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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

Monday, April 17, 2017

Call for new LANL management

  1. An official call for new management at LANL will come out soon. This could be the opportunity to it right this time and crush the LANL cultural problem once and for all. Wording needs to be put in the contract that will allow the manager to do what needs to be done without question. This time they must not underestimate how clever the LANL people and not allow them to wait the next contractor out just as they did with LANS. They must anticipate that what normal people consider decent or undignified will not work on the LANL people who thing they know best. They will not respond to mere words, they will talk in the shadows, offsite, and on blogs. They have a history of showing contempt for the corporate management and this must change and change must be forced and the new contract must allow the next corporation to leeway to force it. LANL has been given every chance and has failed every time, so the next contractor needs to fix it or shut it down. To many it has seems unbelievable that such cultural problems have been so entrenched and persistant but we must realize that for 70 years these "people" at LANL have been told they are special, that they are smart, that they are doing things no else can do, that the work is vitally important and only they can do it, and these "people" actually believe it. If there is one thing that the next contractor must put above all else it will be culture and having the power to change the culture, but first it must know what it is really dealing with.

  2. COMMENTS

  3. April 17, 2017 at 8:13 PM

    Wow, you are really sick. You sound like a true Nazi. The LANL culture must be "crushed". "Change must be forced." "Fix it or shut it down." Your hatred for LANL employees is evident, but so is your insanity. If you think any company or university will bid on the LANL contract in order to use your proposed tactics on the employees, you are truly deranged. The first order of business for any new contractor will be to demonstrate continued scientific excellence and contract metrics met and exceeded. No contractor can achieve that with your idiocy. They would lose the contract on their first review. Neither NNSA, Congress, nor the country at large wants to see a LANL management that browbeats, "crushes," or demeans its scientific staff, which is in fact the best in the world (especially since you left).
    ReplyDelete

  4. 8:41 PM

    I do not disagree with out but have to remember what has been said about the labs.

    From the Physics Today article.

    "Another former LANL official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed. “What [Bechtel] didn’t realize is that Los Alamos is a very complex organization with a strongly entrenched culture and that it is its own worst enemy. [Bechtel] thought they could come in and do what they normally do: rotate people in and out. The folks at Los Alamos are smart; they quickly realized they could wait all these industry guys out.”"

    "I believe there is something about the Los Alamos culture that we have
    not yet beaten into submission… They exalt science and that's good. But ...
    they devalue security."
    NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks to Congress, 13 July 2004.

    https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200410/backpage.cfm
    Is there a “culture of arrogance” toward safety and security rules

    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."

    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.

    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."

    " 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… "

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

    Bureaucratic issues are not "at the heart of the problem," he told the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee. "The heart of the problem is a cultural issue 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."

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

In my experience,LANL's cultural issues are not unique. They're quite common among well-established, older and somewhat inbred organizations. There are ways to go about dealing with that successfully. Neither "we just need to go back to the way we were" nor "we need to beat it out of them" are good approaches.

Anonymous said...

There has been an enormous hiring push at LANL with very many new and enthusiastic but inexperienced technical staff. The culture is definitely changing and fast. I am also told that about 30% of older experienced staff "could retire tomorrow." If the contract process goes south they probably will, leaving LANL with insufficient experienced resources to carry out its mission effectively. Choose your poison, NNSA.

Anonymous said...

There has been an enormous hiring push at LANL with very many new and enthusiastic but inexperienced technical staff. The culture is definitely changing and fast. I am also told that about 30% of older experienced staff "could retire tomorrow." If the contract process goes south they probably will, leaving LANL with insufficient experienced resources to carry out its mission effectively. Choose your poison, NNSA.

April 18, 2017 at 8:52 PM

It is true that they are hiring lots of people at LANL but the quality is much lower than what used to be hired. I guess high ups don't care since they can always say they are keeping the ship manned. As for carrying out the mission effectively how does one quantify this and does anyone even care. How on earth would NNSA know how a quality work force transforms to quality work for the mission. There is simply no metric for this and they really do not want to know since it would just complicate their lives. They just check boxes. Every year LANS does just fine in terms of "mission" work it has only been on safety, security and ethical issues that they are having a problem. I have to be honest with you I have never seen experience really count for much since 2006. Maybe you have and really hope in your part of the lab it does count to higher ups, but since 2006 it is all about checking boxes and the boxes are checked. You can have experienced people or inexperienced and either way the box will be checked. I really hope my view on this is wrong or at least not completely correct but the current lab is not the same lab it was 10-15 years ago.

