Wednesday, May 31, 2006
What other surprises are there upcoming
Did anyone else notice that, seemingly without a word,
the UHC accounts started reading LANS as employer
rather than UC in early May. I received an
"explanation of services" letter from UHC and noted
that my employer was LANS. This was dated early May
for services in April. The UHC person I talked to had
"no clue" why or when the changeover in employer had
occurred, even though we obviously don't start as LANS
employees til June 1. A call to the LANL benefits
office confirmed that this "change" had been made in
early May. Why? And why no word (unless I missed it)
about the premature change?
And did anyone notice that on today's pay stub a
small, oh so small, note about an increase in costs
for life insurance through LANS?
Has there been a notice on this other than small type
on a pay stub no one looks at?
A harbinger of things to come? News ways of doing
business"? What other surprises are there upcoming
from LANS that will be "substantially equivalent" to
what we had?
Laboratory retirees, including many elderly couples, nearly filled the Duane Smith Auditorium Tuesday evening. They heard the first direct communication from the University of California since learning indirectly in January that the university was proposing to spin them off into a separate retirement plan within the system.
Judy Ackerhalt, UC's executive director of human resources and benefits from the Office of the President, discussed the two main issues, pensions and benefits, with the help of staff and other responsible officials.
Judging by the number of questions asked, there was a high degree of interest in UC's still indefinite plans for the pensions for retirees of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Auf Wiedersehen, Los Alamos
Today, May 31, 2006 marks the end of the University of California as the sole manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), after a 63-year run. Tomorrow LANL will come under the management of Bechtel, the University of California, BWX Technologies, and Washington Group International, collectively known as Los Alamos National Security (LANS), LLC, a private, for profit enterprise.
When nuclear testing ended in 1992 Laboratory personnel scrambled to find new missions for the institution. The 1990s transition to the Stockpile Stewardship Program of maintaining our nuclear weapons without testing made a lot of people nervous. Some critics initially doubted this program, but more weapons specialists are now putting their faith in it. Los Alamos is at a turning point not only with a new managing entity, but in the fundamental way that weapons are designed, fielded, and managed. If successful, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program may reinvigorate some of the lost mission or give impetus to a new mission in a focused and tangible way for the first time since testing ended.
The Stockpile Stewardship Program, by all reliable accounts, is working well enough to support yearly weapons certification. And RRW may reinvigorate excitement among employees and facilitate something of a return to normalcy and respite from the turmoil of the last several years that included the Wen Ho Lee incident, charges of missing classified computer drives, and other managerial problems that demoralized employees and drove out a good number of staff.
But change is inevitable. And usually change is good. LANS should seek to preserve what science and basic research it can. And in doing this, LANL’s new managers need to reinvigorate the scientific mentoring culture that once permeated the institution. Rather than driving the final nail in the coffin of basic research and freedom of academic science at the Department of Energy Labs, this management change should be turned into an opportunity for the national laboratories and the Department of Energy to reinvigorate their missions, clean up their operating structure and oversight methods, motivate and reward their staff members, clarify their responsibilities in the post-Cold War era, and develop a strategy that maximizes return and value for every dollar invested in the national labs. Such a model will command respect from both complex supporters and critics.
(Anne Fitzpatrick spent two tenures at Los Alamos during her career, as a graduate research assistant in the mid-1990s and later as a Technical Staff Member)
SACRAMENTOTanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack, Chronicle Staff Writers
State legislators want UC to return some pay
Lockyer is asked to recover funds that weren't OKd
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Two state senators asked the state attorney general Tuesday to recover state money that they said the University of California gave executives and other key employees without proper approval from the governing Board of Regents.
Sens. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County), and Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who are members of the Senate Education Committee, wrote Attorney General Bill Lockyer and urged him to investigate how much state money was used in compensating executives and other highly paid employees in violation of UC policies. They then asked him to seek repayment.
"Give the people their money back for all the things that UC President Robert Dynes and UC did," Maldonado said later. "It is all about accountability. I've heard from the regents about accountability, accountability, and I've seen nothing."
Tomorrow's the big day
Tomorrow's the big day. A new life begins at LANL. When y'all go home tonight you need to set the alarm an hour earlier than normal, polish those 10 year shoes, pick out your best bolo tie, and be ready to show up for work a good 45 minutes early in the morning. It's going to be your first day at work as a brand new at-will employee of LANS, LLC. Suggestion: make it a 'be nice to your boss' kind of a day. Another recommendation for your first new day at work: don't ask about the state of the LLC's finances. Conversations about the budget for FY07 are strictly Verboten. Oh, and hone those writing skills! Rumor has it that LANS, LLC is looking for a fresh infusion of Letters to the Editor for the NewsBulletin. The more scathing, the better!
'Nuff said. Have a good day at work.
Dynes, a distinguished research physicist, has been a lackluster UC president since he was tapped for the job three years ago. He also has been an indifferent administrator, evidenced by the numerous perks, payoffs and golden parachutes that UC officials have approved the last three years.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Letter in Newsbulletin: The Future of the Lab
The future of the Lab
Now that we have made our decisions after months of fretting over the details of retirement plans, it's time to turn our attention to a much more important question. What will the Lab be like after the transition is complete? Some things I've heard over the last few months make me concerned, even skeptical about the future of the Lab.
First, I don't believe a model of a profit-driven enterprise can benefit the Lab. Certainly there are processes employed by the best companies that could greatly improve the Lab, but there are fundamental differences in the purpose of a national laboratory that require unique approaches. We are required to charge our customers the cost of our work, not more, not less. Unless we sell pits for $1 billion each, we will never make a profit nor should that be a goal.
More importantly, the 20 some "key personnel" are my greatest concern. If they are going to focus on the award fee and their bonuses, the Laboratory is doomed. Their sole mission must be to create an environment that makes the Lab the institution at which scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff would most like to spend their careers while convincing the National Nuclear Security Administration, Congress and the American public that we are taking care of the taxpayer's dollars, the environment, our workers and our neighbors.
The Department of Energy believes it will take seven years to make the needed changes. How many of the "key personnel" are committed to seven years at the Lab? If any of them think they can straighten things out in a couple of years and move on, I have a simple request: don't bother starting and give us someone who cares. Recreating the Lab that once was will take years, driving it into the ground can be accomplished in short order. Jim Collins in "Good to Great" described the great leaders in corporate America, identified through extensive research, as incredibly ambitious but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves. In our case, the institution is LANL, not LANS.
ROGER SNODGRASS, firstname.lastname@example.org, Monitor Assistant Editor
The University of California and Los Alamos National Security have scheduled two informational meetings in the area to discuss transitional matters with Los Alamos National Laboratory retirees.
The meetings will include presentations by Judy Ackerhalt, UC's executive director of human resources and benefits from the Office of the President, Ben Glover from LANS, and Dayna Riley of Hewitt Associates.
LANS selected Hewitt Associates, a global human resources outsourcing and consulting firm, through a competitive process to administer benefits and respond to questions from retirees about health insurance.
Energy Department To Allow Contractors To Police Their Own Workplace Safety Conditions
Employees of the Department of Energy and the 100,000 workers employed by DOE contractors who maintain the nuclear arsenal, dismantle surplus weapons, dispose of excess radioactive materials, clean up old facilities and conduct energy research are not covered by OSHA. This lack of independent oversight has had predictable results over the past fifty years.
Thousand of "nuclear veterans" received deadly radiation and toxic chemical exposures building this nation's cold war nuclear arsenal, and others were subject of human radiation experiments. Despite the research and warnings of unions, such as the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers, that their members were becoming sick and dying, the hazards of these facilities and the effects on their employees were ignored for decades. In 2000, after DOE admitted the harm caused to thousands of cold war veterans, Congress finally passed the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act (EEOICPA) which established a compensation program for former nuclear workers.
Cheap new labor
Saw this graph in the latest issue of Federal Computer
Week (May 22). According to the web site
Collegegrad.com, LANL is expecting to hire a large
number of college grads next year. Perhaps this cheap
new labor is how LANS plans on solving our FY '07
Monday, May 29, 2006
S.F. LAWMAKER'S BILL SHOULD BE FAST-TRACKED, SIGNED BY GOVERNOR
Mercury News Editorial
The executive-pay scandals that have rocked the University of California have exposed a culture of greed, excess and secrecy at the top echelons of the nation's premier public university system. Top officials granted lavish perks willy-nilly behind closed doors to senior managers with little regard for the public interest or taxpayers' dollars.
The Department of Energy has revealed a plan to eliminate its office for environment, safety and health. The office was created 20 years ago to respond to radioactive contamination of workers as a result of cold war weapons production. Most of the office's current worker safety and health functions would be transferred to an office dealing with security. The current department is headed by an Assistant Secretary, a political appointee, whereas the security agency is headed by a career DOE employee.
Friday, May 26, 2006
LANSL's mission: Food for thought...
Le Nouvel Observateur
Friday 26 May 2006
The IAEA director deems that the great powers must choose between renouncing nuclear weapons and accepting eventual proliferation.
The United States and the other powers refusing to renounce their nuclear arsenals thus encourage other countries to follow their example, and the world could soon have to face a multitude of countries endowed with nuclear weapons, Mohamed ElBaradei warned Thursday, May 26.
"Nuclear feeds nuclear. As long as certain countries continue to insist on the indispensable character of nuclear weapons for their security, other countries will want to procure them. It is impossible to escape this simple truth," declared the International Atomic Energy Agency's director general.
"We have reached a crossroads with regard to nuclear weapons. Either we begin to distance ourselves from a security based on nuclear weapons or we must resign ourselves to the prediction formulated by President (John F.) Kennedy in the 1960s of a world with 20-30 nuclear powers," continued the 2005 Nobel Peace Laureate, speaking before a group of International Relations students at Johns Hopkins University.
These statements take on a particular resonance in view of the crisis related to Iran's nuclear program. The United States demands that Iran renounce its nuclear ambitions. Washington suspects Teheran of seeking to endow itself with nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian program - which Iran denies.
Furthermore, ElBaradei emphasized that efforts aimed at controlling international technology and knowledge transfers were more and more complicated by the development of information techniques.
In the end, these efforts against nuclear proliferation "will only delay the inevitable," ElBaradei predicted.
He consequently invited the students who made up his audience to establish "an alternative system of collective security ... that eliminates the need for nuclear deterrence."
"Only when the nuclear powers have succeeded in no longer being dependent upon these weapons for their security will the threat of nuclear proliferation from other countries be significantly reduced," insisted ElBaradei.
He said he was himself incapable of presenting an alternative system.
Nonetheless, he added, if the international community intensified its efforts to improve living standards in developing countries, "the probability of a conflict will drop immediately."
Letters to the editor - Attack on Iran wouldn't end there
-THE NEW MEXICAN, May 29, 2006
What if the United States nuked Iran? Where could this "completely nuts" plan lead?
(1) A million Iranians are killed outright from 400 targeted blasts.
(2) Airborne radioactive particles and heavy fall-out contaminate neighboring countries and the world multiplying cancer rates, immune-deficiency diseases, and birth defects.
(3) Many millions more of the world's people hate America.
