May 25, 2007

LANL Denies Layoff Rumors

ABQ Journal, Santa Fe Edition
Friday, May 25, 2007
By Raam Wong
Journal Staff Writer

LOS ALAMOS— Los Alamos National Laboratory director Michael Anastasio on Thursday denied rumors that hundreds of layoffs are planned for next month.
"There are no layoffs planned," Anastasio said during a meeting with reporters.
June will mark the one-year anniversary of a change in management of the lab from the University of California to a for-profit consortium that includes Bechtel Corp and UC.
Operating costs have gone up under Los Alamos National Security LLC. For instance, the lab now has to pay state gross receipts taxes— estimated last fall at $55 million— because of its for-profit status.
Since September, LANL has cut contractor jobs, raising fears among workers employed directly by the lab that they could be next.
Anastasio said the lab would continue to address its budget problems by reducing its work force through attrition, finding cost savings and cutting contractor positions.
Lab officials said last fall that as many as 600 positions— affecting up to 20 percent of the lab's 3,000 contract workers— could eventually be eliminated.
Job cuts could have a big impact on the Los Alamos business community, which depends on "trickle-down" business from contractors.
In the interview inside LANL's University House, Anastasio reflected on the lab's successes over the year, as well as the bumps along the way.
The lab's management contract was put out to bid in part because of years of embarrassing security and safety lapses at the storied lab, birthplace of the atomic bomb. But some of those concerns continued to haunt it even under the new management.
Last year, classified documents turned up during a drug investigation at the home of former archivist Jessica Quintana, a contract worker. The incident raised fresh questions and congressional hearings about security.
And in June, two workers for a subcontractor were using a crane to move a 1,500-pound metal staircase when the structure slipped from its rigging, fell more than 50 feet and struck the men. An internal lab investigation found that LANL could have prevented the accident.
Anastasio said the lab has responded "quickly and decisively" to these and other incidents. The lab boss said the injury rate has fallen 30 percent under the new management.
On security, Anastasio said the lab has beefed up cybersecurity and reduced the number of classified computers and "vault-type" rooms that hold classified material.
The lab is preparing to pilot a "super" vault-type room, where classified work is consolidated and best practices are used, thereby reducing the risk of a security breach.
The lab has expanded its drug policy, conducting random tests on at least 20 percent its work force.
All in all, Anastasio called the first year a success. He said he was proud of LANL employees, adding that "in spite of turmoil over the years, wonderful things are happening at the lab."

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

BULL SHIT

Anonymous said...

Mikey never lies. Bwaahaahaahaaaa!

Anonymous said...

Mike has spouted the "No RIFs, no plans for a RIF" line so many times now that if a RIF comes in the next few years the workers at LANL are going to be furious and feel completely betrayed by LANS management.

I hope Mike knows what he is doing by emphasizing this point over and over. I honestly don't understand how he can say it given the dismal budgetary situation that many Division heads have been talking about with their staff.

What does Mike know about our current fiscal situation that DL's and GL's don't know? I'm completely mystified.

Anonymous said...

From talking to a few DDs and GLs, I believe that a RIF is definitely coming. Unless, Mikey can print money!

Anonymous said...

and again the story of the SURPRISE in having to pay NM gross receipts tax....

of course the LANS team had NO way of knowing about the tax or what it would be....

so now everything budgetary is dire (so they claim) but there's money for all the foolish drug and polygraph testing.....

and the dire money matters didn't seem to to adversely affect management bonuses....

Anonymous said...

Wow! I hope Mickey is correct, but....the number's just don't add up...and the 2008 FY budject look's vey dismal??? The word "Planned" really bothers me: Does he mean that no RIF's are planned as of today? How about in a few month's ...hey lets keep everyone on edge...again

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mike is planning on taking it out of the $70M fee. Don't forget he has to justify to the LANL workforce his $20K base-pay "bonus" for making sure LLNL got RRW and his hire of some of the ADs and the PADSTE ...

Anonymous said...

To 8:15 pm said, "Don't forget he has to justify to the LANL workforce his $20K base-pay "bonus" for making sure LLNL got RRW and his hire of some of the ADs and the PADSTE ..."

