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 jlscoob5@gmail.com

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Original sin - echoes of Goebbels

Anonymously contributed:


Since Tyler the Liar uttered publicly his profane "...substantially equivalent in the aggregate..." and it echoed, un-denounced by those who knew better, the brazen public lie is emerging as an acceptable business practice at LLNL.

Do you now think is an acceptable business practice to deceive to achieve your ends?

Do you think that LLNL leaders deliberately deceive to achieve its ends?

If the people being deceived know they are being deceived, is it acceptable?

Do you believe either the proposed bonus program or the new 200-series classification step structure will be implemented without a direct reduction in compensation --- and --- that compensation and senior management know this and are lying about it?

Do you trust reformed LLNL management?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Global security newswire

Anonymously contributed:

The link: http://llnlthetruth.blogspot.com/

Has a link to this article:

http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090824_8927.php

The main thrust of the article is the study of whether the nuclear weapons
complex should be removed from NNSA. But there are two interesting quotes in
the article:

"It is a testament to our weapon designs in the 1970s and '80s that the weapons
are NNSA-proof," said Jeffrey Lewis, who directs the New America Foundation's
Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative. "Given the failures that run
from the management [of] NNSA down to the labs, it's remarkable that our bombs
work at all."

And

Lewis said he does not expect the Nuclear Posture Review to significantly
improve on what he sees as the commission's "anodyne" recommendation. Rather, he
anticipates the nuclear agency and national laboratories would likely remain in
"a death spiral of sorts," hampered by "incompetent" management and "shrinking
budgets."

Another loss of benefit for TCP2

ANonymously contributed:

For those of you who chose TCP2, are you aware of a change in policy for 2009 in which 401k contributions under the over-50 "catch up" provision are no longer matched up to 6% of your income by LLNS? Depending on you income, this will cost you as much as $5500.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Return Lump Sum cashout option to TCP-1!

Anonymously contributed:

It is time for Glenn Mara, now head of LLNS/LANS to begin cleaning house.

An open letter to Glenn.

Dear Glenn,
During the transition, one of the silliest reprisals that jealous Congressional staff took at LANL and LLNL was to remove the option of Lump-sum cashout from TCP-1.

There is no reason to continue this and we request that you get this changed.

Having a lump-sum cash-out option is a no-cost benefit to TCP-1 members. It costs NNSA/LLNS nothing, since it is actuarially equivalent to an annuity payout. ERISAs assumptions are very consevative, so no losses would occur. The faster TCP-1 benefits are paid off, the faster the porcine Congress can waste the left-overs stoking their unsatiable egos.

Why lump-sum? Because I would like complete separation from LLNS. While I trust Mara, I trust no one else running LLNS. I want my money outta there before some Bush-era MBA bu*********r figures out how to screw me, through adjusting factors, misinterpretting law or "Madoffing" us with glee.

Please write me a check before you retire and the incompetence resumes.

Are TCP-1 folks being cheated?

Anonymously contributed:

Has anyone else compared their current retirement estimate under LLNS with the retirement benefit calculator at the UC benefits website for exactly the same conditions?

It seems the closer I get to retirement the more these two figures change, with the LLNS going down (for 50% spousal continuance).

Can LLNS change this with time, for instance as ERISA factors change?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Inside Obama Administration, a Tug of War Over Nuclear Warheads

Anonymosuly contributed:

"Inside Obama Administration, a Tug of War Over Nuclear Warheads," Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20090818_1478.php

Compensation versus bonus

Anonymous wants to know:

So what do you think about bonuses instead of compensation?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NIF Success

Anonymously contributed:

All 192 beams were fired successfully yesterday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

NNSA recognition

Recognition is alive and well at the highest levels.

http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/ourpeople.htm

but how about recognition at the division and group levels? Does it exist where you are?

Covert work?

Anonymously asked:

Given that the new task based work process with attendant documentation has slowed work to a crawl, has anybody else resorted to guerilla maintenance (working things in on Mondays and Fridays sans documentation when "safety" coverage is low) in order to get minor things done?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

From the LANL Blog


Good stuff is pouring in this weekend. Greg's comments have proven to be a lightning rod. This one is a Nut Rocker.

--Doug

Greg, this transition may be perfectly rational and beneficial to employees. The reactions here are symptomatic of the complete erosion of trust that's been accomplished by LANL management over the last several years. Remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs? Our management can't even seem to get the basics of modern human existince right anymore - e.g. safe drinking water and a non-porous roof over our heads. Our access to the basic tools to do our jobs is being eroded daily, and we are increasingly treated as babies in the safety and security arenas.


