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

Friday, September 28, 2012

LLNL guard force

Anonymoulsy contributed: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Weapons Complex Monitor September 27, 2012 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DOE IG Finds no Problems with Livermore Strategy to Maintain Guard Force ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Retention bonuses paid to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory guards to keep them at the site as it downsized its security posture were reasonable, the Department of Energy’s Inspector General said in a report released yesterday. The IG said it investigated claims that the lab experienced “excessive” security costs while it maintained security to protect Category I/II special nuclear material, but it found no problem with $15.2 million in retention bonuses distributed from Fiscal Year 2010 to FY 2012 that helped the site maintain its guard force. The NNSA said Friday that it had completely removed special nuclear material requiring the highest, and most expensive, levels of protection, and that it expects to save $30 million a year by reducing security at the lab. In its report, the IG said that guards earned $50,000 bonuses if they stayed at the lab through Sept. 30, 2012. “According to a Livermore official, the retention bonuses helped to maintain the number of security personnel at the levels required for Security Category I/II protection throughout the deinventory, as well as maintain the morale amongst the impacted security personnel,” the IG said. The NNSA also authorized a 12-month transition phase through Sept. 30, 2013, to help guards move to other jobs after the deinventorying effort was complete. The lab will lay off guards over the next few months as part of a workforce restructuring plan.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Livermore Lab downsizing its security

Anonymously contributed: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Livermore Lab downsizing its security Modesto Bee Staff Reports Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- LIVERMORE -- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is downsizing its security staff now that the last of the highest-level special nuclear material has been removed from the research center. The lab filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act reduction in force notice this month, which reported that 126 employees were being let go as a result of the changes. The layoffs will only affect members of the lab's security work force who are no longer needed or funded because of the center's nuclear status changes. Those include police officers, police sergeants and health-safety technologists. The first voluntary separations will take place this month and the final involuntary separations will occur by March. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ http://www.modbee.com/2012/09/25/2389668/lab-downsizing-its-security.html#storylink=cpy

LANL management grows while budgets shrink?

Anonymously contributed: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A picture is worth a thousand words... ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- see GRAPH

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Funds for LANL Project in Senate Bill

Anonymously contributed: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ABQ Journal update on CMRR funding ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ A budget bill approved by the Senate on Saturday and headed to President Barack Obama’s desk contains no money for a multi-billion plutonium project at Los Alamos National Laboratory, prompting cheers from nuclear weapons activists. But the yearlong congressional debate over the future of the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility isn’t over. http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2012/09/25/news/no-funds-for-lanl-project-in-senate-bill.html

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pentagon should take over nuclear plant security

Anonymously contributed: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Interesting, this may have legs, lucky for LLNL that Cat I/II SNM is now gone... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Pentagon should take over nuclear plant security: lawmaker September 21, 2012 - Roberta Rampton - Reuters ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Defense Department should take over security for U.S. nuclear weapons sites after a nuclear complex was broken into with ease in July by an 82-year-old nun and two other peace activists, a top lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Friday. Mike Turner, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services panel that oversees the Energy Department's nuclear weapons complex, has drafted legislation to put the U.S. military in charge of protecting facilities like the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. "The fact that this vulnerability is so widely known has got to be addressed," Turner said in an interview. The Y-12 facility, built after the September 11, 2001, attacks, had been previously touted as "the Fort Knox of uranium" and was supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the United States. But in July, the three anti-nuclear activists cut through several fences and vandalized a building which holds the U.S. stockpile of highly enriched uranium used to make nuclear bombs. An internal Energy Department watchdog found guards ignored motion sensors because they were routinely triggered by wildlife, and a security camera that should have shown the break-in had been broken for about six months. The National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department, is continuing to investigate what went wrong with its oversight of contractors. The facility is run by Babcock & Wilcox Co, and WSI Oak Ridge, owned by G4S, provides security. Their contracts are being reviewed, and a number of personnel have been removed from their jobs. "We have seen just an absolute failure of security at Y-12. We believe from our classified briefing that this is system-wide, that NNSA and (Energy Department) are incapable of providing the level of security necessary for our nuclear weapons facilities," Turner said. Turner, who has spent a decade monitoring issues with the Energy Department's management of the complex, said he does not believe the NNSA can fix the issues that allowed for the incursion. Putting the Pentagon in charge would increase security, allow for better technology and weapons to be used in protecting facilities, and eliminate any interdepartmental issues in sharing classified intelligence about threats, he said. Turner's bill also would charge the Pentagon with securing the transportation of nuclear materials between facilities. "I am more concerned about the transport than I am the facilities, and the facilities have already shown to be highly vulnerable," he said. Turner has so far gathered about six Republican cosponsors for his bill, which he hopes to see become part of the annual defense policy legislation when the Senate and House finalize it after the November 6 election.

Superblock can now save on guard costs.

