BLOG purpose

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 authors serve as moderators. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Friday, February 29, 2008

Where is our money?

By anonymous:

As of 2/26, no 401(k) contributions to Fidelity have been made by LLNS for the 2/22 paycheck. Look at your transaction history, folks.
Deposits have historically been made on payday. The market has gained considerable momentum in the last two days with the D/J up almost 300 points. When pressed, payroll said it was a transfer "glitch" and wouldn't commit to the Friday rate. Where's our money? Where's the profit we've made had it been given to Fidelity on 2/22?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

No Money Honey

No money to spend on research, universal health care, education or alternative fuel infrastructure. I wonder why?

I Ain't Got No Money

Iraq war 'caused slowdown in the US' Font Size: Decrease Increase Print Page: Print Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent | February 28, 2008
THE Iraq war has cost the US 50-60 times more than the Bush administration predicted and was a central cause of the sub-prime banking crisis threatening the world economy, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

The former World Bank vice-president yesterday said the war had, so far, cost the US something like $US3trillion ($3.3 trillion) compared with the $US50-$US60-billion predicted in 2003.

Australia also faced a real bill much greater than the $2.2billion in military spending reported last week by Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston, Professor Stiglitz said, pointing to higher oil prices and other indirect costs of the wars.

Professor Stiglitz told the Chatham House think tank in London that the Bush White House was currently estimating the cost of the war at about $US500 billion, but that figure massively understated things such as the medical and welfare costs of US military servicemen.

The war was now the second-most expensive in US history after World War II and the second-longest after Vietnam, he said.

The spending on Iraq was a hidden cause of the current credit crunch because the US central bank responded to the massive financial drain of the war by flooding the American economy with cheap credit.

"The regulators were looking the other way and money was being lent to anybody this side of a life-support system," he said.

That led to a housing bubble and a consumption boom, and the fallout was plunging the US economy into recession and saddling the next US president with the biggest budget deficit in history, he said.

Professor Stiglitz, an academic at the Columbia Business School and a former economic adviser to president Bill Clinton, said a further $US500 billion was going to be spent on the fighting in the next two years and that could have been used more effectively to improve the security and quality of life of Americans and the rest of the world.

The money being spent on the war each week would be enough to wipe out illiteracy around the world, he said.

Just a few days' funding would be enough to provide health insurance for US children who were not covered, he said.

The public had been encouraged by the White House to ignore the costs of the war because of the belief that the war would somehow pay for itself or be paid for by Iraqi oil or US allies.

"When the Bush administration went to war in Iraq it obviously didn't focus very much on the cost. Larry Lindsey, the chief economic adviser, said the cost was going to be between $US100billion and $US200 billion - and for that slight moment of quasi-honesty he was fired.

"(Then defence secretary Donald) Rumsfeld responded and said 'baloney', and the number the administration came up with was $US50 to $US60 billion. We have calculated that the cost was more like $US3 trillion.

"Three trillion is a very conservative number, the true costs are likely to be much larger than that."

Five years after the war, the US was still spending about $US50billion every three months on direct military costs, he said.

Professor Stiglitz and another Clinton administration economist, Linda Bilmes, have produced a book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, pulling together their research on the true cost of the war, which does not include the cost to Iraq.

One of the greatest discrepancies is that the official figures do not include the long-term healthcare and social benefits for injured servicemen, who are surviving previously fatal attacks because of improved body armour.

"The ratio of injuries to fatalities in a normal war is 2:1. In this war they admitted to 7:1 but a true number is (something) like 15:1."

Some 100,000 servicemen have been diagnosed with serious psychological problems and the soldiers doing the most tours of duty have not yet returned.

Professor Stiglitz attributed to the Iraq war $US5-$US10 of the almost $US80-a-barrel increase in oil prices since the start of the war, adding that it would have been reasonable to attribute more than $US35 of that rise to the war.

He said the British bill for its role in the war was about 20 times the pound stg. 1billion ($2.1 billion) that former prime minister Tony Blair estimated before the war.

The British Government was yesterday ordered to release details of its planning for the war, when the country's Information Commissioner backed a Freedom of Information request for the minutes of two cabinet meetings in the days before the war.

Commissioner Richard Thomas said that because of the importance of the decision to go to war, the public interest in disclosing the minutes outweighed the public interest in withholding the information.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

VSSOP preliminary numbers

Unofficial numbers: 190

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rumor is, Random Drug Testing Starts at LLNL

I was talking to a few people at LANL today and they heard that drug testing will start soon at LLNL, that is right after they determine what the penalty for being positive of an illegal drug will be.I'll bet it will be immediate dismissal without a chance to fight the finding. Don't forget, there are many ways to find drugs in your body and not all of them are blood and urine. So if you're a user, the VSSOP is still available. Might want to think about that. Notification could come on a moments notice and without warning.

