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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Automatic cuts are getting a big yawn from Washington

The sequestration cuts of around 9% are coming on March 1st, so get ready. These cuts will not be avoided. Painful furloughs for staff at the NNSA labs and layoffs of subcontractors will likely result:

==================
Automatic cuts are getting a big yawn from Washington
==================

Washington Post, Feb 15

As deadlines go, the March 1 sequester lacks punch. Nobody’s taxes will go up; the U.S. Treasury won’t run out of cash. Government offices won’t immediately turn out the lights and lock the doors. No federal worker will be furloughed for at least 30 days.

So Washington felt little need to cancel the Presidents’ Day break. On Friday, President Obama flew to Florida for a long weekend of golf. And Congress left town for nine days, with scant hope of averting deep cuts to the Pentagon and other agencies in the short time remaining when lawmakers return.

Instead of negotiating, party leaders were busy issuing ultimatums and casting blame. Before they left, Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to replace the sequester in part with new taxes on millionaires, which Republicans oppose. And House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed “the sequester will be in effect until there are cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget in the next 10 years,” an idea Democrats oppose.

Behind the scenes, there was real concern that the cuts eventually would disrupt critical government functions, hamper economic growth and destroy 750,000 jobs. But for now, the sequester is amorphous and slow-moving, and it has emerged as a convenient hill on which to plant a flag and fight the next battle in the ongoing partisan conflict over taxes and spending.

....“Here we are, March 1st. It is now midnight. The clock has moved,” Mikulski intoned with a husky Baltimore accent. “Can’t you paint for me the picture of how sequester is triggered? Do all the lights go out in federal buildings?”

Well, no, said Daniel Werfel, controller at the White House budget office.

But there will be “intense bargaining with unions” about furloughs. Word will go out to federal contractors about contract modifications and terminations. And “governors will be digesting information about how their financial footprint will be impacted. The list goes on and on,” he said.

“And I think it could turn into a firestorm,” offered Mikulski, whose state is home to roughly 300,000 confused and dispirited federal workers.

While the Washington region is likely to be hardest hit, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said the rest of the nation will soon feel its share of pain if the sequester hits.

The sequester would cut spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. It was adopted during the 2011 debt-limit showdown and designed to be so painful that neither party would ever let it take effect. During the next seven months, it is slated to slice $85 billion out of agency budgets — including $46 billion from the Pentagon — with the cuts applied equally to every program and account, no matter how worthy.

.....Most social-safety net programs are exempt, and that feature has created “strange bedfellows,” said Steve Bell, an analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center. In addition to the hard-right conservatives who want to cut spending at any cost, Bell said, “now you have liberal Democrats saying, ‘Okay, let them cut defense.’ ”....

--
www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy /automatic-cuts-are-getting-a-big-yawn-from -washington/2013/02/15/fe6c6700-7790 -11e2-95e4-6148e45d7adb_story.html

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

How many elected official will lose THEIR jobs as a result? I vote to get rid of ALL of them - Dems, repubs, Teas,....and strat over.

Anonymous said...

Exactly how would you do that? Assasination? Constitutional amendment? Outright revolution? Or are you just blowing smoke? Yeah...

Anonymous said...

If Congress and the President don't care about the dysfunction, screwed up state of the union then why should the voters?

Let it all fall apart. We can then begin the process to rebuild it bigger and better. A revolution is necessary every few hundred years in a Republic to clean out the deadwood. It's become more and more obvious that the time has come once again.



Anonymous said...

February 16, 2013 at 9:53 PM:

Hum, complete lack of understanding of metaphor, rhetoric, humor, language, prose...I smell a LANL/LLNL physics PhD!!

Anonymous said...

"Hum, complete lack of understanding of metaphor, rhetoric, humor, language, prose...I smell a LANL/LLNL physics PhD!!

February 17, 2013 at 5:19 AM"

You have a great point brother.
As I said before the problem with the labs is the connection to academics. Maybe not all Ph.ds are bad but enough are. We should do our own training at the labs with people out of the military or college. Science if it really has any value whatsoever should be done elsewhere. The labs should have technical workforce
and do what they are told. They will also avoid that strange "I am so great I have Phd" attitude. They would also have real smarts and actually understand, humor, language, thought, logic, and prose. Real skills that are lacking in Phds. I bet most will know how to hunt and fish as well.

Anonymous said...

Hum, complete lack of understanding of metaphor, rhetoric, humor, language, prose...I smell a LANL/LLNL physics PhD!!

February 17, 2013 at 5:19 AM

Hmm. If you're refering to the post at February 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM, could you please point out where ANY of those things are present?

Anonymous said...

