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, December 31, 2010

The 1994 Salary Freeze

Anonymously contributed:

The 1994 Salary Freeze

Be aware that the last time salaries were frozen in 1994, some contractors "continued to give salary increases that were not always in accordance with Departmental (i.e. DOE) policies". Both these contractors "did not fully comply with the Secretary's pay freeze in 1994". Two of those Labs were Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Also note that only 8 of the 31 contractors were audited in detail.


http://www.ig.energy.gov/documents/CalendarYear1997/CRB-9702.TXT


This speaks for itself on many fronts....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Email Chu

Remind Secretary Chu of what the best and brightest mean. I found a recent comment on this Blog that says it nicely. Cut and paste this excerpt and email him


The.Secretary@hq.doe.gov


Excerpt:
The administration continually touts the "best and brightest" mantra, and why this is so critical to the national security mission for the country. But the contrary message in Friday's announcement is "we can't afford to pay them." Furthermore, this is a continuation of a disturbing trend. For the last several years, the LLNL salary package for scientists and engineers has been in the 1-3% range (data can be found on SPSE.org), while inflation has run in the 3-4% range nationally, and substantially higher in the Bay area.

In the past, justifications have been the benefits package and comparisons to other high tech companies. Pre-transition, the UC benefits were superior to what is typical elsewhere, but post-transition this is no longer the case. Staff hired under LLNS are not eligible for the pension plan, and a 6% 401k match is not atypically generous. The other benefits (medical, dental, vision, legal and term life insurance plans) are also comparable.

The remaining justification is compatibility with similar high tech employers. The fallacy in this approach is that there really aren't other comparable employers; the nuclear security mission is a fundamental difference. These jobs require US citizenship and the ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance, and the specific skills needed are unique to defense programs. Furthermore, the environment in which the Labs work imposes additional restrictions on publishing and collaboration. Thus, the talent pool is significantly smaller that that available to Boeing or Schlumberger or Google. If the Labs only offer comparable employment to other companies, where is the incentive to the next generation of best and brightest? And why should the current staff stay?

How things change: last February, Vice President Biden announced the need to put more money into the Laboratories to cover just such issues as I've raised above in order to ensure future confidence in the Nuclear Posture Review. Now, you announce a salary freeze which exacerbates all the issues the Vice President raised.

Call for action

Folks!

We can sit back and say "we are glad we have a job" or we can let our senators and congress person know what we think. Has inaction ever given you any results?

Your action is as easy as cut n paste:

Have the guts to go to this link. It allows to send 1 email to your 2 senators and
1 congress person in 1 shot:


http://letter2congress.rallycongress.com/698/


use this letter as a sample (just cut and paste)or make your own:



DOE Secretary Chu announced a two-year freeze on salaries for all exempt and non-exempt employees at the national laboratories, as well as other DOE sites and facilities.

Per DOE instructions, the freeze becomes effective Jan. 1, 2011 and applies to all merit increases reimbursed under the contract for the next two years.

The freeze does not apply to bonuses who, we all know, go to upper management
not employees.
In these hard times, the rank and file are asked to sacrifice. Why is not executive
compensation and/or bonuses cut or frozen?

The impact of the freeze is in many areas:

1) It hinders the Lab's ability to retain and attract good talent; this is a requirement of the management contract between the Labs and DOE.

2) It affects morale and possibly safety and security at the Labs

3) Increases resentment against management and resentment in general to such a level that when the job market improves, a serious talent hemorrhage will occur at the Labs, perhaps worse than the one that happened during the dot com boom in the 90s.

4) Retirement is based on the average 3 highest years' salary and if there is a 2-year freeze, it will devastate those that are within a few years of retirement.

The salary increase package was due to be announced at LLNL but Secretary Chu
had some other idea.

We urge you to fight for Lab employees hard earned increase for 2011 and beyond.
The freeze is not fair especially that it excludes management bonuses!

Sincerely,

(Name

Salary freeze update: bad news!

E-LINE: Message to Laboratory Employees – Update on DOE Salary Freeze

As I noted in my e-line message to you on Dec.
17, Secretary Chu announced a two-year freeze on salaries for all exempt and non-exempt employees at the national laboratories, as well as other DOE sites and facilities. The following information outlines the details we have received thus far. We are working with DOE to obtain additional details and clarification and will share the information as it becomes available.

Per DOE instructions, the freeze becomes effective Jan. 1, 2011 and applies to all merit increases reimbursed under the contract for the next two years. This includes all:

-- Exempt and non-exempt (salaried, weekly and hourly) employees.

-- Salary range structure movement is also frozen.

The freeze does not apply to:

-- Approved fund for promotions and adjustments.

-- Increases in wages provided for in existing collective bargaining agreements.

-- Variable/non base pay (commonly referred to as a bonus).

New external hires are permitted during the salary freeze period. However, new external hires will not be eligible for salary increases beyond their initial salary while the salary freeze is in effect.

DOE has not indicated any intention to freeze other Lab benefits.

I know that the timing and impact of this decision is particularly difficult. Our Laboratory has submitted a number of questions and concerns to DOE. When we receive additional information, I will make sure that it is communicated to you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Will GS get rid of the PAD office?

Anonymously contributed:

Comment: It seems there are a lot of people in the GS PAD office sucking up the overhead and not bringing in the money. Yes they brought in some, but the size of the PAD is large, and I am guessing they have not brought in enough to even cover the costs of having a PAD. If LLNL needs lobbyists to bring home the bacon, they should probably hire professionals. Anyway, maybe they have brought in huge sums I have not heard about, but I doubt it. Time to get rid of some overhead.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blame it on Obama!

Anonymously contributed:

From: Public Affairs Office
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 12:18 PM
To: E-line
Subject: MESSAGE ABOUT FEDERAL PAY FREEZE

E-line: Message about federal pay freeze

Last month, President Obama announced a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal workers as part of the broad sacrifice required to bring the national deficit under control. Today, Secretary Chu announced a similar freeze on salary and bonus pool increases for site and facility management contractors who run day-to-day activities at DOE sites and facilities, including the national laboratories. The details of implementation are not yet available. I know this is difficult news to receive, particularly at this time of year. I will keep you informed as we learn more.


-George Miller, Director

Pay freeze!

Anonymously contributed:

No one mentioned the pay freeze yet?

Department of Energy Announces Two Year Pay Freeze on Site and Facility Management Contractor Employees

http://www.energy.gov/news/9917.htm

Released on a Friday just before the quietest week of the year with many people already on vacation. LANL was on a snow day today and their employees will first hear this from the media rather than their management.

The NNSA labs are getting around a 20% increase in NW funding this year and can hardly keep up with the necessary hiring for upcoming programs. How can the Secretary state that the labs can hire the best and the brightest when there is a pay freeze in place?

Sandia is dealing with large numbers of retirements in 2010 and 2011 due to retirement benefit changes. New engineers don't have the golden handcuffs and are fine with leaving for the significantly better benefits at Google and other places.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New uniforms!!

Anonymously contributed:

The lab has announced that the Security Police Officers will be wearing new uniforms, coming to a gate near you in February. This DOE mandate was made because:

One uniform style will be cheaper if bought in bulk quantities for the entire complex. They won't be having to change uniforms and insignias on contract turnovers (maybe they are trying to tell us something.

I understand the buying in bulk to save money. It would have been nice for DOE/NNSA/Congress to have considered what the contract change cost Livermore and Los Alamos. This uniform change will save an estimated $500,000 in eight years. Jeez, at that rate, they might be able to recoup the extra cost of a single year's contract change cost by the next century. That's just for one lab, probably two hundred years to recoup a single year's difference for both labs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Changed view on organized labor

Anonymously contributed:

9 skilled craftsworkers were laid off back in February of 08 without the option of bargaining these layoffs as union members in the midst of one of the worst recessions in history. These craftsmen were hired and trained for 4 years at the taxpayers expense, as all of the 9 were recent graduates of the apprenticeship program, and trained in the workings and procedures of operations at the lab, for the ultimate benefit of the lab.
We as junior employees were of course paid less, less expensive to employ, and were always available for emergencies. Many of us were already Journey-level in other trades making us even more valuable due to our diverse experience and training.This of course mattered little to the new management when the axe fell. We, believing that UPTE would help us resolve this issue, put our faith in UPTE and helped to install them at the Laboratory with our votes and support. Now it comes to our attention that support for our cause may be shelved for "lack of interest". I believe this is a travesty and just goes to show, just maybe, that what this union is all about is DUES, get laid off, can't pay dues, well buddy you no longer exist to us. I must say that my frustration with the organization over this issue has changed my way of thinking about organized labor.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Drunk NNSA Secure Transport Drivers

Drunk NNSA Secure Transport Drivers

Atta boy D'Ago, keep up the good work! Notice how he avoids the bad press. "The Energy Department referred questions to its National Nuclear Security Administration, which had no immediate comment." Nah....



http://bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view.bg?articleid=1298197

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Open campus

Anonymously contributed:

"Open campus" = no security threat. No Pu = no security threat. You need to understand that it was never about protecting employees, but protecting nuclear material. No nuclear material = no protection. You aren't that special. Get used to it.

Layoffs of 100 Security Police at LLNL in November?

Anonymously contributed:

Layoffs of 100 Security Police at LLNL in November.

