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Monday, December 1, 2014

Should the Staff Relations Function be Centralized within the DOE/NNSA Complex?

Should the Staff Relations Function be Centralized within the DOE/NNSA Complex? 

The entire on site Staff Relations Division should be eliminated, and their (purported) function should be transferred to a centralized DOE/NNSA Complex Organization in accordance with an expansion in scope DOE 442.1A "Employee Concerns Program".

There is no compelling argument to have Complex wide Staff Relations redundancy by requiring each DOE Contractor have their own Staff Relations Division. The Complex Contractors are required to adhere to essentially the same set of DOE/NNSA guidelines. In an era of shrinking budgets, funding spent for Contractor specific Staff Relations Divisions would be better spent on ensuring that DOE/NNSA Contractor guidelines are uniformly and consistently applied by contractors across the Complex.

Contractors at any given moment are temporary, the DOE/NNSA contractor guidelines with respect to Staff Relations matters, change much less. Eliminate site specific Contractor Staff Relations Divisions and centralized and consolidate that function within the DOE/Complex. The current on site Staff Relations Division does not function with impartiality and is essentially an "enabler" for an environment with very low contractor employee morale.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dumbest idea in a long time. Staff Relations' job is to protect the employer. If you want a consolidated SR, you want federalization. Otherwise, deal with the GOCO construct and stop whining.

I'd love to see the labs try to hire at the GS-10 level for fresh grads.

Anonymous said...

The NNSA has Employee Concerns Program (ECP) Field Offices at most of the major Contractor sites across the Complex. Consolidation can and should occur to avoid "competing priorities" and duplicative function between Contractor Staff Relations Divisions and the Field Office NNSA ECP.

Please point to your reference document (LANS, LLNS, etc.) where Contractor "employer protection" is defined as a higher priority than Contractor employee protection, or are you referring to actual employment practices not employment policy?

Anonymous said...

December 1, 2014 at 6:38 PM


This is about right the GS-5s are good, GS-10s forget about it. GS-12s maybe. Federalization is a horrible idea all around. SR's job to protect the employees, depends on the motives and the bonus. Can't say about the labs, depends on who is in who's pocket. Culture ya know.

Anonymous said...

As private employers, the different labs have to deal with different state employment laws. Trying to have a central office deal with all those permutations on behalf of the complex seems questionable.

Anonymous said...

"...Staff Relations' job is to protect the employer..."

With this agenda, every time Staff Relations processes an employee complaint as a formal grievance against the "employer", ALL managers in that process, such as the Director, Director appointed "Independent Reviewers", "Administrative Reviewers", etc., are willfully complicit in a disingenuous act meant to deceive employees pursuing an objective review of their complaint.

Anonymous said...

"...As private employers, the different labs have to deal with different state employment laws. Trying to have a central office deal with all those permutations on behalf of the complex seems questionable..."

There are more DOE/NNSA common areas of Contractor expectations with respect to SR functions than there are permutations.

Anonymous said...

December 1, 2014 at 9:54 PM

Your comment assumes that employees are dumb enough to actually believe that an office of the employer organization has as it's primary focus the best interests of the employees. The proper response to your post is "well, duh!"

Anonymous said...

"...Your comment assumes that employees are dumb enough to actually believe that an office of the employer organization has as it's primary focus the best interests of the employees. The proper response to your post is "well, duh!"..."

LANSLLNS employees are neither dumb or deserving of such a work environment. In case you were not reading carefully, it was the contrast between what is written LANSLLNS policy and what is PRACTICED LANSLLNS policy being discussed. Are you OK with such LLC deception, or a beneficiary of it?

Anonymous said...

Are you OK with such LLC deception, or a beneficiary of it?

December 2, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Neither. I merely accept it for what it is, and shrug since there is nothing I can do about it. It seems that it should be obvious to anyone that all such "Staff Relations" organizations are a sham, no matter what the industry or field. I would have thought that was understood by everyone.

Anonymous said...

"...Neither. I merely accept it for what it is, and shrug since there is nothing I can do about it. It seems that it should be obvious to anyone that all such "Staff Relations" organizations are a sham, no matter what the industry or field. I would have thought that was understood by everyone..."

