Saturday, January 13, 2007
LANL FUBARed Big-time By Bechtel
The end of the first year of the LANL Contract
(held by LANS, LLC = Bechtel with UC duct-taped to the passenger seat)
Comments abound on the rocky ride: Read on!
UC Riverside official is accused of bribery
FBI says Theodore Chiu solicited payments from an Irvine contractor constructing a building on campus.
By Sara Lin, Times Staff Writer
January 10, 2007
Federal agents arrested a UC Riverside administrator Tuesday on suspicion of bribing a general contractor in charge of building the school's new psychology building, authorities said.
Theodore Chiu, 53, of Riverside is accused of soliciting a $50,000 bribe from Irvine contractor FTR International Inc. last Halloween.
Chiu allegedly asked for the payment when the company's president, Nizar Katbi, raised concerns about the $35-million project, including Chiu's choice of a subcontractor, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court.
In exchange for the alleged bribe, Chiu agreed to sign a change order that would modify the university's original agreement with the company, the affidavit said.
As an associate director in UC Riverside's Office of Design and Construction, Chiu managed several construction projects.
Katbi agreed to the proposal but told federal agents before giving Chiu his first payment. Katbi cooperated with investigators by recording his meetings and conversations with Chiu, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
During a series of meetings, Chiu allegedly received $18,000 in bribes from Katbi, the affidavit said.
University officials said they weren't aware of the investigation until Chiu's arrest Tuesday morning.
Kris Lovekin, the university's director of media relations, said she didn't know of any problems university officials had with Chiu during his 19 years in the school's design office. His salary is $108,000 a year.
Construction of the school's psychology building began in April and is scheduled for completion in June 2008.
At a November meeting between Katbi and Chiu, which federal investigators recorded, the contractor offered to write Chiu a check. But Chiu demanded cash because a check would be traceable. If Katbi didn't pay, Chiu said, he would make life difficult for the contractor and his company, according to the affidavit.
Chiu also told Katbi that he didn't like to handle more than one deal at a time, which Katbi took to mean Chiu might be soliciting bribes from other general contractors on UC Riverside projects, documents show.
Chiu initially demanded the bribe in two installments — $20,000 before Thanksgiving and $30,000 before Christmas. But when Katbi said he was having trouble getting the money, Chiu agreed to accept smaller increments of $7,000. When Katbi was slow paying in December, Chiu withheld his authorization of funds that Katbi needed to pay subcontractors. After Katbi delivered a bribe, the funds were released, the affidavit said.
Chiu is expected to appear at 11 a.m. today for a bail hearing in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. If convicted, Chiu faces a possible sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
NNSA is evidently trying to promulgate new cybersecurity rules that are said to reveal a stunning level of stupidity and ignorance in the NNSA CIO office. I can't wait to see them.
NNSA is a disaster. It is destroying science at the labs. It has done nothing to improve security. And, as revealed in an article in the albuquerque journal a few months back, it can't even do its primary job of ensuring the integrity of the stockpile. Even St. Pete no longer likes NNSA, and he bears a large portion of the blame for its existence.
The NNSA dog won't hunt. The best thing that the new senate and house could do would be to put NNSA out of its misery and return DOE to status quo ante. I doubt that anyone in DC has that much sense.
Let's hope that the LLNL rebid is put on hold until NNSA is terminated with extreme prejudice.
Española wants share of LANL taxes
By HENRY M. LOPEZ | The New Mexican
January 11, 2007
Española Mayor Joseph Maestas estimates that about $90 million a year in gross-receipts tax will eventually flow into the state from Los Alamos National Laboratory.
And he wants some of that money for his city and other Northern New Mexico governments. Already about $40 million would go to Los Alamos County, whose officials say they want to invest some in regional projects, leaving an annual $50 million pot of state money that Maestas wants to access.
The potential windfall comes from the lab's change in management from the tax-exempt University of California to the for-profit management consortium Los Alamos National Security LLC. The change opened the lab to gross-receipts taxes.
Maestas said the $20 million request was just a "bite of the apple," and requests would be larger during subsequent years.
-- "History of America", Pliny the Elder, 2050 --
Wouldn't you know it. Guess LANL's Program Managers will have to start looking for another means to grow the lab's business. Bee research won't cut it. The $2.4 million in DARPA research funding for this LANL work didn't seem to bear much fruit. LANL will now apparently try to shop this idea to other US Agencies who don't read the news.
Defense says bees unreliable in detecting bombs
By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, January 11, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — Plan Bee to detect roadside bombs is a no-go.
The Defense Department has researched whether bees could detect explosives. The goal was to get the bees to react when they sensed vapors from substances such as dynamite and plastic explosives.
But the $2.4 million in research did not bear fruit, said Jan Walker, a spokeswoman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
“The research demonstrated that bees can detect explosives under certain environmental conditions, but their explosive-detection capabilities have significant reliability issues,” Walker said Tuesday.
“Whatever you’re going to use to detect explosives, you have to know for sure; it has to be extremely reliable,” she said. “You don’t want to say it’s all clear and not have it all clear because that would put someone’s life at risk.”
The agency does not see a way to make the bees a reliable weapon in the fight against roadside bombs, she said.
“At this point, we do not plan any further investment,” Walker said.
But Tim Haarmann, a honey bee researcher at Los Alamos who worked on the project, said he still believes bees have the potential to be used in a role similar to that of bomb-sniffing dogs.While DARPA has decided not to fund the project further, it is not dead, Haarmann said.
Researchers are looking for new sources of funding and working with Homeland Security and Justice Department officials to see what roles the bees could play, he said.
Now, the chickens are coming home to roost on this ill-fated decision. WFO work at LANL has collapsed, as average FTE costs have sky-rocketed to over $400K per year. There are only a few people who are willing to pay these high rates. LANL management is desperately talking about growing the WFO work, but it's unlikely they'll have much success when our overhead rates are so ridiculously high. It's also unlikely they'll take the necessary actions to bring these rates down to more sane levels.
The #1 problem at LANL is that there are now way too many people riding comfortable in the back of the wagon and fewer and fewer folks willing to pull the wagon. With this ominous situation, the 'wagon' is now about to come to an abrupt halt.
I agree. LANS won't make it till June 1st, '07. They'll have the contract yanked from them before that as a strong warning to others that the DOE/NNSA mean business. And what will become of all those workers who placed their TCP1 pension bets with LANS? Tsk, tsk. Don't say you weren't warned. Perhaps you can get pennies on the dollar from the US Government's Pension Guaranty Corporation. LANL's current operating budget surely can't afford to make any rich pension payouts! "
This would be nice but I doubt that they'll fix it until after Oct 1st, 2007 when they have LLNL too. Then they may land the boom on both facilities at the same time. Well I guess that answers what the people of LLNL should do with their UCRP retirement? Maybe we'll see a 90% TCP-2 there instead of being like LANL where we say a 60% TCP-1.