Mike berated a room full of managers last week (at the Leadership Summit on Alignment, of all places) for holding different views and experiences of the Lab than his own. Why can't Alignment go bottom-up as well as top-down? It was supremely ironic that Alan Bishop presented a video about the Shackleton Endurance expedition and pointed out that Shackleton built alignment by rolling his sleeves up and doing all the same jobs his team was doing (e.g. scrubbing the floors). Can anyone here imagine Mike writing an IWD and hand carrying it to all the FOD signoffs? Entering his own receipts into Concur? Working in an office with a leaky roof and shit-filled drinking water? Waiting an hour for a KSL taxi to take him to White Rock for Rad II testout?

I don't think so.

Bicycle Helmets are Coming.

I heard from one of our safety people that in the very near future, LLNS will be purchasing a bicycle helmet for anyone who wants to ride a lab owned bicycle on site. It looks like you'll have to take a class, then get fitted for a helmet. The bicycles will all be posted that helmets are required and the special lab law (CA DOT does not require anyone over 18 to wear a bicycle helmet) will be strictly enforced . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

This website sure makes it look like the Lab is hiring deliberatly!

http://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Lawrence+Livermore+National+Laboratory&l=

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Talent, pay, performance and management.

Anonymouslty contributed as a comment on the Science key to nuclear labs future says Chu post and moved here because it is so interesting:

To conduct business the labs need a cadre of talented and experienced technical staff including material scientists, chemists, weapons phyicists, engineers, technicians and intel types to keep our capability current. Since the timeframe to learn this arcane technology is a long one, incentives are needed for these folks to stick around.

Since the cold war ended, weapons science alone can't attract enough adequate talent; so one needs attractive scientific thrusts (NIF, Fusion, lasers, ACI, HEAF) to interest them.

So on examination it appears that the country needs some above average technical people paid at an above average rate to aid retention.

Now the over-paid managers argument that you raise seemed to have merit. Until I realized that I only noticed management here - in 30 years - when it was bad. And there is plenty that was not so good, including my own.

It actually takes a long time to become an effective technical manager, one that has seen enough both success and mistakes to know what a team must do to accomplish work. Mistakes occur along the way, big and small, benign and significant. A very experienced manager is somewhat invisible to the team and avoids most mistakes. He may add 15% to a top down cost estimate because it was not adequately scoped, or take 15% off of a bottoms-up because scope is double counted. He may even structure a team to work well together in the way the team organizes; reports and works together. He may occasionally see mistakes before they happen. And with long experince he begins to grow and reward his own talent over time, rather than just raiding others (something Moses must still learn).

A good example of recent questionable judgement, possibly due to low salaries attracting middling talent, is when the core UC team managing the labs agreed to bid on the NNSA contract to a manage LANL and LLNL at the transition. We, the country, the Congress, and the Lab may have been better served if the core team had said "NO" when asked to bid on the new contract... rather declining with... "as you have this structured this new contract, it will not work well and we refuse to participate in dismembering the functional entity in which UC invested so much."

Gutsy move, an all of nothing gamble. But the perhaps the only choice with a chance of keeping the Dingell-lead retaliation against Los Alamos mistakes from ruining the Design labs. But I believe the the beginning of the deterioration of LLNL will be marked by historians as the last day of Contract 48.

No $50k kid out of school is going to stand in peril for what's right. He doesn't know what's right and has no investment in the success of the institution, nor the financial independance to be courageous.

GM's founding genius knew this. When Durant consolidated the disparate elements into the operating divisions when GM was founded, he made sure the leaders were very well paid. So well paid they could use independant judgement, to make sure the Division got the best management. LLNL needs this.

Currently LLNL can't get the $300k-per-year folks to do what's right. What we need are managers with talent, experience, independance and iron balls. How much would a Johnny Foster (TRW), a George Schultz (Bechtel) or a Sam Teng (MIT/CERN)take to work here?

This argues instead for above average compensation to retain above average talent in the core scientific staff, with a few geniuses very highly paid to be the bullwark against the undiscovered threat.

And we need some multi-million dollar per year management folks, 'cause what we are paying now ain't attracting talent adequate to surmount the challenges that NNSA places in their path.

Or Chu could drop D'Agostino, whose performance is an argument against low pay for senior management.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Science key to nuclear labs future says Chu

Science key to nuclear labs future says Chu
By Physics Today
August 7, 2009

In the first public meeting of the President’s Council of Advisers in Science and Technology (PCAST), US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the loss of basic science and technology funding at the nuclear-weapons labs Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore have had an inverse effect in the labs ability to attract "the best and the brightest."

During the 1990s the labs basic research funding was on an “10-year-glide-path” to be cut in half he said, which was only stopped in 1998. "To be blunt," said Chu, "the best and the brightest didn’t want to be weapons designers...they wanted to do good science."

Chu pointed out that this model—of using basic science as the carrot which would eventually lead to an interest in more applied work—has been common at all the major innovation incubators such as the Bell Laboratories or in the weapons labs early history.