(4) Iran counter-attacks, sending its substantial army into Iraq.
(5) Disruption of oil supplies sends oil prices through the roof, plunging the world into economic chaos.
(6) Chaos provides the pretext for Bush to claim dictatorial rule, declare marshal law, continue spying on Americans, imprison without charge, torture, rape the Treasury, and shred the Constitution.
(7) Enormous U.S. financial debt to China comes home to roost when China, dependent on Iranian oil, retaliates by collapsing our economy.
(8) China and/or Russia, also dependent on Iranian oil, launch retaliatory nuclear strikes.
(9) Hostilities escalate to all-out nuclear war.
(10) Nuclear winter extinguishes life on Earth.
-Marilyn Gayle Hoff, El Prado
So, place your bets: At which stage will we pull out of the game? Pick a number between 0 and 10.
[-Editor. OK, full disclosure: my preference is "0."]
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The ivory -- and gold -- towerRe "UC Chief Dynes battles to keep job," May 18: Once again the arrogant and ignorant Education Establishment rears its ugly head and states to heck with taxpayers.
UC chief Robert Dynes and his ilk steal from us and stand on a pedestal and claim their entitled to it. What will our children learn from them? That it pays to steal from us who must really work for a living to keep the ivory towered, privileged education establishment well provided for?
Barbara Kerr and her minions must be laughing all they way to the ballot box. They aspire to hijack the entire California budget in order to brainwash our children. Most teachers are public school graduates. If we had tested them and flunked them -- as they most assuredly would have -- maybe we could have a public school system more interested in teaching the truth rather than turning them into goose-stepping little liberals.
But I digress. Dynes should be fired. The education establishment should be held accountable and start spending more on real education.
- Patrick Davis, Fair Oaks
Dynes failure at UCRobert Dynes blames ignorance of the rules and a culture of overactive secrecy and paranoia for actions he took that were not authorized by the University of California Board of Regents. At the same time, a blue-ribbon panel of Californians in an advertisement in The Bee, argue that Dynes policy exceptions are trivial in amount and perhaps necessary for UC to be competitive. They note that UC is a community of the greatest minds in the world.
All of the above points are undoubtedly well taken. But they only compound the problem, which is that Dynes, the head of these great minds, turns out to be someone who never learned that ignorance of the law is no excuse, and that paranoia and overactive secrecy are not leadership.
The UC community has known for a decade that transparency in employment practices was required by the regents. Dynes chose to ignore this ultimatum. Because of that, and the fact that his pitiful explanation only magnifies his guilt, he must be removed.
- Norman D. Clayton, Sacramento
The cozy UC clubRe "Regents back UC president," May 19: Of course, the regents back the gross overpayments and inappropriate perks so widely granted within the University of California system. It's a cozy little club, and they benefit as well.
I am absolutely sick of hearing that we need to pay inflated salaries and offer absurd incentives to attract "top people." I say fire them all, regents included, and start fresh with a "second-rate" team. We'll all be better off.
The UC system exists to educate Californians, not to enrich a chosen few or to win a one-upmanship contest with other universities.
- Neil J. Rubenking, Davis
The Celeste Rose debacleRe "How UC courted exec, then paid her $460,000 to go away," May 16: have long wondered about the competency and just plain common sense of the majority of academe. I don't know which has been worse, the steady increase in the cost of higher education, making college unaffordable for most or unavailable for others, or the poisoning of our children's minds by the liberal drivel they receive.
The Celeste Rose debacle best illustrates the utter helplessness of the University of California administration. It absolutely defies any attempt at understanding how any of it came about, step by step, over 10 years. But is hers the only example of ludicrous conduct by the administration? Not hardly, we now learn. And what are regents doing during all this, besides sitting on their fat perks?
I applaud The Bee for making public these absurd abuses of the public trust, but nothing seems to be resulting. When are some of these overpriced and incompetent wasters of taxpayer money going to reform or be sacked?
- John Antypas, Lincoln
Strip out the site-specific references and fill in the blanks
A GOOGLE search for the famous letter from Lord Wellington -- expressing his frustration with bean counters and pencil pushers in London -- produced not only the desired document, in itself so apropos of every DOE site, but also a link to your wonderful blog. If I did not myself work at Savannah River Site, where every new management imperative, process, or requirement makes it harder to do a good job, I would write off the contents of this site as a bunch of whiny-ass malcontents. But, I'm sad to say that you could probably strip out the site-specific references and fill in the blanks with the names of any and every DOE lab in the country and no one would take exception.
Good job on the blog and on the substantial backbone demonstrated by you folks out there.
In a quagmire of DOE ineptitude,
A friend from SRS
"Science" at LANL, however we may define it, is likely to be de-emphasized
thread at LANL: The Real Story)
Dear Doug –
I find myself in agreement with those contributors who suggest that the
plutonium pit production mission, among related pending changes, is
likely to dramatically change the culture at LANL.
The change may not be linear. It's possibly there could be relatively
big cultural changes once (unknown) thresholds are passed.
Especially as pit production grows, "science" at LANL, however we may
define it, is likely to be de-emphasized for a variety of
straightforward financial and programmatic reasons, as already mentioned
by various commenters on this blog. These reasons might include (the
following estimates vary widely in precision; perhaps other contributors
can improve them):
* A likely decline in overall budget and purchasing power in real dollar
terms, both at LANL specifically and in the NNSA budget as a whole. The
country is broke and there are a lot of other competing priorities, and
annual inflation is now a nontrivial factor. Ballpark decline: at least
10% over the next 3 years, or at least $200 M/year after 3 years.
Inflation alone is highly likely to account for this much.
* LANS must pay gross receipts taxes, unlike UC. Ballpark increase: $75
* Isn't there now an imperative for NNSA and LANS to pay into employees'
pensions which wasn't there before? I am not sure of this but as a
placeholder perhaps $80M/year would work as a guess.
* Won't there be increases in salaries of upper management and some
smaller increases for middle management? Ballpark: $10 M/year.
* Aren't there to be more organizational units, and hence more managers,
an overhead function? If real, put $10 M/year here.
* There are likely to be increases in security costs due to increased
special nuclear materials handling for pit production. Ballpark: $10 M.
* There is likely to be an increase in management fee, aka profit.
Ballpark increase: $60 M.
* There are slated to be increases in annual funding for construction
projects at LANL. Over the next 3 years, the increase in the sum of
“Facilities and Infrastructure Recapitalization Programs” [RTBF] and
“Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities” [FIRP] at LANL is about
$160 M. This is an annual figure.
The total impact of these changes on the overall program funding
available at LANL is fairly large. These numbers sum to an impact of
about a negative $600 M/year 3 years out. Help me out here if I've made
some mistake. Whatever the number, it's large.
The effective programmatic shrinkage at LANL, however great it turns out
to be, is likely to disproportionately take place in portions of the
budget which are NOT pit certification and production, which is now
LANL's greatest importance to NNSA. There could even be hidden increases
in the budget for manufacturing and related engineering work.
About what percent of LANL's total effort is "science" today? This isn't
easy to estimate precisely because of the ambiguity contained in the
term "science," but I would say, based on NNSA and UC data, that about
one-third of current UC employees at LANL are working scientists.
Overall perhaps one-fourth of the personnel at LANL are working
scientists. (It's easier to work from personnel categories than from
budget categories to get at this elusive fraction.) The exact fraction
doesn’t affect the overall argument, but the smaller the fraction of
LANL devoted to "science," the greater the relative impact of these
programmatic declines, because the manufacturing missions will be
protected and indeed are a major reason for some of the budgetary and
institutional changes -- perhaps for most of them.
Bottom line: science at LANL will decline, and quite likely at a greater
fractional rate than the LANL budget as a whole. It could fall from
about one-third of the lab’s effort to what -- about one fifth?
One-sixth? A different way of saying this is that as LANS takes over,
and as manufacturing missions grow (some of this is visible growth, i.e.
construction) the overhead for science at LANL is likely to rise,
producing less science for the same money.
If this is anywhere near true, these changes would seem to transform
LANL from what LANL employees have understood to be a science lab,
albeit one with high overhead and some manufacturing, to something
closer to a manufacturing center, again with high overhead, that does
some science on the side.
Plutonium, with its panoply of costs, is fairly toxic to non-plutonium
science, especially in larger doses.
We can be sure that pit production already dominates the consciousness
of the LANS corporate board, because contract continuation is likely to
be contingent upon success in that mission more than any other single
one. I would say that re-starting the production of nuclear weapons –
including the RRW program and the associated awakening of the
“responsive infrastructure” – is NNSA’s highest single priority.
DOE auditors provided us here a printout of current contracts in which
the value of the current LANS contract is shown at $36.6 billion
dollars. Bechtel is the sole recipient or partner in DOE/NNSA contracts
valued at nearly $100 billion in that same spreadsheet. For WGI it's $58
billion, and for BWXT it's $63 billion (some of these contracts
overlap). These are now essentially "no-bid" contracts. Needless to say,
this is a lot of money. These companies will do practically anything to
keep these huge contracts. This too will change the LANL culture. If you
get in the way of a multi-billion dollar funding stream, watch out.
Again, assuming any of this is anywhere near right, LANL's reputation as
a science institution is poised to fall (further). The quality of
science and scientists LANL can attract and keep is likely to drop as
well, as are various blinders. Won't LANL just be a dirty industrial lab
engaged in a dirty business, fouling its own nest in the process?
NNSA's plans du jour are to eventually abandon LANL’s plutonium mission,
about the time existing facilities wear out. The House Appropriations
Committee would prefer to skip some of the wasteful and "irrational"
higher-capacity pit production steps at LANL, especially the CMRR
facility, a ~ $1 B project tied to other major facility upgrades at LANL
in what must be about a ~$2 B package. They would prefer to go straight
on to a shiny new bomb factory in the desert somewhere, likely Nevada.
My own take on this is that the CMRR project is indeed irrational 57
ways to Sunday, both in detail and as policy. It is a terrible and
unnecessary boondoggle that will hurt LANL, damage U.S. national
security, and waste a gob of money. But unlike Mr. Hobson I don't want a
shiny new bomb factory. Even if one wants to keep nuclear weapons, and I
don't, neither is needed for a long time.
LANL and the town of Los Alamos do not have an easy future ahead under
any scenario, but some scenarios are worse than others. Especially given
that the House wants the CMRR project stopped, it might behoove NNSA and
LANS not to start it yet.
If anyone is interested, here are some relevant links on our (Los Alamos
Study Group) web site:
Declining Federal Oversight at Los Alamos, Increasing Production
Incentives: A Dangerous Divergence. Presentation to the Defense Nuclear
Safety Board (DNFSB), 3/22/06. http://www.lasg.org/DNFSBMar06
U.S. Enters New Nuclear Age as Bush Seeks Funds for New Generation of
Nukes (3/2/06): http://www.lasg.org/DemNow3-2
Military Spending (2/10/06): http://www.lasg.org/MilitarySp
Expansion of LANL Waste Disposal: Lots of Mostly New-Made Waste
About the LANS partners (1/18/06):
DOE Manager To Hear Advisory Board, Citizen Concerns Regarding Nuclear
Disposal; Secretive Disposal Plans Face Scrutiny, Censure (1/24/06):
Sweeping Plan to Build New Warheads to Be Part of Bush Nuclear Budget;
Los Alamos Is Pivotal Site; Weapons head Linton Brooks’ remarks in
Livermore imply that $4 billion Los Alamos plutonium “pit” program is
now primarily aimed at producing new warheads (2/6/06)
The campaign for & against plutonium manufacturing & new weapons is
heating up (4/7/06)
Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
(signal very weak in the office; messages
on cell phone may not be received promptly)
Today was the (little-announced and not-reminded) first day...
