BLOG purpose

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. Opinions not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The 46 DOE BES Energy Frontiers Research Centers

Anonymous said...

The 46 DOE BES Energy Frontiers Research Centers were announced and LLNL did not get funding for their proposed center to study materials for nuclear reactors (special focus on LIFE reactor materials). In fact, all the other national labs got multiple centers funded at several million dollars per year. LLNL is a minor participant on three centers, but does not lead any. For example, LANL and Sandia are each involved in 14 of the centers.

April 28, 2009 9:20 PM

Friday, April 24, 2009

LLNS has taken a year away

Anonymous said...

Under UC rules, a child was covered until her 24th birthday. The IRS also considers a 23-to-24-year-old in college a dependent.

But LLNS has taken a year away.

LLNS is slowly removing benefits a little at a time, hoping no one will notice. Our daughter has no coverage, though she's 23 and entering her senior year next year. COBRA hasn't gotten back to us, Benefits knows nothing about it!!!

Are we the only ones with college-age children? I guess you have to be in a situation to feel its impact.

I just called Anthem Blue Cross. They weren't sure! Since LLNS is very clear about un-enrolling children, and both the computerized system and the human being said our daughter was enrolled, I asked the woman to find out what was going on. It turns out you're enrolled until the first of the month after you turn 23.

I'm mad as hell. I'm going to inform the IRS. The IRS has strict rules about age of dependent children and like UC did, it's to 24 at the end of the tax year.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

To all managers

Listen to your employees, friends and coworkers! If you want to improve morale, listen. You may not like what you hear, and do not take it with a grain of salt. We've been screaming for help and we might as well be screaming in a vacuum. HELP!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Technology Boom Too Tempting For Many Government Scientists

Navigating the other day I found this article at the NY Times in 2000. It is interesting to see the opinion of several national lab employees. One of them still works at LLNL and is part now of ULM. I immediately wondered if he has changed his mind or he still thinks in the same way.

Technology Boom Too Tempting For Many Government Scientists
Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Source: Technology

Throughout the high-tech era, government research laboratories have been seedbeds for some of the most important advances in computing, detecting nuclear weapons, robotics, gene sequencing and other fields. And for engineers and computer scientists, the laboratories have been havens of job permanence.

Now, the technology boom in Silicon Valley and across the nation has changed all that. The lure of the private sector and its many start-up companies is so strong that national research laboratories are losing their best and brightest in growing numbers.

Senior scientists making $90,000 at a government laboratory can go to private companies and increase their salaries by 50 percent. Add a lucrative stock-option package and the appeal can be irresistible.

Financial rewards are not the only motivation. At the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the case of Wen Ho Lee, the scientist who admitted mishandling nuclear secrets, has also had an effect.

''I used to wake up and think I had the best job in the world,'' said Pete Beckman, a 36-year-old computer scientist who spent nearly four years at Los Alamos before leaving in April. ''It was so much fun, and I was working with absolutely the smartest people in the world. I didn't mind making 30 percent less than if I were at a private company. But you can only put up with so much.''

He took a job in the Santa Fe, N.M., area with TurboLinux, a software company, for a salary that he said was much higher than the $100,000 he made at Los Alamos, and stock options. Four others from Los Alamos left at the same time to join him.

Many administrators fear such departures could erode the quality of government-sponsored technical and scientific research over the next several years, including some work affecting national security.

''If the attrition continues to escalate, at some point you get behind the power curve, no matter what you do,'' said David Pehrson, deputy associate director of engineering at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. ''You ultimately weaken the ability of the lab to do the things we're asked to do. It's a slow, creeping kind of thing.''

Over all, the annual attrition rate at leading research centers like Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories, which has headquarters in Albuquerque, traditionally around 4 percent, has recently been in double-digit percentages, especially in the growing fields of advanced computation (the application of sophisticated hardware and software to complex problems) and biotechnology, in which expertise is in high demand. That is still less than the turnover in private industry, typically close to 25 percent, but that is of little comfort to the government.

