Sep 6, 2007

The Perfect Storm

This warning was left on the recent Comment of The Week post. The news isn't all bad, however. The upcoming RIF will allow Bechtel's LANS to selectively expedite the process of weeding out the real "scientists", the trouble makers, and those with less seniority, leaving us with just the "C students". This type of staff is what Bechtel wants on hand for when they begin ramping up for the actual profitable operations: pit manufacturing. Bechtel isn't in this game for a measly $79 million per year.

--Pinky, with an assist from Gussie

__________________________________________________

Word up. The budget situation for FY08 is more dire than most people at LANL fully realize. We may be looking at the need for some layoffs by Christmas and you can take it as a given that we'll be seeing significant layoffs by early Spring '08. LANL's budget for FY08 is shaping up to be extremely shaky especially for the weapons budget. We are about to enter the Perfect Storm. Beware of sugar-coated comfort words coming from LANS management over the next two months. Start preparing as best you can for the financial storm that is headed our way. It will hit with a bang beginning on October 1st. This is, without a doubt, the worst budget situation I've ever seen at LANL and I've been here long enough to see the peaks and the valleys. It's going to create an all out panic among a large segment of the workforce. I"m not trying to scare folks. It's just that being forewarned can help some people better cope with the bad situation we are about to face. At a minimum, you really need to keep all your employment options open as this next year unfolds. You're going to need every single one of them.

119 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hear that there will be a reduction of at least 10% in the Weapons Program. That represents ~40 people in just X-Division alone.

It will be interesting to see how LANS "manages" this. I'm particularly interested in how they select RIF'ees from those working on overhead. I hear that if you are not covered by a program charge code, you're on your own.

Nice job on "No plans for a RIF", Mike.

Anonymous said...

Soon to be released employee notice:

Thanks to the LANS emergency planning team, staffed with the best and brightest of the world-class executives handpicked by UC, DOE and Bechtel to lead our great institution, the Director has arranged for armed forces recruiters to set up recruiting posts at TA-55, in the Otowi building, and in the Bradbury Museum downtown in anticipation of the upcoming rumored, but yet to be officially announced reduction in force (RIF). The Director has done this partly to quell fears of unemployment, but mostly in recognition and appreciation of the patriotic fervor that permeates the institution. The LANS management team believes that most, if not all of you, if given the opportunity would gladly serve a tour of duty (or more) in Iraq to preserve our freedoms here at home. For this reason the upcoming rumored RIF is being treated by the LANS management team not as a crisis, but as an opportunity for you, our most valuable resource at LANS, to serve your country in this time of need (and budget shortfalls at home). And so for the many of you who will be leaving soon, your service at the Lab has been greatly appreciated, but for upcoming your service in Iraq we, the leadership team of LANS, solute you in unison. Good luck, good bye, and good riddance.

--Rich Marquez, King Richard of LANS and Chief Advisor to the Emperor Director

Anonymous said...

I don't see why management doesn't just clear house and get rid of the dead wood that lurks all over the lab. You know the type - that 50 something TSM who hasn't published in years, doesn't really do much of value, collects a paycheck, and has developed a stunning ability to turn invisible and not be noticed, hoping to continue to do so until retirement? The same people who never whine about policies that get in the way of science (in fact, this dead wood is eager to help with policy, since it makes them look proactive in the eyes of managers), yet are the first to bitch and moan if their retirement gets threatened?

Anonymous said...

11:02,

Since when has LANL management been interested in improving productivity? Why do you think they would want to start now by cleaning out deadwood?

I think the real motivations for selecting those to be RIF'ed are those suggested by Pinky and Gussie -- to get rid of the ones who won't be of any use in converting LANL into a pit factory.

Anonymous said...

Mikey said: "No plans for a RIF." That doesn't mean that there will not be a RIF. That just means that they didn't plan for it.

Anonymous at 9/1/07 11:02 AM says that we should get rid of the "dead wood." Exactly how does s/he think that the dead wood will be selected? Lab-wide ORC scores are really not a useful measure as standards vary on a group-to-group basis.

Getting rid of those who are unfunded does not at all assure that we will get rid of the dead wood. After all, by definition, people who are in overhead groups are by definition funded. And, an employee being unfunded is more a reflection on the group and division management than on the employee.

Anonymous said...

Layoffs at Christmas? Not bad! Now that would be par for the course, wouldn't it? The 1995 layoff occurred literally on Thanksgiving eve, so why not Christmas this go-around? Makes sense to me. Hell, why not do it over the Christmas shutdown? Use this quite period to clear out people's desks, box up their personal possessions and mail it to them, along with a pick slip stating they need not return after the break. This way you don't have to bother with escorting people out the door, or risking them throwing a temper tantrum with their supervisor. Nice, neat, not fuss no muss. Brilliant strategy if you ask me. But then again, I think Hitler was a humanitarian. So go figure. I'm one of the gifted by the way, not the deadwood. It's the deadwood we need to target. Like the last time. Hiel!

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will make the double dippers leave!!!

