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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parney on fiscal uncertainty

Anonymous said...
Excerpts from Parney’s update to LLNL employees on fiscal uncertainty
01/28/2013

”In coming weeks the White House and Congress must hash out three deals - one to address the debt ceiling, one to avoid sequestration, and one to get past the fiscal year 2013 continuing resolution expiration - to prevent a government shutdown, or risk serious damage to government programs...

All of these have the potential to negatively impact our Lab's current and future budgets, and the rumors related to how we will respond are ramping up. I can tell you that while we are discussing multiple options and scenarios pending the federal decisions, nothing has been decided and no action has been taken...

...While it is difficult to predict which actions Congress eventually will take and the magnitude of their impact to our Laboratory and sponsors, I instructed my senior managers to be prepared. We are looking at a number of options to address any potential budget shortfall, in whole or in part, depending on the challenges presented to us by these FY13 and potentially FY14 budgets. Again, it is important to understand that no one knows how the situation in Washington will play out.

One thing we will not include in cost cutting is the compensation increase plan. With many of our employees not receiving raises for the last two years when faced with increases in health care costs, higher taxes and, in some cases, mandatory pension contributions, we believe it is important to move forward with this salary increase. Employees will be informed of their salary increases by Feb. 4 and will see changes reflected in their Feb. 15 paychecks, retroactive to Jan. 1.

Instead we may look to other areas for cost reductions, such as temporarily suspended training and travel, limiting procurements and other non-labor costs, postponing the Variable Compensation Program, imposing a hiring freeze, and implementing furloughs or other cost cutting measures.

Since furloughs have been discussed at a few all hands meetings recently, let me elaborate on what we had in mind had the fiscal cliff occurred on Jan. 2; the details were not (and are still not) completely worked out, but the general contours can be described.

First and foremost, the plan was to avoid any large-scale layoffs since the fiscal cliff was most likely a temporary phenomenon, although of unknown duration…

The furlough model under consideration in January would have reduced employees' salaries by approximately 10 percent. A "bank" of furlough leave days would have been credited to each employee equal to the required salary reduction. In this model, each employee would accrue one furlough day leave credit each payroll period - about two days per month. These furlough leave days were intended to be taken within each pay period. Reducing employee salaries and creating a bank of furlough leave days would have had the least impact on employee benefits.

Senior managers would have seen the pay reduction but not receive the time off (the level of management down to which this applied was (and is) TBD).

The Alternate Work Schedule program would have been suspended...

…As you can see there were details that needed further work, but the general idea was to avoid layoffs, maintain benefits, and be in a position to rebound once the fiscal issues had been settled in Washington.

If, as events unfold in Washington, a furlough is announced as part of our mitigation efforts…the general shape of a furlough would probably look something like what we had planned for January.

Furthermore, I again want to emphasize that while all options are being analyzed, no course of action has been decided. We simply do not know what is going to come out of Washington, much less the impact. If and when those decisions come, I will communicate to you as quickly as possible what actions our Laboratory might take, along with the reasoning...”
January 29, 2013 at 7:40 AM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Those who can leave the lab, should leave! Google. Intel, Cisco, IBM, Chevron, HP labs, Sandia, Lockheed Martin, Juniper, Apple, Microsoft, the list goes on and on. Why have that kind if uncertainty hanging over you for the remainder of your life at the lab? Is that kind of stress really worth it? Your blood pressure will go down 20 points even if you leave to go to a fast paced well managed employer. I promise you. Your health and well being is so much more important that anything the lab can promise you. The lab has nothing to give you. It has no important mission now and in the future. you are wasting your life away tgere. You are better than that. Look out only for yourself. You will not regret leaving and will wonder why you didn't leave earlier. Good luck and keep true to yourself.
January 29, 2013 at 8:05 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
How is the budget looking at LANL and LLNL? At SNL, signs are growing that there will have to be a significant number of folks, especially on the science/research end of things, let go. I noticed that the various major "sections" of the laboratory are putting up barriers to entry, such as refusing to sponsor people for certain security clearances, and requiring these clearances to attend necessary meetings. It has all the signs of a managerial turf marking battle.

