Jun 25, 2007

Sustaining Two Competitive Design Laboratories

June 25, 2007

Rep. Ellen Tauscher Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral Group to Insist on Congruent Benefit Package for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Wins fight for public comment period

Washington , DC – Rep. Ellen Tauscher along with her California colleague Senator Diane Feinstein (D) as well as Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Pete Domenici (D-NM) sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today stressing that a new benefits package for employees of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory can only be in the best interest of national security, scientific advancement and equity if it is congruent to the package being offered at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Rep. Tauscher led the bipartisan effort that spans both the House and Senate in her role as Chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

The letter states “A key component of the nation's strategy to provide scientific leadership to support the nation's nuclear deterrent is sustaining two competitive design laboratories. Maintaining this vital competitive environment requires equity between these institutions, and success requires a stable workforce throughout the complex and the scientific and technical talent to deliver results to protect our nation.”

The letter comes on the heels of a request from Rep. Tauscher and her colleagues last week that the Department of Energy, at the very least, instate a public comment period for employees to voice their thoughts on benefit package. The DOE has agreed and this comment period will move forward.

“The whole point of the competitive lab structure is that competition breeds the best science in order to bolster our national security,” said Rep. Tauscher. “If the labs aren’t able to recruit and retain the best and brightest minds equally, then the whole concept of competition is lost, the best science isn’t being achieved, and our national security is weakened.” I will do everything in my power as Chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the labs to ensure the Energy Department gets this right. Anything but a congruent benefit package among the labs is not in the interest of national security, scientific advancement, or the spirit of fairness.”

The full text of the letter follows below.

June 25, 2007

Samuel W. Bodman
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington , DC 20585

Dear Secretary Bodman,

As you know, we are all strong supporters of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and promote scientific capabilities in support of its missions. In particular, we support a well-balanced NNSA complex that can attract and retain the talent necessary to fulfill its national security mission and maintain a credible nuclear deterrent.

A key component of the nation's strategy to provide scientific leadership to support the nation's nuclear deterrent is sustaining two competitive design laboratories. Maintaining this vital competitive environment requires equity between these institutions, and success requires a stable workforce throughout the complex and the scientific and technical talent to deliver results to protect our nation. It is therefore critically important that the Department of Energy (DOE) carefully steward the transition of these laboratories to new contractors and enable the contractors to offer equitable benefits packages that support their contract obligations and empower them to deliver the results DOE and Congress expect from these contracts, which means that neither contractor should have a competitive advantage over another in terms of pay and benefits. We are extremely concerned about the impact of the recent contract competitions at the two design laboratories on NNSA's ability to fulfill its national security requirements, because we understand that just such an imbalance now looms among the different labs.

We recommend that DOE/NNSA accept the LLNS proposed "LANL comparable" pension and benefits plan for LLNL commencing October 1, 2007 to resolve the potential inequities between the two benefits packages. We further recommend that DOE/NNSA conduct a more relevant Ben-Val Study for the DOE labs and comparable FFRDCs to establish an appropriate and consistent market base that accurately accounts for the challenges of recruiting and retaining top quality scientific talent in our current economy. In order to avoid further problems, we urge you to undertake the appropriate Ben-Val revaluation at the same time.

We know that you share our commitment to support the scientific capabilities necessary to fulfill the NNSA’s vital missions and look forward to working with you to sustain as workforce that meets our scientific and technical needs today and into the future.


Rep. Ellen Tauscher

Sen. Diane Feinstein

Sen. Jeff Bingaman

Sen. Pete Domenici.


Anonymous said...

Team work is a wonderful thing. Please do not let up for a minute and keep the ball rolling. It isn't over yet. As a matter of a fact this is just the beginning of things to come. Thanks to all from both labs who took the time to stand up and be counted.

Anonymous said...

Guess that means the LANL folks can expect to have their benefits cut. That seems to be what privatization at the Labs is all about. If you can't cut the costs from extremely bloated bureaucracy and management, cut the workers benefits!

Anonymous said...

With DOE/NNS providing just 5% above the average of the Ben Val survey members, how do they think they can get the "best and brightest" for two labs, let alone one? I'm afraid the 11:07 poster has it correct, LLNL won't get an improved package, LANL will just need to be brought down to provide alignment with what Livemore has been offered.