Anonymously contributed: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Superblock can now save on guard costs. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Was this really from today's internal posting? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on Friday announced that the last of the Security Category I/II special nuclear material items that required the highest level of security at the Laboratory have been removed. LLNL's primary mission will continue to be to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile, but this mission will now be performed with a small quantity of special nuclear material, resulting in annual cost savings for taxpayers of approximately $40 million. "We're always looking for ways to improve the way we do business," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "Consolidating this nuclear material will help save critical taxpayer dollars, help improve the safety and security posture at the site, and help align our enterprise for the coming decades. The team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory deserves a lot of credit for doing this efficiently and safely." In 2006, NNSA began to develop a plan to transform the nuclear weapons enterprise and to consolidate special nuclear material as much as possible. NNSA issued an environmental analysis in 2008 that allowed for the removal of Category I/II special nuclear material items from LLNL by the end of FY 2012. The removal and consolidation efforts have eliminated high security special nuclear materials from LLNL's Plutonium Facility, which is located in an area known as the "Superblock."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ignition Facility Misses Goal

Anonymously contributed: ====================================================================================== Article About NIF Woes in Science Magazine: Ignition Facility Misses Goal, Ponders New Course Science, Vol 337, 21 September 2012 Issue, Published by AAAS ======================================================================= It includes some very well done photos of the facility. ======================================================================= Excerpts: The National Ignition Facility (NIF), a $3.5 billion laser fusion lab in California, looks certain to miss its deadline at the end of this month for achieving ignition... By law, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), part of the U.S. Department of Energy, has until 60 days after the deadline to produce a report explaining what barriers to ignition remain, how they can be overcome, and what implications there are for the stockpile... Managers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the home of NIF, are playing down the significance of the end of the National Ignition Campaign (NIC)... ... Others view the missed deadline differently. “It’s going to be a big deal here,” says a congressional aide who asked to remain anonymous.

Parney - Part II

Anonymously contributed: Parney - Part II... As I said, 'neither I nor the Lab can respond to every rumor, nor can we predict when things will go viral. Neither can I nor anyone from the Lab lend credibility to these sites. There is an old political saying: "Those who know ain't talking, and those who are talking don't know." In most cases, the source of a rumor - particularly a blatant falsehood - has an agenda. If you go on these sites - and I won't discourage you if you do (since, as I said, they can sometimes be absurdly funny) - you should see them for what they are. The posts are not reliable sources of information. The posters are in no position to know the facts. The "facts" are almost never factual, whether they are about personnel, management, or whatever. Of course, this raises the question about whether I should be completely transparent. I fully understand that when information is absent, it creates a vacuum where any story can get traction. I think I have been pretty candid with the Lab on just about any topic, but there are some things that are "close hold" for a number of reasons: pre-decisional (i.e., still under discussion), privacy, legal, strategic, political, etc. That will happen. Not everything is shareable. But my commitment to you is that those circumstances will be rare and necessary. In many respects, the Lab is a village, and those of us who work here are all part of an extended family. We should feel collective pride in our successes and take collective interest in our challenges. Mud slung at one of us is slung at all of us and, if taken seriously, affects all of us. I can't stop the mud slinging. So don't take it seriously.

Caveat emptor: blog posts, rumors, and misinformation

From Newsline from an anonymous contributor: ========================================================================= Parney - Part I =================================================================================== Caveat emptor: blog posts, rumors, and misinformation LLNL Newsline - 09/19/2012 ==================================================================================== I'd like to take a little time to discuss a subject that is a bit different from the usual fare, and I think important. The Lab has many attributes. It is the place where some of the most talented people on the planet work in service to the nation. It is the home to many unique, best-in-the-world capabilities. It is a place with a long history of accomplishment, and of advances yet to come. It is also a collection of diverse people, a dynamic social web of interactions - with each other and with the world in which we are embedded. Hence, all the trappings of being human are part of this place. As many of you probably know, there are some external websites that are open fora for commenting on this Lab and also on LANL and our government sponsors. Sometimes the postings are unintentionally funny in the level of misinformation or convoluted logic. One site that is ostensibly devoted to LLNL is, in fact, more often than not focused on issues at LANL; as one observant poster noted there, no matter what the initial topic, the discussion quickly collapses, generally along a convoluted path, into a negative comment on Bechtel or one of the other partners and/or the LANL senior management. Other pieces of misinformation that show up once in a while are that Lab directors make million-dollar salaries (I wish!) or that LLNS and LANS somehow get more "profit" by reducing costs (umm, wrong). As you can probably surmise, I read these sites on occasion, in large part because I have (as those of you who know me will verify) a pretty perverse sense of humor, a trait probably acquired in an upbringing in the DC suburbs where there were ample opportunities to laugh at people saying stupid things. Most of the time, these posts are harmless albeit uninformed. Lately, however, some have become harmful and destructive if taken seriously. For example, one poster stated baldly that he/she had seen with his/her own eyes a PAD escorted off the Lab site by security, and that he/she knew for certain that the PAD was getting fired. That post engendered a whole raft of poisonous rumors, exacerbated by the fact that the manager in question was off site for personal reasons for several days. The rumor was completely false, made up out of whole cloth, for motives unknown. Other examples have cropped up recently. Sometimes these things get sufficient momentum to get picked up by the local press, who either try to get a comment from me (I can't respond to every rumor, nor should I give these "sources" any credibility) or even, if the newspaper is very poorly edited, make reference to them in print. When these things happen, they affect not just the Lab or the individual but also their families, who endure questioning at the grocery store, their place of worship, or the schoolhouse. They affect us all. The anonymous assertion of falsehoods in public fora or social networks is a fact of life these days, but it is supremely nasty and hurtful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Talent retention: Is it achievable at LLNL?