Morale is taking a major beating. Normally collegiate staff are starting to view this year as a zero-sum "me vs. you" battle to see who lives and who dies in the next round of funding. Management has made it clear that they don't have our backs and that we will have to look elsewhere in the labs for funding if we want to be here come 1-2 years. But elsewhere in the labs...they are putting of walls.
January 29, 2013 at 7:02 PM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
LLNL is ignoring, or not disclosing the fact to their employees, that exempt employees under CA state law become hourly employees during a furlough. That means if they are asked to come in beyond normally schedule work hours they are to be paid as such (hourly). Additionally, note how their discussions have been to employees (and centered on paying employees less), and not to managers and about how less work will get done (with staff reductions). Perhaps they intend to play the game were NIF, the golden children, and managers will be protected classes, while they pressure or cajole the furloughed staff to come in for free to keep work productivity unaffected. Seems the California Labor Relations Board should take a look at the activities of this LLC (once furloughs are instituted) and ensure all employees have a voice and are protected under relevant state laws. Seems to me in the long run it’ll cost the LLC than they have to gain

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

At LANL, Director McMillan recently conducted an All-Hands meeting where he painted a very rosy picture for FY2013. He said the lab took the difficult cuts in FY2012 (around $390 million) and that things looked much better for FY2013. Some selective hiring of new research staff would even begin.

Do I believe his rosy forecast? No, why should I?

Reports are circulating around the lab that TSMs who have no funding for only 200 hours are now being put on a special "RIF Track" that eventually leads to the non-funded TSMs being quietly laid off (i.e., a type of "stealth RIF"). LANS management is being very quiet about this new practice but some staff members have apparently been laid off using this secretive lab policy. Little is being said to the research staff about this "RIF Path" policy and 200 hours is a "hair trigger" of only a few weeks before being targeted for future layoff. It's a high anxiety producing scheme, for sure! Managers, of course, are immune to all of these RIF threats.

Then there is the issue of unproductive, Six-Sigma "Work Free Safety Zones", the enormous overhead charged on project funds and the fact that staff are sternly warned in their online charge code training to only work on proposals to secure new funds on their own time -- after hours or on weekends. To do otherwise may subject staff members to criminal prosecution (or so the online training threatens!). You can also add in the issues of random "piss tests" that result in instant firings, occasionally polygraph tests, the lack of the ability to openly publish in many areas, the stagnant salaries and constant benefit cuts, etc., etc., etc.

There are better places for a young, bright research scientist to work and those that remain have started to flee LANL at a faster rate these days. Bechtel "handlers" and their LANS management team have done a thorough job destroying this lab. Anyone who remains can easily see the enormous damage they've done to this lab over the last 6+ years.

However, LANS is extremely good at BS-ing their workforce and doing slick PR. Charlie's 4-minute "movie trailer" at the All-Hands proved that point. At BS and PR this LANS management team are definitely world-class and a Center of Excellence!

Anonymous said...

There are better places for a young, bright research scientist to work and those that remain have started to flee LANL at a faster rate these days.

January 30, 2013 at 6:01 PM

There are better places for ANY LANL employee to work. Why are the older ones not fleeing?? Answer: fear for their future with so few years left to retirement, and lack of a professional network (outside the NWC) to rely on for opportunities. Time to get crackin', folks! Lose your fear and get the hell out! You literally have nothing to lose. And everything to lose if you stay.




Anonymous said...


Reports are circulating around the lab that TSMs who have no funding for only 200 hours are now being put on a special "RIF Track" that eventually leads to the non-funded TSMs being quietly laid off (i.e., a type of "stealth RIF"). LANS management is being very quiet "about this new practice but some staff members have apparently been laid off using this secretive lab policy. Little is being said to the research staff about this "RIF Path" policy and 200 hours is a "hair trigger" of only a few weeks before being targeted for future layoff. It's a high anxiety producing scheme, for sure! Managers, of course, are immune to all of these RIF threats."

I have not heard about the 200 hours but I did hear there is a "code" that you get put on when your funding runs out and if you on that code you on a separation track. I think it could mean that if your are on overhead for over 200 hours than you put on the "separation track". At our last manager meeting people kept asking about this and where told just do not run out of funding and that they hope they do not need to put anyone on this track, but no details where given.

"Then there is the issue of unproductive, Six-Sigma "Work Free Safety Zones", the enormous overhead charged on project funds and the fact that staff are sternly warned in their online charge code training to only work on proposals to secure new funds on their own time -- after hours or on weekends. To do otherwise may subject staff members to criminal prosecution (or so the online training threatens!). You can also add in the issues of random "piss tests" that result in instant firings, occasionally polygraph tests, the lack of the ability to openly publish in many areas, the stagnant salaries and constant benefit cuts, etc., etc., etc."

