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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dysfunctional LLNL

My name is Kevin Moore and I recently left the Lab after 10.5 years. My new job has shown  me just how dysfunctional LLNL is, and revealed the lab's greatest problem: it's inability to fire those who should be.
Repeatedly, I watched failed scientists/engineers not be terminated, but"coaxed" into  management. These folks, typically with no managementexperience beyond some two-day LLNL coarse, made horrible managers. Theymoved their way through middle management, arriving to a place where theywere seen as a person who guides science/engineering at the lab. We then had a failed science/engineering with poor management skills trying to
build programs and direct the lab. The result is what we have today: a rudderless monolith with ghastly overhead.LLNL was a truly sad place to be, and the day I got out was one of the most happy periods I had in years.
If I can suggest anything to our government, come into the weapons labs with a team of competent strategists and start slashing useless managers and failed scientist. Use metrics like peer-reviewed publications to gauge a persons quality, not spot awards or other worthless internalrecognitions.

Kevin Moore
Manager, Materials & Corrosion Engineering
Exponent Failure Analysis Associates
149 Commonwealth Drive
Menlo Park, Ca 94025

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent and courageous post! The same advice is relevant to the other labs where the skills of management are questionable (managers with no formal education or impactful publications). This was discussed quite recently:

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

Anonymous said...

For those doing certain types of heavily programmatic work, the opportunities to publish scientific work are not equal to those that are available for substantially equivalent work at an academic institution, or even compared to those at the lab using similar methods on similar materials (for example) but outside of the programmatic spaces. So, while something like an H-index should always be considered, using it as a primary means of establishing worthiness for a management position, particularly for one in the core programs, is questionable.

I think that there are some who want the freedoms that a tenured professor at a large research university enjoy, but think that a nuclear weapons design agency which exists to do applied science should somehow give them those same freedoms. And for those that think that the private sector is a salvation: for scientists, is it? People on this blog always mention places like Google as comparatively desirable destinations. If you are a synthetic chemist, or a materials physicist - sure, there are many companies big and small you can work for (e.g. Dow Corning), but it anyone thinks that such places are hotbeds for scientific innovation, and that they'll enjoy more freedoms to follow your bliss, you'd be fooling yourself. You think a truly for profit company will tolerate you working on anything not tied to improving a product? The lab is far from perfect, and I'm not defending these imperfections one bit, but I think that the naivete of those who came out of grad school hoping to become professors and change the world never wore off for some. The world, and the lab, don't owe you anything other than quid pro quo.

Anonymous said...

A counterpoint to the previous post about managers doing programmatic work. In the post on Aug. 21, 2013 at 10:51 AM, there is a link to a recent discussion:

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

That discussion actually lists some names (and some VPs) in the weapons labs that lead technical divisions but do not have PhDs or even papers *related* to the departments they lead.

Anonymous said...

"I think that there are some who want the freedoms that a tenured professor at a large research university enjoy, but think that a nuclear weapons design agency which exists to do applied science should somehow give them those same freedoms."

But of course this is the mantra that Lab management has always sought refuge in. They seduce talented and ambitious young scientists like Moore with promises of careers doing basic academic research and then place them under the yoke of one of their many failed scientists, PhD flotsam stalled out in mid-management. These losers spend most of their working hours suppressing and harassing those same young scientists in case become a threat to mid-manager's job security.

The fact is that Moore is a brilliant young scientist who found himself treading water and about to drown in a sea of scientific mediocrity. His published works on actinides have won international acclaim just about everywhere except at LLNL. Shame on you LLNL. You have failed Moore, many other talented scientists and the American public who entrust you with their tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

While it is certainly true, that some failed scientists end up in management, I disagree with the Lab coaxing them into management. It is at least not my experience; here at LANL people apply mainly on their own free will. However, where I see the problem lies, is that the B-student hires C-student .
This might reflect the writer's experience, since some of the failed managers are actually pretty mediocre scientists. (or even failed)

I would be very careful about so called "metrics"; we have the PBIs which are an utmost failure; and I don't see how you want to do a scientific metric; so far all the ones I have seen are pretty useless.
Let me give an example of a possible problem:

In some fields, say theory for instance, papers are written by one, maybe a few at the most, scientists and they publish one per year. If you are an experimentalist at the CMS experiment at the LHC, you are one among a thousand coauthors, but CMS publishes 50 papers a year. How do you gauge , who has done more?

