Friday, January 26, 2007


Big Guns Are Aimed at LANS, LANL

Here it is: Linton Brooks fired for trying to cover up cyber-hacking of personnel data for more than 1500 employees; hundreds of documents missing from LANL, leading to the FBI investigation of a young woman who was fired from her contractor position for bringing work home under extreme duress from her bosses; no mention of a high LANL official taking classified documents home on his laptop, but the story will not die. Click on the title to see the letter, dated last week, from Congressmen Dingell, Barton, Stupak, Whitfield, and Hastert to David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the GAO, requesting a report on cybersecurity (or lack thereof) at LANL.

The hearing, starring those Congressmen, along with our own Tom Udall in attendance (but not on the subcommittee itself), will be held on Tuesday, January 30, 2007, in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Michael Anastasio (Director of LANL and President of LANS, LLC) sweating away under the klieg lights. Tune in on CSPAN (10:00am EST).


[OK, OK. Now it's time for some REALITY, after all the blathering being posted in these last 18 hours. I got this e-mail message from Brad Holian, which I will share with all of you. --Pat]

I hope you Congressmen are really watching this blog, because here are the facts: Los Alamos National Laboratory was put on the auction block for privatization almost four years ago for no objective reason, though the hyped-up "excuse" for doing so was the claim of ongoing incidents of massive waste, fraud, abuse, unsafe working conditions, and national-security secrets leaking out of the place like a sewer with the valve rusted open. Safety and security at LANL is, indeed, not perfect, nor are its business practices foolproof, but its record for the past 10 years is statistically equivalent to that of the Sandia and Livermore national labs, and maybe just a little bit better (gasp!). I believe that Bechtel came in here at the invitation of the Republican Administration (namely, DOE and its misbegotten ugly stepsister, NNSA) and Congressional Republicans, and they (Bechtel) believed all the negative propaganda about LANL. They really thought they could promise significant reductions in security, safety, and business incidents, and thereby be welcomed with open arms as "liberators" (who could also, by the way, scoop up a big management fee, and pass out big bonuses to their upper brass), only to find to their great dismay that "stuff happens," and it kept on happening right under their noses. In other words, they found out that no truly significant reduction in incidents is possible without lying about them and covering them up. If this is--as it is commonly perceived by the public, thanks to the lazy news media--a "cultural problem" endemic to "arrogant butthead cowboy" scientists, then shutting down Los Alamos, while leaving Sandia and Livermore up and running with their virtually identical culture, makes no sense whatsoever. So, then the question for Congress is: "Now what? Do we subject Livermore to the same privatization nightmare?" (And the real question lingering is: Does science done at national labs even matter to the nation?)

--Brad Lee Holian

Realise that if LANS gets kicked out, Congress may give LANL the boot too. Congress might not distinquish too much between LANS and the rest of the workers at LANL. Besides, I'm guessing that Congress hates the whole workforce at LANL, and not just LANS. Get ready to swallow a huge dose of gloom and doom next week.

If nothing else, some pretty obnoxious new policies for LANL workers may come about because of these hearings. The hearings are not something to cheer about. They are something to greatly fear.
... so much negativity ... RUIN EVERYTHING ... let LANS alone ... malcontents should be drug-tested every single day ... Grow up! ... Go back to Berkeley ... Stop stealing America's precious secrets! ...

-Random babbling of the mob on this blog

(No amount of random tests will ever fix this lunatic asylum.)
Oh good grief, these posters sound like LANS senior managers who are pocketing huge chunks of change for doing nothing but keeping the status quo, shutting down operations, and telling everyone "it is getting better." Maybe for them but not for the rest of us.
I'm concerned about the Mitchell rumor and the potential it has for unnecessarily damaging our already precarious situation here. If someone has some real proof this happened, then bring it; otherwise just shut up already. The poor attempt to tie this piece of information or that headline to something that is rumored to have happened really looks foolish.

