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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Elaine Andrews' personal story

Gary Gwilliam contributed this video Elaine Andrews a former employee of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory who was fired in the wake of LLNL's transition from public to private control, shares her personal story of suffering and loss. She is one of 130 former workers of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who claim that illegal widespread layoffs specifically targeted the highest salaried senior staff members who were closest to retirement. Their claims against Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory vary from wrongful termination to age, race and disability discrimination. The discrimination lawsuit against Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which was filed May 2009, is set for trial October 2012 in the Alameda County Superior Court. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dTzqzarnK0&list=PL84D52B6EABEBE75C&feature=mh_lolz

Friday, April 27, 2012

House Panel Seeks Sweeping Changes to Make NNSA More Independent

Anonymously contributed: From Weapons & Complex Monitor April 26, 2012 House Panel Seeks Sweeping Changes to Make NNSA More Independent In an effort to increase the National Nuclear Security Administration’s autonomy from the Department of Energy, the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee is set to approve sweeping changes to the agency that would distance itself from its parent organization. The subcommittee will mark up its portion of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act today and NW&M Monitor has learned it will authorize $7.9 billion for the agency’s weapons program, a massive increase over the Administration’s $7.58 billion request (though the panel has thus far been mum on the deferred Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement- Nuclear Facility, which Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) plans to address at a full committee markup in early May) that mirrors the Administration’s previous modernization plan. Most notably, documents released yesterday indicate that the panel will move to create more autonomy for the agency, giving NNSA’s Administrator full responsibility for all NNSA programs, policies, rules and regulations and “complete authority to establish and conduct oversight of policies, activities and procedures of the NNSA without direction or oversight by the Secretary [of Energy].” The bill would leave the Secretary of Energy only with disapproval authority of the agency’s decisions, while revamping and streamlining work within the NNSA with a host of other provisions. Includes language that would: * Shift health, safety and security oversight from the Department of Energy to NNSA while requiring the NNSA to adopt Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for non-nuclear operations and establish its own policies to ensure the protection of special nuclear material, sensitive assets and classified information; * Require the NNSA to revise its regulations, rules, directives, orders, and policies in order to streamline the agency’s operations; * Establishing a new system of governance, management and oversight of NNSA M&O contracts that transitions from transaction-based oversight to performance-based oversight that uses national and international standards and best practices where applicable; * Gradually decrease the number of employees in the NNSA’s Office of the Administrator to 800 by Oct. 1, 2014 (and 1,300 180 days after the enactment of the bill, and 1,000 starting Oct. 1, 2013) to help propel the transition from transaction-based to performance based oversight; * Require the NNSA to prepare a cost-benefit analysis prior to any management and operating contract competition during Fiscal Years 2012 to 2017, which would be reviewed by the Government Accountability Office; * Create a National Nuclear Security Administration Council that would include the heads of the agency’s nuclear weapons laboratories and production facilities in order to establish a communication pipeline for mission and operational concerns; and * Allow the NNSA to authorize weapons complex officials to design and build prototypes of nuclear weapons “to further intelligence assessments of foreign nuclear weapons activities” while helping to maintain the proficiency of current weapons designers.

Excerpts from Parney's written text to the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces :

Anonymously contributed: Excerpts from Parney's written text to the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, which is posted on senate.gov:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Parney's opening and closing for the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