I noticed that the effects on LLNL wasn't mentioned in any of these articles. As if we weren't even on the radar. Did I miss something?

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting game of brinksmanship. However, the fact is that the sequester cuts can be reversed at any time after March 1. It is the pre-posturing by government agencies that will cause the most problems. For some silly reason they think they have to obey the law.

Anonymous said...


"Hmm. If you're refering to the post at February 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM, could you please point out where ANY of those things are present?

February 17, 2013 at 9:57 AM"

Ok you have a Ph.d so you are a bit slow, we get it. Ok lets go through this reel slew like then.

"How many elected official will lose THEIR jobs as a result?"

In terms of the automatic cuts that would none. Why would you have to state the obvious?

"I vote to get rid of ALL of them"

Is there a vote on the blog? No, so...no you are not voting to get rid of them. You are simply stating that you would like to get rid of all of them. Why not just say "I want to get rid of all of them". Now you could in fact vote in the next election to get rid of very small subset of them which would be your local congressmen and every now than you get a shot at voting out out a Senator. And here is a secret...you will not get a chance to vote out the current president...ssshhh don't tell anyone. I know with a Ph.d you would not know about such things because democracy is for the the unwashed masses... Sigh.

"Dems, repubs, Teas,....and strat over."

I know you think we uneducated people have never heard of parties but we do know that there are Democrats and republicans. I am not sure what "Teas" are but perhaps you are referring to republicans. You need to get more and see the world. Another thing you all might want to "start" over rather than strat over. You know you are not special nor are you any different than anybody else you all need to get over yourself real quick.

Anonymous said...

February 17, 2013 at 6:41 PM

It sounds like you are correcting the original poster (February 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM) rather than the poster at February 17, 2013 at 9:57 AM who was simply asking for clarification of the original poster's claims, which obviously, you failed to provide. Why don't you try again?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the article; it's helpful for personal planning given perhaps a more likely furlough scenario. That said, all of the comments add no value to the topic at hand, which is disappointing.

Anonymous said...

" Thank you for posting the article; it's helpful for personal planning given perhaps a more likely furlough scenario. That said, all of the comments add no value to the topic at hand, which is disappointing.

February 17, 2013 at 8:02 PM"

Well here are a few scenarios

(1) They resolve by March 1st. This
would be ok for this year but if they come to any real agreement it will include some future cuts somewhere which could mean VSP or RIFs next year but no furloughs.

(2) They come to an agreement in April after total mayham. This could mean short term furloughs and than who knows for next year.
It could cuts to the lab or perhaps they will cut somewhere else.

(3) No agreement at all and all cuts go through permently. There are furloughs this year and possible VSP or RIFS after that.

(4) No matter what our sad bitter anti-intellectual drunken troll will post about how horrible the labs are and how bad the people that work at labs are. He will say that he no longer works at the lab and is not sad and bitter however it will be said in such a way to make it blatantly obvious that he is extremely bitter, beyond pathetic, drunk, and ignorant. Yes it will be sad.

(4) is a guarantee and (3) is a good bet as well.

Anonymous said...

Thiw may turn out to be a really good idea. As people try to make their agenices work, things may just get along fine, for 9% less.

Hey like dropping safeway for winco.

Anonymous said...

"February 18, 2013 at 5:18 PM"

Well there is something to be said for dropping the bottom 5-10%. It would really make a big improvement.

However, in practice this just cannot be done due to legal reasons. When RIF's are done they do it in a way to insure that no lawsuits happen, however even then there are lawsuits and lots of them. I almost think the labs will never do a RIF again because they may well lose the lawsuits. Of course they will save by other means which makes life worse for everyone.

Anonymous said...

"Well there is something to be said for dropping the bottom 5-10%. It would really make a big improvement."

I completely agree.

However, in the crazy-upside-down world of LLNL they will likely keep all the highest paid on overhead deadwood and flush a bunch of folks who are actually contributing on paying projects.

Anonymous said...


"However, in the crazy-upside-down world of LLNL they will likely keep all the highest paid on overhead deadwood and flush a bunch of folks who are actually contributing on paying projects.

February 18, 2013 at 5:57 PM"

This is the thing that makes LLNL and LANL such utterly strange places. It is like certain aspects of the real world get reversed in the labs. Maybe it has something to do with the isolation from the outside world that does it to these places. If one spends part some time away from the lab at an outside place for even just a few weeks returning to the labs can be a very disconcerting experience. One funny thing is the Orwellian language often used by lab managers. It is like they took bits and pieces from modern management books but mixed it all up in the reverse order. In some outside places they also use lots of management jargon but it often seems to have some logic and sense to it.

