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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sunday, September 29, 2013
No. 2 US nuclear commander suspended amid probe of counterfeit gambling chips at Iowa casino The U.S. strategic Command, the military command in charge of all U.S. nuclear warfighting forces says it has suspended its No. 2 commander, Giardina, for unspecific reasons, and he is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. By Associated Press, Published: September 28 WASHINGTON — The No. 2 officer at the military command in charge of all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces is suspected in a case involving counterfeit gambling chips at a western Iowa casino and has been suspended from his duties, officials said. Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina has not been arrested or charged, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent David Dales said Saturday. The state investigation is ongoing. Giardina, deputy commander at U.S. Strategic Command, was suspended on Sept. 3 and is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a Strategic Command spokeswoman said. The highly unusual action against a high-ranking officer at Strategic Command was made more than three weeks ago but not publicly announced at that time. The command is located at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb. Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, who heads Strategic Command, suspended Giardina, according to the command’s top spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze. Giardina is still assigned to the command but is prohibited from performing duties related to nuclear weapons and other issues requiring a security clearance, she said. Kehler has recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Giardina be reassigned, Kunze said. Giardina has been the deputy commander of Strategic Command since December 2011. He is a career submarine officer and prior to starting his assignment there was the deputy commander and chief of staff at U.S. Pacific Fleet. DCI agents stationed at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, discovered the counterfeit chips, Dales said. He would not say when the discovery was made or how much in counterfeit chips was found, only that “it was a significant monetary amount.” Council Bluffs is located across the Missouri River from Omaha. “We were able to detect this one pretty quickly and jump on it,” Dales said. He declined to give specifics on how authorities determined that casino chips had been counterfeited or how Giardina might have been involved. Strategic Command oversees the military’s nuclear fighter units, including the Navy’s nuclear-armed submarines and the Air Force’s nuclear bombers and nuclear land-based missiles. Kunze said Strategic Command did not announce the suspension because Giardina remains under investigation and action on Kehler’s recommendation that Giardina be reassigned is pending. The suspension was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald. Kunze said a law enforcement investigation of Giardina began June 16. Kehler became aware of this on July 16, and the following day he asked the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to begin a probe. The suspension is yet another blow to the military’s nuclear establishment. Last spring the nuclear missile unit at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., pulled 17 launch control officers off duty after a problematic inspection and later relieved of duty the officer in charge of training and proficiency. In August a nuclear missile unit at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., failed a nuclear safety and security inspection; nine days later an officer in charge of the unit’s security forces was relieved of duty. September 29, 2013 at 7:32 AM
By scooby at September 29, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
http://business.financialpost.com/2013/09/26/detroit-eyes-freezing-pensions-amid-probe-as-evidence-of-possible-fraud-come-to-light/ Let's try to have a unbiased (try!!) discussion if Democratic overspending will affect LLNS pensions in the distant future. Fact: Federal government took in the most tax revenue ever and is still running an annual deficit of $650B. Fact: Because of the bad economy people need food stamps, etc... more than ever and social programs ARE needed. Fact: Not even counting pension deficits California is by some estimates $160-320B in the hole. There was an annual surplus this past year but guess what....they spent it and did not apply it to the debt. When will it end and will it inevitably affect a LLNL pension is the question?
