Thursday, February 01, 2007
What we can expect
Almost regardless of what happens from this point on, LANL is the loser. Science at LANL will never be the same. The attack on science at LANL that was begun by George Nanos in 2004 has turned into a complete rout. Science is the loser, and bloated, inept corporate structure is the winner.
The only remaining question is: will it be a slow lingering death for LANL's current contractor, or will there be a brutal Saddam Hussein-style execution of LANS at the abrupt end, like there was for its predecessor?
Here is what we can expect to be in store for LANL, now that the hearings are over:
- In the coming weeks the slow, dawning realization will gradually come to even the most obtuse, oblivious LANL staff that a fairy tail ending is not in the script.
- Months will drag by without resolution. RIFS will occur during those months. LANS, however, will remain. The FBI report will not be released. There will be a total news blackout regarding any possible outcome from the hearings.
- An official Public Affairs stonewall campaign will be in full force. No real news will be released by LANL PA, only PR fluff.
- Finally, seven months or so down the road the FBI will release their report, perhaps towards the end of August. If the report reveals that no substantive additional security episodes occurred at LANL other than the CREM de Meth fiasco, then the worst that LANS can expect is a slight-to-moderate reduction of their award fee.
- On the other hand, if Mitchell is named as having committed the security infraction that recent rumors have hinted at, the recourse against LANS will be more severe. Their contract will be terminated earlier than the 7 year term. Three or four years early, perhaps.
- Attrition will have taken its toll by this point. There truly will not be much science at LANL left to save by this point. Staff and programmatic dollars will have migrated to Sandia, Livermore, and other science centers.
- Ultimately, those who wished to reduce LANL's role to that of plutonium pit manufacture will have won, no matter what the interim path was that we took to get there.
- The politicians will declare success.
--Pat, The Realist
Budget Favors Labs - Los Alamos Monitor - Jan 31, 2007
Domenici says no need for employee layoffs
ROGER SNODGRASS Monitor Assistant Editor
At-risk projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory, like the Chemical and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility and the environmental cleanup program mandated by the state are expected to survive in the new federal appropriations bill.
An omnibus, long-term continuing resolution scheduled for a vote today will "suitably treat" New Mexico's national laboratories, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., reported Tuesday.
There will be no need for layoffs this year, according to commitments from the National Nuclear Security Administration, he said.
I suspect increasing funding opportunities for energy and environmental programs in the future (what with that pesky global warming and all) and wouldn’t mind seeing some of that work come our way. I’m concerned that if we tighten down too much across the entire institution, subject everyone to random drug testing, and just plain cost too much we will have trouble attracting such unclassified work and the people that want to work on it.
Before I bail for a job at a more desirable working environment (for my more easy going unclassified tastes) I just thought I throw this wild idea out there. I’ll check back in a day or two and see how badly I’ve been beat up.
p.s. the matrix has us
Could it ever happen? In my opinion, no. For it to become reality it would have to be embraced by both LANS and NNSA, and I don't think either of those two entities wants to move LANL in this direction. The reason for this has to do with power and control issues. Sorry to sound pessimistic, but I've been here a long while and that's just how I see it.
Good luck on your new job if you do decide to head out for greener pastures.
The two-lab idea was floated just after the Cold War ended in the early nineties. One "green" lab for science and one "black" lab for all the other stuff. The idea had some merit; one could, in those days, imagine a research campus of the University of California (complete with "campus-like atmosphere") outside the fence, alongside an independent multi-fenced "lab" (with a prison-like atmosphere) for all the classified weapons work. I posed the idea to the then T-Division Leader (we had "leaders" of divisions back then), and being a true particle physicist, he smiled wryly and said, "The first one outside the fence will wither for lack of funding, and we'll have only the weapons lab left. I wouldn't even want to suggest the idea to anyone in Washington; they'd laugh me out of the room." That was the end of that discussion, held on the steps of the T-Division Building. Little did he know then how badly things would turn out just a few years later.
-Brad Lee Holian
St. Pete came through for us, once again. He always does. Now go back to work, everyone. It's all been taken care of. Daddy's got us covered on his credit card.
House Approves Huge Spending Bill (AP News - Feb 1, 2007)
WASHINGTON - A must-pass bill covering about one-sixth of the federal budget swept through the House on Wednesday.
...The 286-140 vote — with 57 Republicans voting in favor — was a pleasant surprise for Democrats who expected far less GOP support. The $463.5 billion spending bill had much to please the rank and file, including Republican moderates, even though it contained no pet projects for their districts.
...Republicans also said the measure was not entirely free of parochial "earmarks," saying powerful senators such as Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Pete Domenici, R-N.M., received special treatment for home-state projects.
...Republicans contended some money came from phantom savings from highway spending.
In a striking exchange, GOP Rep. David Hobson of Ohio said Democrats bowed to powerful Republicans needed to pass the bill in the Senate.
Hobson said the House wanted to cut $495 million from nuclear weapons accounts, but settled for just $95 million out of deference to Domenici and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., whose states are home to numerous Energy Department facilities.
Bioscience, are you guys in on the development of this special IV fluid? X Division, can you guys develop a small radioactive pellet to help power Pete's new artificial heart for the next 500 years? Material science people, can you guys come up with some elastic artificial skin to cover the areas of Pete that eventually begin to rot away? Computer science guys, can you come up with a neural network that passes for a plausible copy of Pete's voice?
Hey, Terry! We've got your Signature Facility project right here, and I bet we can even get Pete to fund it while he's still alive!
Approve the RRW and "building down" of the nuclear arsenal, including a long term commitment to fund this process. Next, NNSA awards the overall responsibility for design and management of the RRW (1 and 2) program to LANL. NNSA transfers responsibility for scientific stewardship of "all" current nuclear weapons - deployed and reserve - to LLNL.
This gives LANL a clear mission and provides for "peer" review capability to continue to exist at LLNL.
It is unfortunate that the hearings might have provided a ray of hope that LANS would have its contract terminated for cause, thereby opening the possibility for improving the situation at LANL. It is just not going to happen.
There are quite a number of expensive TSM and ASM overhead folks in Project Management, Facilities and Business Operations that live off those projects and more. Support folks will always do well at LANL.