Anonymously contributed: ======================================================================= I have seen people leave LLNL, some of them talented, some mediocre (not a judgment but the truth!). Recently, the best software developer in our department announced his departure. No incentives to keep him. He is essentially getting the same treatment as the mediocre people. Difference between excellence and mediocrity is 0. Question to upper management: is talent retention achievable? Hint: look in the mirror when you answer!

Stimson report on NWC costs

Anonymously contributed: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stimson report on NWC costs -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is 70 pages of report, but they have a method that makes more sense than the ouija board that NNSA appears to pull out at budget time. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.stimson.org/images/uploads/research-pdfs/RESOLVING_FP_4_no_crop_marks.pdf

'Extensive' Oversight of Nuclear Weapons Facilities Not Such a Bad Idea, After All

Anonymously contributed: ------------------------------------------------ 'Extensive' Oversight of Nuclear Weapons Facilities Not Such a Bad Idea, After All, Official Says ------------------------------------------------ POGO's take on last week's hearings: ------------------------------------------------------------- 'The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has considered DOE, and later NNSA, a “high risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement” since 1990. The NNSA has not resolved its “long-standing management problems,” according to the prepared testimony of GAO’s Mark Gaffigan. A pending House defense bill would weaken the government’s ability to oversee nuclear facilities. “In our view, the problems we continue to identify in the nuclear security enterprise are not caused by excessive oversight, but instead result from ineffective oversight,” Gaffigan said.' http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2012/09/oversight_of_nuclear_weapons_facilities_not_a_bad_idea.html

B 61 cost looms large in overall budget crunch

Anonymously contributed: ---------------------------------------------------------- B 61 cost looms large in overall budget crunch. ------------------------------------------------------- Washington Post is on a roll recently, must be an election year. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-b61-bomb-a-case-study-in-needs-and-costs/2012/09/16/494aff00-f831-11e1-8253-3f495ae70650_story.html

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interesting comments in the Nuclear Weapons & Material Monitor

Anonymously contributed: ======================================================================================== Interesting comments in the Nuclear Weapons & Material Monitor (Todd Jacobson - 9/14/12) on last week’s Congressional Y-12 hearings… ======================================================================================== The Department of Energy has not gone far enough in its response to the July security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle argued this week, with some suggesting at a pair of hearings that more accountability is needed within the top ranks of DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The impacts on the NNSA could be felt in both the short and long-term, with several lawmakers pushing—albeit indirectly—for the removal of key DOE and NNSA officials and House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Michael Turner (R-Ohio) suggesting more drastic changes may be needed to the structure of the agency itself. Beyond leadership changes, Turner suggested that he wants to explore more radical efforts to reform NNSA, including changes that could involve removing the agency from under the umbrella of the Department of Energy or moving it to the Department of Defense. “I think next year we’re going to have to have a serious conversation about whether NNSA and DOE should remain responsible for some core functions of NNSA,” Turner told NW&M Monitor. “They cannot and will not do the job. We have absolutely seen it. This is no longer my opinion. This is hard, cold fact. They can’t modernize our weapons. They can’t build and undertake new facilities. They can’t even budget. And they can’t even protect our nuclear weapons. I know of no other agency so absolutely critical to our national security that is so broken.” The NNSA is currently the target of reform provisions authored by Turner in the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act (see related story), but he suggested to NW&M Monitor that those provisions might not go far enough. “Next year, this is going to give us the impetus to be much more proactive in our reforms,” he said. During the hearing, he noted that the NNSA was created by Congress in 1999 in response to security problems and mismanagement at DOE. “This Y-12 incident is just one more indicator that the creation of NNSA has not fixed the problems—12 years later and the entire nuclear weapons enterprise, from the budget process to facilities construction and now even basic security, is fundamentally broken,” he said. Turner and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, also suggested in a Sept. 13 letter to President Obama that the security problems at Y-12 exist across the weapons complex. “We write to share our deep concerns that the security at DOE-NNSA facilities is inadequate and the facilities could be gravely at risk,” Turner and Sanchez wrote. The lawmakers said that “lapses at every level in terms of process, personnel, and accountability could have allowed a disaster. We believe these issues may not be limited to Y-12. We ask your personal attention to this matter. We further ask that you take decisive action to ensure that in the aftermath of this incident the highest standards for accountable leadership and tough oversight are put into place at the DOE-NNSA.” After a brief public hearing Sept. 13, the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee convened for a classified briefing with Poneman and NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Neile Miller. While Turner did not disclose information that was talked about during the briefing, he said the private details did little to quell the anger among lawmakers. “I would say as a result of the classified briefing every member who was present was even more concerned and shaken as to the level of incompetence and insufficiency and security—on a bipartisan basis,” he told NW&M Monitor.

Looming funding cuts set to occur in early 2013?

