Jul 26, 2007

Laboratory Future Potentially at Risk

This comment is from yesterday's Directive Distress post.

Did anyone notice this memo that came out of the Director's office? Read the first line of this memo over a couple of times. Sounds rather ominous to me. Is the end game here for LANL? Are DOE and NNSA telling LANS something that the rest of the workforce should know about?

********************


Memorandum

To/MS: All Employees
From/MS: Michael R. Anastasio
Symbol: DIR-07-211
Date: July 23, 2007

Office of the Director

SUBJECT: Senior Management Meeting, July 19-21, 2007


The future of our Laboratory is being questioned and is potentially at risk. The country needs and deserves an efficient, agile, integrated, and effective Los Alamos National Laboratory that delivers premier science, technology, and engineering for national security.

At a leadership offsite last week, the senior management team met to determine whether we are doing everything possible to ensure the overall success of the Laboratory.

The following are outcomes of our meeting:


* We developed a set of actions to enhance our ability as a high performance leadership team.


* Reflecting on the past year, the Laboratory has accomplished a tremendous amount. We re-established that the 12 goals are the right ones for the Laboratory to achieve our vision (to anticipate, innovate, and deliver science and technology that matters).


* We began developing future key commitments associated with the 12 goals.


* We identified barriers to achieving these goals and commitments and developed actions to begin removing them.


Each of us on the senior management team is personally committed to the overall success of the Laboratory, and we will hold each other accountable to ensure this. While each of us brings expertise and experience to individual areas, it is the common vision, shared fate, and integrated execution toward achieving the vision that will ensure institutional success.

We will continue the work we did last week -- collectively carrying out actions, identifying and removing barriers, and holding each other accountable. The need to enhance the level and quality of communications with each other and with you was a topic that pervaded our meeting. In the coming days, your Associate Directors will be visiting with you further about our meeting and the critical nature of our collective performance toward achieving our 12 goals.

Cy:
IRM-RMMSO, A150 DIR-07-211

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

How about this posting in the Washington Post on Wednesday:

blog.washingtonpost.com
/earlywarning/2007/07/
opening_the_nuclear_front_1.html

Early Warning

William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security - Washington Post, July 25

Opening the Nuclear Front

The Bush administration opened a nuclear front in its various wars this week, firing a paper at Congress arguing that nuclear weapons are at a "critical juncture" and continue to be essential for U.S. national security. The statement -- all of three pages -- is essentially a justification for the U.S. nuclear arsenal and a new nuclear warhead. There is, however, a glimmer of hope in a report that is mostly boilerplate.

The glimmer is in the paper's tone, which is almost pleading. Amid the arguments -- that nuclear weapons have been an essential element of "deterrence" since President Truman, and that the principal U.S. national security goal is deterring "aggression against ourselves, our allies, and friends" -- there is the sense that the U.S. is trying too hard to justify a policy that perhaps it realizes is becoming obsolete.

With Congress increasingly questioning the Bush administration's nuclear weapons strategy and its pursuit of new nuclear warheads and nuclear capabilities, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates joined with the Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in issuing the report Friday, titled "National Security and Nuclear Weapons: Maintaining Deterrence in the 21st Century."

The paper argues that despite the demise of the Soviet Union, the "future security environment is very uncertain, and some trends are not favorable. Rogue states" -- code for Iran and North Korea -- "either have or seek weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons." More states, it says, could develop nuclear weapons, and "established nuclear powers" -- Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Israel, all unnamed -- could pursue "aggressive nuclear force modernization programs."

All of this requires the United States to continue to offer assurances of security for our allies and U.S. nuclear weapons continue to serve "as the ultimate guarantor of their security." A nuclear arsenal demonstrates "to allies and adversaries alike that the United States has the necessary means, and the political will, to respond decisively against aggression and the use of weapons of mass destruction." In this regard, Iran and North Korea are explicitly mentioned.

But it's not as if the United States is headed for nuclear disarmament. Even with a Democratic Congress or a Democratic president, that's not likely.

The report argues that Congress needs to continue to support "a responsive nuclear infrastructure." That means robust research and a commitment to maintaining technical expertise in nuclear weapons, and even the ability to renew underground testing if necessary. Most important, it means the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), a new weapon that the administration and the nuclear priesthood hopes to build in large numbers.

None of this is surprising. But that doesn't mean it's the right direction. I see no value in "using" nuclear weapons in our disputes with North Korea and Iran. In fact, brandishing them merely serves to encourage our adversaries to develop their own. Furthermore, when it comes to Russia and China, our goal must be to seek reductions and constraints. And as for the value of our nuclear weapons vis a vis India, Pakistan, or Israel; the history is clear, our nuclear weapons have bought us nothing but their justifications.