LANS has done little to inform us about the transfer from UC 4??(?) to
the LANS 401(k) -- there has been little info on rollovers, and the
prospectus from Fidelity could have more info.
Still, today was the (little-announced and not-reminded) first day in
which we could set up contributions on the Fidelity web site, and I'll
bet a lot of people are not set up to do so. Since the market is
correcting down, those people who like to invest as the market goes
down might want to start regular contributions as soon as possible, so
I urge everyone to set up their Fidelity web account so they have the
option to do so.
When I went in there I saw that they give you the option of
"after-tax" contributions. I've never seen this, and it did not
impress me much since it has none of the capital gains tax advantages
of the Roth, and even worse: investment income at retirement might be
your ordinary tax bracket instead of the capital gains rate.
I looked around a bit, and found that some guy in his blog did one
example calculation. I don't know how good his calculation is, or if
it applies to us, but maybe it would make for a useful thread on this
blog, as people try to customize it to the LANS 401(k) after-tax
Hearing the "R" word
Anyone have the figure for how many folks accepted/declined employment with LANS? Of those that accepted employment, what the TCP1 and TCP2 splits were? Need to start figuring how that is going to play out. Hearing the "R" word being tossed around.
UC Board of Regents
The recent controversy over whether the UC Board of Regents should ask UC President Robert Dynes to resign is an illusion. The situation has been carefully handled to look as though Dynes and the regents were at odds, but in reality the only ones wronged were the students.
While the regents claim Dynes understands the gravity of overcompensating executive employees with hundreds of millions of dollars, remember that the amount of money paid out in overcompensation in 2004-2005 alone works out to approximately $1,000 per UC student. This situation is yet another example of the disconnect between the regents and the students.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
What a great way to start the day!
House panel cuts CMRR funds
This article from Sunday's Los Alamos Monitor about
plutonium production seems news worthy. In the end, I
believe both Congress and NNSA will decide to use LANL
as the "Super Plutonium Pit Production Center" due to
evolving budgetary constraints. When this occurs, it
will radically change the culture of both LANL and the
House panel cuts CMRR funds - LA Monitor, May 21, 2006
A House of Representatives subcommittee working up a
version of next year's budget for the nuclear weapons
program proposes deep cuts in a key construction
project at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Has UC already planned for the spin off of lab pensions?
Hi Doug, Here’s something that reflects one of my fears for the LANS environment:
By Eleanor Yang
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
May 23, 2006
New questions are being raised about a controversial $248,000 payout UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox received last year for a sabbatical she said she earned at a previous institution.
Details from an audit presented to University of California regents last week show the decision to pay Fox for the sabbatical before she took it – an unprecedented practice for the university – appears to have lacked ultimate approval by the university.
UC administrators said the university's practice is to honor the sabbatical credits earned at previous institutions for certain recruited administrators. That means providing them with the opportunity to take a year's sabbatical to conduct research and be paid the appropriate amount during that time.
For neglecting duties to students, UC president should face harsher penalties from regents
By Jason O'Bryan
DAILY BRUIN COLUMNIST
Over 208,000 students just got screwed over all at once. And they probably didn't even realize it.
At the UC Board of Regents' May 18 meeting, which addressed the recent compensation scandal and the possible culpability of University of California President Robert Dynes, the regents decided to give Dynes their support. In a press release, the regents acknowledged that they hold Dynes accountable, but are convinced that he can correct the problem.
But "accountability" apparently means nothing, because while all sides agree that there have been large monetary transgressions, the man responsible is keeping his post without so much as a pay dock or an ultimatum. The regents are not acting as though they answer to the students and taxpayers of California, making this just the most recent example of how, in the UC system, the students lose.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Re "The value of big-buck professors," Opinion, May 18
Michael H. Schill sidesteps the issue about compensation in the University of California system. The issue is not what a professor or administrator should be paid but whether any compensation package was properly approved.
If the UC administration violates the Board of Regents' policy that it must approve compensation packages, what should be done to those who violate the policy?
If compensation or benefits have been paid without the proper approval from the regents, it should be returned.
As a UC Berkeley and UC Hastings College of Law graduate, the entire controversy looks like total arrogance to me.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
How about posting this article on your blog?
Forget about the Lab's self-serving press release. How about posting this article on your blog?
Saturday, May 20, 2006
LANL Suits Settled for $12M
By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer
The University of California and a group of Hispanic and female Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have agreed to settle a pair of class action discrimination lawsuits at a cost of $12 million.
If the proposed agreement is approved by a federal judge, some 5,500 current and former lab employees will be eligible to receive payouts from the settlement. Parties in the case are still negotiating attorney fees.
UC manages LANL for the U.S. Department of Energy and employs about 9,500 people in Los Alamos. DOE will reimburse UC for the cost of the settlement, according to UC spokesman Chris Harrington.
The suits which allege pay disparities stemming from years of racial and gender discrimination were filed separately by six female LANL employees, the Hispanic Roundtable of New Mexico and a LANL labor union in 2003 and 2004, before being consolidated into a single case.
Attorneys representing employees in the case called the settlement agreement a milestone and said their clients "risked their careers" for equal pay.
"They succeeded in forcing the University of California to acknowledge that it owes compensation to the women and Hispanic employees that have been treated unfairly," attorney John C. Bienvenu said in a written statement released on Friday.
But LANL maintains that it committed no wrongdoing and has policies in place that prohibit pay discrimination.
Any pay disparities "were the result of legitimate business factors unrelated to sex or race," according to a court document that seeks preliminary court approval of the agreement.
"The settlement was done to avoid costly litigation that would have potentially cost millions and millions of dollars and would have taken potentially years to reconcile," lab spokesman James Rickman said by phone Friday.
In 2003, a LANL study known as the Welch Report found significant pay disparities for four out of 30 worker groups that it evaluated, with workers in those groups earning about 1.5 percent to 2.3 percent less than their white male counterparts.
The employees who later sued the lab alleged that the Welch report actually understated the disparity.
Loyda Martinez, a lead plaintiff in the case, said in a written statement that New Mexico is ranked among the highest in the nation for the percentage of women, especially women of color, living in poverty.
"The Los Alamos National Laboratory has been here for 64 years and with these statistics should be ashamed," she said.
Under the terms of the agreement, regular, limited-term and short-term employees who worked at the lab between Dec. 10, 2000, and the date the settlement gets preliminary court approval are eligible to file claims for compensatory damages and back pay.
In addition to the monetary relief, the lab agreed to implement a new hiring policy to help correct pay disparities and will undertake "best efforts" to provide child-care services to lab workers. The lab also committed not to retaliate against employees who participated in the lawsuit.
The agreement comes as UC prepares to hand over management duties on June 1 to a new contractor, Los Alamos National Security, a new limited liability corporation led by Bechtel National and UC.
"This settlement comes at a critical moment for one of the nation's most prominent national laboratories," said Laura Barber, a lead plaintiff in the case. "We are confident that this settlement will send a message to the current and future operator of Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as other government contractors, that women are entitled to equal pay for equal work."
Last year, Barber filed another federal lawsuit that accused lab managers of retaliating against her for filing the discrimination lawsuit.
The retaliation lawsuit will be dismissed, under the proposed settlement, said Barber's attorney, Patrick D. Allen.
Yolanda Garcia, Loyda Martinez, Gloria Bennett and Yvonne Ebelacker are the other lead plaintiffs in the discrimination suit.
If approved, their settlement won't be a first for UC-run national laboratories. In 2003, UC agreed to a $10 million settlement to more than 3,000 female employees at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. That settlement also included $8.2 million in attorney fees.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Settlement reached in class actions
X-Sieve: CMU Sieve 2.2
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 14:58:12 -0600
From: Public Affairs Office - LANL Notices <email@example.com>
Subject: LANL-ALL1085: Settlement reached in class actions
.govPlease note the following:
Settlement reached in class actionsThe Regents of the University of California and a group of female and Hispanic employees have agreed to settle two class action lawsuits alleging employment discrimination at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Under the terms of the settlement, which has been submitted to the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico for preliminary approval, the Regents have agreed to pay $12 million to current and former female and Hispanic employees at the Laboratory. The Regents also agreed to certain non-monetary relief.
The lawsuits were brought by a group of Laboratory employees and two organizations, on behalf of female and Hispanic employees of the Laboratory, alleging discrimination in pay, promotions and educational practices.
According to the settlement agreement, the Laboratory expressly disputes any allegation of discrimination or wrongdoing and does not admit any liability.The parties to the settlement have expressed satisfaction with the resolution and have asked the court to approve the settlement, and to permit notice of the settlement to be sent to the Laboratory's current and former employees who are entitled to claim compensation under the terms of the settlement.
Public Affairs Office
Los Alamos National Laboratory
P.O. Box 1663, Mail Stop C177
THIS IS A NOTIFICATION SYSTEM ONLY. PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS MESSAGE. THANK YOU!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Fidelity Mutual Fund choices for the LANS 401(k)
Please post Anonymously:
I just picked up Morningstar reports on all the
Fidelity Mutual Fund choices for the LANS 401(k) from
the Los Alamos Smith Barney office. They are free
while they last. They're on the 4th floor of the LANB
Also includes stock intersection reports - very
The Associated Press
University of California President Robert C. Dynes, under fire over millions of dollars in bonuses and other perks secretly paid to top executives, got the support of his board Thursday.
"He is the appropriate leader to resolve these issues and guide the university through this difficult chapter in its history," UC Board of Regents Chairman Gerald Parsky said.
Smiles and applause greeted the statement, read as the board held its regular meeting in San Francisco. Still, the regents had some stern words for their president, saying they "hold him accountable for the university's compensation problems and he has acknowledged his responsibility."
"I don't think it's letting President Dynes off easy at all," Parsky said outside the meeting.
By MICHELLE LOCKE, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, May 18, 2006
(05-18) 10:22 PDT San Francisco (AP) --
University of California President Robert C. Dynes faced tough questions on his role in approving millions of dollars in perks quietly doled out to top executives.
Regents met behind closed doors to discuss the compensation issues with Dynes on Wednesday afternoon, and was expected to make a statement about Dynes' future Thursday. UC Board of Regents Chairman Gerald Parsky characterized the embattled president's responses as "very forthcoming and sincere."
Latest audit shows scores more were made in secret
Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack, Chronicle Staff Writers
Thursday, May 18, 2006
UC regents and state lawmakers harshly criticized the University of California's pay practices Wednesday as an internal audit revealed scores of violations of university policy and UC President Robert Dynes admitted to a culture in his office of "trying to get away with as much as possible and disclose as little as possible."