Mikey got a $20K base increase for the RRW decision - isn't that illegal? How much is he making now? Who are the ADs you are referring to? Mike said everyone was qualified - is this not so? Please do tell.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, if you are any good and are doing your job then you have nothing to worry about. All the people who are worried about RIFs are probably those people who find reasons not to work - to find more worthless paperwork for LDRD funded people to fill out (right Bill P.?), to cause delays in procurement (that entire system/organization is a mess), and those in MC-FOD who find excuses to NOT fix anything (right Martin and Fred?).

Anonymous said...

I believe the plan is to make the work environment so miserable that "attrition" takes care of the problem. This part of the plan is going great. Just consider: drug tests, polygraphs, the RRW sell out, the ranking of employees top to bottom for the no raise to the bottom 15-20%, the gagging of employees at all hands meetings, the wonderful inefficiencies in doing classified work, employees on work force mobility to hedge for next FY, ...

Here is the problem. Many of us own property we cannot get out of since the LLNL mafia has run this place into the ground. So, what to do? Hunker down in the fox hole and try to weather the storm. As much as I would like to seek greener pastures, I cannot afford to abandon my retirement, which used to include the equity in my home.

So stay tuned, I think the attrition plan is not going to work, and RIFs will be necessary.

Is anyone else sick of these clowns telling us what a good job they are doing and how morale is improving?

Liars!

Anonymous said...

Is it really too late to re-tool LANL to do other work, or are we going to just wither on the vine?

Anonymous said...

It's the Bush tactic.... just keep talking and saying the same things over and over and over and eventually they'll believe you.

Morale SUCKS.... no one gives a royal shit any more... it's just a job. But Mikey can juggle worthless figures for drug tests and accidents and make himself look good... even if the figures are LIES.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You all need a serious change of scenery. Seriously. Your arguments are vacuous and your misery palpable. Leave already. Do yourselves, and the rest of us, a favor.

Anonymous said...

Points to ponder (defined as sanity check!) (flames not welcomed, but are expected . . .)
• RIF’s take months to plan and longer to obtain necessary DOE approval, so take a breath.
• Gross receipts tax no surprise - in fact amount originally estimated (prior to award of contract) was more than the actual current tax due
• Current ridiculous rumor that Mike’s $20K raise (if he even actually got that much) was for “selling” RRW to LLNL is just that – ridiculous. One person was not in a position to exercise that much power in such a fragmented political and highly visible decision.
• Mike has every reason to know more about the total LANL budget than individual DL’s and GL’s - that IS what he is paid for . . .
• Some of us are still proud of LANL, work hard to succeed and see the Lab succeed. Morale isn’t as high as we would like it, but we’re willing to invest more of our time and energy in the Lab and our future.
• There may be RIF’s in the next few years, but not because we ALL gave up.
• JQ is not a hero, is not an innocent child forced into doing something illegal, clearly understood that what she was doing was wrong, and deserves to be punished.
• Random drug testing driven by outside influences expecting to see visible changes after continued problems at LANL. Implemented here years after other DOE locations.
• And to help us all get over “10 > 14, 14 < 10”, as of 5/16, the number was 16 positives out of 580 tested (2.76% which is below the national average).
• If you feel that strongly about drug testing and polygraphs, Eric is standing by to assist you in finding a more acceptable work environment.
• If we keep attacking Lab management, local politicians, Congress, the president, and each other, whom do we expect to help us save the lab?

Anonymous said...

point to ponder.... they already HAVE DOE approval and AM 114 (the RIF procedure) was updated months ago

Anonymous said...

I posted the "10>14, 14<10?"

I was trying to make a joke, with the punchline that it was good that is was a drug test and not a math test.

The joke fell flat (probably because it was a pretty dumb joke). I did not, however, seriously believe that 10 vs 14 was a big deal.

Anonymous said...

DOE hasn't given approval - once a final list is developed by individual names, it is reviewed by DOE (to include such things as overall demographics) and final approval must be given. A lengthy process. Hasn't happened.

Anonymous said...

Anon, 11:08pm...thank you. One of the most reasonable posts I have seen on all of these blogs.

As for the GRT, Mike explained this past week that deductions are possible and a team has worked hard in the past several months and found deductions (similar to what can be done for personal income tax) and this improved the budget situation FY07. Original estimates were done based on worst case scenarios. Now things have improved.

Anonymous said...