Perhaps it is time to adopt the post-9/11 stance when it comes to nuclear weapons, including our own: We cannot just wait for stuff to happen to us. We have to take action. Ultimately that means a commitment to deeper reductions and a further marginalizing of the role nuclear weapons play in U.S. foreign policy.

By William M. Arkin | July 25, 2007; 8:11 AM ET |

Anonymous said...

"We developed a set of actions to enhance our ability as a high performance leadership team."

Oooh. I certainly feel fetter now. Wow. A high performance management team. I just got goosebumps.

Anonymous said...

"We will continue the work we did last week -- collectively carrying out actions, identifying and removing barriers, and holding each other accountable."

You mean like you held John Mitchell accountable. Mike? Or the LANS board member who emailed a classified document on the open net? Bullshit. LANS is all about the $79 million award fee and covering your management asses. LANS is all about helping Bechtel make money by trying to turn LANL into a very expensive (and very profitable, for Bechtel) pit manufacturing facility. LANS is not about "high performance management" at all.

Anonymous said...

LANL's holding company is in the news again:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19962288/

Excerpt:

"U.S. construction giant Bechtel National Inc. arrived in Iraq in 2003, on the heels of U.S. troops, with a fat contract awarded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to rebuild the country.

Then in 2004 the company won a second contract, worth a potential $1.8 billion. Wearing white construction helmets labeled "Bechtel," the company's construction supervisors oversaw work on hospitals, schools and bridges, and tried to get the water flowing and the electricity turned on.

A new federal audit released Wednesday, however, found that a big chunk of Bechtel's reconstruction work for USAID, the federal agency that issued the contract, was never achieved on the second contract. Auditors checked the 24 jobs Bechtel was supposed to complete.

"Ten did not achieve their original objectives," the auditors found. In another three projects, "we were either unable to determine what the original objectives were or the achievements were unclear."

Anonymous said...

I may have thoughts that are too simple for this discussion.

Here is my version of accountable.

If you (division leader, group leader, etc.) cannot show an increase in scientific productivity and diversity in leading journals done safely and securely, you do not work at LANL anymore.

For non research divisions, you have to show tangible support of diversification or you do not work here anymore.

In either case, if your key employees become less productive or leave, you do not work here anymore.

Unfortunately, these directives would have to be supported by NNSA to be effective and that seems to be unlikely.

Just a simple thought.

Anonymous said...

Mikey,

Let's see if I've got this right: first you tripled the number of high-salary upper-level managers, then you quadrupled the number of "safety" and "security" procedures, and now you want to enhance your ability as a high performance leadership team?

Something is wrong with this picture.

Anonymous said...

"We will continue the work we did last week -- collectively carrying out actions, identifying and removing barriers, and holding each other accountable."

Ok, this part had me laughing so hard the tears were running down my cheeks. Accountability, within LANS? Stop it! My sides are splitting...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mike:

How does sweeping the LANS board member classified email fuck up under the table classify as accountability? In case you had not noticed, you have very little credibility around here.

Anonymous said...

When did it become OK for a real research institution to use these horrible business buzzwords?

Anonymous said...

Mikey, Mikey, Mikey,

This ain't kindergarten anymore. 12 goals, please. I thought the laboratory a a $2.2 billion (yes billion) dollar institution that is world renounced for science.

All I have to ask are two questions:

1) Are you serious? I mean, really, are you serious? Do you not get it?

2) Are you comfortable with that businiess decision?

Pinky and The Brain said...

World renounced?

Anonymous said...

When the response of LANL's director to the lab's problems is to issue a memo of this caliber (BB gun), it won't take long for even the dimmest bulbs out there to understand that LANL's problems start with LANL management, and with LANS.

Anonymous said...

1. We developed a set of actions to enhance our ability as a high performance leadership team.

We got a pep talk.

2. Reflecting on the past year, the Laboratory has accomplished a tremendous amount. We re-established that the 12 goals are the right ones for the Laboratory to achieve our vision (to anticipate, innovate, and deliver science and technology that matters).

We're keeping the same slogan.

3. We began developing future key commitments associated with the 12 goals.

We talked about bonuses.

4. We identified barriers to achieving these goals and commitments and developed actions to begin removing them.

Anyone who gets in our way will be invited to an evening at Cheeks.

Anonymous said...

Christ, if we wanted worthless shit like this we could just ask Dave Forslund and the rest of the lab Fellows to write another white paper on how to save the lab with "Metrics of Excellence".

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "at risk", I smell RIFs coming.

Anonymous said...

It almost appears the memo was sent to all employees by mistake. The content and tone seem more appropriate for mid-level managers as the recipients.

Our Laboratory? Who's our? LANS Sr. Mgt? I read every "we", "us" and "our" in that memo as LANS Sr. Mgt; "you" and "your" is everyone else.

