BLOG purpose

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

Friday, June 28, 2013

Safety in natural disasters

Another IG report on LANL, this one on facilities safety in natural disasters

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/06/f2/OAS-M-13-04.pdf

With all the attention that this topic gets, you might think that after awhile it would get resolved.

Maybe it slipped through the cracks while attention was focused on other, more urgent issues.

Taking another shot at cutting nukes

Taking another shot at cutting nukes

President Obama wants the number of deployed U.S. strategic nuclear warheads reduced from the 1,550 limit set by the 2010 treaty with Russia to closer to 1,000, depending on an agreement with that country.

In a June 19 speech in Berlin, Obama said: “After a comprehensive review, I’ve determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third. And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.”

That review of the Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy was only the third such study since the end of the Cold War. Led by the Defense Department, it included representatives from the departments of State and Energy (which builds the weapons), plus the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Council.
It led to a new presidential nuclear employment guidance under which the Strategic Command sets contingency nuclear targeting plans for the U.S. triad of delivery systems: strategic bombers, along with land-based and sub-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

In a report released June 12, Defense stated that the 2018 levels specified in the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty “are more than adequate for the United States to fulfill its national security objectives.” That left open the option of more cuts.
The president also wants to take some deployed ICBMs off constant alert. The White House, in a fact sheet released the day of the speech, said the president had directed the Defense Department “to examine and reduce the role of launch under attack [the phrase for constant alert] in contingency planning.”

Why? Because, as the White House said, “the potential for a surprise, disarming nuclear attack is exceedingly remote.” That’s because no country, including Russia, has the capability to knock out enough nuclear weapons to prevent the United States from responding with a more devastating nuclear counterattack to the enemy country.

For example, Russia or another country would have to have enough warheads to simultaneously hit all the nuclear-capable delivery systems allowed under the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that will be in effect after 2018. That means probably 420 land-based ICBMs, along with 60 nuclear-equipped bombers and 12 strategic submarines, at least eight of which would be out to sea.

The “first strike” attack theory — which never could have been carried out — caused the United States and the Soviet Union to build up to 10,000 strategic nuclear warheads each during the Cold War. That’s what both are now reducing.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/taking-another-shot-at-cutting-nukes/2013/06/26/6e041988-ddac-11e2-b797-cbd4cb13f9c6_story.html

Thursday, June 27, 2013

FY14 NNSA Budget: Scarce Resources Devoted to Nuclear Weapons

FY14 NNSA Budget: Scarce Resources Devoted to Nuclear Weapons

June 24, 2013

The president’s FY14 budget requests $11.65 billion for the NNSA, about $190 million more than the organization’s funding under the FY13 Continuing Resolution, and $650 million more than its FY12 appropriation. The requested increase comes in a year of tight budgets all around, where most governments programs face stagnant or declining budgets. Notably, for all federal programs, the administration’s request completely ignores the budget cuts mandated by the sequester. Unless Congress finds a different solution, the NNSA will have to cut about $600 million overall below the FY14 request.


Account FY12 FY13 FY14 Request Change %Change
FY13-14 FY13-14
NNSA Total 11 11.5 11.65 0.19 1.6
Weapons Activities 7.2 7.6 7.9 0.31 4.1
Defense 2.3 2.4 2.1 -0.27 -11.2
Nonproliferation

USD, in billions. Note, totals do not add exactly due to rounding.



As the table above illustrates, however, if the overall NNSA budget is funded at the requested level in FY14, it is programs to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons that would benefit from this increase. Nonproliferation programs—those that reduce the threat from the spread of nuclear weapons—would still see substantial cuts. The real reduction is even larger because two counterterrorism programs have been moved from Weapons Activities into this category. These programs add roughly $250 million to the total Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation budget. If these programs had not been added, the overall total would be down by $520 million in FY 2014, or 22%.
Funding for dismantlement programs—those that disassemble retired weapons and dispose of the resulting materials—would fall as well.
One bright spot in this picture, however, is that the cuts in nonproliferation programs do include a sizeable cut to the mixed oxide (MOX) fuel program, a dangerous and expensive method of disposing of surplus weapons plutonium. Funding for this program was cut by $118 million in the FY14 request, a reduction of nearly 30%, while the contractor provides updated cost estimates and the administration assesses alternative strategies for disposal.


http://allthingsnuclear.org/fy14-nnsa-budget-scarce-resources-devoted-to-nuclear-weapons/

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

To Senior Management:

Senior Management,

Direct or Indirect that is the question.

