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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. Opinions not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Friday, January 2, 2015

DOE and NNSA now believe BOTH weapons labs need a new contractor

 DOE and NNSA now believe BOTH weapons labs need a new contractor operational model that moves away from a management profit funding focus, to a research and development funding focus. 

The party is over for the bloated layers of LANSLLNS management and their self-compensation feeding frenzy. 

http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/nuclear-weapons-complex-reform-could-mean-pay-cut-contractors/

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

R&D of what? These weapons designs were first tested in the the 1950's and then perfected in the 1960's. Thanks Seymour.

The labs can't do industrial R&D because they are cut off from the rest of the world because of classification and export control concerns.

They can work on intelligence community stuff but that is limited.

Anonymous said...

"What motivates the people at the national laboratories is excellence in science and bringing excellence in science to the interest of the nation … They're not motivated by profit incentives," Held told Global Security Newswire in a recent interview. "They're human beings, they need a salary -- you can motivate them at the margins by giving them a pay raise or a pay decrease or something like that -- but their core motivation and what makes them tick is scientific excellence."

This is a bit odd, since the scientific workforce never gets any of the profit. The profit is for the mangers at best.


Indeed, people who actually do science at LANL do not get any "bonus" from the annual fees paid to LANS. The "incentives" are sent to the top of the pyramid, or to the parent organizations. What Bechtel does with its share of the profits we know not, but they do send us in return some of their best and brightest management talent. With love for classical music and the Santa Fe Opera in particular.

What Mr. Held seems to imply suggests either complete ignorance at NNSA of what actually happens in the trenches, or a yet another attempt to shift the blame to "scientists", by conflating them with the management class.

In fact, the management pyramid established under LANS is remarkable for its lack of scientific and technical expertise. Even the heads of the so-called "science" divisions at LANL display a striking lack of any scientific achievement. Basic competence and expertise are apparently not required for the job. All that matters in today's LANL is kissing up and kicking down. This structure is replicated throughout the lab. It's no wonder that after this system sets in drums with nuclear waste begin exploding. The WIPP explosion is just the tip of the iceberg (albeit quite visible and expensive).

Anonymous said...

" This structure is replicated throughout the lab. It's no wonder that after this system sets in drums with nuclear waste begin exploding. The WIPP explosion is just the tip of the iceberg (albeit quite visible and expensive).

January 2, 2015 at 6:24 PM"

You bring up a subtle point that seems to lost at LANL and NNSA. This is that of culture of excellence that needs to permeate the entire organization. This is what has been lost and it is lost from the top down. If you have rotten management than after awhile the workforce no longer cares and just goes through the motions. The institution becomes mediocre and you end up with results that reflect on all levels.

The attack on excellence stared with Wen Ho Lee. All the higher ups like Bill Richardson than went on to blame the scientist as being the problem at a science lab. They are an easy target since politics is no the game of typical scientists. A number of ambitions and cutthroat people than took advantage of the situation and it amplified everything they could for personal gain. One thing they seemed to attack over and over again was the idea of excellence.
After 15 years and a huge loss in the most talented people we have now reached the current state of affairs. At this point can you still blame the scientists?

Anonymous said...

P1 Rhon Keinigs

However, as a member of the LANL scientific community and as a concerned citizen, I feel an obligation to respond to recent allegations of an unsecured work place and a culture of disregard for the rules. These allegations and the resulting responses they are generating are having very negative effects on the morale of the LANL workforce, and consequently, repercussions to National security.

I urge the scientific community to review the minutes of the July 13, 2004 hearings of the Energy and Air Quality (EAQ) Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, from which much of the information in this letter is drawn.1

Certainly LANL is experiencing a crisis of confidence and a critical point in its history, in which the Lab will either survive as a scientific institution, or it will not. LANL will either be able to continue to attract the best people to work on national security problems or it will not. To survive, the misconceptions of LANL as being an unsafe, unsecured institution must be corrected, and the reputations of many dedicated staff must be restored. A different outcome could mean that all nuclear weapons research will be conducted by our sister laboratory, Lawrence Livermore.

Since May the scientific staff of LANL has come under increasing fire for being lax on security. This criticism is being led by members of Congress, Ambassador Linton Brooks (head of the National Nuclear Security Agency) and Los Alamos Director G. Peter Nanos, and has resulted in headlines in the media such as "LANL Security Lapses Called Rampant." 2

There are many other such messages being promulgated, and negative repercussions from managerial responses generated by this criticism are beginning to emerge.

