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Saturday, December 21, 2013

How you rate the managers in the various directorates?

How you rate the managers in the various directorates?

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

They are almost uniformly robots at the higher levels in the NIF Directorate. Moses made sure of that by spending a decade putting robots in place, and you are hard pressed to find a human being from the top down to the group leader level.

Anonymous said...

How is Verdon turning out? I know he had his panties all in knots regarding the Deuterium EoS retrospective. Was that all part of a power-play for him to grab the reigns? Or is he ACTUALLY concerned about the piss poor quality of people and their work done supposedly in support of his directorate and stockpile stewardship?

Anonymous said...

Corporate drones to a person. Unimpressive.

Anonymous said...

We in Engineering are awaiting our new AD. Our current soon-to-depart AD has been a dismal failure...acting for +2 years - George Miller was told by NNSA they HAD to make her the real deal since she was in the "acting: role for so long. The sad truth is, Engineering is not well thought of as a result of her milk-toast "leadership"

Anonymous said...

In one of the above comments it was mentioned that there has been a "Deuterium EoS retrospective." Is there any information on this? Was there a report? Are there viewgraphs? Can someone give some info on the retrospective? When did it happen? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

From what I can see, the AD for F&I has done nothing significant in the seven years he has been there. Am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

"How is Verdon turning out? I know he had his panties all in knots regarding the Deuterium EoS retrospective ...
December 21, 2013 at 12:20 PM"
Verdon is micromanaging everything, same as he has done in all of his prior positions, trying to control information flow and cover up problems lest those in oversight positions hear about them, and at the same time keeps his own staff in the dark. He is giving the feds the feeling that LLNL has something to hide, and maybe we do; or, maybe it is just a lack of people or communications skills; or some combination of both. But, it could be worse - he is better than some of the others who could have been named as WCI PAD.

Anonymous said...

The Deuterium Equation of State Retrospective is described on this blog, in fact:

http://llnlthetruestory.blogspot.com/2012/12/deuterium-eos-issue.html

This contains a number of references as breadcrumbs by which you can follow to seek out as much detail as you need.

Anonymous said...

If he is micromanaging, then maybe that is a good sign that he actually cares about the quality of work being produced, and, lacking any ability to help improve it in the short-run, is making sure to keep the badness covered up and out of public view.

Anonymous said...

For a comprehensive accounting of the deuterium issues, you might want to get in contact with Dr. William Nellis currently at Harvard University, he is very knowledgeable of the kinds of things going on at LLNL at the time of the shenanigans.

Anonymous said...

I thank you all for responding to my request for info on a deuterium retrospective. I had forgotten about the previous postings on this blog and it was good to review those. I should tell you my association with all this. Soon after the publication of the initial LLNL PRL, I spent several months on research to determine my own position on this data as it was relevant to my job. I continued my work for several years and I and others did communicate our negative feelings but we were dismissed. It was and is clear that money and politics, not science, is the mover and shaker. At times, and sometimes not, I feel sorry for those on the laser EOS experiment. They had to come up with something that could be used to support the continued laser effort. The pressure I am sure was not minor and once you are on that track you cannot get off. By the way as far as I know those deuterium results have never been corrected or withdrawn. Also it is not just the Sandia data that is in disagreement but there is a Russian paper in Physical Review (Bill Nellis is a coauthor and I know him well) and there is Rochester laser data. (Half the Rochester data has to be corrected because of a poor standard, but that has been done and published.) I agree with a lot of the negative comments out there on the LLNL laser data, and little of the positive. I am sure this means little to most, as really science is not the question and that was verified to me. Now I do appreciate the suggestions but I felt the implication in the above comment was that there had been a retrospective, an internal LLNL review, and that perhaps one or more managers had developed more complete pictures. Any info on such?

Anonymous said...

I would have expected NNSA to thoroughly revisit this issue a decade ago. However, my guess is that the heavy handed treatment of Nellis by the lab has poisoned the entire issue and perhaps NNSA has not the stomach to deal with this. After all, the technical discussions and expert assessments have been made privately. There has been YEARS of continuous (back-channel) discussion on this single topic. You just have to ask the right people in the field of high pressure EoS. To my knowledge there has been no comprehensive public revisitation of these experiments. However there should have been. This issue erodes any confidence regarding the notion that NIF can perform similar EoS measurements. It's a matter of time when NIF is asked to measure EoS for a material in a previously unmeasured regime, and again, their theory and experimental measurements end up coincidentally sitting on top of the wrong curve.