''We've had management consultants who've come in and said, 'Your turnover is too low; it's unhealthy,' '' said Mim John, vice president of Sandia's California division in Livermore. ''Now we can say, 'It's healthy, thank you, and I don't like it.' ''

The rate of attrition among scientists in the computing division at Los Alamos has more than doubled in two years. Hardest hit is Advanced Computing Laboratory, where 14 of 34 full-time employees, or 41 percent, have left in the last year or are preparing to leave. In some of Sandia's computing groups, the attrition rate has risen to 11 percent, and in some parts of Lawrence Livermore it is 12 percent.

The departures have not only caused the usual disruptions that occur when employees leave, but have also affected work related to national security. Dr. Beckman and his colleagues had been working on advanced software for simulating the testing of nuclear weapons.

Similarly, six scientists at Sandia in California, who had invented a technology for hand-held sensors to detect chemical and biological agents, left earlier this year to start a new company, called Eksigent, based on their invention.

Even departures of scientists not involved in research related to weapons can have an indirect effect on security-related research, and that also causes concern. Robert Dye, 39, a Los Alamos materials scientist who worked on the reduction of global warming, left the laboratory last month to join Technanogy, a company in Newport Beach, Calif., involved in the growing field of nanotechnology, which produces molecular-scale devices.

''I'm not a direct weapons guy, but I'm in strategic support,'' said Dr. Dye, who was at Los Alamos for 11 years. ''There's a bunch of weapons people who know they can come consult with me. It's an entangled web, and you're ripping out these entangled webs when people leave.''

Dave Rakestraw, 39, who had been at Sandia for 12 years and is one of the co-founders of Eksigent, said the prosecution of Wen Ho Lee had an effect at Sandia and other labs. But Dr. Rakestraw pointed to a more general decline in the attractiveness of working at Sandia.

''The environment in the lab is not as desirable as it used to be,'' he said. ''In olden days, very large sums of money were poured into national labs, which gave really smart scientists an environment where they could be the best they could be. Now competition for resources has been much more a part of everyone's lives.''

Dr. Rakestraw also said, ''There's always the lure of winning the lottery by joining some start-up, and you get much richer than you ever imagined.''

In Northern California, the gradual spread of Silicon Valley into less congested cities has compounded the situation. Livermore, 40 miles southeast of San Francisco, used to be considered the far outskirts of Silicon Valley. In the last year or so, a number of high-tech companies have arrived in the area; housing prices have soared; and technical talent of all stripes is highly prized.

And the problem is not confined to national security laboratories. NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley, has been particularly vulnerable to recruitment from the computer industry.

In recent years, NASA Ames has lost several high-level engineers who have gone to work for a variety of start-ups and become millionaires.

In competing for talent, the laboratories are constrained by budgets determined by Congress and administered by the Department of Energy. Matching a salary offer from a private company can take weeks or months. Before leaving Sandia, Dr. Rakestraw said, he tried to recruit a scientist from an outside company into a management position, but after two months of negotiations, the laboratory could not come up with the $135,000 the scientist wanted.

But the laboratories are trying to find ways to fight back, taking measures to keep people from leaving and make themselves more appealing to recruits. Sandia, Lawrence Livermore and NASA Ames now offer signing bonuses, and Los Alamos is likely to do so. Sandia's California division is also considering housing assistance.

Scientists like Dr. Rakestraw and Dr. Beckman said they were torn about leaving their government work, partly because of the sense of civic duty they felt as laboratory employees. ''A lot of us felt a lot of pride working at the lab, focused on protecting the country and developing the next generation of technology,'' Dr. Beckman said. ''There's a lot of patriotism that goes with that.''

That sense of loyalty has prompted some to seek ways to keep a foot in both worlds, perhaps by continuing to consult part time. Ronald Reisman, 46, an engineer at NASA Ames, has been working for 12 years on improving the nation's ailing air-traffic-control system.