University auditors told the UC Board of Regents they had found that 143 exceptions to the university's compensation policies had been made to give extra pay or benefits to 113 senior managers. That's on top of the 91 exceptions identified last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors for a different group of UC executives.
The 54-page audit, presented at the regents' meeting at UC San Francisco, looked at compensation packages promised to 299 managers during the three years ending on Dec. 31, 2005.
The audit found that the university had skirted its own rules by granting extra vacation time, asking regents to approve large raises without informing them that the raises were beyond policy limits and giving large relocation incentive allowances to executives moving within California.
Three state senators told the regents in blunt terms that Dynes had broken the public's trust.
"President Dynes, it is not easy for me to look you right into the whites of your eyes and say it, but I am saying it to you today: You have had sufficient opportunity to implement accounting reforms and to get rid of compensation abuses in the university. Instead, it seems the problems have flourished under your watch," said Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who sits on the state Senate education committee that has held hearings on the compensation controversy. "President Dynes, I look to you to exhibit leadership. I ask you to resign."
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack, Chronicle Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
When UC Berkeley Associate Athletic Director Mark Stephens was passed over for a promotion at Cal last year, the university promised to keep him on the payroll, giving him $183,000 over three years while letting him take a full-time job somewhere else.
Two years ago, UC Davis agreed to give a medical professor, Dr. Casey Daggett, $150,000 in exchange for his resignation and a promise to drop all his legal claims against the university.
In 2002, the UC Berkeley athletic department forced administrator Kevin Reneau to step down but agreed to keep him on the payroll for 2 1/2 years at $86,000 per year so he could reach retirement age and his family could qualify for health care benefits.
During the past five years, UC has negotiated at least 700 separation agreements worth about $23 million, UC spokesman Paul Schwartz said Tuesday in response to a public records request by The Chronicle. The totals were actually higher, he said, because the figures omitted other agreements with employees at UC's three national laboratories or those that involved existing litigation.
Benefit for Katie Weinland
Wednesday, May 17
Near Starbucks, Central Avenue Grill, CB Fox, the Flower Shop, and Ruby K’s
The Hillstomper Marching Band will hold its first Katie Concert downtown at noon. Katie Weinland, a LAHS student with a passion for singing and a wish to be on the set of American Idol, is battling a rare life-threatening medical condition. Katie needs to travel to Seattle to meet with specialists at the University of Washington. Come join us as the Hillstompers play some lunchtime tunes, and help our Community help Katie and her parents get to Seattle.
How to help:
An account at LANB is set up for contributions: 56814720
Well take donations at the benefit - make out checks to K. Weinland.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
New HR Division Leader - Gone Already!
A note of thanks from an LLNL employee
I wish to express my deepest gratitude for your courage and commitment in
creating and maintaining the LANL blog. Knowing that it was only a matter
of time before the issues became deeply personal to LLNL employees, I and
others here have followed the information posted carefully. Thanks to the
exploration of both sides of the issues and information from an amazing
variety of sources, I have been able to consider the change coming all too
soon to LLNL before actually being confronted with the need to make choices
that will significantly alter my future from the one I thought I would have.
Thanks, too, to all those who have contributed material and taken risks to
expose the down sides of the various proposals. Your questions and
concerns have helped me think more clearly, consider the facts, mourn for
your turmoil soon to be ours, and sometimes laugh and marvel at the
continuing ingenuity of Laboratory folk. You have made our way easier and
we are grateful.
Please post this anonymously.
Best wishes for your new life,
Monday, May 15, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - About 95 percent of Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have responded to job offers from a new management team, dispelling earlier fears that moving from one manager to another would cause a brain drain at the nuclear weapons lab.
Jeff Berger, a spokesman for the lab's incoming manager, Los Alamos National Security LLC, declined to disclose how many responses received by Saturday had accepted jobs with the new manager.
But Berger said he thinks a "vast majority" of the respondents are likely to continue their work at the lab.
This may be of interest to LANL Blog readers
This just came out.
Please Post these two documents.
This supports our ability to create change through the Political Process
which is one thing you have constantly supported.
UPTE has been instrumental in keeping this issue and others on the
Political Radar Screen. We as an employee organization have built
credibility with our Political Leaders here in NM and CA.and will continue to ask for
there intervention when advocating for doing what is "RIGHT" for LANL
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Shutdown schedule for this blog
I suggest that anybody who is interested in providing a continuance forum for LANL discussions should send me a description of their proposed site. Email a short essay to firstname.lastname@example.org that states "why my site should be considered as a follow-on to LANL, The Real Story". Brad and I will select which (if any) sites will have a redirect link placed on LTRS after July 1. If there are no takers, then we may all conclude that either there is no further need for open discussion abut LANL under LANS, or that nobody is willing to host such a forum.
In the mean time, the Los Alamos Historical Society has requested that I provide them with an archive copy of the entire LTRS blog which they would preserve in their archives. Many thanks to Laurence (Larry) Campbell of the Los Alamos Historical Society for that offer; I plan to provide them with an archive copy of this blog some time after July 1.
Shutting down the blog
What's this about shutting down the blog July 1st?
If I may quote from your mission statement:
"The purpose of this blog is to provide an uncensored forum where those concerned about the future of LANL may express their views. The focus is now on damage control: identifying problems at LANL and providing solutions to those problems. A running list of activities that have been identified as counter-productive or wasteful is being maintained by contributors to this blog. "
So, what about "LANS: The Real Story"?
Clarifications with extreme prejudice
When I got the email from LANS stating that the retirement plans "will not change before May 15", I laughed out loud. The recent "clarifications" posted the first week of May (in the Q&A as well as the 401k options) changed my mind over the TCP1/2 issue. For example, if the Q&As concerning access to the TCP1 medical plan shows no "changes", what do we call them?
How about "clarifications with extreme prejudice"?
By Rebecca Trounson, Times Staff Writer
May 14, 2006
Two prominent lawmakers want him to resign over an executive pay scandal that has shaken the state's top public university system. A third legislator demands his firing. And he has been criticized in newspaper editorials up and down the state.
But just days before a make-or-break appearance before his governing board, University of California President Robert C. Dynes said he had no plans to step down.
"In my guts, sure, to some extent it would be easier to go back to my laboratory," Dynes, an experimental physicist, said in a telephone interview. "But I'm not going to. It would be less stressful, frankly, but this university is worth the effort."
For months, UC and its president have struggled to emerge from the controversy over executive salaries and benefits that erupted after media reports in the fall that the university had spent millions on questionable or undisclosed compensation, even as it raised student fees. Two recent audits have found that UC leaders systematically violated or circumvented policies in order to give extra money or perks to top administrators and faculty. A third, covering an even broader group of managers, is expected to be released this week.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Check this out:
Read the last sentence of the first paragraph:
"No action on creating a separate plan or on the final transfer of
liabilities and assets associated with any LANL UCRP members is being
proposed at this time, as discussions with the Department of Energy (DOE) on
these topics are ongoing."
Federal weapons officials are suggesting that new management of Lawrence Livermore nuclear-weapons lab should look a lot like new management at its sister lab, Los Alamos in New Mexico.
No more pure academic atmosphere, no more membership in one of the nation's largest, best-funded pension plans.
Offer and decision
May 5, 2006
Offer and decision
I see that among my coworkers I am not the only one having problems deciding which way to go on my offer package. We keep getting incomplete or contradictory information so we can't do more than guess and trust to luck.
Things that have bothered me are funding for TCP1. TCP1 looks good if I want to stay a few more years until I am 60, as it will return a higher retirement benefit. But if I have to make contributions of say 15 percent of my salary to get this benefit then I would be better off staying with the University of California.
If UC does decide to split the Laboratory retirement off from other UC retirement leaving us in a pool of undetermined size and undetermined funding I would probably be better off taking a lump sum.
I'm leaning towards going inactive vested. The biggest problem I see is that I was told that since my wife and I are both employees with more than 20 years of service, that my taking a lump sum cash out would be viewed as a life changing event and as such allow my wife to pick up the health coverage and other benefits - now the cost is deducted from my check - at the time I cash out. Someone else we know in a similar situation was told this was not the case and if you weren't the one making the payments for the health benefits then you would have to wait until open enrollment, and then, because you were just acquiring the benefits for the first time you would be on the access only level and have to pay the whole thing.
This misinformation and lack of information makes it really impossible to do anything but wait until the last minute on the chance that you get some more information or something else changes that will affect your decision.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
A former Los Alamos National Laboratory employee says she was forced to resign from the lab in January because she refused to keep quiet about a work accident that damaged her lungs.
Jaime Tournear, a Ph.D. chemist who worked at LANL from March 15, 2004, until Jan. 17, has filed a lawsuit against the lab alleging retaliation. The suit contends that she was hospitalized and sustained permanent damage after being exposed to dangerous fumes from an acid mixture.
LANL spokesman Kevin Roark declined to respond to the allegations, saying the lab has a longstanding policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
But the lab has filed a response in federal court in which it denies engaging in retaliation and maintains that Tournear was asked to resign or be fired for misconduct.
Already disappointed with the lack of choices
As Eileen Patterson (Our Choices, 5/3/06) so non-succinctly points out, just about every "clarification" by Los Alamos National Security, LLC raises more issues than it addresses. For example, among the limited mutual funds listed in the 401(K) Investment Option Lineup (http://lansllc.com/401(k)
In for a rough ride
In reaction to recent news queries regarding the "at will" issue, LANS has
staked out a standard response that it's simply planning to adopt existing
policies. The implication in this response is that the "at will" issue is
really a non issue. But while the good news may be LANS's willingness to
adopt existing LANL policies, the bad news is that Rich Marquez (the LANS
President's new Chief of Staff) has been tasked (by LANS of course) to
quietly modify those policies prior to the official transition date of June
1, 2006 so that the "at will" doctrine LANS wants to implement immediately
after the transition, can be done with as little controversy as possible.
But the current contactor is still UC (at least until May 31, 2006), and so
this LANS directive constitutes a blatant violation of the Higher Education
Employee Rights Act (HEERA) as it applies to LANL. This act mandates that
employee input must be obtained prior to changes being initiated to existing
policies, and particularly so when existing worker protections might be
impacted. Mr. Marquez therfore, in his current role as a UC official, has
been directed by his new employer--LANS, to knowingly violate HEERA in order
to quietly undermine existing rights and protections for LANL employees, so
that after May 31st LANS can honestly claim to have simply adopted "existing
policy" that effectively rendered all LANL workers "at will" prior to the
transition. If this behind-the-scenes maneuvering is any indication of
things yet to come, all of LANL's stakeholder community (not just workers)
are in for a rough ride.
By Betsy Mason
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
The contract to run Lawrence Livermore Laboratory officially went up for bid today when the Department of Energy issued its draft request for management proposals.
The contract is currently held by the University of California, which has run the lab without competition since its inception in 1952. The contract was extended for two years and will expire Sept. 30, 2007.
UC announced in March that it will partner with Bechtel National Inc. for a joint bid for the lab if UC regents vote to enter the competition. In December, the pair won a new seven-year contract for management of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, beating out a bid from Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas.