Look NNSA is just like every other place, they want a nice, easy job, no one to rock the boat, high quality or low quality is irrelevant just make sure there are no incidents and we can all play golf.

Anonymous said...

The problem at LANL since 2006 has been the utterly inept upper management transplanted from LLNL. Want to fix LANL? Fire every last LLNL/iLLNeSs transplant and never hire another one again. While NNSA is at it, they should fire every manager squeezed out of Rechtal.

Anonymous said...

"LANL has been given every chance and failed every time". This statement is not supported by the facts. In the decade of LANS, the corporate guys came in with an opportunity to fix everything. Most everything is still broken. What the corporate guys quickly learned is that the experienced LANL people, who had to work under UC with all things broken, did what was necessary to get it done. They took, and continue to take risks, when everybody wants zero problems, zero accountability, zero delay in schedule and budget. I have witnessed on many occasions where senior LANS managers will not accept realistic cost and schedule. You are given a date that is rectally derived, budget to cover half of what is required, and told to get it done. Bechtel and AECOM came to understand that people could drop in and drop out because they had no vested interest in making the place successful. The bedtimes will continue but I won't be held accountable. They were invested not in making LANL successful, as it was only a stop in the next corporate gig. They suck as bad (or worse) compared to the old UC days.

"Fix it or shut it down". Old, broken words that fail to address reality. If not here, where are you going to do it. The NNSA is unwilling and unable to spend then 10's of billions of dollars necessary to build new plutonium facilities, test and manufacturing facilities for items, or provide for a protection force that is to fend of terrorist that are apparently better equipped and trained than the US military. Security and safety are words that come up over and over. There are people here who come to work every day, do there jobs and go home safe and secure. Now if you expect every employee to know every policy, classification guide, OSHA rule, have tens of dozens of people to independently review, audit, and endulge us with their interpretation of the rules and regulations, get a robot or something. I've seen managers who circumvent processes because they take too long. Never have time to do it right but we can do it again, and again, and again until the task is completed.

"Scientists can't be trusted". Science is based on testing, a hypothesis, and logical thinking. Politics, and therefore politicians do not like free will, independent thought, creative thinking, or the question "why". Also, we are smart, we are special, we do things that no one else can, that the work is important and such. We have never said, outside of a few Cowboys, that we are above the law, that rules mean nothing. In my 30 years, I have seen what would take two people a day to accomplish now requires 5 to 7 people to do in two weeks. Did you ever stop to think that the added people, and checks, and rechecks make us less safe because no one is accountable?

"Hiring lots of people..." This is true, but the quality is as good or better that I have seen in years. This is opposite from the comments. They have ideas, they want to be safe and secure,. These people are looking to the older and experienced people but constantly ask "why have you put up with the BS for so long that makes every day a battle to accomplish something".

NNSA needs to decide what it wants LANL to be. Do you want great science and great scientists who think to solve problems that we don't even talk about in church, at the dinner table, etc? Do you want LANL to be the Jiffy Lube for nuclear weaponsor a vocational-technical school? We designed them, built them, test them and certify that they will do what we need them to do if asked. Choose your vision and move ahead. Now excuse me cause I gave a review to get through because nobody believes that we are safe and secure.

Anonymous said...

April 18, 2017 at 8:52 PM

It is true that they are hiring lots of people at LANL but the quality is much lower than what used to be hired. I guess high ups don't care since they can always say they are keeping the ship manned.

Look NNSA is just like every other place, they want a nice, easy job, no one to rock the boat, high quality or low quality is irrelevant just make sure there are no incidents and we can all play golf.