VSSOP Ends Soon

Tuesday is the last day to sign up for VSSOP

Tuesday, Feb. 26, is the last day for employees who are eligible to take the Voluntary Self-Selection Option Program (VSSOP) to sign up.

The VSSOP is a self-select option — participation is entirely voluntary. It allows career indefinite employees to request consideration for separation with severance payment. Accepted employees will receive severance payment of one week’s pay for each year of continuous full-time equivalent service, up to a maximum of 26 weeks. VSSOP-eligible employees' applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

So how many people signed up.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The verdict is in, period

Rumor: The Policy and Procedure Manual sections regarding resignation and layoffs are being rewritten so the policies can be changed in time for an involuntary layoff.

Fact: There are many sections of the policy and procedure manual being rewritten to reflect the change to a new contract manager and new provisions under the contract. One such section is the resignation/layoff policy and procedures. However, any changes made to this section will not be applied to current workforce restructuring action plans. Should an involuntary layoff become necessary, it will continue to be based on skills, knowledge and abilities for the 200 job series; seniority for all other job classifications. An employee’s years of seniority did not change as a result of change in the contract manager.

Looks like seniority will play big for any involuntary layoff to come. That could be a good thing for many, but I'll assure you they'll find a way to get rid of the dead weight.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Homer's answer on 2/21/08 is

The question was:

When can we expect the responses to the RFC for the 3161 plan to be made public?

DOE rep Homer Williamson said:

I don't have a firm date but I know HQ is back to reviewing them after focusing on the VSSOP recently.

My commentary:

Either there have been thousands, perhaps millions of responses for DOE HQ to take this long to review them or there is a one person doing the review at their spare time. Comments from employees dont seem to be given priority.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How strong of a person are you?

Please listen to this lecture and ask yourself a question. How do you rank in comparison?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

VSSOP update

Contributed by anonymous:

Good sources indicate that approximately 200 people have signed up for the VSSOP as of 2/15, most of them in the first few minutes after 8 AM on Tues., 2/12. Seems logical, since it's first come, first served.

No doubt a few will get cold feet, and some may end up not being eligible because of caps; perhaps a few more will get fed up during the last week and sign up before the deadline. Nevertheless, it appears as if the OP will fall way short of the 700-750 desired.

This is not good news for ULM. Add to that GM's estimate of the FY09 budget on Newsline last week (another $67M shortfall). The mechanisms for an involuntary layoff are not good. Should be an interesting next two months.

Sad situation for many at LLNL

Gradual retirement may not be key to happiness
By Gail MarksJarvis | Tribune staff reporter
November 11, 2007

Ask a Baby Boomer what his or her retirement plan is, and you are likely to hear: "Work forever."

It's a standing joke in a generation that includes many who lived a little too much for today and not enough for tomorrow.

With more than 70 million Baby Boomers moving closer to retirement age, about 80 percent say they plan to work at least part-time after retiring, according to AARP, which has surveyed

Money is the top reason, but so is enjoyment.

While keeping a foot in the work world should help pay for groceries and trips to see grandchildren, it might not make the next generation of retirees any happier than those who simply call it quits on retirement day.

Retirees who left work cold turkey are as happy as those who held onto jobs and retired gradually, according to a just-completed study by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research.

Rather than remaining at work, the key factor for a happy retirement seems to be control, according to the study led by Steven Sass, associate director for research at the center.

Retirees who left work when they were ready to retire were happier than those forced from jobs they didn't want to leave, the researchers said.

In addition, retirees who suffered from health problems that created daily hassles were less happy. And after the loss of a spouse, retirees experienced "significantly diminished happiness," the report said.

Jack Wolfe, a former pharmacist from the Chicago area, is among retirees who long for work and the opportunity to do it. He tried gradual retirement at age 72, after selling the pharmacy he owned for 35 years. He worked part-time at a Costco pharmacy, but had to give it up because he couldn't stand eight hours a day with a back problem.

He misses the customers so much he is inclined to offer help to people he sees laboring over a choice of over-the-counter drugs in a store. And at 79, he is planning to attend some pharmacist seminars to keep up on the latest thinking in his profession.

His advice to people considering retirement: "If you like what you are doing, stay with it as long as you can." As policymakers look at the affects that Baby Boomer retirements will have on companies and government, it has been assumed by some that phased retirements might help.

Robert Hutchens, a professor of labor economics at Cornell University, noted in a paper in February that surveys like AARP's show people eager to work in retirement. And gradual retirement could provide businesses with experienced workers and take pressure off corporate pensions and Social Security.

