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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. Opinions not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

whoops! NNSA faces challenges in recruiting young workers

Anonymously contributed: *** NNSA could soon face workforce gaps but struggles to monitor them *** NNSA faces challenges in recruiting young workers May 1, 2012 - By Molly Bernhart Walker The National Nuclear Security Administration and the contractors who operate the national lab sites for NNSA may soon face a workforce shortage, according to an April 26 Government Accountability Office report (.pdf). NNSA's hiring and retention efforts have typically focused on "attracting early career hires with competitive pay and development opportunities," but the positions may not be appealing to today's young workers, say report authors.... read more.... http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/nnsa-could-soon-face-workforce-gaps-struggles-monitor-them/2012-05-01

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

LLNL should go back to non-profit status. The savings from not paying state taxes and its annual fee to Bechtel could go towards salary increases.

As a side benefit, employee contributions to TCP1 would become pretax, which would increase worker's take home pay.

If the politicians still want their Bechtel contributions, let the Lab pay a management fee to Bechtel if we have to, but LLNL should go back to being a non-profit org.

Anonymous said...

1:25 pm:

You are seriously confused. "LLNL" was never an organization unto itself, non-profit or otherwise. Before the contract change, the only "organizations" were UC and DOE/NNSA. LLNL was simply a name of a laboratory facility wholly owned by DOE/NNSA and run by UC under a contract. You were a UC employee, NOT a LLNL employee. The only thing that has changed is that you are now a LLNS (NOT Bechtel) employee. The award fee that LLNS (and therefore Bechtel, UC, and other parent organizations making up LLNS) receives from DOE/NNSA for running LLNL have absolutely nothing to do with how much LLNS pays its employees. If the contractor running LLNL reverted to non-profit, those fees would be substantially reduced, but that would simply mean savings to the government. They wouldn't still exist to be paid by the contractor as salary.

Don't worry though, there are unfortunately still many folks at both LLNL and LANL whose heads are in the sand like yours.

Anonymous said...

This is part of a coordinated effort to get LLNL to be able raise salaries to hire essential, hard-to-retain specialists, generally electrical engineering specialists and computer scientists.

NNSA labs have been erratic in attracting and retaining top talent in these fields, as measured by top talent from top schools.

It is not clear that anything other than mid-level performers are needed for most positions. Not much new is being done.

NNSA and the Republican party has survived with barely qualified bottom of the class types.

MIT and the Deoocratic party are inhabited by much better credentialed people, yet can show little substantial from the credential orgy. Witness O'bama and Krugman, laureated scolds and little more.

Anonymous said...

Where the NNSA labs are really poor is in senior scientific and institutional leaders who can both articulate the long term mission and get it adequately funded.

The recent additions are short-sighted functionaries, who parrot whatever short-term words they are told to say.

Anonymous said...

2:04 -- you have an anal interpretation of my message. LLNL was an organization under UC that had non-profit status. Looks like the entire point of my message just went past your head -- LLNL should get back its non-profit status. Are you a Bechtel employee by chance ?

Anonymous said...

9:05 pm - you still don't get it. LLNL was not "under UC." It was a US government facility operated by UC under contract. UC was simply the temporary tenant providing people to operate the place. It was UC that had "non-profit status" not LLNL. Without the contractor (now LLNS) LLNL has no identity except that of a government-owned group of empty buildings.

Anonymous said...

9:42 -- there a lot of national labs that have non-profit status because they are managed by non-profits organizations. Why not LLNL ?

Anonymous said...

10:03 pm: It's the managing organization that has non-profit status, not the lab. The lab doesn't need it since it never receives any money from the government. The money goes to the managing organization to run the lab.

Anonymous said...

It's kinda hard to recruit bright workers when your are simultaneously cutting worker benefits and salaries and laying off 11% of your lab workforce.

Anonymous said...

2:13 if LLNL doesn't need the non-profit status then why are state taxes being taken out of our budget and why do we have to pay for TCP1 pension contributions on a after tax basis whereas employees of a non-profit pay pre-tax ?

Anonymous said...

