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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. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What are the opinions of the community?

What are the opinions of the community, of an NNSA lab piloting a federalization effort? This would be similar to how NETL is run, where the lab is staffed and managed by US Government Employees. While most the National Labs are Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCOs), only NETL is a Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOGO), where lab staff and management are DOE employees.
NASA is an agency to look at, most of their sites (for the expectation of JPL) are federally staffed.

Some pros:
-Prestige of being a National Lab AND Federal Employee
OPM benefits:
-All federal holidays off, and usually the Secretary grants a few hour early dismissal the day before a holiday
-FERS retirement, which includes a pension/TSP(401k) hybrid
Military credit toward retirement
-Federal health plan
-Vacation days:
1-3 years of service: 4 hours every 2 weeks
3-15 years of service: 6 hours every 2 weeks
+15 years of service: 8 hours every 2 weeks
-Veterans preference (only a pro for vets)
-Job stability

Cons:
-Limited by GS-Scale: most employees will be capped at $155k
-Veterans preference: a veterans that meets the minimum qualifications may be hired above a better candidate
For example a 2.7 GPA MS from a Cal State School who is a veteran, will likely be hired over a 3.8 PhD from Stanford or MIT
-Subject to government RIFs, furloughs, pay freeze
-Government will not buy employees coffee, bottled water, food, or other business expenses (perks) that a contractor can get away with justifying.
-Government employees are held rigidly to OPM per diem rates
-Less of a buffer of political BS coming from NNSA HQ on technical work

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

If a site were to be a directly run Federal site that would not guarantee that the employees would be Federal employees. The IT staff at DOE/NNSA HQ are contract employees and I've seen that staff turn over to new people when the contract for that work was changed. And the new staff was not better than the folks that were in place.

Let's face it, DOE/NNSA love the GOCO arrangement. It provides a fall guy and with the proper grease to the appropriate rails, it provides an NNSA manager a upward path of employment with the contractor. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. You make be look bad, I'll put a knife in your back.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with 2:13 - wonder when D'Agostino go to work for Rectal Bechtel . . .

Anonymous said...

This would be a bad idea, the federal hiring standards are too low, just look at the type of staff that NNSA has -very mediocre if not substandard. NNSA should not be messing in technical work. The GOCO model is better than federal management IFF a Research University or non-proffitt is the Prime Contractor.

Anonymous said...

-Subject to government RIFs, furloughs, pay freeze
We already get RIFS and pay freezes here. I don't think Bechtel would use their contract award to stave off furloughs.
-Government will not buy employees coffee, bottled water, food, or other business expenses (perks) that a contractor can get away with justifying.
We used to get water in the hallway (not bottled but in big jugs) and coffee here at LANL until someone decided that is an unallowable cost. Concerning the other so called "perks" I don't know what that would be. Nobody has offered me any shares in LANS or bechtel.

-Government employees are held rigidly to OPM per diem rates
Same at LANS. I get federal per diem as well as federal lodging, which when I worked in Geneva usually paid for a hotel in the red light district.


-Less of a buffer of political BS coming from NNSA HQ on technical work . Really? remember when we got the scandal with the "conference" in Las Vegas? Since then the DOE spends more money in checking that conferences do not cost more than 500K than the actual cost is. Just check the interview with retiring office of science director Brinkmann?


At least we would not be paying Heather Wilson money for not doing anything.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with 7/11 6:34AM.

The GOCO model is better, if its allowed to function as intended. You need a real contractor that brings a culture and business model from its other operations - that is what the Government is supposedly paying for in its management fee.

At LLNL, the LLC came in with the explicit aim of exercising the UC culture from the Lab. I was in a meeting during transition where a senior new LLC manager said this as fact. In its place, they brought nothing - not even Bechtel's real culture. I've meet several current and past Bechtel employees, not connected at all with the LLC or Lab, who just love working for Bechtel. What is in place at LLNL is not a Bechtel or UC culture, its vacuum filled by the personal will and whim of whatever PAD or AD loaned from an LLC parent company.

For a GOCO national labs that are FFRDCs, they should be run by single research universities or institutions - not fake LLCs that bring zero culture into the lab.

Looks at the best GOCO non-DOE national lab in the country. NASA's JPL, run by Caltech. Annual federally provided budget is $1.5 Billion and about 6,000 employees. Most there feel that they are NASA employees carrying out NASA's mission, but they actually work for Caltech and the Lab Director (approved by NASA) is a Caltech VP.

DOD's Lincoln Lab has a similar structure.

The GAO should really do an assessment of the management contracting approaches used at both JPL and LLNL, and see which is most cost effective and productive for the taxpayers. I am positive it won't be the for-profit LLC model.