Whether working longer will make retirees happier, however, is not a certainty. The Boston College researchers studied 2,389 individuals who were fully employed and then retired gradually, or all at once. They used data from the federal Health and Retirement study that tracked older Americans for many years. They looked at whether people were happy, enjoyed life, were sad, lonely or depressed. They analyzed whether people who were happy when working full-time remained that way, or changed, when retiring gradually or all at once.

While gradual transitions give workers time to shift their daily activities, relationships and identity in a deliberate manner, the researchers said the gradual approach was not much different than jumping into a swimming pool: "People know it generally makes no difference whether they dive straight into a swimming pool or gradually acclimate their body to the water. But, for whatever reason, most opt for the latter approach."

According to AARP research, 35 percent of Baby Boomers say they plan to work simply for the enjoyment of it.

If the Boston College research is correct, the happiness of those Boomers may depend upon holding onto their health and the jobs they want. Yet both are more uncertain than Boomers may realize.

Hutchens noted that employers can be reluctant to offer part-time, or phased retirements, because the arrangement can be at odds with pension and health-care policies. Also, while 73 percent of employers said in a survey that they would be willing to offer jobs to retirees, they typically envisioned it for certain part-time responsibilities--perhaps not the jobs retirees would want.

Also, employees could find that they will lose some of their pension benefits by staying to do part-time work, Hutchens noted. Often, pensions are computed based on the pay people have earned late in their working years. If they move to a part-time job, the pay--and consequently the pension--would be smaller.

The realities may take Boomers by surprise. They might feel a loss of control when their employers don't deliver the jobs they envision, on the terms they want. Their health could turn out to be an unhappy surprise.

According to the AARP research, only 16 percent of Baby Boomers believe they could have a serious health problem when they retire. But according to a Fidelity Research Institute report, nearly a quarter of all retirees left work early because of health reasons.

Gail MarksJarvis is a Your Money columnist. Contact her at gmarksjarvis@tribune.com.

##########################################

LLNL wants WFO. The employees are faced with WFL aka Work For Life If you're one of those seeking advancement by attrition or death, I wouldn't hold my breath. Don't plan on seeing any of the senior people leave LLNL very soon, well, at least not for the next 8 -14 years. Removing LLNL population from UCRP was the biggest mistake they made. With this mission accomplished LLNL employees have now joined the ranks of the average joe blow, uneducated, non skilled working class of people leaving them no choice but to work much longer than anticipated. Thanks Congress, Senate and above all the corporate America's rich.

The good news for many is, you have quit a few years to build your 401K which should allow you to endure the recession. The bad news is, you won't have many years after retirement to spend it. Your beneficiaries thank you. Welcome to the new world of a global economic, the soon to come one world currency and shortly afterwards a cash less society. A dream the governments has had for decades. We're almost there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Just say NO to VSSOP

"I signed up for vssop on 2/14 and my transition ID number was lower than 250, so that number is not accurate for a total count."

That's great. Maybe we can get that number down to less than 100 or so. After all, you gain nothing by going now and are not sure you'll even get unemployment, so why not wait until they fire you and then you'll get it for sure. That would at least give you time to find a job during our current recession. By not taking the VSSOP will force management into doing a ISP by at least June of 2008. This will hold LLNS accountable, and make them hand pick the 650 people they need to accomplish their mission of tossing 750 out the door by Mid March.

From what I have heard the list has been compiled since December of 2007. Regardless, I'm sure LLNS will be more than accommodating on short order, but you at least would not have quit your job only to make their job easier.

The latest rumor is that LLNS already knows they're $50M short for FY-09. So what's that spell? " VSSOP / ISP / RIF" ?

Are we having fun yet?

But lets get this straight:

There is a VSSOP (Voluntary Self-Select Option Plan) and an ISP (Involuntary Separation Plan). There isn't a ISSOP (Involuntary Self-Select Option Plan?) nor a IVSSOP (In Voluntary Self-Select Option Plan?) nor a IVSP (In Voluntary Separation Plan?) ( There is a difference )

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

JOB openings at the Lab

It looks like LLNS is hiring!

See these openings

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

LANL BLOG blocked!

Do you believe this? The LANL was reported "blocked" for access from within lanl.gov.
I would not be surprised if LLNS does the same to our BLOG.
This is when Doobydew and I need your support!
If we are blocked, we should all write and ask questions.
Below is the LANL post reporting the blocking:

Well, it looks to me like LANS has everything under control here. They've even added a new web content filter to "secure" LANL staff from reading the blog from the lanl.gov domain. Pinky, I think LANL management is afraid of you.

Staff, however, don't seem to much care one way or another that the blog is being blocked, which is why I'm bugging out and leaving you again comfortably in charge.