Anonymous said... Parney's opening and closing for the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces last week; OPENING REMARKS AND SUMMARY Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the National Nuclear Security Administration Management of its National Security Laboratories. I am Parney Albright, Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). LLNL is one of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear design laboratories responsible for helping sustain the safety, security, and effectiveness of our nation’s strategic deterrent. In addition to our stockpile stewardship efforts, we also leverage our capabilities to develop innovative solutions to major 21st-century challenges in nuclear security, defense and international security, and energy and environmental security. I thank the committee for your continuing support for the important work we do. This is a challenging period for the federal government, with many priorities that require attention at a time of budget austerity. This is also the case for the nation’s Stockpile Stewardship Program, including the activities at Livermore. We are very excited about recent and prospective major accomplishments, which I will highlight, but we are also very concerned about impediments to current programs and long-term success in stockpile stewardship. In particular, I stress four points: - Without sustained support for nuclear weapons science, stockpile stewardship will eventually fail. - We remain optimistic about the prospect of long-term success of ―science-based‖ stockpile stewardship provided that support is sustained. The skills deriving from a solid science base will enable stockpile stewards to maintain a safe, secure, and effective deterrent and deliver on challenging life-extension programs. - Recognition of and support for the NNSA laboratories serving as ―national security laboratories‖ will better help the United States meet a broad set of 21st-century security challenges. These broader activities complement our nuclear weapons responsibilities, adding depth, breadth, and strength to the laboratories’ capabilities. - The NNSA laboratories would perform their vital national security mission much more effectively if they were managed as trusted partners of the federal government and governed in a more streamlined/cost-effective way, consistent with the original intent of the federally-funded research and development center (FFRDC) construct. CLOSING REMARKS My overall message is a ―good news‖ story with a note of caution. With continuing investments in HPC and with NIF coming on-line as a unique experimental facility to gather necessary input and validation data for nuclear weapons science simulation codes, science-based stockpile stewardship is on the path to success. However, vigilance and strong partnerships are required to sustain program support so that there will be skilled and motivated stockpile stewards as long as the nation relies on nuclear deterrence. All of us at LLNL look forward to serving as a trusted partner in the nation’s national security enterprise and are proud to provide innovative science and technology to meet a broad set of national security needs. We thank you for your continuing support

Sunday, April 22, 2012

White House Commissions Study of Laboratory Governance Structure

Anonymously contributed: A bit more on the WH study. Koonin understands the Lab's (he also oversaw CalTech's contract to run NASA's JPL), maybe something will actually come out of this. Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor April 6, 2012 White House Commissions Study of Laboratory Governance Structure -Todd Jacobson Former DOE Under Secretary for Science Koonin to Lead Institute for Defense Analyses Study. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has tasked the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Science and Technology Policy Institute to study the governance structure of the nation’s federal laboratories... The White House is believed to be keenly interested in preserving science and technology at the laboratories, especially on the heels of several reports that have been critical of the NNSA’s weapons laboratories. Two recent reports from the National Academy of Sciences—one on management of the laboratories and another on the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty—have urged drastic changes at the weapons laboratories. The NAS study on lab management called the NNSA’s relationship with its labs “dysfunctional” and “broken,” while the NAS CTBT study recommended that the agency re-evaluate how it oversees work at the labs, suggesting that the number of requirements and directives impacting work at the facilities while shifting contract incentives toward the technical success. The White House “wants to see reform,” one official with knowledge of the OSTP’s interest in the subject told NW&M Monitor, but it also has a “strong interest in science remaining strong” at the labs and “they want to make sure that’s maintained.” OSTP Concerned With ‘Suitability’ of Governance According to information obtained by NW&M Monitor, the White House is specifically interested in the pluses and minuses involved in each governance structure used at the laboratories and the “suitability” of the governance structures for “future national security challenges.” While DOE national laboratories operate under a government owned contractor operated model, Department of Defense laboratories typically are owned and run by the government. DoD also uses research centers affiliated with universities to meet some of its research needs. Koonin has been notably outspoken about the state of the science at the NNSA’s weapons laboratories, and at a public meeting during the NAS lab management study, he suggested that the switch to private management of the labs had taken its toll on science. .... House Lawmakers Welcome Study The request for the study comes as interest in how the nation’s laboratories are managed continues to grow. In addition to the recent NAS studies, the National Academy of Public Administration is studying oversight at the national laboratories at the direction of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and leaders on the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee are expected to introduce some NNSA reform measures in the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act. The top two lawmakers on the House subcommittee, Reps. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), said they were happy to see the White House “engaged” on the governance issue in a statement issued April 4. “In our oversight of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s national labs, we’ve become concerned about a governance structure that the National Academies of Science recently called ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘broken.’ We must ensure these national labs are setup to face the many nuclear security challenges facing the nation, and we look forward to taking some concrete first steps at reform in the upcoming fiscal year 2013 defense authorization bill to improve oversight that will enable a safe, cost-effective work environment and preserve scientific and engineering excellence at the laboratories,” Turner and Sanchez said.

