Jun 6, 2007

Funding shifts could slice LANL budget

By DIANA DEL MAURO | The New Mexican
June 6, 2007

Given its atomic-bomb heritage, no one is surprised that Los Alamos National Laboratory could bear the brunt of painful changes if Congress shifts funding from nuclear weapons programs to solutions for the threatening energy crisis.

But two Congressmen representing New Mexico don’t think it needs to be that way.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee elevated the priority of energy projects while approving a bill that calls for $600 million in cuts to the Department of Energy weapons program. It recommended deep budget reductions for LANL and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, but endorsed budget increases for Department of Energy laboratories in other states.

A new member of the committee, U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., applauded the bill’s intent to redirect funding toward energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. He even called it a “bold vision.” But during the voice vote Wednesday, he also expressed opposition.

“I want to ensure that as we transition the role for our national labs, the outstanding scientists at LANL are not unfairly disadvantaged in the process,” Udall said in a statement.

Udall said he got assurances from the committee’s chairman, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., that the men would work together to create a fair competitive process for this unprecedented level of energy research funding.

But he also said in a statement that LANL must be willing to diversify its mission. “Failing to do so could risk New Mexico jobs and harm the local economy,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., accused the committee of singling out LANL. “This bill would be devastating for Los Alamos, surrounding communities and New Mexico overall,” Domenici, a ranking member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee that funds national laboratories, said in a news release.

Los Alamos lab would lose out on $131 million for production of plutonium pits, which are triggers for nuclear weapons, according to Domenici. It also would lose $95.5 million for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project, what Domenici says is the only facility able to support the pit mission. Another $50 million in security upgrades for key nuclear facilities would be slashed, too.

Further, a $117.9 million cut to lab operations and salaries would severely undercut Sandia and LANL, Domenici said.

“The House plan would cripple that defense mission and leave our nuclear deterrent vulnerable,’” Domenici said. “It is simply unacceptable.”

Udall, in contrast, didn’t view the cuts as a threat to national security. “It comes at a time when our national weapons arsenal is reliable for decades to come, and our national security increasingly is dependent on increased energy innovation and research,” he said.

Contact Diana Del Mauro at 986-3066 or dianadm@sfnewmexican.com.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

No RIF's said Mikey....Does he intend to re-tool the lab in a few month to get the new Energy funding?....Why is our management mis-leading us...if we are going to lose jobs why not come out and sy so, maybe we can plan for the cuts in a someewhat orderly manner, instead of telling everyone not to worry, there will be no RIF's...I don't belive our management...

Anonymous said...

LANL has been warned: Anyone who doubts that Congress is not serious about cutting the (you know what's off of the lab) is in total denial. As for our management, this is old news...but they are singing the party line...No RIF's..."The Emperor Has No Clothes"

Eric said...

To steal from the West Wing, "this is bad in so many ways."
Are any readers, from Los Alamos or elsewhere willing to have extended discussions (too long for the blogosphere) on this one.

I hope there are such people.

Anonymous said...

Yea Eric, this could be real BAD, huh...duh...where have you been for the last 2 years while this debate has been raging in Congress, discussions are not going to save your bacon, dude it's over,..you may consider discussing what to do with the remains.....

Anonymous said...

Now , lets hear from all of the "They can't shut down the lab types"....because Mikey said "No RIF's".....I wonder what he intends to use for funding? Maybe part of his salary perhaps?

Anonymous said...

“The House plan would cripple that defense mission and leave our nuclear deterrent vulnerable,’” Domenici said. “It is simply unacceptable.”

Sounds like everyone is paying attention to this statement. Gotta be a bummer when you turn flaccid.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure someone is going to blame Nanos for this too. It's time to grow up LANL. Let's stop complaining about everything under the sun and start fixing...or we can keep bitching about drug testing and polygraphs some more.

PS: Double dippers...it's time to go.

Anonymous said...

This debate comes with extremely bad timing, we are , at present telling several third world countries and sending the message that "No new Nukes" is our terms...how do we justify our RRW plan to the rest of the world, it's a serious matter. Any delay in making decisions could hamper LANL's ability to continue in it's present mission...maybe we do need to re-think our Nat. Labs missions, for the future?

Anonymous said...

9:52 pm:

"No RIFs..."

No, what was actually said was no PLANNED RIFs. Anything can change at any time a situation comes along that was not "planned." What do you think today's announcement constitutes??

No RRW, no MPF, no Complex 2030, and drastically cut-back pit production at LANL. Wouldn't it be nice if LANL management had a response for breaking news stories such as this? But no, that would be way beyond the capacity, and the imagination (not to say the concern), of current LANL management or publc affairs people.

Just ride it out and the concern of the employees will wane. Who cares what they think? Lots of luck with that. Have you polished your resume yet? Better get started!