Anonymous said...

"Deadwood" is a termite's favorite food and we have a lot of hungry termites eating away at the vital foundation of LANL these days. Most of the termites reside in the ranks of our overgrown and severely bloated management bureaucracy. These termites live exclusively off overhead but the "deadwood" is beginning to hurt LANL's ability to bring in overhead, which comes largely from taxation of incoming staff funds (i.e., the "worker ants"). Thus, the "deadwood" is about to be consumed by our management termites so that they can have a greater percentage of funded "worker ants". This will allow for more overhead in the future so that LANL management can grow even larger and more bloated during the next few years. A solution to this mess would be to call in the "Orkin man" to get rid of the termite infestation, but this will never happen. Soon enough, the termite infestation will bring LANL's foundation crashing down. Once this occurs, the termites will abandon LANL and move their growing colony on to other lucrative sites.

Anonymous said...

Post from last weeks' "Comment of the Week" regarding reduced LANL budgets:

"We will probably be under a continuing resolution which will mean we will get a monthly allocation nearer to the lower mark. I don't think the Senate has passed anything yet, but the lower mark would be the House mark anyway. My guess is that we will try to ride this storm out using reserves carried over from this FY, but it will be a very risky gamble depending on how the final budget shakes out. Spring 08 will be interesting for sure, maybe even end of CY07. But that is just a guess on my part." -- 9/1/07 10:25 AM


Poster 10:25 AM, the House budget will have a severe impact on LANL's weapons budget. Thus, you prove the point that if this scenario plays out as you say, LANL is in for a very hard year. Frankly, I'm guessing that your scenario is pretty accurate. We'll be held to the draconian House budget and try to squeak by on it for a few months. However, as the year unfolds the need for serious actions will become undeniable. Layoffs may be hinted at before January '08 with the actual layoffs probably coming by early Spring. I do not think that we'll see a budget passed during the next fiscal year. The politics in Washington DC are such that both parties currently want a protracted budget battle and are prepared to let the chips fall where they may.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen so many homes up for sell in Los Alamos. Who do all these home sellers think they are going to sell their homes too? And the prices! Most of the sellers haven't yet come to grips with the fact that they are going to have to mark down their homes by a large percentage to have any hope of making a sell during the next year. LANL is going to be shrinking, not growing, plus new home construction in town has dumped a glut of homes onto the market.

Anonymous said...

"This type of staff is what Bechtel wants on hand for when they begin ramping up for the actual profitable operations: pit manufacturing. Bechtel isn't in this game for a measly $79 million per year." (Pinky)

No sir, they are not here for this small profit. Bechtel plans on making a huge profit from handling the construction of the new Pit Factory, while BWXT will make large and continuing profits from running the new pit facility. Give it a couple more years and I suspect you won't recognize LANL any longer as a "science" lab. They'll keep a few scientist around for good measure, but not much else. Most of the nation's science will be moving on to other national labs that can perform the work at lower cost and with much better efficiency. It's sad to see LANL headed down this path, but it is where we seem to be going.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe this will make the double dippers leave!!!" - 9/1/07 12:27 PM

Nothing will make the double dippers leave except perhaps a big, fat voluntary termination check and a chance to come back to LANL as part-time retiree workers. Why should they leave? If I was in their shoes, I know I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Guess Tom Udall's brilliant project to convert LANL into a well-funded energy lab in under four months isn't going to happen. Bad plan, Tom. What's your backup? More votes for LANL budget cuts?

Anonymous said...

10:53pm, you are correct that the weapons budget is in the biggest trouble. However, as strange as it sounds, I don't know anyone that believes there will be a CR all year, or that believes the government will shut down. Politics being what they are, it is in the Dems best interests to avoid this scenario as we enter the election season. The real question is when will a budget be finalized and what will it be? The when is relevant to LANL burning down its reserves. The final budget amount (and for which programs) is relevant to how deep the cuts will, or will not, be.

In the end, it is possible that LANL will skate buy this FY with some, but not drastic, personnel reductions. It may not be a likely scenario, but it cannot be ruled out at this point either. Should that be the case, we had better draw together and work together to diversify the funding portfolio and reduce staff in the proper way. Waiting for someone above you to do this for you won't get it done.

Anonymous said...

Get real, 1:29. Udall never had a plan for helping LANL to diversify. He did have a plan to make a speech about it to fool the masses into thinking he was serious, but that was just political window dressing.

Face it: LANL only has two friends: DOE and Bechtel, and they will only remain friends as long as they perceive hope for turning LANL into a pit factory. If it becomes clear that funding for this will not be coming, LANL will have *no* friends.

Anonymous said...

http://www.paperdinero.com/Inventory.aspx

Contrary to popular belief, the number of houses on the market isn't rising very rapidly. Especially mid summer.

Anonymous said...