"Should the board decide to compete, I believe we will be in excellent position to submit a strong and winning proposal," Robert Foley, UC vice president for laboratory management, said in a statement today.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Bechtel is now aware of the issue
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath
On July 6, 2004, two CREM items appeared to be missing in DX-3. A wall-to wall inventory of all DX-3 CREM had revealed a discrepancy in the amount stored in a safe. The discrepancy was reported to the DX Organizational Computer Security Representative (OCSR), DX-3 and Division Office management, as well as to the Security Division, in strict accordance with Laboratory requirements. When the discrepancy could not be reconciled within 24 hours, NNSA was also notified. A local Security Investigation Team (SIT) was convened, and over the course of the next few weeks, a chaotic series of thorough and intense physical searches was conducted, both inside and outside the building where the safe resided. At about the same time, the SIT sequestered the nearly dozen people who were authorized access to the safe, and interrogated these individuals repeatedly and at great length.
Though not very likely, the possibility that the missing items could have been mistakenly put in a different repository was explored, along with thorough searches of the building where the CREM was stored and the surrounding area. Finally, a few of us who were on administrative leave, because we were authorized access to the safe in question, began to look at the CREM tracking system, past inventories, and all classified portable computers that had been used with the CREM over the past year. A pattern began to emerge that suggested there were fewer actual CREM items than the inventory listed. We analyzed all the records from the electronic tracking system all the way back to a classified international conference we participated in during the fall of 2003, where the CREM was initially generated. During this conference the CREM custodian had mistakenly entered a set of bar-code numbers into an electronic accountability system, even though the amount that had actually been assigned to specific media was less. A series of previous audits that failed to reconcile this mistake were the root cause of the difficulty in reaching our conclusion.*
When this plausible explanation was advanced by our OCSR to the SIT, it was not only rejected categorically, but also, in very short order the pertinent records were confiscated, and the OSCR was forbidden to speak to anyone about this line of thought. After nearly two long weeks of tense meetings devoted to the CREM issue, this threatening confrontation was the final insult that provoked The OCSR’s decision to resign from the Lab. Alarmingly enough, this development strongly suggested that the SIT had already reached a conclusion about faultfinding and was unwilling to consider the strong probability that the allegedly missing CREM never existed. However, this information leaked out and may have influenced the Lab to hurriedly assemble an independent team to test the hypothesis. Meanwhile, the Director had already forced a work suspension across the board, because a laser safety incident, with injury, complicated the Lab’s operational picture. Moreover, the FBI had begun to investigate the missing CREM. But before long, the Lab’s story began to change, and in an August 11 news article, Senator Domenici revealed the possibility that the CREM issue might actually be a case of a “false positive,” or that of a system indicating that something was missing, when it actually wasn’t.
In August, though the account custodian attributed the CREM issue to error and was later terminated from LANL, a series of Case Review Boards were convened to make recommendations for punitive action against others with authority to access the CREM repository. In my case, curiously enough, the Board recommended 3 week’s suspension without pay, essentially for taking excessive training and being on vacation when the CREM issue developed. Nevertheless, the Acting DX Division Leader proceeded with my firing on September 23, 2004. The Board’s review was little more than subterfuge, for the Director had carried out a threat made against me in early July for not rushing home from vacation as the CREM crisis began.
* Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and another independent panel have supported this conclusion.
The TA-15 CREM Incident and Aftermath
In a late December 2004 brown bag lunch held by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Director Nanos at DX-3, the Director spent more than an hour regaling attendees with stories of his military career. Posing with his black cowboy hat, he explained that he had proudly shot the cowboys who were responsible for the safety and security problems that prompted the July shutdown of the Lab. He said that he would make certain “those SOBs” would never work at Los Alamos as long as he was Director. He continued by bragging that his “government-funded attorneys were cheaper than the cowboys’ private attorneys” and he could “outlast them indefinitely”.
Until now, John Horne and I have been silent regarding the “cowboy/butthead/C-student” accusations voiced by the Director in his first all-hands meeting in July 2004. However, after the DX-3 classified removable electronic media (CREM) incident, lengthy investigations, Case Review Board recommendations, disciplinary actions at odds with those recommendations, and an official investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it is our hope that a narration of events leading up to and following the CREM “incident” is now timely. The Director has failed to maintain his composure and his objectivity during the entire course of the CREM investigation, unduly influencing the latter through actions and rhetoric that reflect poorly on him, the University of California, the Laboratory, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Nation. His conduct, in a word, has been unbecoming and deserves condemnation. His consuming interest was in finding scapegoats, and his quest was thus far successful. Pity that he was indifferent to the truth.
We now know the official results of the FBI investigation have become public and their conclusion matched our own, that no CREM were missing at any time. These findings suggest we have every reason to expect exoneration, yet we continue to be vilified by the Director at every turn, and perhaps have only faint hope that promising careers can be rescued from the scorn and suspicion of unenlightened managers, who must demonstrate fealty first and integrity second.
Procedures to account for CREM derive from corrective actions taken following the well-known Wen Ho Lee security incident of 1999, and are called Requirements for Accountable CREM. These requirements describe a lengthy assortment of nonvolatile digital storage media (removable hard disk drives, laptops with removable hard drives, floppy diskettes, CDs, DVDs, Zip and Jaz disks, etc.) that can qualify as CREM, and dictate how these items must be catalogued, protected, and tracked. Traditionally, technical presentations containing text and image view-graphs are created with computer software, stored on electronic media such as a hard drive or disk, and displayed through the use of a computer-linked projector, eliminating the need for transparencies. If the display material is classified, then the computers and media used must be authorized for such use and are accountable as CREM.
At the time of the latest CREM incident in July 2004, so long as the general stipulations in Notice #0136 were met, line organizations at Los Alamos were free to develop and implement their own procedures for handling and tracking CREM. While barcoded serial numbers were required for marking CREM, a shortage of barcode scanning equipment forced many organizations (including DX) to visually read the numbers of each barcode and enter those numbers into accountability, increasing the likelihood of entry errors. Software needed for tracking CREM items could also be developed locally, and so the only common feature of LANL’s CREM process was the haphazard approach taken by the line organizations in attempting to satisfy the general requirements. The CREM custodian, charged with oversight of the CREM process in each organization, generally took on this job assignment with the understanding that it was only a part-time job and an added duty that wouldn’t interfere with the person’s primary job function. The approach to training can be similarly casual and treated as a chore that could be postponed until the training time was convenient for the assignee. This assignee generally was not proficient in computer skills, but was persuaded that the simple barcode accounting task was easy to master and was not a burdensome or particularly risky task. Verification of the CREM inventory was not required and seldom occurred when custodians changed, increasing the likelihood of proliferating errors without prompt detection. Those personnel likely to generate CREM were sometimes given blocks of barcode numbers to apply to generated CREM over some period of time, and the numbers were only to be entered into the accountability system when the CREM custodian was notified that one or more of the barcodes were actually affixed to created CREM. Since the CREM incident, requirements for creating and accounting for CREM, as well as training requirements for custodians, have become more rigorous. In fact a recent job ad for a CREM custodian required “flawless performance” as one of the job criteria, prompting several letters to the editor of the Los Alamos Monitor and causing much astonishment among Lab staffers. 
During the fall of 2003 I served as chair for a classified international conference at the Metropolis Super Computing Center. To support classified presentations at this conference, John Horne received from his CREM custodian eight barcodes to use as necessary to mark any CREM that might be generated. Unbeknownst to us when the eight barcodes were issued to John, the issuing CREM custodian, who had held the job for only one month, immediately entered all eight barcodes into the accountability system. In the course of preparing presentations for the conference, John actually applied only six barcodes to CREM, which were delivered to the custodian by placing the properly marked CREM into a safe along with a conveyed message to enter the disks into accountability. At that point John’s obligation under existing CREM procedures was fulfilled, there being no requirement for him to oversee or witness the custodian’s subsequent activity. Thus, because of an accounting error at the conclusion of the conference, eight disks were in the CREM accountability system, while only six were actually generated (thus the “missing” two disks). Nearly nine months would elapse before we would stumble onto this accounting error.
DX-3 CREM Inventory Crisis
On July 6, barely a month after an institution-wide CREM inventory had revealed an accounting error in the DX-7 inventory (totally unrelated to this current crisis), the DX-3 inventory of CREM items assigned to John indicated that two items could not immediately be accounted for. A frantic search for the allegedly missing items ensued, but when they couldn’t be found in the first 24 hours, notification beyond the Division was required.
At the time of the DX-3 CREM incident, I was enjoying a long-delayed family vacation in Washington, D.C., where I answered a page from my Deputy Group Leader on July 6 (my 20th Wedding anniversary). Upon phoning in, I learned for the first time about the inventory discrepancy. I was asked to return to Los Alamos immediately to discuss details that could not be revealed over the phone. Reluctant to terminate my vacation at that point (for the CREM items in question were not mine), I suggested instead that because I had my badge with me, I could travel to the Forrestal Building (DOE HQ) and arrange to discuss the manager’s concerns over a classified (STU) phone. The manager agreed to this offer, and in brief conversations over the course of the next two days, we discussed the problem, and the manager’s concerns were alleviated; he agreed that there was no reason to rush back, and gave me permission to continue my vacation. After all, the CREM items were not in my name, and it looked like I could not be of much help even if I were at the Lab. I would later learn that this delay in my return, even though approved by my manager, had enraged the Director, who demanded that I be fired. It would take a few months for him to make good on his threat, but he clearly made up his mind that day, and all his actions since then point to that very plan.
Near the end of my vacation, my deputy group leader paged me again. When I phoned him this time, he told me that I was really needed back at Los Alamos and must return right away. I thanked him for giving me the few extra days and agreed to fly back the very next morning. I left my family to fend for themselves and returned to the Lab. Upon arrival at DX-3, my badge was confiscated and I was summoned to what would be the first of numerous meetings with the LANL Security Investigation Team (SIT) that had been convened for the case.
Once the CREM inventory revealed that two items could not be accounted for, the searches unfolded in a series of increasingly anxious efforts in ever widening circles and in all directions—up, down, and all around, canyons and ceiling tiles included. News of the suspicious incident had spread swiftly to UC, NNSA, DOE, Congress, and the media. By the time the SIT appeared on the scene (July 8th), the focus was on the roughly dozen people authorized to access the safe where the allegedly missing CREM should have been stored. Badges of the dozen people were confiscated, and everyone was treated with dark suspicion, though none more than John and myself, even though my role seemed to be little more than incidental. The presumption now was that misconduct (if not outright espionage) might well be in play, and the trail was growing colder with the passing of time.