Being intelligent and part of senior management you likely already have a strong opinion however as a result of this comment perhaps a future pause or reflection could shape a future decision that otherwise would not.

The laboratory like the tide has shifted strategy over and over regarding the flow of costs toward or away from indirect (G&A and Site Support).

Currently it appears to those in the trenches the strategy is to move costs into indirect with the intention of better managing those resources.

I would like to bring to your attention an alternate thought from a time when the strategy tide was completely reversed.

When programs charge resources (labor and non-labor) directly the cost saving self-interest/motivation is high. For every dollar saved that specific program saves a dollar.
When programs charge resources (labor and non-labor) to indirect self-interest is the reverse. Spend every dollar since saving a dollar would only result in perhaps specific program savings of twenty five cents at best (if the stars, moon and sun align with a rate decrease after the miracle of no one else at the lab offsetting that savings).

Good intentions to manage better in my humble opinion are not as effective as making it in the self-interest of each PAD to realize cost savings.

I do understand that efficiencies can be realized with the synergy of combining like functions. Those opportunities should be a very clear and a large slam dunk to offset the hard results that naturally come from building self-interest in to the decision making process.

Thank you for your time,
Respectfully. A current and hopeful long term employee who loves working at the lab.

LLNL Director's update

LLNL Director's update of FY13, FY14 budget decisions
6/24/2013

This update comes at a time of evolutionary change for our Laboratory. We have experienced the departure this month of 399 employees through the Self-Select Voluntary Separation Program (SSVSP) and said farewell to many of our colleagues as they begin new experiences. Much has happened since my last update, and I want to thank you for your patience. I know this message is long in coming -- it was important to wait until I had accurate information to give you.

These past weeks, I have been working closely with Laboratory senior managers to pursue all available options to address the many challenges we have faced due to sequestration in FY13, as well as the proposed budget for FY14. Finding solutions that provided the least impact to employees has proved more complicated than anticipated...

While it has been difficult to adjust to the void left behind by our colleagues who participated in the SSVSP, its outcome will help right-size the Lab to meet the unfolding elements of the proposed FY14 budget and beyond. We must now look to ways to address the workload that had once been filled by those employees, while living with the reduced funding brought on by sequestration. We are in the process of identifying those areas and organizations that were significantly impacted by the SSVSP so that we can get back to a balanced level of service and a balanced workload for employees.

We are in the process of adjusting to a new budget reality for FY13 that is $100 million less than anticipated prior to sequestration, and have addressed this challenge through a number of adjustments and actions - including cost cutting in procurements, travel and overtime; reprogramming actions, staffing changes associated with the SSVSP and supplemental labor; and other actions.

Because of these actions and the follow-through commitment of the senior management team, I am announcing the cancellation of the Lab's salary reduction/closure day program. However, it is clear we cannot return to past spending practices. We must continue to manage this gap through actions such as those listed above.

Consistent with benefit plan needs, the Lab will make the $40 million employer contribution this fiscal year to the TCP1 pension plan, as originally planned. Participating employees will see their contributions increase from 5 percent to 7 percent as initially planned beginning July 1 (paycheck date of July 19). We believe these combined efforts will ensure our pension plan remains strong.

I understand these announcements answer many of your questions, but also raise a few more. I want to thank you for diligent efforts to stay focused, and I ask for your patience as we continue to align the Lab to its fiscal realities. As always, I promise to keep you informed as I receive additional details.

In the coming weeks and months, we will take some time to assess our workforce and reset expectations. Because external hiring will be restricted for the next 12 months to a ceiling established under the SSVSP, there will be challenges in redeploying staff to responsibly fill gaps created by the SSVSP. It is important that we have an open dialogue with our sponsors to adjust expectations resulting from lower budgets and staffing levels.