Anonymous said...

If one spends part some time away from the lab at an outside place for even just a few weeks returning to the labs can be a very disconcerting experience.

February 18, 2013 at 9:19 PM

I have found this to be absolutely true and very disturbing. It does not apply to a situation where you are on lab travel for some extended time and checking in, living in hotels, etc. But if you are gone for awhile and have the time and leisure to get used to the way average, non-scientific, non-federally supported people live every day, it is a real eye-opener. No one cares about nuclear weapons, DOE/NNSA (if they've even ever heard of them), or what scientists actually do. They just live their lives, have families, try to maintain and enhance their careers, and spend time enjoying their world and their friends and families. If I try to describe what it is like working for LANS, it is a foreign concept for most people. They say "Can't you find another job where you will be happier?", "Why does anyone stay there?", "I don't understand how this works, but it sounds really stupid." I've decided that there is a sane world out there that I'd like to rejoin.

Anonymous said...

LLNL and LANL are like "Bizarro World" in the old Superman comics where everything is backwards from the way it should be in a normal world.

What's constructive and and productive is held back and what's destructive an unproductive is held up as a shining example.

Quit strange places! And yes, it is always a shock for many staff members when they come back to the labs after being on travel for awhile. It takes some time to re-adjust to the lab's "Bizarro World" mindset.



Anonymous said...

February 18, 2013 at 9:40 PM

About people leaving: In the last 15 years at LANL there has been very large amount of turnover, I would say much higher than you would expect from other places.
In general moral is fairly low and many more people would leave but
stay for the following reasons.
(1) The pension and benefits, they have done the math and it is just not worth it for them to leave at this point. (2) Family constraints, they have kids in school, wife/husband may have job and so on. (3) They really like the area and can put up the the job to stay in the area. (4) There are some people that would never have any chance of getting a job even close to this in the real world due to the lack of skills. These people have a tendency to do the best at the labs and add so much to the bizzaro world feel of the place. It is sad what has happened to the place. At LLNL there are pockets that are still good but they also have had very high turnover over the years so they are pretty much in the same boat. There was a employee survey at LANL a few years back that made it very clear where things stood. What was so amazing was the shock of the management at the results which was just another example of bizzaro world.

Anonymous said...

Here come the defense cuts. Mostly good paying jobs with decent benefits. Ouch!...

....................................................
~ Pink slips being printed as Congress vacations, defense industry likely to cut thousands of jobs ~

Washington Times, Feb 18th

Hundreds of Pentagon-related companies large and small are preparing to lay off thousands of employees as Congress takes a recess this week, so far unable to agree on how to undo automatic military spending cuts set to begin March 1.

BAE Systems Inc., a global giant that provides an array of goods and services for the military, estimates that it will have to lay off as many as 4,000 workers this year, including technicians who work on aircraft, ships and vehicles and who earn an average of $50,000 a year.

...“The cloud of uncertainty from sequestration already has had a profound impact on the way our industry is able to deploy its capital and invests in facilities, jobs and new product development,” said BAE spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.
Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, most companies with more than 100 employees are required to give a minimum of 60 days’ advance notice of mass layoffs and plant closings....

www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/18congress-leaves-town-with-layoffs-in-it-wake/
.....................................

Note that LANS issue a policy last year that claimed the lab was no longer held to the WARN Act of 60 days RIF notice and only 30 days notice would be given. Not sure if that gambit was even legal.

Anonymous said...

Most accurate and best comment ever.

Anonymous said...

Perfect comment

Anonymous said...

At LLNL, if they RIF anyone with "deputy" in their title, the will not have to furlough anyone.
The deputy thing is a relic from the past and the "deputies" i have worked with are 9 to 5ers doing stuff their boss cannot do. There may be some super heros among the "deputies" but I have not met one in my 25 years here.

Anonymous said...



" At LLNL, if they RIF anyone with "deputy" in their title, the will not have to furlough anyone.
The deputy thing is a relic from the past and the "deputies" i have worked with are 9 to 5ers doing stuff their boss cannot do. There may be some super heros among the "deputies" but I have not met one in my 25 years here.

