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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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's the direction of the LLNL?

What's the direction of the LLNL?

I've been at LLNL, senior scientist/manager, for 1 year now. And while the lab is great from the outside and many aspects within, the direction and pursuit of new ideas is lacking. I can't tell if its from culture or sub par staff compared to LBNL. 

As this blog is about LLNL, I would suspect this would be the #1 topic. But it doesn't appear to be.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...the direction and pursuit of new ideas is lacking. I can't tell if its from culture or sub par staff compared to LBNL..."

There is a chronic and growing political rift between the science and engineering staff (the employees that define and sustain research and development here) and those looking to please LLNS management.

Open and free flowing ideas from the UC/LLNL days are no more. We are all "at will" employees now in a threatening and retaliatory work environment with a "for profit" master. No joke. The continued interest in this blog is in part an outcome of this fact. Welcome aboard, I wish we were on something comparable to "Angie's List" before you made your move.

Anonymous said...

The culture at LLNL is entirely different than that at LBNL (LBL). Ironically, LLNL provides better compensation and fringe benefits (e.g., private offices), even though the quality of science and engineering at LBNL is far superior. The culture at LLNL focuses on management. It does not promote or reward quality science. I'm speaking as an someone who is well-compensated because I know how to work the system, not because I produce good science.

Anonymous said...

If you thought LLNL was a science lab in the mold of LBNL, then you lacked judgment and perspective. Office of Science labs exist to produce scientific results. Fair enough. That is not the sole focus of an NNSA lab. Never has been, even in the days of "LASL".

Anonymous said...

....well said, Dec 10@ 2:34pm,

I remember coming to the lab in the 80's and the collegiate atmosphere, everyone pitching in and helping each other, engineering building widgets from scratch and the friendly mentorship, as knowledge passed from the wise to the neophyte. What a difference now. It's all about compliance and being risk averse. Engineering is a laughing stock which is 15 years behind industry, only now they tout "additive manufacturing" like it is something new. The scientists can't get any funding and relegate themselves to political infighting and backbiting each other. Work well with others? Not happening at LLNL. As for me, I am in a particular position in a particular program with a particular set of skills that allow me to not have to work for "big lab" projects which is fine by me. If I keep my sponsors happy, I continue to have work. This won't last forever and I am preparing for my exit in about 5 -7 years. I am not particularly happy watching the slow decay of the lab, like the death spiral of some flaming obese moth...I miss the old work ethic and the demeanor back then...sad

Anonymous said...

The stifling "culture of compliance" has destroyed most areas within the NNSA labs. In the end, the science degrades, poor management thrives and you end up with fiascos like exploding nuclear waste drums because those professionals who use to care about their jobs are now just going through the motions.

Anonymous said...

There is no direction, and that has been the central problem for years. Once we had underground tests to bind us together, and many who were involved with building and using NIF were bound together whether they liked it or not, but what else and what now....? Here is where we need strong leaders, but we have lacked them for years too, as we've focused on managers instead of leaders. The end result is a large number of small efforts, many in global security areas, without cohesiveness or long-term vision, and a great deal of unhappiness and complaining.

However many of these same criticisms could be leveled at LBL too, so you should be used to most of this already.

Anonymous said...

"...The culture at LLNL focuses on management. It does not promote or reward quality science..."

When you bring in LLC managers without a scientific or engineering background or appreciation for it, they are the model and pathway to success, not scientific or engineering accomplishments. Accomplishments are things LLC managers harvest from their "at will" employee workforce. This success model now permeates LLNS.

Anonymous said...

December 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM;

I'd echo your thoughts and add that the LLC brought in from large DOE/NNSA production and environmental cleanup sites managers who only had experience and success in those highly structured cultures with their clearly defined mission outcomes/goals. Places like the nuclear facilities at SRS, Hanford, Pantex, Y-12, INL. Places built on following NNSA approved procedures to the letter.

