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Thursday, January 30, 2014

What may have happened to Parney

DOE released the annual performance evaluation on LLNL this week. On the last page is some insight into what may have happened to Parney. "NNSA has concerns regarding several management issues at LLNL. On several occasions LLNL management engaged Congress contrary to stated NNSA strategy or in open opposition to that strategy. There were also a number of issues related to a lack of transparency of operations and program management decisions regarding the ICF program. NNSA and LLNL worked for several months to meet budget challenges requiring the reprogramming of funds to alleviate impacts due to the ICF program rate changes. NIF operating costs and assumptions were not transparent or well communicated to the NNSA Program Office, which made it more difficult to understand programmatic tradeoffs with FY13 budget pressures. NNSA raised concerns regarding the ICF spend rate that resulted in an extremely low level of carryover late in the fiscal year. NIF management also expended considerable facility time and resources on two facility activities (AMP 3 and ARC) despite input from the NNSA program office that these efforts were of a lower priority. Communications with external stakeholders was a continuing issue. LLNL mismanaged external communications in several instances regarding ICF activities and budgets. LLNL attempted to mitigate some of these issues and improve communication with NNSA by making some mid-year organizational changes, and improvements were noted. Additionally, LLNL made changes to its senior management team (key personnel) as coordinated with NNSA leadership to improve performance in this area." http://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/default/files/nnsa/01-14-inlinefiles/Livermore%20COR-CB-12%2024%202013-554192_OUTGOING_Performance_Incentives_Performance_Evaluation_Report_for_FY20131.pdf

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, is about all I can say. Pretty damning.

Anonymous said...

Funny, that didn't mention the 14 kJ NIF shot that will likely be a groundbreaking Nature article. Maybe NNSA doesn't care what the distinguished members at the lab are doing to achieve fusion.

Anonymous said...


Ya well they sure as hell where pushing NIF at all costs. It makes you think that over last few years some of those "all things NIF are corrupt" posts on this blog may have been right all along.

Anonymous said...

Ya well they sure as hell where pushing NIF at all costs.

January 30, 2014 at 7:02 PM

"Ya" instead of "yeah" (a dead giveaway) plus "where" instead of "were." Fess up - you are POS!

Anonymous said...

They got rid of the obvious target in NIF, but they left some of the key puppeteers in place. It is a cultural problem, goes way deeper than the one guy everyone loves to hate.

Anonymous said...

In FY 2013 LLNS Performance Evaluation Report dated November 22, 2013, page 23 the last sentence of the top paragraph states, "The Lab also responded appropriately to several lower level incidents at the HEAF facility and to other individuals engaging in misconduct". Without mentioning names, does anyone have further detail regarding each "lower level incident" and "individuals engaging in misconduct"?

Anonymous said...

As its name suggests the High Explosives Applications Facility (HEAF), does research on high explosives. I would guess that the incidents involved violations in safety protocols (e.g., going over the weight limit for storage of explosives in a particular cabinet or room).

Anonymous said...

That might explain the HEAF "lower level incident" part, but not necessarily the "individuals engaging in misconduct" part. Incidents or violations in facility protocol and willful misconduct can have different meanings.

Anonymous said...

'On several occasions LLNL management engaged Congress contrary to stated NNSA strategy or in open opposition to that strategy.'

What irony. According to this, the main reason for the low annual evaluation score and the loss of the contract extension (and presumably for the subsequent departure of Parney) was that the Lab management engaged Congress. Parney was hired, in large part, because of his proven history of 'engaging Congress'. Furthermore, there are many examples of former Lab Directors that did not agree with NNSA (or its predecessor agencies) and expressed their views to Congress. What irony.

Anonymous said...

Related to the "lower level incidents" involving HEAF, check out a newer thread with an IG report on some explosives work done for a National Geographic documentary.

Anonymous said...

NNSA is a piece of shit. Following them courts mission failure. The trick is to lie to them and to do what you need to meet the mission.

Tyler Przbylek should be made head of NNSA. Thus begins the self-destruct sequence...

So Bodman's idea of reining in the labs works. Now NNSA runs weapons science. Lookout world. NNSA is fucked... across the board incompetent. Mission selection, execution, evaluation. alll hopeless.

Anonymous said...

Weapons science is hopelessly underfunded and mismanaged.

Kill the messenger.

Anonymous said...

"...Weapons science is hopelessly underfunded and mismanaged..."

Is it true HEAF has an acting "Facility Manager" with the academic credentials of a security guard?

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/10/f3/INS-O-13-06.pdf

Anonymous said...

Look up the job responsibilities of a facility manager before you go PMS. Think

Anonymous said...

"...Look up the job responsibilities of a facility manager before you go PMS. Think..."

I guess the truth hurts. Written job "responsibilities" and expectations vs. FM performance and deliverables do not necessarily equate. Think.