Funny really, in a sad kind of way.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so...is there a grand jury investigating this stuff? What happened to Mitchell? How come there is no concern about his having classified at home? How is it when Harold Smith sends classified to UC and Bechtel Trustees it is a human error (boys will be boys)and an alledge TA-55 cocain dealer and a a clerc and secretary get busted? They all should be treated the same! And now this insult to injury! Good Grief! Gussie tell us a happy story this reality crap is too much!

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice the policy changes that just came out last week regarding charge code usage? Seems LANS is going to crack down hard on the charge codes used by the working staff. The new policy states that if you enter a charge code for time and effort that you aren't qualified to be using, then both you and your boss will be held liable to pay for it out of your *own* pocket.

I suspect that LANS is doing this to prepare for the RIFs of FY08. They don't want staff looking for protection through the use of various charge codes strategies. In FY08, the following equation will hold sway:

NO FUNDING == NO JOB.

The level of panic for many in the LANL work force is probably about to rise to new highs. Do all LANL TSMs have their $450 K secured to see them through the chaos of next year? If not, you may at risk.

Of course, if this same standard of charge code usage was applied against LANS upper management, then most of the managers would see their salaries confiscated to pay off large fines for rampant charge code abuse.

Anonymous said...

Just received a flyer from a Los Alamos real estate agent in the mail. According to the newsletter, the number of homes sold during the first six months of 2007 is the lowest in 7 years. Currently, there are about 260 homes for sale. The median price increase from 2000 to 2006 was only 5.3% per year, which is considerably lower than the price appreciation that occurred in other parts of the US during this 7 year period. There has been, as expected, no price appreciation during the last year in Los Alamos. The median asking price is currently $317 K, but the sellers are only getting about $305 K. During this same period, real estate down in Santa Fe and ABQ has been booming. Looks like investment in real estate in Los Alamos is turning into a bust, with the worst probably yet to come.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

11:50:

There is humor here. The part of Mikey's memo that said, "We developed a set of actions to enhance our ability as a high performance leadership team" gave me a huge case of the giggles.

I also got a big chuckle out of the part that said LANS was going to hold themselves accountable.

But then I've got a warped sense of humor.

--Gussie

Anonymous said...

Each of us on the senior management team is personally committed to the overall success of the Laboratory, and we will hold each other accountable to ensure this.

I bet they go into a back room and hold each other "Accountable"

Makes one wonder what exactly is the meaning of accountable.....

Anonymous said...

"It almost appears the memo was sent to all employees by mistake. The content and tone seem more appropriate for mid-level managers as the recipients."

Trust me on this one. Mid-level managers are just as disgusted as you are.

Anonymous said...

Keeping with the spirit of performance appraisal season, I think the LANS senior managers should:

- Announce to the work force the actions they've committed to taking

- Report on their results after six months have passed

- Let the work force vote on what raises they should get.

Actually... we could just skip steps one and two, couldn't we?

Anonymous said...

Took a walk through Quemazon this weekend. For Sale signs plastered all over. Suddenly that $500k McMansion is not looking so attractive.

Anonymous said...

Question 17 on the NNSA Transformation Survey . . . Read on

http://www.zoomerang.com/web/SharedResults/SharedResultsOpenEndedResultsPage.aspx?ID=L2339G3Z6VT4&REQQUEST=rating_scale_111

Anonymous said...

Question 14 of the NNSA Transformation Survey Read on


http://www.zoomerang.com/web/SharedResults/SharedResultsOpenEndedResultsPage.aspx?ID=L2339G3Z6VT4&REQQUEST=comment_119

Anonymous said...

Question Number 19

http://www.zoomerang.com/web/SharedResults/SharedResultsOpenEndedResultsPage.aspx?ID=L2339G3Z6VT4&REQQUEST=rating_scale_127

Anonymous said...

Question number 25 of the Nuclear Weapon Transformation Survey:


http://www.zoomerang.com/web/SharedResults/SharedResultsOpenEndedResultsPage.aspx?ID=L2339G3Z6VT4&REQQUEST=comment_131

Anonymous said...

Question Number 26 of the NNSA Nuclear Weapons Transformation:

http://www.zoomerang.com/web/SharedResults/SharedResultsOpenEndedResultsPage.aspx?ID=L2339G3Z6VT4&REQQUEST=comment_61

Anonymous said...

I guess its better to be laughing than crying. Did anybody notice the award than LANS got for excellence in reporting it accounted for 99.8% of its property? I'm so impressed that even though individual divisions had each 'lost' about $2M of property on June 1st they found it all by the end of June just in time to get an award from DOE. Sounds like high performance management to me!

Anonymous said...