I heard a rumor and that may be all it is but I heard they laid off 100 of the 152 security police at LLNL in November. Seems like a lot of security to dump for now reason in a time when terrorism looms everywhere and for any reason, especially when LLNL is going to be open campus very soon. What a joke that is.

U.S. wants $85 million for nuclear complex

Anonymously contributed:

U.S. wants $85 million for nuclear complex
Nov. 19, 2010

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Washington called for investing more than $85 billion during the next decade to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, the White House said.

The White House said the National Nuclear Security Administration, the agency tasked with ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, lost 20 percent of its purchasing power during the administration of George W. Bush.

The White House said it was committed to modernizing the arsenal the agency that supports it. U.S. President Barack Obama called for $7 billion to fund the NNSA for 2011, which represents close to a 10 percent increase from the previous year.

Another $600 million would be tacked on to the funding measure for 2012, which the White House said was part of an $85 billion proposal for the next decade.

The funding measure proposed by the White House is more than $4.1 billion than a plan provided to U.S. lawmakers earlier this year.

"This level of funding is unprecedented since the end of the Cold War," the White House added in a statement.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

More Nuclear Material Removed From Livermore Lab

Anonymously contributed:

More Nuclear Material Removed From Livermore Lab
Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has sent 80 percent of its highly secured "special nuclear material" to five other government sites, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration said yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 1, 2009).

The material has been sent to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, the Idaho National Laboratory and the Nevada National Security Site.

The deliveries were part of a U.S. effort begun four years ago to consolidate high-security nuclear material at the five facilities by 2012. Removal of the sensitive material from Lawrence Livermore is set to wrap up that year.

“The removal of 80 percent of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s highest security category nuclear material demonstrates continued progress and is the result of some very hard work,” NNSA Deputy Administrator Donald Cook said in a statement. “NNSA continues to make tremendous strides in transforming a Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise that is smaller, safer, and more efficient. Safely and efficiently removing special nuclear material from Livermore by the end of 2012 is a major part of that effort” (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release I, Nov. 10).

http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20101111_1698.php

Monday, November 8, 2010

Open Enrollers: Legal Insurance is a Scam!

Anonymously contributed:


Open Enrollers: Legal Insurance is a Scam!
We had legal insurance for years, thinking that having a lawyer to speak to on demand would be fantastic. It's embarrassing for me to admit how long it took to figure out why I never, ever "had a case."

If I thought I had a case, it might cost THEM money!

I could have gone to Small Claims Court many times and found restitution with "the elders of my community" for problems we had with the title of our house, extortion by banks, stubborn mistakes on credit reports - the list is long. But the on-call lawyer never even once suggested this, even though Small Claims wouldn't have cost them anything! Unless you know you're going to need a lawyer in 2011, this is not worth the money.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

BLOG change - effective 11/1/2010 -

It has been a pleasure moderating this BLOG for almost 3 years now. I made every effort to keep it "clean". However, (No! No! I am not bailing out), reading every comment became very time consuming and like everyone else who has a job, a family and other social obligations, I cannot keep doing that.
I trust the contributors to this blog and challenge them to make "clean" comments. Therefore, this BLOG is becoming un-moderated as of end of day today.
I will accept posts but any comments against them will be un-moderated.

Let us see how this works!

Thank you for visiting!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chinese Computer Trumps US One as World's Fastest

Chinese Computer Trumps US One as World's Fastest (CNBC, Oct 28, 2010)


http://www.cnbc.com/id/39886462


---

Oh, well. At least the once crown jewel NNSA weapon labs have the Chinese totally beat when it comes to expensive, bloated upper management and inane bureaucracies. They'll never overtake us in those two critical areas of US national security!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Medical coverage costs are up!

Anonymously contributed:

Found out today that my LLNL/LLNS Anthem Blue Cross EPO coverage for LLNL/UC retirees premium is going up 25% to over $500 per month. "Official" UC retirees have a host of plans to choose from, none with a cost over $400, and several at much lower cost. Thanks, LLNS. Thanks, DOE. Thanks for abandoning us, UC. Hope the lawsuit succeeds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

ORNL outsmarted other Labs!

This is a long piece on the Knoxville News Blog, but very insightful on why Oak Ridge National Lab is doing so much better than LLNL...

------
Frank Munger's Atomic City Underground

Has ORNL outsmarted other national labs?

In a recent interview with Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason, I asked him about the Spallation Neutron Source and suggestions that the big-ticket project wasn't living up to expectations. I also asked him about other questions/allegations that are floating around about ORNL and the lab's more successful programs.

Mason made some intriguing comments about ORNL's success, basically embracing suggestions that the Oak Ridge lab may have had an "unfair advantage" in dramatically growing its research programs over the past decade.

''If you look at the budget growth over the last several years, since 2000 . . . we've gone from being about $650 million a year in 2000 to this year (FY 2010) we'll be close to $1.6 billion. That's money we spent. So, almost a billion dollars in growth over 10 years. That is not typical within the DOE complex. That's unusual. I mean, some labs have been going up and some have been going down and so forth, but I don't think there have been too many that have gone up from $650 million to $1.6 billion...


http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2010/10/has_ornl_outsmarted_other_nati.html

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bogus HSPD-12 thing at NASA

This HSPD-12 thing at NASA is really bogus.

see:

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/10/justice-departm.html#comments


Note that the solicitor general made an, err, "mistatement" which he
does not intend to retract.

The student's story at the top would be funny were it not so sad.
These things are not just happening in DOE. It's good to see the NASA
employees are taking NASA to court.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cancer rates at LLNL

Anonymously contributed:

I question whether the information contained in the Cancer Incidence Among Employees of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 1969-1980
Peggy Reynolds, PhD and Donald F. Austin, MD, MPH study accurately reflects cancer-related deaths of LLNL employees who have retired since the study was published. I have personally known many previous LLNL employees who have died from cancer-related deaths. Perhaps an online database/list should be compiled listing the following information: employee names, years they worked at LLNL, what their job classification was, what program they worked on, when they passed away, what caused their deaths and whether or not the U.S. Department of Labor's Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA)has recognized their deaths as related to their work at LLNL.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Newsline announcement of TCP1 changes

LLNL NewsLine
Changes to Defined Benefits contributions
October 7, 2010


Employees who selected the Defined Benefits retirement plan (TCP1) could begin making contributions to that plan some time during calendar year 2011.

Director George Miller made the announcement during his quarterly all hands meeting Wednesday. Miller announced the Defined Benefits (DB) Plan remains healthy, with a funding ratio of 122 percent assets to liabilities – the result of prudent stewardship under both UC and LLNS management.

However, since 2008 the plan’s asset performance has been almost flat, due to a weak economy, a volatile stock market and declining interest rates. At the same time, liabilities, as expected, continue to increase, due to an aging workforce with increasing years of service.

“As a result, liabilities will likely exceed assets,” Miller said.

In order to maintain the funded status of the DB plan, for the long term, the Lab is requesting DOE approval to begin TCP1 contributions in 2011.

While details still need to be worked out, Miller said the contribution strategy will be based on both Laboratory and employee contributions. Contributions will start in a way that avoids the challenges now being faced by UC, sister laboratories and others across government, Miller added.

Only those employees who selected TCP1 at contract transition will be affected; all other employees are enrolled in TCP2, the Defined Contributions Plan.

Contributions to the DB Plan will not affect participants in TCP2 plans.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LLNL TCP1 contributions start in 2011

Anonymous said:

Miller said that to keep TCP1 well funded, contributions will be needed in 2014. He cites interest rates as the cause for liabilities growth. What interest rate is he referring to? Interest rates have been at an all time low!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lawmakers Back Nuclear Weapons Budget Boost

From Global Security Newswire

Lawmakers Back Nuclear Weapons Budget Boost
Monday, Oct. 4, 2010

A continuing budget resolution to keep the U.S. government operating through early December provides a $624 million boost in nuclear weapons funding for the new budget year beyond the amount appropriated in fiscal 2010, the Associated Press reported Friday (see GSN, July 22; Tim Korte, Associated Press/Alamogordo Daily News, Oct. 1).

President Obama last week signed the resolution to fund federal activities for the first two months of fiscal 2011, which began Friday, Federal News Radio reported. The resolution continues only through Dec. 3 (Jolie Lee, Federal News Radio, Oct. 3).

The funding boost for the National Nuclear Security Administration represented a victory for the Obama administration, which sought the money as part of a planned elevation in nuclear weapons spending over five years, according to AP (see GSN, Feb. 19; Korte, Associated Press).

The resolution enables a significant boost in spending for work on the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement building at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reported Friday (see GSN, Aug. 17). The facility was projected to cost $4 billion, but its final expense was still uncertain (John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal, Oct. 1).

"This bill is very good for Sandia and Los Alamos national labs because it strongly supports the key stockpile stewardship work they do," Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said in a press release. "It is a sign of how important the labs are and will remain to our national security," AP quoted him as saying.

Most other branches of the federal government received the same level of funding under the short-term bill as they had in the previous budget cycle, Bingaman said. He added that the NNSA spending increase would "lend strong support" to maintenance of the U.S. nuclear arsenal as lawmakers prepare to consider ratification of a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia (see GSN, Sept. 29; Korte, Associated Press).

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton linked the spending increase to an administration bid to win ratification of the pact, the Journal reported. "I look forward to the vote in the lame duck session that will once again demonstrate the Senate joining all of its predecessors in years past to continue to support arms control [treaties]," she said (Fleck, Albuquerque Journal).

