Friday, March 09, 2007


More on the current work environment at LANL

This was just sent in by a reader:


We got an email from our division leader today, that all travel now needs justification to, and approval by an AD! So now we know why LANS tripled the number of managers. They must be totally nuts to require three levels in the chain of approval - they don't trust group leaders, they don't trust division leaders, so why not eliminate them and move all functions to the AD office, saving a bundle in the process.

Of all the unnecessary waste, fraud and abuse, this is the worst, because it is initiated from the top!

Of course you need AD approval. That way they can keep you in town for the drug test. You scofflaws will just leave town on the back of taxpayers to avoid the pee test. (snicker, snort...)
Very funny, 4:21. I hope you are an LLNL employee, so that a year from now you will be able to remember back how much fun you were having at LANL's expense. As you pee into your own little cup.
Come on. There is a fair amount of unneeded travel, which historically was allocated to people who had programs which were rich. With budget shortfalls, this travel should be curatiled to preserve jobs. Examples would be conferences, which are useful to be sure, but are not necessary.
Well, holy Shit, 5:23. You are absolutely right, of course. Lets get the VP's of Bechtel, BWXT, and UC involved in the approval process as well.

Yeah! That'll fix it!

This is 5:23. If you don't know the difference between luxuries and necessities, then you are probably not the right person to be making budgetary choices in tough times.

You may not like management, and they may be doing a bad job, but that does not have anything to do with putting appropriate financial controls in place.

It is unlikely that the glory days of infinite free funding are coming back, so it incumbent on everyone to try to optimize the systems that will be in place in the future. I assume you care enough to try making life better rather than sniping, or you would not be even posting on a blog.
And this is 5:27. I still contend that you are a fool if you think adding three unnecessary layers of management will fix a line management issue.

In fact upon reflection, I begin to suspect that you are a member of one of those three unnecessary layers of LANL management.

Or else you would have seen the obvious long before this unfortunate conversation took place.
5:23 again. We have had travel restrictions before, and hiring restrictions and you name it restrictions. In my experience, GL's and DL's fight for their groups and divisions, and have viewed all activities, even luxuries, as necessary rights for their organizations. They are close to the staff, and they hear the complaints up close and personal.

If your GL/DL did not do this, then I am sorry to hear it. Mine always did.

Unless you want the haves to do what they want while the - temporary because of programmatic budget fluctuations - have nots get laid off, then you need decisions made above a parochial level.

Maybe (probably) these management levels are unnecessary in general. A management level to allocate resources between two competing needs, and which is not beholden to either need, is necessary, in particular.

Look, there is a lot of BS happening, such as the radio ban. This is not one of those situations.

BTW, I am not a LANL manager, but this is irrelevant. Ad hominem attacks are not reason to accept or reject an argument.
"And this is 5:27. I still contend that you are a fool if you think adding three unnecessary layers of management will fix a line management issue."

I do contend that this is a line management issue that needs to be fixed. I contend for the same reason that cross-organizational resource allocation issues - hiring, travel, and any other contentious issues which require a non-parochial approach, require a high-level line management solution. I have been in several of these, and I suspect that many LANL staff have also been in several of these. My experience is that LANL managers historically either run from these issues or fight for "their people" regardless of the merits of the case.

You contend that management is not needed for these issues. I would like to hear your reasoning.
It is pretty interesting watching the black hole development in Northern New Mexico, where everything seems to be imploding....
5:23 and 5:27 - There has always been a ton of unnecessary travel done by LANL staff, the upper managers being among the worst abusers, especially when they take jaunts to Europe, Asia, and Hawaii several times per year for no valid business reasons. However, adding three additional levels of management to the approval process will do nothing to solve the problem. Those who are going to get most hurt by this are the actual working staff scientists who do need to travel to genuine conferences, to present research findings, and collaborate with outsiders. Oh, but since we don't do science at LANL anymore I guess this doesn't all matter.
This is in the vein of "How many (your favorite profession here) does it take to change a light bulb"... How many managers does it take to regulate travel?
This is ridiculous considering Mary and Terry are continuously on travel. Mary is off talking about her research program at conderences and at contractor meetings and finding money to keep her own research programs going - yes, Mary Neu is still running research group as an AD. No conflict of interest there. But then Terry and Mike are not even paying attention. She does nothing to help keep the folks in her AD funded - only herself and her husband's programs get attention. Speaking of which, isn't it a sight conflict of interest that an AD is also the OBER program manager for LANL, which just happens to be one of the programs that funds her research. Where are the auditors? Why is this allowed?
5:23 and 5:27:

You guys ought to agree that the problem is accountability. The only reason that three levels of management signature are required is that, as 5:27 contends, there is no trust of lower management by upper management. Why is this? Well, in my experience, it is because Group Leaders have in general not considered themselves accountable to upper management - they haven't considered it important to be effective stewards of taxpayer money, only to dole out travel perks to their employees based on programmatic accomplishments or favoritism, which amounts to the same thing.
This from a 13-year Group-level manager.
Lest you still think the blog can do no harm ... we have people on here, claiming to be LANL staff, stating that much lab travel consists of "jaunts".

Do you folks really think this is going to do you all any good? Are you really that naive?

You've got one of your own, Harold Agnew, deploring the language used on this blog w.r.t. RRW.

You are doing yourselves nothing but harm.
And this is whichever one us us called the other a moron.

Sorry about that, you are clearly not a moron.

The "solution" of requiring AD-level of approval for travel is moronic, however, and all too typical of present day LANL operations under LANS. With such a bureaucratic entrenched mentality it is only a matter of time before all work effectively comes to a complete standstill.

You are correct, in that this particular issue is not a central one. Rather, it is merely symptomatic of how badly broken LANL is.
3/09/2007 6:58 PM said "Where are the auditors? Why is this allowed?"

Auditors? We don't need no more stinking auditors! We've got that worthless bunch Rich Marquez (DOE-guy) assembled over there in the Lab's ethics group. that's a joke!
No one has written that having to approve travel at the AD level adds to the cost of doing business at LANL. It means two extra people have to touch that "piece of paper". that adds to overhead costs resulting in a further decline in outside money.

If group leaders are not trusted by upper management, then that is what needs fixing. Why pay someone the group leader's salary if you do not trust the person? And what is upper management - the division leaders who picked the group leaders, the AD's who picked the division leaders, etc.?

Sounds like there is a total lack of trust among all management which is then communicated to the staff.
The reason your AD wants signature authority for your travel is because the AD's are now having to explain the "business case" for large numbers of their employees traveling to the same conference.

The beauty of the approval-in-triplicate method is that it allows a certain fraction of the travel requests to "time out" - sort of like a pocket veto.
3/10 8:27 am:

"If group leaders are not trusted by upper management, then that is what needs fixing."

Upper management shares in the LANS contract award fee - Group Leaders don't. Simple enough?
Are DL's eligible for a bonus from the Award Fee, or is it AD and above?
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?