Anonymous said...

There is an interesting story about the raw data. The idea floating around the back-channel is that the raw data and steak camera film are "missing" or "lost" or "you'll see it over someone's dead body" or "it's classified (ha ha wink and a nod)".

Anonymous said...

Over 6 billion dollars plowed into NIF so that their experimental laser EoS measurements as analyzed, produces EoS that perfectly matches theory and modeling. If theory or modeling is found to be in error and has to shift, no worries. The NIF experimental data can be re-analyzed so that the measurement again sits on top of the theory/modeling predictions.

And all that for over 6 billion dollars! Though given the way NIF experiments are analyzed, we don't need NIF experiments .

Anonymous said...

Moving away from the NIF comments, I find many midlevel managers abusive and not appreciative of their employees.

Anonymous said...

Adam Rowen, a manager in Sandia Livermore does not have a Ph.D.!

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, he should be fired for misrepresenting his educational background! I can't believe that Sandia would not have caught that. PhD on his resume, when in fact he didn't earn it? That's what you're saying, right?

Anonymous said...

Please tell me that he or anyone else has a PhD with a plasma physics background, and I'll tell you he should be working at MacDonald's or driving a taxi cab.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all again for your deuterium comments. They are on the same page with many of my other sources. I was just hoping that I might get a more definite feel on this situation from the LLNL perspective, including management. A minor aside. I would like to know the total number of data points taken in the whole deuterium campaign, including unreleased and unpublished ones. Take care.

Anonymous said...

if you could get a hold of the supposedly "misplaced" raw data and streak camera film.....

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure December 23, 2013 at 5:39 PM is just (unsuccessfully) trying to link "lack of PhD" to "incompetence in line management ability." The problem with this argument is that I can point to far more "managers" at Sandia, all of whom have PhDs, and all of whom are corrupt, incompetent, etc. etc. etc. Don't look at the "PhD" when making your claims. Look at the institution.

Anonymous said...

There's one person, perhaps two, who would know where the original data are, and if you're in the field, you know who they are and you can ask them. Neither would deliberately publish garbage. But having that data would be useless without the corresponding experiment and instrument setup details, and these are probably just written down in a table somewhere after so many years. And they wouldn't do you any good if you aren't intimately familiar with the experiments, and you won't be unless you were there. Comes down to, do you trust that they are honest or not - either way, having the film in your hand wouldn't change your opinion.

Anonymous said...

And even if the original film data are lost (they might be, we're getting close to 20 years on), there are electronic scans of the original film that surely still exist. That does not mean the original experimenters are going to be willing to give them to you, because asking for that in the tone of "I think you faked data" is not going to get you far.

Anonymous said...

hahaha funny. you gonna try to get the data? i love how history repeats itself over and over and over

Anonymous said...

I'm not insinuating that the data was faked. Not at all. I'm saying that the integrity of the analysis is highly questionable. The data needs to be re-analyzed by experts in the field. The error bars also need to be questioned. LLNL absolutely does not want you or anyone else to have access to the information needed to perform a comprehensive "retrospective." I am hoping I am wrong about this last point. But it's been over 15 years and there is no resolution in sight.

Anonymous said...

I suppose this issue will never go away. After all, the retaliation against Nellis goes to show you how sordid this issue was right from the start. Plus, it represents only one short passage in the larger narrative regarding all of the scientific problems associated with NIF.

Anonymous said...

Can't you posters follow the thread? Read the heading - and then please answer appropriately...the NIF tangent is not germane to the topic at hand.

Anonymous said...

Yeah you're right. We can bring it back to Verdon. Competent but does he have his own vision? Or does he go with the flow? Is interesting to see whether his actions regarding NIF and laser EoS experiments are in line with his personal beliefs regarding the value of these experiments or even to the strategy of putting all the eggs into one NIF basket.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

No review of Ed when he is not in front of a camera?

Anonymous said...