One independent watchdog said the funds could be better spent elsewhere, AP reported.

"These are not the priorities that would put people to work, provide health care or education, protect the environment, or halt what most ordinary people understand to be a continuing economic decline, with no end in sight," Los Alamos Study Group Director Greg Mello said (Korte, Associated Press).

Friday, October 1, 2010

LLNL ES&H reorganizes

From LLNL News OnLine
LLNL ES&H reorganizes
September 28, 2010

The Laboratory’s Environment, Safety & Health directorate has been restructured, effective Oct. 1. The ES&H directorate is part of the Director’s Office, and provides many of the trained ES&H personnel to Lab programs, as well as service, programs and facilities necessary for the Laboratory to successfully meet its objectives in environmental protection, occupational health and employee safety.

The restructuring is the result of discussions between ES&H and Lab programs regarding optimization of ES&H support to the programs. Most of the changes instituted by the restructuring will be transparent to the general Lab population, but will increase efficiency and cost effectiveness within ES&H.

Changes include a transition of the Hazards Control Department and the Environmental Protection Department into the following distinct organizations: the Worker Safety and Health Functional Area, the Radiation Protection Functional Area, the Environmental Functional Area, Team 1 and Team 2. These organizations report directly to ES&H Director Steve Wuthrich. ES&H’s Health Services Department and Safety Education Section remain basically unchanged and continue to report to the ES&H director.

Three new offices also were established within the ES&H director’s office. These include the Process and Document Management Office, the Injury and Illness Analysis Office and the Assurance Management Office. Establishment of these offices centralizes some of the responsibilities that had been spread throughout ES&H, thereby freeing ES&H personnel at the work place to concentrate on the services they provide the programs and the institution.

The reorganization is intended to increase integration and teamwork, while flattening management structure and centralizing some responsibilities.

“ES&H’s new structure better aligns responsibility, authority and resources, and allows us to better serve the needs of the programs and the institution, in a more cost effective manner,” said Wuthrich.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Polygraph test

Has anyone been randomly selected for a POLYGRAPH test? My husband is so focused on work he won't know any of the answers to financial questions and it will be a water-board experience! (The finances are MY job.) He's so honest it's maddening - the type who will show up for jury duty in a storm - yet he's been re investigated 4x in 10 years because of the level of his clearance. In 50 days he will have outlived his father, who died of a heart-attack age 61 from job-related stress. I have to do my best to get him out of this. ADVICE, ANYONE?

Anonymous

PSOs at airport?

Anyone heard official (or unofficial) reaction to the PSOs, in uniform and with their automaic weapons and Glocks at the San Jose Airport to pick up another PSO from a trip?
http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_16181816?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Passing nuclear secrets

Anonymously contributed:

Couple Accused of Passing Nuclear Arms Secrets"


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/us/18scientist.html?_r=1&hp

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

UC pension in serious trouble!

Anonymously contributed:

While we in LANS/LLNS are grumbling about the shortfall of funding in TCP-1 be aware that the UC retirement system is in serious trouble.


http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/23973

The following excerpt:

With the university facing rising costs for pension and retiree health benefits, Yudof formed the task force in February 2009 and charged it with developing recommendations for competitive pension and retiree health benefits that would be financially sustainable over the long term. The university already has a $21 billion unfunded liability for its retiree health and pension benefits. Within five years, that unfunded liability is projected to grow to $40 billion — twice the current size of the entire UC budget."

Have you lost ground?

Anonymously contributed:

Raises soon, and are the health insurance rates going to go up? How many have received a raise and lost take home because of the increased costs? I've lost ground for two years.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Debt, deficit and defense

You can blame anything you want for the decadence of the NNSA Labs but you cannot ignore the impact of war costs! That is the real killer. Scroll to page 4 of this file:


http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/1006SDTFreport.pdf

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

LANS @ LANL Where is the money?

LANS @ LANL Where is the money?

Found out today that their will be hardly any monies for M&S spending in FY11. The overhead tax rate on programs went up another 9% to cover the Pension shortfall and higher medical premiums.

Will not hurt Mikey and others in power as they get a nice salary from the Lab payroll and then another few hundred thousand from their parent companies such as LLNL and Bechtel. Plus a nice PBI Bonus. Oh and don't forget the Executive Pension and Medical Plans and other perks.

Its all smoke and mirrors folks. The outsourcing of the Labs has been a dismal failure. Management is covering it up with skewed metrics and falsifying audit reports. I am surprised that any science gets done at all.

Whats up at LLNL?

Any advice on knowing when to quit LLNL?

Anonymously contributed:
Any advice on knowing when to quit LLNL? Particularly for postdocs/flexterms, how do you decide it's time to move on to someplace where it might be easier to do science with less restrictions? Will my boss even care? How much notice do I have to give? Any horror stories?

Monday, August 16, 2010

How is the lack of space charges working out for you?

Anonymously contributed:
How is the lack of space charges working out for you?

Space hoarding?

Forced moves of technical staff from Q areas in nice buildings to open area offices in ratty buildings? Moves of non-technical staff into nice Q buildings that they have no need to occupy?

Zero available lab space for new projects?

LANL Sidesteps Safety Rules

Anonymously contributed:
Friday, August 13, 2010

By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer
Los Alamos National Laboratory, with the approval of its federal managers, has repeatedly sidestepped federal nuclear safety rules at its plutonium laboratories, according to an internal Energy Department investigation.
The rules require detailed analysis of nuclear safety risks, so accidents can be avoided by fixing problems. But because of delays in conducting the studies and completing the required repairs, the lab has repeatedly been granted permission for temporary fixes so operations can continue, according to a report from the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General.
Such permissions are allowed, but "are intended to be temporary measures" until problems can be fixed permanently, according to a report from the Inspector General, made public Thursday.
No nuclear accidents have resulted from this and other related problems identified by the Inspector General's report.
Los Alamos referred comment on the report to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the federal agency that oversees its work. NNSA spokespeople did not return calls for comment.

Read more: ABQJOURNAL NORTH: LANL Sidesteps Safety Rules http://www.abqjournal.com/north/132318126681north08-13-10.htm#ixzz0wWb1ye82

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Los Alamos: We have a problem!

Anonymously contributed:

Explosives at the LANL TA-55 Plutonium Facility

Let's see how LANS skirts this issue. Houston, we have another problem.

DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD
July 9, 2010
MEMORANDUM FOR: T. J. Dwyer, Technical Director
FROM: B.P. Broderick and R.T. Davis
SUBJECT: Los Alamos Report for Week Ending July 9, 2010

Plutonium Facility: On Thursday, Plutonium Facility management declared a potential inadequacy of the safety analysis (PISA) and initiated a hazardous material response based on the discovery of potentially explosive ammonium nitrate powder inside the facility.

For years, facility personnel had observed a white powdery substance being generated and accumulating between the first and second stages of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters
in the standby glovebox exhaust filter plenum that services the 200 Area of the facility. White
powder has never been observed in any other Plutonium Facility HEPA filter plenum, including the
primary 200 Area glovebox exhaust plenum. The powder was thought to be an inert oxalate salt
and was considered benign. Two weeks ago, more thorough chemical analysis performed to
support dispositioning several bags of this powder as waste concluded that the substance was
actually 95% ammonium nitrate. Upon receipt of the analysis results, facility and safety basis
personnel believed the ammonium nitrate to be a strong oxidizer and entered the New Information
process to determine whether the unexpected presence of a strong oxidizer in a credited HEPA
filter plenum was an unanalyzed hazard that represented a PISA. On Thursday, as part of
processing this New Information, safety basis personnel consulted LANL explosives experts who
judged that the ammonium nitrate should be considered a UN Class 1.1 explosive based on
qualitative description of the powder. This prompted a PISA and a number of immediate actions.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lawrence Livermore Backs off Plans to Subcontract for Pro Forces

Anonymously contributed:

From: Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor
July 12, 2010
Lawrence Livermore Backs off Plans to Subcontract for Pro Forces
Todd Jacobson

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has scrapped plans to open up security work at the lab to subcontractors for the first time, saying that the fixed price contract approach favored by the National Nuclear Security Administration wouldn’t give the lab the flexibility and cost savings it was seeking. The lab said in May of 2009 that it was considering subcontracting for security work, moving away from years of protective force management by the M&O contractor.

The move drew interest from protective force companies eager to compete for security work at one of the two NNSA sites that have kept protective forces work in-house. Security at the Pantex Plant is also performed by the M&O contractor, B&W Pantex. The lab’s plans hit a snag when the NNSA balked at its push to utilize a time-and-materials contract, and it canceled the planned procurement in June—13 months after issuing a Sources Sought notice for the contract. “The fixed price contract would potentially cost the laboratory a lot more money,” lab spokesman Jim Bono said last week. While time and materials contracts can sometimes be less expensive than fixed price contracts, the fixed price approach is often favored by the government because of the certainties involved in the cost. The protective force contract up for bid at Los Alamos National Laboratory is of the fixed price variety, as is the contract envisioned at the Nevada Test Site. “It shifts the risk from the government to the contractor,” one industry official said. “But I think it results in higher bids, because you don’t know what you don’t know and you have to account for lots of contingencies.”