LANL Director Makes $1M

Anonymously contributed: *** LANL Director Makes $1M *** ----------------------------- By ABQ Journal Staff on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory now makes more than $1 million a year — about three times what the position paid before the lab’s management was privatized in 2006. LANL director Charles McMillan’s compensation was $1,081,059 in 2011. The amount, which apparently includes health insurance, pension costs and other benefits, is public because the lab has to provide what’s paid to top officials as a condition of accepting money under the federal stimulus program. That’s up from the $800,348 for McMillan’s predecessor Michael Anastasio in 2009, the federal reports show. The Nuclear Watch New Mexico group called attention to the latest salary figures Wednesday. “We specifically call upon Los Alamos lab to fully explain to northern New Mexicans why it needs to cut some 600 jobs while at the same time the for-profit management corporation is enjoying record profits and the director’s salary has nearly tripled in six years,” said Nuclear Watch director Jay Coghlan. The lab, citing flat or reduced budgets, recently cut its payroll by about 560 jobs with a voluntary buyout plan. LANL’s budget is about $2.2 billion this year, about $300 million less than the previous year. Coghlan’s press release noted that in 2005 — when the lab was still operated as nonprofit entity by the University of California — the director’s job paid $348,000. In 2006, the lab’s management contract was awarded to the for-profit Los Alamos National Security LLC, a consortium that includes the university, Bechtel Corp. and other companies. The federal reports still show Sandia National Laboratories, run by Lockheed Martin, paying its director $1.7 million, the same as in 2009. But it’s possible the compensation rate may actually be different now. Paul Hommert replaced Tom Hunter in 2010, but the online stimulus money reports continue to list Hunter as the top executive making $1.7 million. No comment was available from LANL officials Wednesday. A Los Alamos lab spokesman said in 2009, when the stimulus money reports first showed the lab directors’ salaries, that not all of their compensation comes directly from taxpayer money, with a portion coming from the private corporations that manage the labs. -- www.abqjournal.com/main/2012/04/19/north/ lanl-director-makes-1m.html

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bechtel and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Another Privatization Story

Anonymously contributed

Article by Kay Mathews of the La Jicarita newspaper and blog from Northern New Mexico?

“Bechtel and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Another Privatization Story”:

http://lajicarita.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/bechtel-and-lawrence-livermore-national-laboratory-another-privatization-story/

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fine Print: A Disconnect in Evaluating the Nuclear Weapons Labs

Anonymously contributed:

Fine Print: A Disconnect in Evaluating the Nuclear Weapons Labs

By Walter Pincus, Published: April 9, The Washington Post

The distance between Washington and reality is always hard to measure.

But the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for the first time has released performance evaluations of the nation’s eight nuclear weapons laboratories and production facilities. Until now, the reviews were held internally. The fiscal 2011 reviews let us measure what went on in the nuclear weapons programs against what’s said about them in the nation’s capital.

“NNSA specifies ‘what’ it wants rather than dictating to the contractor ‘how’ to get it done,” according to the report.

The reviews are important for many reasons, but one critical one is money. Built into the contract are incentive fees awarded based on results of these performance reviews.

Continue reading article

Saturday, April 7, 2012

LANS Performance on Plutonium Project Criticized

Anonymously contributed:

Los Alamos Manager’s (aka LANS) Performance on Plutonium Project Criticized

By John Fleck / Journal Staff Writer on Wed, Apr 4, 2012

The contractor team that managers Los Alamos National Laboratory for the federal government did a poor job of managing the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility, a proposed plutonium lab that the federal government said this year it was deferring indefinitely because of cost overruns.

In its annual “Performance Evaluation Report” on the lab’s management, the National Nuclear Security Administration said the lab’s management failed to “effectively manage CMRR NF/SFE progress in support of NNSA strategic objectives”.

NNSA made the Performance Evaluation Report public this week amid a battering, including litigation, over the agency’s policy of keeping its contractor performance evaluations secret.

Here’s the document. I’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper (scroll down for a direct download if you don’t want to use Scribd):

http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2012/04/04/abqnewsseeker/los-alamos-managers-performance-on-plutonium-project-criticized.html

April 5, 2012 1:46 AM

New LANL BLOG

what happened to the new LANL BLOG?

Hardly any activity. It is a more appropriate BLOG for LANL. Most LANL visitors fill our ears with Knapp, Mc Millan and Co. who we dont care about. I encourage LANL visitors to express their views about those 2 characters at:

http://lanllayoffs2012.blogspot.com/

Those who have constructive contributions are welcome to continue visiting the llnl BLOG.

