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, January 28, 2011

AD life at LLNL

Anonymously contributed:

The AD Life at LLNL

Anyone remember Pam Horning, who LLNS appointed Associate Director of Nuclear Operations at LLNL. She was only at LLNL about a year or so. Well she is finally selling her house in the local area…for $1.3 million. She definitely did okay working for LLNS… from the realtor website BlockShopper.

----------------
Nuclear industry exec lists Pleasanton 5BD for $1.349M

by Shania Sampson, published Jan. 27, 2011

Pamela A. Horning and Jeffrey A. Horning have listed for sale a five-bedroom, 3.5-bath home in Pleasanton for $1.349 million.

Kim Grass and Lorraine Davis of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is the listing agent for the house. The 3,853-square-foot house was built in 1997 in West Pleasanton. It is located in Laguna Oaks subdivision.

Ms. Horning serves as a director at EFCOG and vice president at Babcock & Wilcox, Technical Services Group. She has more than 27 years of experience in the nuclear industry.

Prior to this, she has held several executive positions at Energy Facility Contractors Group, Lawrence Livermore National Security, BWX Technologies and B&W Y-12 LLC.

She earned a master of engineering administration from The George Washington University and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Purdue University.

According to BlockShopper.com, there have been 607 home sales in Pleasanton during the past 12 months, with a median sales price of $640,000.

Where is Sasha Cohen?

Anonymously contributed:

Has anybody seen Sasha Cohen lately?

I haven't seen him since right before Chu became head of LBNL.

You don't think?

Poor performance

Anonymously contributed:
Isn't it funny how poorly our leaders perform?
Perhaps they shouldn't be paid anything.

Scooby's note: what do you think?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Proposal Cuts Lab Spending

Anonymously contributed:

Albuquerque Journal
Thursday, January 27, 2011

By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — A budget resolution approved by the U.S. House this week would have devastating consequences for New Mexico's national laboratories, according to two New Mexico lawmakers.
The Republican-controlled House on Tuesday approved a resolution that instructs House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to prepare budget blueprint for 2011 that rolls back spending — except for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veteran Affairs — to 2008 spending levels.
That would mean a roughly 10 percent reduction for Sandia National Laboratories and an approximately 17 percent budget cut at Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to the office of Rep. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat whose district includes Sandia.
New Mexico's labs, which maintain the nation's nuclear weapons stockpiles and perform cutting-edge civilian science, receive the bulk of their funding through the National Nuclear Security Administration, a part of the Department of Energy.
Republican leaders, aiming to foster a new climate of fiscal conservatism, said the budget resolution is a starting point and can be amended. But Heinrich and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said the resolution is cause for concern in New Mexico. The federal government is operating under a so-called continuing budget resolution. It expires March 4, setting the stage for tense negotiations in the coming weeks.
"Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership are putting a marker down," Heinrich told the Journal on Wednesday. "They need to understand that if NNSA is not going to be considered security spending, what the impacts to our labs are going to be.
"Impeding the work being done at our national labs won't grow our economy and certainly won't create jobs."
Heinrich is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He said all defense-related budget requests — including the NNSA — must pass muster with the committee and he will use his post on the panel to raise objections to potential cuts at the labs.
Ryan's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Seventy-three percent of Los Alamos National Laboratory's $2.2 billion 2011 Energy Department budget is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration's nuclear weapons budget. At Sandia, 77 percent of its $1.5 billion Energy Department budget is weapons-related. The labs also receive money from other government agencies, and the potential effect of the budget resolution on that portion of their funding is unclear.
Los Alamos's Department of Energy budget has risen 18 percent in the last two years. Sandia's has increased 14 percent.
Bingaman told the Journal the cuts would stand in stark contrast to Obama's pledge late last year to boost lab funding to support the implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.
"This House-passed resolution would not only prevent those increases, it would make dramatic cuts to our labs," Bingaman said. "These cuts are irresponsible and could leave us vulnerable."
The resolution was approved 256-165. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., voted for the resolution, and Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., voted against it.

Expected DOE response

Anonymous sent in a response to his letter to Chu:

"Thank you for sharing your concerns about the two-year pay freeze on site and facility management prime contractor employees announced by the Department of Energy on December 17, 2010.

The Department recognizes the sacrifice it is expecting from our contractor workforce, which does important research, operations and environmental cleanup work. As part of the DOE complex, you play an integral role in accomplishing the tasks that support the mission and operation of the Department. Secretary Chu feels strongly that site and facility management contractor employees should join with federal employees in making this sacrifice as our nation continues to recover from challenging economic times. Be assured that Department will face the same challenges and concerns you outlined for its employees.