As pressure increased, the SIT investigation stalled, with no discernible progress being made in the face of a daily requirement for a SIT status report to the Director. Our situation was complicated by the mid-July appearance of Federal investigators, who immediately targeted us for scrutiny. Frustrated by the lack of progress, though, the Director lashed out at DX managers, and in one meeting the DX Division management blamed the current crisis on the DX-3 “cowboys” who simply wouldn’t follow the rules. By declaring helplessness in the face of these few uncontrollable workers, management had attempted to deflect criticism from themselves directly to John and myself. The “cowboy” term resonated with the Director, who then used it on the frequent occasions in July and August when the CREM issue was a subject for discussion. The Director also seized on his discovery of a bumper sticker (“LANL: Striving for a Workfree Safety Zone”) as yet more evidence of a deplorable cultural mindset at the Lab. He may have seen the sticker somewhere other than DX, but the way he used it in his first All-Hands Meeting did not make that point clear. Rather than to be stimulated into probing to find out what procedural frustration might provoke someone into displaying that damning slogan, he chose an illogical extrapolation that gave him license to declare it was indicative of a general contempt for rules by LANL workers. In mid-July a laser safety incident with injury occurred and was used along with the CREM incident to justify forcing a suspension of work at the Lab by the Director. The “cowboy” label continued to be used, but now its derogatory meaning had expanded to apply to anyone who demonstrated even a hint of skepticism about the decision to suspend all work at LANL. Indeed, line managers were directed to identify “cowboys” in their organization so that these personnel could be isolated and eventually removed from LANL’s ranks. The Director was widely quoted in the press, with two notable newspaper articles appearing in the July 13 and July 20. By this time, personnel in DX were being blamed for putting the UC contract at risk, contributing to a cultural attitude that needed to be stamped out, and displaying academic arrogance that dated all the way back to the Manhattan Project.
In this atmosphere and with this kind of treatment to contend with, we had enormous difficulty concentrating on the CREM problem that was our daily and nightly cross to bear. Because the issue seemed to track all the way back to the fall 2003 conference, it was hard enough to try to piece together events that long in the past. Meanwhile, the CREM investigation was going nowhere, and so a few of us who had come under accusation, along with other colleagues, decided to go back over the records from the CREM media tracker and the computers with extreme care, to see if we could find any clues about the allegedly missing two items. Many days were spent at this task, but finally a pattern began to develop with the periodic activity and inventory records that showed the two missing items being inventoried, but then being removed from the database three times. I found this unusual activity strongly suggestive of a case where two items might have been mistakenly entered into accountability and then eliminated when a subsequent inventory failed to uncover them. As this sequence repeated with each of the inventories (supposedly verified three times since the international conference), it made no sense. Interrogating the registry on the computer confirmed the only media, which had touched the computer, had been barcoded and accounted for and that the unused barcodes never existed. This suspicion was shared with the DX Division OCSR (Organization Computer Security Representative), who then in turn revealed it to the SIT. The OCSR’s information was not only rejected, but she was also then warned not to reveal this discovery to anyone else. Nevertheless, the information was apparently credible enough that the SIT came in after hours and confiscated the OCSR’s records. Alarmed by the combination of the threat and records confiscation, which was just too much for her after nearly two weeks of pointless searches and tense meetings on the CREM issue, she abruptly resigned from the Lab after more than twenty years of dedicated service.
It was this cover-up that persuaded John to hire counsel for his own protection, as the SIT’s astonishing and probably illegal action strongly suggested that John could easily be blamed for the loss of nonexistent CREM. He was convinced that he had retained the two barcode numbers and simply kept them, later shredding them with other items he no longer needed to keep during a midyear cleanout, but he couldn’t prove this claim. Now it looked like the most likely explanation was not only going to be rejected, but also any reference to it was going to be suppressed. The SIT had made it known that the most important goal of the investigation was to protect the credibility of both the Laboratory and the Director, and here was appalling evidence that the SIT would even conceal exculpatory information to achieve its aims. Nor could he necessarily rely on his own management, for the DX-3 Deputy Group Leader had recently declared at a Group Meeting  that “HR and S Divisions exist solely to protect the Director.” Despite the attempt to suppress the information we had given the OCSR and SIT, it leaked out anyway, and the Lab was then apparently forced to assemble an impartial team consisting of DX employees to test this theory. Only then did the Director suddenly change his official story and admit the possibility that the missing CREM might never have existed at all. This change would eventually lead to Senator Domenici’s comment on August 11 about the possibility of “a false positive” in the CREM case. Though my concern had grown sharply, I still felt that we had successfully shown—with the actual records—what probably happened; besides, I was still only peripherally involved.
The Director’s position continued to harden. A July 15 safety incident with injury tipped the scales, and he declared a work shutdown shortly after that date, again blaming “cowboys” who wouldn’t follow safety or security procedures as undermining his confidence in the entire institution. In one GLIM (Group Leader’s Information Meeting) he exclaimed, “ If innocent people get caught up in this, tough, I can’t worry about the buddy system here.” He went on to say that he was going to take them out, and if he had to restart the Lab with only 10 employees, then that’s what he was going to do. Anyone who disagreed with him was threatened with dismissal. FBI investigators had been called in to reinforce the investigation into the missing CREM. Now, however, the leakage of the plausible explanation of the two CREM items clearly forced the Director’s hand, leading to his previously mentioned admission that the CREM items might not have gone missing. Further speculation by the Lab on the CREM issue ceased, and we can only sadly conclude that this shift in emphasis was influenced by the need for the Director to justify his earlier rush to judgment in his hysterical claims about worker misconduct. Firings of scapegoats were then essential, or a loss of public trust would be the inevitable result. For the CREM issue, the ones chosen for firing were those who were not yet represented by counsel (including myself, having also been targeted back in July for not returning from vacation on my 20th wedding anniversary!) Again, the sole motivation appeared to be the protection of the Director and Laboratory management.
Case Review Boards
In August, though the Laboratory was silent about progress in the CREM case, and while we were still on investigatory leave, Case Review Boards were assembled to consider charges against us, although at the time the specific accusations were unknown. I was grilled by two specialists from Human Resources for hours on Aug.22. The central points had nothing to do with CREM, but instead concerned my interactions with colleagues, weekend and afterhours time spent at work, and my training records. On September 16th, to my complete astonishment, I received an adverse action letter that invited me to supply written arguments to show why I should not be fired for cause (supposedly the Board’s conclusion). The principal charges against me were clearly trumped up and included ridiculous allegations of misconduct, such as taking too much training. I defended myself with pertinent facts at some length, but was then terminated on September 23 by the Acting DX Division Leader, who said my arguments were not convincing. Weeks later, when I learned that I could use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request a copy of the Case Review Board findings, and finally received a redacted version of the same, I learned to my utter bewilderment that the Board’s actual recommendation was three weeks suspension without pay, contradicting the claim by the Acting DX Division Leader that the board had recommended termination. In the summary, much was also made of my delay in returning from vacation, though not included was the fact that I had permission from the DX- 3 Deputy Group Leader to remain in Washington longer. The Administrative Mandate (AM) 112 requires the examination of one’s career and a bottom up investigatory approach. These requirements were not observed, and of the 22 people questioned about me, astonishingly (in violation of AM 112.09), my own Group Leader was excluded from such discussion because of an unclear time constraint. I suspect the information she would have given would have contradicted a significant portion of the review board report and was intentionally omitted.
In a brownbag luncheon meeting held at DX-3 since my termination, the Director said that he fired me because I had been bullying people since my days at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). Because I don’t bully people and I’ve never worked at NTS, it is obvious that this information was manufactured to justify my termination. Clearly the Director believes that the power of his position affords him the freedom from accountability for his shameless mischaracterizations, untruths, and exaggerations. In my case, he has demonstrated that the end justifies the means, however sordid, and he apparently has the full support of UC and NNSA for this behavior. One further point deserves mention. When I filed for unemployment compensation in late October to help me at least feed my family while looking for employment, the Lab protested in writing that I had violated policy and deserved no consideration. I successfully refuted this claim at a formal hearing on December 17, as the official record shows. This time I was not surprised by the Lab’s actions, for I had become accustomed to its propensity for defamatory and slanderous actions.
Meanwhile, John was unaware that a Board had also been assembled to consider his case, until he also received an adverse action letter on November 23 soliciting his arguments to show why the Board’s recommendation of two weeks’ suspension without pay should not be followed for his failure to see to it that CREM under his name was not properly entered into accountability. This letter from the Acting DX Division Leader, refreshingly enough, admitted that the two CREM items were not missing after all. We are disappointed that the Director did not officially share this conclusion with the public, although he allowed a manager to put the statement in writing. John had already passed a lie detector test on November 10 before he had been reinstated, and his detailed response to the letter was confidently written with the expectation that the Board’s recommendation would have to be rescinded. Instead, he was told on December 16 that the suspension would be carried out, and that the period chosen was from December 6-17. Having no other recourse at the time, he agreed, adding that he certainly could not bear the thought of missing a Nanos brownbag lunch scheduled for December 21. Curiously, later that same day, he was told that suspensions couldn’t be postdated, and his actual time off would have to be taken from December 20 to December 31. It seems likely that management did not want any employees with detailed knowledge of the events at that meeting. A subsequent meeting held the next week required questions to be prepared beforehand and in writing. When John obtained his redacted copy of the Case Review Board’s conclusion, the redaction was so extensive that he could read little more than the date of the summary document. He is seeking a more sparingly redacted version, although he is saving the original copy in case journalistic interest in his predicament might be expressed later—perhaps before there is a decision on the UC contract competition.
In looking back, John and I must wonder whether our joint 42 years of spotless service at Los Alamos merely represents wasted sacrifice. Why do our personnel files not count in our defense instead of suddenly becoming weightless on the scales of justice? What was the point of sacrificing countless nights and weekends in the creation of the elaborate hydrotest procedural checklists, detailed schedules, and redundant signature protocols that were once so highly prized by the Director, UC, and NNSA? Why are our unique developments there still singled out as the gold standard for complex, multi-diagnostic, hydrodynamics experiments at DARHT, PHERMEX and other firing sites, exemplifying our dedication to safety and security, but now only in our absence? What is the gold standard for management conduct at Los Alamos, or is bronze even too much to expect? When the human cost is so severe, why is justice so elusive? If we had not been able to figure out the significance of the swing of numbers in the CREM tracking records, the terrible conclusion we would be battling right now is the assumption of two missing and highly classified disks, and I suspect that many other workers would have been wrongfully terminated.
(Communicated to Doug Roberts on March 2, 2005)
This tip might be useful
it anonymously to the blog?
After finding out that people in my building did not know what CAP and
DCP are, I tried calling Fidelity's # (866) 682-7787. The lady there
knew a lot about UCRP and LANS LLC and the transition, and she gave
intelligent answers to all my questions, including my conceptual
I recommend calling them instead of (or in addition to) our own
New Plan to Screw New DOE Workers
By Stephen Barr
Tuesday, May 9, 2006; D04
A new policy at the Energy Department will shift contract employees to "market-based" retirement and health-care plans in an effort to reduce costs, officials said.
The policy change will not affect the pensions and medical benefits for about 200,000 current contract employees and contract retirees and dependents. It will apply to future Energy Department contract workers, changing reimbursement rules for their medical coverage no later than July 26 and for their retirement benefits by March 1.
Under the new policy, the department will reimburse contractors for only the costs of defined-contribution retirement plans, similar to 401(k)s. Future retirement and health-care plans provided by contractors cannot exceed industry benchmarks for value and cost by more than 5 percent, according to the policy.