I’d rather see discussion on something that did happen such as the classified information found in the trailer park. While the person living there did make a serious mistake, there are LANS personnel that are responsible for letting that happen. What has happened to those people? THAT seems to be the cover-up and THAT is adding to the ammo Stupak and Dingle are using against the lab. LANS should bring immediate action against those responsible for letting this happen and publicize the action taken. That would deflate some of the attacks.

This is serious folks! This is how we look to the rest of the country:

Wen Ho Lee security incident

Questionable spending practices – Someone bought a car with a lab credit card…

Lost Disks security incident

Lab Shut down to remedy security incident (yeah safety too, but security is more sexy in headlines).

Lost Disks never actually existed. But shut down sure was expensive. But we did work on our security and safety issues.

Drugs and Security Incident

Looks like we just can’t get this under control no matter who runs the place. To the outsider looking in, they see these things going on and think that we are crazy for NOT welcoming a more stringent drug testing policy.
Joining Mike will be.... here's the list of witnesses posted on the subcommittee's website:
Continuing Security Concerns at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
2123 Rayburn House Office Building
10:00 a.m.

This hearing is expected to recess at the conclusion of Panel III's public testimony and will reconvene in executive session in room 2218 Rayburn House Office Building.

Witness List & Prepared Testimony

Panel I

The Honorable Gregory H. Friedman
Inspector General
U.S. Department of Energy

Mr. Glenn S. Podonsky
Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer
Office of Health, Safety and Security
U.S. Department of Energy

Ms. Danielle Brian
Executive Director
Project on Government Oversight

Panel II

The Honorable Clay Sell
Deputy Secretary
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Energy

Panel III

The Honorable Thomas P. D'Agostino
Acting Administrator
National Nuclear Security Administration

Mr. William J. Desmond
Associate Administrator and Chief for Defense Nuclear Security
National Nuclear Security Administration

Ms. Linda Wilbanks
Chief Information Officer
National Nuclear Security Administration

Mr. Thomas N. Pyke, Jr.
Chief Information Officer
Department of Energy

I doubt anyone from UC, Bechtel, WGI, BWXT will be with Mike, so he's on his own and they get to escape having they names tarnished by LANL's failures... Looks like the buck (being held financial accountability) and blame (embarrassing charges of managerial incompetence [or is that impotence]) stops with LANS LLC.
You are absolutely correct sir. "Looks like we just can't get this under control no matter who runs the place. To the outsider looking in, they see these things going on and think that we are crazy for NOT welcoming a more stringent drug testing policy."

I suspect that everything you people down there at LANL hate about tightening up security measures and putting the cross hairs on everyone's butts is exactly what you are going to get. May I suggest that you change your attitudes and realize that you are working for a national lab that does in fact have a vital mission to the country, and are not just a bunch of the children from the hood. It may already be to late to keep your jobs and livelihood with all that has transpired and I suspect that their are those in Washington, DC who are seriously considering cleaning the house by what ever means they deem necessary. The bottom line is that you did it to yourselves and continue to this day to bitch about everything whereby you are only shooting yourselves in the foot.

There really are some issues that need to stay in the house instead of telling the world.
Vital mission my ass. There is nothing currently being done with regards to weapons research at LANL that can't be done at LLNL and/or elsewhere.