Sort of like taking a by the book production line manager from an assemble plant, and putting them in charge of an R&D department full of freethinking scientists focused in innovating the next big thing. Won't be fun from somebody.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, maybe it is just me, but it seems scientists and engineers doing work that might lead to discoveries are fewer and fewer. Looking around LLNL it seems many of the scientists are managers now and they just suck funds from the programs while making the work harder to accomplish. There there is a fairly large support staff. There just doesn't seem to be that much research going on compared to other universities and companies of comparable size. LLNL has an inverse pyramid of uselessness. Managers at the top and the huge financial burden they impose, and fewer scientists at the bottom being starved of funds after the parasites higher up pad their salaries. Let's face it LLNL is basically a legacy organization that exists now to enrich the managers. Any of those moving up the scientist career path getting paid like the managers? I haven't heard of it. Theoretically you pay should advance similarly if you move up either path, but I am not seeing it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a senior scientist/manager at the lab for 27 years. The changes, as all organizations do, have been hard to watch. But recently, the changes and promotions have become more blatant.
And since I'm out of here in a year or so I'll just say it. The gender biased promotions and gender biased replacements is just disgusting. I'll re-iterate what another blog said.... it's beyond the good old boys network of the past. This "good old girls" network now incubating means just barely being competent is good enough, as long as that person is the "team player". Team player now means not a threat to expose the gravy train culture.
It's only a matter of time before someone writes a book with examples....
The sad thing is, everybody thinks they are a valuable employee.

Anonymous said...

December 11, 2014 at 4:09 PM

There is a sense by the higher ups that if you just stay a scientists after so many years than you loser who could not make it into management and should be treated as such. They way they see it is that the only worthy goal of anyone at at the lab is to become a manager and make big money. The science does not matter, the mission does not matter, the pride at doing something worthy doe not matter. They only thing that matters is the money and the lack of accountability.

Some of the most telling things I see is when someone who has not visited in the lab for the past 10 years comes back says how much things have decayed and how far the lab has fallen.

Anonymous said...

Being a LLNS "Team player" trumps all other attributes for a LLC that essentially composes its own annual report card. I wonder if LLNS graciously provides the ball point pen for all of the required NNSA LFO report card signatures?

Anonymous said...

"... the changes and promotions have become more blatant. And since I'm out of here in a year or so I'll just say it. The gender biased promotions and gender biased replacements is just disgusting. I'll re-iterate what another blog said.... it's beyond the good old boys network of the past. This "good old girls" network now incubating means just barely being competent is good enough, as long as that person is the "team player". Team player now means not a threat to expose the gravy train culture..."

The same gravy train exists for some "under" utilized minorities at LLNS no matter what disgusting activities they indulge themselves in on official programmatic Lab business. A non-minority manager for the same conduct, would be fired or at least removed from management, not promoted to senior management.
Enabling this behavior to maintain targeted sector "diversity points" places the entire diversity effort in an undeserving bad light. It is a shameful distortion and manipulation of good faith diversity efforts.

Anonymous said...

I don't find the gender bias "disgusting" but funny.

While, the overly enthusiastic promotions are out of hand, I enjoy watching 60 year old scientists/managers giving special opportunities to the young female staff. And of course the higher females do the same... "good old girls network".
And what's more, neither side knows that could never admit what they doing or getting is so egregious and transparent.

I wish someone would write a book. I've an example from a colleague at a real institution who commented on a female scientist standing in front of a conference poster and 1st author, who couldn't answer simple questions that scratched below the surface of what was on the poster. Even more funny, was this scientist has been touted in newsline and other LLNL outlets.

Everyone's a superstar at LLNL!

Anonymous said...