How to attract high caliber staff to the weapons labs in the current climate “is an unsolved problem” said Chu, who asked for PCAST to assess ways to attract the best staff to DOE. In the meeting Chu implied that there is currently a review underway of the nuclear weapons management structure.

Chu also expanded on the principles behind his request to Congress to fund centers of excellence in energy research in which DOE would act more like a venture capitalist fund and invest in people, not in individual projects. "In World War II you just picked out outstanding people and gave them a problem and told them to solve it," he said. "They treated problems as triage. You would tackle the hard problem first and move onto the next if it didn't work." A similar attitude needs to exist in energy research he said.

"The key would be the management team and whether they are willing to take on this task," he said. "There are a couple of experiments I want to do in this regard."

Paul Guinnessy

http://blogs.physicstoday.org/politics/2009/08/science-key-to-nuclear-labs-fu.html

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Livermore Valley Open Campus

Anonymous wants to know what you think:

NNSA Press Release
August 5, 2009

NNSA approves Livermore Valley Open Campus concept
Scientific collaboration key goal of more interactive approach

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced the first step toward the creation of the Livermore Valley Open Campus (LVOC), a joint venture between Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that will promote greater collaboration between the world-class scientists at the nuclear security labs and their partners in industry and academia.

The LVOC, which would create a shared space between the two adjacent labs, is in keeping with NNSA’s vision for increased scientific interaction and collaboration across the nuclear security enterprise. The proposal signed by NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino and the Undersecretary for Science Steve Koonin, endorses the LVOC concept and moving forward on the conceptual development of design alternatives required to reconfigure the existing laboratories into a more open layout.

"A Livermore Valley Open Campus will maximize the return on our nation's investment in nuclear security," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "By leveraging the groundbreaking research of our nuclear security labs through private sector collaborations, we will bring breakthroughs to the market faster and find new solutions to the energy problem."

Open access to the LVOC by the international science community would directly support the advancement of Sandia’s Hub for Innovation in the Transportation Energy Community (HITEC), promote key LLNL programs such as the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and its High Density Energy research, increase the profile of NNSA in the region, expand the high-tech “footprint” of the Bay Area and establish the Livermore Valley as the high-tech anchor in the East Bay.

NNSA will now begin to gather information from the laboratories, work on a conceptual design for the layout of the proposed campus, and study any environmental, security and cost implications surrounding the concept.

http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2476.htm

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The National almost IF

The National almost IF

An Engineer’s account of working on the NIF
Livermore California, 2002-2003
https://lasers.llnl.gov/programs/nif/about.php

Dear Reader,

If you pursue a career in physics, chemistry or engineering and you are considering a professional position with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with the anticipation of career development, you should read this article. Do so before you accept an offer to work for this facility.

Hiring
From 2002-2003 I was employed as a flex-term employee at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore California. I was hired as a software engineer to develop algorithms for the Integrated Computer Control System (ICCS), a critical and integral part of the controversial National Ignition Facility (NIF).

Termination
I supported the NIF program for one year when I was aggressively fired and expelled from LLNL for asking too many embarrassing questions from NIF management about defining engineering requirements for my assigned task.

Legal remedy
I sought a resolution for the Lab’s draconian reprisal and a legal remedy for my dismissal but found no relief nor remedy through this approach.
Today I am labeled a Whistleblower as a consequence of the publicity and legal proceedings surrounding this case. (Labeling as a whistleblower is a death sentence for your career in our country, READ "The Whistleblowers, exposing corruption in government and industry" by Myron and Penina Glazer).
Despite reviews in two Appellate Courts and the California Supreme Court my case was dismissed because there are no whistleblower protections offered for employees of the University of California. I have exhausted the legal means to expose the Lab’s conduct in my case, so I now resort to Blog this story since without doing so this story would never be told.

How WB protection worked
In popular documented cases of whistleblowing, the employee reveals some questionable behavior or impropriety discovered in the workplace to an authority outside the workplace while still employed. In my case I never approached authorities outside the Laboratory to report wrongdoing while employed there.
My legal complaint was treated as a case of whistleblowing where California whistleblowing protection statutes (§8547) apply for public institutions. The account of my unlawful termination has been reported as a case of "retaliation for whistleblowing" in both the San Francisco Chronicle and by my council at Gwilliam Ivary et. al. .

UC has WB Immunity
In Miklosy vs. University of California the California Supreme Court sided with the UC in a literal interpretation of the whistleblower protection statutes. In its present form §8547 has no teeth and the Laboratory (UC) is both unaccountable and held immune from any complaint brought by employer retaliation. Whistleblower protections intended by these statutes are illusory and the statutes must be corrected.