Because of the impacts on the workforce, and the potential for getting distracted by these larger issues as we carry out our work, it is essential that we carry out a period of "deliberate operations" -- providing additional direct and sustained management and employee attention on ensuring safe, secure and compliant mission performance. Remember, you are always encouraged to use the safety pause authority today and everyday when faced with a concern.

The missions this Lab performs are important to the nation. Despite the stresses the current budget environment puts on this Lab (and the larger national security enterprise) we will continue to innovate and do great things for the nation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reimagining the National Laboratories

Digital Journal
June 20, 2013

ITIF Report: Reimagining the National Laboratories

The Department of Energy's (DOE) National Laboratories System was created in the 1940s to develop the atomic bomb. From its national security origins, the Labs have become one of the centerpieces of the United States federal research enterprise, representing nearly $20 billion in annual public research dollars. However, as the pace of innovation has accelerated and the complexity of national challenges has increased, the national laboratory system has not kept stride. Significant reforms are required to better catalyze innovation and promote the 21st century economy.

To accomplish this goal, three think tanks, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Heritage Foundation, and the Center for American Progress (CAP), propose a set of nonpartisan policy proposals for reforming the national laboratories. Turning the Page: Re-imagining the National Labs in the 21st Century Innovation Economy makes a series of recommendations that if enacted will increase research flexibility, allow for greater cooperation between the labs and the private sector, and promote a more cohesive and efficient researchprogram within the Department of Energy.

"The national labs are a tremendous source of cutting-edge research and scientific talent, but their operations are still based on a decades-old management model that no longer meets the needs of our modern innovation ecosystem," notes Matthew Stepp, Senior Analyst with ITIF and lead author of the report. "This study presents a series of twelve proposals for Congress and the Administration that can ensure the labs better meet their mission and produce useful technologies that spur economic growth and create jobs."

While efforts to reform the lab system have become highly politicized, ITIF, Heritage, and CAP have been able to agree on common sense reforms for basic, good governance of the labs. As stated in the report, "These recommendations are as relevant to a large, highly-funded research agenda as they are to a much more limited one."

"A system that allows the market to pull technologies out of the federal research establishment rather than them being pushed into the market by Washington is the best way to get more successes like GPS and fewer failures like synfuels," adds Jack Spencer, a Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

"These pragmatic reforms won't cost the taxpayer anything, but will lead to better research, more innovation, and greater economic growth," says Sean Pool, a former policy analyst and managing editor of CAP's Science Progress program. "But pragmatic does not mean less bold.


I'm pleased that we were able to find consensus across ideological lines around a set of reforms that are both ambitious and practical."

The reforms presented fall into three main categories: (1) removing DOE micromanagement of lab decisions and replacing it with more robust contractor accountability; (2) reforming the DOE program offices to better coordinate lab stewardship, budgeting, and research; and (3) providing better incentives and flexibility for the labs, industry, and universities to move promising technologies to market.

"The national labs have been a tremendous driver of innovation and business development in the past," Stepp adds. "But the reforms we propose today are critical to the labs producing more economy-transforming research. If three ideologically diverse organizations can agree on these issues, surely Washington can as well."

Read the Report At

http://www2.itif.org/2013-turning-page-national-lab-innovation-economy.pdf

NNSA Outlines Price Tag Of '3+2' Vision For Future Of Nuclear Stockpile

NNSA Outlines Price Tag Of '3+2' Vision For Future Of Nuclear Stockpile
Weapons Complex Monitor
June 19, 2013

Implementing the Obama Administration’s “3+2” vision for the future of the nuclear stockpile could cost more than $65 billion through Fiscal Year 2038, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s recently released Fiscal Year 2014 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan. But while arms control experts have scoffed at the high price tag, the Administration says the approach is designed to save money in the long run. The “3+2” approach was approved late last year by the Nuclear Weapons Council and includes the production by FY 2038 of three interoperable ballistic missile warheads and two air-delivered systems: a nuclear capable cruise missile and the B61 gravity bomb. But only this week have the potential costs of the approach been broached publicly. On top of the NNSA’s estimated $8 billion price tag for the ongoing B61 refurbishment (other estimates suggest the cost could actually exceed $10 billion), the W78/W88-1 refurbishment could cost more than $14 billion. A second interoperable warhead projected to be the W87/W88 could cost more than $13 billion, and a third interoperable warhead involving the W76-1 could cost around $12 billion. A refurbished cruise missile warhead is estimated to cost close to $12 billion, and other refurbishment work on a follow-on B61 life extension program (which would start in FY 2033) as well as refurbishment work on the W88 to replace its neutron generator and ongoing work on the W76-1 contribute to the overall life extension costs.

