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This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weapons work versus diversification

The central matter facing UC as they search for the next Director is should LLNL be uniquely focused on weapons work, or expanding its sponsor suite. This question has been danced around since the transition, but still remains an open subject. In the last six years, between the two facilities, six leaders have been tasked with program funding diversification in an effort to migrate towards a multi-sponsor lab (LLNL: Doesburg, Albright, Warner; LANL: Beason, Reese, Wallace). Internally some have regarded this as a fool’s errand, while others have watched SNL benefit from non-weapons programmatic projects. In its typical schizophrenic fashion, NNSA has sent mixed signals on how these efforts are viewed – derisively calling them work for “others” and simultaneously making a big deal out of the cooperation agreement that was signed with DOD, DHS, and IC. The multiple attempts by multiple lab leaders to move the needle on WFO funding have led to very limited success, and in most cases have actually decreased external support. As the next Director is selected, it is worth a critical examination of why WFO only increased under one of the above six leaders. Perhaps the enterprise is not ready for diversification, and should uniquely focus on weapons work. From all accounts, this is clearly the path that LANL has taken most recently, and maybe LLNL should follow that lead as well.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Weapons work will not support LLNL in the future. One reason is, there is (and has been) less and less of it, and another reason is, LANL is the logical choice for concentrating all such work. The concept of the NIF as a huge richly-funded user facility was blown out of the realm of possibility by incompetant leadership, and now the NIF is simply a monetary black hole that needs to be shut down or at least scaled back dramatically. WFO will kill the lab unless it is coordinated into a unified stable program, instead of a patchwork of small projects led by PIs who feel like independent entrepreneurs, and who resent the very infrastructure that makes it possible for them to do their work. Things do not look good.

Anonymous said...

Here are my suggestions on what to do with the useless and costly LLNL:

1) Turn it into a University. California can always use a new one. LLNL has a great campus and would be perfect. Classes could start immediately. Scientists all become professors!!!!!

2) Turn it into an amusement ride. Little cars in canals can take people through the NIF building to see robotic scientists dressed as Lincoln wasting huge sums of public taxes firing lasers at dust specs while children sing in the background. "It's a dumb world after all!!!!!"

3) Sell it to a corporation: Oracle is always buying stuff, sell it to them. Maybe Facebook wants a new corporate campus or even Google.

4) Turn it into a movie studio. LLNL and NIF would be great backdrops for Sci-Fi epics: A film about a lone survivor of an epidemic of stupidity that kills everyone else, but he has to constantly fight hoards of NIF Zombies. That has Oscar written all over it! Schwarzenegger would take the staring roll with Jeremy Irons as the leader of the NIF Zombies.

5) Let Mythbusters fire canons at the buildings to see if they can punch holes through them. It would be must see TV.

6) Let LLNL decay much like Detroit then cut retired employee pensions. That seems to be the current government plan.

Anonymous said...

What weapons work?

The B83 is going to be retired. There has been talk of removing one of the legs of the triad, probably silo launched missiles (W87, W78). Also, RRW was cancelled.

Where is this future of weapons work?

Anonymous said...

They can set up a kind of 3D pit-fighting like they did on Mad Max: Thunderdome, except in the NIF target chamber. Two man enter, one man leave.

Anonymous said...

There is little hope of increased funding for weapons work. Just look what happened to the promised CMRR at LANL. Look at the sad state of the B61 refurbishment program. The current weapons work will be kept on "life support" but will not increase. It will continue to shrink.

Diversification through WFOs is only given lip service by LLNL and LANL because the politicians in those states say they want it. It has grown for over a decade at SNL because that lab executed a coordinated plan and rewarded those who went the WFO route. The only thing you'll get for going the WFO route at LLNL and LANL is job insecurity. It's a fool's errand.

The reason that WFOs at both LLNL and LANL are largely done as a patchwork of smaller projects lead by independent PIs is because the Program Managers at these labs do very little to find and then grow the so-called "Big WFO Projects" that the lab upper management says they want. The labs have also placed a bloated, over-burdened cost structure onto WFOs that make them the most expensive labor you can do at these sites regardless of the facilities that might (or might not) be needed to carry out the WFO work. Both LLNL and LANL upper management are, in fact, promoting WFO failures!

SNL may grow or hold stable but LLNL and LANL are both destined to continue to shrink. Little will stop the current process under the "for-profit" LLCs that have taken hold of these two labs. As long as Bechtel can collect their $100 million per year profit fees, they'll be happy with the state of LLNL and LANL. They collect those fees in a manner that is largely irrelevant to the size of these labs. In fact, the smaller the labs and the less critical the work, the easier these two labs are to manage.