April 18, 2017 at 10:19 PM

So true! And the LANL legacy will continue at Sandia with NNSA hiring Steve Younger, Steve Girrens, Susan Seastrom, and Mike Burns to run Sandia. The days, and counting (11, May 1) before Sandia is also "screwed and tattooed" with the LANS legacy which was a failure at LANL. What is wrong with this picture!

Anonymous said...

The problem at LANL since 2006 has been the utterly inept upper management transplanted from LLNL. Want to fix LANL? Fire every last LLNL/iLLNeSs transplant and never hire another one again. While NNSA is at it, they should fire every manager squeezed out of Rechtal.

April 18, 2017 at 11:52 PM

It's too late, NNSA protected them by giving them raises and promotions at Sandia. See April 19, 2017 at 3:21 AM.

Anonymous said...

If you don't know where you are going, any path will do. The newer employees are not only second rate, they are leaderless. Fortunately, with Livermites like Charlie, "follow the money", McMillan at the helm, there will at least be a few pockets lined with cash as the collapse of the National Laboratories continues.

Anonymous said...

"NNSA needs to decide what it wants LANL to be. Do you want great science and great scientists who think to solve problems that we don't even talk about in church, at the dinner table, etc? Do you want LANL to be the Jiffy Lube for nuclear weaponsor a vocational-technical school?"

I am not sure what you mean by a Jiffy lube. I think NNSA wants LANL to be invisible and not a problem. They want LANL to be easy and make their lives easy. There is no upside to having great science. Think about it, if you have great science than the next time something goes wrong you will be blamed for focusing on science not on safety and security. The less done, the less seen, the less known the better. Over the years no one in congress has ever said they want great science at LANL they have only said that LANL has problems because of scientists.

Anonymous said...

Face reality that the only voices screaming for great science are the self-serving scientists. The reality is that the country requires functioning nuclear weapons in order to maintain strategic deterrence, and congress is generally agreeable on this point with the military. If you think of Jiffy Lube as a place to take your car to be serviced in order to insure that it continues to function as built, then you get the idea.

Anonymous said...

Face reality that the only voices screaming for great science are the self-serving scientists. The reality is that the country requires functioning nuclear weapons in order to maintain strategic deterrence, and congress is generally agreeable on this point with the military. If you think of Jiffy Lube as a place to take your car to be serviced in order to insure that it continues to function as built, then you get the idea.

April 19, 2017 at 9:57 AM

I agree with you, however the point is that you are more likely to have functioning weapons if you have have great science and top talent. Heck even at Jiffy Lube you are more likely to get better service from a great top mechanic than a mediocre one. It seems logical that at a science lab you you should have the best science you can have.

"Face reality that the only voices screaming for great science are the self-serving scientists"

Self serving scientists? I am not sure I understand your point. It is like saying that"
only voices screaming for great work to to be done on car engines at Jiffy Lube are the self-serving mechanics". I would prefer that my mechanic would say such things self-serving or not.

I think the only difference is that people know what a car mechanic does but they have no idea
what a scientists or engineer does. They think the bomb is just a magic device that exists, always has existed and always will, just like iphones or ipods. They have no understanding that humans have any connection to them at all. Now building a house or digging a ditch you need a person to do that and they should have some knowledge on how to build a house or the physical make up to did a ditch. Maintaining an advanced weapon system or building a computer is no something they cannot understand so they do not connect them to people with skills or ability, the connect them with just facts nature, like the sun always comes up just as my android phone works, there is nothing special about them. Now changing the oil in my car takes some skill.

Anonymous said...

Seestrom, Girrens, Burns, and Younger did not come from LLNL. Someone posting here is a complete poser.

Anonymous said...


Klotz said nothing today.

Anonymous said...

"There has been an enormous hiring push at LANL with very many new and enthusiastic but inexperienced technical staff."

This may be true in some divisions, but is total BS in others. Stupid Division Leaders have set the bar on conversions so high that you can't convert post-docs unless they have the equivalent of a Nobel.

Anonymous said...


This may be true in some divisions, but is total BS in others. Stupid Division Leaders have set the bar on conversions so high that you can't convert post-docs unless they have the equivalent of a Nobel.