Again I have heard something about this but I have no details, the training seems to indicate that you what you can and cannot do to secure funding on work hours and there seems to be a clear contradiction.

Anonymous said...

January 30, 2013 at 8:50 PM

Wake up!! You are pathetic. Why are you blathering about funding and work hours as if the whole world you live in is not burning down around you?? Get the hell out now!!! You are DONE! From your comments, you obviously have no clue what is being done to you and to your "career" without your knowledge. You cannot survive in the environment that has been created for you to work in!! What does it take for you to realize that IT IS OVER?? If you want to see the actual scorched skeletons and burned carcasses of your fellow employees, and feel the heat yourself, then stick around and enjoy it. Or be smart, and GET THE HELL OUT NOW!!

Anonymous said...

However, LANS is extremely good at BS-ing their workforce and doing slick PR. Charlie's 4-minute "movie trailer" at the All-Hands proved that point. At BS and PR this LANS management team are definitely world-class and a Center of Excellence!

January 30, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Contrast in issues. LLNL is crashing, LANL is cruising...

Anonymous said...

Hey Parn....you have more than enough people who would bail if you would just give them a nice "kiss" on the way out. Furloughs are just going to piss people off further and costs you the kind of people who you would rather keep. The smart and talented ones are looking to bolt.....the not so bright and not so talented (like me) are not thrilled about the situation but will ride this out until you have to do a RIF. In the end you are left with a much lower quality workforce.....but now they're really indifferent the labs needs.

Use your head son! Tell those melon heads in Washington that you really think a VSIP will preserve a higher quality more motivated workforce.

Anonymous said...

Note ... discussions ... not to managers and about how less work will get done (with staff reductions)

Parney's communication was to the employees as a whole. Probably additional missives are being worked with the highest managers.

If there are furloughs, that means funding has been cut and thus scope has to be reduced. Fed and Lab managers should be forthright about that. The word 'prioritization' is going to come in to play.

Anonymous said...

"If there are furloughs, that means funding has been cut and thus scope has to be reduced."

...not for those of us who work on non-gov WFO contracts. Are we going to renig on those signed contracts??? What would legally give us the right to do that?

What's actually going to happen: we're going to be forced to make those deadlines and take the furlough. So we'll be working all those furlough days and not getting paid for them. Wonderful.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the pay increases, you should've kept them, 30cents doesn't go very far, although I'm sure Upper Management fared much better than us lowly every day worker bees.

Anonymous said...

"for those of us who work on non-gov WFO contracts"

Look at it this way, the government built and equipped the laboratory where you work. If you are working on "non-gov" projects, perhaps you should consider moving to a "non-gov" laboratory.

Anonymous said...

Notice how managers are always praising their employees telling them that they are the best, the most talented people they ever worked with. It is becoming so sickening to hear and very unproductive for the already low morale, especially after a near zero raise.
That along with the looming increase of TCP1 contributions, rise in SS tax in January and possible furloughs makes us want to do more for less. That is against nature!
Management: I dont need your lip service! You do not care in general; if you did, then the raise should more or less match the praise!!

Anonymous said...

Parney is working with what he has. For decades the lab and employees were shielded from the realities of the outside world by UC. Now the bills must be paid on his watch. Until demonstrated that he has alternate motives, would give him some latitude in his actions to work through this mess. The alternative is to not come out of it, and speed up the liquidation of assets process.

Anonymous said...

...not for those of us who work on non-gov WFO contracts.

January 31, 2013 at 9:59 PM

"WFO" means work for other government agencies, not "non-gov." If you are really under a contract to a non-government (private) entity, that is call a "funds-in agreement" and is quite rare and is usually not approved by DOE/NNSA. It is also usually a single-year, small-dollar contract with a single very specific deliverable. If you are truly working on one of those (doubtful), you don't seem to know much about it. I think you just meant non-DOE/NNSA.

Anonymous said...