The Department appreciates your continued support for its critical missions of advancing scientific leadership, economic competitiveness, and national security."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DOE CONSIDERING HOW TO SPEND SAVINGS FROM CONTRACTOR PAY FREEZE

Source:
Weapons Complex Monitor, Volume 22 No.2, January 14, 2011


DOE CONSIDERING HOW TO SPEND
SAVINGS FROM CONTRACTOR PAY FREEZE
Freeze Initially Described as ‘Sacrifice’
The Department of Energy has begun quietly examining
how to spend the savings expected to be generated through
a recently enacted two-year freeze of contractor employees’
pay levels. The move was outlined in an e-mail sent
two weeks ago to senior DOE officials from the Department’s
Chief Financial Officer, Steven Isakowitz. “We
need to solicit input from the M&O contractors on how
they would propose reinvesting the savings from the pay
freeze,” Isakowitz wrote in the Dec. 29, 2010, message,
obtained by WC Monitor. Isakowitz also said that such
information would be used to “to finalize FY11-12 budget
decisions.” It remains unclear how much money DOE
expects to save through the pay freeze, which went into
effect at the start of this year and impacts approximately
75,000 workers at 28 sites.
Isakowitz’s message came approximately two weeks after
DOE announced the pay freeze (WC Monitor, Vol. 21 No.
54). In its announcement, though, DOE did not make any
mention of plans to reuse the savings expected to be
generated. Instead, the pay freeze was proposed in a spirit
of shared sacrifice, following the Obama Administration’s
decision to institute a similar freeze for federal workers.
“As our nation continues to recover from these challenging
economic times, households and small businesses across
the country are making sacrifices,” Secretary of Energy
Steven Chu said in the Dec. 17, 2010, announcement. “In
this spirit, we are asking our contractor employees, who
are doing important research, operations, and environmental
cleanup work, to join the federal workforce in playing
a part.” DOE did not return calls for comment.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Impact of declining morale

A good analysis from an anonymous contributor:

When the Stimulus Bill funding was received by the NNSA labs, it required the compensation amounts for the Directors to be made public. This is information that both LLNS and LANS have tried very hard to cover up under the lame excuse of "corporate proprietary information".

For example, it was shown in press accounts that LANL's Director Anastasio is compensated to the tune of around $1 million per year in total (LANS/UC, 20% bonus, etc). SNL's Hunter was compensated at about the rate of $2 million per year. A recent post on this blog also demonstrated some of the outlandish perks that lab executives like Brett Knapp make.

These lab salaries and perks are several times higher than those that Directors, PADs and ADs made during the early years of 2000s. The new lab system of management has been extremely profitable for anyone on the LLC executive team.

To this situation, add in the low raises and benefit cuts of the last few years for the non-management staff coupled with the recent announcement of no possibility of raises for several more years. This has greatly de-moralized many employees at the labs. Trust in the top levels of management is at an all time low from what I have witnessed. It was never that high before the labs for-profit coup, but the sense of mistrust and feelings of outright betrayal is now becoming very common within the employees who remain at these NNSA labs.

Meanwhile, the LLC upper management team attempt to sugar-coat the situation and claim that morale is good and improving. This only worsens the feelings of those who see what has occurred over the last few years.

The impact of all this is extremely low morale, which results in performance that may meet the largely meaningless PBI metrics that NNSA and the LLCs like to constantly create but this low morale is the kiss of death to any truly creative science lab. In our culture, "value" is largely demonstrated by compensation. I'm pretty sure that the recent 10% increase in salaries of all the profession employees who work for Google has all of those employees working very hard and their morale at extremely high levels.

The true impact of this situation will come in the next few year once the employment situation improves and housing rebounds. I expect to see a lot of the younger and middle aged scientific staff head out the front doors of the NNSA labs and look for other institutions in which to practice their creative talents.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lawmakers propose five-year pay freeze, federal job cuts

This post was moved here; it was a comment under another post in the bLOG:

** Lawmakers propose five-year pay freeze, federal job cuts **

Government Exec News

By Emily Longelong@govexec.com - January 20, 2011


http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0111/012011l2.htm


Republican lawmakers are seeking a five-year federal pay freeze and additional workforce cuts in an effort to rein in spending.

The 2011 Spending Reduction Act, unveiled on Thursday by Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.; and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; outlines $2.5 trillion in cuts by dropping current spending to fiscal 2008 levels and freezing budgets at fiscal 2006 levels for 10 years beginning Oct. 1. The legislation, which will be introduced officially on Monday, would reduce the size and cost of the federal civilian workforce and cut a number of federal programs.

The proposal includes provisions to eliminate automatic pay increases for civilian employees for five years, cut the workforce by 15 percent through attrition and hire one new worker for every two who leave. The legislation also would collect unpaid taxes from federal workers, prohibit employees from conducting union business while on the job and cut the federal travel budget in half.