Anonymously contributed: ============================================================================================ From the Weapons Complex Monitor September 17, 2012 ============================================================================================ White House Issues Report Detailing Sequestration Impacts ==================================================================================== The White House late last week issued a Congressionally required report outlining just how much of an impact the looming funding cuts set to occur in early 2013 known as sequestration will have on federal programs, including those overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. According to the report, the NNSA’s weapons activities would be cut by 9.4 percent, or $678 million based largely on current funding levels. The NNSA’s nonproliferation activities would also be cut by 9.4 percent, or $216 million. For EM, defense environmental cleanup funding, which largely covers DOE’s main cleanup sites, would be cut by 9.4 percent, or $472 million. Non-defense environmental cleanup funding and uranium enrichment D&D funding would each be cut by 8.2 percent, or $19 million and $39 million, respectively. The sequestration process would involve a total of $1.2 trillion in funding cuts, equally divided between defense and non-defense funding, over 10 years unless Congress passes deficit reduction legislation targeting the same amount before Jan. 2, 2013. “The specter of harmful across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense programs was intended to drive both sides to compromise. The sequestration itself was never intended to be implemented. The Administration strongly believes that sequestration is bad policy, and that Congress can and should take action to avoid it by passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package,” the report says, adding, “As the Administration has made clear, no amount of planning can mitigate the effect of these cuts. Sequestration is a blunt and indiscriminate instrument. It is not the responsible way for our nation to achieve deficit reduction.”

Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization

Anonymously contributed ======================================================================================= This is a long story, containing some insight as well as inaccuracies. Worth the time to read for those of you that are immersed in living it every day. ======================================================================================== http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-nuclear-arsenal-is-ready-for-overhaul/2012/09/15/428237de-f830-11e1-8253-3f495ae70650_story.html

Friday, September 14, 2012

NNSA touted Y-12's security -- until the breach

Anonymously contributed: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ So as a taxpayer, would someone please tell me what the value of NNSA oversight and bureaucratic rules are really worth!? Keeping in mind that at the time of the review cited in this report, NNSA was directing managing and overseeing the WSI security contract at Y-12... ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Knox News NNSA touted Y-12's security -- until the breach Posted by Frank Munger on September 13, 2012 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The government's most recent performance evaluation of its security contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant gave no hint of the broad security failures that were to be revealed a short time later by the July 28 break-in and subsequent investigations. In the report for the six-month period ending March 31, 2012, WSI-Oak Ridge -- also known as Wackenhut and G4S Government Solutions -- received good marks in all performance categories. The review, which was used to determine WSI's fee for the period ($1.44 million out a maximum possible $1.55 million), identified eight "significant positive performance indicators." Those were accomplishments deemed to have an "exceeded level of high quality performance." Unlike some previous evaluations, this one did not find any significant negatives. A copy of the 18-page performance report for the first half of Fiscal 2012 and other documents were obtained through requests under the Freedom of Information Act. I'm still taking a look at the biannual evaluation reports for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 and will report on those later. The reports had previously been stamped "official use only." The National Nuclear Security Administration, which delivered the report to WSI-Oak Ridge on June 14, said the contractor's performance provided federal officials "with a high level of confidence that an effective security posture is maintained at the Y-12 National Security Complex." It added: "Overall, the contractor fully met (the government's) expectations for performance during the evaluation period and addressed all . . . concerns adequately and immediately," the report said. http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2012/09/nnsa-touted-y-12s-security---.html

Thursday, September 13, 2012

House passes 6-month spending bill

Anonymously contributed: ========================================================================================= Unbelievable. Just unbelievable that anyone in Congress, from either political party, is so tone deaf that they would even remotely consider a NWC budget increase in light of the recent Y-12 and LANL safety and security debacles. ======================================================================================== "WASHINGTON (AP) - As its last major act before leaving Washington for the fall campaign, the House is voting to put the government on autopilot for six months. ================================================================================== The temporary spending bill is needed to avert a government shutdown when the current budget year expires Sept. 30. At issue are the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies that are funded annually by Congress through 12 appropriations bills." ==================================================================================== "Just a handful of high-priority programs would be awarded larger increases, including a government cybersecurity initiative, wildfire suppression efforts, a drive to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and processing of veteran disability claims." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.apnews.com/ap/db_45577/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=2PIynbwv&detailindex=2

Peace group says kill the NNSA

Anonymously contributed: ================================================================================== I hate to admit it, but as a 20 year employee at the Lab I have to agree with this group’s conclusion… ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Frank Munger’s Atomic Cite Underground September 12, 2012 ===================================================================================== Peace group says kill the NNSA ==================================================================================== The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance today said the time has come to get rid of the National Nuclear Security Administration, saying it's an unnecessary and expensive layer of management and rife with problems. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "In light of persistent management failures, documented by the General Accounting Office, the (Defense) Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, and Inspector General reports, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance believes the NNSA should be abolished, and management of the nation's nuclear weapons complex should revert to the Department of Energy," the report said. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Another excerpt: "Aside from an occasional personnel shuffle and a rigorous effort to shift blame to contractors, NNSA's response to criticisms is consistently, 'We get it now, we're compiling lessons learned, we'll do better.' " -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The group added: "But the persistent and recurring evidence of management incompetence at NNSA should raise the existential questions: How does the government receive value added from the NNSA? Does the NNSA do more harm than good? Is the management culture at NNSA fixable?"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NNSA gets an F.