2:13 if LLNL doesn't need the non-profit status then why are state taxes being taken out of our budget and why do we have to pay for TCP1 pension contributions on a after tax basis whereas employees of a non-profit pay pre-tax ?

May 10, 2012 12:58 AM

Look, this is getting really stupid. LLNL doesn't need, or have, either for-profit or non-profit status. LLNS has for-profit status. LLNL is not an institution in its own right. The budget you speak of is not LLNL's budget, it is LLNS's budget. You are not employees of LLNL, you are employees of LLNS. Maybe the difference is just to subtle for all you brilliant scientists.

Anonymous said...

9:46 what are going to do with your bonus from LLNS ?

Anonymous said...

9:46 what are going to do with your bonus from LLNS ?

May 10, 2012 5:26 PM

There is no way in hell I would work for LLNS or LANS. Just trying to inject some clarity and truth into the discussion. I notice you didn't dispute anything I wrote. There are just too many people at both LANL and LLNL who are still, after 7 of 8 years of corporate management, convinced that the labs are still part of some university, or stupider still, that they are somehow not really corporate employees. They need to wake up.

Anonymous said...

Well, the fact that NNSA and LLNL in particular are having difficulty attracting young talent comes as no surprise to me. If I were a young person just graduating, I would pass on LLNL. In particular, during the transition LLNL told us that the pension was being dropped for new employees and being replaced with a 401(k) "substantially equivalent" to those of many Fortune 500 companies. Well, at the time I thought "That's nonsense. LLNL can't get away with offering just a plan "substantially equivalent" to Fortune 500 companies because LLNL is not substantially equivalent to Fortune 500 companies." People who work at LLNL often have to work in very specialized fields which have little attractiveness to employers outside the national labs. LLNL has to provide something a little extra in terms of benefits and job security to make up for the loss of job mobility that many, especially scientists, have to make when they work at LLNL. LLNL is only fooling itself if it thinks that it is as attractive an employer as, say, Intel to a young person graduating from college.

Anonymous said...

I doubt young people are going to care much one way or another about pensions. From what I've seen they care about doing science, and few have a desire to work at the contract R&D organizations that the labs have become. When you're in academia, or industry, or at the kind of real research lab that the DOE Labs once were, you pick a hard problem with no obvious solution and work on it until it's done, putting in the evening and weekend hours that are needed.

At a contract R&D firm, you only put in the hours that are paid for, and logged in 15-minute increments, because it's a violation of the rules to put in unpaid evenings and weekends. Plus, the combination of high lab overhead and lower DOE funding means you're going to be split across 5-10 contracts, which is going to discourage the kind of focused effort required for high quality science. The DOE labs are for-profit, contract-driven, short-term-focused entities now -- not an environment which brings in top talent. Pension plans are the least of the worries.

Anonymous said...

WARNING: I want to warn any new student that while LANS may lure you into sexy science jobs as I was, unfortunately, later in your career (maybe sooner) you will be transferred (unwanted job transfers) to the "shitty" facility jobs or worse, to clean up the legacy nuclear waste that has been buried at TA-54 (Area G) (and other sites at LANL) for over 30-years. Just be aware that staff are being transferred to these shitty jobs as we speak today. These are the jobs that McMillan was referring to when he said, and I quote, "follow the money".

Anonymous said...

NNSA and other agencies needing people with science/engineer backgrounds AND are U.S. citizens will be facing dim prospects. The U.S. population "followed" the easy/big money going for the management degrees. The engineering fields paid less and were more difficult, but those challenges were met by individuals from off shore, leading to difficulties in clearance issues.

The restrictions such as no cell phones, no mp3 players etc do not play well with the talent pool. The lack of a mission at the labs is a sticking point. Now add to that an uncertain job stability, a 401k rather than a very nice Defined Benefit plan and you have a formula the will result in a dismal recruitment.

Anonymous said...

"Look, this is getting really stupid. LLNL doesn't need, or have, either for-profit or non-profit status. LLNS has for-profit status. LLNL is not an institution in its own right. The budget you speak of is not LLNL's budget, it is LLNS's budget. You are not employees of LLNL, you are employees of LLNS. Maybe the difference is just to subtle for all you brilliant scientists.

