, April 17, 2006

A word of warning

Submitted by Anonymous:
______________________________

A word of warning to those LANL staff who still feel the need to express themselves by writing scathing letters to the LANL NewsBulletin: you are about to become "at-will" employees. If you thought there was an atmosphere of intimidation and retaliation under Nanos, then you need to realize that under LANS, LLC you will truly put your remaining careers at LANL at risk by writing letters to the NewsBulletin that are critical of LANS, DOE, NNSA, UC, Bechtel, BWXT, or anything LANL-related.

You will probably be safe ranting about those favorite NewsBulletin topics involving bad drivers, bicycle safety, and parking problems. However, you may rest assured that criticisms of the new LANL management will not go unnoticed. Authors of such letters will find themselves "at-risk".

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Share their decisions

Submitted by Anonymous:
___________________________________

( Hi Doug and Brad - if you think the information being asked here is beneficial or thought provoking to Transitioning employees, please post anonymously. Thank you. )

In the spirit of "open communication", will former UC-LANL and UC-LLNL employees, who are currently identified with the LANS Leadership positions, share their decisions on their selection of "TCP1" or "TCP2" along with one additional question?

Will the following individuals, ( listed here per information from the LANS, LLC websites http://www.lansllc.com/Proposed_LD.html & http://www.lansllc.com/Leadership_team.html ) ---

o Dr. Michael R. Anastasio, Ph.D, (former UC-LLNL employee)
o Mr. Glenn Mara, (former UC-LLNL employee)
o Mr. Terry Wallace, (former UC-LANL employee)
o Mr. J. Douglas Beason, (former UC-LANL employee)
o Mr. W. Scott Gibbs, (former UC-LANL employee)
o Mr. Bret Knapp, (former UC-LLNL employee)
o Mr. Charles McMillan, (former UC-LLNL employee)
o Ms. Susan Seestrom, (former UC-LANL employee)

... PUBLICLY answer these two questions ??

a) Will you choose "TCP1" or "TCP2"???
b) Do you have a spouse or domestic partner who will continue working in, or is currently a retired member of, the UCRP system?

The answers to the above 2 questions should NOT take a great deal of effort or thought and can be as concise as 6 letters (for example, "TCP2" & "No") or as extensive as 7 letters (for example, "TCP1" & "Yes").

An honest and forthcoming answer would be refreshing; silence would be telling. Thank you for your candor.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

U.S. aims to up nuclear warhead production capability to 250 a year

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The United States envisions a plan to establish an annual production capability of 250 nuclear warheads in a bid to be prepared for possible contingencies in the future, a senior U.S. administration official said.

The plan also calls for promoting development of new types of warheads in a five-year cycle to continuously replace existing ones, the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) official said on condition of anonymity.

[...]

Full Story


The Future of the UC Retirement Plan


Contributions to the UCRP Will Once Again Be Necessary

Filing of a lawsuit

Submitted by Anonymous:
______________________________
I got this from a friend at LLNL.


Date: April 14, 2006

To: LLNL Employees
From: University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE)/Society of
Professionals, Scientists, and Engineers (SPSE)

RE: Invitation to UPTE Press Conference on Tuesday, April 18 at 11:00 a.m.

UPTE System Wide will be holding a Press Conference to announce the filing
of a lawsuit challenging the legality of the plan by Los Alamos National
Security, LLC, the new management contractor for the Los Alamos National
Laboratory, to force all 10,000 Laboratory employees to forfeit further
accrual of their University of California pensions in order to be
guaranteed a job with the new contractor. The discussion will focus on the
transition of current laboratory employees out of the UC pension plan in to
the new contractor's private pension plan, employees' transition to "at
will" status, and how this transition adversely impacts employees and the
national security mission of the Laboratory.

The location of the Press Conference will be 4047 First Street, Suite 200,
Livermore. A Communications Workers of America (CWA) attorney will be
present to answer questions about the legal issues.

Please contact UPTE/SPSE at 925-449-4846 with any questions.


Directions to the SPSE Office, 4047 First St. (Suite 200), Livermore :
580E or 580W
Take the FIRST STREET/SPRINGTOWN BLVD exit
Take the FIRST ST ramp toward downtown
Turn onto First ST. (past the Mines Road intersection)
Make U turn at first left turn (Trevarno Road)
Make Right turn 4047 First Street (Gray Bldg & sign for Farmers Insurance
and Allied Insurance)
SPSE Office is upstairs Suite #200 (Left Side)

Nuclear Weapons Complex of the Future

Nuclear Weapons Complex of the Future

Request for information

Doug,

I received this request for information. The blog seems to be a good place to put it. I have interacted with Eli for a while. He has always been very professional with me. Please post this request so that others can see it.

Thanks,

Eric

Dr. Frederic R. Fairfield, President and CEO
Fairfield Enterprises
P.O. Box 1366
Los Alamos, NM 87544
505-662-3115
eric@fairfieldenterprises.biz
frf42@yahoo.com (if your ISP does not recognize .biz extensions)

__________________________________________________________________________
Eric:

I'm looking for a few LANL scientists who would like to talk to me about tough decisions they're facing or have already made. I hope to speak to people middle of next week.