Pinky, I want to thank you for doing such a fine job in running your blog, and for letting me put in my two cents every now and then. Good luck in running this puppy for whatever the remainder of its life will be; I'm sure you will do just fine with it on your own.

Likewise, good luck to the few remaining LANL staff whom I know that still work there. LANL is a changed place. I hope those of you who remain there enjoy the new management and work environment, but I am certainly glad that I am no longer work up on the hill.

Cheers,

-Gus
Posted by Gussie Fink-Nottle at 7:21 AM

Who wants head of the line privileges

Employees who are eligible to take the Voluntary Self-Selection Option Program may sign up beginning today (Feb. 12) at 8 a.m.

The VSSOP is a self-select option ­ participation is entirely voluntary. It allows career indefinite employees to request consideration for separation with severance payment. Accepted employees will receive severance payment of one week’s pay for each year of continuous full-time equivalent service, up to a maximum of 26 weeks. VSSOP-eligible employees' applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

VSSOP eligibility criteria:

• Full-time or part-time career indefinite employees working a fixed percentage of time as of Jan. 31, 2008.
• Minimum of one year of service based on last hire date.
• Not part of any group specifically excluded from participation.
• Employee must submit an application during the application period.
• Employee may be on an authorized leave without pay, except for personal leaves for the purpose of temporary outside employment as of effective date.

The VSSOP is not available to:

• Career indefinite employees working indeterminate-time schedule.
• Flexible term, retirees, postdocs, on-the-job trainees, post-college appointees, or any other non-career appointments.
• Employees on authorized leave without pay for temporary outside employment.
• LLNL key personnel, or parent company transfers.
• Employees dismissed pursuant to LLNL Personnel Policies and Procedures Section K ­ separations.
• Employees who are part of any group specifically excluded from participation.
• Employee does not submit an application during the open application period.

Employees may sign up for VSSOP beginning at 8 a.m. today (Feb. 12) through midnight Feb. 26. Employees may change their decision within seven calendar days of submitting their application. In addition, employees may elect to participate in VSSOP, change their mind and then decide to elect again ­ as long as that process falls within the application time frame of Feb. 12-26.

To find out if you are eligible for VSSOP, sign on to LAPIS.

To calculate your service to severance for VSSOP, use the calculator. The service displayed in LAPIS is an estimate only. All service calculations will be validated prior to your seven-day withdrawal period. Employees should not wait for recalculated service to apply.

The Voluntary Self-Selection Option Program (VSSOP), approved by the National Nuclear Security Administration, is part of the Lab’s 3161 Specific Plan for workforce restructuring.

For more information on VSSOP, see the viewgraph presentation.

What a waste!

Sent in by anonymous:

I have received a notice from LLNS by US mail ($0.41 postage) that states: "Based on you annual earnings, you may be eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit from the federal government. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. ....."

Since I am a double-dipper earning well over $200K per year, I am not sure what kind of records these clowns are keeping. On second thought, compared with the salaries of the ULM, maybe I am low income.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Homer's answer on 1/8/08 was:

Mr Homer Williamson's answer to the question about when are the 3161 comments going to be published on 1/8/08 was:

Responses have been drafted and are under review. Comments and responses will be published to the website in the near future.

I reminded him again. You can too: email:
homer.williamson@oak.doe.gov

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Do yourself a favor, ask questions.

Please post anon.

I was amazed and literally blown away when I found out where I ranked in all three categories below after decades of struggling for recognition for my work ethics, employee reliability, problem solving abilities and job performance. It didn't take me long after viewing my numerical ranking to figure out that being outstanding in all categories wasn't important to LLNL and its management at all. What really mattered was how good of a politician I could have been, was I a good smooger, and how well did I understand how to set myself up to assure a greater income so as to secure a position in the ranking so when there's a RIF I'd be in the top 50% in all three categories listed below. The problem is, I evidently didn't understand the game and played poorly.

When shown my numbers of which I've never seen in almost three decades I concluded that everything I have done for my entire career was a total waste of time and effort. It also told me that when the IVSSOP comes shortly, I'm almost certain that when the line is drawn in the sand as to who they are going to keep and who they are going to dispose of, I will be one of those who'll be shown the door.

I also found that I'm being ranked with those who've manipulated the system to acquire very high salaries, titles / positions that are presumed as being more valuable and therefore are paid more, placing them above me, not because they do anything that constructive or valuable; but because they're paid more by virtue of their position. This confirmed what I suspected all along.

Ranking is by salary, NOT, by value to the programs success.