May 10, 2012 9:46 AM"

I agree the scientists at the labs are clueless know-it-alls. We would all do better if they got rid of all the scientists from the labs and put in real people that can get the job done and not whine and bitch all the time. These people amaze me at times, just wait for the dollar to collapse and see where all their "brains" gets them when they cannot hunt or fish. 9.46AM and I get it and we will be just fine.

Anonymous said...

"I doubt young people are going to care much one way or another about pensions. From what I've seen they care about doing science, and few have a desire to work at the contract R&D organizations that the labs have become."

I agree that as a young Ph.D just out of college what most interested me was doing exciting science. However, after a few years it's natural to look around and compare your job and long-term career prospects at LLNL with those offered by other high-tech employers. Things such as work-live balance, pay, and yes pensions start to matter more than when you're a single young Turk fresh out of college. So while exciting science is important for initially attracting talent, other factors such as pensions are important for retaining talent.

Previously, with exciting science AND a good retirement benefits package LLNL had what it takes to both attract AND retain talent. Now with the changes brought on by the Transition, it falls short in both attracting and retaining talent.

Anonymous said...

No need to worry about hiring any bright, young scientists for a rapidly declining NNSA labs like LANL. LANL is going to become "Rocky Flats II".

It increasingly appears as if LANS LCC was hired by NNSA to slowly shut Los Alamos down and mothball the facilities. Just look at what's happening and the plan will be clear. Oh, and please remember to follow Director McMillan's sage advice to "follow the money" into those highly paid Bechtel-ized upper management positions! What a tool.

Anonymous said...

9.46AM and I get it and we will be just fine.

May 11, 2012 6:55 AM

9:46 am here. Please leave me out of your lame "hunting and fishing" rants.

Anonymous said...

...because it's a violation of the rules to put in unpaid evenings and weekends.

That's not what the time card regulations actually say.

Anonymous said...

"9:46 am here. Please leave me out of your lame "hunting and fishing" rants.

May 11, 2012 8:57 AM"

You seem to have the same profoundly anti-intellectual and anti-social viewpoints combined with plenty of incoherence. The hunting and fishing guy is at least honest about his motivations in that he may sincerely believe that hunting and fishing are relevant future skills. You on the other hand seem to just be repeatedly lashing out in anger and extreme bitterness from you past failure.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have the same profoundly anti-intellectual and anti-social viewpoints combined with plenty of incoherence...You on the other hand seem to just be repeatedly lashing out in anger and extreme bitterness from you past failure.

May 12, 2012 8:36 AM

I don't see how you get "anti-intellectual and anti-social" from one snide comment about "brilliant scientists." It turns out I am a scientist myself (Ph.D. physicist), and had a quite successful 30+ year career at the lab, now retired with a great UC pension. I am many things, but "failure" isn't one of them. In any case, are you certain the "anger and extreme bitterness" you sense isn't your own?

Anonymous said...

"I don't see how you get "anti-intellectual and anti-social" from one snide comment about "brilliant scientists." It turns out I am a scientist myself (Ph.D. physicist), and had a quite successful 30+ year career at the lab, now retired with a great UC pension. I am many things, but "failure" isn't one of them. In any case, are you certain the "anger and extreme bitterness" you sense isn't your own?

May 12, 2012 11:39 AM"

Am I am calling bullshit on you. You have said this same thing before but it really makes no sense. If you doing so well and are retired with your so called great benefits than why are posting at all? The stuff you say sounds a lot like the garbage that Chris Mechles who is one of the most bitter people out there. The lab always has a few of these failed scientists who blame everybody but themselves. In any case it is rather transparent what is going on with you.

Anonymous said...

For any young, bright scientists contemplating a job at one of the NNSA research labs just read these posts. If that's not enough, go dig up posts from the old LANL "Real Story" blog. 'Nuf said?

Anonymous said...

Am I am calling bullshit on you. You have said this same thing before but it really makes no sense...In any case it is rather transparent what is going on with you.