And I say: If you are not a poor performer, poor attendee, etc then why do you care about a RIF? A RIF "should" start to weed some out.. if you are top notch, part of the excellence in science, then what is to worry. However, if you have been sucking a tit based on minimal performance, nepotism because your daddy or cousin or mommy or brother got you in here with no friggin skills... then you better be worryin.. and you better be looking.

Geez Louise... we are now big business.. right up there with the HP, Apple, Exxon, Ford, GM.... If you can't compete then cut the low hanging fruit until you make a profit.. All you slackers... Adio frigging s. Better be looking. Your mommy and daddy and cousin ain't going to help you now. But if you are a top performer and are contibuting then nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Amen!

All Blog Spots said...

nice blog

Pinky and The Brain said...

5/27/07 12:55 AM,
Nice splog.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 5/26/07 9:15 AM said...

"DOE hasn't given approval - once a final list is developed by individual names, it is reviewed by DOE (to include such things as overall demographics) and final approval must be given."

The key here is the demographics business. In 1995, an attempt was made to reduce the overhead function via a RIF. Unforetunately, women and minorities are over-represented in the overhead areas. So, relative to the overall laboratory demographics, a disproportionate number of women and minorities were RIFfed. While the laboratory prevailed in court, Clinton appointees in the DOE and other government agencies ruled that the RIF was discriminatory and LANL was forced to hire back a number of RIFees. Of course, by that time the best of the RIFees had found other employment so it was mostly the worst of the RIFees that were hired back.

This time, with a view toward hindsight, one suspects that LANS will RIF broadly with the result that overhead rates will further increase. That will be another nail in the coffin of Work For Others, our prime source of genuine R&D work.

And, there is the matter of the cost of severance. This will be an additional cost and will increase the magnitude of the RIF.

That said, of course a RIF is an opportunity to weed out the dead wood. But, after all of the essential factors (cronyism, nepotism, sex, ethnicity, etc) have been taken into account, there will be very little actual pruning of the dead wood. AND, due to the successful accomplishment of the RIF, upper-level managers will have earned bonuses.

Dr. Strangelove said...

RIFs are always a bad thing, at best the lesser of several evils.

There are a cadre of folks who should have retired and/or stayed retired. In our experience about half of those who are highly eligible to retire would do themselves as well as the rest of us a favor by bowing on out gracefully. But ONLY half...

Management at LANL is notoriously incapable of making good decisions about hiring and firing. Some of this is simple "cronyism" or "nepotism" or even attempts at a balanced demographic.

We heard a rumor of "retirement incentives" but can't imagine how that would work now that UCRP is out of the picture. No reason for UC to pitch in and no reason for LANS/Bechtel to pitch in. No reason to be "graceful".

We have never heard LANS/Bechtel/Anastasio say RIF June 1. We have never heard any of my management say RIF June 1. But this does not rule out RIF Plans starting around October 1.

To the jokers who say "if you are a top performer you have nothing to worry about" or "unless you are a poor performer with bad attendance" you have nothing to worry about".

The fact is, there is a whole distribution of performance across a whole spectrum of metrics of performance, most of which are quite subjective. The measurers of performance are almost always middle-management who are (again) notoriously bad at judgeing such things. These (poor) bozos are often recently promoted from the technical ranks and suddenly doing a very unfamiliar job (herding cats) which includes a lot of butting of heads and trying to manipulate intelligent, strong-willed people into doing things that help your agenda, often in contradiction to their own. Other times, middle management has been in the job for decades and is frustrated at never having moved up, to a similar effect.

Very productive, very dedicated employees can often be quite "inconvenient" for a frustrated middle manager, and a RIF is a good chance to try to scrape off who they perceive as a troublemaker.

We agree that even in that circumstance, the productive but perhaps difficult (by some measure) employee will survive the RIF, but there WILL be a period of struggle while everyone plays musical chairs, trying not to be caught without a chair.

A LOT of bad behaviour occurs during these periods...

So, we agree... a good to excellent performer will very unlikely be RIFed, but it is still possible if they happen to be working for the wrong people. AND the conditions leading up to the RIF (like right now) will not be very conducive to productivity.

A final note, a colleague at one of Anastasio's brown bag lunches asked "Do you realize how many good people you are being driven off with the polygraph and drug testing and other policies?" His answer was a smug "managed attrition".