Anonymous said...

We'll eventually be congruent, alright. Congruent all the way down to nada, zero, zilch.

Anonymous said...

Ben-Val Study might have missed that component called 'Stock Options' offered in companies such as IBM / HP / Lockheed in their benefits package.

So DOE/NNS providing benefit 5% above may not hold if that is considered.

Anonymous said...

This is a bad statement to make "In order to avoid further problems, we urge you to undertake the appropriate Ben-Val revaluation at the same time." since it give NNSA the go ahead to reduce LANL 5 % down to 2% immediately. I don't think that was the intent but NNSA is going to take it that way. Just one more reason that no one should come to work for LLNL and everyone that can should leave and for those that are left, well, you just have to learn how to go into the cruse mode and do as little as you can during that eight hours you are on site. No more extended hours, OT, travel, etc. I could not post the new LLNS HIGYWAY TO HEAVEN ORG CHART

Anonymous said...

Competition means competing interests. When you have the same consortium of companies (with UC at the helm of course) running both Labs, were's the competition? Get real!

Anonymous said...

Please!...stop with the "best and brightest" crap already. Only you perceive yourself that way. The rest of world sees you as little more than aging welfare scientists that just can't let go of the goverment tit; double-dipping and doing little these days to merit your outrageous salaries, and yet whining at every turn that you're so misunderstood and maligned. Enough already!

Anonymous said...

I agree 8:22, that "best and brightest" cliche has already become a standing joke at LANL. If you have to keep telling everyone you're the "best and brightest", then you've got a f*cking problem.

Anonymous said...

What if they do the BenVal and LLNL is higher? They were in the 2004 Hewitt report.

Anonymous said...

Get real. There was a 7 year contract signed and there will be no immediate change in benefits at LANL until the end of the contract.

The real issue is the sole reliance on BenVal in the first place. Just as important are: how can we attract top scientists who will be devoting their life to a very specialized scientific and engineering areas with very little hope of outside recognition of their accomplishments. I'm not just talking about weapons work either.

Anonymous said...

Get used to the idea that LANL can't attract top scientists. At least not now. If the scientists are the least bit astute politically or economically (meaning they want some sense of economic stability), this is the last place in the nation they'd be inclined to run toward.

Once you consider the 'impossible', you and they may be able to consider other ways to allow success to develop out of this pressure cooker of a situation.

Anonymous said...

Wrogn answer:

Anonymous said...
Get real. There was a 7 year contract signed and there will be no immediate change in benefits at LANL until the end of the contract.

They can change what ever they want every two years without your consent

Anonymous said...

"They can change what ever they want every two years without your consent"

Source ?

Anonymous said...

Was told to all of us at LLNL at the 10:00 AM 400 series meeting. Get use to it, LANL is on the hit list. If LLNL does not get the 5.5% on the next Ben-Val like you did, I would expect your 5.5% to go to 2.5% by the ned of the year. Gotcha ! Not only that but LLNS is saying, "well if we give you 5.5% we'll have to cut you vacation, sick leave and raise your medical cost by 50%. It's all good and going to get better.

Anonymous said...

As pink floyd would say:

Hello, is there anybody in there.We are desperately numb. Sounds like the NNSA anthem.

NNSA must have seen the LLNL work force as a bunch of brain dead kowtowing cowards who they thought they could trample on with impunity as they employed their goose step tactics expecting everyone at LLNL to be too fightened to speak up and question their motives. What they found and awakened however was a sleeping giant who possesses the brains, intestinal fortitude and DC connections (skills attained while achieving tremendous technical and theoretical strides as they faithfully supported the needs of this great nation - in spite of years of DOE/NNSA meddlling, misdirection and ineptitude) necessary to intelligently question this new corporate direction. The voices that you have begun to hear will only get louder and more persistent until you allow reason and employee concerns to enter (and make a difference) in your decision making pro cess. All we ever hear from NNSA is that without LLNL's magnificent human resource this great institution would not exist. You have very effectively reduced our efforts to cocktail chatter and pandering praise - please keep those to yourself and give us back a just and well deserved benefits package coupled with the freedom to continue to make significant scientific discoveries.

