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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Charlie on plutonium facility security fence project failures


Charlie on plutonium facility security fence project failures

From John Fleck's column in the ABQ Journal.


SUBJECT: Personnel Changes on NMSSUP

A few days ago, I shared with you some serious construction issues we have encountered on Phase II of the Nuclear Materials Safety and Security Project at TA-55, or NMSSUP.

Since then, a team of senior Laboratory managers, LANS board members, and managers from parent organizations have been working with the government to develop a solution to complete the project. I believe changes are necessary to ensure that this project is completed successfully, so I have some important updates to report to you today.

We have delivered a revised cost estimate for the project to NNSA. We believe the total project costs will rise from approximately $213 million to approximately $254 million. Because we are not authorized to make this type of change in funding, the project remains in suspended status until Congress or NNSA directs us otherwise.
With the assistance of the LANS board, I have asked three senior, experienced leaders to assume responsibility for the NMSSUP project.
Tyrone “Ty” Troutman will be the NMSSUP project manager. Ty is the construction functional manager for Bechtel Systems and Infrastructure. Although NMSSUP will remain a project of the Principal Associate Directorate for Capital Projects, Ty will report directly to me.
Jimmie L. Willman will manage procurement activities. Most recently, Jimmie was vice president, deputy program manager, and Business Services manager for Kwajalein Range Services, LLC.
Toby Wilson, currently managing Project Controls for LANL’s Environmental Programs directorate, will be assigned to NMSSUP in the same capacity.
The team is taking on this top-priority issue at my request. I ask that you support Ty, Jimmie, and Toby as they assemble the people, processes, and controls necessary to complete the project.

Let me again stress to you that nuclear material at TA-55 remains safe and protected, just as it has during NMSSUP construction. I am convinced that, once complete, NMSSUP will give TA-55 the modern, reliable, perimeter security system it needs.

Performance on this project has been unacceptable to me, the LANS Board of Governors, and our customer. This has damaged the Laboratory’s credibility. We must do better. As we learn more about the breakdowns that occurred, we will share lessons learned.

I expect you will read more about this project in the news media.

Please stay focused on safety, security and executing our missions for the nation.
November 9, 2012 11:57 AM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Charlie should be fired for this debacle. Not only for deceiving the public, but wasting their money. It is unfortunate that he will not only get away with this, but awarded his "full" bonus this year. Wow!
November 10, 2012 7:23 AM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
"We have delivered a revised cost estimate for the project to NNSA. We believe the total project costs will rise from approximately $213 million to approximately $254 million." Charlie McMillan

Here we ago again CMMR, NMSSUP, ... another re-baseline on the cost estimate (and more LANS Managers) to solve the problem. Charlie, are you kidding us?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

"This has damaged the Laboratory’s credibility."

Sorry, Charlie. It is not possible to damage something that is already lost.

Anonymous said...

Don't recall ever seeing a George or Parney all hand's memo that talked about the governing board and their clear influence on internal decisions. From the looks of this, they have taken the situation away from Charlie. Since scandal never had much of an impact on UC, this may show the influence of the corporate partners.

Think about it in terms of income and this makes a lot of sense. The corporate partners don't get much income from operating the labs - a few million per year. On the other hand, some of them get several billion per year in total from other government contracts. The recent repeated failures at LANL could be used to debar a contractor from consideration for any federal funding for up to three years. So, a lot of other income is at risk as a result of the recent repeated failures at a site that doesn't generate much income on its own.

Maybe now the corporate partners are having their eyes opened to the real risk in permitting UC to select the lab director.

Anonymous said...

You would think that someone that has a million dollar a year income would be capable of composing a letter that had fewer 'eyes' in it.

Otherwise, the approach is right out of some weekend management seminar for low performers.

Anonymous said...

And what is the solution:
More managers. I am sure that will immensely help.

Anonymous said...

So another success of privatization.
Where are all the congressional grandstanders now? If the federal govt screws up, we have hearings and all kinds of repercussion, but when an engineering company spends 400 M$ on designing a building and comes up short 13 feet, not a beep. When the same company spends 200 M$ to build a security fence, which does not work, again the same reaction: Zilch

Anonymous said...