I think metrics usually lead to mediocre work, because everyone is driven by those outside parameters and not by the real purpose.

In my opinion, creating and environment of trust, and having strong scientific leadership is the best way to establish good science.
But how can you have strong scientific leadership, if scientists are treated like they are in Kindergarten? (ladder training anyone?)


Anonymous said...

With two rounds of work force reduction, the time has come for management for downsizing.

Find the correct ratio of managers (and support staff) to actual real workers, and set management personnel limits.

Its time to right size the overhead to the current work force.

Anonymous said...

"And for those that think that the private sector is a salvation: for scientists, is it? People on this blog always mention places like Google as comparatively desirable destinations. If you are a synthetic chemist, or a materials physicist - sure, there are many companies big and small you can work for (e.g. Dow Corning), but it anyone thinks that such places are hotbeds for scientific innovation, and that they'll enjoy more freedoms to follow your bliss, you'd be fooling yourself."

I left for the private sector and it is in fact bliss compared to LLNL.

Guess all jobs are not "substantially equivalent".

Anonymous said...

For the person above talking about scientists "want[ing] the freedoms that a tenured professor": It's not about freedom. It's about being treated like a valued, intelligent professional, not a petulant child which LLNL management excels at doing to those actually in the lab getting work done.

Anonymous said...

August 21, 2013 @ 10:32 PM almost got it right.
People talk about Google and desirable destinations because LLNL was at some point in history also "desirable" even considering the stipulations of programmatic work. Good people are attracted to organizations that respect their work and value their perspective.
I agree that LLNL is all about "quid pro quo" now. Nobody should be OK with that. LLNL is supposed to be an elite national resource, not a fast food restaurant.

Anonymous said...

"August 22, 2013 at 2:49 AM"

I think this is one of the best assessment of what is happening. Once you have have poor management than you have the B hires the C people. One shocking thing I heard recently is that certain divisions in LANL are now saying that the program for distinguished programs is not working well in that very few of the postdocs end up staying at the lab. The solution will be to get different kinds of postdocs that fit in better with the lab or have no other job offers.

Anonymous said...

KEVIN MOORE LEFT LIVERMORE!!

The same Kevin Moore that hosted television shows about engineering for the National Geographic Channel. I heard he's now doing a show on PBS along side David Pogue, the tech guy for the New York Times.

We mistreated and lost this guy!!??

Great job LLNL.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to recruitment, we send a mixed message both to ourselves and prospective employees. We compete openly for the population of talented young scientists who feed into the academic pipeline. We offer the promise of great facilities and the ability to publish. The reality on the ground is quite different. At it's core, LLNL is a culture based on patronage. When budgets were flush Program managers tolerated some dilly-dallying in academic pursuits. Those days are long gone and things are very simple. We want technicians and engineers to check milestone boxes for sponsors and never screw up while doing it. We have finally returned to our roots, nuclear relevant technologies.

Anonymous said...

Then hire technicians and engineers "to check milestone boxes" and don't wax on about attracting and retaining the "best and the brightest." The inevitable result of this, however, will be a total loss of respect from the active science & engineering communities.

Anonymous said...

But not from their sugar daddy, the NNSA, whose apparatchik hacks will do whatever to keep LLNL afloat, in spite of its mediocraty.

Anonymous said...

....some two-day LLNL coarse

Not to impugn the author...but "coarse"? Really

Anonymous said...

How about: "They moved their way through middle management, arriving to a place where they were seen as a person who guides science/engineering at the lab."