By scooby at September 27, 2013
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Coming soon to a laboratory near you! Layoffs are going to happen across all the energy and weapons laboratories. The budgets are not sustainable in the current economic climate and Oak Ridge is just the first. http://news.sciencemag.org/funding/2013/09/oak-ridge-national-laboratory-trim-staff-much-11
B-61 still in the news "The most important takeaway from the JASON report is this: Should schedule problems develop (as they invariably do), the NNSA must focus on what needs to be done, not on what might be desirable." "The more important point that JASON makes is that, to meet its schedule, the NNSA should focus on what has to be done, not what might be desired: “In implementing important and desirable, but not essential, elements in the 3B program, there should be a clear understanding of their cost and impact on the schedule. These elements should be prioritized in the event that unanticipated program delays or cost overruns are encountered that could threaten meeting the FPU [first production unit] deadline.” In other words, a significant portion of the work proposed for the B61 is not essential. It is someone’s wish list, either the NNSA’s or the DOD’s. Yet that wish list, the JASON report notes, could become the reason that the production schedule ends up slipping yet again. That concern is what drives the Senate appropriation committee’s position: A simpler (and less expensive) life extension program would be more likely to be delivered on time and on budget. Particularly given the NNSA’s track record of busting budgets and missing schedules, there is a certain undeniable logic to that train of thought." http://allthingsnuclear.org/jason-on-the-b61/
NNSA Requests Another $55.9M For LANL, LLNL Retiree Pension Payment The National Nuclear Security Administration needs an extra $55.9 million to make a paymen tto the University of California Retirement Plan, according to a reprogramming request submitted to Congress Tuesday. The reprogramming request was coupled with an appeal to reprogram another $2.5 million to finish designing Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Low Level Waste building, a key part of the lab’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility (RLWTF) project that the Department of Energy said would have to be shut down without the extra funds. The additional money for Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory retiree pensions is on top of $22.8 million DOE already requested as part of a nonproliferation reprogramming request in August. The agency said the funds are needed because recently approved changes to the University of California’s defined benefit pension plan increased assumptions on how long people will live and sequestration reduced the available funding for the payment. According to a letter from DOE Deputy Chief Financial Officer Alison Doone, a variety of sources will cover the reprogramming, including the completion of projects under budget, unearned contractor fee, and funding that was set aside for work that did not come about, including $3.4 million from the cancellation of the Secure Transportation Asset Agent Candidate Training
Thanks very much for your continued upkeep of the blog. I'm not one to post there myself but I thought our OpEd "Privatizing National Lab Management Misguided" might be of interest. http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Privatizing-national-lab-management-misguided-4843513.php
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
POGO: Watchdog Finds Flaws in DOE Contractor Responsibility Checks September 10, 2013 The Department of Energy’s (DOE) watchdog office just published a report finding weaknesses in the Department’s policies and procedures for keeping contracts out of the hands of disreputable companies and individuals. “The Department had developed internal controls designed to ensure that awards were made to responsible prospective contractors,” according to a Department of Energy Inspector General (DOE IG) audit report released last week. “Although procurement officials were familiar with the…requirements regarding responsibility determinations, we found that management did not ensure these requirements were consistently followed.” Anonymous said... September 20, 2013 at 8:21 AM Looks like sole sourcing is going to get a lot harder starting today. God help all those who want their good "yesterday" but don't want to spend the time doing their research first. It isn't going to matter is its to "replace like item" in the field. a sis week procurement may have just become a six month procurement and even afterwards have to go with low bid will come retrofits. Can you say big $$$ to be spent and increased operating cost.
Calling all bloggers! Get paid to blog for LANL. No, really. Scooby may not post it but here is the link if you are interested in applying for the job. http://www.comnetwork.org/2013/09/social-media-project-manager-los-alamos-national-laboratory/
UC Regents Visit Lawrence Livermore 9/20/2013 - LLNL Newsline In an effort to strengthen and showcase the long-standing relationship between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the University of California (UC), the UC Board of Regents held a public meeting at the Laboratory. "This will be a great step in continuing the relationship between the [national] labs and the university," UC Regent Chairman Bruce Varner said at the Thursday morning meeting held at Livermore Valley Open Campus' High Performance Computing and Innovation Center. The University of California had been the sole operator of LLNL since it was founded in 1952 until 2007. Since then, the Lab has been operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS), LLC, which is a consortium of government contractors and UC. UC Regent Norman Pattiz, who is the Chair of the UC Committee on the Oversight of Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratories as well as chair of the LLNS