Fair enough, but why have this employee "resource" available on site? The Complex wide Staff Relations Teams are not doing charity work for their respective Contractors. Why fund a "make believe" organization on the taxpayer dime?

Unless Complex wide, the Contractors are funding their respective Staff Relations Teams out of Contractor "annual award" money, you have described (correctly) a federally funded Contractor appendage with a purpose that is contrary to DOE/NNSA Contractor expectations.

Anonymous said...

"...Neither. I merely accept it for what it is, and shrug since there is nothing I can do about it..."

There is always an opportunity to make a difference in the system, but as an individual, the risk is high (Hint).

Anonymous said...

There is always an opportunity to make a difference in the system, but as an individual, the risk is high

December 2, 2014 at 3:40 PM

There is NEVER an "opportunity to make a difference in the system." You are deluding yourself. The "system" is ingrained and supported by many decades of existence. How many windmills have you personally been successful against? Give yourself a break and accept that you are not going to win this one. Find a way to live your life successfully and happily without challenging "the system." Or don't. Not my problem.

Anonymous said...

December 2, 2014 at 7:21 PM

I echo this sentiment but I would go further and say you can make the system work for you if you play the game right. There is good money and good times to had if you know how to do it. It is real simple you just need to actively affirm to the high ups. You need to do this to them and in front of others while the boss is around. This will score big points every time.

Anonymous said...


Although I agree with you that that is the key to success in the current lab environment....

Everyone pretending to support the higher-ups removes feedback from the system and leads to poor decision making.

I much preferred when the lab was smart people in a clash of ideas focused on a goal....versus a competition as to who can brown-nose and yes-man the best.

Anonymous said...

No matter how ingrained the system is, the question below remains unanswered:

"...Unless Complex wide, the Contractors are funding their respective Staff Relations Teams out of Contractor "annual award" money, you have described (correctly) a federally funded Contractor appendage with a purpose that is contrary to DOE/NNSA Contractor expectations..."

I agree change is a challenge, but the do nothing alternative is worse. Only an inexperienced lab employee would think "playing the game right" is the end all solution, and those that did not, must have done something wrong to deserve the consequences.
This is a simplistic view of employment at LANSLLNS,
and if it were true, we wouldn't worry as much about some of our coworkers getting stepped on. To think otherwise would be a challenge to cope with...




Anonymous said...

To think otherwise would be a challenge to cope with...

December 2, 2014 at 9:21 PM

Think whatever you want, or deal with reality. Or, talk it to death. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

Dumb idea. Would defeat the how purpose of FFRDCs, might as well federalize the workforce.
------
Title 48: Federal Acquisition Regulations System

CHAPTER 1: FEDERAL ACQUISITION REGULATION

SUBCHAPTER F: SPECIAL CATEGORIES OF CONTRACTING

PART 35: RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CONTRACTING

35.017 - Federally Funded Research and Development Centers

(2) An FFRDC meets some special long-term research or development need which cannot be met as effectively by existing in-house or contractor resources. FFRDC's enable agencies to use private sector resources to accomplish tasks that are integral to the mission and operation of the sponsoring agency. An FFRDC, in order to discharge its responsibilities to the sponsoring agency, has access, beyond that which is common to the normal contractual relationship, to Government and supplier data, including sensitive and proprietary data, and to employees and installations equipment and real property. The FFRDC is required to conduct its business in a manner befitting its special relationship with the Government, to operate in the public interest with objectivity and independence, to be free from organizational conflicts of interest, and to have full disclosure of its affairs to the sponsoring agency...

(3) FFRDC's are operated, managed, and/or administered by either a university or consortium of universities, other not-for-profit or nonprofit organization, or an industrial firm, as an autonomous organization or as an identifiable separate operating unit of a parent organization.

(4) Long-term relationships between the Government and FFRDC's are encouraged in order to provide the continuity that will attract high-quality personnel to the FFRDC. This relationship should be of a type to encourage the FFRDC to maintain currency in its field(s) of expertise, maintain its objectivity and independence, preserve its familiarity with the needs of its sponsor(s), and provide a quick response capability.

Anonymous said...

The DOE is staffed by incompetent jackasses, a particularly useless brach is human relations, isolated from mission objectives.