THEY were seen as A PERSON? How about "they were seen as people who guide..."?

Or: "We then had a failed science/engineering with poor management skills trying to build programs and direct the lab."

A FAILED SCIENCE/ENGINEERING? How about "We then had failed scientists/engineers..."?

Or: "LLNL was a truly sad place to be, and the day I got out was one of the most happy periods I had in years."

I'm not sure that a single day can really be considered a PERIOD.

Or: "...start slashing useless managers and failed scientist."

Do you mean "scientists" or is there only one failed scientist at LLNL?

Really, how can you take anyone seriously when they write so poorly, using incorrect grammar and the wrong choice of words? I know some will complain about the "grammar police", but such composition shows a lack of caring or attention, a lack of education, or just complete stupidity, all attributes that are not welcome in serious science. If this is the best the author can do, then his new employer is the one who made a big mistake.

Anonymous said...

If this is the best the author can do, then his new employer is the one who made a big mistake.

August 23, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Nah, it's just the best ANYONE his age can do! Believe it or not, it is possible to be a competent scientist or engineer and to appear to be otherwise illiterate with the spoken/written word. It's how US schools work these days (or don't).

Anonymous said...

So, the "Post Big Smiley Faces" department would seek to divert our attention to grammar.

Anonymous said...

Sure the man made a few type'O's. It can happen when you human. The ideas and points he made were far more important. Mr. Moore did well on writing this Science document.

https://newsline.llnl.gov/_rev02/articles/2009/feb/02.13.09-actinide.php
Actinide research in Reviews of Modern Physics
By Anne M. Stark
Newsline staff writer

Kevin Moore a Laboratory researcher who teamed with a United Kingdom collaborator has published an article in Reviews of Modern Physics that refines decades of actinide science and may just become the preeminent research paper in the field.
Kevin Moore of LLNL and Gerrit van der Laan at the Diamond Light Source in the United Kingdom wrote “Nature of the 5f States in Actinide Metals,” which describes the electronic, magnetic and crystal structure of actinides and demonstrates the importance of actinide science to a broad class of scientists. It appears in the Feb. 6 edition of Reviews of Modern Physics.
Actinides encompass the 15 chemical elements that lie between actinium and lawrencium included on the periodic table, with atomic numbers 89-103. The actinide series derives its name from the first element in the series, actinium. The 5f states are complicated electron wave functions.
Reviews of Modern Physics is the premier journal for physics research. It is the fifth highest ranked journal out of all fields and only publishes 32 invited papers a year. Each year, one or more of the invited papers are used in part as acceptance speeches for the Nobel Prize in physics.
Moore and van der Laan’s paper points out that the heaviest actinides have almost no experimental data, generating only a rudimentary level of understanding.
“The actinide series as a whole is modestly understood, with the level of comprehension decreasing with atomic number,” Moore said.
While theoretical work on the actinides is substantial, the lack of experiments is due to the toxic and radioactive nature of the materials, which makes handling difficult and expensive. In addition, the cost of the materials themselves is exceedingly high, meaning experiments that need a large amount of materials further increase the expense of research.
Progress in understanding the theoretical calculations has its limits as well. It’s been hampered by the extreme difficulty of the physics and the lack of a healthy body of experimental data from which to validate the theory.
However, Moore and van der Laan explain the progress in understanding the electronic structure of the 5f states in the actinide metal series by sifting through decades of research in the theoretical and experimental fields and condensing the data in a definitive article on actinide science.
“This establishes LLNL as a frontrunner in actinide science and highlights the work done at defense labs by having that research in a world-class journal,” Moore said.

Anonymous said...

Past time to thin out management & support staff.

Anonymous said...

“This establishes LLNL as a frontrunner in actinide science and highlights the work done at defense labs by having that research in a world-class journal,” Moore said.

(overheard) "Yeah, but how does that help the programs? Derp. Star power to earth. Herpa derp."

Anonymous said...

Wow, there are some managers that do not have PhD's...gosh, most managers in industry have PhDs...oh wait...


