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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Too many chiefs?

What is the mission value added to have a LLNS engineering Senior Superintendent, chief electronics engineer, or chief mechanical engineer?
July 23, 2014 at 4:33 PM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question.

And how about the Chief Engineers for each and every one of the GS divisions.
July 23, 2014 at 11:59 PM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
These highly compensated managers, shielded from reorganization in any negative way, do provide power point salary presentations for engineering once a year.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

This allows an AD to have a technical discussion without having to resort to mingling with the masses.

Anonymous said...

"...This allows an AD to have a technical discussion without having to resort to mingling with the masses..."

Not necessarily a successful leadership strategy.

Anonymous said...

We have a Chief Engineer at LANL TA-55 who's only job is to intimidate the staff and protect the management (positions and salaries). This place is the most corrupt organization I have ever worked for.

Anonymous said...

There are many ways to divide the technical, management, safety and operational responsibilities and history and customs of a multidiscplinary, 3000-person organization. Theorists call this subject area Organization Design.

The questions posted regarding the roles of personnel within an organization must be examined in light of the design strategy, which is too large a topic to cover in 500 words in a blog.

Briefly the superintendent has responsibility for technical (300, 400 series) personnel, approximately 1000 - 1500 people. This includes roles, leadership, hiring, personnel policies, safety practices and training. Policies are implemented and tracked through division supervisors, supervisors etc.

The chief engineers have delegated roles by the Engineering AD, who is responsible for all engineering, safety and operation aspects of engineering practices at the lab. Some aspects of this responsibility is delegated or shared, by agreement as with engineering practices that are shared with programs.

In the design, the chief engineers first have personal technical expertise in the two largest,most important and wide spread engineering disciplines at the lab, mechanical and electrical. This expertise and knowledge of the discipline, history, requirements, standard and exceptions practices, personnel capabilities and quality,training, quality and leadership etc. is a lifetime achievement for each discipline. Especially the weapons and weapons research related practices and operations.

Historcially, smaller separate, mechanical and elecrical discipline based engineering divisions matched long-term programs and the less harried division and deputy division leaders were in practice the chief engineers, this still is the case with DTED.

Now, due to recent reorganizations, multi-disciplinary large engineering divisions are twice as large, serving twice as many programs, with twice as many mandated practices, leading all engineering disciplines with the same sized division supporting staff and half of the overhead money for supervisory personnel. This cost saving measure has lead to a number of deficiencies compared to past practices.

One that was known and managed from the outset was that leadership of each techical discipline would fall upon a chief engineer, hence one mechanical and one electrical who are the point contact for these disciplines.

How this works in practice, including division of responsibility between chiefs and division, between those and programs and projects is the art and amusement of organization design.

This author and participant strongly believes the pre-2007 design was far superior in all aspects except one, cost.

But reduced costs are necessary to pay sales taxes and unfunded DOE mandates and the a'profit' of the LLNS partners who provide nothing, essentially a valueless smoke screen.

Another unintended consequence of the privitization mistake

Anonymous said...

At LLNL, Pico, Perfect and Galkowski are excellent in their respective roles.

Anonymous said...

"...At LLNL, Pico, Perfect and Galkowski are excellent in their respective roles..."

Complimenting staff has its merits, but it is a weak if not orthogonal response to excessive, top heavy, or redundant management (topic: too many chiefs?) when budgets to support such people are near all time lows.

Anonymous said...

You could be in Security where they are bringing back those "valuable" people who retired last year. Wow, they already have two Deputy's!! What or should I say...who next...?? Top heavy with management...nothing like having more six sigma wannabe managers trying supervise his ego...I mean subordinates!

Anonymous said...

while acknowledging the limits of depth and breadth required in the blog format,and the additional limitations of the text editor, the different roles of superintendent and AD level functional chief engineer(s) are essential in the current LLNL engineering organization. One simple way to illustrate this is to picture how the current organizations would carry out the essential functions of either role in their absence of the two positions. All of these delegated responsibilities would remain with the AD, who does not have separate existing staff or expertise to carry out the responsibilities.

Delegating to existing Divisions would place more complex responsibilities on already too thin existing staffs and would result in inconsistent practices across the Directorate.

Thus, if AD level senior superintendent, and discipline chief engineers didn' t exist, external reviewers would note the deficiency and would insist the roles be created and adequately funded.