The NNSA also emphasized that the costs are dependent on other efforts to modernize the weapons complex and maintain the nation’s nuclear know-how. “When fully implemented, the ‘3+2’ strategic vision will reduce stockpile maintenance costs while maintaining strategic flexibility and offering the potential to consider decreasing the size of the stockpile hedge without increasing the risk,” the NNSA said in the plan. In the near-term, the NNSA is planning to undertake refurbishment work on the W76-1, B61, W78/W88-1 interoperable warhead, cruise missile warhead, and the W88 ALT 370 over the next decade, beginning work on the cruise missile warhead refurbishment in FY 2015. “This very aggressive plan will place most of the nuclear weapons stockpile in some phase of life extension in the present decade,” the NNSA said. “This work is absolutely essential and must be accomplished while maintaining the stockpile and continuing stewardship-based surveillance.” The extent of the work on the NNSA’s plate, and the price tag, is likely to draw increased scrutiny from Congress, said Kingston Reif, the director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “The sticker shock is just incredible,” Reif said. “You have to look at this in the context of NNSA being unable to accurately project costs historically. If this is their opening bid and previous history is any indication, this could be two to three times the cost.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Layoffs?

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2013/jun/17/livermore-slashes-10-per-cent-of-workforce

Mixed Outlook for DOE

As Lawmakers Prepare to Work on Spending Bill, Mixed Outlook for DOE
Todd Jacobson
Weapons Complex Monitor
June 14, 2013

The funding picture for the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration will likely become a lot more clear over the next two weeks as the House and Senate Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittees mark up their versions of the Fiscal Year 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations Act. The House is set to go first, marking up its version of the bill on June 18, while the Senate is scheduled to write its bill the following week, on June 25. The results for DOE and NNSA programs are likely to be very different, DOE Budget Director Christopher Johns said this week, especially as the House E&W Appropriations Subcommittee wrangles with a tight allocation that could mean stiff cuts for some DOE and NNSA programs. “What we anticipate there is that it will be dramatically bad for the Department of Energy in that House mark, just because their funding level is so low,” DOE Budget Director Christopher Johns said at the Energy Facility Contractors Group annual meeting June 12. “It reflects not so much the view of the subcommittee we work with but rather the overall funding level.”

The House subcommittee’s $30.4 billion allocation is $2.9 billion below the panel’s presequester level from a year ago, and $700 million below the post-sequester level. In contrast, the Senate subcommittee’s allocation is believed to be several billion dollars higher, though the exact allocation has not been made public. Overall, there is a $91 billion difference between the top line spending numbers in the House and Senate, with the House setting its top line at $967 billion and the Senate setting its at $1.058 trillion. The Obama Administration requested $7.9 billion in FY 2014 for the NNSA’s weapons program, which was granted an anomaly in the current Continuing Resolution funding the government to spend $7.6 billion, and $1.8 billion for its nonproliferation work.

The higher Senate allocation is likely to offset the lower House allocation, and Johns cautioned contractors not to “overreact” to House funding levels because conference negotiations are likely to assuage the funding cuts. It’s likely, however, that the government is funded by a CR for at least part of FY 2014, Johns said. He also suggested that DOE could end up with an enacted budget level that also layers on sequestration cuts, leaving DOE with approximately $25 billion—about the same as FY 2013. Both scenarios would be difficult to deal with as the cumulative impact of the sequester takes its toll, Johns said. “We were able to sort of limp along in ‘13 using carryover balances, realigning money, this sort of thing,” he said. “A lot of that flexibility we’re sort of losing as we move along. We’ll have less ability to manage to that kind of funding level in ‘14. We’re actually managing to a higher funding level in ‘13 due to the carryover and the reprogrammings, but we can’t do that forever.”