Board of Governors, said the visit to LLNL was intended for the regents who are members of this committee to see the important work the Lab conducts in the national interest. "Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory takes a back seat to no one," Pattiz said. "This [visit] is an extraordinary opportunity for the regents to see these unique facilities." LLNL Director Parney Albright said the partnership with UC is central to making the Lab great. "UC is the main supplier of talent to the Lab," said Albright, who gave the regents an overview of LLNL's research and development capabilities and led them on a tour. "UC faculty have partnered on more LLNL [research] papers than any other institution." In fact, Albright noted that a third of all LLNL post-doctoral researchers came from one of the UC system's 10 campuses. He said UC benefits from the Lab through faculty collaborations, unique facilities and capabilities, access to institutes, and training for undergrad and graduate students, among other things. Pattiz said UC's share of the fee LLNS receives for managing the Lab goes back into funding LLNL research. During their visit the regents toured LLNL's National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC), the Terascale Simulation Facility (TSF) and the National Ignition Facility (NIF). They saw a demonstration of a regional-scale earthquake simulation at TSF and were briefed on the Lab's response to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster in Japan. Livermore Mayor John Marchand spoke briefly to the regents before accompanying them on the tours. "The Lab is filled with very creative people," he said. "I believe the Laboratory is a large part of why Livermore is such a great community." Prior to the tour, the regents heard public comments at the meeting from six speakers, all praising the relationship between UC, the Lab and the community. Varner quipped this was the first time in a while that "all the public comments were
NNSA Nominee Klotz Pledges to Focus on Security and Safety Sept. 19, 2013 By Rachel Oswald Global Security Newswire WASHINGTON -- Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz on Thursday told a Senate panel he would focus on maintaining “security and safety” at the embattled National Nuclear Security Administration if confirmed as its director." He could turn out to be just what is needed if he is able to pull off this effort. A clear focus on the issues that are most important driven from the top leadership would be a good start. If he can also bring cost and schedule under control then he will have accomplished a second miracle.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
In case anyone had any incorrect impressions about the top priority for NNSA, this is from Klotz's SASC testimony today. In your view, what are the major challenges confronting the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the NNSA? The NNSA has a unique responsibility for pursuing two different, but complementary principles that have traditionally guided American nuclear weapons policy. The FIRST is that the United States must continue to lead international efforts to limit and reduce nuclear arsenals, prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism, and secure nuclear materials across the globe. The SECOND is that appropriately-sized nuclear forces still play an essential role in protecting U.S. and allied security interests, even as the United States seeks to reduce the overall number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security policy.
Another story on NNSA cost and quality control The AP reporter hits many of the common themes that have been pointed out before in other reports. Seeing them all together highlights that while they are spread across the entire complex, Los Alamos is responsible for the majority of the total. The story was picked up and run in lots of local papers across the country, so it could factor in to the next round of contract awards. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NUCLEAR_SPENDING?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
More on the B-61 budget When Congress does not believe the NNSA budget numbers, this is what happens. Maybe the new Administrator can get some control over the budget process and run it tightly. With the Labs going direct to Congress for add on after add on, the only surprise is that the budget is not even more out of control. http://allthingsnuclear.org/congress-on-the-b61/
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Here a link to an article by frank Munger: UPF review cites ‘chilled work environment,’ other causes for design failure; Y-12′s M&O contractor criticized: http://knoxblogs.com/atomiccity/2013/09/15/upf-review-cites-chilled-work-environment-causes-design-failure-y-12s-mo-contractor-criticized/ In it are jewels like these: – A coercive management style was encouraged by “the M&O contractor, UPF Project, and M&O Contractor corporate managers (at Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel), and was tolerated by the National Nuclear Security Administration’s field office and Department of Energy headquarters. Among the contributing factors cited: “A ‘chilled work environment’ resulted in limited communications, hesitation to bring problems forward, organizational mistrust, and stifled innovation and problem solving.” The management directive to freeze the footprint early in the design process set the stage for project behavior, the report said. “The M&O contractor’s senior management staff was critical of recommendations from the project team that were inconsistent with their views . . . As an example, individual Engineering and Design staff personnel were chastised by senior management when they identified space/fit issues, and were told to ‘prove that you need more space.’ “ – NNSA and B&W Y-12 leadership failed to comprehend the complexity of the project or failed to implement the appropriate actions, such as project-specific policies and Procedures.