Smells like someone is protecting McMillan in this scandal.
Who protected him from being fired over the Quintana debacle?
Wonder if it is Mara to the rescue, again?

Anonymous said...

"...again the same reaction: Zilch"

November 10, 2012 12:22 PM

And that's the reason that private industry uses the PACs and direct campaign contributions to buy the loyalty of their lackeys in congress!

Anonymous said...

Let's get this straight.
The project is in "suspended status", but there now THREE MORE very senior managers on the payroll.
Sheesh, at this rate if it gets cancelled outright, then there likely will be an EVEN LARGER payroll to manage the termination.

Anonymous said...

hatchineC'mon dudes, this is peanuts compare to the NIF rip off!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes in these decisions, the timing of the failure matters.
After 9-11, after the 82 yo Nun breach at Y-12 HEU-MF, after all the safety and security failures, after the years of project cost overuns by DOE contractors, after the years of project time delays by same, and after the years of failed project performance by same, it is difficult to dream up a worse time to screw up in this particular way.

In this case, being last in a long line of failures may make for being first in the firing line.

Anonymous said...

"Performance on this project has been unacceptable to me, the LANS Board of Governors, and our customer. This has damaged the Laboratory’s credibility. We must do better. As we learn more about the breakdowns that occurred, we will share lessons learned." Charlie "MIT" McMillan

How could Charlie let this debacle get so far "out of bounds"? This Project wreaks of a very stinky heap. But no fear, Charlie only needs $41,000,000 to fix it. Do you feel lucky Charlie?

Anonymous said...

Don't worry boys and girls, Bechtel is on the way to save the day! Question is, haven't they already been working in this since they arrived 6-years ago?

I can't hardly wait for all these debacles to finally bring the "Anastasio, Mara, Knapp, McMillan show" to come tumbling down. God I can hardly wait!

Anonymous said...

Lots of comments here from people who know absolutely nothing about the subject or the details of the situation. It is not a "security fence" failure. The details of the system are obviously classified. The details of the failures likewise, until they are fixed. However, the security posture that existed prior to the acknowledgement of the performance problems with the new system, and which was fully vetted and passed by NNSA numerous times, still is in place. Sure this is a massive failure by NNSA and LANL project management, and some heads should roll, but the idea that it represents a current security problem is ludicrous. All security requirements have been, and are, being met. The security posture around TA-55 is much, much, more complex than a "fence."

Anonymous said...

Sure this is a massive failure by NNSA and LANL project management, and some heads should roll.....

November 10, 2012 10:21 PM

When and who's head(s) will roll? Personally, I'm getting sick and tired of LANS Senior Management (and NNSA) not only getting off the hook on these issues but then getting big raises and nice bonuses for these f***-ups. I want to hear all about the consequences.

Anonymous said...

It's hilarious that LANS had to bring in another "external" Bechtel Senior Manager Tyrone “Ty” Troutman to be the NMSSUP Project Manager. Let me get this straight, there are ~ 9,000 employees at LANL, with an entire Division of Program Managers (led by a former Betchtel Manager), and a former Bechtel Manager (Deputy Lab Director) and we are bringing another Senior Bechtel Manager to solve this problem! My only question is: What the hell are all the current Bechtel Managers at LANS doing?

Anonymous said...

My only question is: What the hell are all the current Bechtel Managers at LANS doing?

Getting paid.

Anonymous said...

"However, the security posture that existed prior to the acknowledgement of the performance problems with the new system, and which was fully vetted and passed by NNSA numerous times, still is in place."

"All security requirements have been, and are, being met. The security posture around TA-55 is much, much, more complex than a "fence."

November 10, 2012 10:21 PM"


So let's see about this 'fully vetted and passed by NNSA numerous times' statement. Guess that you would say the same thing about Y-12.

Check.


'All security requirements have been, and are being, met'. Would those be the same requirements that were "met" and led to Congressional hearings and photos being posted on the web of a graffiti painted HEU MF?

Checkmate.



Anonymous said...

November 11, 2012 9:51 AM

You make a guess and ask a question, both of which indicate you don't know anything about the subject, and that's "checkmate"? Nice try, the the world is WAY more complicated than you think.