The WB statutes for UC
The statutes called Whistleblower Protection are intended to provide UC employees protection from employer retaliation in the workplace. The UC has effectively excluded themselves from the California statutes through a loop-hole in the law. The statutes contain the loop-hole since 1991 but today the California Legislature is taking steps to correct the whistleblower statute for UC employees. Naturally the new legislation is not in the interest of UC and the UC will oppose. At this writing the new legislation is not yet adopted having been delayed many months in the Legislature. We shall see if the corrections ever make it into law.

The LLNL Culture understood
Without whistleblower protections the draconian management on NIF at LLNL is allowed to run amok. As more and more employees accept the "Livermore Culture" and remain silent, corruption will proliferate the work organization.
One NIF engineer told me his work ethic amounted to “keeping my head down and asking no questions”. Performing engineering duties held to industrial norms will expose any engineer to the same retaliation I experienced by this draconian management. For my participation in engineering process and a legal remedy I am now labeled a Whistleblower by the media.

NIF management style
While working at the Laboratory on the NIF project I witnessed management style unlike anything I experienced in my 25 year engineering career, and yet this style is typical in whistleblower cases where the dictatorial hierarchy kills the messenger. On the NIF program I witnessed a blatant disregard for engineering process, fuzzy time record keeping, sequestering the messenger, fabrications and harassment by management, confiscation of work and property, collusion with the DOE, and abrupt termination and physical removal from the Laboratory by a band of management thugs.

Organizations that retaliate
NIF management will no doubt dismiss all I have to reveal about them since they have already discredited me publicly and on their website. The reason given for my termination was “Unacceptable Performance” as written on both the LLNL website and in a separation letter. In typical dictatorial fashion common of institutions in cases of whistleblower retaliation, they discredit the whistleblower as an underachiever while deflecting any attention brought to themselves.

What Livermore stands to loose
Since NIF management operates under the administration (UC in 2002) and cover-up afforded by a large public institution with special exclusions written into statutory law to protect them, they have much to loose by revealing the truth. During my expulsion they confiscated all my work materials, files and computer records and will not release these materials requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). For a program controversial as NIF, management certainly took extreme measures to fire a single employee, so what else could they be hiding that justifies taking such measures?

Intro to NIF the National Ignition Facility
The NIF is a sophisticated high powered laser designed to explore the fusion of Hydrogen as a potential source of clean “carbon-free” energy. That is the mantra of the marketing campaign to sell the NIF to politicians, secure next round funding and to attract fresh Post-Doctoral employees to work on next-generation nuclear weapons. The NIF is also a tool to confirm the US stockpile of nuclear weapons without resorting to a detonation test.

Sustaining NIF without documentation results
The stated purpose of NIF changes in order to posture the program optimistically for the next round of taxpayer funding. Most recently the program is sold to the general public and to the Congress as the promise for carbon-free energy independence and a source of unlimited energy from Inertial Confinement Fusion. The NIF Directorate would have the general public believe the world energy crisis can be solved by a few drops of ocean water. Be sure to watch their laughable marketing video presentation by Dr. E. Moses to high school sophomores on YouTube.

Where’s the criteria for success?
Since the program requirements change as the marketing hype changes, there is no specified written criteria for success of the NIF. To attract the next installment of DOE funding with DOE in collusion, some colored light is adequate for the purpose. Since there is so little documentation on the computer software control system, there will be no paper trail for follow-up by a congressional investigation committee. The software control system will become critical and untenable long after the concrete on the ramparts has dried. Even with success criteria missing, program management is bold enough to boast that fusion Ignition is imminent in the first “Shot” attempt.

Les G. Miklosy
(former Computer Scientist LLNL)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another sign!

Anonymously contributed:

Another sign that NNSA's national labs are fading away while DOE's national labs grow....

Bay Area national labs get new Recovery Act funding
By Suzanne Bohan
Contra Costa Times
08/04/2009

A $327 million initiative to bolster research and infrastructure programs at national laboratories is funneling more than $61 million to Bay Area facilities, the Department of Energy announced on Tuesday.

Under the initiative, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory will get $37.8 million in federal Recovery Act funding, with $11 million designated for fusion energy research, $13.1 million for new equipment at the Joint Genome Institute, and $4 million for new instrumentation at the Berkeley lab's Joint BioEnergy Institute. Another $8.8 million will go toward improvements at the lab's Advanced Light Source facility, which generates intense light for scientific research, and $875,000 will support development of "smart grid" technology, which uses computing and communications technologies to improve the efficiency of the electricity grid.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park also gets an infusion of $21.8 million from the initiative, with $20 million designated for construction of a new station at a facility that studies high energy density plasmas.

In support of fusion energy research, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory gets $810,000 and Sandia/California National Laboratories receives $75,000.

The Bay Area facilities are part of a network of 17 national laboratories, which are managed by the Energy Department and engage in research for advancing energy technologies and national security.

"The projects provide vital funding and new tools for research aimed at strengthening America's energy security and tackling some of science's toughest challenges," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

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