Jul 27, 2007

Lab gets an 'outstanding' rating from NNSA

By Steve Sandoval
July 26, 2007

Wall-to-wall inventory a success

It's official. The Laboratory's 2007 wall-to-wall inventory was deemed a success by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The Laboratory received an "outstanding" rating from NNSA for its recently completed wall-to-wall inventory. The inventory was completed two months ahead of schedule and with no security violations or safety incidents, said John Tapia of Property Management (ASM-PM), the Lab's property manager.

"The successful completion of the fiscal year 2007 wall-to-wall inventory in record time demonstrates the Laboratory and its employees' commitment to protecting and accounting for the government property that is assigned to them," he said.

According to Tapia, the Laboratory had a 99.8 percent success rate in accounting for controlled personal property--a figure that was validated by NNSA. The Lab's goal--and its contractual requirement to NNSA--was 99.5 percent of its $1.1 billion of controlled property.

"Every Laboratory employee who has controlled personal property played a part in the success of our wall-to-wall inventory," said Acquisition Services Management (ASM) Division Leader Kevin Chalmers. "This Labwide commitment also demonstrates that the Laboratory takes seriously its property accountability responsibilities."

Completion of a wall-to-wall inventory every three years is required in the Los Alamos National Security, LLC management and operations contract. The inventory began January 2, and some 77,000-plus items are part of the baseline of items for inventory.

A large percentage of the property was inventoried from January through March. In May, property administrators began focusing their attention on their assigned organization's holdings. Property administrators contacted custodians that had unaccounted for items, Tapia explained.

The National Nuclear Security Administration validated the Lab's wall-to-wall inventory last week and also briefed the NNSA Los Alamos Site Office, said Tapia. He added that the Laboratory now will complete an internal validation, ensure that all documentation is submitted to NNSA, and attempt to find any unlocated items.

"Any additional items that we locate only improve our score," he said.


There must be a list of the 154 unaccounted for items. Perhaps someone could email us that list so our readers could help locate the additional items.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know its over when an organization considers it noteworthy that they manage to perform an administrative activity "two months ahead of schedule and with no security violations or safety incidents."

BTW, many real-world hi-tech organizations such as Wal-Mart have had the ability to basically do real time inventorying for several years.

Anonymous said...

What was the level of error deemed to be acceptable? I've seen these "claims of success", but what is the real story?

Anonymous said...

This news is just fabulous. Truly outstanding. Bravo, LANS! It's an excellent sign that science is still robust and functioning well at LANL. My congratulations to all those in LANS upper management who have brought us this great victory. You are leading LANL on to bigger and better things. While some may doubt LANS ability to run LANL, I, myself, am ever more sure that..

LANS has the plan for making LANL grand!

Anonymous said...

God damn it, you guys don't ever let LANL have a win. If the inventory had struggled, then you would label them as criminal/idiots; but if it goes well and the Feds are satisfied, then it is a simple victory and they are wrong to be gald it is past without incident.

BTW Wal-Mart uses RFIDs that are not allowed in secure areas!

Anonymous said...

"BTW, many real-world hi-tech organizations such as Wal-Mart have had the ability to basically do real time inventorying for several years."

This is a specious analogy.
Organizations like Walmart have the luxury of amortizing costs to develop this capability over many stores and items sold. Your statement shows little understanding of LANL's mission. It's indicative of the media and congress's misguided views on the national Labs, which has got us this worsening mess in the first place. Too many narrow minds that view the rest of the world through generalizations of their own narrow experiences.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what the PBI is associated with this activity?

Anonymous said...

"BTW Wal-Mart uses RFIDs that are not allowed in secure areas!"

RFIDs are completely passive devices with no energy source (i.e. battery). I am unaware of regulations at any government facilities (high security or otherwise) that currently bans the use of RFIDs. They are like little "beacons" when activated by a shot of RF energy, and not much else. In fact, some of the products that are ordered by LANL and delivered behind the fence have inventory type RFIDs attached to their packaging. No one I know of seems to feel this is a big security risk.

Anonymous said...

RFID tags are not the problem, it is the RF gear needed to interrogate them. Like all policies, there are ways to deviate if necessary. For example, SPOs carry radios into limited and protected areas, where wireless is otherwise prohibited.

Anonymous said...

Anyone familiar with Los Alamos knows they don't care about inventorying items worth less than $5K (unless they're cameras or cellphones or laptops and they do SUCH a wonderful job there, right?)...

Folks familiar with LANL also would know that most camping equipment, tools, construction materials, maintenance parts, air conditioners and (I could go on and on) fall under (or can easily be "made" to fall under) that dollar threshold.