Scooby

Thursday, April 5, 2012

UC pays 400K salary to Mara!

Anonymously contributed:


UC pays 400K salary to Mara!!


"The following appointment was approved by the UC Board of Regents today (March 29):

Office of the President
Glenn Mara, vice president, Laboratory Management
Approval was requested for Mr. Mara as a term appointment effective on or about July 1, 2012, for a total compensation of $394,266. This request was in response to the impending departure of the incumbent. Mr. Mara will be responsible for management of the UC Laboratory Management Office in its efforts to support Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the Limited Liability Companies that manage Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as well as the university's oversight of the Department of Energy (DOE) contractual agreements relating to science and technology research programs at the National Laboratories.

Mr. Mara's annual base salary of $367,000 is 4.8 percent below the midpoint for the SLCG Grade 112 ($385,300) and 4.2 percent below the 50th percentile market base salary of $383,100.

Mr. Mara is a rehired retiree currently serving as Acting Associate Vice President Laboratory Programs on a 43 percent basis. Mr. Mara, as a condition of appointment, will suspend all payment of retirement benefits consistent with regents' policy.

This position is funded from non-state sources, specifically the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) contract fee earned as UC's partner share at LANL and LLNL and reimbursement for laboratory management expenses approved by the DOE Contracting Officer at LBNL. The funds for this position are part of the UCOP expenditures budget paid from lab fees annually approved by the regents."

Here are the performance reports

Anonymously contributed:

An article in the ABQ journal. Finally NNSA has released the performance reports.
here are the links:

http://www.nukewatch.org/

LANL documents reveal problems

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

White House Requests Study of National Lab Governance

Anonymously contributed:

Another study that will lead to zero "positive" change at the labs... Btw, didn't Parney work at IDA?

Weapons Complex Monitor
April 4, 2012
White House Requests Study of National Lab Governance

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has tasked the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Science and Technology Policy Institute to study governance of the nation’s federal laboratories, and former Under Secretary of Energy for Science Steve Koonin will head up the review effort, NW&M Monitor has learned. The study is expected to examine whether the governance structures in place at the laboratories—including the government-owned, contractor operated model in place at Department of Energy/NNSA labs—is appropriate to meet national security challenges into the future. OSTP and Koonin did not respond to requests for comment, but Koonin is expected to hold invitation-only information-gathering sessions over the next month to aid in the review.

In a recent study of the NNSA’s nuclear weapons laboratories, the National Academy of Sciences called the agency’s relationship with its labs “dysfunctional” and “broken.” Koonin was notably outspoken about the state of the science at the NNSA’s weapons laboratories during the NAS study, suggesting that the switch to private management of the labs had taken its toll on science. “It’s been a challenge to maintain a vibrant scientific enterprise,” Koonin said at the time. “That’s not to say there isn’t some great stuff going on, but if you look at the totality of the effort, I don’t think it matches what we had decades ago in the basic research area.” Koonin left the Department in the fall for a post at IDA.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More FAQs for LLNS Defined Benefit Plan

Anonymously contributed:

More FAQs for LLNS Defined Benefit Plan

A second round of answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) has been posted on the LLNL TCP1 Benefits Web page.

Frequently Asked Questions as of April 2, 2012

1. What is the ratio of employer vs. employee contributions?

A. For FY12, the $20 million employer contribution equates to 17 percent as compared to the 5 percent employee contribution. For FY13, the employer contribution is projected to be $88 million, or 24 percent.

2. Why are contributions starting out at 5 percent? Why not a lower amount?

A. Had contributions been approved two years ago, they would have begun at a lower rate and would have increased over time. Since DOE only recently approved starting contributions, it was necessary to begin at 5 percent because the obligations of the plan are higher than they were two years ago.

3. Are employee contributions capped at 5 percent or will they increase?

A. The amount of future contributions will depend on many factors including future asset performance. The contribution schedule currently authorized by DOE includes approval to increase employee contributions to 7 percent of pay in 2013. LLNS will be requesting DOE approval to increase employer contributions to $88 million, or 24 percent of pay.

4. When will employee contributions end?

A. Contributions must continue until the plan has sufficient assets to pay all future pension obligations. We expect contributions to continue for the foreseeable future.