May 12, 2012 1:04 PM

Well, you are certainly quick to "call" bullshit (How can you do that unless someone appoints you referee? Do you have a special little flag for that?) on a situation you simply refuse to believe can exist: A happy retiree who still cares about the lab and about many of his former colleagues and the garbage they have to endure because of a few vocal misfits who refuse to accept that they are now corporate employees who need to act like it if they want to survive the new environment. The "transparency" you imagine is just that; your imagination. I am real and so are my situation and my opinions. The fact that your brain can't get it just reinforces my point.

Anonymous said...

"May 12, 2012 9:18 PM"

No buying it, it so far...far removed from all the attitudes of the retirees that I know. The comment "few vocal misfits" shows that you so disconnected that either you are a fake or just really really out of it. Judging from your repeated insults of scientists I would say that you not being honest about your agenda or who you are, so the judgement of calling BS on you stands. The best test is to state your name if you really are this retired happy person than you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. However you are not going to do this ;)

Anonymous said...

No buying it...

May 13, 2012 10:09 AM

No one has asked you to "buy" anything. It is obviously your right to believe whatever you wish. However, I'd suggest you may have me convoluted with a few other posters. In any case, I know who I am, therefore I know you are wrong. You, on the other hand, have only your suppositions and anecdotal knowledge on which to base your belief that I am lying. I really don't care whether you "buy it" or not. Your need to see everything in black-and-white, adhering to your rigidly defined categories of thought, must be incredibly stifling to your career.

Anonymous said...

"No one has asked you to "buy" anything. It is obviously your right to believe whatever you wish. However, I'd suggest you may have me convoluted with a few other posters. In any case, I know who I am, therefore I know you are wrong. You, on the other hand, have only your suppositions and anecdotal knowledge on which to base your belief that I am lying. I really don't care whether you "buy it" or not. Your need to see everything in black-and-white, adhering to your rigidly defined categories of thought, must be incredibly stifling to your career.

May 13, 2012 1:00 PM"

"The best test is to state your name if you really are this retired happy person than you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. However you are not going to do this ;)"

Well that was easy. Told ya so.

Anonymous said...

Well that was easy. Told ya so.

May 13, 2012 2:08 PM

You have no idea what I'd have to lose. Do you go through life on baseless assumptions?

Anonymous said...

Good lord. Where is Scooby??
This blog is a great example of phase space attractors. No matter what the subject, after N posts, the blog degenerates into some sort of idiotic McMillan/Knapp/Bechtel riff, or a riff on management in general, or on the general collapse of mythical lab culture due to transition. Again, independent of the initial post---it could be about the SF Giants and it would collapse to one of these attractors. Perhaps we should put a student on the historical blog record to plot the distribution of N.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Scooby has been around tonight, but chose not to "moderate" this exchange. Overall, pretty creepy.

Anonymous said...

the general collapse of mythical lab culture due to transition.

May 13, 2012 8:56 PM

Only those who didn't live through it believe the earlier lab culture was "mythical." Actually the change began with the cessation of nuclear testing. The erosion of the nation's nuclear weapon expertise began then. The rest is (sad) history. IMHO, we have Wen Ho Lee to thank for the rise of the security/safety hegemony and the resultant transition to for-profit contractors. Fait accompli.

Anonymous said...

No matter the history of the culture, whatever it was 25 years ago it is different today, and those that spend their time moaning for a return of the 'good old days' are in denial of reality. Just look at the condition of the economy in California and understand that working for UC is also not the dream job that it was in the past. Face it, after the Cold War was over, the need for such a large weapons enterprise went away. SNL understood this and brought in significant other work, whereas the design Labs have hung on to the false hope that NNSA alone would fund them at their historic levels.

Anonymous said...

You have no idea what I'd have to lose.

May 13, 2012 7:20 PM

How about your credibility.

Anonymous said...

How about your credibility.

May 15, 2012 6:25 AM

Uh, it's an anonymous blog. No one here has any credibility.

Anonymous said...

"SNL understood this and brought in significant other work, ..."

May 14, 2012 2:32 PM

and then raided the benefits of their employees in order to make ends meet. Forcing many to retire before their time. Ha! Go away Sandia shill!

Anonymous said...

Psrhaps scooby should actually post a Giants topic, to test the N theory. I'm guessing that 'shoes that grip' comes up at least once in the thread.

Anonymous said...