I'm not happy with lots of managers either, but come on, put forward a real complaint. You just sound like a snobbish, arrogant, naive loser that is upset because you have a PhD and are not in charge.

Anonymous said...

PBI's Baby! That's all that really matters at the NNSA labs. As long as a manager can keep those PBI ratings high, nothing else really matters. Managers received a nice, fat bonus when the PBI metrics are meet and these metrics have little to do with science.

Given that sad state of affairs, is it any wonder that we don't need highly rated researchers running most of the management positions at the NNSA labs?

Anonymous said...

What crazy organization would put managers without PhDs in charge? That's like the blind leading the blind!

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to see how perspectives change. At least in Engineering (Physics may be different), the American students I knew who stuck around for the PhD were - without exception - the average students (at best). They seemed to be those who were unable to find anything else and just ... stayed around, semester by semester, collecting TA/RA/fellowship money. It is interesting to observe the entitlement of some of the same people in their gasps of horror about non-PhDs in management.

Anonymous said...

August 24, 2013 at 7:17 AM

A physics PhD, at least, is far different. It takes a long time to complete and is supposed to indicate that a person is a creative and independent scientific professional - in principle exactly the kind of person you would want heading a technical program.
There aren't busloads of American college kids aiming to spend 5-7 years of their lives working long hours at less than minimum wage for a chance to eek out a living in physics, where competition for permanent jobs is fierce. Most Americans would make better money immediately, let alone over time, with a BS in engineering. The Americans who do it are either passionate or crazy. Which is not to say that a few boneheads don't squeak through.
The foreign-born typically have stronger economic incentives, but that's a different discussion.

Anonymous said...

You will never see a law firm whose senior partner does not have a JD. Nor a medical practice where a physician answers to someone without an MD. Why should a science laboratory be any different?

Anonymous said...

August 24, 2013 at 7:17 AM, I'm afraid that you've only been successful in displaying your ignorance and jealousy in your comment. We don't know what university you attended, but by making the comment that all of the American PhD engineering students where you went to school were average ("at best") says the school you attended was likely second or third-tier and very much mediocre...

No top-tier university is accepting average American students into their highly-competitive PhD programs, and no average student is going to receive funding, survive qualifying exams, or publish the required articles in peer-reviewed journals in order to successfully complete their dissertation.

As August 24, 2013 at 1:59 PM clearly points out, most Americans simply aren't willing to spend the years in Engineering or Physics graduate school in an endeavor that never pays off financially. On top of this, said people must then put up with the jealousy and hater behavior of insecure people such as yourself. I've worked with plenty of engineers having a BS or PhD and -- with little exception - there is a world of difference in the PhD's ability and passion for engineering.

Good for you though, people with your need to cut down PhDs have gone a long way to push people out of graduate-level sciences in the US.

To August 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM, hear, hear! We aren't talking about managers of engineers/scientists doing repetitive nonsense production-type work in industry, we are talking about technical managers at (what should be!) a research institution and national asset.

Anonymous said...


"You will never see a law firm whose senior partner does not have a JD. Nor a medical practice where a physician answers to someone without an MD. Why should a science laboratory be any different?

August 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM"

A law firm works on law, a medical practice does medicine, a science laboratory does science. LLNL does PBI's for profit and science is not part of that. What is so hard to understand about that?

Anonymous said...

Most medical practices are now controlled by MBAs, Wall St, and Lawyers. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

"August 24, 2013 at 3:27 PM"

We will see just how "smart" all you Phd people are when the dollar collapses. 7:17 AM and I get it, brains do not come from college, far from it in fact. It comes from living in the real world, getting the job done, and not whining. Being coddled and entitled does not make you smarter. It is time to wake up, LLNL is now a corporation like the rest of the world we are here to get a job done and make a profit just like everyone else. It is not you job to make a judgment on that it is you job to do your job. You are not special, you are not different, and for Gods sake stop whining.

Anonymous said...