Anonymous said...

Complicated?

LANS (UC+Bechtel+shirtails) managers screwed up another project, and will get away with it; including large bonuses for the culprits, and high salaries for the LANS Board of governers.

That's not complicated!

Anonymous said...

Charlie's job is secure. He is the only weapons lab leader that understands what he is talking about.

Imagine the stockpile verification meeting, where Parney tries to explain which end goes up.

Anonymous said...

"With the assistance of the LANS board, I have asked three senior, experienced leaders to assume responsibility for the NMSSUP project". Chuck McMillan

Do you mean to tell me that the LANS Board is actually going to do something? Oh my God, everyone, halleujah, praise the Lord, we're gonna be saved once and for all. Led by NM State Representative Nick Salazar who couldn't fight himself out of a paper bag.

Anonymous said...

@1:01 PM

On any given day, in any given meeting room, Parney might not best Charlie; however, on most days, in most rooms, it is not even a close call. Charlie may be good, but Parney is better.

Anonymous said...

Parney is not burdened by the baggage of the old guard. It is hard to make radical shifts that upset the old order unless you are an outsider. Parney did shitcan Tomas. I would have a hard time seeing Miller do that. On the other hand, Parney needs to work with what he has. I have to think that in the bigger scope, beyond the day to day stuff, that he wants to do the right thing for NNSA and the long term health of the stockpile even if it means short term pain. We will have to see though. I can't envy his position. I am starting to question the situation though. With ADs controlling all of the NIF messaging, it is as if he is not running the lab or steering it's direction.

Anonymous said...

Charlie's job is secure. He is the only weapons lab leader that understands what he is talking about.

Imagine the stockpile verification meeting, where Parney tries to explain which end goes up.

November 11, 2012 1:01 PM

While Charlie "understands what he's talking about", unfortunately no one can understand him. He has poor verbal communication skills. He can't complete a single sentence without saying "uhhh" or hhmm" a few times. Clearly, his selection as Lab Director had nothing to do with his verbal communication skills.

Anonymous said...

You should not assume that Charlie can explain weapons.
If he could, then it is odd that Mike was the one that kept doing it as long as he was around. Most people took this to mean that Mike either didn't have confidence in Charlie's ability to communicate or in his knowledge, or both.

Anonymous said...

The reason that the LANS Governing Body finally woke up to do something is that NNSA is forcing their hand to possible pay the $41M out of the "fee". Man did this wake them up! It would make my day to have these guys (LANS Board) Christmas present taken away from them, like they typically do to us, right before the Holidays!

Anonymous said...

It may not be applicable in this present case, but in most of corporate America it is a sure sign when the board takes over. They have lost confidence in a failing executive and are in damage control mode.
For the first five years of the new contract under Mike, there was no worry about such failures. Shocking that in his first year this has already happen to Charlie.

Anonymous said...

No more fee! No more fee! Make LANS pay! Make LANS pay!

Anonymous said...

If NNSA does take the overrun out of LANS, LLC's hide, you can look forward to massive retaliation against the workers at LANL by LANS.

Anonymous said...

It may not be applicable in this present case, but in most of corporate America it is a sure sign when the board takes over. They have lost confidence in a failing executive and are in damage control mode.
For the first five years of the new contract under Mike, there was no worry about such failures. Shocking that in his first year this has already happen to Charlie.

November 14, 2012 12:44 PM

It's not "shocking" to me that Charlie already has "his hands full" after one year. Anyone that has to be constantly reminding us that he went to MIT is showing his insecurities and lack of experience. Turning over the keys to Rich Marquez during the VRIP, of all people, also demonstrated his lack of experience and his naivety. Bottom line, I am NOT impressed with Charlie in the least of ways!

Anonymous said...

No more fee! No more fee! Make LANS pay! Make LANS pay!

November 14, 2012 7:27 PM

Basically, LANS will be it taking out of their fee which is effectively all the raise money that LANS has been taking from employees. Well I guess I'd prefer my raise money going to a bunch of "wires" at TA-55 than another 24K gold chain(s) around Pattiz's neck or another Farrari in his $500M mansion in Beverly Hills.

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