I've been at a lab in New Mexico for three years now and recently decided to transfer out of a NW related research department (supported by NW but just did basic research that wasn't really related).
The NW supported, including basic research, part of the labs doesn't reward risk taking or good science. It's all about project management, bringing in declining funding, who you know and safety compliance. The managers have an entitlement, DMV attitude about their jobs.
This is why I switched to doing computer science R&D for WFO customers. None of the safety bullshit and fewer incompetent managers, since we are WFO funded, not on the NNSA gravy train. The irony is that now I'm doing real science because I spend my time discovering new things, instead of just writing grant proposals, filling out paperwork and kissing managers worthless fat asses.

Face it, basic research is dead in America. Go to Wall street or silicon valley if you want to have a future.

Anonymous said...

Wall Street and Silicon Valley are meritocracies, and thus the demographics...
Unfortunately, I'm used to barely working 8 hours a day at a National Lab, so would get clobbered there.

Anonymous said...

And since I'm out of here in a year or so I'll just say it. The gender biased promotions and gender biased replacements is just disgusting.
December 11, 2014 at 8:37 PM

And since I'm already out, I'll second it. There are some very sub-par female scientists who are held up as stars and showered with honors even though everyone knows they don't know anything. I cannot see how that does anyone any good, particularly other female scientists who do know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

"...Team player now means not a threat to expose the gravy train culture..."

Therefore change will only come to LLNL by external pressure applied to LLNS or by redefined metrics for the successor. I agree.

Anonymous said...

Half the population is women, therefore half the managers in theoretical physics should be women.

The greatest example is in Engineering where the past female AD had a B.S from San Jose State and came from operations, and the current male has a PhD from MIT, has sponsor ties, and has brought in money for his own research. This alone shows the completely different career tracks based on gender available at LLNL.

Anonymous said...

Addressing under utilization in engineering is more important than degree level, ethical conduct, engineering accomplishments, or impact to employee morale. The BS AD mentioned, did not come close to filling the void Steve left, and Engineering suffered the consequences.

Anonymous said...

The point of December 12, 2014 at 6:49 PM is that two completely different, if not divergent, career paths and skills set could lead to the same high level position. The probability is astounding.

Take away is that being female helps so much as to have equalized their opportunities at LLNL.

Lab leadership should be held accountable to explain what would is an obvious inconsistency with "lab direction". Otherwise gender based career paths is the only conclusion.

I'm excited to hear any other explanations, because as we all know the examples of gender based career paths are quite numerous.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I was told about this post.

I can't believe I'm actually reading what everybody is too scared to say about the over protected class at the lab. Agreed. We all see the examples how the hurdles are so much lower for women for the equivalent achievement.



Anonymous said...

Gender based promotions have placed managers in positions of authority over SAFETY issues without the knowledge, skill set, or college credentials to address daily programmatic concerns. This is not just a morale issue, it is a hazard to employees and operational efficiency. Essentially their function is simply to be a signature and a "go along" for LLNS management. Yes someone should write a book, but by then someone could be injured or worse.

While on the topic of ____ based (or baseless) promotions, don't forget "good old boy" hires and promotions, LLNS transplants into deluxe positions,
or the rapid advancement of employees with well publicized and frequently deployed diversity functions.

Anonymous said...

don't forget "good old boy" hires and promotions, LLNS transplants into deluxe positions,
or the rapid advancement of employees with well publicized and frequently deployed diversity functions.

December 13, 2014 at 9:24 AM

The difference being the "good old boy" an open topic where as the ______ based promotions are protected from criticism.

And by the way, a DOE reportable incident has already occurred, where this management placed worker has also eceived awards... all the while hands on folks wouldn't work with this person not just because a lack of skills, but also skill.

Anonymous said...

"...The difference being the "good old boy" an open topic where as the ______ based promotions are protected from criticism..."

A valid point.

"...And by the way, a DOE reportable incident has already occurred, where this management placed worker has also eceived awards... all the while hands on folks wouldn't work with this person not just because a lack of skills, but also skill..."

Can you provide more detail without mentioning names? What was the DOE reportable finding?

Anonymous said...

The point of December 12, 2014 at 6:49 PM is that two completely different, if not divergent, career paths and skills set could lead to the same high level position. The probability is astounding.
Take away is that being female helps so much as to have equalized their opportunities at LLNL.