By scooby at September 17, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
Sunday, September 15, 2013
TO: LANL-ALL From/MS: Charles F. McMillan, A100 Phone/Fax: 7-5101/Fax 7-2997 Date: September 13, 2013 SUBJECT: IMPORTANT CHANGES TO HEALTH CARE PLANS Because of key changes to the Laboratory’s health benefits offerings that will affect all of us in the coming year, I’d like to invite you to attend an all-employee meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17 in the NSSB Auditorium. We will explain the changes and the reasons for them, including our need to attract and retain highly skilled and productive employees while coping with the increasing healthcare costs nationally and in our own workforce. The changes will affect a number of areas including the types of plans offered, deductibles and co-payments. Each employee will need to make an active selection during the coming open enrollment period. Tuesday’s meeting will be the first of many opportunities to gather additional information, but I feel it’s important to start this process with you in person. Please join me on Tuesday. The meeting is open to all badge holders and will also be broadcast on ViewIt.
By scooby at September 15, 2013
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
New report reviews science and engineering quality at national security laboratories Public release date: 10-Sep-2013 Contact: Molly Galvin National Academy of Sciences WASHINGTON — The science and engineering capabilities that underpin the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation missions at the nation's three national security laboratories are "healthy and vibrant," says a new report from the National Research Council. The committee that wrote the report found no problems with the quality of science and engineering that would prevent certification of the stockpile. However, the report identifies several issues that, if not addressed, have the potential to erode the ability to perform high-quality work at the laboratories. Congress asked the Research Council to review the quality of scientific research and engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), which are part of the National Nuclear Security Administration. This report is the second of the two-phase study; the first report, released in February 2012, examined management of the laboratories. The new report examines the laboratories' capabilities in four areas of fundamental importance to their primary missions: (1) weapons design; (2) system engineering and understanding of the effects of aging on system performance; (3) weapons science base; and (4) modeling and simulation. In many areas, science and engineering at the laboratories is of very high quality. But the report identifies several stresses that could contribute to the deterioration of the work environment for scientists and engineers and limit the quality of their work in the future – and thus the nation's ability to benefit fully from the laboratories' potential. The United States declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons testing in 1992. In the absence of new test data, the science-based stockpile stewardship program relies on pre-moratorium test data, computer models and simulations, surveillance, and other experiments . The laboratories are building enhanced computational models that account for changes in weapon properties as they age, and this requires state-of-the-art S&E capabilities in a number of areas, the report says. NNSA should conduct a detailed assessment of simulation and modeling needs over the next decade and implement an adequately funded plan to meet those needs. Experimental work is essential to the laboratories' missions. While the safety risks inherent in some experimentation must be controlled, the report says that the current system for managing these risks is contributing to escalating costs and schedule delays, and in some cases may limit experimentation. The U.S. Department of Energy and NNSA should work with laboratory managers to review the system for assessing and mitigating these risks to improve efficiency while maintaining a safe working environment. The laboratories maintain and operate world-class experimental facilities, but smaller experimental facilities are also essential for the laboratories to conduct their work and to attract and retain staff, the report says. For example, these smaller facilities are important for producing weapons components such as neutron generators or for processing plutonium and evaluating how it ages. The laboratory directors should ensure a proper balance between these small scientific facilities and the larger signature facilities.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Lake H. Barrett is a retired nuclear engineer and was the director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Three Mile Island Cleanup Site Office from 1980 to 1984. His explanation of the water problem, and solution, at Fukushima has just been posted, and it's excellent. Best, Janice Fixing Fukushima's Water Problem: http://thebulletin.org/fixing-fukushima%E2%80%99s-water-problem -- Janice Sinclaire Internet Outreach Coordinator
LLNL Unveiled Here’s any idea to get you guys more coverage. For those who have facebook there a section for people to put their STATUS: employed retired etc. I put this in mine: The first twenty five years were the best. Mechanical Technicians / Scientist/ Janitor/ Admin, were, inventors, non-degreed engineers, machinist, designers, welders, UHV vacuum technicians, fabricators, etc, Then we lost LLNL to ( Bechtel / LLNS ) Here’s what the employees who work there have to say about this so called transition - http://llnlthetruestory.blogspot.com/ Word yours as you see fit.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Friday, September 6, 2013
LLNL P.A due soon. Here is a sold response ******, I am reluctant to provide feedback for my performance appraisal. Fact remains in my 15 years of service here I have only managed to move up one rank group, and my largest raise was 2.5 percent. I do understand that salary packages have not been that great, but that is not the issue. Considering the level of responsibility I have, I should have been a 300 eight years ago. All of the PA inputs I have filled out, the inputs from others, the numerous awards I have received, the presentations I have done, none of this has made a difference. I have had ownership of this *** *** for a long time. I manage daily operations. I am responsible for the facility. I prioritize and schedule the work. I manage projects at the RI level. I put the process in place to move deliverables out the door in an efficient cost effective manner. I am quality control. I have developed a flexible work force to provide additional labor when needed. This program is Work for Others and competes with the other two labs. We have four primary customers, and they recognize Livermore products when they see them. I am directly responsible for that. I have given tours here for some high ranking officials. My input for the PA Process has never made a difference. If you think it’s of value, then I will do it. Historically it has not made a difference. Input or no input I get the same raise and the same recognition.