If the labs are restructured to give formerly WFO agencies like DHS and DoD as direct stakeholders, it may improve the situation for current employees. Theoretically your career would be decoupled from NIF if you are not on NIF programs. The non-NNSA agencies would have more power to influence how work gets done for their funding. The more agile and diversified labs (hint hint Sandia) will outcompete the slow and outdated weapons labs LLNL and LANL. The labs will need to actually support other capability development rather than let them die off. Though you never know. I don't think Parney would ever take good advice especially if it comes from an anonymous blogger. You can bet he will lobby hard against realignment and restructuring. Parney is just not a top quality c-suite leader. Sorry but its true. Day to day stuff he is fine. But he is no turnaround specialist, the most prized of all leaders. He is adequate for the job at hand. This is the man that you work for.

Anonymous said...

Sandia can thrive but it also needs to let go the "leave me alone I'm doing science" "I'm entitled to perpetual funding for open ended science" types. Basic research should be a side privilege for programmatic relevance. Unless you are a superstar in your field, the taxpayer has no business paying for mediocre science. Same applies to LANL and LLNL by the way.

Anonymous said...

The managers paying lip service are doing so to avoid lawsuits that would arise if management said what they really thought. They are already on very thin ice with regards to the performance appraisal process and EBA action following. Keep records of any sudden changes in behavior by management. Use it against them if you are under threat of employment action. As always, keep detailed records and notes. These guys are guilty of wrongdoing. It is simply a matter of having the courts making a ruling on it to make it official. Your records will be your best friend and advocate if you are having to go after the lab.

Anonymous said...

This is a red herring.

The government is not going to significantly reduce Parney's budget. Manpower reductions will be Ed's prodding the Penrose puppet.

Ed brags that his dominions will have a yearly churn.
"Letting a few go reminds the survivors that a job is precious even without raises. Keeps the herd fit."

Anonymous said...

It would be a good thing just to get rid of mediocre basic science types that don't have real impact on programs. Should allow all programs NIF and non-NIF to keep moving forward. A previous poster is right. Targeted RIFs are far more effective than a furlough.

Anonymous said...

At SNL, they have no clue what they are doing w.r.t. "science". Management is doubling down on "science", all the while funding from external science agencies is vanishing from the labs. So they want us to do science LDRDs for 25% of our time, and then do what for the remaining 75%...try to steal money from public universities?? Yeah right, nobody is gonna fund our bloated system over a dirty cheap professor and his 10 chinese postdocs.

SNL is no better than LANL or LLNL when it comes to having an obese number of pure "science" types that flat out refuse to do anything useful when asked. The good news is that most of these people will leave on their own when the funding dries up, because the pureness of their science is like a religion to them. Throughout history, people have traveled around the world to practice their religion freely.

Anonymous said...

February 1, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Wow just wow.

You are saying science is not useful at a science lab. Just amazing. You are something special 10:28 PM, really something special.

Anonymous said...

You are saying science is not useful at a science lab.

February 2, 2013 at 9:15 AM

No, he's saying it is not particularly important at a for-profit nuclear weapons lab. (Where is it you thought you worked?)

Anonymous said...

Talking about high quality top notch science versus the marginal, incremental, derivative stuff that most scientists produce. You have both types at all the labs. A broad spectrum of ability with regards to scientists. More so on the lower end of the tail.

Anonymous said...

9:15A AM: If you honestly think that all science should be done at a science lab regardless of whether or not it's superstar quality, then you are seriously lost. The pool is bloated with mediocrity. This country produces and coddles too many mediocre scientists. Atleast in academia, they serve a purpose of teaching (though that may have quality problems as well). At a national lab, you should only be cultivating the best of the best in pure research if that is what they do. After all, there is no fall-back role like "teaching" for the rest.

Anonymous said...