I'm willing to talk to people privately but I am looking for folks willing to speak for the record on some or all of these questions:

--Planning to stay at LANL? Why? Leaving? Why?
--To what extent has the retirement plan issue played a part in your decision?
--To what extent has the question of science's role at LANL played a part in your decision?
--Is this transition being done with enough information provided to employees to make a good decision?
--Do you think that this new contract/contractor is improving/damaging science at LANL?
--What role is this pit production issue playing in the future of the lab in your opinion?
--Who else do you know who might be interesting to talk to who has already left? Or chosen to stay?
--Is the lab doing enough now to attract new talent? To keep good talent? To reward scientific creativity?
--How would you characterize the mood of the lab right now? LANL's been through some tough times, ie the shutdown. Morale better or worse now?

Thanks, Eli
Eli Kintisch, Reporter
Science Magazine
202 326 6446
ekintisch@aaas.org

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wait until May 15th

Submitted by Anonymous:
______________________________

I had a need to speak to LANL HR earlier this week. The lady that I spoke to
said that HR is overwhelmed with employees getting the retiree counselling.
Yes, it may be that there have not been that many retirees YET. But, wait
until May 15th!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Richardson engages local townsfolk

Doug,

First, thank you for the extraordinary service you have provided LANL and
former LANL employees through the blog. You've met a need that all others
have been remiss in fulfulling.

The following quote is from Thursday's Monitor. Please add to your list of
submissions, with specific attention to the following quote from page 2:

*************************************************************************
Charles Mansfield heads up the Laboratory Retirement Group. He asked
Richardson for help in two areas.
* Get DOE to formalize that they are responsible for employee pensions by
putting it in writing.
* Give one of the retirement group's designated representatives a seat at
the table when DOE begins addressing the actuarial process for retirees.
Richardson promised to help. He also praised Mansfield for his longtime
efforts in helping lab retirees.

*************************************************************************

Full Article

Please sign me,
"Anonymous"

Retiree rate about normal

ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor

The current retirement rate at Los Alamos National Laboratory is running neither hot nor cold, according to laboratory officials. So far, for the current fiscal year, beginning October 2005, there have been 85 retirements.

The numbers available are through the end of March, said James Rickman of the Public Affairs Office.

For comparison - last year, at the end of March 2005, there had been 124 retirements; for 2004, the figure was 66.

For the full year last year, there were 432 retirements, Rickman said, and for the full year of 2004 there were 245.

[...]

Full Story


Latest "clarification"

Submitted by Anonymous:
______________________________________

How many folks will now be willing to trust the DOE/LANS Team (Syndicate) after this latest "clarification". Especially since we were specifically by the LANLS personel rep that we could indeed take a lump sum cashout from UC AND still qualify for paid "TCP-1" retiree medical benefits even if we were enrolled under TCP-2. To quote as best I can remember "Does this sound too good to be true? Does this sound like you can have your cake and eat too? Yes it does"

How many of us are now willing to trust LANS on any of their unsecured and unguaranteed promises offered under TCP-1. Looks to me that they can decide to "clarify" anything they want to at any time they want to regardless of what has been set in writing or told to us verbally. Looks to me that we getting clarified right out of our so called "substantially equal" compensation package.

==============================================================================

From: owner-lanl-all@maillist.lanl.gov [mailto:owner-lanl-all@maillist.lanl.gov] On Behalf Of Public Affairs Office - LANL Notices
Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 10:58 AM
To: LANL-ALL@lanl.gov
Subject: LANL-ALL1055: Clarification on retiree medical and lump-sum payments

Please note the following from Los Alamos National Security, LLC:

Date: April 12, 2006

To: LANL Employees
From: Mary O'Donnell, Human Resources Team Leader, Los Alamos National Security, LLC
Subject: NNSA Clarifies Retiree Medical and Lump-Sum Payments

The National Nuclear Security Administration has clarified the issue of retiree medical coverage for LANL employees electing to become inactive vested transferring employees going into Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), Total Compensation Package 2 (TCP2) and subsequently taking a lump-sum cash-out under the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP).

In a memo from Jan Chavez-Wilcynski, transition manager for NNSA's Los Alamos Site Office (LASO), the agency states that, "NNSA believes employees should be eligible for coverage under (LANS Total Compensation Package 1) TCP1 retiree medical only after they have made an irrevocable election of a monthly benefit from UCRP." In other words, employees who elect to accept LANS employment and choose inactive vested status with UCRP and later take a lump-sum cash-out of UCRP benefits will not be eligible for LANS retiree medical benefits under TCP 1. This is consistent with current UC policy, where employees who elect a lump-sum cash-out payment under UCRP are not eligible for retiree medical coverage.

However, a LANS employee in TCP 2 who is also inactive vested in UCRP and who has not elected a monetary benefit from UCRP at the time of retirement from LANS may qualify for "access-only" retiree medical benefits under TCP 2 if he or she meets the eligibility requirements.


