Friday, January 19, 2007
This time Bechtel has screwed the pooch ( I *really* resent that, BTW) big time. Once Stupak and Dingell sink their teeth into former Bechtel VP Mitchell's blatant disregard for security, and the environment that allowed it to flourish, it might well be curtains for operations on "The Hill". I wish I could have met Mitchell, personally, just so that I could have calibrated my 'arrogant meter'. I mean really, after the Jessica Quintana business: to have the stupidity and, yes, arrogance to allow himself to be caught with classified material on his own personal computer.
Bechtel: nice pick, D'Agostino. I expect you are going to be in the spotlight soon as well. Nice oversight on the whole contract bid process, Bodman. You can probably count on going down too. A big round of congratulations to all involved.
-Pat, The Dog
LANL's management has been an embarrassment for far too many years. Having Congress shut down LANL is a real possibility.
I have one request of D'Agostino after the current leadership at LANS is removed. Get down on your knees and consider begging Paul Robinson to come in here as our temporary Director on an emergency basis to help sort out this mess. We're going to need some good men to help pick up the pieces at LANL. Oh, and one other itty-bitty thing. Don't allow any 'golden parachutes' for the LANS executives, ADs, PAD, PADD, ad nauseam who are about to walk the plank. None of them deserve it.
Stay Tuned...Tom the Truth Teller
That's all history now. NNSA is starting to downsize the complex, and this puts LANL directly in their budgetary cross-hairs. LANS managers are desperate to create more WFO work as a means to help balance our budget crisis. Perhaps you've noticed the hordes of LANL Program Managers making frequent trips to various locations with hat-in-hand looking for more money to help feed LANL's budgetary beast.
For the curious, here's one personal measure of the bloat that has formed at LANL over the last 10 years. Over this period of time, my salary has grown by approximately 30%. Part of this was due to inflation, part of it was simply making more money. During this same period of time, my FTE costs have soared by 100%! Think about this for a moment -- 30% vs. 100%. I do the same type of work I did 10 years ago, but in 2007, it now costs double what it did in 1997. My salary, however, is only 30% greater. If you want to zero in on one of the prime factors destroying LANL, this is a critical component.
There are very few sponsors outside of NNSA who are willing to fund scientific staff to the tune of $400K per year. At a rate of $280K to $300K, maybe, but not at a rate of $400K. Unless LANL moves quickly to bring down these rates to saner levels, there will be little chance to grow our way out of the current budgetary fiasco. Even the hope that, somehow, a "Plutonium Factory" will help save us is misguided. Congress is willing to fund this work at a much smaller level than NNSA initially anticipated.
We need to drop our FTE costs in rapid fashion by about 25%. To do this will mean dropping both support and management overhead positions by a likewise amount. It will also require the lab to take a close look at the scientific staff and begin unloading those scientist who aren't helping to carrying the weight.
This is stiff medicine to take, and I doubt LANL management is willing to take this course of action. Instead, we'll simply wait a bit longer and hope that someone (St. Pete?) saves us from this mess, but I don't see any calvary come over the Hill to rescue us this time. LANL's current method of containing costs seems to be headed toward squeezing pennies out of staff members who travel on lab business and disallowing donuts at meetings. That's not going to cut it. This patient needs a dose of strong medicine if he is going to survive, and he needs it now.
Call the committee’s office at (202) 225-2927 or email them via the “Who We Are” tab on their website at http://energycommerce.house.gov
What, exactly, do you suggest we say to Ol' Buddy Bart? If by phone or by snail-mail or e-mail, he won't be able to see that our hats are in our hands, will he? The list of mismanaged items is so long, I doubt he will stay awake through it. Will Ol' Buddy Bart be open to shedding the Pu Pit Mfg stuff, do you think, just so science can be put back into some semblance of good repair at LANL? And will some kind of de-privatization even remotely be considered?
Interesting question on the incumbent personal (Bishop, et al.). Look at the regent's minutes. Unlike the livermore personnel, they have no special perks - no retirement options other than staying in TCP-1, no bonuses. etc. These are required by law to be posted if they come from UC.
More WFO? Would not that be nice! Of course, the reason LANL did not follow SNL is that NNSA dictated the amount of WFO allowed at LANL. It is THEIR lab, and right or wrong (wrong mostly), they set rules about what is allowed or not.
Good luck -- and anyone that thinks Oversight hearing are going to make LANL better is an idiot.
Mike Anastasio as Lab Director.
Mike Anastasio as LANS, LLC President.