Accordingly (not surprisingly) the only good news LANS can seem to come up with lately is one of the largest, well known fallacies at LANL...There are literally $millions in small dollar uncontrolled items purchased and well hidden within the "books" all over the square miles of LANL...The WORST example of government property control and wasteful spending in Federal Government...

But Marquez told Congress it was all taken care of a couple of years ago right? So it has to be so....

And this is what NNSA thinks? Hmmmmm...No strange bedfellows here at all folks (more like a Deliverance redeaux: "squeal like a piggy now boy!...weee, weee"...)

Anonymous said...

Bean counters will only set standards that bean counters understand, then pat themselves on the back. If the country wants the national Labs. to go beyond that then they will have to get bean counters off our backs.

One other thing -- the country is now being run by media sound bite attacks. The only way that bean counters know to minimize the attacks is for the Lab. to do nothing but count beans along with them -- since we can then declare victory when all beans have been accounted. Don't hold your breath for any defense that requires insight or guts.

Anonymous said...

So the Kestone cops of the NNSA gave us an A+ in bean counting? Woowee am I impressed!

Anonymous said...

"Less than $5K" Hah! I have an old Palm Vx PDA, bought in 1999 for $499, that keeps coming back in the audits like a bad penny. The thing is worthless, but on the LANL books it's still costed at the full $499. Just two weeks ago the property guys came around again looking for that POS. Due to a bookkeeping error in the way it was purchased, it can't be salvaged or destroyed until they find someone who can authorize the bookkeeping change.

Sigh.

So 99.8% inventory is astounding, given that we have to chase down every worthless POS that any reasonable Walmart executive would have trashed a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

7/27/07 5:53 PM - yep, now we know why NNSA hired LANS twice - to run both LANL and LLNL - so that we can get our inventory accounted for. Nice to know what matters. Shit, the TSMs had to this job for the property folks and now the property people are getting the credit.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, I am still accounting for my $90 Palm Zire, which incidentally is locked up in our COS's file cabinet because my office is a mixed (red/yellow) computing environment.

Anonymous said...

Inventory is a bit of a joke. An earlier poster commented on benchmarks or other areas that get measured are the areas that they know they can meet and do well at (high probability of success). I worked in the property organization at LANL in 2001 and saw other segments of property management that the Lab had absolutely no visibility of (ex. property items out for repair). I recall it being several $K out on orders being repaired. If it's out for repair and not out, for example at a subcontractor's location as GFP, it's not counted. With a procurement system so bad at tracking, there's no way of knowing where or when it would actually be returned in most cases. How many times has something not been where it was supposed to be? If you need it, do you wait until it is found before you start a project that requires that equipment? No, you go buy another one. I've seen all kinds of stuff bought with lab funds and never get accounted for. If it doesn't get bar coded, it doesn't get counted. When you miss the up front accountability in the first place, the less you need to count (or go find) and the better you look when you have to do counts. The Lab knows how to play the game. It's all in the way you frame the picture. The less you know, the better off you are and the less you're accountable for.

Anonymous said...

With $1B of items and ONLY 99.8% located, that means that 0.2% ($2M)were NOT FOUND!

I am waiting for the drive-by media to have a front page article about $2M of LANL property lost.

The fact is, the stuff is generally not lost, they just didn't find it during this inventory. The items, with very few exceptions, usually show up during the next or following inventories.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me! Bean counters? Show how arrogant and uninformed you are. Property has nothing to do with bean counting.

But then they think they can put a PhD in charge of HR. We all know that was a huge mistake.

So go postulate your physics crap or what ever, and Ill go figure out the proper method of counting my beans

Asshole

Anonymous said...

...and by the way, you are probably a taxpayer calling for more accountability in how the governemnt spoends it's month. So legislatio is drafted along with official guidance and tghen the bean counters are given specific requirements they have to follow. Most try to do so with the minimu amount of interferance to the scientist or the program. Yet you stupid asshole continue to berate them, for nothing more than trying to do their jobs, one you as a taxpayer bitch about.

Damn arrogant asshole hypocrits

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against those in the trenches who do the necessary job of accounting for inventory. But when bean counters in DOE make it a major criteria for the Lab's success -- that's when the Lab's future goes down the drain -- support people, scientists, everyone.

Anonymous said...

"So go postulate your physics crap or what ever, and Ill go figure out the proper method of counting my beans

Asshole

7/28/07 6:50 PM"

All too typcial of the type of attitude that LANL staff gets from some of the "support" people. I won't be shedding any tears when support get decimated by the coming budget cuts. It's time to get rid of the bloat at LANL, started with the dysfunction, non-supportive "support" workers. There are some good support staff, but way too many who are just coasting along in their jobs and don't know the true meaning of customer service.