All LANL employees are encouraged to consider this information when making decisions about accepting employment with LANS and their retirement future. Employees have until May 15 to return their Employment-Offer Packages to LANS. Those with questions about the NNSA guidance or about their employment offers can call the LANS Transition Hotline at 1-888-505-9292. Additionally, employees who have already returned their employment-offer and retirement election documents and would like to amend them prior to the May 15 deadline may make arrangements to do so by calling the LANS Transition Hotline.

The NNSA memo is posted on www.lansllc.com in the "What's New" section.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Buddied Up

Submitted by Anonymous:
_______________________________

Buddied Up

By Matt Potter
San Diego Reader
March 23, 2006

[...]

The decline of Bob Dynes has turned out to be even swifter than his rise.
Less than three years since he became president of the University of
California, the friendly press is suddenly a thing of the past. His troubles
began with a series of articles published last November by the San Francisco
Chronicle. They revealed that the university had quietly given high-ranking
employees $871 million in undisclosed bonuses, administrative stipends,
moving allowances, and other cash compensation, in addition to salaries and
overtime.

[...]

Full Story

Monday, April 10, 2006

An interesting exchange

An exchange from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2006/04/lanl-needs-skilled-workers.html

post:
_______________________________

No computer scientists needed here, clearly. It doesn't take even a room-temperature IQ to see the trend developing: Pits 'R Us.

I hope those of you who choose to remain at LANL enjoy your retraining and new careers as pit fab specialists. This young man isn't going to stick around to be a part of the new mission focus: going to cut my losses and boogie right off the Hill and find some other CS gig.

It's definitely time to relocate. LANL has developed a decidedly unpleasant aura. Bad vibes. Even worse than before, and that didn't seem possible just a couple of months ago. Sure glad I decided to rent when I came here three years ago.
Pretty much ditto what cs101 said. I just hope the LANL part of my resume doesn't hurt my chances at a new job:

July, 2004 - December 2004 -- Accomplishments: None. Took money from the customer, but didn't do any work. Took on-line ergonomics training course. Took on-line security training. Took on-line safety training. Went to all-hands meetings. Got called a butthead.
TO CS101 and CS350-

This article on pit manufacturing referred to recruiting highly-talented technicians and those with needed skill-of-craft skills, not technical staff members. Don't fool yourselves. Even with the current pit mission, LANL is having a hard time recruiting and retaining good technicians, who perform most of the hands-on glovebox work. I'm happy for once to see LANL taking a pro-active approach before staffing becomes a crisis.
The quoted "consultant", Abad Sandoval??

Didn't he used to be on the LANL payroll?
PuSlinger:

I *knew* you were a kindred spirit! I agree: the sooner we rid ourselves of those nuisance "computer science" types, the better we'll be. In fact, all we really need at LANL now are Pu manufacture technicians, like you, and me!
I'm with Pu Slinger on this one. At least this is a sign that hands-on work still occurs at LANL. What, you want we should hire more senior managers instead of technicians???
Hey, JoeGideon5:

You can hire as many "pit monkeys" as you want, I don't care, because I'm leaving this place.

As far as I am concerned, LANL is going down the tubes, in a long flush that started with the infamous shutdown of 2004, and which will end under the stewardship of Bechtel ("We Make Pits") and LANS, LLC.


LANS objects to financial column

Monday, April 10, 2006

Headline News

LANS objects to financial column


Editor's note: A column written by Stephen Ciepiela and Kelly Garcia of Charles Stephen and Company Inc. ("Best contribution plan depends on job situation" and published in the Monitor on Sunday, April 2, contained information about the compensation packages offered by Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS). Officials of LANS, the new managers of the laboratory, found some of the information objectionable. Below are corrections and clarifications that have been suggested by LANS.

1. Assertion: "Option A specifies that you will receive a set monthly amount - a defined benefit - until your death, with no cost-of-living adjustments."

Fact: LANS's TCP1 pension plan currently contains two types of cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). One applies if an employee leaves in an inactive vested status, and the other applies to retiree monthly pension annuity payments.

2. Assertion: "It is at the discretion of the employer, and while most defined benefit plans allow you to take a lump sum option, ERISA does not require an employer to offer the option."

Fact: The lump-sum option is not being offered because the National Nuclear Security Administration determined that it would render the package more than substantially equivalent to the current UC benefits.

[...]

Full Story

Fees, taxes soak up funds

Fees, taxes soak up funds


ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor

Next year's budget and long-range plans for consolidating the nuclear complex were recurring topics in Washington this week.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM, welcomed Ambassador Linton Brooks, the nation's nuclear weapons chief, to a hearing on Thursday with some pointed questions about how Los Alamos National Laboratory was going to afford the added costs of its new managers.

A text of Domenici's opening remarks summarized his key concerns as chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

By Domenici's calculation the tenfold increase in fees under the new contract - up to $79 million a year starting in October, plus $75 million in gross receipts taxes - would have to come out of research and development, science and operations accounts.

[...]

Full Story

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A bureaucratic risk-averse posture at all management levels

Something that escaped the notice of the journalists who reported on the testimony to Congress last week from and about NNSA and the weapons complex: some revealing remarks about productivity and safety. I believe these comments should be applied to 2004 shutdown.

