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Thursday, December 6, 2012

LANL Firm To Pay $10M

=== LANL Firm To Pay $10M ===

By John Fleck / Journal Staff - Wed, Dec 5, 2012

The contractor that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory is on the hook for $10 million as a result of construction management problems that mean the new security system at the lab’s primary plutonium site does not work, the lab and the National Nuclear Security Administration said in a joint statement issued late Tuesday.

The $10 million will cover “potentially unallowable costs” incurred in construction of the $213 million security system built around the lab’s Technical Area 55 plutonium complex, where the dangerously radioactive metal is used in the manufacture of nuclear weapon parts.

The money will come from Los Alamos National Security LLC, also known as LANS, a private company that is a partnership of Bechtel Corp., the University of California and a number of other firms. The company manages Los Alamos, a nuclear weapons research and manufacturing center, for the federal government.

The lab abruptly halted work on the project in October. Initial testing of the new Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project (NMSSUP) security system, involving fencing, sensors and other security technology, showed it did not work, but the lab was out of money to begin fixing it.
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Don't expect LANS to take the penalty payment out of their annual profit fee. Bechtel will probably demand that it come out of the labs operating program budgets (a new project "tax"") and maybe even move to have it covered using more LANL employee salary and benefit reductions.



17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't expect LANS to take the penalty payment out of their annual profit fee.

If it is for unallowable costs, then the LLC management fee is the only thing that can foot the bill.

Anonymous said...

WoW ! how do you like working for a company that would do this? Sounds like something right out of the "Romney" playbook! LANS cannot operate LANL, forget the integrity factor.

Anonymous said...

Hey, what a great improvement over UC management. That contract change was a brilliant idea. (Being sarcastic.)

Anonymous said...

Is there any truth to the rumor that the $10M will come out of the raise package?

Anonymous said...

Is there any truth to the rumor that the $10M will come out of the raise package?

December 8, 2012 10:30 AM

I had heard that a LANS Senior Manager (former Bechtelite) indicated in a meeting that he is "sick and tired of LANL employees screwing up on project execution and safety". There is a clear division between LANS and it's employees.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when an institution systematically values personal loyalty over competence. When managers at all levels promote people who suck up to them and "play the game", over those who know their stuff, eventually the organization is bound to rot from the inside.

This process started twenty years ago, when testing ended. In a decade, physics got replaced with powerpoint. It further accelerated, however, under LANS, as the main goal became to make no trouble so as to not jeopardize the massive bonuses. Now, forget the weapons, we got to a point we can't even build a freaking fence.

Anonymous said...

"Now, forget the weapons, we got to a point we can't even build a freaking fence." -- 6:34 PM


Great insight. I couldn't state it better myself. It's been sad watching LANL's decline. And yes, you can expect Bechtel senior management to squash any idea of salary raises this year with their 20% annual executive bonuses now pretty much gone. The beatings will continue...

Anonymous said...

I had heard that a LANS Senior Manager (former Bechtelite) indicated in a meeting that he is "sick and tired of LANL employees screwing up on project execution and safety". There is a clear division between LANS and it's employees.

December 8, 2012 10:39 AM

Yep, the managers don't do the on-site grunt work that makes a project perform or not. If wires are crossed or software doesn't work, it is clearly not the managers' fault, although they will suffer the consequences. It is the fault of the incompetent, or if this blog is to be believed, sabotage-prone, workers who earn the blame but never suffer it. If you allow yourself to fail as a professional worker, you then see that the project fails and you lose your job. Good choice. Let the flaming begin.

Anonymous said...

10:20. Brett, isn't it time for your nap yet? Why don't you get into your sportscar and go right back to California. Nobody here, except Charlie and the Bechtel posers, believes a word you say.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when an institution systematically values personal loyalty over competence. When managers at all levels promote people who suck up to them and "play the game", over those who know their stuff, eventually the organization is bound to rot from the inside.

December 8, 2012 6:34 PM

Recent (last week) promotions of John Benner and Bob Webster by Bret Knapp as the new ADs for Weapon Engineering and Weapon Physics are a "true testament" of this. Both of these ADs are literally Knapp's "butt boys"; neither has the experience or knowledge to be in these positions.

Anonymous said...

" Both of these ADs are literally Knapp's "butt boys"; neither has the experience or knowledge to be in these positions." (2:39 AM)


Talk about inexperience... Brett Knapp is Principle Associate Director (PAD) of LANL's nuclear weapons program and he doesn't even have a BS in physics! Only a dinky masters in Mech. Engineering from Cali State!

Unbelievable but true. He got to were he is by being both Mike Anastasio's and Charlie McMillan's brutal, bullish "hatchet man". Worse, he absolutely hates Los Alamos and the people who work here! The guy wears a constant look of disgust on his face.


Anonymous said...

Wow wow wow, December 9, 2012 1:30 PM

"...he doesn't even have a BS in physics! Only a dinky masters in Mech. Engineering from Cali State!"

Not defending Knapp here, but no need to insult engineers. Engineers actually contribute to the economy. If the DOE (aka physicists welfare) went away I know could retain my salary if not get more just about anywhere. Without the DOE, maybe 1 out of 10 physicists would get a job in academia and the rest would be brewing my Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

If the DOE (aka physicists welfare) went away I know could retain my salary if not get more just about anywhere. Without the DOE, maybe 1 out of 10 physicists would get a job in academia and the rest would be brewing my Starbucks.

Now, this is one of the dumber statements on this blog in a long time.

Is this the engineer who designed and built the infamous fence?

Anonymous said...

When the NNSA three stooges, Bodman, Pryzbylek and D'Agostino, dumped UC in favor of a incentivized private-sector GOCO contract, they rationalized that large contract penalties and incentives would motivate better management due to the self-interest of the GOCO leaders.

To fund this so called improvement, including $75M year at LANL and $50M per year of management fees at LLNL, up from $10M per year under former UC management, the "NNSA Dilettantes Club" decided that the additional yearly costs of $100M taxes and perhaps another $100M in increased benefits costs that would borne in part by reduced compensation to existing employees and in large part by firing over 2500 permanent employees between the two labs who yearly had provided taxpayers with 5 million man-hours of scientific advancement, these costs were worth paying for to have management incentives.

And by design, taxpayers pay the same amount. No tax savings occur despite heavily penalizing employees. By design!

So how is this working for you?

Nearly $1B now wasted since 2007 by a poor contract structure introduced NNSA "geniuses" to try to get better management. Is it working?

These three should be tarred and feathered.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of the NNSA dilettantism, the budget deficit can be eliminated, by simply paying federal employees what they are worth.

A 20% across the board compensation reduction is warranted. Nothing would be lost and trillions gained.

Anonymous said...

" he doesn't even have a BS in physics! Only a dinky masters in Mech. Engineering from Cali State!"

"If the DOE (aka physicists welfare) went away I know could retain my salary if not get more just about anywhere. Without the DOE, maybe 1 out of 10 physicists would get a job in academia and the rest would be brewing my Starbucks."

"Now, this is one of the dumber statements on this blog in a long time.

Is this the engineer who designed and built the infamous fence?"

This sounds like an argument between Sheldon and Howard on the "Big Bang Theory." It is pathetic that people at this lab live up to those stereotypes. Grow up, and show your coworkers their due respect. Both professions are respectable, depend on each other, and vital to the advancement of our society.

Anonymous said...

December 10, 2:40 pm,

How do you know that those earlier posts you cite were from an actual scientist and engineer working at the Lab? The beauty of anonymous posts is that they could in fact all be from some 17-year-old who's a fan of "the big bang theory" sitcom.

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