Even today, 3000 miles away and two organizations distant from program objectives they exert strong influence over Labs personnel managment, staffing, compensation and salary managment through directives and oversight.

Until they are directly responisble for lab mission objectives they should be removed from the human resource management function.

You would be better off being managed by Bonobos.

Anonymous said...

They are smarter, better looking and smell better.

Anonymous said...


You would be better off being managed by Bonobos.

December 5, 2014 at 3:59 PM

Well yes, but that is not saying much.

Anonymous said...

FFRDC statement 1:

"...An FFRDC meets some special long-term research or development need which cannot be met as effectively by existing in-house or contractor resources..."

Response 1:

The Staff Relations component of LANSLLNS is not defined as a "special long term research or development need", nor does it effectively carry out its contractor workforce purpose.

There are existing components of LANSLLNS operations that are externally processed, like stages in the Q Clearance procedure with external staffing because of DOE/NNSA uniformity and impartiality requirements. Is this defined as "federalizing", and if so a threat to LANSLLNS existence?

FFRDC statement 2:

"FFRDC's enable agencies to use private sector resources to accomplish tasks that are integral to the mission and operation of the sponsoring agency"

Response 2:

In terms of impartiality, workforce attraction, retention, and employee morale, Staff Relations is performing in a manner that is counterproductive to the greater research and development goals of LANSLLNS and the expectations of its sponsoring agencies.

FFRDC statement 3:

"An FFRDC, in order to discharge its responsibilities to the sponsoring agency, has access, beyond that which is common to the normal contractual relationship, to Government and supplier data, including sensitive and proprietary data, and to employees and installations equipment and real property."

Response 3:

https://www.directives.doe.gov/directives-documents/400-series/0442.1-BOrder-A/@@download/file

"DOE O 442.1A Department of Energy Employee Concerns Program

The order establishes a DOE Employee Concerns Program (ECP) to ensure that employee concerns related to environment, safety, health, and management of DOE and NNSA programs and facilities are addressed".

DOE O 442.1A/ 7 Definitions / b. Conflict of Interest:
(see other applicable definitions)

"A situation in which the person responsible for investigating an employee concern could be associated either directly or indirectly with that concern or an investigative task is assigned to a person who might have submitted the concern."

FFRDC statement 4:

"The FFRDC is required to conduct its business in a manner befitting its special relationship with the Government, to operate in the public interest with objectivity and independence, to be free from organizational conflicts of interest, and to have full disclosure of its affairs to the sponsoring agency"

Response 4:

"Objectivity", "independence", "free from organizational conflicts of interest", and "full disclosure of its affairs to the sponsoring (DOE/NNSA) agency"? Sure, that sounds like Staff Relations alright. Haha. The FFRDC requirements will be helpful. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

December 7, 2014 at 11:26 AM,

From Contract 44 for managing and operating LLNL...

H-17 CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEES

In carrying out the work under this Contract, the Contractor [LLNS, LLC] shall be responsible for the employment of all professional, technical, skilled, and unskilled personnel engaged by the Contractor in the work hereunder, and for the training of personnel. Persons employed by the Contractor shall be and remain employees of the Contractor and shall not be deemed employees of the NNSA or the Government; however, nothing herein shall require the establishment of any employer-employee relationship between the Contractor and consultants or others whose services are utilized by the Contractor for the work hereunder.

Appendix B
5.1 Strategic Human Capital Management.

The Contractor [LLNS, LLC] shall maintain a strategic human capital management system to attract and retain a world class workforce and promote workforce diversity. This system shall promote workforce excellence by attracting and retaining a world class science and technology workforce and by ensuring maintenance of critical skills for the nuclear weapons program and limiting the number and duration of vacancies in positions requiring critical skills while optimizing direct to indirect employee ratios. The Contractor shall conduct comprehensive pre-employment screening as part of its strategic human capital management system.

Anonymous said...

To: "December 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM"

Nothing extracted from "Contract 44" here precludes the DOE/NNSA ECP or even hints at the idea of exclusive use of the contractor's internal Staff Relations Division. If it did, it would present an operational contradiction to the existence and purpose of the DOE O 442.1a Employee Concerns Program.

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