Johns said the impact of the sequester hasn’t been as bad as many believed because the Department was able to defer or delay some projects in the hope that the funding picture could improve in future years. “What we’ve found so far is through realigning dollars and through slower spending earlier in the year there have been definite impacts on contractors and on individual employees but it hasn’t been the dramatic first-year impact that we thought might happen,” he said. While the funding cuts may not be deeper in FY 2014, the impact might be, Johns said. “It’s been a little difficult to articulate where the sky-is-falling kinds of problems are this year but it may not get better next year if the budget position doesn’t improve,” he said.

Former Top DOE Intelligence Official to Serve as ‘Interim’ Administrator

Former Top DOE Intelligence Official to Serve as ‘Interim’ Administrator
Weapons Complex Monitor
June 14, 2013
Todd Jacobson

Bruce Held, the former director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, is expected to be tapped to serve as the “interim” administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration when acting NNSA chief Neile Miller leaves the agency at the end of the month, NW&M Monitor has learned. Held would bridge the gap between Miller’s departure and the nomination and confirmation of a permanent NNSA administrator, which Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz said this week is not likely to occur until the end of the summer. Held is not a candidate to become the permanent NNSA administrator, which is believed to be narrowed down to former Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore Director Mike Anastasio, current Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon, and former Air Force Global Strike Command chief Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz.

When Miller announced last month that she was leaving the NNSA—first on June 14, and later revised to June 28-she said in a message to employees that Defense Programs chief Don Cook would serve as the acting NNSA administrator. It’s unclear why Moniz chose to take a different route.

Held returned to Forrestal as the Department’s associate deputy secretary after Moniz was confirmed by the Senate, taking a position that would allow him to transition to lead NNSA. Officials with knowledge of the Department’s plans told NW&M Monitor that President Obama first had to authorize Held to serve as the “interim” administrator, a process that could take several more weeks to complete. In a statement to DOE employees this week announcing Held’s return to the Department in the associate deputy secretary role, Moniz said Held would “help out on a number of issues, ranging from cyber security and nuclear security to management performance, and we know we will benefit from his sage counsel in his new position.” Moniz also said that Held’s “invaluable experience as a strong leader, an exceptional manager, and an expert on national security issues will be critical to the Department as we move forward to meet the challenges before us.” Held left the Department in December after serving as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. Previously, he was the chief of Counterintelligence at Sandia National Laboratories, and served as a clandestine operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency in Asia, Latin America and Africa. He was also a special assistant to Clinton Administration National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and a special assistant to former CIA Director George Tenet.

Amid speculation about the likely next NNSA administrator, Moniz told reporters on the sidelines of a House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing that the White House was currently vetting choices for a host of DOE positions. “I’m hoping that you’ll start to see nominations come later in the summer, certainly early September, but I hope this summer we’ll see some of those coming out,” Moniz said. “I have a number who have now started the process. But I do want to add, as you know, we must have close to 10 Senate confirmed positions that we need to have up for nomination and hopefully confirmation, but of course we are also building all of the senior advisor staff.” In addition to Held, Moniz said energy policy expert Melanie Kenderline and investment banker John McWilliams had also been brought into the Department as senior advisors. “These are highly accomplished people,” Moniz said. “Dan Poneman and I aren’t home alone entirely.”

Lab Employees Opt for Early Retirement

The Independent
June 13, 2013
Lab Employees Opt for Early Retirement

A total of 399 employees are leaving the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. They opted to participate in the Lab's voluntary separation program.

Their last full day at work was June 12.

Up to 600 employees would have been allowed to take part.

With the exit of 399 employees, the Lab's work force dropped from 6200 to 5800.

No specific jobs were targeted for elimination. All career employees were eligible to apply for the voluntary reduction program. Those who applied had until last Monday to rescind the decision.

Lab spokesperson Lynda Seaver said whether or not further reductions will be determined once the fiscal numbers for 2014 are known.

The draft budget reduces funding for the Lab by $100 million, about an eight percent reduction. Seaver said the debate is still going on as to specific cuts. However, NIF is one of the programs that will face reduced funding.

Once the Lab receives its final 2014 budget, it will reassess its situation, Seaver says.