It confirmed in my mind if you're not a manipulative individual who consistently strives for recognitions understanding how to acquire fame that consequently translates into a commensurate salary achieved, you can spend your career working you fingers to the bone only in the end being left behind in the dust by those who are perceived more valuable, but in facts are less productive than yourself. So do yourself a favor this year.

When you get handed your raise card this year make sure you're shown where you rank in your classifications in these categories.

1. Where do I rank ( lab wide) such as 1-N

2. Where do I rank division wide ( in my classification )

3. Where do I rank in pay scale ( in my classification )

For some such as myself all that's left is self respect, knowing my self worth, and understanding that I'm ranked where I am because I refused to compromise my morals, beliefs and my unwillingness to play the game, a game played by many whom I have no respect for simply becasue they've acquired their positions by virtue of everything I despise. What's sad, is that I've had to come to terms with the fact that politics outweighs righteousness, logic and common sense.

All one can do is be as good as they can be and hopefully while doing so, be happy for the moment; becasue as you can see there will always be those who'll kick you while your down.

Friday, February 8, 2008

LLNL- Industrial Partnerships Office

Erik Stenehjem, the new director of the Industrial Partnerships Office.
Photo by Jacqueline McBride

What once was the Lab's Industrial Partnerships and Commercialization (IPAC) office now has a new name and a new director.

Its new name is the Industrial Partnerships Office (IPO). And its new director is Erik Stenehjem (sten-yem).

"The reason for our name change is to place an added emphasis on the importance we see of building work-for-others collaborations with industry," Stenehjem said.

Stenehjem comes to the Laboratory with the experience of working in different capacities for 24 years with Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle.

Most recently, he served for 18 months as the science and technology adviser to Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. He also worked for Battelle in technology commercialization and started new technology-based ventures with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Stenehjem started at the Lab Oct. 1, replacing Karena McKinley, who retired in June. Roger Werne, the former associate director for Engineering who oversaw much of the Laboratory's tech transfer activities in the early 1990s, agreed to be Stenehjem's deputy and assist him in acclimating to LLNL.

"I love working at the Laboratory. We have a great group of people and were coming up with new ways to do technology transfer.

"This may be the best technology commercialization group that no one has ever heard of," Stenehjem said. "I was blown away by the talent we have here. It made an impression on me."

Among IPO's seven business development specialists and Stenehjem's management team, six staffers have Ph.D.s in science or engineering, five are attorneys, three have experience with technology start-up firms and most have industrial experience.

For the future, Stenehjem wants to see significant increases in two particular areas of IPOs efforts the volume of the Laboratory's work with industry and the Laboratory's return on investment in licensing and commercialization.

"Wed like to double our number of licenses and double the amount of our industry-funded research. We would like our work with industry to become a significant component of the Laboratory's research portfolio," he said.

In December, a three-member panel of technology transfer professionals conducted a two-day "functional management review" of the Labs IPO operation.

The panel offered two important recommendations.

First, the Laboratory should better focus its scarce patenting resources on protecting intellectual property that could demonstrably lead to increased LLNL research and development programs and new commercial licenses.

Second, the panel urged that more resources be devoted to the filing and prosecution of Livermore patents.

In the past 2006-07 fiscal year, the activities of the Industrial Partnerships Office produced 20 new licenses, $6.7 million in royalty income, 12 new cooperative research and development agreements, 100 software licenses and 64 U.S. patent applications filed.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Anything for LLNL?

By Jon Fox
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON — In his fiscal 2009 budget request released yesterday, President George W. Bush is seeking $10 million to continue design work on a controversial next-generation nuclear warhead that received no funding from Congress this year (see GSN, Jan. 16).

The president’s $3.1 trillion budget plan also consolidates and increases funding for nuclear weapons incident response activities within the Energy Department. Some funding has been shifted from Defense Department nuclear nonproliferation programs to enhance Energy Department response capabilities.

Overall, weapons activities within the Energy Department would receive $6.6 billion beginning Oct. 1 under the proposed budget, an increase of just over 5 percent from fiscal 2008.

Following lawmakers’ decision to eliminate $88.8 million in requested funding for the new warhead design, dubbed the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), the National Nuclear Security Administration had suggested that some work might continue in this financial year. The primary goal would be to ensure that the warhead, if developed, would not require nuclear testing to validate its design.

“We believe the Reliable Replacement Warhead concept provides some advantages and some significant benefits that are worth studying,” said Tom D’Agostino, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which overseas weapons activity within the Energy Department. “We think that this reliable replacement concept will allow us to bring 21st century security and technologies into our stockpile.”

Administration officials have argued that the new warhead, intended to first replace the W-76 warhead deployed on U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles, would be easier to produce and maintain than a Cold War-era arsenal that is becoming increasingly expensive to sustain. The new warhead would also reduce the risk that the existing weapons need to undergo underground explosive testing to verify their efficacy, officials have said.