Dr. David O. Overskei (Sec. Energy Advisory Board) testimony to House Armed Services Committee, 4 April 2006, pp. 3-4

"The DOE management has burdened the Complex with rules and regulations that focus on process rather than mission performance, productivity, and responsiveness. Cost/benefit analysis and risk informed decisions are absent, resulting in a bureaucratic risk-averse posture at all management levels."

Thomas P. D’Agostino (NNSA) testimony to House Armed Services Committee, 5 April 2006, p. 3

"The Task Force recommends that we manage risk more effectively in our R&D and production activities by employing cost-benefit analysis and risk-informed decisions. We agree this is a key issue for transformation. By being too risk averse, we hurt productivity at our facilities without improving safety and security. Rather, by implementing methods to better manage risk, including analysis of the costs and benefits of the policies and procedures for ensuring safe and secure operations at our facilities, we will get the job done and do so safely and securely."

-- Bernard Foy


1 in 5 Is Rich in Los Alamos

By Mark Oswald
Of the Journal

Beverly Hills? Nope.

San Francisco or Silicon Valley? Forget about it.

According to a study, the American city with the highest concentration of millionaires is Los Alamos— a place known more for gamma rays and gigabytes than glitz and glamour.

The study published Friday by Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine says one in five Los Alamos households has a net worth of more than $1 million, excluding the value of the family's primary residence.

The magazine says that in the New York metropolitan area, "only one in ten boast a net worth of $1 million or more. On the other hand, in Los Alamos, N.M., you double your chance of meeting a millionaire."

"The town may have fewer than 8,000 households, but one in five are worth at least a million bucks," Kiplinger's reports. "The reason: The main industry is the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory, a magnet for well-paid government scientists."

The successors to the Manhattan Project, in other words, trump Manhattan.

The report surprised Kevin Holsapple, executive director of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. "I've never heard anything like that before," he said.

[...]

Full Story


Saturday, April 08, 2006

LANL Needs Skilled Workers

By John Arnold

Journal Staff Writer

Los Alamos National Laboratory needs more skilled technicians to help with its expanding pit manufacturing program and other jobs, and the state's community colleges can help, a LANL consultant said Friday.

"Manufacturing has not really been a major part of the lab, but it will become a major part of the lab," said the consultant, Abad Sandoval. "So we've got a lot of people working, or will be working, in manufacturing who really need to become certified and retrained."

[...]

Full Story


I'd sure like to know what he's holding before I make my next bet

A comment from the

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2006/04/domenici-questions-los-alamos-lab.html

post:
________________________________________

Anyone notice how Mike A.'s been canceling all his previously
scheduled All-Hands talks about LANS plans for running the new and
improved LANL? Previous LANS memos had him scheduled for a second
All-Hands talk on the first week of April, followed by another
critical talk in mid-April. Both of these talks have been canceled
without explanation.

Why the delays, Mike? A lot of us at LANL would like to hear your
plans for running the new LANL, and we would love to hear it BEFORE
we submit our paperwork by the May 15th deadline. It's time for
Mike A. to throw his cards down on the table so we can all see what
he's holding. Perhaps he's bluffing or maybe he's got a Royal Flush.
I'd sure like to know what he's holding before I make my next bet.

Report: DOE, Bechtel share blame for skyrocketing costs at Hanford nuclear waste treatment plant

By MATTHEW DALY | Associated Press

April 7, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) - Poor management by the U.S. Department of Energy, mistakes by a private contractor and technical challenges are to blame for skyrocketing cost estimates for a new waste treatment plant at the Hanford nuclear reservation, a new report says.

In testimony submitted to Congress on Thursday, the Government Accountability Office said it will cost nearly $11 billion for a new plant to dispose of millions of gallons of radioactive waste at the sprawling Washington state complex.

[...]

Full Story

Trust, but verify

Doug/Brad, please post anonymously.

LANS has quietly changed retiree medical eligibilty requirements for TCP2 between their 3/28-30 public sessions and early this week ~04/04.

Clicking on the "Pension Calculational Examples" on the LANS web site will get you to the file LANS_Sample_Retirement_Estimates_for_TCPP1_and_TCP2.pdf . The requirement change is found at the bottom half of page 7, in the first bullet under "If You Elect TCP2". The new requirement now is age 55 with 10 years of service. In LANS's 3/28-30 public sessions, slide 38, it was age 50 with 10 years of service. Someone age 50 with 15 years service and who wants to work another 3 years in TCP2 will not receive retiree medical with the new rule but would have with the old.

If one should compare age 50 with 10 years service to the second bullet (to keeps ages the same), the second bullet would have age 50 with 5 years service and age+service>=75 which is still different from age 50 with 10 years service. The same someone age 50 with 15 years service who wants to work another 3 years wouldn't get retiree medical under this rule either.

It appears that LANS has quietly brewed new age and service concoctions for their new TCP2 retiree medical eligibility requirements.

Note that the "If You Elect TCP1" retiree medical eligibility requirements at the bottom half of page 6 now has the same language as the UCRP Retirement Handbook. I believe this is the first time this language has been used in a LANS public document for TCP1 (anyone knows where else?).