Anonymous said...

"The trick is to lie to them and to do what you need to meet the mission." Oh that's gonna work well, rogue scientists at the national laboratories decide what is and is not their mission, and lie and flaunt rules to do what they think is best. That attitude got us LLNS and LANS, and it could get much, much worse - well beyond directors, ADs and their underlings getting canned, which has already been happening.

Anonymous said...

"..."The trick is to lie to them and to do what you need to meet the mission." Oh that's gonna work well, rogue scientists at the national laboratories decide what is and is not their mission, and lie and flaunt rules to do what they think is best. That attitude got us LLNS and LANS, and it could get much, much worse - well beyond directors, ADs and their underlings getting canned, which has already been happening..."

There are plenty of non-scientist rogue managers at LLNS that pick and choose what rules they wish to follow. Sometimes they get caught and sometimes they get away with it. If challenged, it usually takes a set of complicit managers to be successful outside the rules.

Anonymous said...

"Oh that's gonna work well, rogue scientists at the national laboratories decide what is and is not their mission, and lie and flaunt rules to do what they think is best."
February 8, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Oh heck, I thought you were going to continue telling us about the foundation of LLNL.

Anonymous said...

LLNS needs a "Tiger Team" like reset.

Anonymous said...

An observation of a fellow LLNS manager being jailed will cause an "I found Jesus" moment right quick.

Anonymous said...

An observation of a fellow LLNS manager being jailed will cause an "I found Jesus" moment right quick.

February 8, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Yeah, and a golden egg dropping on the head of a goose farmer in Michigan will have everybody buying geese right quick.

Anonymous said...

"...Yeah, and a golden egg dropping on the head of a goose farmer in Michigan will have everybody buying geese right quick..."

I guess you don't remember the "Tiger Team" efforts of the early 90s. There were eggs dropping around the complex back then but they weren't golden. Employees at some of these sites were prosecuted for environmental violations. A renewed and serious concern for the environment followed and contractors across the complex DID "find Jesus" or "enlightenment" right quick.

Anonymous said...

I remember the tiger teams too. They served a purpose and got a safety-first culture going that did not exist before. But the managers took it too far, and played "gotcha" games to earn points for appearing to be crazy about safety, to the exclusion of getting work done. Miller epitomized that, crying on stage about the topic. And every brown-nosed manager who wanted to climb higher suddenly found the safety Jesus, or fell off the ladder. It no longer mattered if it made sense, the appearance of being crazy about safety was all that mattered.

Anonymous said...

The Tiger Teams are a flawed analogy at best when discussing the prospect of legally culpable LLNS managers going to jail. It is very obvious to all managers which ones are in violation of the law. Misdeeds at that level cannot be hidden from your peers. If someone is actually prosecuted and convicted (vanishingly small probability) then the innocent managers will have no reason to fear. With the Tiger Teams, all managers were in jeopardy of losing their jobs if they didn't "get on the bus." They were presumed guilty until proven innocent, which is DOE/NNSA's preferred way of doing business. Of course, you will disagree if you are one of the ones who believe there are no innocent managers.

Anonymous said...

Yes the Tiger Team pendulum swung far. There are innocent and sincere managers and many with leadership qualities. The rough spectrum of innocence to guilty goes something like this in my view:

1. innocent through career or a new hire
2. heard of the situation but a step removed from it
3. directly aware situation but not contributing
4. enabling situation to continue
(3 and 4 are slivers apart)
5. directly involved or complicit with situation
via an overlapping process or responsibility
6. directly involved and the source of the conduct
7. threatening coworkers or subordinates to hide
conduct

Anonymous said...

Some LLNS managers are just not "prime time" material. Instead of addressing this fact, uninvolved managers get sucked into the vortex and end up circling the wagons due to peer pressure or career reasons.

Anonymous said...

Having been a mid-level manager at the lab, I can say that the average manager is much more concerned, even fearful, of losing his job than the average non-management employee. The charge of being an ineffective manager is much easier to level against someone, and much harder to defend against, then the charge of being an ineffective scientist. The former is almost entirely opinion-based, while the latter is almost entirely fact-based.

Anonymous said...

"...Having been a mid-level manager at the lab, I can say that the average manager is much more concerned, even fearful, of losing his job than the average non-management employee. The charge of being an ineffective manager is much easier to level against someone, and much harder to defend against, then the charge of being an ineffective scientist. The former is almost entirely opinion-based, while the latter is almost entirely fact-based..."

An "ineffective manager" is based on ones point of reference. Please define effective and ineffective managers.

If the bar is set so high for managers and "less than factual" charges against managers will endanger their jobs, why don't we see more managers pop in and out of existence at LLNS? For most managers the worse they can expect is a lateral move with their salary intact. I'm not sure your observation is as grave as you make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

An "ineffective manager" is based on ones point of reference. Please define effective and ineffective managers.