To extend, or not to extend? The NNSA grades for LLNL and LANL are due by the end of the month, along with the local federal office recommendation for contract extension of another year. Last year, LANL was not recommended for extension, but the decision was overturned by Neile Miller at NNSA. New leadership is in place at NNSA this year and this first decision will be closely watched. LANL could find the going hard in light of the months long work stand down at TA 55 for crit safety. The grade this year might provide insight as to how NNSA values the Pu work.
By John Fleck September 3, 2013 Albuquerque Journal Energy boss says B61 nuclear bomb work could be delayed further New Mexico’s national labs face significant questions about funding for the coming year, newly appointed Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told reporters during a visit to Sandia National Laboratories on Tuesday. “We’re all suffering under a lot of uncertainty on the budgets,” Moniz said at the end of a day of visits to Sandia and Los Alamos labs. Among the biggest unsettled questions are a proposed budget increase for the labs’ work refurbishing the nation’s B61 nuclear bombs and funding for upgrading the buildings at Los Alamos used to do the research and manufacturing work with plutonium, a radioactive metal used in nuclear bombs. With less than a month left in the current fiscal year, Congress has yet to act on its budget for the coming year, creating uncertainty about how much money will be available for critical programs beginning Oct. 1. It is a common problem. The last time Congress completed an appropriations bill for the labs on time was 1999, according to Library of Congress records. The typical approach, which appears likely this year, is a “continuing resolution” that allows spending at current year levels into the new fiscal year while Congress sorts out its disagreements over the budget. The open question is whether the administration, as it has in the past, will push to have any continuing resolution approved by Congress make an exception for the nuclear weapons program, allowing the nuclear weapons budget to rise to cover the new work the Department of Energy and Department of Defense have laid out. Moniz in an interview with the Journal acknowledged that such a move, known in Washington budget parlance as “an anomaly,” was “a potential approach,” but said he could not discuss internal deliberations about whether the administration was committed to pursuing one. With congressional consideration of the spending measures now stalled, Moniz acknowledged in the interview that there is a risk that the project’s schedule, already delayed by budget problems, could slip further. Another major uncertainty, according to Moniz, involves funding for plutonium work at Los Alamos. Much to the consternation of some on Capitol Hill, the Obama administration last year indefinitely delayed work on a new multibillion dollar plutonium laboratory at Los Alamos, a project that had been one of the administration’s commitments when the December 2010 Russian arms deal was signed. In the year since that decision was made, Los Alamos and its federal managers have been working to come up with an alternative approach involving use of existing buildings, along with construction of some smaller new facilities, to support current and future manufacturing of a limited number of plutonium cores for U.S. nuclear weapons. Moniz said he is “full supportive of pursuing the so-called ‘modular strategy,’ ” but acknowledged that his agency still has failed to persuade key members of Congress to support spending shifts in the Department of Energy’s budget that are needed for the work to proceed. “We’re still working that,” he said.
Regarding employee contributions to TCP-1 being after-tax dollars: why is that? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think it makes any difference to the retirement system whether the contributions are pre- or post-tax. There must be some law somewhere that forces it to be after-tax money for LLNS, but lets it be before-tax money for UC. Can anybody out there provide an explanation (other than that Bechtel, Mother of All Evil, wants to screw us)? A pointer to the law would be especially nice.
Numbers please. Lots of pension contribution talk. Initially we were given a employee / employer formula. We know exactly what the employees put in. They did so immediately, and as the formula dictated. Why is it a mystery trying to get the employers exact contribution for 2012, 2013, and anticipated 2014?
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