Anonymous said...

How about dumping the whole contractor owner concept in favor of employee owned? With profit sharing, the quality of work would improve a lot.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
How about dumping the whole contractor owner concept in favor of employee owned? With profit sharing, the quality of work would improve a lot."

^
|
This is probably the smartest comment I have ever read on this blog!

Too bad congress or DOE will never move in that direction. I still plan on passing on the suggestion to Swalwell's, Boxer's, and Feinstein's offices, just out of principal.

Anonymous said...

You all need to go civil service and give all the vets credit for time in service. As long as I can remember the liberal bonehead university did nothing for those who fought for their country since that would be in direct contradiction to what they teach their students.

Anonymous said...

You all need to go civil service and give all the vets credit for time in service. As long as I can remember the liberal bonehead university did nothing for those who fought for their country since that would be in direct contradiction to what they teach their students.

Anonymous said...

Vet's pref will be a rather isolated issue for tech staff, there are just not many veterans I see going into graduate study in science or enigneering. When I was in school, just after Vietnam, I could recall 1 vet out of 70 or so classmates. My son is at UC Davis studying electrical engineering, and I dont think any of his buddies are vets.

It would be more of a factor in the security fields, and there I think veterans bring more to the table than someone that has never served.

Anonymous said...

An NNSA lab just like NNSA feds - they can barely read or write. And as for vets, the scientific research conducted bu the high school dropouts who used to drive tanks will surely be considered world class.

Anonymous said...

No, a high school drop out can not get an engineering job through vets preference if he does not meet the minimum qualifications. Where it comes into play is if two people that both meet the job requirements the vet will get picked. For most engineering or science jobs at the labs you will need at least an MS.

The types of people it will help are military officers or GI Bill graduates. A lot of the officers actually have PhDs, as the Air Force and Navy do a good job with graduate education of their officers. The other types of people you will see are the fellows that served their 3 years and then used the GI Bill to go to school. Frankly, both these types of guys I have seen come into the labs make better employees the the kids that never did anything in the real world besides school, even if the vets did not come from a top tier school or have a perfect GPA.

Anonymous said...

"How about dumping the whole contractor owner concept in favor of employee owned? With profit sharing, the quality of work would improve a lot."

I don't know what lab you work at, but to the best of my knowledge LLNL isn't peddling warheads so the profit sharing in that area of expertise is pretty low.

Anonymous said...

"An NNSA lab just like NNSA feds - they can barely read or write." -- wasn't the most recent head of DOE a Nobel Prize winner? How many of those are at LANL, LLNL, or SNL? Also, have you looked up the bio for Ernest Moniz? I wonder who it is that can't read? Have you ever noticed how many feds have been part of DOE and NNSA management who are former lab employees or university professors - such as Koonin, Beckner, Cook, Ives, Staffin, Crandall, Seitz, Weigand, Deenie, Freedman, Fischer, etc etc going all the way back to Meinhart, Sewell, Seaborg, ... ?

Anonymous said...

The NNSA fed vet research scientists will be experts at saying "never had any of that fancy book learning but you want fries with that?"

Anonymous said...

""An NNSA lab just like NNSA feds - they can barely read or write." -- wasn't the most recent head of DOE a Nobel Prize winner? How many of those are at LANL, LLNL, or SNL? Also, have you looked up the bio for Ernest Moniz? I wonder who it is that can't read? Have you ever noticed how many feds have been part of DOE and NNSA management who are former lab employees or university professors - such as Koonin, Beckner, Cook, Ives, Staffin, Crandall, Seitz, Weigand, Deenie, Freedman, Fischer, etc etc going all the way back to Meinhart, Sewell, Seaborg, ... ? "

NNSA does head-hunt quite a few lab and university stars at the Appointee/SES levels. This is how the LLCs control NNSA. These people in power keep churning out the award fees, and then get million dollar jobs when they finish the federal "service." The comment above if referring to the average NNSA Neanderthal in the GS ranks.

Anonymous said...