Our NNSA leaders have provided LLNS senior management with huge salaries, benefits and perks as long as they support and promote this massive reduction of our health care benefits and pension checks (makes me wonder if senior LLNS management should also have poligraphs and be allowed to pee in a bottle - now that could be called sloppin' with the pigs - 'er I mean cohabitating with the working class - I, however, seriously doubt if that will happen). I'm curious, have any DC NNSA types ever attempted to purchase real estate or buy gas for the long commutes that we take to get to LLNL? Please do a study on what it costs to live a lower to middle class existence in Northern California. Perhaps you haven't considered or don't care that increases in our health care costs and contributions to the TCP1 pension plan may cause many employees to lose their homes. Are NNSA/LLNS managers certain that your much "ballyhooed" benefits plan will retain quality scientific and engineering staff; while providing sufficient incentives to attract world class scientific talent (at this point delusional comes to mind). NNSA believes that they've won the battle but I wager that they have just won the first round of this poker match and that their first shot over the bow will not soon be forgotten by world class LLNL "UC" employees! Their actions remind me of those many corporate leaders and CEOs who reduced, stole or underfunded their employees retirement funds while making tremendous salaries because their cost-cutting ways provided stockholders wi th increased dividends; only to find out that they are now serving long and justified prison terms for their abuses. Do you really think that we are so easily swayed by your "folksy" town hall meetings and that we trust you? Respect and trust need to be earned and are not commodities that are given away freely. Why is it necessary for LLNS LLC ( LLC, translated from corporate speak, equates to a Limited Liability Corporation). What "exactly" are you limiting your liability from?! You have mentioned that you (LLNS) are working for (with?) us by suggesting that we send our comments to NNSA in an attempt to make this process an employee friendly implementation! This appears to be a thinly veiled and feeble attempt to take some of the heat off of LLNS and redirect this impending storm toward NNSA. It seems to me that you are both playing in the same sandbox together. How many of you have, with NNSA's Blessing, obtained a "golden parachute" as a payoff for feeding us a "filtered and slanted" version of the benefits plan.

What you gained by committing this tragic act is to ensure that the country will now get employees who work from 8 to 4:30. You will be able to hire those who lack scientific and research experience; also those who are willing to appease the boss by hurrying the job, those who are willing to cut coners on projects and materials and a staff that will is incapable of providing the quality craftsmanship that LLNL scientists, engineers and project managers have come to expect. I predict that LLNL will soon become a mediocre laboratory and one that has been severely diminished due to our legacy workers departing for greener pastures. Additionally, I believe that those who stay will no longer perform their assignments and tasks with the same dedication because they are (rightfully so) feeling disenfranchised by DOE, NNSA and LLNS and their grandious, less than humanistic, plans for the future. Reminds me of a song that my Mother would sing to me when I was young and concer ned for my well-being - "Just a spoonful of sugar and the medicine goes down in a most delightful way!" Sing along . . .

With that said, I have just a few questions/comments to make before I wrap this up . . .

Have you considered that you (NNSA/LLNS) are being viewed in a less than favorable light by LLNL workers, Congress and the People of the United States because of your amateurish Management/Corporate 101 antics, skills and tactics?

Does the LLNS/NNSA management team realize that privitizing this esteemed Laboratory (known for fostering greatness, ingenuity and scientific discovery - a commodity sorely needed during this dangerous time in our Nation's history) will most likely dramatically reduce LLNL effectiveness and productivity; along with adversely impacting the earning potential of the laboratory's employees?

Is anyone really going to want to go to work for NNSA/LLNS (knowing how they treated their long-term employees by introducing a plan that destroyed a pension plan that was, for the most part, self-supporting)? Is this being done to save money, counter jealousy and/or to implement a policy of equalization among DOE Labs?

If you think this endeavor has won you respect, think again. All you have accomplished is to show your true colors. Over the last 50 years LLNL has been managed by UC and attained a level of performance and success that others in this world can only hope to emulate.

So again I will ask you, "Is there anyone in there?" I guess not, all I'm hearing is an echo and all I'm seeing is the picked over and burned out carcass of the once famous Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory . . .

Anonymous said...

I think it is important to separate out NNSA from LLNS. One has the money and RFP, the other responds with a bid within the constraints of the RFP.