In the press release announcing the voluntary separation program, Lab Director Parney Albright stated, "Although there remain a number of unknowns about how the budget request for FY14 would flow down to our Laboratory, it is clear the budget proposal will face an uphill battle in Congress this summer, with continuing debates about reducing federal spending, a possible FY14 sequester and the debt ceiling."

Following completion of the voluntary reduction process, the Lab will examine the skills of its remaining workforce and balance that against funding for 2014.

The Lab is still faced with challenges with regard to the 2013 budget. Funding was reduced 10 percent by sequestration.

Seaver said that the payroll could be reduced by 10 percent by giving employees every other Friday off. The every-other-Friday furlough days are paid like holidays, at the reduced rate.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Davis-Bacon Act problem

Does anyone have any information on the Davis-Bacon Act problem LLNS is facing?
I heard a rumor it could be big, bigger than the retiree lawsuit.

Which Davis?

Jay Davis said:

I noticed an August 2nd entry that needs correction on the record.  I did many things for the Lab in my 31 years there, RTNS-II, CAMS, heading the Woodruff Grievance Panel, and service in Iraq and at DTRA. However, I had nothing to do with the departure of Moses and his coterie fifteen years go.  If that was done by a Davis, it must have been Jim Davis, who had been their supervisor for over a decade and who presumably had the information and leverage to make that possible.  I did work with that group for 17 months on AVLIS in the 82'-84' period and found it a searing and shattering experience, both personally and professionally -- and I am not a delicate flower.  I fortunately have never experienced such personalities or behaviors since.  Unlike many, I was able to rehabilitate myself within the Laboratory, for which I am eternally grateful to John Nuckolls.  As CAMS was the result, I suppose it came out all right in the end.  CAMS is today and may well remain the Lab's most productive and valuable user facility.

There are erie parallels between NIF and AVLIS.  Both demonstrate supberb engineering design and execution, negligible cost control or strategic management of resources, and inadequate physics to accomplish the intended mission.  If it turns out that the fiscal and intellectual resources squandered on the laughable pursuit of LIFE could have provided the diagnostic set required for a mature and informed ignition campaign, the Laboratory and its overseers will have to answer some very hard questions in the difficult months ahead.

Lots of explaining

Secretary Chu's departing note was certainly worthy of the great line from Amadeus, "Too Many Notes."   It was exceptional in the failure to mention national security, NNSA, weapons, arms control, terrorism, intelligence, or nuclear forensics.  one guesses that he failed to visit those offices in four years as he played VC with taxpayer funds.

Chu leaves town with the the can of Solyndra tied to his tail, perhaps unjustly.  The White House minders may own that one.

However, he has failed to take the hit for far larger offense.  After Fukushima, he did not protest the White House action that locked up all the data and projections available from NARAC at LLNL.  In consequence, both the Japanese government and the American public were denied informatkon that would have been operationally useful to the Japanese and publicly reassuring to our citizens.  In no previous major radiological incident, Chernobyl or the Japanese fuel fab criticality accident of the late 90s, has such censorship been seen.  That the bill-paying the Congress did not notice this event is astonishing.  The US nuclear power industry was so upset and offended at this lack of public support that they ramped up their own monitoring and made plots of incomoimg radiation levels over the US available.  Perhaps there will be time to look into this when a successor is nominated -- and to call Chu back to explain.

Friday, June 14, 2013

NNSA Head computer account hacked!

NNSA Head computer account hacked!

From The Smoking Gun:

The Obama administration official who heads the agency responsible for maintaining the country’s nuclear stockpile as well as securing “loose nukes” worldwide is the latest victim of “Guccifer.”

Neile Miller, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently had her Facebook account breached by the notorious hacker, who also apparently illegally accessed one of Miller’s personal e-mail accounts.

In 2010, Obama nominated Miller, 55, for the principal deputy administrator’s post at NNSA (she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in August 2010). Following the departure of the agency’s administrator in January, Miller stepped up into the post of acting administrator.

Miller, who has top secret security clearances, runs an agency with a broad portfolio of nuclear-related responsibilities, including managing and securing the nation’s nuclear weapons and keeping weapons of mass destruction “out of the hands of state and non-state actors.” The NNSA has a $12 billion annual budget, 2500 employees, and 35,000 other contract workers.