It is probable that NNSA has already reviewed and approved the changes, wittingly or unwittingly, since the no-retiree-medical-with-lump-sum statement also appears at the bottom of page 7. Perhaps an "equal in the aggregate" statement will be used to explain this mess.

An honest person would never expect to find rule changes buried in a "calculational examples" posting and would never even consider looking for any. I've been fortunate enough to serve on a jury in a criminal trial and observed attorneys diligently scanning evidence in real time before allowing them to be entered into permanent court records to ensure something new hadn't been slipped in, even though they had seen it all before during the discovery phase. The lesson here is to read through each new doc thoroughly regardless of file name. Trust, but verify.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Domenici questions Los Alamos lab operating costs

Domenici questions Los Alamos lab operating costs



Last Update: 04/07/2006 10:13:54 AM
By: Associated Press

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - U.S. Senator Pete Domenici has raised concerns that the new Los Alamos National Laboratory contract has costs that could divert funds from science.

The New Mexico Republican says the new contract calls for a major increase in fees.

In addition, Los Alamos now will pay $75 million in gross receipts taxes to the state of New Mexico.

Domenici says millions of dollars more will come out of the lab’s bottom line, but the budget isn’t accommodating the extra costs.

A partnership that includes Bechtel and the University of California will take over the lab’s operation in June.

DX is facing another shutdown

Doug:

Please post anonymously.

DX is facing another shutdown.

There have been three major incidents in DX Division in the past two weeks. One involved a DX manager. 6 weeks ago there was a stop work issued for another operation involving firearms use at DX. Since Nanos shut down the lab everyone in DX who knew what they were doing has either retired or quit. They are left with inadequate procedures and a workforce that does not have the experience to fill in the gaps. This has led to a very dangerous work environment at DX.

Incident 1-- A firing point worker operating a mobile crane at DARHT failed to obey the signals of the ground crew and removed a counter weight from the crane without ensuring that the hook was directly over the load. This caused the load to swing into the cab damaging the crane. The independent inspector who came out to look over the crane after the incident said that he had seen this type of accident before but usually the cab is crushed and the operator injured or killed.

Incident 2-- An electrical accident placed a DX worker in the hospital due to a 110v shock.

Incident 3-- A DX Division Manager ran a road block during an explosive operation. He ended up at the firing point where the operation was being conducted. This incident indicates the lack of knowledge that DX managers have regarding the operations they oversee and authorize. There are virtually no managers left in DX that have experience in explosive operations.

Work Stoppage – A stop work was issued for a test involving a firearm at DX. When the operation was reviewed by the Firearms Safety Committee it was found that DX procedures were woefully inadequate and the firearms were in a state of dangerous disrepair. When asked why this situation existed DX said that the person who used to do this work had retired.

Nuke redevelopment plan a boon for Livermore Lab

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

The Bush administration's presentation Wednesday of a blueprint for a new, redesigned nuclear arsenal and a smaller, more modern nuclear weapons complex caps more than a year of talks with federal lawmakers and the weapons sites they represent.

Along the way, a key California congresswoman dropped her objections to taking weapons plutonium out of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher also eased her skepticism about the design of new, age-resistant H-bombs called "reliable replacement warheads," or RRW, in the hope that they lead to a smaller nuclear arsenal and a global ban on nuclear testing.

"Like everything else, RRW on the face of it sounds very promising," Tauscher, D-Alamo, said Thursday.

In return, she said, "What I got was the thing I needed to have, which was an on-the-record agreement that we have a win-win."

[...]

Full Story


Thursday, April 06, 2006

UCRP-LANL vs. Retirees

Retirees ask for a seat at the table

ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
Thursday, April 6, 2006

While waiting for assurances about the security of their pensions during a major contract shift, retirees at Los Alamos National Laboratory have found themselves in an uncomfortable limbo.
Laboratory Retiree Group President Charles Mansfield held a press conference Wednesday with officers and other members of the organization to call attention to what they see as a cold-shoulder treatment from two institutions that they believe owe them a fuller and more timely explanation.

They were first informed indirectly over two months ago that the pension assets they earned while they were employed with the University of California were about to be separated from the rest of UC's retirees. Since then, they believe, they have been given mixed signals about whether or not the Department of Energy was standing behind their interests or not.
A series of informational meetings were held at the laboratory and other LANL UC locations at the end of March. UC employees addressed questions about retirement from the UC system.

But a notice in the laboratory's News Bulletin stated, "While the sessions will help address questions about retirement from the UC system, they are not designed to specifically address retirees' benefits questions."
A spokesman for UC said today that the university is continuing to work with DOE in the matter and that UC human resources personnel would be holding information sessions specifically for retirees in May.

"We are aware of concerns related to the pension proposals, and currently in discussions with the Department of Energy regarding these issues, as well as possible alternatives we would be looking at," said Chris Harrington in Washington, D.C.
Last month, Mansfield said, the LRG board sought legal advice from an Albuquerque firm. The firm suggested that the group should hire an actuarial firm and to write to UC and DOE's nuclear weapons manager, the National Nuclear Security Administration, to assert the retiree's right to have a seat at the table when the pensions are divided up.