But as a government employee, Mr. Reisman was making far less than he could at a private company. He was so dedicated to his work that when he finally agreed to take a high-paying job at an e-commerce software company recently, after months of soul-searching, he insisted on being allowed to continue to work at NASA part time until he finished his project.

''I've been a civil servant for a dozen years and I'm not going to throw it away for a few shekels,'' Mr. Reisman said. ''There's honor involved.''

Photos: Pete Beckman said he enjoyed his job at Los Alamos National Laboratory but left for a higher salary. (Steve Northrup for The New York Times)(pg. A23); Ronald Reisman, who had worked to improve the air traffic system, left NASA for a software company. (Peter DeSilva for The New York Times)(pg. A23)

What really caused the demise of the Superblock?

Friday, April 17, 2009


So, rumor is that EM is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Something about optics doomed to failure after the beam is reflected off the plasma produced during a shot.

Better Oversight Needed . . .

Anonymous said...

"Better Oversight Needed to Ensure That Security Improvements at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Are Fully Implemented and Sustained"
March 2009

What the GAO Found
"DOE’s Office of Independent Oversight found numerous and wide-ranging security deficiencies with LLNL’s safeguards and security program. DOE gave the laboratory the lowest possible rating in two security areas: protective force performance and classified matter protection and control. The Office of Independent Oversight also reported that LLNL’s physical security systems, such as alarms and sensors, and its security program planning and assurance activities needed improvement."......

...."LLNL, LSO, and DOE officials agreed on other factors that contributed to the laboratory’s overall security performance. First, the change in management and operating contractor from the University of California to LLNS in October 2007 contributed to a loss of focus on security performance. According to LLNL security officials, during the period of contract transition, employees’ focus was on ensuring safety as well as on potential impacts on employee pensions. In addition, the contract transition contributed to a delay in conducting LLNL’s required annual
force-on-force exercise. Second, DOE’s and NNSA’s determination to declare LLNL a non-enduring site for Category I and II special nuclear material affected the morale of laboratory employees. LLNL security officials said highly experienced employees left the laboratory as a result of this declaration. Finally, successive changes to DOE’s DBT policy between 2003 and 2005 affected the analytical process that underpins security planning. In particular, LLNL security officials said the laboratory faced challenges in completing necessary vulnerability assessments."

April 16, 2009 8:58 PM

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Nuclear Weapons Complex Consolidation Policy Network

The Nuclear Weapons Complex Consolidation Policy Network, a collaboration of six national and regional groups, released a major study on April 8, 2009, advocating a total stockpile of 500 nuclear warheads and a weapons complex downsized from eight sites to three. The network consists of the national organizations the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Project On Government Oversight (POGO); Nuclear Watch New Mexico, near the Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs; Tri-Valley CAREs, near the Lawrence Livermore National Lab; the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, near the Kansas City Plant (KCP); and JustPeace of Texas, near the Pantex Plant.

President Barack Obama has declared that a nuclear weapons-free world is a long-term national goal. The study outlines how that vision can begin to be concretely carried out in the near-term. The Network's report includes numerous recommendations for the Administration's pending Nuclear Posture Review.

The study integrates analysis of nuclear weapons doctrine, strategic force structure and the supporting weapons complex. The groups state that their plan would truly transform and downsize the nuclear weapons complex, in marked contrast to the National Nuclear Security Administration's plan for Complex Transformation.

The study's lead author is Dr. Robert Civiak, a physicist, former visiting scientist at Livermore Lab, and retired White House OMB budget examiner for DOE nuclear weapons programs. Civiak commented, "As a matter of overriding policy, the United States should view its strategic force for one purpose and one purpose only- to deter the use of nuclear weapons by others until the world is free of nuclear weapons. The Department of Defense and NNSA should structure U.S. nuclear forces and the weapons complex accordingly."