‘We Won’t be Able to be As Flexible’
The University of California, which was the sole manager of the lab up until 2007 and remains a part of the LLC, provided security for the laboratory for decades, leveraging assets across the entire UC system for equipment purchasing, training and staffing. When lab management shifted to a Bechtel-led team in October of 2007, officials began considering a shift in the way it handled its protective forces. “It was scalability that we wanted,” Bono said. “A time and materials contract would’ve given the laboratory the ability to scale up and scale down. We won’t be able to be as flexible.”

That flexibility might have come in handy over the next few years as the lab completes the removal of all special nuclear material requiring Category I/II security, a move that will allow for a decrease in security requirements. Lab officials have denied that the change was related to a high profile security slip-up in 2008 that led to dozens of changes in the way the lab’s protective forces guard the site. In April of 2008, the lab was the site of an embarrassing security blunder during which when a team of mock terrorists were able to steal a cache of special nuclear material during a force-on-force practice exercise, drawing criticism from Congress and government watchdog groups. The lab has since implemented dozens of corrective actions and has performed well in follow-up reviews and exercises.

Transition roadmap needed

Anonymously contributed:

I found this piece in the latest Bulletin of Atomic Scientist of interest. While I don't agree with everything in it, it does seem to capture the issues revolving around the future of LANL and LLNL.

Its rather lengthy, but its conclusion appears to be reasonable...

"In order to best define the role of the labs during the next 20
years, a roadmap guiding the transition to zero is needed. How long
is the long run? Should the laboratories recruit and train another
generation of scientists, or will the current cohort be sufficient? Is
new knowledge needed to perform verification, or is current technology
adequate? Related to these questions are the challenges of
maintaining morale in organizations that are losing their main mission
and of sustaining political support for the cost of running the
laboratories during the transition period."

Whole article at:

http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=1JT5hveLdZFFpNpVtK6T9_EjkNTzZoNPouQeZGN5dvv1rfkV07cZh4J3gKrdf&hl=en&authkey=CLKovqoB

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

de-inventory and its impact

Anonymously contributed:

I have not read any topics on de-inventory and how it will effect more layoffs. We (security) are losing at least 150+ personnel. We are being told that layoffs will be according to Lab rules. i.e. Lab seniority, etc.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

U.S. Blueprint for Iran Strike

Anonymously contributed:

From Global Security Newswire

Mullen Affirms U.S. Blueprint for Iran Strike
Monday, Aug. 2, 2010

The United States has a blueprint in place for military action aimed at preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday (see GSN, July 30).

“Military options have been on the table and remain on the table. It’s one of the options that [U.S. President Barack Obama] has,” the Jerusalem Post quoted Adm. Michael Mullen as saying. “I hope we don’t get to that, but it’s an important option, and it’s one that’s well understood" (Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2).

Pressed on NBC's "Meet the Press" to say whether the Defense Department possessed a plan for use of force against Iran, Mullen said "we do."

Mullen's direct reference to military action was unusual for the Obama administration, which has more typically warned that "all options are on the table," the London Guardian reported (Ed Pilkington, London Guardian, Aug. 1).

Still, Mullen said he was "extremely concerned" that a strike on Iran might produce "unintended consequences that are difficult to predict in what is an incredibly unstable part of the world," Agence France-Presse reported.

He added, though, that Washington must not allow the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran.


http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100802_7942.php

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Are we losing science?

Anonymously contributed:

This points out that we're losing science in this area and
there is no obvious way to regain it.

http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12966&page=1

Friday, July 23, 2010

20 Workers Fired at LANS

Anonymously contributed:

I was one of at least 20 workers fired this week (June 19) from the LANS Waste Disposition Project (WDP). This program supports the disposition and transfer of nuclear waste from Area G to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Apparently there is at least a $5M shortfall of money, however we were not informed of any details or reasons for our terminations. There was no warning, just to get our personal belongings and leave the premises, immediately. I have been a contractor for 35-years and while I have been terminated for various reasons I have never been treated so inhumanely and unprofessionally by an "organization". We literally worked weekends and 24-hour shifts to move waste to WIPP and handled extremely dangerous and hazardous materials. We were the workers doing the "dirty jobs" behind the elegant science and technology that never gets any recognition.

There were no management meetings or information leading up to our terminations to give some indication that there were any budget issues. My general impression is that LANS (and DOE/NNSA) is trying to keep our terminations a secret. Good luck to you workers that remain at LANS.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Do all people report safety concerns?

The BP story is an interesting one. "A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems." from:


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/us/22transocean.html?ref=us

We don't have a profit motive, but do people hesitate to report their own mistakes or insignificant injuries for fear of reprisal? Like whatever happened to those dudes in the electrocution interview video? That obligatory confession in the face of a firing squad sure scared me!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

George before congress

Anonymously contributed:

In testimony before congress George Miller made this statement:

"The Workforce. The Stockpile Stewardship Program's most valuable and
irreplaceable assets are the unique individuals who sustain it. Confidence in the stockpile ultimately depends on confidence in the stockpile stewards at the NNSA laboratories and production facilities. We must attract top talent to the program and sustain over time specialized technical skills and expertise, which provide the basis for judgments about the stockpile and stewardship actions taken, through mentoring and hands-on experience."

Given that we now have a two tier retirement system and any new employee will be in tier 2 and the lab has a penchant for term employees, will the expertise be lost because there will be no disciples to pass on the secrets?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Need advice

Dan asked:

Hi,

I want to know if its a good idea to consider getting a "Flexible Term" position on the business side. It's something I am very qualified for. But I am not quite sure what Flexible term implies versus the alternative.

Sandia does 9/80 and holiday shutdown. At least they use to as of 5years ago when I was working there. Does LLNL have 9/80 and holiday shutdown?

The posts make it seem like LLNL is not a good place to work because people are generally unhappy (morale is down, work atmosphere is not enjoyable). That was the sense I got.

I fear leaving my job and ending up in a worse situation. My current job is not that bad just that I'm hoping to have a much shorter commute and the above mentioned benefits.

I'm thinking smaller population (LLNL) not as much corporate big company type stuff to deal with as a 100K+ employee population/Retail. The LLNL medical benefits don't seem as good as what I have currently. I have the best PPO plan and my monthly prems are $240 to cover my family; and deductible is $1K, out of pocket max is $4K for fam and most coverage is 80% with things such as prostate screening, mammogram, pap smear, immunizations covered at 100%.

Sincerely,

Dan

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Sports Cars for the LANS Prenup Boys

Anonymously contributed:

New Sports Cars for the LANS Prenup Boys

While Mikey just went out an upgraded his black Audi TT coup, Bret Knapp (Associate Director for Weapons) is flaunting his brand new $100,000 2011 Cayenne Porsche at the taxpayers expense. Knapp behavior fits the following Shaw quote to a tee.

"Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power."

- George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What is really happening with the MUSD Budget?

Anonymously contributed:

Note from Scooby: What is MUSD? Please explain acronyms as much as possible. TY

What is really happening with the MUSD Budget.

Word is coming out that MUSD spent ~$2M of its $25M budget on actual maintenance and will not account for the balance of the funds.

Since we do not have an accounting of the funds we can't evaluate the purpose and value gained by the remaining $23M.
If this is true, and it yet needs to be validated, why will continue to see PADs and Directorates decentralize and locally optimize the facility capabilit5ies.
Case in point, WCI and NIF did not join the centralization of facility management. Comp followed suit, now GS is pulling out. This would leave the Facility Department supporting support Departments and not directly linked to funding PADs.
One would think that NIF, with its Landscape craze as a high priority represents the a continuing trend.
Maintenace money not spent on maintenance, and not account for by the Washington Group morons who do not report to G. Miller.
PADs split up back to Directorates, facility staff managed again by the funding sponsors who will, and should, set their priorities.
I see this simply as this: those who bring the gold know what the gold givers want, proof of success is measured in delivery of budget.

Interesting insight into the fee structure on the UC side of LANS/LLNS

Anonymously contributed:

Interesting insight into the fee structure on the UC side of LANS/LLNS

http://www.universityofcalifornia.
edu/regents/minutes/2010/joint52.pdf

Highlights....

The (UC) President recommended that he be authorized to expend, for the following purposes and in the following amounts, from the University’s net share of Los Alamos National Security (LANS) and Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS) LLC income earned between September 30, 2009 and December 31, 2010:

1. Supplemental compensation and other payments (including accruals) approved by the Regents for certain LANS LLC and LLNS LLC employees, from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 – $2.0 million ($2.2 million in 2009-2010).

2. An appropriation to the Office of the President budget for federally unreimbursed costs of University oversight of its interest in LANS LLC and LLNS LLC, paid or accrued July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, including but not limited to an allocable share of the costs of the Regents, the President, the Provost, Research Security Office, Human Resources, Policy and Analysis, Financial Management, Compliance and Audit, Laboratory Management Office, External Relations, Office of Research, the General Counsel, and the University appointed Governors on the Boards of the LLCs – $4.0 million ($3.85 million in 2009-2010). The increase reflects more accurate cost allocation for UC Office of the President (UCOP) LLC efforts.

3. An appropriation in 2010-11 to a post-contract contingency fund – $1.3 million (no change from 2009-2010).

4. An appropriation for research funding in accordance with the Laboratory Fees Research Program process for 2010-2011 – $19.9 million ($18.7 million in 2009-2010). A Reserve will be allocated for research in the amount of $1.0 million ($1.15 million in 2009-2010). The Reserve will be available to potentially fund new projects, supplement projects that may exceed their allocation, or in the event there is a reduction in fees in future years, the reserve will allow projects approved for a three-year period to be fully funded. The Spend Plan for research is subject to annual approval.