Pension experts are calling for a repeal of the new policy, which they say will undermine the ability of Energy Department contractors to provide guaranteed pensions to their workers. The agency's decision also goes against long-standing efforts to hold the government up as a model employer that supports pension plans, they said.
"This is just bad policy," said Donald J. Segal , vice president of the Pension Practice Council at the American Academy of Actuaries.
Segal told the department in a letter that the new policy essentially denies an Energy Department contractor the ability to choose the type of retirement plan it wants to provide prospective employees and does not responsibly address the department's concerns about costs and cost volatility.
Sylvester J. Schieber , director of U.S. benefits consulting at Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc., said the department's decision raises "a fundamental equity issue" -- contract employees being left with only 401(k)-type plans and civil service employees retaining a guaranteed pension and a voluntary savings plan with matching contributions from the department.
"To say we will reimburse one legitimate expense but not another . . . is saying to employers that you shouldn't be providing that form of a benefit," he said.
Traditionally, pension policy is made by the Treasury and Labor departments, Schieber said. "If the federal government wants to do this, we ought to have a deliberate policy discussion around it," he added.
Eight Senate Democrats, including party leader Harry Reid (Nev.), Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) and Barbara A. Mikulski (Md.), have sent a letter to President Bush asking him to roll back the Energy Department's new policy. The senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, George Miller (Calif.), also has criticized the policy.
Energy Department officials said they are not creating a two-tier system and are not interfering with contractors' rights to select retirement and health-care coverage for their next generation of employees. Officials hope to improve the predictability of contract costs for benefits and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are properly managed.
The department pays 100 percent of pension and health-care costs for its contract employees, through reimbursements to more than 30 contractors that manage and operate research labs and Cold War-era nuclear weapons sites.
As of fiscal 2005, the department had incurred $11.6 billion in unfunded liabilities for pensions and medical benefits, officials said.
Energy Department officials said they could not speculate about the impact of the policy change, in part because contractors offer a variety of benefit plans. They defended the new policy as fair, since it protects current contract workers and retirees, and in keeping with private-sector trends, which require employees to shoulder more risk through retirement accounts that hinge on how well Wall Street performs.
They suggested that new contractor hires who are young might be more interested in a portable retirement account, such as a 401(k), rather than a traditional pension, which can require vesting and many years of continuous employment to earn a decent benefit.
Energy Department officials said the policy change had been in the works for about a year. The policy change was not cleared at the White House budget office, an administration official said.
Stephen Barr's e-mail address email@example.com.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
Monday, May 8, 2006; 7:36 PM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Energy said on Monday it was standing by its decision to stop covering the costs of traditional pension plans for new hires by department contractors, saying this was "consistent with sound business practices."
The department stirred controversy with its announcement last month that starting early next year it would reimburse contractors only for the costs of defined contribution plans -- such as 401(k) plans -- when new hires are concerned.
"We remain committed to the new policy," Energy Department spokeswoman Megan Barnett said.
The department has about 33 contractors with 100,000 employees, doing everything from running facilities such as the Los Alamos laboratory to cleaning up nuclear waste sites, Barnett said.
New Mexico Legislative Oversight Committee
What ever happened to the New Mexico Legislative Oversight Committee that was
supposed to be convening periodic hearings related to LANL operations? Is
that Committee still functioning, or has it been quietly put out to pasture?
With all the LANL transition concerns being expressed in the media and on the
LANL Blog these days, you'd think local legislators would want to hear from
their constituients regarding how things are going, maybe even invite their
legislative counterparts from Calfornia to conduct a public hearing or two.
It been done in the past, so why not now? Based on past newspaper articles,
co-chairs gor this committee were Representative Bobby Gonzales of Taos and
Senator Phil Griego of Santa Fe/Los Alamos. Committe members included
Senator Martinez of Espanola and Representatives Wallace of Los Alamos and
Salazar of San Juan Pueblo. Their collective silence on what's going on at
the Lab these days is becoming deafening. Maybe its time to call them up and
find out why.
NM Legislature Home Page--http://legis.state.nm.us/lcs/
Monday, May 08, 2006
Washington Group International Reports ($$$)
BOISE, Idaho, May 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Washington Group International Inc. WGII today announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2006.
"We are pleased with our strong start to 2006," said Stephen G. Hanks, president and chief executive officer. "Net income in the first quarter rose 18 percent to $19.0 million compared to $16.1 million in the first quarter last year, as we benefited from growth in our oil and gas business as well as continued strong performance by our Power, Defense, and Energy & Environment business units.
"New work awarded during the quarter totaled $798.3 million. Key awards included additional task orders in Iraq, a contract for jointly managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), new clean air power plant modification awards, and additional funding for chemical demilitarization programs for the U.S. Department of Defense."
The humor-impaired may safely skip this post
The Before/After pictures of Mr. Dynes seem to have
caused quite a bit of controversy with some folks.
Actually, the "after" picture of Mr. Dynes which you
posted was captured in a soft light which benefits
his current youthful appearance. However....
..using an advanced technique called "Tachyon Reverse
Osmosis Retrieval" (invented here at Los Alamos, of
course!), I've been able to acquire an image of Dynes
from next year. Here, forthwith, are a pair of
Today/Tomorrow images for viewing.
Note that I have also acquired an image of Mr. Dynes
taken with the "Tachyon Reverse Osmosis Retrieval"
dials set for two years into the future. Believe me,
you don't want to see that one, as it looks like
something out of a Stephen King horror movie!
Oh, and one more thing. In the "two-years-into-the
future" image, the shirt that Mr. Dynes is wearing has
changed. It's still a white shirt, but with broad
horizontal black stripes and a long number sequence on
the front pocket. The tailoring of the shirt is also
very poor. I guess the styles of clothes that people
of the future will be wearing are going to change.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Submitted by Anonymous:
Just an observation:
Handing out $334 million of unapproved UC money to his cronies must be harder work than I would have thought. As evidence I present these before and after pictures of Dynes. The before picture was taken some time in 2004, and the other is recent. He looks like he's aged 15 years since he was out here at LANL telling us to "help him help us" in May last year after he had finally succeeded in using part of that $334M to bribe Nanos to leave.
Embattled UC president defiant over recruitment policy
He acknowledges mistakes were made in his failure to disclose perks and pay, but defends attempt to lure world-class faculty
Rick DelVecchio, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, May 7, 2006
Some people want Bob Dynes' head, but the University of California president isn't about to give it to them.
"Do I look like I'm crumbling?" Dynes shot back when asked during an hourlong interview Thursday whether he were more the type to harden under pressure or crumble.
The evolving controversy over extra compensation given to top university officials has tarnished UCs credibility and raised doubts about the fairness and management of its pay policies. It will take more than token gestures to restore public confidence in how UC handles tax dollars. After all, a similar controversy over too-lucrative compensation and retirement packages in 1992 triggered reforms that have been ignored. There can be no more false promises.
Following four critical reports in a month, the gathering storm peaked Wednesday when three members of the Senate Education Committee called for the resignation or firing of Dynes.
Initiated by press reports, the controversy centers on extra compensation given to top university officials in excess of UC policy, without the regents or IRS being informed, and without regents approving it. The reports outline blatant misuse of public funds through the presidents office, the apparent acquiescence of the president and his failure to stop such transgressions.
A state audit found that the presidents office granted $334 million in additional compensation last year for housing, car allowances, stipends, sabbatical leaves and other extras that did not square with university policy. Exceptions were so common that it cultivated a culture of noncompliance, the audit said.
A couple of recent comments
The "Ma and Pa Kettle" funds being offered for our 401K's may be
just one of many signs that LANS is not up to the task of running
I turned in my benefits and job offer paperwork a couple of weeks
ago and was assured that I would be receiving an Email confirmation
within 24 hours. It never came. Furthermore, LANS has now set up
a web site into which you can type your LANL Z# to see if your
paperwork is on file. Several people in my office who turned in
paperwork have tried this new web site and none of them got an
If LANS can't perform a simple job like confirming receipt of benefits
paperwork, how the hell are we suppose to have any confidence that
they can run this place? A time-stamp plus signature on a copy of my
submitted paperwork would have offered a sufficient and secure means
of confirmation, but LANS seems too clueless to even figure out a
simple solution like that.
I wonder if they realize that their poor handling of our benefits
paperwork is now causing a significant portion of the staff to form
a bad initial impression of LANS. But, then, again, perhaps they
don't really care.
LANS has promised "no RIFS in FY'07", remember? And a
promise is a promise. Your salaries, however, will be in
for a major hair-cut in FY '07 to help keep this promise.
Get ready for it. Of course, they won't say a word about
all this until sometime after June 1st. I would plan on
at least a 5% "temporary" reduction in salaries from the start.
Picture that 5% reduction as a type of "kick-back" scheme
to our local politicos (GRT) and Bechtel/BWXT (management
profit fees) so that you can keep your job at LANL. It's
like a throw back to the bad ol' days in America at the
turn of the century when workers had no rights and the
Robber Barons ruled the roost.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
DOE Directive, N. 351.1
Please post this to the Blog.
One question to ask, "where are the so called Republican leaders of NM?" and mind you there are many, many more questions.
LANL employees are being sold down the river and I ask another question, How many are going to send letters and make phone calls to our illustrious leaders of NM including our Governor to stop Secretary Bodman from imposing
DOE Directive, N. 351.1?
New LANL Logo
The Associated Press/ NEW YORK
By ADAM GELLER
AP Business Writer
The change is drawing sharp criticism from labor unions, advocacy groups and some Senate Democrats. It comes as federal lawmakers are working on measures designed to shore up a listing pension insurance system, improve funding of pension plans and slow the move by employers away from the retirement mainstay.
The DOE's decision is intended to cut costs and ensure the predictability of future retirement obligations, a department spokeswoman, Megan Barnett, said Friday.
Please post anonymously...I need to work for these yahoos. The attached word file is right off the UC / Fidelity web site.
Comparison between this list and the LANS offered 401 options is laughable.
This was written today by a writer friend of mine.
If you accept employment but freeze UC retirement and elect the 401(k),
which may or may not equal up to 6% of your salary and may or may not
encompass more or fewer than 7 still-unknown investment options--which
reminds us that the 403(b) isn't going to be there anymore once you're in
LANS, so you'd better decide to leave it with UC or roll it over or cash
it out by contacting Fidelity after July 1--and which has or doesn't have
a higher maximum yearly contribution but which might include some of the
same funds you had in the 403(b), except that we haven't decided yet and
therefore can't tell you until this summer after your decisions have been
made, which you shouldn't mind doing without full information, but that
you must remember is not connected to the CAP that you never knew was
there but that you may or may not leave with UC or roll over, in addition
to the DCP, which you could add to your 403(b) that isn't going to be
there or to the 401(k), which has or doesn't have employer contributions,
depending on whether you are or are not vested and go inactive and have a
health benefit that may or may not be "access only"and that will "reach
back" upon retirement or death if your dependent or spouse is really a
spouse and not a gay partner, which means that all or none of your accrued
sick leave can or cannot be rolled over if you have more than $2,000 in
your 403(b) and your age-plus-time-served equals at least 75 and you have
or have not reached the top of the age factor and have never had a break
in your service time and you choose or don't choose to retire within 120
days of transition on June 1, which must be decided by May 15, unless you
want a paycheck in June, in which case you must decide before the
deadline, which turns out to be too soon for the people doing the
paperwork and which doesn't include the vacation cashout or rollover,
which had to be done by mid-April and could include 2 accrued weeks that
you could leave as vacation, but wait (!), you can't do that because what
you were originally told is now no longer true as of some date we don't
remember and, after all, you should have trashed that option chart and
downloaded the new one that was posted last month, or last week, or
yesterday, or tomorrow or. . . well . . . sometime.
time in Lab history is likely to cause job losses. The Lab budget was not
increased significantly, but the additional cost of GRT is a significant
increase to costs.