December 13, 2014 at 8:31 AM

You will be told by management that it's coincidence, and to report to HR for re-programing.

But lab leadership, how can two quite different resumes be qualified for the same leadership rolse? I look forward to the low level explanation/argument that I will then crush.

Anonymous said...

"But lab leadership, how can two quite different resumes be qualified for the same leadership rolse? I look forward to the low level explanation/argument that I will then crush.

December 14, 2014 at 8:12 PM"

This is an example of the arrogant
attitude expressed over and over again by the scientists and engineers. You do realize that you look like sanctimonious jerk?
This is precisely the reason that Congress was upset with the labs and demanded contract change.
We all know that someone can have a plethora of degrees from fancy names schools yet still not be able to even be able to walk and chew gum at the same time much less even thing about managing something. The last time I checked management and leadership skills are not something ones goes to school for. I would add that the more education a scientist or engineer has the less qualified they are to lead, just look at Steve Chu. Technical types may be good at solving well defined problems when they are given such problems but the commonly mistake their ability to solve well defined problems as the ability to lead. The latter requires real creativity and gut instinct. Decsions have to made in fast. For example read the excellent book called "Blink: The power of thinking with thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell. The more eduction have you have the more you "think" rather than acting in a blink. When you need a real leadership you should never look at a resume. Every good company knows this and goes by personal interactions with candidates and how you feel about them. Looking at a resume means you are "thinking" and you always end up over thinking. If you think you can crush my argument then just look at who are the greatest minds of our time in terms of leading technological and science innovation. Examples include Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs, these people did not even graduate from college. Your reply is crushed before you can even make it.

Anonymous said...

Glad I didn't bother to read any of that beyond the first sentence.

Anonymous said...

Wow, somebody has an inferiority complex looking for any populist rhetoric to back up their feelings.

Malcolm Gladwell.... that is just soft. I look forward to the response.

oh and by the way, you never addressed December 14, 2014 at 8:12 PM comment, but went off on a rant.

Anonymous said...

Since Bechtel has come on board its all about money and not science. What worse is hey bring in people for the short term while lavishing these people while on assignment with housing allowances, Per Diem and other perks. While there are some good people in the Ranks of Bechtel I have not been impressed. For the most part they are a body shop meaning that they supply a body and thats it. Most of them are not even remotely trained or have experience in the position they are given. This is a ploy used by ALL government contractors.

Anonymous said...

Silicon Valley was essentially built up by MIT, Harvard and Stanford grads - the true measure of "leading technological and science innovation"

I think Bill Gates dropped out of San Jose State.

Wait, and didn't Zuckerberg drop out of Cal State Stanislaus?

and Jobs, didn't he drop out of De Anza College.



Anonymous said...

So much for the need for high tech managers to have high tech degrees. The "he doesn't have a PhD" guy is very upset!

Anonymous said...

Well I am a scientist and I can vouch for the utter incompetence of LLNL scientist managers. The problems at the lab are directly resulting from having these incompetent (in ability to manage) scientists in positions they should have never been put in.

As far as promoting women and minorities even if their qualifications are not as good as the white male scientists, I am all for it. We need diversity at the lab and if that is what it takes, so be it. Quit your whining. Look around the lab, what do you see? White male geezers. How many African Americans do you see at the lab? Virtually none. LLNL is one of the MOST undiverse places you will see. Face it folks, LLNL is an institution of white male privilege and they don't want to give up their privileged positions. California, a state of majority Hispanics has the "crown jewel" LLNL nestled in the middle of it with very FEW Hispanics at all!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever worker for or known of LLNS Engineering Senior Superintendent Randy Pico?

Anonymous said...

The point of December 12, 2014 at 6:49 PM is that two completely different, if not divergent, career paths and skills set could lead to the same high level position. The probability is astounding.