D'Agostino as head of NNSA.
Glenn as LANL Site Office manager.
Greg Friedman the DOE Inspector General.
A bean counter from GAO.
Danielle Brian from POGO.
whatever the committee decides will be in the best interest of LANL’s employees…
And unlike past hearings, I doubt anyone from UCOP (Dynes, Foley) or Bechtel will join Mike in front of the committee to hold his hand and get their respective organization’s name dragged in the muck …
I'm sure the people working at Rocky Flats thought "we're too important to be shut down" right before they were shut down. There is a pattern to how these things play out in the weapons complex. We're following a familiar path, and I would currently put the odds of LANL being phased-out at about 50/50. They may leave the pit facility running for a while longer on life-support, but that will be about it.
Yes, I know it will result in the financial destruction of Los Alamos county and the people who live around here. No, that won't stop DOE/NNSA nor Congress from perusing this path. We are on the brink of the unthinkable, and we've lost all our friends in high places. The workers at LANL need to start pondering what they're going to do when the gates at LANL are shut. By next fall, that may well be the case. There won't be a RIF, nor plans for a RIF. They'll just close the place down.
On the bright side, at least will have a new strip mall at the entrance to town. That should provide plenty of minimum wage jobs for laid-off workers. And with the tax base provided by LANL's GRT blown to bits, the remaining folks who live in Los Alamos will get to enjoy the task of paying off the huge bond debts that helped build this nifty, new stip mall.
In the 1980s I worked in C. Paul Robison's organization when he was the Principal Deputy Director. My group leader told me that Paul would allow just one screw-up; one more and you were history. He would have made a great director!"
DOE and their little cousin, the NNSA blew any opportunity LANL had to have Robinson as director. Paul has moved on, I just hope Bodman and D'Agostino are happy with whom they picked, because nobody else is.
I left in the middle of the Nanos bullshit 2 1/2 years ago, after more than 20 years there. Now, after a fresh exposure to the outside world, I've come to recognize that there is *nothing* that is currently being done at LANL that isn't, or can't be done elsewhere. Better. Cheaper. And with a much healthier work environment.
If the outcome of the Stupak and Dingell committees is a recommendation to shut the place down, I'd be behind it. The local economic hardship that will result is sad, but healthier in the long run that keeping that diseased workplace afloat any longer.
I naively thought LANL belonged to the American people (especially the taxpayers), and it was their democratically chosen representatives in Congress that controlled the mission of the labs not the political hacks appointed by whoever happens to be living in the White House… the national labs existed long before DOE and NNSA, not that we’ll ever get back to the wild and free days of AEC oversight, but one can dream... by the way, could you imagine what would have happened if DOE and NNSA with their dozens of security, ES&H, HR, property, and business practice related Orders and the thousands of pages of "guidance" requirements explaining how contractors are to meet these Orders, not to mention a never ending parade of audits/assessment by DOE/NNSA, had existed during the Manhattan Project days....
How many managers at LANL used DARHT as their stepping stone to a higher position? How many used NIF in the same fashion out at LLNL? Or how about LANL's $300 million ASCI Q-Machine boat anchor. You know, the machine that disgruntled staff taped "salvage" signs to when a defunct Compaq made their initial deliveries. A machine whose large Alpha-chip CPUs frequently suffer from comic-ray "resets" that are frequently encountered at high altitude locations like Los Alamos.
And how, for the love of God, do these managers keep making their promises to the public with a straight face and a smile? It's beyond me.
Instead of getting their huge bonuses after the first 6 months of success in "holding things together" for LANS, I think their should be some accountability for the AD's and higher.
The techs and clerks are primarily Hispanic, and, in the case of the clerks, female. Any RIF to reduce the bloated overhead rate will have a disproportionate impact on the minority population, triggering a massive class action lawsuit.
We know that the executive deadwood from Bechtel Nevada will not be riffed, so that leaves only the white men in the middle to get the axe.
Get a move-on white boy! We don't need your kind here anymore.!
Both the demographics and politics of the situation lean heavily toward a layoff of TSMs. That shouldn't surprise anyone. After the initial purge of TSMs, you can expect management to follow on with a second token purge of some TECs and SSMs, just to be "fair". That's how it played out in '94 and how it will also play out this time.
BTW, if you are a laid-off TSM living on the Hill with an expensive mortgage, beware. You are about to be financially wiped-out. Your primary asset will be severly devalued and you'll be lucky to find any buyers. I saw many people financially destroyed by the RIF of '94. It was painful to watch.