As the Ghost of Paul Revere was heard yelling riding through the streets in pre-dawn hours of Oct, 2007 of the LLNS, LLC Corporate take-over.

"Bechtel is coming. Bechtel is coming."

Bechtel is a private corporation who reports to itself. Accountable to itself. LLNL is a Gov owned, Gov operated (GOGO) Lab of the US Government. Hence the Secret Society Fence around LLNL. Apparently, there is no US Constitution inside these gates. Maybe a sub-set ? Just as there is sovereign immunity in US Gov. directives at many levels ? LLNL is the other real world.

The LLNS, LLC fee earned is LLNL profit. LLNL is a LLC, limited liability corporation who answers to NNSA and DOE authority. LLNL has no private share holders or public share holders only high-level stake-holders to a privately selected board. That is how the Corporation bread is buttered. Follow the money.

LLNL has always fallen in that category like the Post Office or Freddie Mac they are spun off quasi-private entities even under UC nonprofit management.

Fact LLNL is not allowed to be a fully for-profit Lab where the reality meets the so-called real world. All projects at the Lab were deemed successful on deliverables and meeting funding goals. The budget money follows in each fiscal year and must be spent each fiscal year. Many may have witnessed the end of the year spending to balance those to near zero levels based on DOE requirements, etc.

If a Corporation or for that matter an individual operated a zero-sum budget there's a good probability you'd be bankrupt? Why you see an Apple, Cisco, Google with Billions of cash for survival funds in the difficult times when research and new products need to be dreamed up and created in the open market place. It's called Capitalism. Supply and demand in the real world.

Anonymous said...

There's new excitement of Industrial partnership in 2013. Back in the day, LLNL had CRADA's which was an exciting time of creativity amongst the LLNL employees. Create stuff that matters in the real world. When there was success, LLNL is not allowed to maximize a profit. Opportunities lost. Those employees who created technical break throughs were forced to leave. License the technology and form an independent firm. When successful, LLNL praised that so and so created that at LLNL Lab the home of the best and the brightest. Fantastic until those B'n B's left or were forced to leave. on the backs of their success and odd political terms. Well maybe not odd to DOE in their real world.

When CRADA's got out of DOE control. CRADA's were capped to Defense related projects only, more or less. The CRADA excitement fires were extinguished to a cold flame.

Here in the new normal of 2013. Industrial Partners are back in fashion with the desires of iGate being the new holy grail to LLNL success. The future will be bright…

Yes indeed the future is always bright for the optimist in all of us. The current LLC for profit structure at LLNL doesn't solve it's fiscal issues from year to year under the LLNL' management budgetary structure and mandate.

LLNL is the real world, but which real world ? It's the real world under DOE mandates which are more modeled like the military command and control. Something like that I wager.

Current LLNL employees seems were a better lot under the full nonprofit organization. There has never been any profit sharing mechanism at LLNL. All projects are deemed successful throughout it's long prestigious history. Goals were met under the fiscal constraints lay out and ordered. These rapidly change from administration to administration. The real job i to follow orders not act as creative entrepreneurs like the other real worlds.

To be true to itself, LLNL needs to have some autonomy to be able to operate in a logical manner under best business practices and principles creating real profits in protests and programs.

As it's been said the LLNS, LCC cultural model or slogan… "If you don't like it you can leave principles" LLNL is a security Lab beholding to Congress. You know that hardy bunch that gets it all done on time under budget.

No one is special. Everyone is expendable. Just ask J. Robert Oppenheimer who's career was disposed of by the powers that be only to be awarded before is death.

Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Thank You Bechtel International, Bloody Carpet Baggers. The corporate pirates will come and go putting in their five years vestation to be replaced by others like career body snatchers. LLNL with it's enigma like history will never have trouble bringing in the high science quality individuals. LLNL supply and demand is their world. It helps to be a US citizen, but with exception is no longer a requirement under compartmentalization and need to know basis.
Point being define the real world in real terms. Whining can be a form of quality assurance. Just ask Paul Revere bitching about the red-coats of the day of the king killer, king.