The offered benefits were tightly constrained by the RFP; that is a NNSA mistake as noted in the post above. Everyone's anger at this insult needs to be directed to the right location.

Anonymous said...

6/26/07 7:07 PM

But it is LANS management that is going to get their ass wacked as time goes on. I don't see them standing up for LLNL employees at all. All they are doing is trying to deliver a package that they know is substandard. If they were smart they'd tell NNSA today that they want out. This contract is null and void. Give these guys back to UC.

Anonymous said...

"What if they do the BenVal and LLNL is higher? They were in the 2004 Hewitt report."

"If LLNL does not get the 5.5% on the next Ben-Val like you did, I would expect your 5.5% to go to 2.5% by the ned of the year."

Clarification from one of the recent LLNS benefits presentations confirms the first bullet on Page 58:

"LANS TCP2 current value is 112.5%"

This is the same percentage as the LLNS current value (see Pages 54 and 58 of the LLNS presentation). This is based on the 2007 Hewitt BenVal study, and would reflect the situation at LANL would their contract have been awarded this year. LLNS is also at 112.5%, but to get it to 105%, the service-based TCP2 401(k) contribution would be 1.0% for 0-9 years, 1.75% for 10-19 years, and 2.75% for 20+ years. As the LLNS folks pointed out, these are just 2 data points, and should not be taken as a trend. Read into this what you will.

And, in response to 6/26/07 5:08 PM, the approved LLNS contract (available on the NNSA contract competition website) clearly spells out the every-other-year BenVal study, and requires LLNS to submit a plan to bring the percentage back to 105%.

Anonymous said...

"the approved LLNS contract (available on the NNSA contract competition website) clearly spells out the every-other-year BenVal study, and requires LLNS to submit a plan to bring the percentage back to 105%"

Is this in the LANS contract ?
If not, this is another item
that is not congruent with LANS
benefits ?

Anonymous said...

6/26/07 8:44 PM

As I recall, this identical language is in the LANS contract, and has been since day one.

Anonymous said...

Poster 6:02 PM, I don't think you get it. NNSA could care less about how you and the rest of the staff out at LLNL feel about the upcoming benefit cuts.

It's a done deal. Take it or leave it, and they really don't care if you leave it. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

NNSA is definitely the problem.. no one seems to notice that the DOE Office of Science did not require a TPC1/TPC2 approach for the LBNL contract, and they got to stay in UCRP. People seem to link the missions of LANL and LLNL, but fail to remember that LLNL was once a division of LBNL, and historically LLNL had been closer to LBNL in operations/administration than LANL.

Anonymous said...

8:33, IF LANS TCP2 is indeed at 112.5 (2007) and it was at 105 (2006), then it would appear that corrective action might be forthcoming (para (iv)) depending on the Conracting Officer. The text below is from the LLNL RFP, but I remember similar language in the LANL RFP. I cannot find a copy of the LANL RFP for the exact language. DOE still has the LANL competition website up, but the link to the RFP is dead.

It would be interesting to know the results of the first year Cost Comparison for LANL for TCP2. I believe your understanding is it's 112.5. This would indicate comparator companies relative benefits fell by about 7% in a year, since LANL TCP2 was at 105.

Another wrinkle is that the language from the LLNL RFP text below refers to the average. The LLNS VGs state they use the "% of Average DOE Comaparator Value" (plot pg 34). The LANS VGs have a similar plot, however, the text says "% of Total Median DOE Value" (Rev2 pg 28). So one would appear to use the median and the other the average. Would need to see the data to see what the difference is. This makes me wonder what the RFP text for LANL says.

In any event:

LLNL RFP Section H35 (d) Salary and Benefits (6) Benefit Evaluations

(i) The Contractor shall submit to the Contracting Officer for approval ... a Relative Benefit Value Index (RBVI) due initially 6 weeks after the start of the Transition Term and a Per Capita Employee Benefit Cost Comparison (Cost Comparison) due initially one year after the start of the Basic Term of the Contract. Subsequently, an RBVI must be calculated every two years and the Cost Comparison performed annually. Failure to conduct either the RBVI or Cost Comparison on a timely basis may result in a determination of unallowable costs.

(ii) The RBVI shall be an actuarial calculation of the relative value of the benefit programs …measured against the average value of benefit programs offered by at least 15 comparator companies and/or institutions that the Contractor competes against for recruitment and retention of employees...