Anonymously contributed: ============================================================================== GAO gives failing marks to NNSA at House Oversight Committee hearing ============================================================================== http://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/files/Hearings/OI/20120912/HHRG-112-IF02-WState-GaffiganM-20120912.pdf

DOE was warned - twice - in 2010 about Y-12 security issues.

Anonymously contributed: ============================================================================================ DOE was warned - twice - in 2010 about Y-12 security issues. How many other safety and security warnings have been ignored by DOE in the past four years? ============================================================================================ http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/security-lapses-at-nuclear-complex-identified-two-years-before-break-in/2012/09/11/7cd3d5fa-fc5e-11e1-a31e-804fccb658f9_story.html?hpid=z4

Federal travel restrictions will hamper innovation, stunt economic growth

Anonymously contributed: ========================================================================================= Federal travel restrictions will hamper innovation, stunt economic growth By B.Z. Shakhashiri, American Chemical Society and R.Byer, American Physical Society - 09/10/12 ========================================================================================= Scientific and medical research conducted in our nation’s laboratories and agencies that sustains national defense, addresses health challenges and develops energy security could be severely hampered under new rules imposed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Legislation pending on Capitol Hill, such as H.R. 4631, the Government Spending Act, could go even further with new requirements. OMB has ordered federal agencies to reduce travel and meeting expenses by 30 percent in fiscal year 2013. Its directive also requires senior-level administrative staff to review the costs of participating in meetings that exceed $100,000 and cap at $500,000 the amount any agency can spend on a single meeting. Congress has legislation pending that contains provisions more onerous than those in the OMB memo. Science and technology are key drivers for American innovation, and to work optimally they require unhampered collaboration and communication among multiple institutions and laboratories. If scientists can’t collaborate, their research, which drives economic growth, would be severely constrained. And if they can’t communicate, project costs would rise, and taxpayers’ dollars would be wasted. The OMB rules, and pending Hill legislation, pose significant risks for American innovation. Now let’s look at the consequence of budgetary caps contained in the OMB regulations and the pending legislation. Scientists are notoriously thrifty as convention bureaus attest, but even on a barebones budget a typical attendee will spend about $2,500 for travel, lodging, meals and registration fees for a weeklong meeting. The OMB cap of $500,000, if imposed, could limit the number of participants to 200 from any single agency. To put such a number in context, the U.S. Department of Energy, for example, supports 17 national laboratories that directly employ about 16,000 scientists and engineers and 100,000 more workers as contractors. Other federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Institutes of Health are also covered by the OMB regulations. At the March Meeting of the American Physical Society, 600 or more researchers from DOE facilities usually attend. Under the OMB rules and the pending legislation, two thirds of them would not be able to do so. They would not be able to exchange ideas with the other 9,000-plus scientists from around the world who typically participate. The American Chemical Society’s (ACS) two annual national meetings, which each attract on average 13,000 chemists and chemical engineers and play a major role in germinating transformational research, draw about 800 federal scientists. Under the new rules and the pending legislation, 50 percent of those federal scientists could be cut off from the global chemistry community that participates in ACS meetings. These rules will not only adversely impact science, but also the American economy and thus, American taxpayers, whose dollars are an investment in scientific research. Scientific meetings provide much more than a venue for organized presentations by well-known scientists. They offer participants opportunities for synergies that are almost impossible to replicate in any other way. Impromptu conversations in the corridors outside the lecture rooms have led to transformational discoveries. Building a better America requires making science a priority. It also requires giving America’s scientists the opportunity to capitalize on creativity. The OMB rules and their pending companion legislation will have extensive and unintended negative consequences on American science, innovation and economic prosperity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

