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This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What could be improved at LLNL?

I know for a fact that at least some of our ULM reads this blog. So, let's see if we can provide them some feedback on how they can improve.


Anonymous said...

Give back to empployees

Anonymous said...

ok. here is some constructive feedback. Eat my shorts.

how did i do?

Anonymous said...

Fire NNSA, Bechtelites, LLNS and D'Agostino, and the LLNL Benefits office.

Go begging to UC.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Try telling the truth, rather than lies, to all the employees. We're tired of being treated like clueless idiots, GM!

Anonymous said...

I see mural is still pretty low. It got so bad this year I heard my best friend / co-worker hung himself because of this strife. I went on sebatical to regain my helth. I want to come back but I'm afaid of this low mural.
This constant rape of the Lab I love to work at. When will it end.

Anonymous said...

Drill one last test shot bore hole. Prime a LLNL-designed RRW. Backfill it with ULM and NNSA staff. Test.

Enjoy a lovely beverage and post-detonation discussion.

Anonymous said...

replace bodman with chu, LLNS with UC, lynn soderstrom with a human being.

Anonymous said...

- Get rid of the dead wood. Frankly, even the best and the brightest at LLNL are no better than the best elsewhere.
- Have commom processes across all directorates that leverage the Lab's size. For software (my specialty) this would include languages, tools for CM, requirements, defect tracking, testing, etc.
- Get rid of the "We're the Lab. We're different." attitude.
- Get rid of the "We're the lab. We do things noone else does." attitude. Odds are if you are doing it so are at least 6 other places. For less and better.
- Get rid of the egos that build empires but can't keep a schedule or manage to put out quality products.
- Lose the pet projects that have no real benefit other than justifying the existance of a PhD.
- Get the coders out of Engineering and into Comp where they belong.
- Lose the bloated staffing of the matrix home organizations.
- Value an employee's contributions even if they are not on the hot project.
- Eliminate two layers of middle-upper management.
- Change "Human Capital Management" back to "Human Resources". The former is absolutely insulting. You should be more than a cog in a machine.
- Acknowledge employee contributions even in small ways.
- Don't ignore the guys that are not the new hotshot. Noone likes being written off. At my new company the last year I've done more, learned more, and been acknowledged for it than in my last 4 at the lab.
- Do science that really matters. Don't live the lie that what you are doing now is relevant or necessary.
- Get real project managers to manage the projects that do matter. Of the 5 software shops I worked in 4 were just places where people tinkered with code but did not produce anything worth a damn.

Anonymous said...

We could test again. To see if the damn things still work. That would be productive.

Who the hell believes government or the George Miller's of the world now?

Time to test.

Anonymous said...

" For software (my specialty).."
It shows. You have no conception of how to carry out science at the lab.

You confuse fancy bookkeeping (the basis of all software) with science. Comp Sci may be technology but it is not adequate preparation to suggest viable improvements to our sorry plight.

If you think software is important to the lab, name a person whose contributions are central to the lab's mission. They are transient, interchangeable and expendable, not contributing to the core scientific capability. Behind each score of technical programmers is one good scientist telling them what to write.

Old school (the way the last primaries were designed; with paper, calculators and mainframes... and experienced people.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes Mr. Scientist, I am sure that it does you good to dump on yet another peon. However, note that the person whom you were belittling was able to leave the lab.

Could you?

One of the things that could be improved at LLNL is an end to the plantation mentality in which the worst physicist is better than the best engineer, computer scientist, etc. An end to the matrix would be a good start.

Name me one big LLNL project over the last thirty years that has met its original goals. Make a list: AVLIS, NIF, Nova, Mirror Fusion, Brilliant Pebbles, X-Ray Laser, etc. etc. Embarrassed? I am.

Fact is, getting into a good engineering or computer science PhD program is at least as competitive as getting into a physics program. Why? Because there are jobs available at the other end.

Another fact: today LLNL is mostly an engineering lab. Those who want to be at the forefront of physics are at universities. The best physicists are there.

The world has changed. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

December 28, 2008, you clearly don't understand how science gets done. And while December 30, 2008 12:56 AM is probably a bit extreme in their viewpoint they are on the right track.

I'm in the IT space and it is clear to me that ULM and to a large extent Computations have no idea how IT should work at the lab. There are certainly aspects of IT (And coding as well no doubt) that can be more or less commoditized. However a fair amount of the work is highly specialized and does not readily lend itself to pure cookie cutter solutions.

Every business needs to understand what its value add is. If you do things exactly the same way as everyone else than clearly you have no additional value. This doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to find economies of scale where you can or strive to be cost effective of course.

If we're not unique, or at the very least near the top of the heap at what we do then we have no reason to continue to exist.

Anonymous said...

December 31, 2008 4:40 PM,

You key word there is "done". While science is an always evolving refining of a theory or hypothesis, there clearly needs to be milestones in that evolution. Many programs at the lab do not understand that. They spend years with no clear goal for what they are doing other than "do science".

Also, there are other programs outside or stockpile stewardship (WFO) that have customers that expect working products in return for their dollars spent. We have not done a good job there.

As for the IT space, you are correct. There are a lot of things and systems at the Lab that are unique. But the management of those systems is not so unique that we need to use primitive, home-grown solutions.