Rumors from DC DOE are that DOE was/is so pissed at LANS for its screw-ups that they want to pull the plug on the LANS contract and make all LANL staff federal employees until they can re-bid the contract. Something else may soon surface as to what the LANS high performance managers did.

Anonymous said...

So, what are the 12 goals and why the big secret? Why not share how the senior management team decided how they were going to fuck us over again?

Anonymous said...

The 12 goals are the LANS equivalent of the 3 seashells from Demolition Man.

Anonymous said...

Shared fate ... hmmm... that must have been Neu's input to the memo. What an idiot. Shared fate with Neu means you get fucked while she get a bonus and get's her special projects funded. Now THAT's leadership!

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:46 PM, can you give us data that helps solidify your comments as something more than just wild rumour? I don't doubt that DOE may be pissed, but, heck, NNSA recently awarded the LLC contract to the same crew of screw-ups out at LLNL.

Anonymous said...

There are some many We-We's in this particular memo from Mikey that I feel like I've just been pissed upon.

Anonymous said...

The 12 Goals are mostly of the "Mom and Apple Pie" variety. Here they are:

(1) Make safety and security integral to every activity we do

(2) Implement a cyber-security system that reduces risk while providing exemplary service and productivity

(3) Establish excellence in environmental stewardship

(4) Assess the safety, reliability, and performance of LANL weapons systems

(5) Transform the Laboratory and the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile to achieve the 2030 vision, in partnership with the Complex

(6) Leverage our science and technology advantage to anticipate, counter, and defeat global threats and meet national priorities, including energy security

(7) Be the premier national security science laboratory and realize our vision for a capabilities-based organization

(8) Provide efficient, responsive, and secure infrastructure and disciplined operations that effectively support the Laboratory mission and its workforce

(9) Implement a performance-based management system that drives mission and operational excellence

(10) Deliver improved business processes, systems, and tools that meet the needs of our employees, reduce the cost of doing business, and improve the Laboratory's mission performance

(11) Communicate effectively with our employees, customers, community, stakeholders, and the public at large

(12) Develop employees and create a work environment to achieve employee and Laboratory success.


“We will anticipate, innovate, and deliver science that matters."
—Michael Anastasio

Anonymous said...

The fact that we had to hear about these 12 goals on the blog shows me that Mike really didn't mean #11 - or rather it doesn't apply to him - and that the rest probably don't either. More crap on paper to make DOE think LANS is grand.

Anonymous said...

The "12 goals" have been on the web for at least one month, if not two. Mikey rolled 'em out in a meeting a couple months back.

Doesn't mean they aren't "Apple Pie", but no one has tried to hide 'em. Look on the home page, also on the News page. There shoudl be a link to goals on the left.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The 12 goals are the LANS equivalent of the 3 seashells from Demolition Man.

Could not have said it better myself, but I actually think the 3 seashells represent the LANS experience.

Anonymous said...

Mikey- May I suggest 2 additions?

13) Top management will forgo its bonus until LANL FTE costs are brought down to 120% of large industry average.

14)Work-for-others will be encouraged- each top manager will recover a portion of his or her bonus when new funding is brought in.

Please Mikey, Please? It will give those of us who have given years to LANL a fighting chance. Remember, the rest of us don't have your parachute...

Anonymous said...

12:21, I'll assume the ~260 houses for sale doesn't include the FSBOs. There are several FSBOs in Ponderosa.

6:53, around the block at Big Rock Loop at the end of North Mesa there are 10+ houses for sale.

Anonymous said...

although all are on target and most laughed at the same things I did, 12:51 drives home what a real-world business savvy leader would say (to senior leadership of a company on the brink), compared to what we see here endorsed by the current one...Mikey would be gone if shareholders saw this kind of rah, rah, consultant-based bs coming out of senior staff at a time like this...As a taxpayer (quasi shareholder), I'm embarrassed...

Anonymous said...

The new 12:
1) drive the staff out with new travel policies,
2) isolate staff by restricting their ability to communicate electronically,
3) ensure the rules and regulations are so confusing that no sane person can follow them,
4) pull all facility support funding until no elevators, air conditioning, turnstyles, toilets, etc... remain in working order,
5) delay reimbursements for as long as possible,
6) remove upward appraisals from the performance evaluation system,
7) institute random drug tests with occassional false positives for good measure,
8) remove all laptops from the laboratory,
9) institute personal liabilities for typographical errors on time cards,
10) intimidate staff til they find somewhere else to work or commit suicide,
11) avoid meeting with program managers to gauge technical progress and successes,
12) steal money from technical programs to pay out-of-control, escalating overhead and facility costs.

Ah, yes, LANL is on its way to the top of the list (for the Nation's worst places to work).

Anonymous said...

9:49 PM, you forgot one...

13) move all important research and work to LLNL and NTS.