Poll results!

Dismal!
Have you written your senators/congressmen and/or Dr Chu?
The numbers are 14 and 9.
Participation was negligible, considering that this BLOG has also become LANL's Blog indirectly.
Whining is a natural talent at the Labs. Action is a learned skill. Even scientists
have learning disabilities!

Any recommendations to make it things better?

Just curious (and no, I'm not management): Given the current context at the Laboratory (increased health costs, upcoming contribution to TCP 1 pension, two-year salary freeze, and limited budgets for professional development/travel), what are some things the Laboratory could do to make working at the Laboratory more satisfying during this difficult economic time (reasonable and workable recommendations)?

What impact does the salary freeze have on your behavior?

Anonymous wants to know:
What impact does the salary freeze have on your behavior?

Retiree Health Care?

Anonymously contributed:


Has anyone explored this?

What they didn't tell us:

Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage (KPSA) is available as our "Group" rate for $179/month (plus Medicare costs), but LLNS did not tell us that it is also available over the counter as an "Individual" for $81/month for Alameda County residents of any age. (Also plus Medicare.) Other counties might vary.
IF you are 65, then Medicare is mandatory, or you will be dropped from LLNS health coverage. Medicare costs by the month, more than they say depending on your income which includes tax exempt income.
The Individual KPSA has higher co pays like $30 per doctor or medicine, while the Group is $20, and $100 co pays for some tests like MRI's that the Group KPSA apparently includes, but the Individual has an annual cap of your out of pocket of $3400. Everything above that is free to you.
I tried to get info on the LLNS Group but the Hewett web site only posts the information for 2009. Kaiser doesn't seem to know.
I'd really be grateful if someone has better information.
Q. If I leave the LLNS Group can I come back later?
Q. Can I get the HRA to pay the Individual KPSA monthly fees?
Q. Does the Group KPSA have an annual expense cap, too?
Thanks for any help!

NO, it is NOT "substantially equal!"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Miller's all hands

Poor Miller; he knows we don't believe him but he is still trying. In private, he probably
hates Chu's decision. Well, we know LLNS does not challenge anything unless their fee is at stake.
Don't you just admire the person that asked the first question? The one who wondered that if we are the most important asset for DOE, then why are we being punished?
Wow, the savings from the freeze are about 12M/year. That is what all the brouhaha is all about. The money stays at the Lab and will be used for the "mission", which right now, is... you guessed it: NIF!

Your opinion?

Knapp's Continuing "Tax Gross-ups"


http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/regmeet/jul07/c4.pdf


Bret Knapp continues to receive his "perk extensions". While all of this is good and well, what get's me is Anastasio's efforts to continue to approve/support Knapp to "offset any adverse tax consequences" of these perks". This is literally nothing more than a "perk on top of a perk". We are effectively giving these guys extra money on top of the perks to ensure it covers any and all of the extra taxes on this money!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fee question

Anonymously asked:

Is it true that the lower the LLC fee; the more funds are retained by the operating organization to apply to lab infrastructure?

Response from NM Senator

Anonymously contributed:

Response from NM Senator. Pay attention to the 3rd paragraph. The Senator thinks the freeze only applies to the COLA. Don't know about LLNL but at LANL we have not had COLA's for at least a decade or more.




Thank you for contacting me regarding pay for employees of New Mexico's national laboratories. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

Throughout my service in Congress, I have supported both the missions and employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). The scientists at the labs conduct some of the most critical research for our country and they are an integral part of our national security. It is my honor to represent them as one of New Mexico's U.S. Senators.

As you may know, in an effort to balance the budget, President Obama called for a three year spending freeze on discretionary non-defense spending and a federal employee pay freeze in November of last year. On the heels of the Presidents' announcement, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that Department of Energy employees, including those at New Mexico's national laboratories, also will be subject to this pay freeze. A pay freeze means that employees working at LANL and SNL will not see an annual cost of living adjustment in 2011.

I believe that all national laboratory employees, including those in New Mexico, deserve competitive salaries and benefits. As the workforce retires, the national labs will need to recruit thousands of top level and highly skilled personnel to complete many of the critical functions. Competing salaries and benefits will help recruit the employees of the future. With this in mind, I am closely monitoring long term proposals to balance the budget and the possible effects these proposals would have on our vital national laboratories.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

LLNL will now operate in an Ethical Manner

Anonymously contributed:

The lab just appointed a "Laboratory Ethics Officer". Apparently the property of ethics was not clearly stated within the Independent Audit & Oversight Department. The Independent Audit & Oversight Department will be renamed to Independent Audit & Ethics Department (IAED).
The lab will create the position of Ethics Manager so here is your chance to get in on the ground floor of what surely must be a "Don't do as I do, do as I tell you to do." Once the selction of Ethics Manager is made, the lab will announce details of the new organizational structure. So get in early to help form a new bureaucracy with your buds.