5. What happens when interest rates increase and the Defined Benefit Plan becomes well overfunded?

A. The amount of future contributions will depend on many factors including future asset performance. As interest rates increase and assets grow through earnings and contributions, the plan will become better funded. Once the plan has enough assets to pay all future pension obligations, both employee and LLNS contributions will cease.

6. What happens to the plan as the number of members continues to decline? Will the fact that there are fewer members mean they have to increase their contributions?

A. As the number of active members in the plan decreases due to retirement, the rate of increase in future plan obligations will decline, since those who have retired are no longer accruing future benefits. By starting employer and employee contributions to the TCP1 pension plan now, the Laboratory will mitigate future shortfalls. The steps under current implementation are designed to ensure that the pension plan will be able to fully meet all of its future obligations.

7. How is my pension benefit calculated at time of retirement?

A.. When your 5 percent contribution is withheld from your paycheck, it will be reported to the pension plan administrator, Aon Hewitt. They will keep track of your contributions, both taxable and non-taxable, separately from all other employee contributions in your "account." At the time you retire, when your monthly benefit is calculated, a portion of it will be attributed to your contributions. The IRS dictates how the allocation is determined; should you pass away before exhausting all of your contributions, any remaining contributions are paid out based on the election you chose when you retired.

Depending on this election, remaining contributions are either credited to your spouse's or contingent annuitant's monthly benefit payment, or to your beneficiaries if you chose an annuity only for yourself. If your contingent annuitant dies prior to exhausting your employee contributions, any remaining balance will be paid to your beneficiaries. If you instead only chose an annuity for yourself, the remaining employee contributions you made will be paid out to your beneficiaries upon your death. Your contributions are used to fund your retirement benefit. The formula to calculate your pension benefit remains as Age Factor x Service Credit x HAPC (highest average monthly full-time equivalent plan compensation over 36 continuous months as an active plan member).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Technical Reason to Avoid a Test Ban, NRC Panel Says

Anonymously contributed:

Note the last paragraph from this excerpt!!

From Science Magazine:

No Technical Reason to Avoid a Test Ban, NRC Panel Says
by Daniel Clery on 30 March 2012

The United States' nuclear deterrent will remain safe and reliable without nuclear testing as long as the government keeps its weapons up to date with the so-called Stockpile Stewardship Program and fosters a scientific workforce capable of running the SSP, says a report from the U.S. National Academies released today. The report investigated technical issues surrounding the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and also concluded that the treaty's monitoring system, along with America's own intelligence resources, have made huge strides in recent years in their ability to detect clandestine tests that could pose a military threat to the United States. The CTBT Organization's International Monitoring System (IMS) "has created a capability so that any potential tester would have to be concerned about being detected," says Ellen D. Williams, committee chair and chief scientist of the oil company BP. ...

...The White House commissioned the National Academies in 2009 to review a 2002 study on this topic and investigate whether technical capabilities have changed over the past decade in a way that might influence the debate over ratification. Williams said at a briefing at the National Academies today that the SSP was still quite young in 2002, and since then there has been enormous progress. "They've overhauled and refurbished two complete weapon classes," she says. Part of the program involves understanding the physics and chemistry of the materials that make up the weapons and understanding how they decay and degrade. In some cases, replacement parts can be manufactured. "We understand these weapons today even better than we did while testing," committee member Marvin Adams, a nuclear engineer at Texas A&M University in College Station, said at the briefing. "We've done it. We've reset the clock on these weapons."

A large part of the program also involves developing computer simulations of the action of nuclear explosives. To test the validity of the simulations, national laboratories have built facilities that can reproduce parts of a nuclear explosion without creating an actual blast. These facilities include the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications facility (MESA) at Sandia National Laboratories, and Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "It's very crucial for researchers to establish a close coupling between [these facilities] and scientific computing so that they can test and stress the computer codes essential to the health of the program," Williams says.

The committee's main concern was about the government's future commitment to this program and its workforce. "The technical ability to maintain the stockpile exists; our concern is about the political will to maintain those capabilities," Williams says. Committee member Lynn Sykes of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University says, "There's one golden bullet: a high quality workforce. I can't stress that too strongly."

Full article:
http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/03/no-technical-reason-to-avoid-a-t.html

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