The only "vital" mission that exists at LANL is to try to keep funding coming in to support our new top-heavy infrastructure.
I think everyone realizes the significance of the hearings this next week. I think people are concerned and I find the earlier posters insinuation that people are not concerned insulting. What I would like to know is why the management have have been covering this up. We hear more truths from the blog than we do from our management and so-called leadership. Yesterday, Mike's office sent out a lab-wide e-mail telling us that "oh by the way, I will be in DC next week to give some testimony at a hearing." What excuse is there for such a last minute official notification considering the blog and local newspapers have been telling us for weeks? I think this behavior really highlights the problems at LANL.
Well it may be time to move up the date of the antipiciated "Train Wreck", we will know after Tuesday.Did anyone notice the swiftness that Dingell's committiee sprung into action...less than 1/2 month in power and they have targeted LANL, does this tell you anything? I think that we are a Large Target on their Radar, Bulluseye at $2.2 Billion....I bet they hit farily close,....
With the world watching what is going on at LANL is there any doubt why you are having troubles getting funding for any project at that facility? If, what is being told on this BLOG is true, I have no doubt. It seems that this facility is full of people that are not focused on getting their jobs done but preoccupied with distractions caused by the actions of a few who make the rest look bad. The reality is that the advertisement of these episodes on the web may in fact cost all of you your carries, not only at LANL buy any other job that you may seek; just by using LANL as a reference. All of you are in fact branded by virtue of these actions. That really is sad, but it's a fact because your new employer will always wonder if _you_ were the one that screwed it up for the rest.
Congress does not hate the work-force doesn't hate LANS" it hates the lack of accountability, and lack of reponse from LANL...and the continued security does the rest of the Country, they are not "picking" on us, they really what to know:Can this place really be as screwed up as it seems to the outside world, or what...Even the employee's here know the "truth" It is a screwed up mess, either fix it or move on, this kind of Total Mismanagemt cannot and should not go on...
If you've got all of your "eggs" in this better consider calling 911, cause this is gonna be bad....
Just think that if Congress decides to cut funding to the tune of about 1000-2000 jobs here, what will happen to the new "Strip Mall" and the Boyer's Investment scheme? Thats a lot of tax dollars that won't be paid....How many houses would that be...hmmmm a real buyers market, for all of you" they can't shut down LANL types" hmmm
Does anyone realise how "Incompetent" we at LANL seem to the real world. Step back and take a good hard look at what has happened in the recrent past.....The news media has blowen a lot out of proportion but all of what has taken place is due to Mis-Management, LANS, thought they could pull things together, but are finding out that this truly is a Head-less Monster"
For all of you "529" Supporters now is the time to buy land, lots of land and real-estate in Los Alamos New Mexico, this place will be booming in a few years...lets see how much faith you all have in this place...Put you $$$$ where your mouth is...
The new LANS team thought they could swagger in, install a new "enterprise" system, impose a few more "procedures", and sit back and collect their $79 million fee each year. They were completely unprepared to address the underlying infrastructure problems at LANL that the University Of California allowed to develop over the years. LANS, just like its predecessor is incapable to fixing the problems at LANL. No huge surprise, that, since UC is still an integral part of the management team.
Before anybody gets too optimistic about any substantive positive changes coming about at LANL as a result of the hearings, note who is on the committee:

Panel III

The Honorable Thomas P. D'Agostino
Acting Administrator
National Nuclear Security Administration

Yes, the very same D'Agostino who awarded the LANL contract to LANS in the first place. He ain't going to say anything bad about LANS. Too bad -- he deserves a spot on the "grilled" end of the committe stick, rather than on the "grilling" end.
From the latest ABQ Journal --

"Lockheed Martin received a $7.7 million bonus last year for its management of Sandia National Laboratories, on top of its $16.6 million fixed fee for running the nuclear weapons research center."

Based on the ABQ Journal tidbit, I would like to offer the following idea.

*** A SNL-LANL Merger ***

I have a radical proposition. How about turning LANL into "SNL-North", and letting SNL help run their errant sister lab up on the Hill? At least SNL has a decent track record of managing a national lab. Why not merge the two into one Mega-Lab entity? SNL is only 90 miles down the road from us, so the logistics of merging the two labs is not that far fetched. If Lockheed had won the LANL RFP, that's probably the direction in which Lockheed management would have moved (i.e, integration of the separate functions between these two labs). For those who don't know LANL's history, SNL started out as a LANL division back in the early 50's.

If nothing else, a lab merger between SNL and LANL would immediately bring about big cost savings by stripping away the duplication of support offices that currently serve both labs. If we merged, we could see significant savings from the integration effort. So far, LANS has only given empty promises on integration efforts aimed at saving money.

