Remind Secretary Chu of what the best and brightest mean. I found a recent comment on this Blog that says it nicely. Cut and paste this excerpt and email him
The administration continually touts the "best and brightest" mantra, and why this is so critical to the national security mission for the country. But the contrary message in Friday's announcement is "we can't afford to pay them." Furthermore, this is a continuation of a disturbing trend. For the last several years, the LLNL salary package for scientists and engineers has been in the 1-3% range (data can be found on SPSE.org), while inflation has run in the 3-4% range nationally, and substantially higher in the Bay area.
In the past, justifications have been the benefits package and comparisons to other high tech companies. Pre-transition, the UC benefits were superior to what is typical elsewhere, but post-transition this is no longer the case. Staff hired under LLNS are not eligible for the pension plan, and a 6% 401k match is not atypically generous. The other benefits (medical, dental, vision, legal and term life insurance plans) are also comparable.
The remaining justification is compatibility with similar high tech employers. The fallacy in this approach is that there really aren't other comparable employers; the nuclear security mission is a fundamental difference. These jobs require US citizenship and the ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance, and the specific skills needed are unique to defense programs. Furthermore, the environment in which the Labs work imposes additional restrictions on publishing and collaboration. Thus, the talent pool is significantly smaller that that available to Boeing or Schlumberger or Google. If the Labs only offer comparable employment to other companies, where is the incentive to the next generation of best and brightest? And why should the current staff stay?
How things change: last February, Vice President Biden announced the need to put more money into the Laboratories to cover just such issues as I've raised above in order to ensure future confidence in the Nuclear Posture Review. Now, you announce a salary freeze which exacerbates all the issues the Vice President raised.
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