5. An appropriation of $0.3 million for 2010-2011 for administration of ongoing awards and the upcoming competition review and award process.

Summary

Estimated Funds Available
Estimated Net FY 2010 LANS/LLNS LLC Management Fee = $29.50M
Estimated Carryover from 2009-2010 = $ .59M
Total = $30.09M

Recommended Allocation
Supplemental compensation = $ 2.0M
UCOP oversight = $ 4.0M
Post-contract contingency = $ 1.3M
2010-2011 Lab Fees Research Program = $19.9M
Competition Review & Award Process 2011 = $ 0.3M
Reserve for Research Awards 2010-2011 = $ 1.0M
($1.08M remains from 2009-2010)
Contingency for factors affecting the final fee $ 1.59M (to keep at $3.0M level)
Total Allocation for 2010-2011 = $30.09M

Work Outage Project Manager??

Anonymously contributed:

LANS TA-55 Work Outage Project Manager.

LANS has decided that running the Plutonium Facility (TA-55) in "shutdown mode" is standard operating procedure (SOP). So they will be paying someone up to $191,200.00 to "run" the facility in that mode. I expect they will hire an entire staff to "run" the facility in this mode. You can't criticize LANS Management ingenuity. You can expect they will now receive PBI (aka money) for running in that mode! It all fits, zero work, zero safety incidents, maximum PBI money!

Job Number: 219953, Date Posted 7/7/2010

SMS-INP is seeking a Technical Project Manger 4 who will provide technical project management and coordination for all TA-55 outages. This individual will work closely with all programmatic organizations, construction projects and facility operations to optimize the overall effectiveness of planned facility outages. The Technical Project Manager will lead a diverse integrated project tem to plan, manage and execute facility outages as to reduce the overall impact and maximize the benefit to the facility. In addition to understanding all of the technical requirements associated with the outages, the Technical Project Manager is also responsible for scope, schedule, budget, quality, safety, security, and environmental compliance as related to the assigned scope of work. The Technical Project Manager will review and present as required status reports, develop forecasts and oversees appropriate corrective action(s) as necessary.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Almost 3 years later

What has improved?
- Safety
- Security
- Compliance
- Bureaucracy
- Landscaping

What has not improved, declined or even worsened?

- Productivity: declined, due to a higher % of resources spent on compliance.

- Morale: worsened; people, young and graying, walk around hunched over, knowing it wont getter any better. With sub 1% raises and bad job market, everyone is here waiting for a miracle.

- Good ol boy's culture: in 2007, the expectation that the Bechtel boys will come in and straighten out the UC guys and instill "private" industry culture of efficiency and productivity was a consolation. Guess what, the Bechtel boys joined the UC boys in their tradition of mediocrity. So, the good old boys culture is well and alive. The only difference is that taxpayers are paying and extra100 Million to manage LLNL and 2000 of our colleagues are no longer here!

- Cost of doing business: Rising! Why? I thought Bechtel was here for their business know-how and paid to run LLNL more efficiently. Oh no? Is their job to collect their fee and play watchdog for NNSA? Did we need a construction and project management company for that?

- Work for others: How are we doing? Global Security: can you answer that?

- Science in general: Anyone left who is qualified to answer this one? You have to admit that we were a real Science Lab under UC.
If people were open about how they feel and not afraid of reprisals from the Bechtel boys, we might be able to improve this Lab. Until then, it is moreof the same throughout many more no-bid contract extensions.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Layoffs?

Contributed by thief:

As the screws are slowly turned on the federal budget....has anyone heard any decent layoff rumors recently?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It’s a Bumpy Ride to Private Management for Los Alamos, Livermore


http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201006/losalamos.cfm

He is back!

Anonymously contributed:

He's Back . . .
Never forget who lead the transition to the private contractor of the once great LLNL:

". . . There are so many people who ensured the transition went as smoothly as possible in a period of unprecedented change for our Laboratory. Thanks go not only to my team and the many employees who supported them, but also to the team at the University of California Office of the President who worked closely with us throughout the transition to sort through benefits, contracts, communications and legal issues and to the Laboratory Site Office who helped identify and resolve issues dealing with changing from a public to a private entity. And of course I am forever grateful to have had the pleasure of working with Tom Gioconda and his LLNS transition team, which led us to the finish line.

Transitioning a contract that has been in place for 55 years is a very challenging task at best and I can't imagine what it would have been like without Tom at the helm.My deepest appreciation goes to my team, which worked many, many long, hard hours for 18 months identifying, debating and resolving every detail needed to ensure a smooth transition. I'm proud to have worked with the Laboratory's communication team who created multiple communication venues and documented, recorded and shared our progress with the workforce, providing factual information as quickly as it became available."

What other goodies does Tom have up his sleeve? Bring back the "transitioner" I say we bring back the Blog!!!

More of the same?

Anonymously contributed:

After three years of stunning leadership, Steve Liedle exits stage left.
But don't worry folks, the universe will be balanced.
He is being replaced by Tom Gioconda, also of Bechtel.

Hopefully, the words of the Who won't be valid:

"Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

former 200s: Do you agree with your new job classification?

The poll shows 13 YES and 25 NO.
The question is: did or is any of the 25 who said no are going to do something about it?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

NIF Landscape Manager.

Anonymously contributed:

If you peruse the job openings you may find this one:

Posting Title: NIF Landscape Manager
Job #: 009061

It is only a 50% time job, but I don't think the boys in B111 have a Landscape
Manager. If NIF doesn't work, they'll look good while going down.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BLOG criticism

Anonymously contributed:

Yeah, it's pretty lackadaisical. From experience, not only is posting taking several days, but some posts, that are not particularly controversial, and certainly not abusive, are just being tossed. Some threads whose interest one might think is minimal will show a new post, while others, more current and of interest, show none for many days, then 3 or 4 show up all at once, several days late. I don't know what's going on, but this is no longer much of a useful blog. Oh well... Maybe the administrator needs to rethink whether he really wants to do this.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lab Chiefs Question Study Summary

Anonymously contributed:

The Lab Chiefs can no longer be trusted to be objective or trustworthy in their profit focused roles. At one time both Labs were credible peer review agencies (literally adversaries) of each other. The Lab Chiefs are so wealthy and unopposed that even a minor finding by the JASONS makes them nervous that it might destabilize their cash cow.


http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_05/JASON

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Notice from moderator

Hello!
More than 50% of the comments I have been getting are destructive criticism, mainly about how slow I am at publishing posts and comments.

Visitors have to realize I am not sitting in a rocking chair with a laptop on my lap waiting impatiently for your posts and comments.

If you want this blog to move faster and improve, please contribute your time towards that, otherwise hold your criticism.

This blog is not rated, ranked or reviewed for performance. If you count on it for entertainment, you are in the wrong place. If you experiencing memory difficulties, go back and read "BLOG purpose".

I will not respond or post anything complaining about slow, boring, useless etc... this blog is.

After all, you are free to visit or not to visit this BLOG.

Thank you for visiting and contributing!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

U.S. Declassifies Nuclear Stockpile Details

Anonymously contributed:

"U.S. Declassifies Nuclear Stockpile Details to Promote Transparency," By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, Washington, May 3, 2010, at

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=59004

Monday, May 3, 2010

Where are the bonuses?

Anonymously contributed:

Did anyone notice that LLNS has decided to scrap its plan this year to provide $10M in bonuses to the workers, those who make it possible for LLNS managers to make their big salaries?

I didn't believe it when I first heard it anyway. Heard that money will help fund NIF problems.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why is job reclassification hidden?

Anonymously contributed:

Management has decided that job classification is now sensitive data and is to be hidden from employees. This means that financial reports and the lab estimators will not show if someone is a plumber or a physicist. Not sure how others think about this change. I find this scary and concerning. Does lab management think I can not be trusted? I think management is concerned that the PSTS reclassifications will cause employees to look up peers and use the classifications of peers to ask for reconsideration of their own classification. I wonder if management is uncertain they can stand behind their decisions and so want to obscure the information. And I wonder if management truly believes that employees won't find out the information anyway. I think this is a short sighted decision that will backfire on them. In the meantime those employees who truly need the information for doing work will have to find work arounds.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ready for contributions?

Two anonymous contributions on pension contributions:

1)
Since LLNL is looking at employee contribution for next year what percentage did the LANL employees have to start contributing and what's the increase every years after that. Is it going to start at 2% and then go to 16% like was dicussed during the transition. We all want to know at LLNL how much we should bend over.

2)
I hear UC has started deducting 4%from everyone's paycheck and they're going to follow CalPer's plan of increasing that 5% to 7% and up as time goes on. This took affect 4/15/2010. LLNS should start shortly. With LLNS retirement plan being $408M short I'd say 4% would be a good start and then as years go on maybe we can get it up to 16% as was talked about during the transition at which time they said, "not at this time". What a CYA statement. Someone please tell LLNL what LANS started at and what their project pay cuts are.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Can world's largest laser zap Earth's energy woes?

Anonymously contributed:


http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/science/04/28/laser.fusion.nif/index.html?hpt=Mid

Global warming profiteering.

Anonymously contributed:

Looks like DOE executives aren't above joining in with the growing "for-profit" Bechtel/BWXT LLC sleaze fest!....