10:28 PM: Agreed. Also LDRD is not a good thing overall. LDRD to support top leaders in the field is fine. But it is more often used to cover for funding shortfalls of people who, like you said, refuse to do anything else when asked. And that applies at all 3 labs. These people need to be let go. They use LDRD and the lab as a welfare program for themselves. You can't change them, you can't reform them, you can't incentivize them to stop deluding themselves into thinking that somehow they are entitled to no-questions-asked open-ended funding. No point in trying to develop targets and metrics for such performance. Just let them go. Superstars are superstars. The rest are not. If they are unable or unwilling to apply their brains to programmatic work (i.e., REAL APPLICATIONS with REAL CUSTOMERS and REAL DELIVERABLES) then these parasites simply need to go. It's like a mediocre professor who is not a superstar, but refuses to take on teaching responsibilities. Screw that. Throw out the trash.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that mediocre scientists will just leave. They like the good salaries and zero-responsibilities. And they know they can get away with dragging their feet when asked to do something "applied." Since they know they can get away with it (and they have), they have no incentive to leave. Not soiling their hands with "application" is how they show their pureness. And remember, they feel they are entitled to funding. After all, that phD from Stanford or Princeton justifies everything. The fact that they do nothing on another project means nothing to them. They are just glad that they did not sacrifice the integrity of their "science" by stooping and giving into applied work. Add to that, these types have nowhere to go. They can't get a good academic position. They don't cut it. But don't tell that to them. They are staying because of all sorts of excuses: "they don't like the teaching," "writing funding grants will take too much time away from their pure science," "They like the collegial environment of the lab." All of these excuses translates to them "not wanting to get off of the welfare program." Metrics should be applied for lab employees that do basic research. What's the standard? Atleast 3 high quality peer reviewed publications per year; demonstration of leadership and impact in the field. And these are MINIMUM.

Anonymous said...


"10:28 PM: Agreed. Also LDRD is not a good thing overall. LDRD to support top leaders in the field is fine. But it is more often used to cover for funding shortfalls of people "

This does not pass the smell test. LDRD is very competitive something like on the order of 8% success rate so how could it be that it is used to cover funding shortfalls.

Anonymous said...

"The pool is bloated with mediocrity. This country produces and coddles too many mediocre scientists"

This kind of gives you away. You think science is not just a problem at the labs but the whole country. Wow again, jut wow. I would bet there are some very series issues with with you.

Anonymous said...

How does LANS get away with RIFing their employees -- even in "ones and twos" -- without an official announcement to meet the federal WARN act?

The WARN Act requires a 90 day notice before a RIF can begin. LANS came out last year and said they were somehow "immune" to the WARN Act and would only give 30 days notice before RIFing. Still, they have yet to even give that to the staff when it comes to this "RIF Track" program of secretive layoffs.

Anonymous said...

10:57 AM: You need to learn to read. The following sentences goes: "This country produces and coddles too many mediocre scientists. Atleast in academia, they serve a purpose of teaching (though that may have quality problems as well). " As written, the problem is clearly identified as applying outside of the labs as well. Learn to read dude.

What I suspect (can do a little inquiry) is that you are one of these mediocre scientists at one of the labs, threatened by these statements. Makes complete sense.

Anonymous said...

Yeah the dude needs to get off of white collar welfare. They are not deserving of a hand from the government. They are perfectly suited to flipping burgers and driving taxi cabs.

Anonymous said...

Nah, driving taxi cabs is too applied, they will insist on working on path optimization proofs and lemmas. Flipping burgers is also too applied, they need to work out some formal way for analyzing the rotation of flat round bodies. Or research into mechanical properties of soft matter burgers (Hey gotta use that ME PhD from Stanford you know!) Each will require 3 more years of open ended funding.

Anonymous said...

Mr. I-am-not-a-mediocre-scientist is sure to plant his feet into the ground and pout and make sure that he keeps getting LDRD and funding (ripped off from the programs) to support his basic science investigations. Stupid and mean bloggers who say such hurtful things... "I'll show them!" "You applied science and engineer people are just failed scientists anyways!!!" Waaaa waaaa. "Mommy where is my pacifier!" "I'll show you!!! I'll discover and invent x-ray diffraction and show you that i'm not a loser!"

Anonymous said...

When the poster keeps replacing the "mediocre science" context with "science" more broadly, you can be rest assured that the poster has insecurities about being part of the "mediocre" "past due" class of researcher.

Anonymous said...

Hey!Someone get some meds to these people!

Anonymous said...

This does not pass the smell test. LDRD is very competitive something like on the order of 8% success rate so how could it be that it is used to cover funding shortfalls.

February 2, 2013 at 10:54 AM

----

I guess you don't know how LDRD is awarded. The money often goes to the "neediest", not the best ideas. If I have funding for the next two years, I won't get an LDRD. Instead, Joe Blow with his 2nd rate idea will get the money instead--because he's a moron and nobody wants him on their project.

Shit, I've asked repeatedly for programmatic work--only to be told to keep plugging away at the LDRDs. I guess I need to stop working so hard. To me, nobody should be at a national lab with zero tie in to the programs. Its a freakin' national lab, not the Princeton theoretical physics department.