Anonymous said...

"There are some good support staff, but way too many who are just coasting along in their jobs and don't know the true meaning of customer service."

Fortunately, such attitudes are rare in the technical ranks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7/28/07 6:50 PM wrote:

"But then they think they can put a PhD in charge of HR. We all know that was a huge mistake."

When I first came to LANL in the early 1980's I was a bit surprised to see the HR was led by an engineer, a guy name Foley. This seemed a bit strange. After he retired, we had a succession of HR professional as head of HR. Every one of them was a disaster.

When Foley was in charge, HR was supportive of the LANL mission. It operated as is should: as a support organization.

Under the leadership of HR professionals, HR got a life of its own. The function became bloated. HR began doing "research" into HR matter. There was a re-classification of Technicians from four grades to seven. Of course, only four of the present seven grades are used. This process served to piss off nearly every affect Technician.

Under Foley, Technical divisions originally had their own HR specialist who was a member of the respective division. HR managed to eliminate that in the early 1990's and all of those people were absorbed into the HR division. Our division then got a succession of deployed HR people, most of whom were hired right off the street and thus were particularly ineffective. And, these deployed staff promptly figured out that there was no hope of advancement as deployed staff so the moved into the central HR organization at the first opportunity, usually right after they began to learn the job.

NO! HR needs to be led by a scientist or engineer who is sensitive to the needs of a technical organization. Right now, other than upper management, HR is our most bloated, inefficient, and incompetent organization!

Anonymous said...

I agree with poster 12:38 AM. The technical ranks are equally as bad. People with no funding get "placed" in as group leader and then he only cares about the programs that his drinking "buddies" are involved with. He makes those programs a group "priority" and ignores the other efforts in the group. As a reward, the group leader then gets funding from his friends to hire postdocs of his own (which tend to be completely unsupervised). There is no accountability for such behavior and because this behavior is allowed to continue, it is seen as being encouraged and rewarded by the DL and AD.

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:49 AM, I don't know about the particular situation you are refering to, but, yes, I have observed that when staff members lose funding, some seem to be moved over into the management ranks. It's a bit bizarre, but that is what happens. In these cases, if you are short of funding, LANL places you as a manager on overhead almost as a reward. Strange, but true.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:49 AM - I, too, have seen this happening quite a bit in C and B divisions. Sad, but true, and these unfunded-TSMs-turned-GLs get a salary bump and cost more. Nice to see LANS' best business practices at work.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
God damn it, you guys don't ever let LANL have a win. If the inventory had struggled, then you would label them as criminal/idiots; but if it goes well and the Feds are satisfied, then it is a simple victory and they are wrong to be gald it is past without incident.

BTW Wal-Mart uses RFIDs that are not allowed in secure areas!



FYI - "In the REAL WORLD" everyone does 100% of their inventory. It is a basic function of business. So, if we can only get 95% then we are a national lab that cannot complete basic functions

Anonymous said...

"So go postulate your physics crap or what ever, and Ill go figure out the proper method of counting my beans

Asshole

7/28/07 6:50 PM"

All too typcial of the type of attitude that LANL staff gets from some of the "support" people. I won't be shedding any tears when support get decimated by the coming budget cuts. It's time to get rid of the bloat at LANL, started with the dysfunction, non-supportive "support" workers. There are some good support staff, but way too many who are just coasting along in their jobs and don't know the true meaning of customer service.

7/28/07 10:54 PM

I see you don't like it when the tables are turned, but I do have to agree many in the support staff do not understand what they are doing, do a half asses job, and provide horrible customer service.

Anonymous said...

To poster 7/30/07 8:40 AM - like it or not, but Mikey just renewed the contract for KSL for another year. Rewarding excellent customer service done in a timely fashion, under budget, with quality craftsmanship. LANS' best business practices at work for the country.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
God damn it, you guys don't ever let LANL have a win. If the inventory had struggled, then you would label them as criminal/idiots; but if it goes well and the Feds are satisfied, then it is a simple victory and they are wrong to be gald it is past without incident.

BTW Wal-Mart uses RFIDs that are not allowed in secure areas!



FYI - "In the REAL WORLD" everyone does 100% of their inventory. It is a basic function of business. So, if we can only get 95% then we are a national lab that cannot complete basic functions

7/30/07 8:38 AM

Hey - can't we ever let LANL have a win? This is bullshit. Every business in existance does an inventory and does a much better job. Then they do not launch a campaign " Look at how shitty a job we do, and we are so proud!!"

Let's have a real win for LANL not some half assed .......failure?