The most arrogant egotistical lab leader since Teller, but unfortunately one of the least bright to wield so much power. The man who built NIF and then killed it, and killed the Laser Program in the process. The most damaging individual the lab has ever seen, a man who will be remembered not for his success as a project manager but for his failure as a scientist and as a leader. One could go on.

Anonymous said...

Ed even single handedly crippled WCI in his usual slash and burn methods against all things not lasers-based. Though to be fair, it is not his failed NIF vision, but rather the failed vision of those who came before him, laying out the initial design requirements. Considering the fact that when he took on the leadership role, they were already past the point of no return, with the lab having doubled down and triple down on NIF and LIFE. It was inevitable that other programs would have to be sacrificed in order to give NIF an extra day of life support. Ed has the psychopathy required to carry out the needed fratricide and patricide without any remorse whatsoever. An even more cynical perspective is that because NIF was sold based on how much Congress was willing to fund (current 2MJ design), and not the larger facility needed to provide sufficient margin -that all the fratricide is required to maintain a lie - one concocted by predecessors of Moses. Again Moses is the right personality. If your choice is between defeat now or defeat later, you take the latter option because you still have the chance to turn it around into a win.

But I am curious if others feel like there was a realistic and viable alternative to having it both ways (stable NIF funding plus a diversified lab portfolio).

Anonymous said...

NIF was ballistic by the mid-2000's, and that was the time to start scaling back expectations so that when the inevitable comes (ignition is much, much harder than you said it would be), you don't make yourself and everyone associated with you look like a liar and an idiot. And you don't poison the well so that the whole enterprise just dies when your promises fall far short. Yes, maybe that would have resulted in less upfront money (and perhaps less damage to other lab programs that were sacrificed for the NIF), but it might have allowed the lab to recover. Instead, in that very time frame Moses put the final pieces in place to guarantee that what happened would necessarily happen. The lab will never recover from Moses.

Anonymous said...

"... An even more cynical perspective is that because NIF was sold based on how much Congress was willing to fund (current 2MJ design), and not the larger facility needed to provide sufficient margin..."

It is interesting that the word "margin" is rarely spoke of in NIF discussions for being such a basic engineering performance term. No margin, then no talkie about it?

Anonymous said...

The whole problem is that ignition was never an engineering endeavor, so you can't really talk about margin because you have no idea. Turned out, we built a big laser, but not big enough. At least not without a long, extended, well-funded effort to sort out all the unknown unknowns. All you know is, it will be harder than you think, and you plan accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Retrospectively, that is an accurate statement about NIF. But going back a few years, it was run irresponsibly, and the scientific endeavor was riddled with confirmation bias. Remember the celebration, euphoria about a "Nobel Prize," talk about how the employees will be the first generation of fusion engineers, all that so called talent "concentrated" in one place?

I would argue that at the time, it was treated as an engineering endeavor, because Ed did a fantastic job executing the engineering.

In FACT, you CAN talk about margins. All the early weapons designs done by pencil and paper? All the unknown-unknowns involved there? Good engineers understand and estimate margins, never ruling out the possibility of failure. No parties and talks about greatness leading up to the first successful test.

The contrast between the NIF scientists of today, and the first weaponeers are so clear. The science if NIF is done in the way that there is no concerted management of technical risk over all of its different elements. The lack of true expertise and a groupthink mentality prevents people from questioning anything.

Anonymous said...

The counter is that ignition on NIF is vastly harder than blowing up the first bomb, which was already known to be possible based on other data, you just have to assemble enough of it quickly enough. Vastly harder even knowing that it can in principle be done if you have a big-enough driver. Somewhere between NIF and a nuclear bomb, it becomes straightfoward to implode a fuel capsule and get it to ignite, but where? Is a factor of two enough? Ten? That's where margins turn into educated guesses. Which is o.k., if the result is important enough, but that huge uncertainty ought not to have been buried.

Anonymous said...

why is the current design so much smaller than what known experimental data would suggest is required?

Anonymous said...

LLNL was already planning (before their alpha heating milestone failure) out how they would shut down Sandia's Z after NIF was to get ignition. The whole self-delusional euphoria was running rampant at LLNL.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the major technical problem with the NIF and the NIC was that the program was not balanced. The laser community has controlled and still dominates inertial fusion nationwide. The goal is who can build the biggest hammer. Much less attention is paid to the nut they are trying to crack. Just before (one or two years) the NIC was started in earnest, serious problems were discovered with the capsules. This was a little late given that over a decade had supposedly been spent on development. It had been planned to use beryllium for the capsule but that was dropped for plastic. (The excuse is sometimes made that the health issues with beryllium caused the switch.) And there were problems with the ice layer, etc. This lack of balance sits at managements' feet.