Anonymous said...

LDRD = Laboratory Directed Revenue Disposal

Anonymous said...

"a dirty cheap professor and his 10 chinese postdocs."

You are a true POS. I really hope you do not work at the labs. If you do why not come clean and tell us how valuable you really are. Over that past 20yrs the the few people who hate LDRD have been the complete dregs of the laboratories, incompetent, lazy, and stupid. I have no idea how they got into the lab in the first place and thank God they are few in number but they are f*king poison. They blame everything and everybody for their own shortcomings. It is always the same, blame the programs, blame LDRD, blame foreign nationals, blame scientists, blame, engineers, blame managers, blame workers, blame the Phds, blame the universities. It is always some combination of these. Now maybe you not worthless but if past experience is any guide than you are probably one of those losers everyone hates. I feel sorry for your group. But come on lets hear your story and be really honest about it.

Anonymous said...

February 2, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Read your own post. Any hypocrisy there? No? Lots of "hate" splashed around: they "hate," everyone "hates." The author is a POS. You are just the other side of his coin, and just as hateful. LDRD queens and programmatic drudges. We have met the enemy and...

Anonymous said...

"LDRD queens"

What on earth is an LDRD queen? Again this whole thing does not pass the smell test. LDRD again is very very competitive so how on earth does one use it for welfare? It just does not make any sense.

"I guess you don't know how LDRD is awarded. The money often goes to the "neediest", not the best ideas. If I have funding for the next two years, I won't get an LDRD. Instead, Joe Blow with his 2nd rate idea will get the money instead--because he's a moron and nobody wants him on their project."

This is just pure bs. How can the money go to the neediest when it is a competition. It does not work they way you say and it never has worked that way. Why do you say this kind of stuff? Who are you trying to fool since anyone in the labs knows what you are saying is just a bunch of crap.

Also you going on about how people look down on programatic work is again just wrong. After 20yrs I have never meet someone with an view like this. There is no two ways about this either you are wrong or I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Read your own post. Any hypocrisy there? No? Lots of "hate" splashed around: they "hate," everyone "hates." The author is a POS. You are just the other side of his coin, and just as hateful. LDRD queens and programmatic drudges. We have met the enemy and...

February 2, 2013 at 9:22 PM"

What I hate are people who lie about the labs and make unfounded accusations that they cannot and will not back up. The trolls are on this blog have some kind of clear agenda which they are not honest about. If you go around and just out and out lie about the labs you deserve to be called out on it. So February 2, 2013 at 2:45 PM, come on tell us what your real agenda is?

Anonymous said...

This is just pure bs. How can the money go to the neediest when it is a competition. It does not work they way you say and it never has worked that way. Why do you say this kind of stuff? Who are you trying to fool since anyone in the labs knows what you are saying is just a bunch of crap.

Also you going on about how people look down on programatic work is again just wrong. After 20yrs I have never meet someone with an view like this. There is no two ways about this either you are wrong or I am wrong.

February 2, 2013 at 10:05 PM

----

Look, I know many a "scientist" with this attitude. It is not my imagination. You may not encounter them, but I worth with many of them. Fact.

Secondly, I have been told repeatedly by senior people, including managers that LDRD is skewed toward need based awards. Yes, the award rate is 8%, but somebody as smart as yourself should be able to figure out that the % has nothing to do with the method for allocation. That assumption on your part does not follow logically.

Again, I do not make this crap up, it is what I have seen and what I have been told.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
You are saying science is not useful at a science lab.

February 2, 2013 at 9:15 AM

----

I'm not saying science isn't important.Where in my post did I say that? What I'm saying is that why would the US Government fund SNL/LANL/LLNL at Cadillac overhead rates to do the same work that some public university professor w/ his 10 chinese postdocs can do for literally 1/10th the cost?

The NWC is great at its intended purpose: national security research. Why is this such a controversial view point around here? I have no problems with the LDRD program, but you shouldn't expect to be 100% funded on LDRDs unless you are doing something really fantastic.

There are more than a few people who think continual 100% LDRD funding is a birth right, and will NOT consider programmatic work. To my mind, the entire purpose of LDRD is to attract, train and engage top notch people to do national security work...not welfare for scientists who can't get a faculty job.

Anonymous said...

All the labs have this problem with LDRD. It's just too bad too. I am completely okay with LDRD for early career new hires that are promising. Also 100% LDRD for superstars. But my observation is also that to a large extent, atleast 50% and likely more, is needs based.