Energy Department officials have repeatedly assured Congress that any RRW design produced would not need to be explosively tested. However, a study completed last year by the JASON group, an advisory board that often comments on U.S. nuclear programs, suggested that the science backing such an assertion needs further development (see GSN, Oct. 1, 2007).

The funding requested for fiscal 2009 would be used to address questions raised by the group and to ensure that nuclear testing of any new warhead would not be necessary, D’Agostino said yesterday. “We’re not playing any games with money here or money there. These are resources focused on that part of the question Congress thinks it’s important to address, and, quite frankly, the department thinks it’s important to address.”

Congress last year applied its budgetary brakes to the program, demanding that the administration better define its vision for the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent — how many weapons it needs and for what purposes — before moving further down a path to developing a new warhead. Lawmakers did set aside $15 million for “advanced certification” work to ensure that if any new warhead were produced it could be placed into the U.S. stockpile without undergoing a nuclear test.

As the budget puts it, the money sought for fiscal 2009 is needed to “proceed with the maturation of Reliable Replacement Warhead design concepts.”

Some fiscal 2009 funding, if realized, would go toward developing more advanced surety technologies to ensure a stolen nuclear weapon would be useless in the hands of a terrorist group. In projected budget figures included for fiscal 2010 through 2013 the RRW program receives the same $10 million figure each year.

“It looks alive and well,” Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said of the new warhead design. “RRW and RRW technology remains the core of NNSA future year programs. This is the core of where they want to go. The entire budget oozes with the sense that the [nuclear warhead] life extension program is not where they want to go.”

For nuclear weapons incident response, the proposed fiscal 2009 budget is set at $222 million, which is an increase of nearly 40 percent, although some of that increase represents a reallocation of funds.

The lion’s share of that funding, nearly $160 million, would provide for collaborative efforts with the Homeland Security Department and the intelligence community to study “improvised nuclear device concepts,” according to the budget summary.

“We thought it was important to focus our resources in one area in something we thought was increasingly important, i.e. nuclear counterterrorism,” D’Agostino said. “What we want to do is make sure we understand what type of potential devices could exist out there and how we would go about creating the tools to defeat these devices.”

The administrator said he expects more nonproliferation-related activities as well as support of intelligence community nonproliferation efforts work to take place at the Nevada Test Site. “That work is going to increase over the next couple of years,” D’Agostino said.

Work would focus on both forensics, the ability to determine the origin of nuclear material before or after a nuclear explosion, and what officials call “stabilization,” the ability to render a nuclear device inert while technical experts respond (see GSN Feb. 9, 2007).

The fiscal 2009 budget also provides for a continued reduction in the size of weapons complex by about 9 million square feet, about seven Pentagon’s worth of space. The complex, now housed at eight sites around the country, would employ up to 30 percent fewer workers and hundreds of fewer buildings while increasing the pace of weapons dismantlement, according to the administration plan.

“We’re calling for the continued consolidation of capabilities and materials that will continue to reduce the overall footprint of the weapons facility in line with the president’s goal of reducing the stockpile to about a quarter of its size at the end of the Cold War,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Required Reading for All

It is amazing to read every ones comments on the propose VSSOP and layoffs as if they are effected by budget problems in Washington. This layoff is about supporting contract 44 which in turn supports complex transformation. I wish some of you would use your brains and go to the LLNL home page. Look in the right top corner and click on contract 44 read through it. Then go to the NNSA home page and click on complex transformation read through it. You'll then find that NNSA plans to cut 20% of the work force at LLNL and close 30% of the buildings that support weapons work. Another report your brains need to read is the Chiles report. Go to the LLNL home page search and type in Chiles report.

When you've finished come back here and summarize what you read.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Say no to VSSOP

Contributed anonymously,

Who's Zoomin' Who?

This is another example that shows the ineptitude of LLNS management and the degree to which they will kowtow to NNSA. Just as they screwed up the transition by trying to make it worse than what transpired at LANL, they are trying again to scare you into accepting less. The best thing that could happen would be that the LLNL population will see through the deception (just as many did for TCP-1) and minimally participate in this VSSOP.

What's wrong?

First and foremost, they are asking you to resign instead of laying you off! Along with this, they are specifically making you give up any notice or pay in lieu of notice. There's a reason that clause is specifically in the agreement that you sign (electronically) when you check the box on LAPIS.



And this is bad because?

They keep telling you that it's the same whether you participate in the VSSOP (resign) or must leave later via the ISP (get laid off). But if you are laid off, they must give you notice or pay in lieu of notice. It's in their Policies and Procedures. In Wong's answer to the 26 vs 39 weeks question, he said LLNL only got 26 weeks because it's in the LLNL policies. They can't selectively enforce their policies and choose which to obey and which to ignore, and just like severance, notice is in there.