April 19, 2017 at 7:50 PM

There seems to indeed be a difference between divisions. One view is that if you are a US citizen and if a mirror fogs up when you put it next to their mouth than you are in. In other divisions if you are a foreign national than forget it. The issue is that in all honesty there are few good Americans in science and engineering at the Phd level and if you do not believe me just look at the make up of graduate students populations in physical science and engineering and compare the scores and grades need for entrance. The question is now is do we really need the best scientists or just Jiffy Lube techs. LANL has no metrics for excellence it only has metrics for violations or when something goes wrong. If LANL does something right no one cares, if LANL does something wrong than everyone notices and it gets attacked. The solution...do as little as possible to reduce risk.

Anonymous said...

Seestrom, Girrens, Burns, and Younger did not come from LLNL. Someone posting here is a complete poser.

April 19, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Steve Younger and Mike Burns both worked at LLNL. Check your facts.

Anonymous said...

I saw a recent video of Steve Younger introducing himself as the new Sandia (NTESS) Director. He projecting himself as a "nice" guy, I almost didn't recognize his voice tone. Fact is, watch out, wolf in the sheepskin. Good luck Sandia, May 1 is around the corner.

https://www.ntess-llc.com

Anonymous said...

Steve Younger and Mike Burns both worked at LLNL. Check your facts.

April 20, 2017 at 2:26 AM


If Burns worked at LLNL that would unusual, since at LANL he had a dozen or more different acting management jobs. Most LANL managers are not known for working much, so watch out SNL.

Anonymous said...

Better check YOUR facts. Neither Steve Younger nor Mike Burns were ever upper-level managers at LLNL. They both worked at LLNL but only as members of the technical staff. They both became managers after moving to LANL and both were certainly much, much better managers than ANY LLNL upper manager transplanted to LANL.

Anonymous said...

The issue is that in all honesty there are few good Americans in science and engineering at the Phd level and if you do not believe me just look at the make up of graduate students populations in physical science and engineering and compare the scores and grades need for entrance.

Actually, I can tell you first hand that at Berkeley and Stanford plenty of top-notch physics students are US citizens. They simply have better options in life and do not consider a career at the NNSA Labs as a possibility. They cannot understand why they would put themselves in a position where clueless and malicious managers would call them "cowboys" and "buttheads", abuse and humiliate them in various ways, while the NNSA leaders, instead of coming to their defense, would promise to "beat the culture" out of them.

Anonymous said...

A corollary to that: The US citizen PHDs the NNSA Labs do hire these days are the ones who couldn't get any other jobs. The nuclear arsenal is going to be in good hands for years and decades to come.

Who is to blame for this state of affairs? Did Nanos go to jail for shutting down LANL under false pretenses? Nope, just got transferred to another government job. How about Linton Brooks? Tom D'Agostino for privatizing the Labs? Nope, no consequences.

Anonymous said...

If you're a US citizen trying to get a degree in the sciences, I would think twice given the preference for foreign nationals at universities.
I think about 70% of EE graduate students are foreign. Also, let's say you get a degree. You're going to have to compete with Sanjay with his H1-B starting at low pay. No way you win that one.

Anonymous said...

Better check YOUR facts. Neither Steve Younger nor Mike Burns were ever upper-level managers at LLNL. They both worked at LLNL but only as members of the technical staff. They both became managers after moving to LANL and both were certainly much, much better managers than ANY LLNL upper manager transplanted to LANL.

April 20, 2017 at 11:26 AM

Is that you Carol Burns?

Anonymous said...

Jeez, the vitriol here is toxic. No wonder everyone who is interested in honest, truthful exchange of ideas has left for good. I blame Scooby. Look what you've allowed this blog to become. Happy now? Bring back identity attribution of posts, or shut it down. What a waste! Doesn't blogger.com have any ethics or standards for what it allows under its banner?

Anonymous said...

Girrens is leading the Sandia nuclear weapon program. LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

"Jeez, the vitriol here is toxic. No wonder everyone who is interested in honest, truthful exchange of ideas has left for good. "

Ok start a conversation. I have a couple of ideas

First one, is it possible that countries like Russia have been seeing what the US has done to the labs and the comments made about the lab by congress and are thinking that after 15 years of steady decline of the US NW labs that they might have the upper hand? In may mind this has always been one of the biggest issues whit what has been going on.