February 19, 2013 at 12:40 PM"

At LANL and LLNL under the new realty of increased oversight deputies are indispensable to the proper working, function of the labs in terms compliance with regulations and best business practices. The key role of deputies is to insure continued survivability of the the labs and the contracts in which they are obliged by law to follow. We all play important roles in the viability of the labs and to prove to the American tax payer that we are accountable and worthwhile. Deputies are just one link in the chain of accountability necessary to show that we are following rules in a safe, secure manner and responsible manner that meets the standards imposed by the NNSA, customers, and DOE, while at the same time insuring that the our obligations to the contract oversview is maintained. Be compliant, be safe, whatch out for one another and respect one another. Again we all play a role in our obligations which means group leaders, deputies and you.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a link to these supposed standards? From what I've seen and experienced at LLNL, our sponsors have no standards of honorable conduct, or any semblance of a stable mission, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

February 19, 2013 at 6:23 PM:

Oh, right, every layer of the bloated bureaucracy is indispensable to the proper functioning of the labs...After all, viewed as a white color welfare program, the labs would not be doing their job properly without deputies.

Anonymous said...

Oh, right, every layer of the bloated bureaucracy is indispensable to the proper functioning of the labs...

February 19, 2013 at 9:02 PM

As a former Group Leader, I can tell that you have no idea what bureaucratic garbage that level of management has to deal with, mainly because if they are doing their job right, they shield the workers below them from 90+% of it. After that, the Group Leader has to depend on a Deputy to help with personnel, job assignments, daily putting out of fires, and lots of other mundane stuff that the Group Leader would MUCH rather do than the crap his upper management saddles him with. If you have a Deputy Group Leader, be very thankful.

Anonymous said...

At LLNL it is hard to see group leaders putting the interest of the group ahead of their own personal interests. Most are bad that way. And sadly it is so obvious. Putting out fires given the constraint of actions to enhance their own personal return... Does make for more work too. Horrible human beings many of these group leaders are, who delude themselves (and try to delude others) into thinking that they are actually doing a decent job managing people. One spent most of his time pretending like he was smarter than his staff and therefore deserving of managing and limiting the career development of others. Group leaders at LANL seemed to be a bit better than this overall. I don't know why they are so bad at LLNL.

Anonymous said...

Coming back to the topic:

I'm curious what some of you will do with your time off when the furloughs hit LANL, LLNL and Sandia.

Will you:
1) Try to get any sort of part-time employment to fill any income gap caused by the furlough
2) Spend your time working from home (with or without telling your employer), writing proposals, working on papers, corresponding with your coworkers and collaborators, etc?
3) Taking a vacation or just relax at home.
4) Take the time to explore other employment opportunities, polish up your resume, do some networking.
5) Take action against your politicians. Make them feel your pain via nastygrams or whatever.

Anonymous said...

February 20, 2013 at 9:02 AM:

1) and 4) are the only rational choices.

Anonymous said...

I agree. 4 is a very good choice.

Anonymous said...

800,000 DoD workers move to a 32- hour work week. $85B saved and few jobs lost. GDP shrinks by 85/15000 * 2 or about 1%. If followed the National debt will be 10% less in 10 years than otherwise.

Sure if we had a functioning rather than ideological legislature directed cuts would be better, but this is currently impossible, so.... This may be the best accident to come out of DC since the 401k.

The most financially secure, best paid US workers, those who are supported by taking from others take a small hit. Kinda like taking from the reluctant higher wage earners, but different.

Federal workers adjust to complete the most important activities (if there are any) and the US tolerates the loss. Those unhappy over time, shift to other employment, retire or seek second jobs, others adapt.

Other than a fuss, not sure this is gonna be a completely bad thing.

With one exception, an angry and absent professor at Sonoma St who abandoned the classroom irregularly, I am not aware of serious losses of the recent government worker furloughs.

Anonymous said...

February 20, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Choice #2 just makes you a complete clueless loser.

Anonymous said...

"February 20, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Choice #2 just makes you a complete clueless loser.

February 20, 2013 at 7:21 PM"

I take it you are loser. You try to get every penny for the least amount of work. You never have worked an honest day in your life. You blame others for your failure. You no longer work at the lab but say you are not bitter or sad. You where drunk when you posted this. You suck and you know it.

Ya, you never let up. We have to have an acronym. How about BDT,
Bitter Drunken Troll. Ya that works. Ok the blog gets a few BDT's but you the most consistent one.

We expect a post from you real soon BDT. Hell you can even sign it BDT from now on. I can see it now, "I was not fired from the lab I am anything but bitter and have a very good pension, I can hunt and fish as well, I just hate people with any kind of education, and everyone at the lab is a loser" Does that sum up your next post? Ok then no need to post it Mr BDT, just go away and the world wins.

Anonymous said...

Employees choosing #2 may in fact be inviting trouble. If the employer (following instructions from legal).tells employees not to work from home or check work email during off hours, but the employee does, then the employer has grounds to discipline or fire that employee. Why risk a messy lawsuit with employees citing "Pressures" from management regardless of whether it is true or not. A "don't ask don't tell" approach only works if all sides are cooperating and nobody will be the rat. The lab should be cutting off offsite email and VPN access to non-exempts during furlough and off-work periods as well.