"There's no way you can take $60 to $70 million out of their budget and
there not be a loss of jobs," she said. "You're looking at a loss of
revenues that's eventually going to lead to a loss of jobs because the
budget hasn't been increased from Washington." "
Rio Grande Sun, 4 May 2006
Española Wants Share
of LANL Tax Windfall
Friday, May 05, 2006
Where is the "Substantially Equivalent in the Aggregate"?
Please post anonymously...I need to work for these yahoos for a short
LANS recently posted their 401k investment portfolio lineup. Check
The LANS investment options are absolutely pathetic compared to the
FITSCO Fidelity Funds offered by UCRS. The LANS funds are all mediocre or
less except for the 5-star bloated Fidelity Contrafund that I understood to
be closed to further public input as well the Fidelity Diversified
International Fund. I cannot find a single acceptable fund offered by LANS
compared to the open market or at least to the closed market of Fidelity
Funds offered by UCRS. They're all dogs! The Fidelity Freedom 20XX Funds
are not at all immune to market fluctuations as evidenced by the large
losses in 2002-2003. There is no access to top-flight mutual funds in the
OK, DOE/NNSA. Where is the "Substantially Equivalent in the Aggregate"
in all this?
Doug, Thanks for your continued efforts in keeping the last days of the blog.
It appeared that the proverbial fat lady was going to sing, but it appears
instead that she just threw-up.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
DOE Directive, N. 351.1
Your readers might find this new DOE Directive, N.
351.1, to be of interest. It was approved by DOE on
April 27, 2006 and impacts the benefits offered at all
CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEE PENSION AND MEDICAL BENEFITS
By Lisa M. Krieger
Two of the toughest critics of University of California management have asked President Robert C. Dynes to step down, saying they have lost faith in his leadership during an executive compensation controversy.
State Sens. Abel Maldonado, R-San Luis Obispo, and Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, called for Dynes' resignation at a Wednesday press conference in Sacramento.
``I believe we are acting in the best interest of the University of California, the students and the people. . . . How can we have millions and millions of dollars in perquisites not disclosed?'' asked Maldonado, vice chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Senate Majority Leader Romero said: ``We've seen enough to know the public trust has been ruptured.''
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The failure to report income
The following appeared as a comment on the
post, in reference to Dynes and Parsky's financial shenanigans at UC. I think it deserves a spotlight.
The failure to report income on the executive's W2s is Federal Income Tax Fraud. If the transmission of the W2 took place electronically, it's wire fraud. If more than one person was in on the scam, it was conspiracy to commit fraud.
Isn't there a whistleblower reward for reporting tax fraud to the IRS?
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Retiree Letter of April 2006
I think the attached letter may be of interest to your readers.
Laboratory Retiree Group (LRG)
The attached flyer may be of interest to your readers. If appropriate,
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Masonic Lodge (15th and Canyon)
Los Alamos, NM
2 – 4 p.m. – Free Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
4 – 6 p.m. – Business Meeting/Panel Discussion*
For more information contact Chuck Mansfield, 662-2115 or
visit http://www.lrgla.org/ online.
ALBUQUERQUE — A senior safety officer for the National Nuclear Security Administration says he’s been reassigned because government higher-ups want to silence his criticism of safety oversight at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Chris Steele, 47, said Monday that the Department of Energy’s NNSA reassigned him from his job overseeing safety at the nuclear-weapons lab to a position that oversees safety training at facilities across the country.
The reassignment came despite his request to remain in his old position.
He said he was notified during the first week of April, about a week after a meeting with NNSA officials in which he criticized a two-year pilot project that would shift some safety oversight from the federal government to the management contractor at Los Alamos lab.
Steele said he told NNSA officials the shift would be “unsafe, unethical, immoral and just plain wrong.”
He fears his leaving an already depleted safety office at Los Alamos lab will adversely affect safety there, he said.
The new job is “a trick to get me out of here,” Steele said. He initially turned down the job but was told he had to take it.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Transition Project Information and Resources
Read carefully- text in red below
Rich Marquez, LANL Transition Manager
The May 15 deadline for employees to return employment offer packages to Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) is quickly approaching. LANS Transition Manager Tom Gioconda reports that, to date, less than a third of employees have responded to LANS.
Employees are faced with numerous considerations when contemplating whether to accept employment with LANS effective June 1. Information about employment options and LANS benefits plans is abundant on both the Laboratory and LANS Transition websites, while information about University of California benefits and retirement is available on the Laboratory Transition Website and the LANL Benefits web page.
Returning Employment Packages
In consideration of personnel in Human Resources, Payroll and myriad other organizations that face the daunting task of having to prepare Laboratory systems to manage an essentially brand-new workforce beginning June 1, I respectfully urge employees who have made up their minds about employment to consider returning their packages as soon as possible before the deadline.
Employees who have already returned their offer packages or are preparing to return them before May 15 can rest assured that they may amend their benefits plan elections or even their decision to accept employment up until 5 p.m. Mountain Time on May 15 through a relatively simple process. People with questions about their offer packages are encouraged to call the LANS Transition Hotline at 1-888-505-9292 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I should also clarify that employees must take some type of action with respect to their offer packages no later than May 15 to ensure employment with LANS. Simply put, those who do not turn in their offer packages by the May 15 deadline will not be guaranteed jobs on June 1.
Employment Package Drop-Off Points
To facilitate the return of offer packages, LANS will soon provide several additional drop-off points across the Laboratory. LANL and LANS transition Websites will provide information about these new drop-off points as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, employees can return their offer packages by the following methods:
- 1) In person in the basement lobby of the Otowi Building in Technical Area-3;
- 2) A drop box in the basement lobby of the Otowi Building in TA-3;
- 3) To LANL Mail Stop T009
- 4) By the U.S. Postal Service to:
- Los Alamos National Security, LLC
- c/o Los Alamos National Laboratory
- TA-3, SM4200, Mail Stop T009v
- Los Alamos, NM 87545
- Attention: LANS Human Resources
Support from Lab Organizations
After this week, just four and a half weeks of the contract-transition period remain. With the help and cooperation of many of you, the UC/LANL and LANS Transition teams have methodically traversed the hundreds of activities that support the People, Places and Processes phases of transition. We are at a point where logistics issues require constant diligence by the Laboratory's support organizations to ensure a smooth switchover to LANS management.
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Division continues to press forward with plans for payroll crossover while also processing vacation buyouts, supporting Enterprise Project (EP) Release 4 activities, and supporting LANS in financial planning from June 1 and beyond.
Human Resources (HR) is sponsoring retirement sessions with assistance from benefits representatives from the UC campuses, has processed this year's interim and reclassification salary actions, and is supporting LANS in mapping employees to the new LANS organization.
Supply Chain Management (SUP) is diligently closing out legacy subcontracts and completing the annual property inventory, all while preparing for the usual purchasing spike of the last quarter of the fiscal year.
And Information Management (IM) is working to ensure that Laboratory information systems can support the crossover--from issues related to benefits administration to delegation of authorities to accommodate a new management team and organizational structure.
It is easy to take all of this effort for granted, but I commend all of these organizations and all of the others who have worked on transition issues in addition to their "day jobs."
May 1, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tom Carpenter, GAP Nuclear Oversight Director
Phone: 206.292.2850 ext. 23, cell (206) 419-5829
Contact: Dylan Blaylock, Communications Director
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext. 137, cell 202.236.3733
GAP Exposes Errors, Cover-up at Hanford
Releases Proof DOE Installing Defective Equipment; 66 Other Major Vessels Questioned; Independent Oversight Urged
(Seattle, WA) – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is releasing documents provided to it by whistleblowers and through public sources illustrating a systemic breakdown in key safety inspection systems designed to ensure the safe construction and operation of a Hanford nuclear waste plant that mixes waste with glass at high temperatures. The documents were received by GAP from internal sources at Bechtel National, Inc., the contractor hired by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to construct the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) or “vitrification” plant, or obtained through public records act requests. The documents can be found on GAP’s Web site at www.whistleblower.org.
Among the documents being released by GAP is a January 2005 Department of Energy internal audit that found Bechtel had established a hostile working environment that chilled the reporting of safety concerns at the WTP. The report stated that over half of those questioned by the DOE in the 2005 survey stated that they were afraid of job actions against them for even participating in the survey. That document can be found at http://www.whistleblower.org/template/page.cfm?page_id=165.
This is in response to the last "talk" by Michael R. Anastasio, President, LANS, LLC, and LANL Director Designate.
Clearly Dr. Anastasio is totally clueless about what happened at Rocky Flats with the gun-ho retired admirals came charging in to "save" that DOE facility and proclaimed "Zero Tolerance" for misdeeds:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Malicious compliance is a phrase used to describe the behavior of a person who intentionally inflicts harm by strictly following the orders of management, knowing that compliance with the orders will cause a loss of some form resulting in damage to the manager’s business or reputation. In effect, this is a form of sabotage used to harm leadership.
By definition, this is true when the following conditions are present:
1. The superior gives erroneous or incomplete orders without knowing the consequences.
2. The subordinate has knowledge of something harmful to the job based on the orders given that the superior knows not.
3. The subordinate strictly follows the orders given to cause the loss.
While most businesses and institutions have policies against sabotage in the work place, this type of behavior is sometimes difficult to control. The origin of this behavior can often be traced back to various issues of jealousy, hatred, greed, retaliation, etc. In some instances, it is done for possible advancement, provided a management job is in jeopardy as a result of the loss.
A related form of malicious compliance is sometimes referred to as work-to-rule. In a work place, it is an action whereby employees work strictly according to the legal terms of their contract of employment or written procedures. In this situation, the strict adherence to the rules set forth by the written job procedures only allow the workers to do the minimum of amount of labor required and no more, resulting in decreased production. This assumes the written job procedure is inadequate to cover all aspects of a job function. This action is a minimal form of a labor strike.
The "honorable" admirals clearly were unaware of the fact that the plant infrastructure was "run into the ground" by Reagan's massive stockpile build-up and little or no budget provided to fix things up or even to maintain buildings, process equipment or gloveboxes!
A top official at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who has long raised concerns about nuclear safety practices there has been reassigned effective today, a move he sees as an effort to silence his criticisms.
The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration reassigned the safety official, Christopher M. Steele, to a job overseeing safety training at research and production facilities across the nation.
Energy officials have described the reassignment as recognition of Steele's expertise and as an important step in upgrading its training program, but Steele has protested the action and said the transfer would further jeopardize safety at the New Mexico lab.