While it might meet Bechtel/LANS goals, this does not make for a stronger, more capable laboratory.

Sadness.

- Doc

Anonymous said...

When you spend more money than you have, it's called a defecit, you must cut costs to match your revenue, DOE signing off on some document is just protocal, and can be done in minutes with one simple phone call.... RIF's are in the works, time to find a real job in the real world...The Gravy Train is being de-railed..Oh dear what are we gonna do? LANL id being dimantled very quickly, To add insult to injury the funding for CMR is being put on hold..

Anonymous said...

Wow! And to think I attempted to take this blog seriously. RIF's of hundreds of employees is hardly "protocal and can be done in minutes with a single phone call", particularly by groups like LANL/LANS and DOE for which you obviously a low opinio. Even the botched RIF in '95 took longer that that. Naiveté, paranoia, or both?

Anonymous said...

as per AM 114... it's not a RIF if it's done in increments of 50 or less.

It may not be enmasse... 50 at a time and they don't need any DOE approvals.

Anonymous said...

"Turn out the lights, the party's over." If you think that LANL has a bright future and our management can't RIF you in a matter of hours..if needed you are a super conehead...

Anonymous said...

To 11:59 if your only hold on your job is :DOE signing off on a document , your ass is in deep dododo..

Anonymous said...

I hear that LANL has this thing known as "Work Force Deployment Program" where if your project runs out of money to the point where your job goes away you go onto this program. Once you are there you have thirty days to find a job and if you do that's all well, but if you don't you are out the gate within an hour. Can someome pease verify this and how it works?

Anonymous said...

2:51 It's called BOKAG better known as "Bend over and Kiss your Ass Goodbye.....

Anonymous said...

Or as one of our most famous past posters called himself (and quite appropriately) BOHICA - bend over here it comes again

Anonymous said...

5/27/07 2:54 PM

So I am assuming by your answer that this BOKAG is in affect and that you have seen many people leave using this technique. Is there more to come since there will be no pit facility and RRW is nixed? Should people at LLNL be concerned too?

Anonymous said...

This "Work Force Deployment Program" is a crock. It has become the employees' responsibility to find work. Of course, that only applies to those on direct funding. The more valuable people on overhead are funded.

In a better world, it would be the managers' responsibility to fund thier subordinates. But, right now, GLs and DDs have absolutely no accountability for funding their personnel.

It's time for a union.

Anonymous said...

DOE hasn't given approval - once a final list is developed by individual names, it is reviewed by .... Hasn't happened.

5/26/07 9:15 AM

At least it hasn't happened out in the open or public but there have been people who are recent transplants who have let it slip that their function and expertise are in RIF or lay-off actions.

Anonymous said...

My line management is ranking its troops as we speak.

Anonymous said...

The Lab can't conduct a humane layoff of people if it's life depended on it. Too mant arrogant but-head cowboys in charge to allow common sense and decency to prevail.

Anonymous said...

Let's at least get the name right, its the "Work Force Mobility Program," not "Work Force Deployment Program." It has led to new job assignments for some folks and has not and does not result in "out the door." Our group has at least one person that came to us through the process that I know of. If you're a LANL employee you can look up the policy that spells it all out.

Anonymous said...

11:10 Work-Force mobility is Code for Out the door, your name will be placed on a list, when the time comes, you and everyone on the list will be RIFed yes..out the door...no funding no job...get it!

Anonymous said...

Can you show us where that "Code" is established? How many folks that you know have gone "out the door" involuntarily? Why should I "get it" when other than the insistence by anonymous sources here, I have no valid, quantifiable evidence that such assertions are true. I read a lot of claims here that the budget won't continue to support the current work force, but no one has provided hard numbers. So help us understand what you "get" that others of us don't - with facts, not emotion.

Anonymous said...

"As for the GRT, Mike explained this past week that deductions are possible and a team has worked hard in the past several months and found deductions (similar to what can be done for personal income tax) and this improved the budget situation FY07."

Yeah, this cracks me up. If we could build even ONE pit that's fit to ship out of state, we'd get a huge GRT deduction.

Anonymous said...

9;52 your post has no facts to support your claim, how can the lab continue to pay people wjho do not have jobs, ? Your probally one of the welfare bunch sitting alone doinmg nothing on Workforce mobility and expect to get paid, with benefits huh...I say out the door with you and your types ...WWhat do you think of that!