Anonymous said...

But, but, but... Terry Wallace just told everyone that funding for LANL in FY08 looks great and Mike has assured us "no RIFs, no plans for a RIF" until he's red in the face!

I don't get it? Surely our LANS managers know what's going on in Washington DC, right?

Then, again, perhaps it really is time to seriously consider putting the house on the market and sending out resumes for a more secure and rewarding job at some better facility. Los Alamos appears to be getting ready to be whalloped hard by a Congress that doesn't give a shit about LANL any longer.

Anonymous said...

For better or worse (and it will be much worse for LANL), large segments of Congress are now controlled by powerful Dems for the decaying 'Rust-Belt' states. None of these guys has much to loose by drastically cutting the funding for the NNSA weapon labs. It should be clear to everyone that hard times are about to hit Los Alamos. The cuts that appear to be coming our way may be much harder to manage than the meager cuts that caused the RIF of '94.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, about that Terry Wallace memo that just came out. Terry certainly has a remarkable talent for bad timing, doesn't he?

Anonymous said...

The Democrats are in charge, in past years Sen. Domenici had much more clout than he does now, that was then, he is extremely busy trying to save his own ass, and he also has stated in the past that funding for LANL was getting harder and harder due to poor management, and the enormous amount of money going nowhere, large project's that in the past almost gautrenteed, that they would last are being slashed, because that scheme just doesn't work anymore, in times of tight budgets. More importantly the Nuke issue needs to be resolved by our Congress, but that may be a while, in the mean time, LANL may become a relic of the cold war.

Anonymous said...

(1) The check is in the mail.

(2) I'll respect you in the morning.

(3) No RIFs and no plans for a RIF.

Anonymous said...

URS certainly had good timing in acquiring WGI.

Anonymous said...

“It comes at a time when our national weapons arsenal is reliable for decades to come, and our national security increasingly is dependent on increased energy innovation and research,”

If this is true then there are no need for any weapons related projects. The labs will simply have to shift their efforts, bringing in people that can acccomplish those goals or downsize and shut down. A new mindset for all is coming.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6/6/07 11:26 PM said...
"Ah, yes, about that Terry Wallace memo that just came out...."

Can someone post a copy of the memo - I don't think it went out Lab wide.

Anonymous said...

The Lab has been in denial about a whole lot of things lately, not the least being the managerial incompetence, employee abuse and fraudulent behavior in our ranks that has virtually destroyed our institutional reputation. In the mean time the planet is burning up while we keep trying to convince ourselves that we still deserve unspent billions of dollars more to create and support the next generation of new weapons designers; as though our priority at this point in human existence is to ensure we keep the best weapons of mass destruction money can buy in stock. Talk about arranging the chairs on the Titanic!

Anonymous said...

So does this mean the Laboratory now needs to tighten its belt when it comes to wasteful litigation? Heaven forbid.

Anonymous said...

I vote we keep GW on for another four years. That way he can keep stoking the cold war embers, helping to preserve our funding in the process. The bad news of course is that we keep decaying as an institution but what the hell, just so long as I get to retire fat and sassy. As for the younger generation whining about my double-dipping...get over it!

Anonymous said...

it is odd that so much budget cutting aimed at the RRW has no effect (that is mentioned) on LLNS... huh?

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear the "Spin" Doctors at LANL start blabing their B.S. with this latest news...Our managers have been told both by Congress and Sen Domenici that funding LANL was going to become very difficult in good times, but with all of the issues created by LANL it's no suprise that Congress is being so harsh. OK now all we need is one more indident, saftey infraction etc. and you can kiss your lovable ass's good-bye. before next years budget.

Anonymous said...

".if we are going to lose jobs why not come out and sy so, maybe we can plan for the cuts in a someewhat orderly manner, instead of telling everyone not to worry, there will be no RIF's...I don't belive our management..."

It would have been nice if LANL employees cared that their contract employees were treated the way the LANL employees want to be treated. Sauce for the goose ...!

Anonymous said...

Uncle Sam needs you, but not at Los Alamos...in Iraq! Thank you GW for creating this brave new world for us.

Anonymous said...

"The bad news of course is that we keep decaying as an institution but what the hell, just so long as I get to retire fat and sassy. As for the younger generation whining about my double-dipping...get over it!"

Sounds like you already retired fat and happy once. Dumbass left wing hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just when you think this blog can't get any worse, it reaches a new low...

Anonymous said...

7:20 pm:

The "double dippers" just took advantage of what DOE/NNSA offered them. Would you not have done that? Or is your ire just jealousy? In any time of change, some will be better postioned to take advantage of it than others. Get over your whining. Those who are receiving a retirement from UC and are actively employed at LANS/LANL are presumably earning their salaries. If not, take it up with their supervisors. Otherwise, try to compete with their knowledge, experience, and expertise. I suspect the fact that you can't is the real reason for your complaint.