Dedicated staff members are opting for, or seriously investigating, early retirement. These are scientists and engineers with years of critical National security knowledge that we will not be able to find in any textbook. The departure of these people means a loss of important mentoring for new staff members.

I have talked with several early-career PhD staff members who are re-assessing their options. Their leaving will translate into a loss of years of monetary and education investment by the Nation, and a laboratory with a questionable future as a scientific organization.

I recently returned from recruiting in Virginia, where I talked to engineering and physics PhD candidates about career opportunities at LANL. From questions I received it is evident that there is trepidation in beginning a career at Los Alamos, where there are so many perceived problems. How did such a perception arise?

The latest flurry of criticism was initiated by reports of an unaccounted for piece of Classified Removable Electronic Media (CREM). According to Director G. Nanos this is viewed as a recurring theme at LANL, and such continuing reports of security incidents have led to "…a belief amongst some very powerful people in Congress that academic culture and running a high security national laboratory are totally incompatible and scientists can't be trusted." 3

Apparently a hypothesis has emerged that it is the long-standing scientific culture of Los Alamos that is responsible for the present situation at our institution.

Anonymous said...

P2

Certainly, security and safety are critical elements of the Laboratory's national security mission; if rules and regulations are not followed, appropriate measures must be taken. However, the suggestion that "scientists can't be trusted" is an unwarranted generalization that is not supported by facts.

During the July 13 testimonies to the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee there were 22 references made to cultural problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the context of lapses in security. What data supports declarations by Subcommittee members that "…security incidents just keep happening, and happening, and happening." and "...there continues to be an ongoing pattern of business management failure and security problems. ?"

To my knowledge there has been only one serious CREM incident within the last four years, in which classified removable electronic media was actually missing.

I am referring of course to the missing hard-drives found behind a copy machine, following the great Los Alamos fire of 2000. Pertaining to the May 2004 incident, government authorities now believe that this incident did not occur: "It appears to have been a false positive, the system says something is missing when it is not."—Senator Pete Domenici, as quoted in the Santa Fe New Mexican, July 22, 2004.

Every reported security incident must be treated seriously, but in defense of my colleagues, one incident, particularly one that now appears not to have occurred, does not define an ongoing pattern of blatant disregard for the rules. It certainly does not define a "culture" that is insensitive to security, as has been suggested by one Congressional member of the EAQ Subcommittee, "…as Mr. Issa [Darrell Issa (R- CA)] points out, perhaps these people don't realize, these intellectual nuts or whatever they call them, these people don't appreciate the sensitivity of what they're working on because they work with it all the time."

This does not describe the culture I have come to know in my 23 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory. We are acutely aware of the ramifications of some of the research we conduct, and very attuned to its protection. Although the final findings on the most recent allegations of security problems at LANL have not yet been released, evidence is pointing toward procedural problems associated with how the Laboratory accounts for classified media.

The evidence does not support the hypothesis that there is a cultural problem at Los Alamos that is attributable to the academic-like atmosphere of the laboratory. Unfortunately, the initial response to the latest reported incident has effectively shut down programmatic work for several months, and resulted in administrative leave for 23 employees. In terms of cost to the taxpayer it is estimated that by the time of full resumption of technical activities the total cost of the shutdown could range anywhere from between $100M to $400M.

Anonymous said...

P3

X Division, also known as the Applied Physics Division, is the recognized center of the LANL nuclear weapons program. I have worked in this division for 21 years, and like many of my colleagues I have worked on both unclassified and classified research, and collaborated with researchers throughout the laboratory. Everyone with whom I work is trustworthy and dedicated and committed to performing his and her work safely and securely. This is the only laboratory culture that I know. There are security incidents that happen in a workplace of more than 7000 employees, but to imply that these are the result of a lab-wide culture is simply wrong. What is accurate, however, is that there is a deepening divide developing at LANL and staff morale is very low. This is being recognized outside of the laboratory: quoting from the recent Nature article, "Fear and Loathing at Los Alamos," 4 " Nanos has blasted his own staff for what he termed a "cowboy culture" at the laboratory; the tone of his public statements suggests a frightening gulf between the leader and the led".