‘Dirty bomb’ threat at hospitals remains, GAO report says

Anonymously contributed: ============================================================================================ ‘Dirty bomb’ threat at hospitals remains, GAO report says By Anne Gearan, Published: September 10 The Washington Post =========================================================================================== Nearly four out of five high-risk hospitals nationwide have failed to implement safeguards to secure radiological material that could be used in a “dirty bomb,” according to a draft report by congressional investigators. Eleven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks focused attention on the possibility that terrorists could use crude nuclear devices, the analysis by the Government Accountability Office described numerous instances of failure to secure highly radioactive material at hospitals. “Medical facilities currently are not required to take any specific actions to make sure these materials are safe, and many have very sloppy practices, which is remarkable nearly 11 years after 9/11,” the report says, according to a copy of the draft scheduled for release Tuesday and provided to The Washington Post. The GAO evaluated efforts by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Nuclear Security Administration to regulate and secure the materials. The report said the NNSA had completed security upgrades at only 321 of 1,503 medical facilities it identified as high-risk because they store extensive amounts of radiological material. The NNSA said it would not be able to complete upgrades until 2025, leaving important facilities vulnerable. The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, blamed delays on security requirements that are voluntary and too broad. The report also spelled out numerous examples of poor security. In one instance, an unidentified big-city hospital kept cesium-137, a highly poisonous radioactive chemical, in a padlocked room, with the combination to the lock written on the door frame in a busy hallway. At another hospital, the number of people with access to radioactive material could not be monitored because the computer program that tracked comings and goings didn’t count beyond 500. Fourteen medical facilities refused to participate in the voluntary safeguards, the report said. Four of the unidentified facilities are in big cities. “The longer it takes to implement the security upgrades, the greater the risk that potentially dangerous radiological sources remain unsecured and could be used as terrorist weapons,” the GAO said. David McIntyre, a spokesman at the NRC, said in an e-mail that the agency and state regulators have imposed tougher security requirements on facilities with licenses for radiological material since the 2001 attacks. He also said the NRC and the NNSA cooperate in the voluntary security program. The GAO findings underscore the larger problem of storage and tracking of nuclear materials around the world. Better nuclear safeguards were among the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. “We always regarded it as one of the most important,” former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean, who chaired the commission and keeps track of compliance with its 41 recommendations, said in an interview. “A nuclear terrorist attack is not the most likely, but it could be the most catastrophic.” Radioactive material is used in diagnosing and treating cancer and other diseases. In hospital settings, it is usually encased in metal. There has been no known terrorist theft of nuclear materials from medical facilities. Still, the terrorism risk has focused on the use of radioactive material to build rough bombs that could cause widespread economic damage and panic if detonated in a subway or high-rise building as well as more sophisticated “suitcase” bombs that could be more powerful.

NNSA stalls again on PF-4 safety

Anonymously contributed: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- NNSA stalls again on PF-4 safety ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Honorable Peter S. Winokur Chairman Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board 625 Indiana Avenue NW, Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20004 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- September 6, 2012 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear Mr. Chairman: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This letter is in reference to your June 18, 2012, letter concerning the Documented Safety Analysis for the Plutonium Facility. The Board requested a report and briefingwithin30daysaddressingtheirconcerns. OnJuly13,2012,Iresponded that an additional 45 days was needed to develop a response to address the Board's concerns. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) needs an additional 60 days for further development and management review ofthe responses. On a separate but related matter, Dr. Cook's January 30, 2012, letter to you committed NNSA to provide a revised project execution plan (PEP) for seismically-related upgrades to PF-4 in August 2012. However, due to the need to complete the final report for the current scope ofnon-linear static seismic analyses in September 2012 to support updating the PEP, NNSA will now send the revised PEP within 90 days following completion ofthis final report. If you have any questions concerning this letter, please contact me at (202) 586-4379. Sincerely, ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James J. McConnell Acting Deputy Associate Administrator Infrastructure and Operations

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wind power, some intellectual honesty for a change?

Anonymously contributed: ================================================================================ The following link is internal: =================================================================================== https://pao-int.llnl.gov/news/peoplegrouphighlights/2012/Sep/NR-12-09-03.html ====================================================================================== This posting is about the use of science and “expertise” to carry out agendas. I believe the subject article, which probably is only accessible from within LLNL, is an example of intellectual honesty. The thesis is that wind power from the ground can hardly dent the energy needs of the country or the modern worlds energy needs. That’s fine, even though politically incorrect, it is somewhat verifiable, and serves as an example of what I believe has been the largest “con game” in history. Predicting the weather reliably has eluded meteorologist for years. Perhaps the most reliable predictions came from Farmer’s Almanac. Hurricane tracks are possibly the best of example of realistic and useful computations that display some accuracy, but only a few days out. Why is weather prediction and climate change so hard to predict? It is a mathematically ill-conditioned problem, and basically it is an extrapolation from past data at best. Extrapolation is the most unreliable form of estimation no matter what techniques: extrapolation from “fitting past data “ or from extended solutions from initial conditions differential equations. In this field, we already have seen “politics or chicanery” by cooking the historical data, a scandal that broke several years ago. Ill-conditioned problems are by definition extraordinarily sensitive to input data. In fact, almost any solution can be attained through manipulation of input data in an ill-conditioned setting. Everything from the unpredictable (and un-modeled) solar flares, to unknown physical or biological processes in the oceans can make huge swings in a 100 year prediction. To represent our calculations as accurate (even to the point of sharing in a “so-called” Noble Prize) borders on intellectual dishonesty. Physicists should stick to subatomic particle calculations that are nearly impossible to verify, rather than weather prediction which we all will see. I venture to suggest that even if global warming is occurring, the calculations are not correct, and 100 years from now, we will see that they were wrong, whether or not global warming is real. (In other words, right answer from bogus computation, better known as a guess. After all, it is a 50-50 proposition, and a flip of the coin may work.) What is remarkably irritating is that this “stuff” finds its way into economic and political decisions. It is even added to by lame political suggestions that there is a “green economy” that can replace jobs lost from carbon based energy. This assertion was first made by a political hack during Hillary’s bid in 2008. There may be some jobs to gain, but it would the “green industry” that cleans up both nuclear and carbon based energy so that we can continue to harness coal, oil shale, and other truly mid-east liberating energy. That green energy could enhance revenue to those footing the bill. Clearly a policy that suggests that we can pay companies through government subsidies to build hugely expensive wind turbines or solar panels, then pay the private sector to operate them with tax breaks or pay consumers to purchase solar through tax subsidies, CAN NEVER BE A VIABLE ECONOMY. They idea that you can build an economy based on government selecting a technology, paying people to create it, then paying people to use it is not just socialism, it is stupid. As Margret Thatcher said, “socialism works great, until you run out of other people’s money.”