"NNSA does head-hunt quite a few lab and university stars at the Appointee/SES levels. This is how the LLCs control NNSA. These people in power keep churning out the award fees, and then get million dollar jobs when they finish the federal "service." The comment above if [sic] referring to the average NNSA Neanderthal in the GS ranks." - those DOE/NNSA Neanderthal's you are referring to are supervised by those who you refer to as the 'stars', who tell them what to go and then give them performance ratings based on how well they execute their orders. The vast majority of those 'Neanderthals' get very high performance reviews, so it seems that those 'stars' are happy with their performance. Especially when you consider their relatively low pay and lack of admin support, office space, etc, the bang for the buck they provide probably exceeds that of the average lab employee. The problems in the government are generally due to the spoils system where you have people who are owed a favor given a political appointment for which they are not qualified and often include hidden agendas and toxic political leanings - not due to the rank and file federal workers. What have the current Directors of LLNL, LANL, and SNL ever done that is so great, to justify them getting paid more than quadruple what the Secretary of Defense is paid? In fact, some of those 'stars' named above did not perform well in the federal sector, despite their credentials on paper, but nevertheless, they should be given credit for taking pay cuts and doing jobs under adverse conditions others were afraid to take on, and many of them did so because they felt that they owed a debt to society, not to get million dollar jobs later. I feel that you are doing many of them a disservice by claiming they took those jobs for mercenary reasons. Perhaps you should continue your toxic comments by referring to Navy Seals as 'Neanderthals' as well, since they do not have advanced technical degrees?

Anonymous said...

The issue with NNSA employees is that only a handful have graduate degrees, and those are usually from second tier schools with mediocre GPAs and/or non-technical degrees like business or political "science." Then they typically spend their whole careers in the agency pushing paper and have never done any R&D. Only to become mangers and make decisions that they do not understand the consequences of. The more talented employees leave and go work in private industry or even come to the labs, so middle management gets populated with some really sub-par individuals.

The best NNSA managers just send the money and stay out of the way.

Anonymous said...

"only a handful have graduate degrees, and those are usually from second tier schools with mediocre GPAs and/or non-technical degrees" - I am the PI for a couple of lab programs and both of the feds who fund my efforts meet your caustic description. They are great people to work with and considering their military pedigree, they have already done more for their country than you will likely ever do. They have good judgment and are honest people and I would rather have them oversee my work than some smartass researcher who has stove-piped on one technical area of expertise all his life and have no idea of the big picture of national security. I do my best to repay my fed overseers by making them look good, not wasting their money, meeting my deliverables in a cost-effective manner, and not ridiculing their lack of technical degrees. In return, they take care of my programs and look out for my work. Maybe you should try that approach and stop making the rest of us look bad to the feds by badmouthing people you don't even know, since some of us appreciate their efforts and don't appreciate toxic anonymous cowards poisoning the well. Your description of NNSA employees also is applicable to most DoD employees and active duty military personnel; maybe you should seek employment in an area outside the FFRDC community and see how well you fare with your bad attitude toward customers?

Anonymous said...

July 12, 2013 at 8:26 AM:

You are a winner because of your attitude. Those who disagree with you are losers because of theirs. Simple. Everyone has a job to do. If you make your colleagues' jobs easier, they will return the compliment and everyone will win. The ones who got trophies for "participation" in school will not get this concept.

Anonymous said...

July 12, 2013 at 7:19 PM - Thanks. I don't want the federal overseer that July 12, 2013 at 7:21 AM wants - "The best NNSA managers just send the money and stay out of the way." No manager worth anything should just send the money and rubber-stamp the work. Those types might be easier to work for at first, but eventually a bad cycle will arise in any budget cycle, such as a sequester, and when things go bad, they will take the same laissez-faire attitude and sit back and watch your program suffer, and not go to bat for you. Someone is needed to be "in the agency pushing paper" - believe it or not, paperwork is required by Congress, and I am grateful that there are feds who are willing to do much of that so I can spend more of my time on the technical work. Reading comments by some pompous egotist AH elitist making fun of them for taking some of the drudge paperwork off my shoulders is so despicable that I can barely contain myself ... reminds me of the teen juvenile delinquents who make fun of their parents for not being "cool" while they drive around in BMWs that their parents paid for, and now they have grown up and work for a national lab. And I would bet that if July 12, 2013 at 7:21 AM did have a high-tech federal overseer, he would be complaining that he was being "micromanaged". Whining little punk loser! For the rest of you who don't meet that description, sorry if I vented. I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

July 12, 2013 at 7:21 AM - My responses to your posts should have been more constructive. You are probably not a bad person and I should have been more temperate.

Anonymous said...

This is going to be a really dull summer unless someone starts another thread bashing NIF (or Z or LANSCE).

Anonymous said...

ITER should take a beating, that is a true waste of our taxpayer money. All the short term economic benefit from the spending goes to Cadarache.

Anonymous said...

And ITER will have no plasma until 2023 (at earliest). Our esteemed Senators of House and Water are on the case, however. They claim they won't appropriate a nickel until DOE comes up with a plan. Good luck with that approach!

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Anonymous said...

C'mon Scooby, can't your wonderful blog host software get rid of this stuff?? Or can't you??? Look at the poster's name. You want this on a national security laboratory blog? If he can crack your robot software, what else has he cracked and presented as opinions of security clearance holders?? NSA, are you listening?

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