Anonymous said...

The 8% success rate just means that 8% gets picked. They Are loaded with people who have funding shortfalls every year. People who are well integrated into the programs and have no concerns with funding most often participate at very low effort% levels or not at all. Occasionally you have truly novel projects that are worthy of funding and require a very select team. More often than not, the LDRD projects are meh derivative and incremental and only need to be staffed with those who need funding. Yes this sounds brutal. But that's the way it is. I've had to jump through the idiotic LDRD hoops and I've had to serve on committees to make applicants jump through idiotic hoops. This is the reality of LDRD.

Anonymous said...

February 2, 2013 at 10:27 PM
February 2, 2013 at 10:42 PM
February 3, 2013 at 12:38 AM
February 3, 2013 at 12:49 AM

These all have to be from the same guy trying to come off as separate people.

Nothing this guy says makes sense.
"I have been told repeatedly by senior people, including managers that LDRD is skewed toward need based awards."

How is it that after all these years no else has ever heard such an allegation. The 8% is decided by a committee that looks at the proposals. They would all have to in collusion to give it to people in funding need rather than the idea. There is no instruction that says for funding needs, there is no form saying what their funding is. No one says we have to give money for funding reasons. I too have been on these committees and what you say is not true.

"But my observation is also that to a large extent, atleast 50% and likely more, is needs based. "

Total and out and out bs on your part, this I know is not true. If anything the people who get LDRD
can get funding many different ways since on average you have to be very good to even be competitive for LDRD at 8% success rate. I know this number is not true and you just made it up or are utterly clueless.


"There are more than a few people who think continual 100% LDRD funding is a birth right, and will NOT consider programmatic work."

Again this is bs and cannot even be true. Even if someone though it was their birthright to get LDRD they would have to compete for like everyone else. They cannot force anyone to give them LDRD.

Anonymous said...

I wish Parney would acknowledge that many employees are now quietly consulting bankruptcy lawyers - 7% pension contributions instead of 4% plus the impending furlough.

Anonymous said...

Parney on fiscal uncertainty:

" um ... fiscal uncertainty is bad ... m'kay
you shouldn't have fiscal uncertainty .. m'kay"

Anonymous said...

Parney on fiscal uncertainty:

" um ... fiscal uncertainty is bad ... m'kay
you shouldn't have fiscal uncertainty .. m'kay"

February 3, 2013 at 9:41 AM

That ole Parney is a "human dynamo" isn't he? Just another pair of "wing-tipped" shoes.

Anonymous said...

Parney did a great job of blaming all his problems on Washington and Congress. Didn't he come from D.C.? Otta boy Parney, now that's leadership!

Anonymous said...

I wish Parney would acknowledge that many employees are now quietly consulting bankruptcy lawyers - 7% pension contributions instead of 4% plus the impending furlough.

February 3, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Plus 6.2% vs 4.2% payroll tax, plus 2.7% inflation in bay area. How much was your raise?

Anonymous said...

"These all have to be from the same guy trying to come off as separate people."

Well I'm not that guy (or those people) and I 100% concur with him/them. LDRD is a completely wired political game. If you don't think so, you either don't work at the lab or are hopelessly, embarrassingly naive.

I've experienced and observed it for 25 years. It's entirely wired. Your 8% statistic is irrelevant. Who "wins" and why is what's relevant. (and I say that as someone who's won...for all the wrong reasons).

What other fairy dreams do you believe?

OSO brings in the funding to the lab....NIF will save us....?????

Get a clue.

Anonymous said...

It is a reality that LDRD is skewed. I know first hand many LDRD project that had no business being funded over better projects that were not picked. Sorry but that is the truth. I don't know why you are so sensitive about something so obvious. You make it sound like its some kind of criminal conspiracy but we are saying that it is simply not competitive as you want to think.

Anonymous said...

Also the LDRD defender should be surprised to know that those posts identified are from multiple independent posters. I posting one of them. Sorry to burst your bubble. LDRD Is really a mixed bag of good and bad.

Anonymous said...

Oh god at LLNL the SI LDRDs was a total sham, particularly those handed out by Tomas. Hopefully the lab cancelled these SIs after canning Tomas. Talk about cronyism. Tomas took a flawed but workable LDRD process and completely perverted it. It was never completely fair before but when Tomas was through with his decision making, LDRD sank to new lows. Can't say it ever really recovered, however.