Sunday, September 9, 2012

automated posting prevention by Google

Anonymous said... Hey Scooby, ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Why are the "not a robot" things getting so ridiculous lately? My old eyes are not up to them anymore. What problem are they solving? Besides making your readers more pissed off at you than usual, I mean? If Blogger offers you no choice than to use them, who do we complain to? (I mean a real person). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- September 6, 2012 9:19 PM ======================================================================================= scooby said... can you be more specific. I dont know what you are talking about. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- September 7, 2012 4:04 PM ====================================================================================== Anonymous Anonymous said... When people want to submit a comment, they have to look at a bunch of very fuzzy and distorted figures and type in the numbers and letters there, before the comment can be submitted. It prevents a bot from autoposting advertising, since bot algorithms aren't smart enough to figure out the letters and numbers from these pictures whereas the human brain can do a decent job. But sometimes can take 3 or 4 attempts since these codes are very distorted visually. Turning them off exposes you to the risk that bots will post advertising or bad links to try to get people to go to a rogue website and inadvertently download malware or backdoors onto their computers. It can be annoying having to try 3 or 4 times just to submit a comment. I haven't tried it yet but you can try the "audio" version of this feature (sound icon) next to the code box. Maybe that works better for some. Let the ears do the work, and not the eyes. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ September 7, 2012 4:25 PM ==================================================================================== Anonymous Anonymous said... Scooby...I had a similar problem when making a recent post. My comment was added 3X because each time the process indicated that I did not enter the proper letters. It was user mistake on my part because I did not read the code correctly – however, on each failed attempt I did not notice that my comment was added each time. I like the audio version suggestion:) September 7, 2012 7:24 PM Delete Anonymous Anonymous said... Scooby, your comment indicates you don't even know how your own blog works. Some homework on your part is needed, I'd say. Try posting a comment to your own blog (as an anonymous poster) and see what we mean. =---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- September 7, 2012 9:00 PM =================================================================================== Anonymous Anonymous said... I think it's the strongest protection option, and unfortunately the machine learning algorithms that hackers and spammers use to "read" these security code images is getting better and better that the images are having yo be blurred and distorted more just to stay ahead of hackers. It's really on the plate of google. The other options don't provide enough privacy if that is something you are trying to maintain. But really the call of the owner. The Audio option is available to everyone since they need ways for people with visual impairments to be able to participate. I just hope spammers don't develop audio algorithms to eventually bypass those features either. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- September 8, 2012 5:07 PM ==================================================================================== Anonymous Anonymous said... The "audio option" sounds like extended gibberish to me. Not an option. I think the real question is what is the risk to this kind of blog, and why has the bar been set so much higher over the past few months? As recently as May, the challenge figures were relatively simple, but obviously not easily machine-read. What has changed, except general paranoia? This really seems like overkill for a simple comment blog. Nothing affecting national security, or even anyone's credit card number, here. I for one am getting very tired of mindless ratcheting-up of "security" by uneducated drones in all facets of daily life. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- September 8, 2012 9:45 PM ====================================================================================== Anonymous Anonymous said... Blame google. They make all of that so its transparent to users. ---------------------------------------------------------------- September 9, 2012 2:29 AM ================================================================================

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Old Rad Lab" moonshine

Anonymously contributed: Interested in hearing about this "Old Rad Lab" moonshine I've heard about from multiple sources now. Really a more lighthearted topic from the old old days of the Lab. So long ago that I am sure it is beyond any statute of limitation so people should feel open to tell us about it. Was it any good? What kind of setup was involved? Any photos of stills, old jugs or labels? Did Feynman or Teller get a taste of it?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Y-12 guards given answer sheets for inspection security tests!

Anonymously contributed: ==================================================================== Y-12 guards given answer sheets for inspection security tests! =================================================================== The debacle is going from bad to worse as the days go by. When will it hit bottom? The following is from Frank Munger's news site on Oak Ridge: 'The U.S. Department of Energy tonight confirmed that inspectors from DOE's Office of Health, Safety and Security -- at Y-12 last week to conduct a major top-to-bottom security review -- found copies of security quizzes and answers and other inspection-related materials in one of the plant's patrol cars. There were indications that the sensitive papers, which had been sent to Oak Ridge in advance by encrypted email to make sure they were valid for testing, had been copied and apparently were being distributed to help guards pass the critical reviews that involve basic security knowledge, proper use of weapons, gas masks, understanding of post duties, etc.'

It is not called cheating it is called a learning collaboration!