Frankly, in five years it won't matter anyway. We'll all be at LANL or on the street.

Neko said...

Maybe LLNS Mgt should look at what the management of NTS did - really give back to the employees. Like that will ever happen. Dream on!

Anonymous said...

"Name me one big LLNL project over the last thirty years that has met its original goals. Make a list: AVLIS, NIF, Nova, Mirror Fusion, Brilliant Pebbles, X-Ray Laser, etc. etc. ...

The human Genome project, which was done for pennies at LLNL compared to all those other LLNL flops. I was also told the biggest patent winners were also biology related for LLNL.

Makes you wonder about how the lab approaches management of its big projects versus these rather small science driven projects.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of LLNS and go back to the UC where we had a retirement plan UCRP. The 401k is garbage and will get you nowhere. The 401k at LLNL is a work for life carrot driven by slave labor and daily uncertainty. What a shame NNSA destroyed so many peoples lives and futures. I hope they are never able to hire anyone again.

Anonymous said...

"What a shame NNSA destroyed so many peoples lives and futures." (10:25 AM)

They don't care. They wanted to downsize the complex and find cheaper labor.

"I hope they are never able to hire anyone again." (10:25 AM)

Again, they don't care. They'll be happy with C-grade staff that accept low benefits for many years to come.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of all facilities except Plant Engineering, NAI, 321 and NIF. The rest can go bye bye and would never be missed. They're kind of like welfare recipients just hanging on for the ride on NIF's coat tails. Can't wait until the Pu is gone and Weapons Physically move to Los Alamos. There are plenty of cuts that can be made at LLNL and I'm just wondering when ULM going to come to that consciences. Maybe Chu and Obama will.

Anonymous said...

January 23, 2009 9:32 AM

"They're kind of like welfare recipients just hanging on for the ride on NIF's coat tails."

You're joking, right? Would you like all the whistle blowers to come out and explain how NIF has been underwritten? Maybe you would like to know about the current unallowable costs discussions associated with NIF? Can you say: waste, fraud, and abuse?

Anonymous said...

Come on. NIF is being
subsidized by the rest
of the Lab because they
pay much lower overhead costs.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of layers of non productive management. Project leaders are the only ones really pulling their weight here. The rest is is unnecessary overhead!

Anonymous said...

Not even the project leaders are worth protecting. Been under a couple who barely knew what they were "managing", leading to some totally FUBB situations. Of course the PL got promoted for her ineptitude....

Anonymous said...

Here are some suggestions:

1. Layoff bloated management. Please stop shifting these ineffective managers to other positions. If they have not done a good job they should go, not be rewarded with other positions. I hate to see layoffs as much as the next person, but I have no issues with laying off bad employees. And by any metric I can think of, management has failed terribly. Accountability means getting rid of those that have created this situation.

2. Change the compensation "ranking" system. Who in the world came up with this system? This system was custom built to dis-incentivize the employees. I complained about this system to the lab and they told me that certain jobs are valued, others less so. As such the person doing a great job at a "less valued" job will never get a high ranking. So this system is set up to encourage low productivity. Why work your butt off if there is no chance of reward? This is insane and a moronic system beyond words. I am unaware of any place else where this is done. In the private sector, if a secretary does a great job, he/she gets rewarded with a better raise. At LLNL, why bother to work hard? It rarely factors into your raise. I can see why there is so much deadwood. Pay is the same either way, work hard or not at all, little difference in compensation.

3. Reduce the pay of managers. In my division, many managers are paid salaries similar to corporate presidents and vice presidents. But these managers positions are not equivalent to presidents and vice presidents. So gross overcompensation is occurring. And for anyone who has examined the ranking system can see, basically to get rank group 1 or 2 essentially requires you to be a manager. Then once a manager, the money comes, because you are ranked 1 or 2. See the cycle? A compensation structure that rewards managers. Since you are a manager you are ranked high, since you are ranked high your raise is year same as the last.

4. Once in a while do something that indicates you give a damn about your employees. LLNL beats on its employees and does little to reward them (and I am not talking just about compensation). Name one thing that was done for employees in the past year and a half that said "we value you, you do great things". I can't think of one.

5. Fire abusive managers. I have been astounded by what managers get away with that should have resulted in firing. I have seen some of it firsthand. I tried to work the system to get my problems resolved of an abusive manager. You know the result? The manager was promoted. No joke, I am not making this up.

6. Empower the employees to push scientific advancement. Look at any high tech company, the ideas come from below, not from above. Yes, managers make the final go/no go decisions on what projects move forward, but the ideas should come from below. But WOW, management squelches or impedes new ideas. There is quite simply no innovation at LLNL, and this is the reason why. This gets back to comment #1, if you simply wholesale removed most of the managers, innovation would begin to flourish because it is the managers that are crushing it. I am not saying a manager cannot come up with a good idea, they do too, but it is well known, true innovation percolates up, not down, from the creativity of the scientists and employees. At LLNL I have seen TOO many times the pure agony people go through to try to get an idea or proposal heard. Don't form a committee to help move ideas forward, get rid of the management layers that are killing the innovation. As proof, please look for your self at scientific publications of the national labs per number of total employees. You will see other national labs with far fewer workers produce far more papers, and thus more innovation than LLNL.


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