"We are asserting our right," George Chandler of the LRG said during the press conference. "UC is on both sides of the table."

UC is no longer the manager of the laboratory, but it is one of the partners in the limited liability corporation that will take over management of the laboratory on June 1.

LRG has also asked for a formal acknowledgement from DOE of what they feel has been acknowledged informally - that DOE/NNSA does take responsibility to fund LANL pension obligations regardless of the decisions about managing the funds.

In the process of accounting for assets that needed to be transferred to the new managers, Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the University of California Board of Regents commissioned an actuarial report.

Mansfield said the report shows the LANL part of the UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) will be "born under-funded" with only 98 percent of the amount needed to fund the liability.

That compares with the UCRP plan as whole, that Mansfield said, has about 110 percent of its liabilities.

The University of California has recently started to consider the need to re-institute employee contributions to maintain the system-wide pension fund, which has been self-funded for many years with successful financial management decisions.

In a letter dated Wednesday to UC President Robert Dynes and Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, Mansfield asked them to agree by April 14 to include the LRG's actuary "and other representatives as needed, present at any discussion and negotiation of actuarial assumptions and other matters" concerning the interests of the retirees.

The retirees have been advised by their attorneys that there is no legal recourse until they have been actually harmed, and so far no actual harm has been done.

Dynes responded to a letter from NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks on March 6.

"The University shares your commitment to a transition that will not diminish the pension benefits for LANL retirees," he wrote, in part. He also reconfirmed two basic principles of the process having to do with the retirement funds.

One is that UC retirees from LANL will receive defined benefits identical to those provided under the existing UCRP plan provisions, including annual cost of living adjustments (COLAs).

The other is that the regents will continue to oversee and manage the retirement plan program and set investment policy.

LARG represents about 1,000 of the 4,000 retirees impacted by the decisions made by UC and DOE.

Telecommuting

Hi Doug,
Please post this anonymously.

With all the upheaval at the Lab, I am not sure we look very good to new
talent. We don't even look that good to some existing talent. I think it is
time for the Lab to institute some new policies that reflect trends in the
outside job market. Telecommuting would certainly meet those criteria in my
book. There are letters to the News Bulletin editor from employees dating
back to 1997. Clearly, this is not a new idea or desire. Has anyone heard
any word on LANS looking into telecommuting?

Thank you.

NNSA clarification - TCP2 retiree medical & Lump sum cashout

Doug -

Find attached something I just found on the LANS web site.
Important to LANL folks.

Please post anonymously.

Putting All Plutonium In 1 Place

BY H. JOSEF HEBERT The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department announced plans Wednesday to consolidate virtually all of the government’s weapons research and development involving plutonium at a single site to enhance security.

The plan, which is part of a broader overhaul of the weapons program over the next two decades, calls for removing plutonium stocks now at the Livermore National Laboratory in California by 2014 and from all current facilities, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, by 2022.

Plutonium — a radioactive material that can be deadly if ingested or inhaled — is now kept at seven facilities within the government’s weapons production and research complex, posing difficult and expensive security issues at some of them.

[...]

Full Story


U.S. Rolls Out Nuclear Plan

The administration's proposal would modernize the nation's complex of laboratories and factories as well as produce new bombs.
By Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
April 6, 2006

The Bush administration Wednesday unveiled a blueprint for rebuilding the nation's decrepit nuclear weapons complex, including restoration of a large-scale bomb manufacturing capacity.

The plan calls for the most sweeping realignment and modernization of the nation's massive system of laboratories and factories for nuclear bombs since the end of the Cold War.

[...]

Full Story


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I am surprised...

Submitted by Anonymous:
_______________________________

With regard to the following post.....Steve Younger?? Jim Holt?? I am surprised....why not Al Tiedman??

Monday, April 03, 2006

Nevada Site Office Post Award Briefing


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

LANL transition affecting many's financial future

LANL transition affecting many's financial future


SPECIAL TO THE MONITOR (Sunday 4/2)

As LANL moves toward a new regime, many changes face current and retired employees. Some of those topic are:

  • Defined benefit or defined contribution? It's more than a financial choice.

    In the transition to LANS, you have two options. If you choose to stay employed and transfer, you keep your defined benefit plan, Option A. If you retire and hope to be re-hired, your pension option will now be a defined contribution plan, Option B.

    Option A specifies that you will receive a set monthly amount-a defined benefit-until your death, with no cost-of-living adjustments. The employer is responsible for the investment risk.

    Option B specifies that a contribution will be made to your retirement plan account but makes no promises to a future monthly retirement income. The employee is responsible for the investment risk.

    At first blush, Option A sounds like real peace of mind, but it should be balanced against other factors and conditions. You surrender your lump sum to the plan-and with it your chance at capital preservation. Income-wise, you lose your spending power as inflation erodes your fixed income. And, once you go with Option A, you can't back out of it.

    From a purely financial view, Option B is good because you keep your lump sum and have the control to pick your own investments based on your risk tolerance and actual needs. You-or your financial advisor-can set up your own reliable income stream in an IRA and preserve the capital at the same time. And, you can protect your retirement income against inflation.