BTW, do you not understand that their UC retirement is paid by UC and has no effect on the LANL budget??

Anonymous said...

I'm not jealous. I just don't like hypocrites that cheer for the downfall of the institution while they take their money and run. If you don't like it, go fuck yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'd apply for your double dipping job if you ever left! Of course it will be hard because NOBODY could ever do what you do...suprised the place doesn't crumble to the ground when you don't show up, guess were lucky to have you! I've never met more overbloated, self important, know it all pricks, since I've worked at LANL. To bad I'm not Mormon, I'd be one of em'.

Anonymous said...

"BTW, do you not understand that their UC retirement is paid by UC and has no effect on the LANL budget??" (8:15pm)

If given the opportunity (say, > 58 years old with 25 years at LANL) I would have taken the "double dipper" opportunity. What reasonable person woudn't? No one wants to leave a bunch of cash on the table.

However, I disagree with your comment that the "double-dippers" have no effect on the LANL budget. They are also given a very generous "LANS match" to their TCP2 401k, and since they are recieving a generous UC monthly pension, they can afford to stash the maximum amount of salary into the 401k. The 401k "LANS match" comes directly out of the LANL operating budget. Thus, the "double-dippers" are hitting the LANL budget in a significant fashion. And since they don't need to terminate or retire to now recieve their UC pensions, they'll likely stay on at LANL until they are much older, thus hurting LANL's thrust to reduce the workforce via attrition. NNSA made a stupid decision when they allow this situation to slip through on the RFP.

Anonymous said...

The LANL Old-Timers who can "double-dip" have a very sweet position. Because of their age, they probably own their home and have no kids to support. All this, plus a big monthly UC pension check and matches by LANS to their large TCP2 401k contributions. These are staff members who will be feeling little stress when RIFs hit. Their age may also allow them to pull the "age discrimination" card if they get targeted by a RIF. Add in the fact that many ( but not all! ) older workers tend to become less productive in their old age and you can see how the Old-Timers at LANL are quickly becoming a drag on LANL's operation.

There are good reasons why those who have put in 25+ years and are over 55 years old don't seem do be stressed out by the shenanigans at LANL. In many cases, they will suffer little financial pain, no matter what happens in the next few years. The situation for the majority of the work force, however, is far more dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Hippies turned yuppies turned sponges sucking on tit of uncle Sam. I can't blame them for taking advantage of the situation, I would of to if I had the chance. I've lived up here in La La land to long. I wouldn't mind if they laid me and my wife off so we could get he hell out of this backasswards town. I hear thunder in the distance, just a matter of time before the rain starts, when it does and it will, I'll be the one dancing in the street. Its just a job, its just a place. Everthing done at LANL can be done somewhere else, and in 5 years it will be...except for the Bradbury and storge...the writing is on the wall.

Anonymous said...

"large TCP2 contributions"? Give me a break. It's about 10% across all categories, about what any large employer in the US will offer you. The so-called "double-dippers" retired from one company and are working for another. Absolutely nothing wrong about that. Their pension comes from their former employer (strictly, the UCRS). Their current pay comes from LANS/NNSA/DOE.

Besides, the majority of employees took TCP1, substantially more expensive, but whose costs are more complex to a bunch of dunderhead managers who have yet to calculate the true costs.

The bigger picture, if you will step back and look at what you are saying, is that all of these old guys cost too much and should be fired, so that the cheaper younger guys can keep their jobs and pay for their families.

Age-ism at its finest.

Anonymous said...

Get over it. Most are NOT double dipping. If you have the time in service, but not quite the age (50 - 57 was not the age yet) and you "retired" from UCRP you only were taking what you had already earned. And basically starting over in a new plan (TCP2).

Geez - what is it you whiney's don't get here. Get the f)*# over it and work for the lab like anyone who saved what they had with UC. If you don't like it get the hell out of here and quit breathing my air.

Anonymous said...

8:06 pm:

"Its just a job, its just a place"

Well that explains your problem. Some of us consider it a "career" and actually have strong family and personal ties to the community. People who spend their lives in "jobs" instead of a career are the ones who spend their lives whining. Wonder why...

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope you can take your career and family to the bank. Nothing last forever, chum. A career is a job that you do for a long time, the long time isn't up to you. A family is your loved ones who are around a long time, but neither is gauranteed. I figure your "ties the community" is your morgage on your 300K house, that probably won't be that price...for a long time.

Anonymous said...

"get the hell out of here and quit breathing my air." - 8:49 pm

Your air? Gramps is getting mighty grumpy these days! I've heard of an entitlement mindset at LANL, but this is ridiculous.