Anonymous said...

There could never be balance with Moses in charge, it was all about Ed, or whoever managed to maneuver his way into a position to have Eds ear. Make no mistake, many others saw what was coming, but no one could get any traction against the Moses train. It was career suicide to be known to his spies as not following Eds lead, never mind to counter him or his handpicked deputies in meetings. The whole trainwreck played out in slow motion over a period of years.

Anonymous said...

The current WCI AD is a big supporter or NIF and LIFE. He is even a bigger supporter of the physicist responsible for the 14 kJ NIF target. Expect Lindl and his 2 MJ design to be sent down the memory hole and replaced with talk of new ignition point designs. Details to be published in a series of PRL's.

Anonymous said...

There's no there, there, with the high foot design. It isn't going to ignite without a much bigger laser, though it makes lots of neutrons. So do "exploding pushers". If they go to green light, there may be more design space, but no one will pay for that based on simulations and promises. Not after the very public NIC failure.

Anonymous said...

Their "oh we are going to get a nobel prize" aspirations and self-delusional nonsense is completely irresponsible for a scientific organization.

LLNL is run more like a religious cult than a scientific institution.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the Upward Appraisals of managers that use to be done at the labs? Why are lab employees no longer surveyed about the quality of their managers since the LLCs took over?

Anonymous said...

That would be too touchy-feely for LLNS, too academic, and an admission of sorts that they might not have it exactly right.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the Upward Appraisals of managers that use to be done at the labs?

Waste of time. No one ever paid attention to them. The top managers we have now rose to the top under that system.

Anonymous said...

Some did, and there were also informal upwards appraisals that would sometimes result in discussions and maybe even input on the managers appraisal. I have not seen this in years though, as a worker bee or a manager.

Anonymous said...

LLNS would not risk a net negative employee 360 view of managers. It would weaken the NNSA annual report card (lost profits) or require corrective actions.

Anonymous said...

I must respectfully say LLNS employees are in a bad place unless we decide to speak with one voice. Otherwise you can count on eroding benefits and further diminished job stability going forward. Connect the workplace data points from October 2007 to now folks...

Anonymous said...

We manage ourselves.
Giving a presentation is not management.

Anonymous said...

Presentation in all its forms, not substance, is the whole enchilada at LLNS. You think NNSA Livermore is looking past presentation?

Anonymous said...

With the funding problems that LLNL faces, I can only imagine how bad managers and even employees are backstabbing eachother. It's a universal phenomenon you would see in any shrinking organization. The double speak, cliques, character assassination, workplace bullying and harassment, demonization of people perceived to be threats. Though scanning back at old blog threads, I take it that LLNL has been in this "phase" for the last 5-10 years?

Anonymous said...

Downhill since October 2007. The point of transition from UC to LLNS.

Anonymous said...

The reality is, if you expect benefits, stability and job security you need to leave the lab. Because those are not coming back, and the last six years are there as historical evidence to prove it.

Anonymous said...

What was so great about UC? They brought us a culture of arrogance, the x-ray laser, NIF overpromises, Wen Ho Lee, LANL's 'missing disks' fiasco, the hard drives hidden underneath the copy machine, deuterium EOS, search committees that gave us Directors like Pete Nanos & George Miller et. al., and poor Ray J for about one hour, not to mention Tomas and Ed Moses, setting the stage for all that followed.
And how well has the UC education system fared in the past few years?

Anonymous said...

What is Tomas doing these days and are there others that slipped through the cracks?

Anonymous said...

"What was so great about UC? They brought us a culture of arrogance, the x-ray laser, NIF overpromises, Wen Ho Lee, LANL's 'missing disks' fiasco, the hard drives hidden underneath the copy machine, deuterium EOS, search committees that gave us Directors like Pete Nanos & George Miller et. al., and poor Ray J for about one hour, not to mention Tomas and Ed Moses, setting the stage for all that followed.
And how well has the UC education system fared in the past few years?