This gulf is principally the result of growing attitudes of mistrust between the two parties, and it is being made even wider by several members of Congress. Attitudes of mistrust toward the scientific staff of Los Alamos are clearly present in comments made by members of the Energy & Air Quality Subcommittee, and in testimony to this committee: One member said "…I would put every one of those 11 people that have access under lock and key, and every one of those 200 people that have access to that facility should be immediately given a lie detector test".

This statement was made nine days prior to the "false positive" discovery reported on July 22.

Taken from testimony to the committee: "I believe there is something about the Los Alamos culture that we have not yet beaten into submission." Another Committee member's comments seem to condone the use of fear tactics: " I was an FBI agent before I did this in the late 80's.quite frankly I want a scientist afraid of these people. If they came wandering by, I want them worried that they're not going to be working there on something that they 've dedicated their lives to… "

Sentiments such as these provide little comfort to the LANL community; particularly those employees that have been put on administrative leave. But, the ramifications of "beating a culture into submission" and "wanting scientists to be afraid" extend far beyond the boundaries of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and should be of concern to the entire scientific community. It is my opinion that such attitudes and some of the resultant measures being taken at LANL will ultimately negatively impact our ability to fulfill our National security mission, making it very difficult to attract and maintain a productive workforce.

Personally, I know of no scientist who would willingly work in such a threatening environment.

Some final thoughts and my analysis of the present situation at Los Alamos National Laboratory: A new policy embracing the three imperatives of Awareness, Intolerance, and Determination (AID)5 has been emplaced by our director, and it has been made clear that every member of the laboratory work-force must understand and operate under three directives:

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear about the attack on scientists at the lab. Most of these attacks came from higher ups who wanted to blame someone else or to take advantage of the situation for their own needs. Most of these arguments made absolutely no sense or where just bizarre. Especially when looking back.


http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/bodman-blames-scientists-for-problems-at-los-alamos/

Bodman Blames Scientists For Problems at Los Alamos

Asked by Representative David Loebsack (D-Iowa) to sum up the cultural impediment to security at the nuclear weapons facility, Bodman responded bluntly.
"Arrogance," he said. "Arrogance of the chemists and physicists and engineers who work at Los Alamos and think they're above it all."

Note that this was made just after
the classified information was found in a 22 year old archivists home. What did that have to do arrogant chemist or physicist.

"a belief amongst some very powerful people in Congress that academic culture and running a high security national laboratory are totally incompatible and scientists can't be trusted."

How is that UC ran the place during the cold war? If you have a science lab you have to have scientists. It does not help with the head of DOE and NNSA blame scientists. It is much easier to go before congress and blame others rather than explain or defend something. Personally I think you cannot trust lawyers to be congressmen either. Think about it who would you trust more a scientists or a congressman. Ok the last part was a cheap shot but you get my point.



" Mr. Issa [Darrell Issa (R- CA)] points out, perhaps these people don't realize, these intellectual nuts or whatever they call them, these people don't appreciate the sensitivity of what they're working on because they work with it all the time."

Alright time for another cheap shot but Darrel Issa saying something about sensitive information is ironic at best. Issa is one of the most corrupt politicians out there. He just won the 2014 Politicain Liar of the year.
Disclosing material from a sealed wiretap application without a judge’s permission violates federal law. Rep. Issa knew that he could shield himself from prosecution by including the information in the Congressional Record, which would be protected under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause. Nice

" Nanos has blasted his own staff for what he termed a "cowboy culture" at the laboratory; the tone of his public statements suggests a frightening gulf between the leader and the led".

Nanos sent a letter to all the employees about a month before the CREM incdent about how great everyone was at LANL. The cowboy culture appeared over night or just made it up to place blame elsewhere. You cannot have it both ways.

Linton Brooks head of the NNSA
"I believe there is something about the Los Alamos culture that we have not yet beaten into submission."

Ok LANL is very very bad, but what him in real trouble.
"Brooks was reprimanded for not reporting to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman regarding the theft of computer files at an NNSA facility in Albuquerque, NM, which contained Social Security numbers and other data for 1,500 workers." Apparatney they should have beaten NNSA in submission.

"I was an FBI agent before I did this in the late 80's.quite frankly I want a scientist afraid of these people. If they came wandering by, I want them worried that they're not going to be working there on something that they 've dedicated their lives to…" I am not sure who this is but that strategy sounds like a real disaster waiting to happen. Make people whith access to very high security information very afraid about there livelihood. What could go wrong with that?