-

More Global Warming Profiteering by Obama Energy Official

Surprising documents made available to this author reveal that Assistant Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi has a huge financial stake in companies likely to profit from the Obama administration’s “green” policies.

Zoi, who left her position as CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection — founded by Al Gore — to serve as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, now manages billions in “green jobs” funding. But the disclosure documents show that Zoi not only is in a position to affect the fortunes of her previous employer, ex-Vice President Al Gore, but that she herself has large holdings in two firms that could directly profit from policies proposed by the Department of Energy.

pajamasmedia.com/blog/
more-global-warming-profiteering-
by-obama-energy-official/

Saturday, April 24, 2010

White House Says Door Not Closed to Nuclear Warhead Replacement

Anonymously contributed:

White House Says Door Not Closed to Nuclear Warhead Replacement
Thursday, April 22, 2010

By Martin Matishak
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- A key White House official yesterday reaffirmed that the Obama administration had not closed the door on replacement of nuclear warheads, but that it was more likely to use less-controversial means for maintaining the U.S. strategic arsenal (see GSN, April 15).

"If necessary, if we have to do replacement in order to maintain [U.S. nuclear] forces, then the president has that option available to him," Gary Samore, senior White House coordinator for WMD counterterrorism and arms control, said yesterday during an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"I don't think it will be, frankly," he added. "From what I understand ... refurbishment and reuse will be perfectly fine for the foreseeable future. But if I'm wrong, and replacement becomes necessary, the president has the option to do that."

http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/
nw_20100422_3638.php

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jury Clears Lab of Trade Secret Theft

Anonymously contributed:

Jury Clears Lab of Trade Secret Theft


http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_14915314

Monday, April 19, 2010

Testing nukes without blowing up bombs

Anonymously contributed:

I didn't realize that Obama even knew Ed Moses, but I'm glad he has confidence in him.
Next thing you know we'll be getting limitless energy from banana peels and BS, too.


http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/04/16/nuclear.testing/

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Poll results

DO you think LLNS really cares about your safety?
- Yes : 5
- No: 2
- Only if it benefits them: 17

NNSA Announces Special Tools & Processes for B53 Dismantlement

NNSA Announces Special Tools & Processes for B53 Dismantlement

Prhttp://www.yourindustrynews.com/nnsa+announces+special+tools+%26+processes+for+b53+dismantlement+program_48047.htmlogram

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that its Pantex Plant has developed a new process and special tooling that will accelerate dismantlement of the B53weapons system.

NNSA’s SS-21 process fully integrates the weapon system with the facility, tooling, operating procedures and personnel involved in the dismantlement program to form a safe, efficient and effective operating environment.

D’Agostino said the B53 is very large and difficult to take apart. “You don’t attack these things with a screwdriver and a crescent wrench,” he said.

With the design and fabrication of tooling and procedures complete, the project team is expected to receive authorization to begin disassembling the B53 after NNSA completes an extensive safety review that includes approval of a Documented Safety Analysis and completion of a Nuclear Explosive Safety Study.

80+% of the 53 stockpile have already been dismantled & for these remaining few we’ve developed a whole new process & tooling to “accelerate dismantlement”. We’ve conducted numerous NES studies over the years & I can’t ever recall using a screwdriver & crescent wrench to disassemble a 53. Nor do I recall anyone at LANL/SNL/DOE/NNSA saying the existing process at the time was unsafe.

If the Seamless Safety for the 21st Century (SS-21) is so much better, why is it still necessary for NNSA to complete an extensive safety review that includes approval of a Documented Safety Analysis and completion of a Nuclear Explosive Safety Study?

If the Seamless SS-21 process is so wonderful why do PTs at PX refer to it as an endless, mind-numbing process of delays?

An insignificant workload that in the recent past took a few months to complete now requires several months to complete even with a so-called “accelerated dismantlement” process. A 10-fold increase in the cost to do the work is not mentioned anywhere.

Now, if we can just reduce the speed limit on our highways to 5mph we can be so much safer.

Legal Action To Start

Anonymously contributed:

Lab Retirees: Funds Raised, Legal Action To Start
By The Independent

The UC Livermore Lab Retiree Group has raised enough money to begin legal efforts to try to regain membership in University of California health plans, group leader Joe Requa announced.

He said that a formal contract will come first. “Lawyers work on court time, which seems to run much slower than real time, so there may be a short delay before that (legal action) happens,” he wrote in an email.

The financial target was $150,000, which attorneys told the retiree group would be needed to support the initial phase of the legal effort. The target has now been reached, prompting Requa to joke that he should be able to proclaim “mission accomplished” as President Bush famously did seven years ago ¬ only to see the Iraq war continue for years more.

The legal effort will also be a continuing one and in time may require still more funds, Requa said. “Unfortunately, we just won one battle. I expect the war to persist for some time so I will need your continued help.”

The retiree group’s law firms are developing strategy now. First steps are likely to involve opening a court case aimed at uncovering documents and policy statements that bear on the decision to remove Lawrence Livermore Lab retirees from UC group health coverage.

The retirees were covered by the University’s group plans under a succession of contracts that began in 1952 and ended at the beginning of 2008, when a for-profit contractor took over Laboratory management from University of California. The new contract specified benefits “substantially equivalent” to UC’s group plans. However, the contract wording was changed a year later under circumstances that have never been explained to retirees.

The new health arrangements have come across as a patchwork of plans that appear to abandon individual retirees to fend for themselves in a complex system. Retirees share painful stories with one another about former colleagues or their spouses who have been unable to obtain service from the health consulting firms that now separate retirees from the Laboratory and University that once took an interest in their welfare.

Not all retirees report dissatisfaction in the current year. Some are paying no more for health care than in the past. However, concern remains for the future, that being forced out of UC group plans and into individual plans will make them vulnerable to rapid price hikes or even to being dropped as they age and require more care.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review of performance reviews

Contributed anonymously:

Here's a familiar story:



http://online.wsj.com/article/SB127093422486175363.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsFifth


"It's time to finally put the performance review out of its misery.

This corporate sham is one of the most insidious, most damaging, and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities. Everybody does it, and almost everyone who's evaluated hates it. It's a pretentious, bogus practice that produces absolutely nothing that any thinking executive should call a corporate plus."


Why not let's form a committee, redesign the process, and make it "better" instead! Oh, I guess we just finished doing that...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tri-Lab Directors' Statement on the Nuclear Posture Review

Anonymous said...



Joint Statement from Los Alamos Director Michael Anastasio, Lawrence Livermore Director George Miller, and Sandia Director Tom Hunter

Los Alamos, New Mexico, April 9, 2010—The directors of the three Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Laboratories—Dr. George Miller from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Dr. Michael Anastasio from Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Dr. Tom Hunter from Sandia National Laboratories—today issued the following statement on the Nuclear Posture Review:

“A key responsibility of the three Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Laboratories—Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories—is to provide technical underpinnings that ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the United States’ nuclear deterrent. The recently released Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) provides the Administration’s policy framework and path forward for ensuring that ‘the nation's nuclear weapons remain safe, secure and effective.’

“We believe that the approach outlined in the NPR, which excludes further nuclear testing and includes the consideration of the full range of life extension options (refurbishment of existing warheads, reuse of nuclear components from different warheads and replacement of nuclear components based on previously tested designs), provides the necessary technical flexibility to manage the nuclear stockpile into the future with an acceptable level of risk. We are reassured that a key component of the NPR is the recognition of the importance of supporting ‘a modern physical infrastructure —comprised of the national security laboratories and a complex of supporting facilities—and a highly capable workforce with the specialized skills needed to sustain the nuclear deterrent.’”

News Release

April 10, 2010 8:54 AM

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nuclear posture review

Anonymously contributed:

The long awaited Nuclear Posture Review was released today. The report and briefing slides are at;


http://www.defense.gov/npr/

Alarm over shortage of nuclear experts

Anonymously contributed:

An interesting article at:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/04/03/alarm_over_shor
tage_of_nuclear_experts



The gist of the article is the fact that the population supporting the weapons
complex is getting older and is not being replaced.

"To narrow the gap, the Obama administration is proposing to boost a series of
programs - including cash bonuses and tuition reimbursement - to persuade a new
generation of students to earn degrees in nuclear physics, engineering, and
other related disciplines and choose a career in weapons work, according to
budget documents. The nuclear security agency has also established guidelines
requiring contractors that run its weapons laboratories - currently on the order
of 30,000 - to recruit and train more workers."

I'd like to see that guideline, what are the penalties to the labs if they can't
recruit people? Will LLNS and LANS not receive bonus money because they can't
convince people to work here versus other areas that don't have the bureaucracy
the NNSA has created.

How about cash bonus for us still working here to re-up, like an incentive shown
to those in the military (and kudos to those folks!).

I love the part of the article that states that average age of the 3,000
employees at NNSA is 47 and a full quarter of them will reach retirement age by
2012. That leaves 75% of them to continue the mis-management of the complex.
And if they retire at 60, that means 13 more years of these folks boys and
girls. It will be a race, can the complex survive 13 years or will they need
fresh blood to make the collapse occur sooner?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In the name of safety and security!

The following was an anonymous comment in a recnet post and deserves to be its own post:

DOE oversight is broken. The worthless bureaucrats keep adding more and more meaningless requirements in order to perpetuate their existence.

This white-collar welfare in the name of safety and security results in the cost of doing business as a DOE organization being much more than the private sector.