Anonymous said...

7:04 - what organization are you in?

Anonymous said...

12:57 - I think that you have lived down to my expectations. If a RIF list ever becomes reality, I'm sure we'll miss you.

Anonymous said...

do you mean that 12:57 will be rif'ed, or that you will?

Anonymous said...

With the latest news regarding the demise of the CMRR, how many more houses are going up on the auction block? Congress is giving us fair warning...the future of LANL is not too bright with-in the new Weapons Complex...We have a few months before the real hit comes: the FY 08 budget..

Anonymous said...

I noticed that LANS is not meeting its target workforce FTE numbers.

Anonymous said...

In Monday's Los Alamos Monitor, Mike again makes it clear that there will be no RIFs.

"No caveats, no qualifications, absolutely not" says Mike. Stop worrying about FY '08, says Mike. Everything is going to be just fine.

We've reduced our classified computers by 20% (and the associated classified computer usage, no doubt) . At the new LANL there seems to be little reason for the staff to travel, buy any new equipment, or do much classified computer work. These are all good signs, says Mike.

Note that these are also important signs that LANL is going into Hibernation Mode. You can see it happening all around you. No one puts in more than a minimal efforts these days. The latest milestones are pretty much meaningless figures for manager PowerPoint charts. And most of the staff has become completely indifferent about working at the lab. The joy is gone, but at least your jobs are safe according to Mike. And Mike can't lie, else the polygraph might catch him.


Los Alamos Monitor, Monday, May 28, 2007

LANS reaches one year at helm

Director dispels layoff rumors

CAROL A. CLARK Monitor Senior Reporter

Director Michael Anastasio detailed a year of ups and downs and offered a glimpse into the future of Los Alamos National Laboratory during a press conference at University House Thursday.

Los Alamos National Security, LLC, (LANS) took over management of LANL on June 1, 2006. Anastasio said the government obviously wanted to see management improvement.

Various officials from Washington, D.C., visit the laboratory almost weekly and Anastasio indicated that they like the changes they are seeing:

# Classified holdings reduced by 30 percent;

# classified computers down by 20 percent;

# vault rooms reduced by 15 percent; and

# accidents reduced by 30 percent.

----

Anastasio emphatically squelched rumors of massive layoffs expected to occur next month.

"No June 1st layoffs, no caveats, no qualifications, absolutely not," Anastasio said, then added jokingly - "and not June 2nd either."

He wants employees to be reassured that they won't be laid off and said LANS has been able to make up budget deficits through efficiencies.

Unexpected costs such as preliminary GRT estimates, with exemptions, Anastasio is confident will be less than first anticipated. He also said that savings have occurred through less travel and reduced purchases.

Anonymous said...

Maybe no "RIFs". There is still a pretty good size group of contractor and limited-term employees.

Eric said...

I have heard persistent rumors that Anastasio will leave the Lab in the next few months and will be replaced by a person with no weapons design or manufacturing experience.

Does anyone have facts, one way or the other, on this rumor?

Anonymous said...

Does it matter?

Anonymous said...

Mikey's leaving would be a good thing. His continued presence will show that we would have preferred to keep Nanos.

Anonymous said...

Who really cares anymore...nothing will suprise me anymore....It's all down hill from now on....

Cyberd said...

Its all smoke and mirrors.. Did anyone bother to Google this phrase? "Bechtel Safety" Apparently NOT, They would have some insight to the last 20 years of serious safety violations.. Look at what they did in Hanford.. Subbed out a contract for the holding tanks.. They were so poorly engineered that they are now leaking into the Columbia river! And the blatent mismanagement at KS-Hell, caused the layoffs of over 200 local residents.. I was framed for playing games on my machine, honestly who in their RIGHT mind would put their livelyhood in danger for such a trivial venture. I have worked here since 1979, for 9 different contractors. KS-Hell has been the worst!!! Could it be I did my job according to the LIG's and LIR's like I was trained to do, with out making excuses and finding a way to complete my tasks.. (With NO support from upper management) when other subordants failed or refused to support the admin. efforts of certain FOD's. I was promoted and received raises for 12 years and never demoted or written up! They have no clue to what it means to run a business, WAKE up! You Manage work, and LEAD people.. Not the other way around!