  • If Option B is a good deal financially, why should I consider Option A?

  • [...]

    Full Story

    Domenici Gets Serious About Global Warming?

    Congress begins to feel heat from global warming danger

    [Domenici actually LISTENS to LANL scientists. -Editor]

    By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

    CONGRESS is headed to polar regions for hands-on education on global warming. House Science Committee chairman Sherwood Boehlert who led nine representatives to the South Pole said "eyes were opened." (National Science Foundation)

    In February last year, the chairman of the Senate energy committee sat down at Los Alamos National Laboratory for a private briefing on climate change.

    Was global warming real, Sen. Pete Domenici wanted to know. He turned for answers to a federal lab that he had gazed on admiringly since he was a boy.

    In a barrage of computer slides, Los Alamos scientists showed the 72-year-old Republican senator a planet tipping into uncertainty. Greenhouse gases were increasing in the atmosphere and the trapped solar radiation was boosting temperatures worldwide, with cascading impacts on natural and human welfare.

    Natural causes alone could not explain the measured warming, the scientists told Domenici, without the human addition of greenhouses gases, mostly from burning fossil fuels.

    ``I came out of there having listened,'' Domenici later said to reporters. ``And I concluded it is enough of a problem to try to do something about it.''

    Today, Domenici and his committee host 29 corporate executives, scientists, economists and environmentalists to discuss a mandatory cap on greenhouse-gas emissions. It promises to be the most serious conversation in Congress to date about dealing with climate change.

    Full Story

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Division level changes that are ongoing.

    Submitted anonymously:
    ___________________________________

    Doug, I think this deserves top post. Thanks...

    So far, no one has commented in this blog on the division level changes that are ongoing. Beason's directorate, in particular, is being reshuffled. N-3 has been split off into a new IT division, together with a group of ISR. Evelyn Mullen is the new division leader. She is an engineer by training, has mainly been involved in emergency response, and has no technical knowledge of intel issues, not to mention any credibility as a scientist or leader.

    Sara Scott, much to her chagrin, has been moved aside as N division leader. Brent Park, her arrogant deputy has also been removed. Sara will head some kind of non-proliferation center associated with TR, where her talents as Program Manager (not scientist) will be utilized.

    Her replacement - Nancy Jo Nicholas, a nuclear scientist and ex-deputy group leader, who never finished her PhD. At least Nancy Jo can make a decision, something that Sara could never do! NJ's expertise - again - program management.

    I am so disappointed in Doug Beason - he is worse than Cobb!!

    In another directorate, Bill Fieireisen is moving aside, for Steven Lee to step in.

    In general, the trend is clear - LANS doesn't want division leaders who lead - it wants followers, who can bring in the bucks. All of this will lower LANL's level to that of LLNL, where science plays a distant third fiddle to "bringing home the bacon". By the time NNSA will wake up, it will have lost the nation's forefront driver of science and technology innovation in defense programs. It will have no edge over SNL and LLNL whatsoever.

    Bottom line - for the last 25 years, I have been coming to work early, and taking home work in the evenings, because I identified with the mission of the Lab, and its importance to the nation, despite the fact that so many mediocre people became "leaders". However, starting June 1, I will continue to work the required hours, but I (and probably everyone else) won't have the dedication; after all, we are working for corporate America, and if they want the "extra umph", they have to provide the environment for it. Unfortunately, they have failed, and we are all poorer.


    The Birds, or One Flew Over Kuckuck's Nest

    Travel bans won't stop bird flu-study
    (03 Apr 2006 22:08:40 GMT)

    By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

    WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) - Travel restrictions and school closures will do little to stop a pandemic of bird flu from marching across the United States, but they may slow it enough to distribute drugs and vaccines, according to a new study published on Monday.

    "It's probably not going to be practical to contain a potential pandemic by merely trying to limit contact between people such as by travel restrictions, quarantine or even closing schools," said Timothy Germann of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who worked on the report.

    "But we find that these measures are useful in buying time to produce and distribute sufficient quantities of vaccine and antiviral drugs."

    Their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports the approach being pursued by the U.S. government and recommended by the World Health Organization for preparing for a possible influenza pandemic.

    "Our model suggests that the rapid production and distribution of vaccines, even if poorly matched to circulating strains, could significantly slow disease spread and limit the number ill to less than 10 percent of the population, particularly if children are preferentially vaccinated," the team at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Washington wrote.

    Catherine Macken of Los Alamos said the computer model used in the study provided a surprising finding -- using a weak vaccine in many people would be better than trying to vaccinate a smaller number of people with a more effective dose.

    "If you reduce somewhat the length of time that someone is infective ... you end up getting a significant impact," Macken said in a telephone interview.

    "You might be better off vaccinating twice as many people, getting a lower level of protection, but still getting an improvement in susceptibility."

    No flu vaccine is perfect and experts have been uncertain which approach would work better.

    DRUGS CAN HELP TOO

    Using several million doses of drugs like Roche AG's Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza that can help prevent influenza infection could also help, the researchers said.