Anonymous said...

Another way to illustrate the mission added value is to examine the overlap or redundancy between the positions in question and other current positions. The role of technical superintendent has no overlap, if it did not exist, the role would be carried out directly by the AD, impossible currently, since the AD does not have 50 additional hours each week to carry out the responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

To continue, the roles of the chief engineers, to assure adequate engineering discipline in the highly complex, safety critical discipline activities overlap with both division level and project responsibilities.

They are important enough to have separate focsed leaders, since current division staffs are highly taxed, and challenged by current responsiblities, and projects lack an organizational, long-term focus.

In practice, there is little overlap, less than 20 %, in my four years closely observing this, with other equivalent division or project personnel.

As I tried to argue in a previous post, the AD level chief engineer position is a useful, perhaps essential adaptation to one of the weaknesses of the much larger, less discipline focused divisions that were the unfortunate outcome of the post 2007 LLNL privatization.

Anonymous said...

"...Delegating to existing Divisions would place more complex responsibilities on already too thin existing staffs and would result in inconsistent practices across the Directorate..."

Nice theory but it is not adhered to at LLNS. We have a spectrum of inconsistent division practices across the engineering directorate. Our LLNS engineering divisions run autonomously for maximum operational latitude and discretion.

Since former AD for Engineering Dr. Steve Patterson left, the self rule of our engineering divisions within the engineering directorate have accelerated with no course correction on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

The pre-2007 organization design of more, smaller discipline based divisions was superior to the unfocused, harried, large multidisciplinary collectives now used.

The problem is exacerbated by poor commitment to engineering discipline on the part of recent past Directors who lowered the reporting relationship of the engineering AD from direct to a lower level. Another foolish change suggested by Bechtel senior management. Viewed as merely a manpower management shop rather than a mission central discipline authority reduced the apparently value. Therefore S&T senior managers took much needed OH funds for first level supervision, staff training, conferences, and early post-doc research for their own sandbox. These essential elements to remain viable are still poorly supported while Tomas successors squander funds elsewhere. Engineeering should as in the past report directly to the Director.

Anonymous said...

Sufficient experience is now in hand to conclude that this design element, implemented at Bechtel's insistence, is inferior to the pre-2007 structure. The new Director has experience with both forms and when he gets the time should reform this mistake, perhaps bringing back Mara and Patterson as consultants to better match engineering organizational role to its mission.

Anonymous said...

Alright, just stop it!

We cannot allow coherent discussion/argument on this blog.

Please adhere to the rules on ad hominem attacks and use of profanity (both are required).

Anonymous said...

Engineeering should as in the past report directly to the Director.

Even before the Tomas era ended, the ADs for PLS, Computation and Engineering were returned to being direct reports to the Director rather than reporting to DDS&T. Not that they have large a vote as the program PADs.

Anonymous said...

Briefly the superintendent has responsibility for technical (300, 400 series) personnel, approximately 1000 - 1500 people.

Isn't the entire directorate now around 1600 people?

Anonymous said...

At LLNL, Pico, Perfect and Galkowski are excellent in their respective roles.


This has to be sarcasm. Who would post this otherwise.

Anonymous said...

All managers that consistently toe the line in LLNS land are "excellent in their respective roles" and there isn't much room for those that won't.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. That is the only criteria.

Anonymous said...

One of the other blogs sited that Pico was the first native American superintendent in engineering. I think this alone demonstrates "excellent in their respective roles"

Anonymous said...

"...One of the other blogs sited that Pico was the first native American superintendent in engineering. I think this alone demonstrates "excellent in their respective roles"..."

How does this demonstrate excellence exactly?

Anonymous said...

the first (you fill in)
alone demonstrates excellence. Haven't you been paying attention.
This is the new America. Race to be the first, it doesn't matter at what.
Ex: SF was the first city to try to outlaw circumcision.
This demonstrates excellence while ignoring the urine stench SOM.

Anonymous said...

"...This is the new America. Race to be the first, it doesn't matter at what..."

There is no honor in being "first" if one forgets they got there through a relay race of many individuals. Having the baton in your hand at the finish line is the story of many not of one.

Anonymous said...

I think the point was now we are racing to be the first at mundane goals.

Anonymous said...

A clear understanding is needed of the goal achieved under a set of circumstances before we can label it mundane, very difficult, or a political cakewalk.

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