Observe also how they skirted the unemployment question, basically saying it's up to you to figure it out. I'm no expert in this, but since when has unemployment ever been given to someone who resigned from a job. It usually comes down to who was the initiator that caused separation, and, if you resign, that'd be you.

This whole thing is an effort at hiding part of the horrible truth of the privatization of the Labs. They want to be able to say, "Hey! we didn't lay those people off - they left of their own accord. They resigned!"

My only hope is that the word gets spread far and wide: DON'T DO IT! Don't give up your rights! Don't participate in the VSSOP. Make them pay you all that you are entitled to. Make them own up to what they've done and allowed to be done to LLNL.

Livermore lab offers buyouts to up to 750

Livermore lab offers buyouts to up to 750
By Betsy Mason, MediaNews
Article Launched: 02/04/2008 06:29:25 PM PST

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced Monday it will offer voluntary separation packages to as many as 750 employees, including 326 scientists and engineers.

The buyouts will come from the core, permanent workforce and will be given on a first-come, first- served basis.

``We think this is the next step to retool the workforce to reflect the budget changes that are happening at the federal level,'' said lab spokeswoman Susan Houghton.

The Department of Energy's budget request for 2009, announced Monday, is up $1 billion to $25 billion, but Livermore's slice of the pie is shrinking by $62 million to $1.1 billion. It is down from nearly $1.3 billion in 2007. The bulk of the cuts will come from nuclear weapons work.

It is unclear if involuntary layoffs will be needed even if 750 employees take the packages. ``We have to decide what happens after that,'' Houghton said. ``We don't know if we'll need an involuntary separation. I can't rule it out.''

About 500 temporary and supplemental workers had already left in a round of layoffs in January, slimming the total workforce to 7,300.

Lab director George Miller told employees at an all-hands meeting in January that as the next step he had requested a voluntary separation program. The National Nuclear Security Administration approved the plan on Friday.

The packages include a week of severance pay for every year of employment at the lab up to 26 weeks, a full year of medical benefits, and 50 percent of continuing insurance premiums for the second year.

Employees can apply online for the separation program for a two-week period beginning Feb. 12. They will be notified if their application was accepted or not on March 6, and those who are will leave the lab on March 14.

Workers who have been at the lab less than a year are not eligible, and those with skills the lab sees as critical will also be excluded.

Workers at the National Ignition Facility are not eligible, despite a budget that will be $20 million smaller in 2009 as the facility nears completion. ``It's critically important that NIF stays on track,'' Houghton said.

There are also caps on how many workers in different categories can take the packages.

The lab will accept applications from 326 scientists and engineers, 145 technicians, 101 professional administrative workers such as human resources and public information employees, 79 general administrative workers, 68 supervisors and executives, 22 laborers and 9 operators. Each group or department within the lab has a cap on how many employees of each type get the buyout.

In all, 60 percent of the permanent workforce is eligible to apply for the separation package.

``The outcome at this point depends entirely on how many people take it,'' said Jim Wolford, a computer scientist and member of the Society of Professionals, Scientist and Engineers labor union. Last month, Los Alamos National Laboratory announced 430 of its more than 10,000 employees had signed up for a voluntary separation package that had a more generous severance allowance than Livermore's program.

Los Alamos workers received one week per year of employment for the first 6 years, and two weeks for every additional year up to a total of 39 weeks.

Another 140 jobs were lost at Los Alamos through attrition, and last month the lab's director said that further layoffs would not be necessary.

Betsy Mason covers science and the national laboratories.
Reach her at 925-952-5026 or bmason@bayareanewsgroup.com.

The American Way in a Global Economy

Monday, February 4, 2008

LLNL 3161 Specific Plan Approved

From: Public Affairs Office Subject:

Lab's 3161 Specific Plan Approved

NNSA approval has just been received for the Laboratory's specific workforce restructuring plan, which includes a voluntary self-selection option program (VSSOP).

Details will be announced to all employees on Monday, Feb. 4, in a 10:30 a.m. all-hands meeting in Bldg. 123.

In addition to Bldg. 123, employees will be able to view the live presentation from the auditoriums in Bldgs. 155, 453 and 543 and will have the ability to ask questions live, via a remote call-in.

The meeting also will be broadcast via Laboratory TV, channel 2.

Program specifics will be available to all employees on Monday afternoon via the MyLLNL portal.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

LLNS and LANS to do away with medical for all ?

Brought this comment to the top for comment from all concerned.

"_Your biggest fear in retirement should not be the amount of your SSN check_".