Sick? Yes, but that's the managerial system that has been put into practice at LLNL and LANL. It won't be changing anytime soon.




Anonymous said...


The reason that WFOs at both LLNL and LANL are largely done as a patchwork of smaller projects lead by independent PIs is because the Program Managers at these labs do very little to find and then grow the so-called "Big WFO Projects" that the lab upper management says they want. The labs have also placed a bloated, over-burdened cost structure onto WFOs that make them the most expensive labor you can do at these sites regardless of the facilities that might (or might not) be needed to carry out the WFO work.

Well said 4:37pm!

Not to mention the disapproval committees filled with clueless dolts where you have to explain every little detail to perform some of the requested work from the WFO sponsor. I've had WFO sponsors shake their head in disbelief at the idiocy and kneejerk policies of LLNL. "This is why we goto Sandia" they say.

Anonymous said...

Actually the WFO at Sandia is a joke. Several sponsors have gone to LBNL since they have more qualified people and even lower overhead costs.

Anonymous said...

The whole notion of a "sponsor" is ridiculous in this context, how did it come about that people toss this word around? A sponsor is a sugar daddy, someone who gives money to support something in return for not much, or for advertising.

Anonymous said...

< As long as Bechtel can collect their $100 million per year profit fees, they'll be happy with the state of LLNL and LANL. >

Bechtel is probably quite happy with a do nothing congress. If decisions really start to be made in Washington then labs shrink and fees drop. As long as the battle between the parties continues, it's party time at Bechtel HQ!!!!!

Political Deadlock is good for us all.

Anonymous said...

There is an interesting read available at

http://www.fire.pppl.gov/FY14_Budget_NNSA_ICF_IgnYld.pdf

It's the rather lengthy FY 2014 congressional budget overview from the NNSA for the "Inertial Confinement Fusion Ignition and High Yield Campaign". It's a summary of the expected work to be done mostly on NIF, Omega, and Z, into the future. One thing that stands out is the Advanced Ignition Demonstration Goal - by FY 2019 to "demonstrate an advanced ignition platform that meets the refined
requirements of the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP)". I'm assuming that this means get ignition by end of FY 2019.

It's clear from the document, that despite the large budget drops in FY14 and FY15 across the ICF/HED programs, NIF will still be central to Weapons Physics work.

I also find it interesting that for FY 2015 and beyond, it is expected that NIF will "demonstrate operation of the Advanced Radiographic Capability
(ARC) at NIF, and engineer a polar-drive target insertion cryostat for the NIF", and demonstrate the "development of the fourth-harmonic probe beam and the Compton
gamma spectrometer on NIF".

Anonymous said...

The document assumes that ignition and even high yield will be achieved. I find it funny that even with those assumptions the budget decreases every year.

The document writers also shuts out the scientific community from using Z and NIF. That's a big loser.

Anonymous said...

This is all Don Cook and SNL laying the groundwork for a "super-Z" machine, probably at NTS.

Anonymous said...

This is all Don Cook and SNL laying the groundwork for a "super-Z" machine, probably at NTS.

Anonymous said...

Siting or moving anything to NTS is the kiss of death. Examples galore.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
There is an interesting read available at

http://www.fire.pppl.gov/FY14_Budget_NNSA_ICF_IgnYld.pdf

Almost reads like the numbers were put in place after the text was written. And note this gem, "The FY 2014 Request reduces the level of facility operations at the NIF in the ICF campaign and eliminates support for conduct of experiments by external users at NIF and Z. External users of the major HED facilities will now be directly charged for experimental time." That basically means, there will be no external users at all, since no one can afford the true costs involved.

Anonymous said...

An academic user facility without subsidies for the users is the kiss of death for a facility like NIF. This is a pre-meditated assault against NIF. Someone there must have really pissed off the sponsors badly.

Anonymous said...

It also kicks out one of the original tripod legs of the NIF - "Weapons", "Ignition" and "Science". Ignition is a waste of taxpayer money at the proposed funding level, and it needs a lot more money (not less) if it is going to succeed. With no subsidies for Science, there will be no Science. And so NIF becomes the Weapons machine that the weapons physics people never wanted in the first place.

Anonymous said...

What weapons work?

The B83 is going to be retired. There has been talk of removing one of the legs of the triad, probably silo launched missiles (W87, W78). Also, RRW was cancelled.

Where is this future of weapons work?

December 10, 2013 at 3:43 PM

No worries, Bret Knapp will steal the W76/W88/W78/B61 from Los Alamos now that he returned. Also, he deliberately installed "weak" management (e.g. Craig Leasure, John Benner, etc.) at Los Alamos that roll over and die when Knapp tells them to.

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