Anonymous said...

About LDRD, there is truth in what everyone is saying. First, there is some great work at the program level. However, there are too many incompetent managers who get in the way. People hire people who are like them. Second, LDRD- SI and LDRD-ER are given to the favorites and the other proposal are never seen by the committee and will not change as long as Goldstein and Fox (products of Tomas's model) are in charge. I have observed Goldstein and Fox act this way for many years to the point that great scientist tell me they will never give an idea again. The best at the laboratory are not even sharing their ideas to help us all because of this behavior. They simply block the best proposals and say they are not aligned with the current laboratory plans. As for LDRD-LW and feasibility studies they are less political. So, if you want this to change get new leadership.

Anonymous said...

Retire and no more forking over 7% of your income pre-tax for the pension (which is more like 10%!). Also, no more forking about 6.2% for Social Security tax or close to 1.5% for the Medicare tax.

Add it all up and you might suddenly see a tax savings of almost 18% with each monthly pension check. Even better, the monthly pension is *guaranteed* to keep up with with moderate inflation while lab salaries have been stagnating for years for most employees.

Hmmm, this is beginning to sound rather nice!

Anonymous said...

LDRD at LLNL says it all. It's the worst case but the other labs are not far behind. Why so they bother with all the propaganda about fairness? Of you are on someone important's shit list then your proposal is going to get slapped down regardless of merit. Heard of project hijackings? Being forced to load up your proposal with all sorts of people at 10% levels which is most often too small to actually accomplish anything unless. It's neither fair nor competitive overall. Don't believe the propaganda. NNSA/DoE should just abolish the whole practice and focus on things like SBIR-like proposals instead. Make the PIs more accountable for the funding they get. That way mgmt has less levers to manipulate.

Anonymous said...

Miniscule, microscopic

Anonymous said...

I remember proposals where they were putting people on at 5% levels. Mostly dead weight dregs who were on lots and lots of projects at 5% and 10% levels. Typical for LDRD maybe a decade ago. Not sure if this kind of thing still goes on at LLNL.

Anonymous said...

On the radio, pundits were describing the Republicans as being resigned to letting the sequestration go through even with the defense cuts, as much as they woukd have liked to keep them intact. If this is the case, and the cuts become "permanent," then does the furlough become permanent or does LLNL switch over to a layoff plan? The program described the far right conservatives as the ones pushing FOR sequestration. Regardless of how this plays out, the pundits cited sources who estimated a 1% decrease in the growth rate of the economy due to the sequestration. I wish I could remember the source. But I'm curious to hear what the various short And medium term contingency plans the Lab is prepared to exercise.

Anonymous said...

Are Exempt employees going to essentially become non-Exempt employees if furloughs are in place? If so, you aren't even supposed to check work email or write proposals on furlough days or even during off hours that you are not compensated for. The nature of work at the lab will be impacted. Any suggestion by management that you "float" some parts of your work outside of your paid weekly schedule would be illegal. Unless you are on a telecommute or other work agreement, employees have no business logging in through VPN after hours or on weekends unless they are being compensated based on an hourly rate. Unless there is some law that lets the lab furlough you one day every few weeks but maintain your exempt status though I can't see how you could have such a contradiction with any legal standing.

Anonymous said...

If I come to work at LLNL and live according to a very conservative household budget that presupposes no raises, will LLNL still send me in a downward spiral towards bankruptcy? Yes, of course!

Anonymous said...

You are better off getting a job in the private sector or at the very least, a better managed government owned laboratory. If you are able to leave, you should definitely leave. Maybe easier for LLNL employees than for LANL since here it might involve a less impactful move or in many cases, just a change of commute path, especially if your skills and experience are aligned with the high tech sector.

Anonymous said...

You are better off getting a job in the private sector or at the very least, a better managed government owned laboratory. If you are able to leave, you should definitely leave.

February 6, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Yes! Another voice of reason in the wilderness! Just one addition: You are ALWAYS "able to leave." It all depends on your tolerance for upheaval in your life and, of course, your cojones.

Anonymous said...

You don't need a PhD to be a manager at Sandia!

See previous post below:

http://llnlthetruestory.blogspot.com/2013/05/hey-lanl-and-sandia.html?showComment=1368229152210#c5184911644985578339

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