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Friday, October 25, 2013

Morale at LLNL

Morale is low at LLNL. Too many layers of management to tell you what to do that results in a 300% overhead (4.0 multiplier). Young and bright engineers and scientists are going to the Silicone Valley.


Anonymous said...

"Silicone Valley" - I don't know that LLNL engineers and scientist were leaving for the San Fernando Valley.

Anonymous said...

Silicon Valley - formally called Santa Clara Valley !

Home to really delicious apricot and prune orchards (I mean the fruit) in the 40's, 50's and early 60's. Some of the richest and most fertile farmland in CA !

Anonymous said...

High morale doesn't help upper management achieve their 20% annual bonuses. Therefore, it can safely be ignored. Safety & security metrics are all that really matter now. Everything else, including good cutting edge science, can be safely ignored.

Anonymous said...

Everything else, including good cutting edge science, can be safely ignored.

October 26, 2013 at 9:42 PM

We as a nation are to far in debt to afford this anymore. We must use what we know to get by for the next two to five decades until we're debt free and can afford luxuries like LANL, LLNL, LBL, ORNL, etc. Keep the gates open but at a very reduced population. Cuts must be made and taxes reduced.

Anonymous said...

It would help if your take home pay didn't keep going down, I take home about fifteen percent less than five years ago.

Anonymous said...

Keep the gates open but at a very reduced population.

October 27, 2013 at 4:50 AM

You do understand that it is the "population" that is the important national asset, not the facility? If the expertise goes away, it can not be replaced in less than a generation. The facility can be rebuilt quickly in time of serious national need. Unless you are assuming the national security of the US will never require the expertise of the "population" of the labs during your "two to five decades." Pretty short sighted and dangerous, I'd say. In the last two or three decades, the number of nations with nuclear weapons, friendly and unfriendly, has quadrupled.

Anonymous said...

Morale is so low that most people have become totally apathetic and affraid to speak up, you can see it in the internal newsline articles as nobody is willing to challenge the official propaganda even though now they have an opportunity to do so, it would probably be a totally different scene if they didn't publish names along with comments.

Anonymous said...

If you think morale at LLNL is low right now, just wait until Brett Knapp arrives as your next lab Director to "do his thing". He's a master at brutal management techniques and has learned well how to implement them while rising up the management chain at LANL.

I'm totally amazed that a man of his low caliber could rise to the high rank that he has over the last few years. It speaks very poorly of the current management team running the NNSA labs.

S said...

IMO Moral started going down when we became a for profit entity because we became a place where proving something didn't work was seen as a failure.

Money certainly played a part in this BUT this "fear of failure" started well before the country started suffering from our failed policies.


I also agree that the high overhead costs have increased to the point that a decision has to be made between administering science or doing science.

As it stands we have Ph.D's with 10+ managers and no actual assistance with their various projects beyond the paperwork that 10+ managers generate.

Anonymous said...

As it stands we have Ph.D's with 10+ managers and no actual assistance with their various projects beyond the paperwork that 10+ managers generate.

Agreed. There are two types of overhead costs. There are the direct costs (e.g., 4x multiplier) because we need to pay for the 10 managers. Then there are the indirect costs because those 10 managers create and force unfunded work on to project personnel.

During my LLNL career, I have brought in enough sponsor funds to pay for myself and a little more. Now, I often avoid this due to the high "hassle factor." It becomes too much when one is required to write 5 ongoing progress reports each month (or quarter), with only 1 of the 5 going to the sponsor. The rest are required by different management entities at the Lab (all in different formats, of course).

Anonymous said...

Spot on!

The system:

- Get your own funds (despite OSO's constant interference, reporting demands, and refusal to support simple request like travel/proposal funding).

- Have them taxed by 80%

- Which pays for a bunch of people on overhead (beyond OSO) who are somehow empowered to demand a bunch of unpaid work from you, all of which delivers zero benefit to the sponsor.

If we could break this cycle, the lab would save a ton of money, and all the PIs and folks who actually bring in the money would be significantly more productive.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
As it stands we have Ph.D's with 10+ managers and no actual assistance ...

At least you have PhDs in LLNL! Adam Rowen (manager of the Materials Chemistry department) from Sandia National Laboratories does not have a Ph.D. (he has a masters from the prestigious University of New Mexico!)

Anonymous said...

Well that is what happens when you have a layoff of 500 people and none of them are managers. More managers for fewer workers, and those that do go out and get money have to pay ever higher overhead. This crushes your ability to bring in funding due to high costs, which causes another layoff of workers and no managers. Situation gets worse, repeat.

S said...

I don't want to bag on the managers as much as I want the managers to remember that when they where doing whatever work or science they did that they had access to help when they needed it.

That said: It is kind of interesting how so few managers left during the last financial incentive. Perhaps that's because they're not having to hustle for their paycheck like most of us.

Anonymous said...

(1) Layoff staff for not bringing in enough funds to feed the enormous and inefficient overhead

(2) End up with more managers, fewer staff to bring in lab funding

(3) This causes the overhead tax burdens to go up even further with the remaining pot of funds

(4) Dismal budget situation then leads back to (1)

It's called a Death Spiral.

Anonymous said...

A couple of people in the Materials Chemistry department (including Adam Rowen, the manager) at Sandia booked a trip using Sandia funds to Hawaii to attend the 2012 ECS meeting. That is definitely a waste!

Anonymous said...

Adam M. Rowen, Sandia National Laboratories, Materials Chemistry Department, United States

Anonymous said...

Adam Rowen is no longer the manager of the materials chemistry department at Sandia! You should hear what many of the former staff members in his former department have to say about him.

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