January 1, 2014 at 2:50 PM"

Indeed what about the fires, Nanos, meth for drugs, arrogant scientist, eggheads who think they are so great, winning the cold war, the stupid Phds, the "I am so great" attitude, the disks being behind the copying machine, , more meth scandal,and the mustangs The labs where in total hell under UC. Who the hell would let a bunch of university liberal loonies who believe in evolution, a women's right to choose, and education to run a weapons lab? The labs where a total utter disgrace up until 2007. Thank God for the private sector.

Anonymous said...

So is it consensus that UC is guilty of benevolent neglect? Maybe it's not so much the management but rather the stability and growth prospects of funding that determines our perceptions of management. Now with programs being cut and your future more uncertain, it's much easier to find a reason to point out all of the deficiencies in management or to see more (real or perceived) bad behavior from those people. I could be wrong though, I wasn't around during the heydays of UC management ( or the lack thereof).

Anonymous said...

You hear how lucky the skilled working staff is to have a job.

In the private sector many of these managers would not able to find a job at their current rate of pay. Self importance isn't a skill.

Anonymous said...

You hear how lucky the skilled working staff is to have a job.

In the private sector many of these managers would not able to find a job at their current rate of pay. Self importance isn't a skill.

Anonymous said...

NIF sucked up by force engineering talent that had viable WCI programmatic assignments then later spit them out in 2012 into EIT status.

Monya gave public praise by name to these and other NIF R&D 100 award winners in September 2013, and within days fired one of them for "poor performance". The treachery is thick here at LLNS.

Anonymous said...

Verdon has been a failure period.

Anonymous said...

Talent should go elsewhere. Tossing overboard people who CAN swim, is not such a bad thing. They might be doing those people a favor in the long run. LLNL doesn't need talent to grow because it is not going to grow.

Anonymous said...

So let the geese laying the golden eggs depart? I guess it matters not if they do. The feedback loop is long, and the report card audience is easily impressed.

Anonymous said...

True, and if you can swim then now is a great time to jump ship. There aren't a lot of lifeboats or even scraps of wood to grab onto, and you will have more opportunities to find room on another ship if you beat the rest of the passengers.

Anonymous said...

It is true that llnl doesn't care if the golden egg laying geese, the rainmakers, the top talent, all left the lab. It has bed happening over the last fifteen tears, especially accelerated over the last seven. Not a single manager laments the incremental loss in capability to perform high quality work with these departures. It is only those on the outside who can objectively see the impacts. Considering the poor prospects for your long term career at LLNL (or even the other labs, for that matter), it is in the employees' best self interest to see the national lab just as a job, and an opportunity to build up a tangible record of accomplishments, particularly for early career staff. People who have risen above their level of incompetence, or are lazy and hold an attitude of entitlement because they have been told that they are "national treasures" deserve to suffer in that national lab purgatory, unable to get a job outside because you can't hack it and you can't deliver. Your only choice will be to stay and "play the game". Though to be fair, it is less of a prison and more of a paradise to people who are corrupt, unethical, and get a thrill out of lying and fabricating.

Anonymous said...

So many of the llnl managers (really the low and mid-level) spend the most if their time intentionally creating distress or problems so that they can get credit for fixing it. This is particularly true for managers who are not technically sharp and went into management because that was the only remaining path for their personal advancement. Getting credit for fixing problems that you intentionally created is called "Munchausen-at-work." The next time you see your busy body manager running around, managing upwards as usual, and getting the ear of so-and-so, all amidst a crisis, look to see if you manager's apparent poor decisionmaking also created or helped amplify the problem. I could name five managers at LLNL who regularly do this, though to be honest it was hard to detect initially.

Anonymous said...

11:16. You just described Bret Knapp's resume. Can you guess what he has in store for LLNL?

Anonymous said...

At the top, the director wouldn't have to create problems just so that he or she can solve it and get a pat on the head. There would be no reward in it for him anyways. It's good to be king. Bret is king. He rewards himself. He can sit pretty on his throne and reward others for solving problems that THEY created.

Anonymous said...

And sack those that don't solve the problems the King created.

Anonymous said...

That's correct! Again, it's good to be king!!!

Anonymous said...

Last comment forgot to credit Mel Brooks, History of the World, Part I.

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