PDF copies of the Network's full report, the report's summary and a color map of the current and proposed nuclear weapons complex are posted at

Marylia Kelley,
Executive Director

Saturday, April 11, 2009

SPSE-UPTE and LLNS Management Reach Tentative Agreement

SPSE-UPTE and LLNS Management Reach Tentative Agreement on First SPSE-UPTE Contract for Skilled Trades Bargaining Unit

The SPSE-UPTE bargaining team has reached tentative agreement with LLNS management on a first contract for the Skilled Trades Bargaining Unit, i.e., those employees who by majority signup in 2007 chose SPSE-UPTE to represent them. The Skilled Trades are a subset of 800-series employees that includes air conditioning mechanics, locksmiths, boiler and pressure system mechanics, carpenters, electricians, heavy equipment mechanics, maintenance mechanics, painters, plumbers/fitters, riggers, sheet metal workers, trades helpers, and welders. It also includes shop leads, but does not at this time include first line supervisors. Contract bargaining began in July 2008. SPSE-UPTE members within the bargaining unit will have the opportunity to vote their approval or disapproval of the contract's content sometime this week.

Within the contract's provisions, management and SPSE-UPTE have tentatively agreed to the following:

1. Wage increases for bargaining unit members as follows
3.6% retroactive to 10/1/2008
2.5% as of 4/1/2009
2.0% as of 10/1/2009

These add to 8.1%, however when the raises are compounded, the unit members will be making 8.3% more on 10/1/2009 than on 1/1/2008, the date of their last increase.

2. UPTE unit fees (known informally as union dues) will be automatically deducted and remitted to UPTE's systemwide treasurer. Unit fees each month amount to 1.3% of one's gross wage or $35, whichever is less. (In most if not all cases, unit members will be paying the $35 cap for dues rather than the 1.3% fraction. For those at the top of their wage scale, the $35 fee will be a little over 0.5% of their gross wage.)

3. All flexible-term employees within the unit will be converted to career indefinite status on 4/1/2009.

4. Any future flex-terms hired into the unit will be limited to a 3-year term.

5. SPSE-UPTE has the right to negotiate with management on any subcontracting that directly threatens the job security of unit members, by, for example, idling one or more members of a shop.

6. SPSE-UPTE likewise has the right to negotiate with management on behalf of unit members any changes to the LLNS Defined Benefit Pension Plan / 401(k) Savings Plan (TCP1) and the LLNS 401(k) Retirement Plan (TCP2).

7. Grievance and arbitration rights obtain for any contract violation not specifically excluded in writing in the agreement. The contract describes the procedure to be followed for each.

8. The Health and Safety article codifies the Lab's "stop work" safety policy and makes it arbitrable. In other words, any retribution by management for stopping work will now be a contract violation.

9. The High Voltage Electricians will receive a grade increase to grade 13 on 4/1/2009. This will help narrow the disparity in compensation between them and their counterparts at PG&E.

10. Rules for hours of work, overtime, reasonable accommodation, holidays, performance review, employee development, promotion and transfer, premium pay, and temporary/limited duty are reproduced from satisfactory LLNL policies, either past or present.

11. Corrective action may occur only for "cause". SPSE-UPTE bargainers made clear during negotiations that we interpret this as "just cause" and expect progressive discipline to be followed in all corrective action.

12. An affirmation of beryllium safety practices in the ES&H manual, and an agreement by both sides to follow them. Any future failure of LLNS to observe these safe practices would be a contract violation. Management has agreed to meet and discuss significant changes it makes to the relevant sections of the ES&H manual.

Any circumstances not covered by the contract will be governed by default to LLNS policy and procedure as it applies to all other Lab employees.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rate the quality of your program

I would like to hear about your program at LLNL. Please rate the managers, whether you like the work, funding issues,whether it is decent place to work, any glimmers of hope. Looking for fair comments here. My hope is ULM reads this blog and will find useful suggestions from the workers. Since in my program, the managers will come after you with a vengance if you suggest anything, and GM does not provide us a means to make comments (nor protect us from the managers afterward), we will have to do it here. Try to be fair and not bash too much but I understand the frustration out there.

April 10, 2009 1:09 PM

What living beyond your means has brought us ?