The little squiggly red line under the word you type means it's misspelled.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

The little squiggly red line under the word you type means it's misspelled.

May 16, 2012 7:17 PM"

OMFG you brilliant scinetists make me sick. You think you are better than other people becuase you can spell better. Wake up you are in coperate American now and if you are going to survive than you better drop that "tude" real quike. Note that I care I am happy leaving off my benifits and had a great carrier. You malecontents our only making the rest of us suffer.

Anonymous said...

May 16, 2012 9:10 PM

I guess you are "living off" your benefits, not "leaving off" them. Also I bet you think you had a great "career" not "carrier," and that not all discontented people are "male." (Are you trying to be funny here?) You believe that everyone who thinks spelling is important is a "brilliant scientist"? How about your fourth grade teacher (who obviously failed)? Was she a "brilliant scientist" or just someone who cared abut language and education? Note that there were other mistakes I didn't mention. Was your fourth grade teacher that lenient? Again, watch the little red squiggly line; it is your friend.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with a 401k? It just makes it easier for me to leave--which is all part of the plan anyway.

"A more mobile workforce. NNSA and M&O contractor officials noted that a general shift from defined benefit retirement systems offering pensions to a defined contribution retirement system has made employees much more mobile and, therefore, harder to retain. A defined contribution retirement system makes employees much more mobile because, once the employee is vested––typically after a few years––their contributions to their retirement accounts are portable, therefore they no longer depend on tenure with a single employer. According to NNSA officials, M&O contractors no longer expect newly hired employees to spend their entire careers in the enterprise; rather, they expect them to work for a national laboratory or production plant for an average of 5 to 10 years."

Anonymous said...

Is there any wonder. The pay sucks, pay raises frozen until 2015,no retirement plan except for a 401k that isn't worth a poop and you stand no chance of having $1.5M plus in your 401k by age 65. The few young people that I have talked to said as soon as the market gets better, they're gone. Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

"...because it's a violation of the rules to put in unpaid evenings and weekends.

That's not what the time card regulations actually say."

we welcome your correction :-)

Anonymous said...

The few young people that I have talked to said as soon as the market gets better, they're gone. Have a good day.

May 17, 2012 12:27 PM

This makes no sense. 401k's are portable. The market is going to do what it does regardless. Why stay waiting for something that is probably years off, since the real crash is just now beginning with the collapse of the euro-zone. If they are waiting for better job prospects elsewhere, recent history shows that's not particularly well correlated with the market.

Anonymous said...

"The little squiggly red line under the word you type means it's misspelled."

You really have nothing better to do than to look for mistyped words on a blog site? If so, than just read, don't vomit your brain content back on to the blog thread.

scooby said...

"Hey Scooby! There are at least 4 separate conversations going on simultaneously in this thread"
Are you volunteering to help me do that? If so, let me know. If not, I do not have time for log beautification.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wonder what LLNL / LLNS is going to do when they find themselves having to pay out $142M in taxes, $88M in TCP-1 contribution and take a cut of about $30M plus in opeational fee in FY-13? Could this be the lead-in for the requirement to get rid of about 850 people to balance the budget? Will there be a VSIP at LLNL or will people once again be escorted to the gate by armed guards where you'll get a have a nice day dingbat farewell.

Anonymous said...

You really have nothing better to do than to look for mistyped words on a blog site? If so, than just read, don't vomit your brain content back on to the blog thread.

May 18, 2012 12:36 PM

Hey, just trying to strike a blow for English as a language. And it's not "mistyped"; these people really don't know how to spell. Otherwise I'd assume they'd care about the "red squiggly line." Just trying to be helpful. What's got your panties in a twist? Think correct language is "vomit"? Just a little defensive about your lack of elementary education, I'd say. Any chance you're under 30? HeHe.

Anonymous said...

"That's not what the time card regulations actually say."

we welcome your correction :-)"

Um, still waiting on the correction?

Anonymous said...

I suggest that moderators of this blog filter out all comments that are not at least 50% grammatically correct. It would really help the eyes and set a minimum intelligence/education requirement for posting. I for one have English as a second language, so if it bothers me, I'm sure it bothers most everyone else. Thank you.

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