One factor is that what the institution wants from Engineering changes with who is Director and who has their ear. Having someone operationally focused met the needs of certain powers at a certain time. Whether that is astounding is a matter of perspective.

Anonymous said...

If the institution is allowed to vary this widely on Engineering path, then the system is broken.

Oh, I'll say it, if Monya were a man, should wouldn't even have gotten close to being AD.

December 15, 2014 at 7:08 PM -These are the types of comments that come from within a field or industry that has no more value.

Since we say we're innovation, let's take a look at Silicon Valley again. White men from MIT, Harvard and Stanford built it, and Asian males (East and South) are disproportionately represented and continue the entrepreneurial tradition. Who would ever put their own hard earned money in or value institutions that emphasize

"As far as promoting women and minorities even if their qualifications are not as good as the white male scientists" as legitimate workforce planning.

Anonymous said...



" Wow, somebody has an inferiority complex looking for any populist rhetoric to back up their feelings."

False, just calling like it is, and you can call it populist rhetoric but everyone else calls it common sense.

" Malcolm Gladwell.... that is just soft. I look forward to the response."

Gladwell has more money that you can ever dream, so STFU.

" oh and by the way, you never addressed December 14, 2014 at 8:12 PM comment, but went off on a rant."

You are not very bright are you? My point was that resumes are utterly useless. You have to talk to the person and go with your gut feeling if they have it or not. Never trust a resume and most of all never trust credentials. Your gut knows, and it gets it right far more often than thinking, every sports champion knows this and life is nothing more than a game. Play it don't think it.

December 15, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Anonymous said...

Since Bechtel has come on board its all about money and not science. What worse is hey bring in people for the short term while lavishing these people while on assignment with housing allowances, Per Diem and other perks. While there are some good people in the Ranks of Bechtel I have not been impressed. For the most part they are a body shop meaning that they supply a body and thats it. Most of them are not even remotely trained or have experience in the position they are given. This is a ploy used by ALL government contractors.

December 15, 2014 at 11:49 AM

You just come across sounding envious and bitter. Just because some played the game well and won does not give you the right to call bad on them. What would you do if you where in their shoes? I bet you would take the money and then some. You are just bitter that you did not get in on the game. I hate to say it but maybe you where just not fast enough or smart enough to see which way the wind was blowing. In any case you just look pathetic when you begrudge the success of others. Look at this way, the next time it could be you that makes the big score.

Anonymous said...

"White men from MIT, Harvard and Stanford built it.." Wow, racist. And judging from the earlier posts LLNL and/or LANL scientists are sexist too. Now go ahead and rationalize your bigotry away...

Anonymous said...

Pointing out that unqualified people get their positions simply because they are women is not "sexist", it's reality. In fact promoting those unqualified people solely because of their sex is the epitome of sexism. Go to academia if you really think that sort of discrimination is justifiable.

Anonymous said...

The same gender driven diversity promotion agenda has moved 500 series women (mostly white) into 300 series positions in engineering without technical degrees, experience, or material accomplishments. If men, some were not even qualified for 500 series entry level technical assignments.

Anonymous said...

"Gladwell has more money that you can ever dream, so STFU."

"... every sports champion knows this a..."

Don't get distracted by the bling, as tempting as it may be.

Glenn Beck is richer than Gladwell, so the world should listen to him first in your world?

Sport Champions are only such through working harder, commitment and discipline first.. as per your Gladwell's "Outliers".


" Now go ahead and rationalize your bigotry away..."
It's not racist to quote a fact. You seem to not like the fact, so you use race card. Must have been coddled too long at the lab and can't differentiate an agreement nod from a pandering nod.

Take off your race glasses, and try being open minded first. But being pandered to by the lab, you've gotten quite comfortable with name calling. So sad.



Anonymous said...

"Never trust a resume and most of all never trust credentials"

December 15, 2014 at 9:32 PM

You think this way because you've been coddled by the lab through p.c. fear, and calculated outrage.


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