    The H5N1 strain of avian influenza is spreading rapidly in birds around the world and experts believe it will soon be found everywhere. It rarely infects people, but has sickened 190 people and killed 107 of them, according to WHO.

    If the virus mutates slightly and gains the ability to pass from person to person easily, it is likely to become much less fatal but could cause a pandemic.

    Scientists are racing to make a vaccine against it and governments are trying to stockpile drugs that can prevent and treat the infection, but supplies are low.

    In the meantime, health experts are trying to work out the best way to deal with a pandemic if it comes, and want to know if schools, businesses and transportation should be closed to try to slow the flu's spread.

    The team at Los Alamos and the University of Washington ran a complex computer simulation of what the spread of bird flu might look like in the United States. They say their findings would hold for any highly mobile society.

    "In the event that a pandemic influenza virus does reach the U.S., according to our results, the U.S. population could begin to experience a nation-wide pandemic within 1 month of the earliest introductions," the researchers wrote.

    The model assumes that about a third of the population would become infected -- the rate seen in the past two pandemics, in 1957 and 1968.

    They included several circumstances for people to meet and potentially pass the virus along, including households, neighborhoods, preschools, playgroups, schools, shops and work.

    -----and there's more-----

    Vaccine best way to counter bird flu, even if imperfect

    RANDOLPH E. SCHMID

    WASHINGTON (Associated Press) — The most effective way to combat an outbreak of bird flu in people would require a rapid and aggressive vaccination campaign as soon as the outbreak began, even if the vaccine wasn't a perfect match, a study concludes.

    Flu viruses are constantly changing, and a vaccine aimed at a specific strain can't be developed until scientists identify the form infecting humans. That's why the annual human flu shots must be updated every year.

    But even a bird flu vaccine that is poorly matched to the form that breaks out would be likely to provide some protection and could help slow the spread of the disease, according to a research team headed by Timothy C. Germann of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Full Story

    -----and there's even more-----

    U.S. Not Ready for Fast-Spreading Bird Flu, Study Finds

    John Roach
    for National Geographic News
    April 3, 2006

    Scientists have used a sophisticated computer model to predict how a deadly flu virus might spread through the United States, and how the disease might respond to efforts to contain it.

    The results suggest that the U.S. is prepared to contain a virus with low transmissibility but perhaps not one that spreads more quickly.

    Another team of scientists has also reported that it has developed a preliminary human vaccine against bird flu. But the team acknowledges that more work is needed before the vaccine could successfully contain an outbreak.

    Many scientists believe the threat of a bird flu pandemic is real. Researchers are particularly concerned that the virus currently spreading around the world—the highly pathogenic avian flu strain H5N1—might mutate, allowing it to be transmitted between humans.

    If such a mutation were to occur, the result could be a global pandemic similar to that of the 1918 "Spanish flu," which killed an estimated 20 to 40 million people worldwide.

    "It's still up in the air how readily H5N1 can become human-to-human, but almost certainly there will be another pandemic at some point," said Timothy Germann, a chemical physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

    Germann led the team that developed the computer model.

    Full Story

    -----

    So who says Los Alamos is only good for Pu pits?
    [-Editor]

    Nevada Site Office Post Award Briefing

    Doug

    Please post this anonymously – this topic has been addressed in other recent posts.

    Thought it might be of interest, especially Slide 11 (organization chart).

    Thanks.



    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    It could be worse!

    Submitted by Anonymous:
    _________________________

    I like this one! We may see it soon.
    Check out the "addressing employee complaints" section.


    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    Here be dragons


    Biotechnology

    Here be dragons

    Mar 30th 2006 | SAN MELITO
    From The Economist print edition

    With luck, you may soon be able to buy a mythological pet


    PAOLO FRIL, chairman and chief scientific officer of GeneDupe, based in San Melito, California, is a man with a dream. That dream is a dragon in every home.

    GeneDupe's business is biotech pets. Not for Dr Fril, though, the mundane cloning of dead moggies and pooches. He plans a range of entirely new animals—or, rather, of really quite old animals, with the twist that even when they did exist, it was only in the imagination.

    Making a mythical creature real is not easy. But GeneDupe's team of biologists and computer scientists reckon they are equal to the task. Their secret is a new field, which they call “virtual cell biology”.

    Biology and computing have a lot in common, since both are about processing information—in one case electronic; in the other, biochemical. Virtual cell biology aspires to make a software model of a cell that is accurate in every biochemical detail. That is possible because all animal cells use the same parts list—mitochondria for energy processing, the endoplasmic reticulum for making proteins, Golgi body for protein assembly, and so on.

    [...]

    Full Story


    Wireless Extension Cords


    Power Where You Need It

    Because technology is constantly changing, one of the greatest tools to the do-it-yourselfer is the extension cord. Now you can put anything in any room you want - even outside. Every once in a while, though, a long cord across the floor can be more dangerous than helpful. Sure you could just put a carpet or tape over the cord, but why bother? Let technology solve its own problems. Grab some Wireless Extension Cords, and leave the wires where they belong - somewhere else!

    [...]

    Full Article


    Three-way tie


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