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight, beating employees into submission and keeping them fearful as they work on national security, nuclear, or even general science paid for with federal dollars is the goal? That's the professional opinion of decision-makers? It sounds quite a bit like Nazi or cold war era non-American methods. Did we just dial back progress in the American work place conditions?

Anonymous said...

7:52 nailed it.

Anonymous said...

@ January 2, 2015 at 11:22 AM

You don't know what you are talking about.

In order to assure the well being of an aging stockpile and support improvements in nuclear weapons safety and security, a tremendous amount of R&D is needed.

The scientists who do this work publish related, unclassified work, in peer reviewed journals and maintain strong relationships with academia.

Your comment was malicious and unhelpful.

Anonymous said...

LLNL and LANL have both had their troubles in the last two years. Director Goldstein - celebrated when appointed to the directorship as a master of relations and navigating inner circles in Washington - fired within two years for some sort of political transgressions. Director McMillan, the nuclear weapons designer and B-Division icon, is having all sorts of troubles with the Bechtel/BWXT operations. The suffocating oversight, risk adverse culture, local media and DNFSB infiltrated with sympathizers for the likes of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tri-Valley Cares, and Hairy Reed, has established an environment that is impossible to succeed. Thirty years ago, WIPP and TA-55 would have been quickly restored to operational status, Goldstein would still have his job. These would have been minor bumps in the road and not deterred from the supremely important national defense mission.

Anonymous said...

What's this? Goldstein's out? Tell me it isn't so.

Anonymous said...

What's this? Goldstein's out? Tell me it isn't so.

I think January 3, 2015 at 9:28 PM, probably being from LANL, used Goldstein when trying to make reference to Albright.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to 11:22 am, LLNL employees are not really scientists. I would say they are members of the weapons or intelligence community with a scientific background. They cannot interact too much with members of the international scientific community, their research is limited to "weapons-science", they do not publish as often as university scientists, and their facilities and codes are restricted or classified. They are not part of the open international scientific community. I don't think many would be able to get tenure at a university. Those in the weapons division have no scientific output. They mainly spend their time recalculating weapons tests.

Anonymous said...

If LLNL employees are not scientists, then Sandia employees are even worse!

Three Vice Presidents of technical divisions at Sandia National Laboratories do not have a Ph.D.: Hruby, Walker, Vahle.

Adam Rowen a manager at Sandia Livermore does not have a Ph.D. either.

The previous 3 individuals are the first ever Vice Presidents without a Ph.D. in Science or Engineering to lead technical divisions at Sandia. A quick search on the internet shows that Adam Rowen went to a school in New Mexico.

Steve Renfro deputy AD Nuclear Weapons, BS without PhD (also comes from a New Mexico school)

Anonymous said...

January 4, 2015 at 12:27 PM
January 4, 2015 at 1:33 PM

Yes we all agree there are no scientists or at least there should be no scientists at the labs. Lets take this to its logical end.

We need to remove the members of the workforce that consider themselves scientists. We should ask each and every one of them this simple question: Are are scientist or are you a person with a scientific background that does national security work? The answer cannot be both and remember congress said that you cannot trusts scientists to do national security work and that the scientific culture was the diver for all of the problems at the labs. Anyone that the answers the question by saying they are a scientist should be terminated and made sure that they can never get any government funding for work.

In any case by getting rid of a big chunk of the workforce will save money to cover up WIPP and make up for the losses in profit.
You may not get it but 12:27 PM gets it, and we need more people like him who get it. Getting it is the biggest problem at the labs, and you either get that or you don't. If you did not get what I am saying that it is time for you to leave, got it?

LANS Uber Alles!!!!

Anonymous said...

Steve Renfro deputy AD Nuclear Weapons, BS without PhD (also comes from a New Mexico school)

January 4, 2015 at 1:33 PM

John Benner (Weapons Associate Director) has an MS from UC Davis, didn't complete his PhD there and James Owen (W-Division Leader) has a B.S. from New Mexico State University, didn't complete his M.S. at University of Colorado, even though he spent 2-years on-campus while earning a full-time Los Alamos salary.

Anonymous said...

Adam Rowen a manager at Sandia Livermore does not have a Ph.D. either.

A quick search on the internet shows that Adam Rowen went to a school in New Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Since there never has been any evidence that people with PhDs make better managers, the above comments are meaningless. Yet they still persist, disguised as comments on an original post, but in reality all by the same poster. He needs to get a life.