We just had numerous people working all last week doing paperwork for a 15-minute repair that was about as risky as changing the doorbell button. We have to protect against nonsense security risks.

Eventually they will kill off all work. The only good thing about that will be that these parasites will then die also.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Probe Sought of U.S. Lab Security Plan

Contributed anonymously:

Probe Sought of U.S. Lab Security Plan
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A pair of Republican lawmakers on Monday requested a review of an Obama administration plan to alter security and safety management rules governing U.S. national laboratories, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Nov. 17, 2009).

Situations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California in recent years have demonstrated the need for security and safety reforms at such facilities, the lawmakers said (see GSN, March 26, 2009; Associated Press/Albuquerque Journal, March 31).

imo, if there's a need for continued reforms at these (or any other sites), DOE/NNSA has hired the wrong contractor. And, as you know, the DOE/NNSA hires other contractors to tell the site contractor what they're doing wrong & how it should really be done.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NNSA merging contracts

Anonymously contributed:

With NNSA merging the contracts to run Pantex and Y-12 into one contractor, I really wonder why this is not done for LANL ($79 million max fee a yr) and LLNL ($53 million max a yr). The front company LLCs - LANS and LLNS - are basically the same people, but as separate contracts are getting over a combined $100 million to run both labs. The same thing UC did for $10 million a year. Where is the taxpayer outrage at this bilking of the US Treasury. I bet you could merge the two Lab contracts and set the combined fee at $60 million a year, and LANS/LLNS would still bid to run LANL and LLNL, saving $720 million over ten years.

-----
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Contract will cut Pantex costs
$875M savings would be spread among plants
By Jim McBride

Top National Nuclear Security Administration officials announced their contract acquisition strategy for Pantex and other facilities Friday and said the contract reforms would save an estimated $875 million over a decade.

Pantex, located about 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, assembles, dismantles and modifies nuclear weapons. The five-year contract for B&W Pantex, which manages and operates the plant for the federal government, will expire in September.

Under contract reforms announced Friday, the NNSA will conduct a bidding competition for a single contract to manage Tennessee's Y-12 National Security Complex, which produces uranium parts for warheads, and the Pantex Plant. The reforms also include a contract option to manage tritium operations performed at South Carolina's Savannah River Site...

..."Together, these moves demonstrate our commitment to be good stewards of taxpayers' money and we hope will enable NNSA to improve the efficiency of its operations," Harencak said. "Consolidating the management of multiple production sites under a single contractor will provide opportunities to improve performance while reducing costs."

Harencak said the contract changes will affect the management contract at Pantex and other weapons facilities, but he said that existing missions at those sites wouldn't change.

http://www.amarillo.com/stories
/032710/new_news3.shtml

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nuclear Labs Raise Doubts Over Viability of Arsenals

Anonymously contributed:


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/27/us/27nuke.html



In a challenge to the White House, the nation’s nuclear weapons laboratories have warned Congress that federal programs to extend the life of the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal are insufficient to guarantee the viability of the weapons for decades to come.

I can't see that this warning from the Labs will have any influence on Obama since he's already cut any funding for RRW/WR1 & is pushing hard for ratification of CTBT.

The JASONS have stated their opinion & so have the Labs. POGO accuses the Labs of "defending their turf" - Isn't that exactly what POGO is doing?

Why is it the "experts" on NEs are always from someplace other than our Labs?

Maintaining older NE's that do not provide the best safety & security technology makes no sense to me.

View on 200 re-classification

Contributed by the Pooper Scooper:

I recently posted about the changeover from discipline based job classification to the MTS classification at LLNL.
See

http://dogchurch.blogspot.com/2010/02/mts.html


Feel free to link to it from your LLNL the True Story blog.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Opinion on blog moderation

Anonymously contributed:
I see someone complained that the term "fanboi" was insulting and you removed a post involving that term.

I was quite surprised to see that. Especially given snide comments from others about "best and brightest indeed" and another thread mentioning the term "hayseed".

Last time I checked, fanboi was merely a term for ardent enthusiast and not an insult.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fanboi

I'm not about to demand that someone using the term "hayseed" be purged either. I'm over 21 and not going to get my little feelings hurt. In fact, it made for a good tongue-in-cheek reply to that comment.

Naturally it is your blog and your rules. I've done my bit to help keep it alive, but have no interest in staying around if some people are allowed to make personal attacks and then go running to you for "moderation". Is the playing field even or not?

Monday, March 22, 2010

LANL TCP1

Anonymously contributed:

So, any predictions on what Mikey is going to say about tcp1 Tues at LANL?
1 or 2 or 3% contributions?

Debate Heats Up Over Conventional, Nuclear Deterrence Trade offs

Anonymously contributed:

A long but worthwhile read...

Debate Heats Up Over Conventional, Nuclear Deterrence Trade offs
Friday, March 19, 2010

By Elaine M. Grossman
Global Security Newswire


http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100319_6793.php

Monday, March 15, 2010

Poll results

Is LLNS managing LLNL well?

68 responded. Thank you.
62 or 91% said no.

Prove you have dependents

Anonymously contributed:

LLNS asking for documents they already have on file in your personnel records to prove who your dependents are because they're to lazy to do the search themselves. Along with this they threaten you with cancellation of your medical insurance unless you comply by April 16th as of they were the IRS. What a waste of $80M a year, plus perks and raise for ULM. What did these !!! ask you for.

Cost to Test U.S. Global-Strike Missile Could Reach $500 Million

Anonymously contributed:

Cost to Test U.S. Global-Strike Missile Could Reach $500 Million
Monday, March 15, 2010
By Elaine M. Grossman
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Defense Department could spend as much as a half-billion dollars to flight-test a new conventionally armed ballistic missile with a sophisticated capability to destroy targets virtually anywhere around the world, Global Security Newswire has learned (see GSN, July 1, 2009).

Obama administration officials are touting the emerging technology as a partial alternative to nuclear weapons. Conventional "prompt global strike" arms could be used against targets thousands of miles away that must be dealt with quickly, from al-Qaeda safe havens along the Pakistani-Afghan border or an impending North Korean nuclear-armed missile being readied for launch.

The only hitch is that the premier weapon system for the Pentagon's conventional prompt global strike mission -- the Air Force's Conventional Strike Missile -- is in the throes of cost hikes and management tangles that could complicate hopes for rapid fielding.

Senior defense officials, aware that a more public role for the weapon is likely to attract additional congressional scrutiny, are seeking greater cost and planning discipline in the Conventional Strike Missile effort…

http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20100315_8655.php

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Share your story

Anonymously contributed:

From LLNL News On Line:

NNSA 10th Anniversary celebration: Share your story
March 8, 2009

This month marks NNSA’s 10th Anniversary and NNSA is looking to employees to celebrate in style.

NNSA is working to highlight the agency’s accomplishments and success stories from the past decade, and is collecting stories from the people who work every day in support of the mission.

In 500 words or less, share some of your favorite memories, stories and accomplishments that you have experienced at NNSA over the last decade. The best essays will be featured during the upcoming 10-year Anniversary celebration.

Send your short essay and contact information to Jennifer Wagner [jennifer.wagner@nnsa.doe.gov] by Friday, March 12.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Managers! How do you feel about LLNS?

Anonymously contributed:

What do managers really think? For managers only, tell this blog how you really feel about LLNS.

Scooby's note: Mention your PAD.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Democratic senator challenges energy chief on Yucca Mountain

Anonymously contributed:

Democratic senator challenges energy chief on Yucca Mountain decision Washington senator vents to DOE chief

Is Dr. Chu just another politician?

At a Senate hearing, Chu got his latest earful from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. She demanded to know "who was consulted in making the decision that Yucca Mountain was not viable.

You say that Yucca Mountain is not a workable option, but what seems to be missing is why," she told Chu, asking him repeatedly what science was used to back up the Obama administration's decision to end plans for the underground waste repository.

Murray said billions of dollars have been spent at the Hanford nuclear reservation in her state to clean up and begin packaging liquid nuclear waste for eventual disposal at the proposed Yucca site, but no consideration was given to residents there and other places where highly radioactive waste awaits removal.
"This is really disturbing to me," Murray said. "This leaves everybody just in complete limbo after 30 years of working on this.

http://www.lvrj.com/news/democratic-senator-challenges-energy-chief-on-yucca-mountain-decision-86458462.html

Monday, March 1, 2010

What happened to the "future" institutional data center

Anonymously contributed:

In the past couple of years, one of LLNL's achievements was the build out of an
enterprise-class data center in B112 under the O& B PAD.
Fully redundant power, industry standard everything!
Only one side of it has been fully populated. When the time came to to populate the other side, ULM decided to do it on the cheap by ordering the undoing of the power redundancy from the populated side to accommodate the unpopulated side.

This is to allow more tenants to move in with little cost.

The result is that we will have a grade C data center.

Imagine telling doing an A+ job and being told that C+ would have been OK!

That is what happens when bureaucrats (instead of Managers) make decisions.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Funding nukes to eliminate them

Interesting view from The Strategic and International studies



http://csis.org/blog/selling-counterintuitive-funding-nukes-eliminate-them

Invisible costs!

Anonymously contributed:

Read this George:

Warren Buffet writes in the Berkshire-Hathaway annual letter to shareholders this year that:

"We would rather suffer the visible costs of a few bad decisions than incur the many invisible costs that come from decisions made too slowly – or not at all – because of a stifling bureaucracy."