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder why we never have enough money here in the good old USA to put towards alternative energy and cancer research. Check out the money out government spends kissing butt with politicians around the world and ask yourself this. Why is it legal for them to use the tax payer money for such BS when the butt-sniffs they are paying off are already worth billions if not trillions of dollars. Black Money
You all need to sit back and watch this documentary then visit PBS Frontline more often and see what CNN, ABC, CBS and CNN never wanted you to know or even cared to take the time to air. Then if you really want to see your future, your children's future and their children's future sit back and watch your taxes go to 70% and we'll still not have enough to pay off the national debt. It so bad if every man, women and child wrote a check to Uncle Sam for $35K , today, we'd still couldn't undo what Obama is doing.

Welcome to Obama's world Ten Trillion and Counting

April 10, 2009 8:13 AM

Monday, April 6, 2009

What's your exit plan?

Anonymous said...

"My guess is this collapse is not very far away. Maybe another year or two. Three at most. Any worker bee with a brain should be able to see this coming by now. The smart worker bees will begin moving to a more healthy hive ASAP."

April 5, 2009 7:54 PM

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Roadmap made up of game–changing technologies

The Laboratory’s roadmap to the future needs game–changing technologies that can meet the emerging needs of the nation.

And Livermore is on its way. Tómas Díaz de la Rubia on Thursday outlined the Lab’s five–year roadmap strategy during an all–hands meeting. He said the Lab needs to focus on recruiting and retaining employees.

Even though there is a constant flow of new ideas from Lab employees and the Lab is highly regarded in the external community, Díaz de la Rubia said the Lab is in a funk.

“Right here, right now, something is not working quite right. The Lab’s engine is sputtering,” he said. “We need to get going again doing what we do best – recruiting and retaining outstanding talent in all areas of the Lab, executing on our mission priorities, and innovating for the future.

“We all need to work together to kick start the engine of the Lab.”

Three leaders from the seven Roadmap to the Future thrust areas gave short summaries of what they determined were strategic areas where the Lab needs to move.

Wes Spain, who leads the cyber and space security and intelligence area, said the needs include “real time situational awareness of complex systems; predictive models of computer information systems and a hybrid of human–machine systems that learn from language and images”.

“We need to crack this nut,” he said. “These are significant S&T challenges, but this Lab is uniquely positioned to do well in these areas.”

Julio Friedmann outlined the regional climate modeling and impacts area. “I don’t think people understand how bad it is and how much needs to be done” in terms of climate change, he said. “But this is good news for us because it presents a great opportunity.”

The two key areas are: understanding climate change and its impacts and delivering zero–carbon or low–carbon energy solutions. Friedmann said the Lab is already addressing these issues by investing in better wind prediction capabilities, underground coal gasificaiton combined with carbon capture and sequestration, and carbon capture at its source.

Mike Carter outlined the nuclear threat elimination that is more of a nonproliferation strategy. Key areas include global fissile materials awareness; autonomous forensics; and cradle to grave material modeling. “We need to stop adversaries as early as possible,” he said.

Díaz de la Rubia said future town hall meetings will focus on the other thrust areas: Stockpile stewardship science, biosecurity, LIFE and advanced laser optical systems and applications.

“We’re not at a tipping point; we’re going up,” he said. “We’re ready to change the world, right here, right now.”

Westworld . . .

where nothing can possibly go wrong. Sound familiar?

Details of Obama's plan for a nuclear-free world

Anonymous said...

Details of Obama's plan for a nuclear-free world
Sun Apr 5, 2009

PRAGUE (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama launched on Sunday a long-term plan to create a world free of nuclear weapons.

Obama's speech, to an outdoors audience of thousands in the Czech capital of Prague, came after North Korea raised security fears across the world by launching a long-range missile which it said was intended purely to put a satellite in orbit.