Anonymous said...

@ January 5, 2015 at 5:39 PM

Steve Renfro, John Benner and James Owen are great people who do excellent work for this country. So a PhD must not be the only measure of what it takes.

The PhDs are obviously a great asset to the labs, no doubt. But not the only measure of contribution.

Anonymous said...

Steve Renfro, John Benner and James Owen are great people who do excellent work for this country. So a PhD must not be the only measure of what it takes.

The PhDs are obviously a great asset to the labs, no doubt. But not the only measure of contribution.

January 6, 2015 at 7:19 PM

Quite frankly, these three guys are unqualified idiots. They went along with Knapp to destroy many folks in W and WT-divisions. Is that you Tarah?

Anonymous said...

Since there never has been any evidence that people with PhDs make better managers ...

Better managers of what? A Walmart supercenter? Or a Nuclear Weapons Lab? Or do you think managers just have an innate gift to manage and it doesn't matter what exactly they manage?

Technical competence? We don't need no stinking technical competence! My chain of command is indeed staffed with managers who believe that.

On the other hand, it was for a reason that they chose Oppenheimer to be the first lab director and not Billy Bob Dickens from your local hardware store, with an associate's degree from VermTech. The Manhattan Project just had to be done. It is actually astounding what those guys managed to accomplish in only a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

"...The Manhattan Project just had to be done. It is actually astounding what those guys managed to accomplish in only a couple of years..."

In year 2015, in a risk averse no accomplishment required "Etch A Sketch" milestone LANSLLNS world, what need is there for engineering, scientific, or technical college degrees or experience?

Anonymous said...

Most of the physicists at LANL and LLNL are scientists, it is just that they are industrial scientists, not research scientists. Industrial scientists are basically highly trained technicians. No real discovery or research with them on the level seen with research scientists. Engineers are definitely technicians and they discover nothing as they don't do research. I know the engineers tell us endlessly they do research but they don't and they just don't know it. This is why the academic physics community (the research scientists) really do not recognize the scientists at these labs as contributors in the field. Nobody at MIT or Princeton is saying "we should check with LANL or LLNL on this and get their opinion". The one thing that might have demonstrated some research abilities at LLNL, NIF, well didn't do too much to change the above view. There are a few actual research scientists at these labs but they are very few and many are not doing physics research anyway. Industrial scientists have a valuable role to play, it is just a different role from the research scientists.

Anonymous said...

I know the engineers tell us endlessly they do research but they don't and they just don't know it.

Oh boss, we're just happy to be permitted to hoe the fields of hubris on your plantation of science.

Anonymous said...

Come on, that's not hubris. That's defensiveness. They're wondering why they didn't end up in that 'Top 5' department at Ivy U. Should be livin' the life, checking the mail each morning for their invite to the National Academy of Science.

Anonymous said...

Industrial and research scientists have a valuable role to play but not at the NNSA labs.

Anonymous said...

There is no comparison between the Manhattan scientists and engineers and today's crowd. Those dudes built two versions of the bomb from scratch in less than two years. Today's managers can't build a fence in the same time.

Anonymous said...

Scooby. This thread should be closed. There are so many factual errors and logical malignancies as to render fact and fiction indistinguishable.

It is garbage by intent.

Anonymous said...

LANS and LLNS (aka LANSLLNS) are essentially "same same" in composition and in business practices. Use your
"paperweight" and be honest.

Anonymous said...

" Scooby. This thread should be closed. There are so many factual errors and logical malignancies as to render fact and fiction indistinguishable.

It is garbage by intent.

January 10, 2015 at 1:52 PM"

Who made you the judge or what is true or not true, what is fact or fiction. You can have your opinion and your view of the world and let others have theirs. Debate should be free for all to make their own judgements.

Anonymous said...

Who made you the judge or what is true or not true, what is fact or fiction.

January 10, 2015 at 6:29 PM

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Truth is truth. Lies are lies. If you cannot tell the difference or are unwilling to admit there is a difference you are a fool or simply an ignoramus. In any case, a person of no consequence.

Anonymous said...

The labs are as bad as the Department of Energy/NNSA. Maybe it's time to get rid of the management mess that surrounds LANL and LLNL. And don't get me started on Sandia and Lockheed Martin....

Anonymous said...

Adam Rowen is no longer the manager of the materials chemistry department at Sandia! You should hear what many of the former staff members in his former department have to say about him.

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