When Nanos said he would fire everyone at a NW lab and start it up with only 10 people I would bet some potential enemies are noticing and thinking that the US is shooting itself in the foot. When you start asking what is done Los Alamos that cannot be done elsewhere you are sending a clear message to the enemy about our current state. When you fire hundreds of people after handing over a the running of LLNL to a sleazy corporation that only wants to make easy profit it kind of sends of signal about the state of affairs or how seriously we actually care about our deterrent. When you repeatedly attack the workers at these places it does not really bolster the idea of deterrence. When you have to pay a creepy ad person millions of dollars to figure out the purpose of LANL it shows that something just might be amiss.

These always seemed like obvious questions but I have never seen these addressed.

Anonymous said...

I've known both Younger and McMillan. I think they're nice guys. I have never understood the hatred for a lot of these directors. I've heard from people that knew Tom Hunter that he was a genius.

However, Ed Moses and Tomas Dias de la Rubia were pieces of shit. Anastasio was a dumb dumb. And then there are astronauts at LLNL running things they shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

"I've known both Younger and McMillan. I think they're nice guys. I have never understood the hatred for a lot of these directors. I've heard from people that knew Tom Hunter that he was a genius. "

I have heard that Younger was seen to have sold out LANL during the Wen Ho Lee case to bolster his own agenda. I have no idea if that is true but a lot of people have said bad things about him. I have have heard some good things about him on this blog and a few others people so who knows. As for McMillan I have never heard people say he is a bad guy but LANL has not exactly done very well under him.

As for Ed Moses, NIF did not go very well. I never heard a single good thing about him in terms of science or management. After NIF he got fired after less than the year leading an astronomy program as everyone one on the blog predicted.

Tomas Dias de la Rubia only bad bad bad bad bad bad, I knew stories about this guy from years ago.

"Anastasio was a dumb dumb. " I know a few people who knew him in grad school and as
postdoc and they are very very surprised about how it turned out. Perhaps he is not as dumb as you think...but than again just like they say about a snow day anything can happen and at the NNSA labs anything can happen.

"And then there are astronauts at LLNL running things they shouldn't."

Astronauts need jobs too! It would look kind of bad if we had homeless ex-astronauts so we have to employee them somewhere, so put them in place that we no longer care about ;)

Anonymous said...

"There has been an enormous hiring push at LANL ..."

That is total bulls--t, as anyone who has recently tried to convert good postdocs in the weapons arena would know. Charlie and his minions are busily diverting resources from weapons to "science," and then whimpering about the plummeting weapons staffing to bring in more $$$$ in order to up his bonus.

Anonymous said...

"Alternative facts" are not facts. Look up LANL hiring stats before you blather about something you know nothing about.

Anonymous said...


"That is total bulls--t, as anyone who has recently tried to convert good postdocs in the weapons arena would know. Charlie and his minions are busily diverting resources from weapons to "science," and then whimpering about the plummeting weapons staffing to bring in more $$$$ in order to up his bonus. "

Huhh...????, what...??? LANL is hiring like crazy, it seems like any and every postdoc or random person who is cleared, could be cleared, or could possibly be cleared is hired including the good, bad, ugly, and downright hideous. If you are a foreign national...than nope not gonna happen, unless you can move mountains. Diverting "resources to science", ya right that is is good one. Where on earth are you getting this crap from? You seem soo far off in your statements one has to ask if you are really a LANL employee or is it just a Friday night bender for you? This blog gets some crazy and I do mean crazy stuff sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Response to 7:27:

You're awesome!

Anonymous said...

Hey, OP, what is it with the quotes from 2004? Are you stuck there when your employment trauma happened? Do you even realize that it is now 13 YEARS later???? SO WHAT if some government bureaucrat had some brain fart about "arrogant scientists" way back then?? Are you stuck in the past or what? If you can't, or won't, deal with today's facts and information, and insist on nourishing your sick old regrets and hatreds, then please leave those of us who must live in the present alone. Go crawl under a rock and die. You have nothing to contribute to anything now, if you ever did. Go away.

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