Anonymously contributed: ===================================================== Hey this is the way of the world now. It is not called cheating it is called a learning collaboration. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/education/students-of-harvard-cheating-scandal-say-group-work-was-accepted.html Harvard students suspected in a major cheating scandal said on Friday that many of the accusations are based on innocent — or at least tolerated — collaboration among students, and with help from graduate-student teachers who sometimes gave them answers to test questions.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board no longer to meet with Cook

Anonymously contributed: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board no longer to meet with Cook There must be more to this than a mere shuffling of the organization chart. =========================================================================== --------------------------------------------------------------------------- "September 5, 2012 Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board 625 Indiana Avenue NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20004 ============================================================================= Dear Dr. Winokur: --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Since I was confirmed by the Senate as the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs in June 2010, I have been meeting with you and other members of the Board on a regular basis. A series of organizational changes within NNSA has been made over the past year. In September 2011, the position of Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management (APM) was created, and the line accountabilities for major construction projects beyond Critical Decision 2 were reassigned from Defense Programs to APM. In April 2012, the position of Associate Administrator for Infrastructure and Operations (NA-OO) was created, and the line accountabilities for the NNSA Site Office Managers were reassigned from Defense Programs to NA-OO. In August 2012, accountability for NNSA infrastructure that underpins both non-nuclear and nuclear facility operations was reassigned from Defense Programs to NA-OO. Given the cumulative effect of these changes, it is appropriate that the regular meetings we have had should cease and an NNSA representative in the line management of nuclear safety replace me. The Administrator will determine the appropriate representation shortly. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Donald L. Cook"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Savannah River asks employees to retire

Savannah River asks employees to retire --------------------------------------------------------------- The downsizing continues across DOE. As the budgets follow downward projections and the FTE costs continue trending upward, the crossing point is being reached site by site across the entire NWC. ------------------------------------------------------------- http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/business/local-business/2012-08-31/savannah-river-site-contractor-asks-more-voluntary-layoffs?v=1346445892

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are we better off with Akima and Jacobs?

Anonymously contributed: ------------------- During the past 18 months the prime construction contract supporting LLNS, commonly known as Labor Only, was re-competed. In fairness, that process was kept extremely close to the vest which reflects kudos to the leadership managing the process as this was a contentious topic. The standard lab factoid leakage did not occur; if this is a business example of Bechtel Management, it reflects high integrity on communication control. A small business leader participation was required for the bid. Lots of contract details, more then I or any non-participant truly know; what is known is that hundreds of millions of dollars of government construction work was on the line. In the end, no surprise, a Team comprised of Akima and Jacobs won the competitive bid. Why no surprise? Who is Akima? From the web I quote ....."Akima, LLC is a $1.2 billion holding company with 5,600 employees worldwide. Akima, LLC is uniting the strengths of three holding companies: Akima Management Services, LLC, Qivliq, LLC and Akmaaq, LLC. On October 1, 2012 these three holding companies officially become one company, Akima, LLC." Being fair, who is Jacobs? From the web I also quote....."Jacobs, with 2011 revenues of over $10 billion, is one of the world's largest and most diverse providers of technical, professional, and construction services. Building strong, long-term relationships with our clients is the key to our success as a company. Where is the small business? We know Akima, in one form or another, now controls the Prime Supplemental Labor service for LLNS. Jacobs has provided NIF with construction and engineering services for many years; probably safe to say they know NIF. Now both control the Prime construction service. If we need to hire an Engineer, drafter, designer to support our clients we have Akima Services as our provider. Then we have Akima Construction Services (aka ACS) to perform the work. Yes, for sure they are different companies. I am quite sure they have all signed the right documents to say they will never cross talk. How is this going to improve business, lower costs, increase efficiencies? The contract was changed during the 4th quarter of the fiscal year; the tightest financial quarter with least room for error. But was it? Some nasty rumors of favoritism are circulating on several fronts. The tightly knit selection committee was comprised of who exactly? A husband and wife (the IFM and Comp Operations Manager respectively), a former Jacobs VP (now a NIF Manager), a LLNS contract manager and a corporate Bechtel Manager. In fairness, I believe this was the composition of the Selection Committee, but I could be incorrect. Director Albright desires to cut costs. I challenge the lab to track, measure and honestly report if we are better off with these corporate giants.

Grasping the Secrity Problems at Y12

Anonymously contributed: ------------------------------------------ Grasping the Secrity Problems at Y12 ------------------------------------------ There were so many problems that contributed to the July 28 security breach at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant that the Inspector General had to lump them into categories just to keep them organized. Some things in the investigation report released Friday were almost incredible. For instance: In the predawn morning, after three Plowshares protesters had cut through security fences and entered the Protected Area without resistance, the activists hung banners, spray-painted messages, and used a hammer to bang against a wall of the plant's uranium storage facility. Inside the fortress-like facility, security guards just assumed the noise was coming from maintenance workers. Guards later told investigators they often weren't told about scheduled maintenance. They said it wasn't unusual for workers to just show up -- even in the dark, without warning -- in the high-security area. Y-12's highly touted security system failed at multiple levels, according to the damning, 18-page "Special Report" by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General. "We identified troubling displays of ineptitude in responding to alarms, failures to maintain critical security equipment, over reliance on compensatory measures, misunderstanding of security protocols, poor communications, and weaknesses in contract management," Inspector General Gregory Friedman wrote. Some problems identified by investigators were too sensitive to include in the publicly released report and were shared with federal officials privately. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2012/08/grasping-the-security-problems.html

Tomas replacement

Anonymously contributed: ----------------------- What do you think of Tomas' replacement?

Blog Archive