We might also be able to reduce some of the bloated management overhead that currently exists at LANL if NNSA followed the Mega-Lab route. Another big plus would be that staff who felt trapped up at Los Alamos might be able to more easily transfer to an office down in ABQ. Likewise, SNL staff who wanted to get out of the "big city" could transfer up to the pristine mountain air up on the Hill.

The more I think about it, the more I really like the Mega-Lab concept. Perhaps it's time for NNSA to seriously start thinking about moving in this direction. The LANL logo has already been destroyed by bad PR, so giving up this title would be a plus. The new Mega-Lab could be given a slick, new name that would satisfy both SNL and LANL.
You just gotta love Brad Lee Holian's argument straight out of Barry Bond's excuse book.

Doesn't really matter how bad the other labs are doing; we're the ones in the spotlight.
A great point that Brad brings up is that LANL is not as bad as the media has made it out. In fact it is in general better than Sandia and Livermore. I think congress needs to look at the actual numbers and compare them to the other labs. It is the duty of elected officials representing the people of the United States to base their judgments on facts and not the media. It is true that LANL does things that realy can not be done elswhere. If you ask a young scientist if they would rather work at LLNL, Sandia, or LANL, most will still say LANL.

By the way a lot of the stuff said on the blog is absolute junk and you have no idea who is saying it. Unless it is signed I would not take a post serisouly. I hope congress members are above reading blogs.

Charles Reichhardt

Theoretical Divsion
T-13 Comples Systems
Once again, Brad Lee Holian has nailed it.

Science at the national labs is important to the nation. That is probably why Brad works at LANL. I also imagine he would prefer to see no more of the "lying about them and covering them up" response to safety and security incidents. That clearly does not work. I cannot imagine congress applying the same privatization "fix" to Livermore when it hasn't worked at Los Alamos yet. In my opinion the questions for congress are: Give privatization at LANL more time (and oversight) or cut the losses and go back to the UC system? Is there a third option?
Going back to the UC system isn't even an alternative! They got us where we are today.
OK Charles: Did you take as poll of (young Scientist) or are you just another BS Blogger? And "why would they want to work here insted of LLNL? and in what Division arer you speaking for? Charles?.....Or maybe just trying to "drum up a little Business""Charles....?
I don't remember reading about a young sub-contractor down at Sandia being given a SIGMA 15 by SNL and then finding hundreds of classified documents in her "Meth trailer". Did I miss this story, Brad?

Forget the numbers, Brad. It's a loser's bet. It's the scope of the things that have happened at LANL that put us in a bad light.

The fact that guys like Brad and his supporters don't see this makes me think that LANL has very little hope for a better future.
Are you completely out of your fucking mind, Charles Reichhardt? UC's complete and total ineptness is what got us into this mess in the first place!

Shit on a shingle! If giving the contract back to UC is your idea of fixing things at LANL, you deserve to go down with the ship.

Positively the stupidest idea I've heard all week.
To the 4:07pm posters.

Why not sign you names if you are so sure of yourselves?
To 4:50pm:

You first.
This thread is winding down to a whine. Go back to the top for some better, fresher air.

Yep Pat, whiney butts. Must be managers trying to get people to identify themselves so that they can punish them just like the people who asked D'Agostino questions ... yes, people got in trouble for "revealing problems at LANS." And I am pretty sure that D'Agostino does not know that people who asked questions got in trouble.
One reason LANL can't keep computer security problems from happening is because the wrong people are hired by the computer security group. They are not qualified for the job, do not understand hardware or software, but are there to pad their resumes. They spend too much time wordsmithing documents at the behest of ABQ NNSA rather than working to understand computer vulnerabilities. The serious problem with usb devices on secure computers was reported to the then S-11 group in Aug/Sep 2005. Obviously it went no farther because the person taking the report did not understand what he was being told.