"We are confident that this alignment will facilitate the continuous improvement of our governance responsibilities and workforce management."

Smells like LLNS hunting for bonus money to me, but what do I know, I have sinus problems.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chu -University of California Alumnus of the Year

Anonymously contributed:

Chu -University of California Alumnus of the Year - Congratulations

Awardees
The Cal Alumni Association will mark the 143rd anniversary of the University of California by honoring the 2011 Alumni Award recipients.

Alumnus of the Year
DR. STEVEN CHU
Ph.D. Physics ‘76 | U.S. Secretary of Energy
To the world, he is a Nobel Prize—winning physicist, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, and a distinguished scientist devoted to finding and developing alternative energy sources and reducing America’s reliance on fossil fuels. To Berkeley, Dr. Steven Chu is the brilliant doctoral and post-doctoral student who went on to lead the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is also a sports enthusiast, a devoted family man, and the Cal Alumni Association’s 2011 Alumnus of the Year.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Inaction = no change

Judging by the poll on this BLOG, I concluded LLNL, LANL, Sandia employees who visit this BLOG are just complainers. That is ok if you enjoy complaining.
It is considered insanity to expect anything to change, if we don't speak out. A simple cut and paste and a few clicks!
Helpful hint: let your group or division know about the BLOG!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More on LLNL Retiree's UC lawsuit

Anonymoulsy contributed:

http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_17009984
http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_17009984

Is it time to go?

Anonymously contributed:

It appears that for some current LLNL and LANL employees the elimination of merit salary increases for the next two years has altered the financial calculus, hastening the optimum time of retirement. This observation may apply to TCP1 folks who have been in the system for a long time, probably over 25 years.

As an TCP-1 employee approaches 60, the year- to-year pension benefit increases by the change in HAPC * change in age factor * change in YOS. After age 60, the change in age factor is zero, so only the change in YOS and change in HAPC apply.

Prior to 60, the change in age factor is 0.14% per year, which works out to a 6.6% in lifetime pension benefits in the year from age 59 to age 60.
At age 60, each year of service adds 2.5%. It does not increase after age 60.
Generally a 2% salary increase every year boost the HAPC by 2% each year.
So up to age 60, a TCP-1 beneficiary should see the monthly pension benefit increase by about 9% plus the % value of his/her average merit wage increase.
Under a wage freeze the HAPC still rises a little as it approaches the frozen wage, (it will be assumed to be zero)

After 60, the only increases that apply for delaying retirement are a YOS increase which will be 2.5% plus the average wage increase (which under a salary freeze is zero). Notice if the average merit increase is frozen at zero, the increase in pension benefit barely exceeds that which will be given by a yearly TCP-1 COLA for a retiree, which will average 1-2%, (though it is probably lower this year as inflation is very low).

Note importantly, that each month that a person delays retirement beyond age 60, results in one less lifetime monthly pension payment, which could be $5 -$10k per month. Though I haven’t done a general net present value calculation for the two alternatives, it is unlikely that a retiree can recover the lost income of a few months delay with an effective 0.5-1.0% increase in the subsequent pension payments over his remaining life.

So who might this general analysis apply to? It is a limited subset of the current TCP-1 population. Some financial advisors recommend that a retiree have 70% of past income that grows with COLA to provide a satisfactory retirement. If this is so, an TCP-1 retiree will need to have about 80% of HAPC, because there is about a 3% reduction between HAPC and current wages and an additional 5-8% hidden reduction to select the now mandatory 50% spousal continuance. 80% /2.5% per year = 32 years. If a person is part of social security, and at age 62 this provides 15% of former income, the breakeven drops to 26 years of service.

It may be worthwhile to examine your specific information to see what is the difference in pension for retirement ages, 58 though 62.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lawsuit by LLNL retirees.

Anonymously contributed:

New York Times Story covering the court case pertaining to LLNL Retiree's benefits:

A former scientist said of LLNS:

Lawrence Livermore National Security is “a business fiction with no real assets"


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/us/02bclivermore.html?_r=2&ref=sanfranciscobayarea

Sunday, January 2, 2011

DOE holds unique power to freeze contractor pay

Other agencies don't have the same authority!!
I thought we were employees of a private company. DOE still has power over us. We benefit neither from being a government employee nor a private sector employee!
We get the worst of both worlds! or is my perception distorted?


http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2010/12/22/unique-arrangement-allows-doe-to-freeze-contractor-pay.aspx

Just in case you were confused...

Why would DOE dictate contractor's employees salary?
Because we are special?


http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2010/12/22/unique-arrangement-allows-doe-to-freeze-contractor-pay.aspx

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