Anonymous said...

The lab should be cutting off offsite email and VPN access to non-exempts during furlough and off-work periods as well.

February 21, 2013 at 12:33 AM

I believe that all workers are considered non-exempt during furlough status. That said, the glaring flaw in the furlough process is that, as opposed to layoffs, furloughed employees can still communicate with sponsors, offsite colleagues, etc., in ways that appear to be "officially" representing the laboratory, but there is no way that management can claim they were being "supervised" by anyone. Big mistake. So I guess I agree that any employee on furlough should have access to lab computer facilities, including email, cut off. Otherwise, barring them from lab property makes no sense and the answer should be simply don't pay them no matter what they do or where.

Anonymous said...

February 20, 2013 at 9:00 PM

You should label that button or put tape over it or something - people keep hitting it by mistake.

Anonymous said...

I can't help it. I gotta say it. I hope congress gets furloughed.
if they are furloughed they are non-exempt employees and can't work except for work hours. since posturing and idealoguing is work, they can only bluster for 32 hours per week and then they must shut up and go home.

(watch out neighborhood daughters! senator at home...)

This is almost worth it.

Anonymous said...

So the choice as always is, can i get a better paying job and how much trouble will it be?

Some will find this trade-off a little more persuasive with a 20% pay-cut on top of a $2000 tax increase and 7% pre-tax mandatory contribution to TCP-1.

Others will reduce output and commitment by 27% + $2000, awaiting a nice departure, which is what I chose to do when the NNSA reduced our net compensation in 2008 as the result of the transition from well-managed and proactive lab to a foolishly managed and reacting private entity.

who cares?

Adios.

Anonymous said...

February 20, 2013 at 9:02 AM

You forgot one for the TCP2 double dippers:

6) Practice for retirement!

Anonymous said...

So when the 9.4% cut is to be paid where does the $120M come from. Did parney set it aside to pay the bill? Will they just lay off 400 people to make up the $120M? Will they just not purchase anything in hopes to save the $120M so when NNSA comes asking for it parney can write tem a check. Then comes the 20% cut in pay. Who in the world thinks this is just for six months? What makes you think in Oct LLNL going to get a budget big enought to retain the people the 20% cut will save for those six months? Does someone in 411 have a crysatl ball they'd like to tell us about? Come on people, think!

Anonymous said...

"Who in the world thinks this is just for six months? What makes you think in Oct LLNL going to get a budget big enought to retain the people the 20% cut will save for those six months?"

Only hopelessly naive suckers think that. This is yet another cash grab by LLNS. They are hammering (ie stealing):

- Take home pay
- 401k match for TCP2
- Pension HAPC and YOS for TCP1
- Vac and Sick leave payouts

All under the guise of "doing the best thing for the employees". Sickening.

I'd rather they stand up and say we're taking from you.

And we're not putting a damn thing in (ie $80m that was supposed to go into pension).

But this just comes on the heals of all the crap they pulled on the people who got RIFed, how they stole/diluted the retirees lifetime medical care, etc etc.

It's really terrible. We used to all be in the same boat...now it's crystal clear management is in a very different boat....

Anonymous said...

Most of you old farts on this blog can leave whenever you want, but I still have 1.5 years before my 401K vests! Now I have to do a difficult cost/benefit calculation to see if its worth trying to leave early and lose the 10% the labs put in.

Anonymous said...


Apologies, I forgot about the younger crowd...yes, they're stealing from you too on your 401k match (and the vesting too I guess).

Good luck with your calculation...either way, your future isn't here and you've figured that out, so do what's best for you over the next 1.5 years and long term.

Anonymous said...

Chinese military is paying for secrets. Oh, wait, Wen Ho Lee already sold them.

(ok, just to be clear, this is hyperbole, not a real suggestion that someone should commit the illegal and heinous traitorous act of selling secrets or otherwise breaking security. Now. please NM jurors, can we get back to intelligent, smart, amusing shorthand?)

Anonymous said...

Get out now if you possible can. It's not going to get any better.

Anonymous said...

If you read the mandiant report, Chinese military don't need to recruit insiders. Now they pay their homegrown hackers to hack and phishing you all to click that Viagra link or that delarubiaporn.cn link to put a back door on your lab computer. The good news is that they are stealing rubbish work and your downloaded porn collection that you bittorrented on the lab network. I'm sure the Chinese are very interested in stealing government secrets for laser EoS experiments though it will end up reaming the Chinese government financially if they take serious some of the horrifically bad crap.

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