Compare this to the DOE/NNSA/LLNS and LANS, who would rather suffer the many invisible costs from decisions made too slowly--or not at all--because of a stifling bureaucracy than incur the visible costs of a few bad decisions.

This in a nutshell is what has gone so wrong at the Labs and their owning agencies, by Congressional demand.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vehicle safety

Here is a message from the PAO: read second sentence: does it make sense?
You cannot be wearing yyour seat belt when exiting your vehicle!

E-LINE: MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR: VEHICLE SAFETY ISSUES CONTINUE

Laboratory colleagues:

Last year we had the first and only fatality on site in the history
of the Lab. You will remember that one of our colleagues was not
wearing his seat belt when exiting the running vehicle he was driving
onsite.

We continue to hear about situations where employees are involved
with dangerous moving vehicular situations. There have been several
recent incidents of employees exiting running vehicles. Thankfully,
no one was injured but there were near misses.

I have made the error of exiting running vehicles myself. I can say
from my own personal experience that changing 40-plus-years of
ingrained habits requires constant attention and vigilance. It takes
great self-awareness to break bad habits. Personal and work safety
includes an enormous spectrum of activities and discipline. But it
can be the difference between life and death.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How was your raise?

Anonymously contributed:

I'd like to hear about the raises again. Did anyone quit over the poor raises, or are they taking it in stride? Are people working less, or putting in resumes to other corporations? Anyone file an administrative review over a zero raise? Any luck?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where was LLNL?

Where was the LLNL when it came to this?


http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_14461347?source=rss


Looks like we missed the boat again people. We've basically done nothing good for the immediate needs of the country since Starwars, and we most certainly could never accomplish what we did then in the same period of time. I’m so disgusted with this place it’s unreal.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Strange posting:

ANonymously contributed:
This is posted on L-hire. Can someone tell me whta a 10% Group Leader is?
Is that the same as asking a judge, mayor, Captain, etc.. to work part-time?

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) Computing (NIFC) Division within the Computing Applications and Research (CAR) Department has an opening for a 10% Group Leader in the Test Group. The successful candidate will manage NIFC computer scientists and technicians supporting software and/or hardware controls verification and validation for the NIF. The candidate will participate in NIFC Division hiring, performance evaluations, peer grouping and salary management. Candidate must currently have a technical assignment in support of the NIF Project. Candidate will report to the NIFC Division Leader.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Does the Secretary of Energy have a bit too much free time?

Anonymously contributed:

Does the Secretary of Energy have a bit too much free time?

Cal physicist helps confirm Einstein theory
David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor
Monday, February 22, 2010

A UC Berkeley physicist and a Nobel prize-winning colleague now in President Obama's Cabinet report they have confirmed one of Albert Einstein's most revolutionary theories 10,000 times more accurately than ever before.

Einstein's theory of general relativity has already been tested and confirmed to a degree as a true picture of reality by scores of experimenters, ever since he proposed it to the world nearly a century ago.

In the immediate decades after the theory's publication, legend had it that only 12 people in the world could understand it, although physicists have long revered it. Even today, relativity remains an arcane subject for most of us, but it does have relevance to all science and even to everyday life - for meticulous timekeepers, for space explorers, for astronomers studying black holes and even for anyone driving a car with a Global Positioning System device navigating around the Bay Area's tricky freeway mazes.

One basic prediction from Einstein's theory is that the tug of gravity makes clocks slow down.

Now Holger Müller, a physicist at UC Berkeley, together with Steven Chu, former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and now Obama's energy secretary, as well as Achim Peters of Humboldt University in Berlin, report they have developed what is by far the best confirmation yet of Einstein's monumental achievement.

Details of their work are published in the current issue of the journal Nature…

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/22/BA9U1C2BMF.DTL

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fleeting Youth, Fading Creativity

Anonymously contributed:

Here's an interesting article from WSJ.

"Another possible factor in the decline of successful young scientists is the institutions and funding mechanisms that discourage the sort of risky research that produces major innovations. Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University who has studied the funding bodies that support the arts, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, notes that these institutions frequently become more risk-averse over time. "They become more beholden to special interests and fall under greater political scrutiny," he says. The end result is an increasing unwillingness to support projects that might fail. Mr. Cowen notes, for instance, that the NEA has gone from directly funding "whomever they wanted, with very little scrutiny"—this led to many success and scandals, such as the furor over Robert Mapplethorpe—to a recent focus on Shakespeare, classic jazz and the teaching of poetry in high school. While such programs are laudable, they're also unlikely to produce major cultural innovations.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703444804575071573334216604.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_RIGHTTopCarousel

I'm betting the next Lawrence Fellow will be doing more simulations of radiation damage. That's despite a total lack of support for LIFE in Washington. Does this mean that we are being audacious or autocratic? Was there ever any rationale provided for shifting LDRD towards the institutional SI? The trend seems to be towards centralized control.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Interesting topics on Director's Office "Topics and Questions" website

Anonymously contributed:

I ran across these on the Director's Office "Topics and Questions" website on the internal LLNL website, and thought they might be of interest.
-----

Q: I heard rumors that NNSA may raid our TCP1 fund to help fund other sites’ defined benefit plans? Is this true and is it legal?

A: No, NNSA cannot touch the LLNS Defined Benefit Retirement Plan (TCP1) funds. The plan is governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which means that all of the plan’s assets must remain in the plan (that is, the plan’s assets cannot be “raided”). Regarding the status of the other NNSA sites’ defined benefit plans, NNSA is looking for funds throughout the complex to make contributions to under-funded plans. These other funds could be operating funds from all sites in the complex, which could affect our Laboratory’s operating budget — but not the LLNS Defined Benefit Retirement Plan (TCP1).

Q: Will employees in TCP1 have to start making contributions to the plan?

A: At the present time, LLNS does not anticipate the need to initiate employee contributions to the LLNS Defined Benefit Plan (TCP1). The plan was funded at approximately 150 percent as of Jan. 1, 2009, which is a very healthy level compared to other defined benefit plans. The next valuation will be performed using plan information as of Jan. 1, 2010 — this process is under way.

Nuke Spending Boost Needed to Disarm, Biden Says

ANonymously contributed:

Global Security Newswire

Nuke Spending Boost Needed to Disarm, Biden Says
Friday, Feb. 19, 2010

U.S. nuclear-weapon laboratories require a dramatic funding boost to help maintain the reliability of the nation's nuclear deterrent as the Obama administration pursues further arsenal reductions and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden said in a speech yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 18).

The administration plans to seek more than $5 billion in additional funding over five years for sustaining the U.S. nuclear complex and deterrent, starting with a $624 million increase in fiscal 2011. The $7 billion request submitted this month would increase nuclear weapon-related spending by 13.5 percent in the next budget cycle, according to the Associated Press.

Despite 10 years of budget reductions at the National Nuclear Security Administration, the semiautonomous Energy Department agency that oversees the U.S. nuclear stockpile, "our labs know more about our arsenal today than when they were able to explode weapons (in tests)," Biden said...

http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/
nw_20100219_9859.php

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The truth about reclassification

The SPSE said this last year about the 200 reclassification (Thank you SPSE!):

The first ever reclassification of professionals at the Lab is in progress and is expected to be implemented early in 2010. The Scientist and Engineers Classification Project https://compensation.llnl.gov/se-classification-project.html (internal Lab link) started last year with an announcement in the October 20th Newsline. The project started with recommendations from the Compensation Review Board that were released in August of last year.
After months of work by a select committee of 200-series employees charged with defining new job classification levels within the 200 series (Scientists and Engineers), the final model https://compensation.llnl.gov/docs/se-docs/SE_Classification_Final_Model_Approved.pdf (internal Lab link), approved by LLNS and DOE, has been released. The purpose of this reclassification project is ostensibly to provide a clearly defined career promotion path for scientists and engineers. But, if this were its true purpose, why do the classification levels, IC-1 through IC-5, look much like the current rank groups?
The effect of placing all 200-series employees in these new IC levels will basically be to lock-in the current rank order. The good thing about that is no more dramatic drops in ranking from one year to the next, as some employees have experienced in the past. The bad thing is that it will likely be even more difficult to move up, too. Have you ever asked your supervisor what you have to do to move up a rank group? Were you given a “clear path” of how to do that?
There is another, more serious downside to this proposed reclassification. To explain, a little historical background is required first. The Lab used to have classification levels for scientists and engineers. In the late ‘70s SPSE played a prominent role in bringing about the California Public Records Act (CPRA). As UC employees, information on salaries for all public-sector employees in California became publicly available. With pay and promotion practices of Lab management open to scrutiny, discriminatory practices began to become more and more apparent, leading eventually to a number of discrimination complaints and lawsuits. Instead of correcting the discriminatory practices, Lab management simply eliminated the classification levels.
We lost a lot of things at the transition to private company management of the Lab, but arguably the most important thing we lost is access to information under the CPRA. This is why you no longer see salary data or SPSE’s publication of the yearly S-curve. Since there is no longer openness and transparency in pay and promotion practices, the job reclassification process is sure to become just as arbitrary and corrupt as the ranking process has been.
We welcome your feedback and comments on this article. Please respond by sending comments to spse@spse.org, and we will publish a synopsis so there will be an open channel for comments on the S&E Classification Project other than the one picked by management.

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