(iii) …

(iv) Costs for a market-based Benefits Plan for New Employees, Inactive Vested Transferring Employees and UCRP Retiring Employees will be allowable when the Contractor’s total benefit RBVI does not exceed the market average total benefit RBVI by more than five percent and the total benefit average per capita cost and percent of payroll do not exceed the market average total benefit per capita cost and percent of payroll by more than five percent.

---(I) When the total RBVI and/or Cost Comparison exceed the comparator group by more than 5 percent, as required by the Contracting Officer, the Contractor shall submit for approval corrective action plans, including a timeline, to achieve a market average RBVI, average per capita cost and cost as a percent of payroll not to exceed the comparator group by more than 5 percent.

---(II) When required by the Contracting Officer, the Contractor shall submit an analysis of any specific plan costs that exceed the market average RBVI, average per capita cost and cost as a percent of payroll, and a corrective action plan to achieve conformance with the 5 percent requirement set forth in subparagraph (iv) above.

---(III) The Contractor shall implement corrective action plans determined to be reimbursable by the Contracting Officer that meet the requirements of subparagraph (iv) above.

Anonymous said...

"The text below is from the LLNL RFP, but I remember similar language in the LANL RFP. I cannot find a copy of the LANL RFP for the exact language."

10:56, the text you're looking for is actually found in both contracts, you no longer have to rely upon the information in the RFPs. Here are the links to both of the (new) contracts:

LANS (Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396):


LLNS (Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344):


Anonymous said...

Why is it we have lots to say to help LLNL out of their new misery hole. But 18 months ago they couldn't say anything to help us or support us. They put their heads in the sand and said "better you than us".

Now it is them and now we can't seem to do enough to give them advice and help.

Sorry - I'm bitter. We always seem to suck the hind tit and it's usually dry.

Anonymous said...

Most of what I find here probably wouldn't be confused with Help. It is clear that after a year most posters here still predicting LANL failure, management failure, pension failure, real estate failure and failure of each. Many of those claiming to help, can't agree on what advice is best. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the LLNL pension yet, but I'm going to make the best informed decision I can and get on with life.

Anonymous said...

Really not much else you can do 8:49.

Anonymous said...

Noted from LLNL Employee News...

June 29 , 2007

Prior to introducing LLNS Deputy Director Steve Liedle for the Director’s Office Town Hall Thursday afternoon, George Miller took a few moments to talk to laboratory employees about some of issues that have been surfacing related to the contract transition process. He also clarified some of the questions on the proposed LLNS benefit packages.

“I want to talk to you not as LLNS president or Lab director, but from me to you,” Miller said. “I see each of you as a part of my extended family. This is an important time for our Laboratory; it’s about the Laboratory’s future and it’s about your future. It’s important we get this right.”

Miller said he appreciates the many comments and concerns he has personally received from employees and he noted that more than 1,000 comments and questions have been submitted via the Web to LLNS. NNSA’s e-mail address has also received 1,000 messages and 300 phone calls have made to LLNS regarding benefits issues.

Acknowledging that “the process of change is sometimes chaotic,” Miller said, LLNS is working to make a benefits package proposal to NNSA that will include employee feedback.

Miller said he understands many of the concerns raised by employees about the framework provided by DOE/NNSA for the proposed benefits package and whether a market-based plan can be reconciled with the Laboratory’s long term goals. “This is a legitimate and important conversation for us to be having [with DOE],” he said.

Anonymous said...

Contra Costa Times


Assemblyman Jerry McNerney, D- Pleasanton, will meet with Lawrence Livermore Laboratory employees Monday to discuss the workers' new benefits package.

Also Monday, the 11th District congressman is expected to lead a delegation of other California Congress members in sending a letter to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on the issue.

"I am very concerned about the new benefits package put forward, as are many of my constituents," McNerney said in a statement Friday. "It is in the interest of national security that (Lawrence Livermore) is able to recruit and retain the nation's top scientists."

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Pleasanton Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Blvd., Pleasanton.

Last week, lab workers learned they must choose from two retirement plans, one of which is mandatory for all new hires and could result in future retirement benefits 20 percent lower than employees' current pensions, administered by the University of California.

-- Kelly Gust