Although I agree that the director is ultimately responsible for many problems at LANL, there is no way for the director to know that he has inherited a clueless computer security staff unless someone has given him the heads up. One way of knowing how knowledgeable the staff is is to publish the results of the DOE audit that was done in the fall of 2006 and ask for comments. But the results of that audit have not been published.

Too many level of managment have isolated the director from the staff. Besides being way too expensive, it keeps the director from knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the staff. The director should take the initiative to cut costs by cutting high level management, return more responsibilities to the division leaders, and force the division leaders to return more responsibilities to group leaders. Only when money is managed again at the group level will there be a hope of bringing FTE costs down and bringing in more outside money. And when the director again deals with the division leaders rather than his bloated management, he might be able to better understand what changes need to be made at the staff level.
Just like the computer security issues raised by the earlier poster, many of LANL's problems exist because of hoards of people hired who are not qualified. Many of these people were hired because they are friends of group leaders and division leaders. I think these lower managers protect this dead weight from being fired and don't tell the ADs or Director about these problems that other people are paying for.

There are opportunities during performance appraisal time and yet the dead weight scores just as well as those top performers and people brining in money to the groups and divisions.

In the end, I think the problems are top down and bottom up with nobody wanting to make the tough dicisions to get rid of people who are not qualified to do their jobs and those people who simply don't want to do their jobs.
Some of the ISSOs and computer support staff are top-rated. Many, however, or sub-par and end up causing more problems than they solve. We should not be paying top dollar for lousy service. To make things worse, the current NNSA cyber-security scare has these people running for cover. Given a choice of helping staff or getting blamed for a security incident, they'll always err on the side of saying "no" to staff requests. The classified computer networks at LANL are slowly crawling to a halt when it comes to getting useful work done. It's probably only going to get worse from here on out. Sigh!
Charles Reichhardt would have us all believe that retaliation doesn't exist, that LANL is open to constructive critism, that those fearing to post their names to their comments are needlessly concerned about their jobs at the hands of a vindictive management. In reality, we're where we're at today because of fear. Fear of reporting control weaknesses, abuses of authority, incompetence in our ranks. Fear rooted in knowing what happens to those who complain, to whistelblowers who dare blow the whistle, to concerned stakeholders who question those in charge. Of course for those who are inclined to praise those in charge, you need not fear attaching your name to your comments on this blog. For as the case with Charlie, you can rest assured you're NOT going to be placing your future in jeopardy by doing so. As for the rest of you who aren't as inclined to brown-nose, as they say, or otherwise sing the praises of those responsible for grounding the EXXON Valdez of the national lab network, I strongly recommend you remain annonymous...and then hope and pray that those reading this Blog can understand why. The reality of this place is, indeed, frightening.
[From an anonymous poster at Livermore. --Pat]

Dear Pat (the tail chaser),

I think Brad nailed it. Below are some feel good questions (at least to me) you probably won't hear at the committee session but there is some probable relevancy me thinks. If you see a good one, pepper to taste and stick it somewhere. At any rate,thanks for your efforts! aka P____ F____, Livermore

DOE/NNSA formed this little venture (an LLC) as an effort to control future costs (employee benefits) and to repoint/ consolidate the organization as a whole for more cost effectiveness (towards RRW without legislative mandate).

Is it a sound business plan to cause coerced employee vesting into a unknown startup business that is destined to be cut back on funding (even if the RRW mantle is somehow carried foward)?

Do you think that coerced employee vesting into a startup business (without a solid plan) helps national security? How many startup businesses fail?

How much cost savings isolation does NNSA expect in terms of having dissected itself from having to honor future employee benefit obligations?

How much money and effort has the NNSA spent to spin off the employees in the short term?

Other than reducing employee future benefit obligations at the labs, how is the operation supposed to be profitable?

Given the FTE rates, is adding yet more security oversight expense a good idea for the company or is it time for some internal organizational accountability or restructuring?
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