Based on screen grabs sent to TSG by “Guccifer,” it does not appear that the hacker accessed any confidential or sensitive material from Miller’s accounts. Though the online outlaw did make sure to swipe photos of Miller with Obama at a White House meeting last year and--as seen above--a shot of her posing at the president’s right shoulder in the Oval Office. The hacker added the oval “Guccifer” logo to the photo.

Through an NNSA spokesperson, Miller--who last month announced that she was leaving her government post effective June 14--declined to comment beyond noting that “these were personal accounts and no classified information was accessed.”

While it is unclear how Miller was hacked, she was likely an attractive target for “Guccifer” due to her governmental position. The hacker has recently broken into the personal e-mail account of the Obama administration official who heads the National Intelligence Council and the appointee who runs the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Several months into an online strafing campaign, “Guccifer” appears unconcerned about the law enforcement effort to capture him/her/them. “My end is far,” the hacker noted in an e-mail “Remember this is another chapter of the game.”

Pentagon Could Be Best Place For NNSA Autonomy

Weapons Complex Monitor
June 12, 2013
Kyl Suggests Pentagon Could Be Best Place For NNSA Autonomy

Former Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, who retired from the Senate earlier this year, suggested yesterday that the National Nuclear Security Administration needs more autonomy to better do its job, and he argued that freedom could come by shifting NNSA under the Pentagon. Before he left the Senate, Kyl helped author legislation that created a 12-member NNSA governance panel that will make recommendations about the future of the agency, and after a speech at the Capitol Hill Club yesterday, Kyl said he believed it would be better if the NNSA could regain the autonomy that lawmakers initially intended for the agency when it was created more than a decade ago, but he said he doubted that could happen. “If you could get the leadership of DOE or the Administration straightened out as to the original intent, which was to have a truly independent entity, theoretically it could still work in DOE, but absent that I think it would be better probably as a part of DoD,” Kyl told NW&M Monitor.

During a question-and-answer session after his speech, Kyl also emphasized that the panel would have to wrestle with the appropriate place in Congress for oversight of the agency as well. “Over the last dozen or so years the problems with this setup as well as the problems within both the House and Senate appropriations committees have just decimated the program,” Kyl said. “When one chairman of the appropriations committee, who has some conflicts of interest because they’ve got some water projects to fund, can make the difference here, something is clearly wrong,” Kyl said.

LANL subject to another IG report

LANL subject to another IG report


INSPECTION REPORT: DOE/IG-0889

June 7, 2013

Concerns with Consulting Contract Administration at Various Department Sites

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) requested that we conduct a review to determine whether a consulting agreement awarded to Heather Wilson and Company, LLC (HWC), by Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos) was appropriately administered and managed. Specifically, we were asked to determine whether: (1) work products (deliverables) were produced in return for monthly payments to HWC of $10,000; (2) invoices included itemized charges, as required by the agreement; (3) there was overlap between the services provided and work products produced by HWC on consulting agreements awarded by Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Nevada National Security Site; and (4) an NNSA Contracting Officer was subjected to "pressure" when Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the Management and Operating contractor for Los Alamos, requested authorization to enter into an agreement with HWC.

Our inspection identified serious concerns with the administration and management of agreements with HWC for advice and consultation provided to senior managers at four Department contractor-operated sites. Specifically, our testing revealed that the four facility contractors paid approximately $450,000 to HWC even though they did not receive evidence that work performed under the agreements had been completed. These payments were fully reimbursed by the Government.

The issues identified in this report occurred because contractor officials responsible for crafting and administering the consulting agreements either did not incorporate, or failed to enforce, the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation into the agreements with HWC. Management generally agreed with our findings and recommendations and indicated it was in the process of implementing or completing corrective actions. Management indicated that the Department has already recovered $442,877 from its contractors of the approximately $464,203 paid to HWC, and is reviewing the allowability of the additional amounts.