February 11, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Exactly my point. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Low-level managers may be normal reasonable people, but it has always seemed to me that as you go up the chain you are left with people who increasingly only exist to please their own managers, with the exception of the occasional hard-charging maverick. It takes a certain personality type to want to go there, and that personality type will of course worry mostly about how they are perceived by their managers. Become perceived as someone who is not 100% behind the bigger manager, and you get left behind, which is the worst possible thing for that personality type.

Anonymous said...


"Effective manager" defined:

Answer 1. "...Exactly my point. Thank you..."

Very funny but dodges the question


Answer 2. "... Become perceived as someone who is
not 100% behind the bigger manager, and
you get left behind, which is the worst
possible thing for that personality type..."

Bingo! We have a winner!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that's *ineffective manager* defined (in the eyes of other managers, which is all that counts to a manager who wants to keep his job. You may like to have the opposite as a manager, but that won't last for long.

Anonymous said...

"...Sorry, that's *ineffective manager* defined (in the eyes of other managers, which is all that counts to a manager who wants to keep his job. You may like to have the opposite as a manager, but that won't last for long..."

You have just defined a "Borg" manager that cares not about employees or written policy. His only concern is protecting the "hive" management structure. This is why LLNS needs a "directive" reset.

Anonymous said...

".. This is why LLNS needs a "directive" reset...."

"Directive reset" meaning managers swiftly and publicly bounced out of their managerial functions and into "low impact" assignments or fired.

Anonymous said...

"Directive reset" meaning managers swiftly and publicly bounced out of their managerial functions and into "low impact" assignments or fired.

February 12, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Yeah, that'll happen. Just who will do the "bouncing"?? I bet it will happen sooner if you hold your breath. Or stand on one leg. Or just keep saying "LaLaLaLaLaLa..." Any one of those should work like a charm.

Anonymous said...

There was no mention of the probability of "bouncing" occurring, only that it is needed. Don't worry, your cushy management job is safe. Don't be alarmed or flustered.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, your cushy management job is safe. Don't be alarmed or flustered.

February 12, 2014 at 7:39 PM

Oh, I'm not a manager, far from it. I was just chuckling in amazement about your juvenile fantasy. It is very interesting that for all the employee-vs-management whining that goes on on this blog, no one ever proposes any kind of solution other than continued, ever increasing acrimony. Don't you guys ever actually talk to your supervisors/managers, in a professional, courteous manner seeking mutual benefit? No? Must suck to be in that kind of a job. I happen to think that the absolute best job to have is one where everyone, employees and management, works willingly and diligently to support the goals of the organization, knowing that that is the road to career fulfillment and success. If you can't bring yourself to do that, or if that isn't your idea of success, why do you stay in a job where you so obviously do not fit? Why keep up this giant self-deception that the employees should be the ones to determine the goals of the organization? Don't the windmills in your neighborhood have enough tilt-marks in them?

Anonymous said...

Well it's about empowerment, isn't it? It's hard to work willingly and dilligently to support the goals of the organization if you have no input into those goals. Good managers make sure their people feel like a team, and if that team is a bunch of smart highly educated people, that means listening to them and treating their opinions as valuable for helping determine the goals of the organization. Instead, many treat management as an exclusive club with closed doors and soundproof walls.

Anonymous said...

"...I happen to think that the absolute best job to have is one where everyone, employees and management, works willingly and diligently to support the goals of the organization, knowing that that is the road to career fulfillment and success..."

You are a little naive but have the right concept. As 2-13-14 5:19am said, there is no such manager employee unified goal. It is an exclusive club. Employees are not included as you dream of but perhaps your dream will yield an A grade in your next High School economics essay.

Anonymous said...

there is no such manager employee unified goal.

February 13, 2014 at 7:32 AM

I never said there was. I talked about unified *effort* towards the goals of the institution. The naive idea is to think that those goals must necessarily be ones you agree with. If they are, fine. If they aren't, then you have some decisions to make. Is it better for you to be unhappy and therefore lose the opportunity for fulfillment and success, or is it better for you to seek employment somewhere that can happen?

Anonymous said...

No one here has said employer goals must meet the exclusive approval of one "worker bee" employee. Where did this idea come from? This is a gross exaggeration. Advertise "open communications" but when load tested it is "our way or the highway"? This is your leadership grand plan?

Anonymous said...

Goals will meet with the approval of some employees, and the disapproval of others, no matter their specifics. That's real life. If you don't respond by considering yourself a "company of one" whose best interests must come first, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you grew up without having had firmly implanted in your mind the difference between a "boss" and a "worker" your early education was deficient.

Anonymous said...

Again another response out of context. You are offering no new information. Boring. Zzzzzz.

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