It should be fears about covering increased medical expenses. Medicare is a budgetary disaster and you *WILL* be paying much, much more for medical care after age 65.

Both LLNS and LANS will attempt to drop retirement medical coverage in the next few years, so you'll likely see no supplemental help from them to cover much higher Medicare expenses.

The Baby-Boom generation is in for a big shock after they retired. You have a good promise in terms of SS payouts but expect to see your wallet cleaned out by any medical expenses. There is no easy way for the US to get out this problem other than to make the old folks pay a much higher percentage for their health care.

The outcome of all this is that in about 15 years we will see two types of middle class retirees.

On one side will be those who stay healthy and, thus, have retained savings to live a decent life style. On the other side will be those who don't remain healthy and descend into near poverty because of huge medical expenses.

Given the gloomy outlook for Medicare funding, it's going to be extremely important that you stay healthy in your Golden Years.

The lab workforce should also scream loudly when either LLNS or LANS attempts to decrease or eliminate retiree medical coverage in the next few years.

If they succeed in eliminating this benefit it may put you on a very dangerous financial path after you retire from the lab.

Retirement Plans In Jeopardy

Investors of All Ages, Take a Deep Breath
Wednesday, January 23, 2008; D01

The stock market is plummeting, the housing market is tanking, and talk of recession has reached a fevered pitch. So what does this mean for the American consumer?

If you've got a mortgage, is it a good time to refinance now that the Federal Reserve has slashed the federal funds rate? If you've got credit card debt, will your rates decrease? And what about the stock market? Buy, sell or sit tight?

The good news is, you should see lower interest rates on student loans, credit cards, home-equity lines of credit and some mortgages. But keep in mind that the subprime mortgage meltdown has produced a tighter credit market. That means you will need solid credit and, in the case of refinancing, enough equity in your home to reap the benefits.

Investment strategies depend on your stage in life, but financial advisers said they are giving their clients, regardless of age, one simple piece of advice: Stay calm. If you've got a diversified, not-too-aggressive financial plan, you should be able to ride out the turbulence.

"The worst thing anyone can do is react to these market events," said Fran Kinniry, a principal at Vanguard Group.

J. Ambler Cusick, a financial adviser at Smith Barney, put it bluntly: "Don't do anything stupid."
-- Nancy Trejos

STARTING OUT: Time is on Your Side
MIDDLE-AGED: More Resources, More Challenges
RETIREMENT BOUND: Braving a Downdraft
Do's and Don'ts

LLNL slow to tell employees of exposure

Delay noted in notifying lab workers about possible exposure
last updated: February 02, 2008 03:00:43 PM
LIVERMORE, Calif. —

Dozens of contract workers were not informed that they may have inhaled particles of a metal that can cause an incurable lung disease until five months after routine tests at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory uncovered the substance, a lab spokeswoman confirmed.

The lab, which develops and tests nuclear weapons for the federal government, is arranging to have the workers from Livermore-based GSE Construction tested for sensitivity to beryllium, an earth metal used in the defense and aerospace industries. A low percentage of those who develop beryllium sensitivity go onto develop byryllium disease, a potentially fatal lung disease.

"GSE and the workers are very concerned," company spokesman Kevin Goodwin said.

Traces of the element turned up a year ago in the machine shop where the workers had completed a four-year earthquake safety project, but their company was not notified about the possible exposure until July, when a second round of tests in July showed unacceptable levels of beryllium in the building, according to lab spokeswoman Susan Houghton.

"We absolutely could have and should have informed the employees about this sooner," said lab spokeswoman Susan Houghton.

The seismic safety upgrades were completed two months before the first tests came back positive for byryllium and lab employees continued working in the machine shop until September, two months after the second set were completed.

The workers were alerted and given exposure questionnaires to answer on Friday. The lab's new manager, Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, is investigating why the building remained open and why workers weren't notified sooner, Houghton said.

"We definitely know that continued exposure is a risk factor for progression from sensitivity to the disease," said UC San Francisco pulmonary physician John Balmes, who focuses on occupational and environmental lung disease. "We just can't quantitate the risk."

Only about 80 of the thousands of samples collected from the machine shop had elevated beryllium levels and most of those barely exceeded counts considered acceptable by the government, said the lab's medical director, Jim Seward.

"The key here is that the likelihood of a significant exposure to these contract workers is fairly low," Seward said.

Information from: Contra Costa Times

Friday, February 1, 2008

RIF poll not very useful

The RIF poll was up for 6 weeks and only 46 people responded (dismal!). For what it is worth, here is a summary:
60% were "career" employees
70% were male
32% were in Business Ops
23% in Weapons
17% in Science
14% in NIF
10% in other
7% in Global security
10% were managers

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