Anonymous said...

August 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Revel in your ignorance all you want, but please learn to use the internet before you spout off. LLNL is "Government Owned, Contractor Operated" and unless you're in LLNS or Akima (or Sodexo?) LLNL employees work in the national interest, not to make as huge a profit as possible.
Rest easy though, because with an attitude like yours, the bosses will be happy to keep your brown nose around.
Until the next round of layoffs of course.
GIT R DONE!!!

Anonymous said...

Drunk so soon today? Are you tuning up for NFL Sundays?

Anonymous said...

Dreamed I was an an Akima Eskimo

Frozen wind began to blow up the Rechtel

Under my boots and around my Nana toes 

The frost that bit at ground zero deep deep below

It was a hundred degrees below zero as the TC-Pee began to trickle down the ranks below

And the fat dysfunctional mama cried

And the fat dysfunctional mama cried

Nana Nanook, a-no-no up the Rechtel

Nana Nanook, a-no-no up the Rechtel we GOCO


Don't be a naughty Eskimo for your country 'tis a thee, a fee
 to go-go where the fiscal winds blow

Save your money, no longer go for the benefits driven retirement show

Well I turned around and I said "Oh, oh" Oh Rechtel

Well I turned around and I said "Oh, oh" Oh Rechtel

Well I turned around and I said "Ho, Ho" my rectal

And the northern lights commenced to a green glow for the LLNS, LLC for profit LLNL


And Nana Nanook, with a tear in her fat dysfunctional eye cried


"Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow"

"Watch out where the huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow"

Anonymous said...

"August 25, 2013 at 3:38 PM"

Wrong, we are a corporation and the sole purpose of a corporation is profit.

There are many arguments that corporations inhibit social responsibility but these arguments no longer matter. It is what it is so get used to it or leave.

Anonymous said...

Most medical practices are now controlled by MBAs, Wall St, and Lawyers. Sad, but true.

August 25, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Maybe you should try commenting on something you actually know something about. Or at lest do a little research before you make a complete ass of yourself. Care to show us your credentials or any support you have for your ridiculous claim?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
You will never see a law firm whose senior partner does not have a JD. Nor a medical practice where a physician answers to someone without an MD. Why should a science laboratory be any different?

August 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM


This argument is a strawman - at best. Most doctors absolutely answer to people without MDs (unless they're in a private practice, but even then...). Hospital directors almost never have MDs yet their take-home pay is an order of magnitude more than their physicians. Sure, most large law firms are run by a senior partner with a JD, but most trial attorneys don't have a JD.

Last time I checked, Parney had a PhD. So do Goldstein, Fox, and Moses. Who else should be required to have a PhD for their job? Line managers? Staff Scientists? You run the risk of severely limiting your talent pool if you close the technical staff and/or management pools to anyone without a PhD. If I'm a student and trying to decide whether to live in poverty for another 4-6 years after my BS or MS, I could go into industry and gain experience, or stay in school and lose out on ~$250K - $500K in earned income over that time. And once I stay and get that PhD ... instead of starting me off at the going staff scientist rate, the lab will hire me in as a postdoc where and pay me 30-40% less for at least two years.

That's a really easy decision to make. Made even easier by the fact that most non-academia type institutions don't give a damn about whether or not you have a PhD once you have relevant work experience and show that you can produce. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, L3, The US House of Representatives, Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, etc. I could go on and on listing companies and institutions that are headed by someone without a doctorate ... other than the HoR, most seem to be doing just fine.

The laboratory is run by people with PhDs and we're moving from one financial crisis to the next. I say let the MS and BS kids have a shot. They can't screw it up any more than the PhDs have already done.

Anonymous said...

Semicoourageous post. Name the poor managers.

You will get blowback of course because your culprits may either be poor as you assert, or good and you don't know why. LLNL is complex, labyrinthine and necessarily compartmentalized, limiting communication, openness and widespread understanding.