Saving the ozone layer

We have a couple of great new posts: Kennette Benedict reviews the pro-nuclear power documentary "Pandora's Promise," pointing out the problem of "solutionism" presented in the film; Donald Wuebbles explains the science of why an agreement to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) might really help slow climate change. I hope you find them of interest.
Best,

--
Janice Sinclaire
Internet Outreach Coordinator

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Status on furloughs?


With the "success" of the SSVSP has anybody heard the status of furloughs or changes to the AWS program?
  Anonymous responded:.

Furloughs are coming, AWS is not going to happen and 7% contribution are on.

Layoffs Then and Now

Jeff Colvin’s excellent perspectives on “Layoffs Then and Now” at LLNL can be found in our monthly memo for May at http://www.upte.org/spse/201305MM.pdf.

Also, we invite you to the latest in our noontime talk series:

Ending an Era By Growing Your Take Home Pay

A Panel Discussion Including:       

Bill Smith, SPSE-UPTE Secretary
Jeff Colvin, SPSE-UPTE Legislative Director
Kevin Aguilar, SPSE-UPTE Chief Bargainer
Steve Balke, UPTE Executive Board Representative
Jim Wolford, SPSE-UPTE Chief Steward

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Building 543, Auditorium Room 1001
Noon to 1:00 p.m.

Please feel free to contact us.

Thank you,

Riki Gay, President (outgoing)
SPSE-UPTE Local 11
spse@spse.org

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What a waste!

Tax dollars gone to waste for the "chili cookoff"

http://www.sandia.gov/LabNews/100730.html

Rumor has it this project didn't amount to anything after 3 years.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lab directors at ORNL

Knoxville News Sentinel
June 1, 2013

Lab directors coming to ORNL
Monday's a big day at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with the planned visits by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman and national lab directors from around the country.

Here is the list of national lab directors who are expected to attend the meeting:
• Tom Lograsso, interim director of Ames National Laboratory
• Eric Isaacs, director of Argonne National Laboratory
• Doon Gibbs, director of Brookhaven National Laboratory
• Young-Kee Kim, deputy director, Fermi National Acclerator Laboratory
• John Grossenbacher, director of Idaho National Laboratory
• Robert McKeown, deputy director of Jefferson Laboratory
• Charlie McMillan, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory
• Paul Alivisatos, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
• Parney Albright, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
• Anthony Cugini, director of National Energy Technology Laboratory
• Dan Arivzu, director of National Renewable Energy Laboratory
• Mike Kluse, director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
• Stewart Prager, director of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
• Chi-Chang Kao, director of SLAC National Accelerator Labroatory
• Paul Hommert, director of Sandia National Laboratories
• Terry Michalske, director of Savannah River National Laboratory
• Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

On another subject: grade retention


from Allison Morris:

This is an interactive flowchart that I helped create aimed to address the topic of grade retention and when it might be necessary to consider having a student repeat a grade.

http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/holding-them-back/

Sunday, June 2, 2013

National Ignition Facility faces an uncertain future

National Ignition Facility faces an uncertain future

As its budget declines, Lawrence Livermore’s $3.5 billion laser fusion facility is refocusing on experiments in support of nuclear weapons science.

David Kramer
Citation: Phys. Today 66(6), 20 (2013); doi: 10.1063/PT.3.2006
View online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.2006
View Table of Contents: http://www.physicstoday.org/resource/1/PHTOAD/v66/i6
Published by the American Institute of Physics.

You need to have a subscription to the journal to access this. But you can read about some of the "planetary science" experiments that are under threat of getting the axe.

A brief snipet:

In addition to its ignition efforts, NIF contributes to the scientific underpinnings, largely through equation-of-state experiments, of nuclear weapons.


Be prepared to see topics about SNM EoS shots on NIF brought up again. You have to ask yourself how you support these experiments when you can't even do "simple" materials and fluids.

Another look at overblown NNSA budgets

Another look at overblown NNSA budgets

In case anyone had any remaining doubts about how far cost estimates for major projects have missed the mark, this story sums it up.
http://www.nukesofhazardblog.com/story/2013/5/31/224926/743

Who is next?

Could California be far behind?

Illinois has all but said that it will default on the state's pension plans. Which states are next?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/01/us-usa-illinois-pensions-idUSBRE95002E20130601

Blog Archive