Monday, January 29, 2007


Screwtinizing Los Alamos

Here it is, folks: The quintessential reason for LANL's troubles ever since the Republicans wanted to hand over taxpayer money to a defense contractor to run LANL about 12 years ago, and how they finally managed to accomplish it in the last 6 years. Note the lazy media's use of the standard sound bite: "the birthplace of the atomic bomb". Note the reference to "fed-up lawmakers". Note that the panel wants "to know why a Los Alamos National Laboratory worker recently was able to walk out of the lab with classified weapons-related documents", but that they don't mention anything about whether it was an overworked underling or an over-confident (i.e., "arrogant butthead cowboy") upper manager. Note the "long line of [security] problems". Note how "eager" the "Lab spokesman" is "to explain all the lab has done in response to the latest incident and to outline plans for the future".

What a pile of dog crap.

(And I know one when I smell one.)

--Pat, the disgusted Dog


Congress scrutinizing Los Alamos lab security

Last Update: 01/29/2007 5:19:05 PM By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of a House oversight panel want to know why a Los Alamos National Laboratory worker recently was able to walk out of the lab with classified weapons-related documents.

The October incident was the latest security breach in a long line of problems at the northern New Mexico nuclear-weapons research lab, the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Fed-up lawmakers are expected to call for a comprehensive audit of the lab tomorrow in hopes of discovering why problems continue even after tens of millions of dollars have been spent to improve security there.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark says Los Alamos officials are eager to explain all the lab has done in response to the latest incident and to outline plans for the future.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Do Laboratory Officals intend to tell Congress why they are still hiring "external" employees when they plan a 1600 employee RIF? On the average LANS hires 40 new employees per month. Is this their outline plans for the future they intend to tell Congress tomorrow?
"Lab spokesman Kevin Roark says Los Alamos officials are eager to explain all the lab has done in response to the latest incident and to outline plans for the future."

That is great. We are done for and Anastasio and pals are going to put the nails in the coffin just like they have been doing with RRW. "Eager" meaning that he has been coached by the Lab Legal idiot machine and will place the blame on "the culture" and past administrations but failing to point out that LANS hired a few of them and placed folks in AD and PAD positions...
Finally got a chance to sit down and offer some views on D'Agostino All-Hand's meeting that was held at LANL last week. D'Agostino failed to impress me. Perhaps he was tired or just having a bad day. However, he talked in a boring mono-tone, kept fidgeting around with his hands, and seemed ill prepared for the talk. He had a nervousness about him. It was not the nervousness of someone whose is afraid to get in front of an audience, but the nervousness of someone who has been thrust into a job and is not quite sure what to make of it. This man does not inspire, which surprised me, seeing as he has a Navy leadership background. Brooks used to put on a 'song-and-dance' show when he came to town, but at least it was fun to watch him perform. D'Agostino is booooorrring. Major snooze-ville. I get concerned when I see a colorless individual in a high ranking position.

As far as the particulars of the talk, it was interesting that D'Agostino felt it necessary to spent part of his time defending his selection of LANS for the LANL contract. This, no doubt, was part of his prepping for the upcoming Congressional hearings. And why did he single-handedly pick LANS for the LANL contract? Because:

(1) They understood "The Mission" --
That nice, because I don't understand it any longer.

(2) They had an "Integration Plan" that intrigued him --
Where? I've seen nothing to date that demonstrates this plan. It must be LANS proprietary information.

(3) He liked the "Key Personnel" in the LANS proposal --
What's that? Paul Robinson wasn't good enough for him? Mr. Mitchell has already left the LANS team. Other LANS "Key Personnel" will soon follow.

(4) He liked the LANS approach to "Environmental Management" --
He needs to talk with the folks down at the NM environmental office who are now fining LANL thousands of dollars a day on this issue.

(5) He liked the "Governance Model" --
What model? I've seen no sign of it. The LANS Board of Governors has as much true oversight as the board of old, has-beens who sit on most corporate boards these days. Do the big-wigs who pull the LANS strings meet in some secretive Star Chamber, or something?

What planet does this guy come from? His "excuses" for picking LANS are lame, and I'm sure Congress will think the same thing. D'Agostino will probably be running NNSA for the next two years. Let's at least hope that the ship sinks slowly during his colorless tenure.

As far as the Q&A period, the first question asked was why the experimental lab areas still do not have Red (classified) network access. His answer: "I don't know where it stands". Try passing that one off on Congress on Tuesday and see where it gets you. It's his job to know were the classified networks efforts stands at the labs. But, hey, at least he was honest.

The other question that I found interesting came from a young staff member who told D'Agostino that management of TA-18 was "bad at all levels" and that the dramatic budget cuts were really hurting the lab. Poor guy. He won't last very long. D'Agostino seemed truly perplexed by the audacity of his comments regarding poor LANS management.

After a brief talk and a few question, D'Agostino was quickly hustled out the door. All in all, it left a queasy feeling in my stomach to think that this guy is now heading up NNSA. Maybe he's better at execution than elocution. One can always hope.
Looks like Negroponte's State Department nomination is going to get most of the air time on tomorrow's C-Span schedule. Only hope at seeing the Energy Oversight Hearings will be if the House site broadcasts them as a Webcast starting at 8am. The site says that transcripts of the hearing might be available 60 to 90 days after the event. Bummer!
Esteemed Canine, and others,

WHY is fairly obvious, and although certainly the result of destructive enabling (by BOTH Republicans and Democrats) over many years and profit-taking by several carpet-bagging wards of the government (once great corporations who actually did things other than live off the taxpayer host), the root cause is the people who have run DoE/NNSA for the past few decades. These wonks and we-bees set policy and have overseen the systematic replacement of non-profit (U Cal, U Chicago), or infinitesimal profit (Dupont, Monsanto, Union Carbide, Rockwell, etc.) GOCOs with the current stable of for-profit, fee-based consortia. This approach has repeatedly resulted in higher costs, and arguably unchanged or worse safety records. Yet the same people are allowed to repeat the same experiment with the same result.

Lockheed obviously didn't get the bid because they run Sandia, and in the eyes of NNSA Sandia is a renegade that has agressively sought to diversify their customer portfolio and thereby minimize NNSA's leverage and control.

And before I forget, 7:07 Anonymous -- get used to it. IF and when the axe falls, it will be like nothing that has been experienced in LANL history. It will look like downsizing at any other U.S. corporation --- RIFS where there is no funding, hiring (regular FTEs and/or contractors) where there is; probably with a preference for hiring limited-term employees and contractors because they don't represent a long-term commitment.
7:07, I hate to ask, but where did you get that 1600 employee RIF figure?

11:56, your last paragraph is exactly what I observed in the defense industry. Whole groups taken out when funding went away on a program, and replaced by new groups with expertise in the newly funded areas. Layoffs and hiring occurred simultaneously.

We'll see how Workforce Mobility works out.
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