Still, kudos for publishing your name and ideas. Even with little skin in the game any longer it merits consideration.

Anonymous said...

In response to the previous post: while it may be impossible for Kevin Moore to give the name of managers, there's been a previous discussion of specific "leaders" in another lab who don't have Ph.D.s

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

From the above link:

Adam Rowen (manager of the Materials Chemistry department) from Sandia National Laboratories does not have a Ph.D.

Three Vice Presidents of technical divisions at Sandia National Laboratories do not have a Ph.D.: Hruby, Walker, Vahle. To my knowledge, these are the first ever Vice Presidents without a Ph.D. in Science or Engineering to lead techical divisions at Sandia.

Anonymous said...

"Most medical practices are now controlled by MBAs, Wall St, and Lawyers. Sad, but true."

This is true. Hospitals are run by MBAs and heavily influenced by their lawyers. For-profit healthcare companies are beholden to Wall St. Drug companies and medical device makers are run by MBAs, beholden to wall st and get sued regularly = influenced by lawyers.

Between the crossfire of all that, and the gov controlling medicare reimbursement, Dr's are no longer making their own independent decisions.

I went to undergrad with a number of doctors (ranging from family practice to high-end surgeon) and they all tell me the same story. And they've tried it various way: independent, with a major medical group, etc.

Talk to some doctor's, you'll find out that things have changed significantly in the past 20 years.

Anonymous said...

LLNL failures fade to insignificant when compared to congressional impotence.

No one has figured out how to fix either. Both require a changes which will not occur.

So skip it. Walk the bridge opening over the weekend. Have an bbq. Ride a horse. Move on. There is nothing here.

Anonymous said...

Almost all American institutions are in failure mode. Nothing about this is unique to the NNSA labs.

My take on it is that it's caused by the "Every man for himself" attitude that is especially rampant in the managerial class. It destroys employee morale.

Anonymous said...

Almost all American institutions are in failure mode.

August 28, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Absolutely true. Root cause: Complete failure of the American education system.

Anonymous said...

"My take... it's caused by the "Every man for himself" attitude ... in the managerial class. It destroys employee morale..."

Wrong. It is due directly to the administration and Congress deciding it is desirable to treat LLNL and LANL employees poorly.

The change in approach started in 2007 with the excuse of the need for a new LANL contract, continued with the new LLNL contract. It was executed within both contracts with terms that took long-term compensation and benefits from employees under the guise of "wanting more control over management" and continues today with renegned pension funding agreements. It will continue in the future simply because they want to treat you poorly.

For decades, key members of Congress and DOE staff were jealous of your well-compensated, accomplished, successful, independent and generally satisfied forebears who labored in beautiful environs, and over time they realized their envy in handcuffing future operations.

The reason that you are not satisfied is because your government sponsors have deliberately undermined you because they no longer value or respect you.

It took me a while to realize and internalize this observation.

Anonymous said...

"For decades, key members of Congress and DOE staff were jealous of your well-compensated, accomplished, successful, independent and generally satisfied forebears who labored in beautiful environs, and over time they realized their envy in handcuffing future operations."

They have a point, why should you be treated any different? Because you have a Ph.d? What is that worth? What is done at LLNL and LANL that cannot be done anywhere else for far far less money and by people without Phds or even a college education? Why should people at the labs be paid more than anyone else? As for success who defines success? It is all perception nothing more and nothing less. The perception that these places have value is gone now. The free market decides value but value is only based on perception. It is time to join the real world. Bill Gates does not have Ph.d, Steve Jobs did not have a Ph.d and Milly Cyrus does not have a Ph.d. A better question: does science or knowledge have value? They have value only in so far is that there is a perception of value and someone is willing to pay for it just like everything else in the real world. Since in the end science is only perception does it really matter who does the "science" or how much we pay them to do "science"...I think not. In the end what we have on this blog are alot of workers who are jealous of the managers because they did not have what it takes to become managers. You scientist non-managers are dinosaurs who are unwilling to evolve to the realities of the new world.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the previous poster above doesn't have a Ph.D. from a well-regarded institution. I pity him.