According to the Obama plan, the United States will:

-- reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy and urge others to follow

-- maintain "a safe, secure and effective arsenal" to deter adversaries as long as such arms exist

-- negotiate a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia this year

-- seek to include all nuclear weapons states in arms cuts
-- "immediately and aggressively" pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in an effort to accelerate a global ban on nuclear testing

-- seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons

-- seek to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, proposing more resources for international inspections and urge "real and immediate consequences" for those caught breaking the rules

-- promote civil nuclear cooperation by urging an international fuel bank available to every nation that renounces nuclear weapons

-- support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections

-- pursue a cost-effective and proven missile defence system "as long as the threat from Iran persists"

-- back a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years
-- host a world summit on nuclear security in the next year.


LLNL (as a "think tank" type of lab) may benefit from this plan in the long run, while the production side on NNSA (Pantex, NTS, KCP, LANL Pit production, Y-12) may be in sharp decline... Other thoughts?

April 5, 2009 10:03 AM

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fresh analysis of NIF

Anonymous said:

Fresh analysis of NIF from Stephen Bodner and the press release from the Dept. of Energy are both linked to on Posted on the Tri-Valley CAREs' blog on Tuesday:

DOE Declares NIF Laser "Complete"; Leading Researcher Discloses Design Deficiencies

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), a mega-laser at Livermore Lab that is intended to train the next generation of nuclear bomb designers is back in the news. Not because of its bloated $5 billion price tag, or because of the government's decision to use plutonium as well as fusion targets in NIF.

Nope, NIF is in the news because its construction has been declared complete. It will be used by bomb designers.

But will NIF meet its more challenging scientific goal of ignition?

It will not, according to the March 28 analysis of Stephen Bodner, former head of laser fusion at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Read: "NIF Laser Fails to Meet the Minimum Specifications Required for their Ignition Target Designs." Link

Then, read the government's press release of March 31, "Department of Energy Announces Completion of World's Largest Laser." Link

In the classic struggle between science and public relations, I believe the point goes to Bodner. Bodner bio: Bodner


Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever noticed the amazing similarity between working at LLNS and the board game Paranoia?

Write-up for that game here. Paranoia

April 4, 2009 6:27 AM

Should NNSA end the LLNS contract?

After just 75% of its first two years, there have been at least 9 changes in senior management as listed in LLNS' contract proposal. JD is the latest to go. Thank goodness for Global Security.

Don't these clowns have any sense of honor? NNSA should hammer this LLC for its arrogant and irresponsible management of the contract. They bring in a lot of overpaid examples of the Peter Principle, run the Lab into the ground, and bail even before their sentence is up.

It's time to show LLNS the door.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Miller and Co: You'd better listen to this

Anonymosuly contributed:

This comment was moved from the post "GM: when will bloated ULM be reduced?" because I feel it reflects the realities of a poorly managed lab and the low morale of employees. People are leaving now in a bad economy. Will there be anyone left when the economy improves?

I left ~4 months ago - not because of the layoffs, not because it was so hard to get WFO funding, not because I didn't enjoy the work, but because there are a vast swathe of over-paid useless managers at LLNL. I was tired of watching these managers and overheads eating the money I'd worked so hard to get into the lab. There is a culture of "getting by" within management at LLNL - they do whatever it takes to keep their job and salary but almost nothing to be genuinely useful to either the organization or the projects. This was true of my group leader (head of a group of 6!) and everyone above her. There's nothing that can change this culture because it has been honed over many years of "fail upwards" promotions, academic timescales, and political backstabbing. It made me so depressed and angry every day - i just had to leave.

So - how many in total are left at the lab? What was the percentage of personel at group leader or above 12 months ago and what is it now?

Results of "how do you use the BLOG" poll

65 voters:
- mostly to get new info: 64
- mostly to make comments: 1

How do we explain that we have had so many commenters during the poll period?

Why are ULM leaving?

Anonymously contributed:

I just read the announcement that JD is leaving as the GS PAD to go back to ORNL or DOD. Seems he will do this Oct 1, which just happens to coincide with the 2 year commitment made by LLNS managers to get their retention bonus. I think a lot of these LLNS managers are really dissatisfied with life at LLNL.

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