Anonymous said...

"Bill Gates does not have Ph.d, Steve Jobs did not have a Ph.d and Milly Cyrus does not have a Ph.d."

You are absolutely right, and they don't know shit about thermonuclear weapons either. Misfits, not suitable for LLNL.

Anonymous said...

"You are absolutely right, and they don't know shit about thermonuclear weapons either. Misfits, not suitable for LLNL.

August 30, 2013 at 7:33 PM"

Are you trying to say that they do something at LLNL that cannot be done better at Google or Microsoft? The evidence points againts this. If LLNL is so important and valuable with such
great people why would you trust some private and corrupt corporation to run it and have it lead to such low moral? Google and Microsoft would never try to create such low moral in their workforce because they value their workforce and need their workforce to get the job done. Not so at LLNL. The only conclusion is that what is done at LLNL does not matter, can be done by anyone, and anyone and whoever works at such a place can be treated like crap.

Hey folks, it is all perception after all and the perception is that American is in decline. I cannot imagine how that happened.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, neither Google or Microsoft provided engineering and scientific support for stockpile stewardship, performed analytical chemistry in support of the Chemical Weapons Convention, nor provided technology and expertise for international arms control and nuclear non-proliferation. Enterprise software developers and IT personnel provide an important service to the lab, but to identify them - those who could actually go and work for Google or Microsoft - as the segment of the employee populace most critical to the lab's missions in national security is just ridiculous. And, to put a greedy, soulless corporate monolith like Microsoft on a pedestal, and pretend that a $70 billion multinational entity actually cares about the welfare of its employees in a way that LLNL does not - please, stop smoking whatever it is that you're smoking. Seek respect from your colleagues and peers, some inspiration in work you find interesting, put in your hours and collect your paycheck. Everything else is romanticized, feel-good B.S. - buy into it, and you'll always be bitching about something.

Anonymous said...

12:30 AM, you mean that free food, a on-site spa, and gratis massage therapy are not an indication of google's abiding love and affection for its employees?

Anonymous said...

11:49 AM: The median employee age at Google is 29. Tech companies like Google and Facebook may have great perks, but these aren't offered because they "love" their employees - no company "loves" its employees. They pay you to do a job. These perks are provided with the implicit expectation that you - a relatively young person who may or may not have children - have no good excuse not to work an ungodly number of hours. When you don't have to leave work to get food, pick up your dry cleaning, go to the gym...I think you get the picture. BTW, with all those perks you would think there would be more employee loyalty at a place like Google (there isn't): http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-29/why-are-google-employees-so-disloyal-.html

Anonymous said...

"no company "loves" its employees. "

This is a true statement, however a company needs its employees if it is to compete and thrive. Ford did not love his employees but in order for his company to succeed he needed to treat them well it make good enough for them or they would leave. Google must do the same thing or all the employees would simply leave for a better place. Yo know it is called free market and such. Guess what, it works and we all win. Now LLNLs and LANLs are different. If you think about it to them the employees are only liabilities. They can only cost the company money, by having a safety or security infraction. Doing something is not a PBI. If Google could make a huge profit by getting rid of all the employees are treating them badly they would of course but they cannot since the business would die due to free market pressures. LLNLs and LANLs have no free market pressure, so the places can become utterly dysfunctional, useless and
crazy. Now of course this is common sense and is of course the reason why you would never let a corporation run something like a national lab. But hey it is what it is because private is always better unless it is not. Private business also fail 9 out or 10 times but it is always better. Since it is always better I say we should bid out NSA, CIA, and the military out to be run by corporations. It could be like NSA.incorand " "CIAs and partners limited". It makes sense. Laugh all you want but this may become the reality in a few years. 20 years ago people would have thought you would have to be insane to think that a private corporation would be running the labs and look what happened.

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