Be careful how you read those statistics, 3:29 PM. The single family count in August came close to 200. The historical high is listed as 202, and I'm guessing that this historical high was from this summer. Furthermore, many of the homes in Los Alamos are duplexes, quads, and condos and not single family. Adding in this count with the single family homes brings the count up to 290, shown at the bottom of the page. The historical high is listed as 309, and again this high point was probably hit this summer. Then, remember that real estate agents frequently take some houses off the market and then re-list them later and that many people are beginning to sell homes on their own and this data doesn't make it into the stats. Thus, the count is probably a bit higher. Bottom line is we have a lot of homes for sell in Los Alamos County right now. You can confirm this with your own eyes by driving around some of the neighborhoods. I've lived here for many years and never seen a situation quite like the one at present with Los Alamos real estate. We are at historical peaks in homes for sale during a time when the number of potential buyers is probably at historical lows -- not a good situation.

Eric said...

There are ways to survive this storm. The ways are no longer easy and will require real commitment and time.

I am willing to teach people these ways if they are willing to learn.

Anonymous said...

The simulation of a hurricane on the blog's front page is a good example of the type of diversified science that LANS should be strongly supporting. Too bad LANS only gives lip service to the non-weapons science and no real support. The recent decision of MaRIE as the Signature Facility was a cheap ploy to help prop up LANCSE and is typical of management's so-called support for diversified science at LANL. Management is a day too late and a dollar short in the diversification game. SNL has done much better at this than LANL and will be seeing much less financial pain during the next few years because of it.

LANL management took the easy money route and we are going to have to pay for their decisions, not that anyone in management will be suffering through the consequences. In a business concern, you would probably see the CEO and several of his associates being shown the door for allowing the business to falter in this fashion. Here at LANL, we reward these folks with higher pay and perks.

Anonymous said...

"I am willing to teach people these ways if they are willing to learn."

Oh my fucking ass. Eric Of Assisi walks amongst us, staff of knowledge clasped firmly in hand. Please, oh learned one. Dispense with thine wisdom. Teach us what we must learn to avoid the Wroth Of Congress.

Seriously: Eric, you are a simpleton dork. Please do us a favor and grace us with your absence.

Anonymous said...

Eric, you couldn't keep your job at LANL. What makes you think you can help those who still work here? Stop whoring out your services on this blog. It's not welcomed by the readers. When will you get that message through your thick skull? No one want to hire you for your services. Go take some more pretty pictures, instead. At least that is something for which you appear to have a talent.

Anonymous said...

Maybe LANS should take out a sub-prime interest-only loan to tide us through the hard times. I'm sure LANL is good for the money, right? Besides, it's the American Way! Future TSMs who work at LANL can be stuck with securing new funding to pay off the loans.

Anonymous said...

3:29 PM sounds like a wishful Los Alamos real estate agent whistling past the graveyard late at night in a grade-B horror flick... there's no boogie-man out here, there's no boogie-man out here, no, no, no, there's no boogie-man out here. Meanwhile, the audience watches while the boogie-man slowly rises up from behind to snag its next victim.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Eric, most brave! Teach me the ways of your elders, the dim-witted NutCracker tribe. I am your willing student, an empty vessel waiting to be filled with your glorious wisdom!

Anonymous said...

4 whole page views per day on your blog, Eric? No wonder you come across as somewhat desperate.

Anonymous said...

Forget Eric. He is a poor loser who has been trying unsuccessfully to make a living providing placement and investment counseling services to unhappy LANL employees ever since the shutdown.

The reality of our current situation is that there will be RIFS in the coming fiscal year. What is unknown at this point is how many, and when. Prepare yourselves, or be taken by surprise: it's your choice.

Anonymous said...

1:18PM ain't whistling Dixi. I'm a DD and will leave only when I get offerred a big fat severence. But you better believe I'll be back! Got to keep an eye on the youngsters who can't even wipe their sniveling noses without being told. The country can't live without us oldtimers. Neither can you. You love DDs and you know it.

Anonymous said...

Leave Eric the Great alone. He is my hero. He is all knowing. Follow and you too will be saved.

Signed
Babbling Idiot

Anonymous said...

Rumor and hearsay. The blog also predicted layoffs after the June 1st one year anniversary of LANS. You know nothing and are just fear-mongering.

Anonymous said...

We double-dippers are NOT leaving. We are over the age of 50. We know how to do the job whether it is building the nukes or whatever. And, we are in a protected class.

Our houses are NOT going on the market. We do NOT have to leave Los Alamos. Even if we are RIFfed, we have our UCRS pensions and we will also have the settlement from the age discrimination lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

"The blog also predicted layoffs after the June 1st one year anniversary of LANS. You know nothing and are just fear-mongering." (9/1/07 7:14 PM)

The June 1st anniversary was only 3 months ago, so I wouldn't be so quick about denying the situation for next year. Besides, we now have good data that indicates the House wants to wallop LANL to the tune of some $400 million in budget cuts. Of course, if you want to believe otherwise, go right ahead. Just don't act suprised if you find your position on the RIF list next year. But, then, maybe you are in LANL management. If so, you have no worries regardless of the budget outcome.

Anonymous said...

6:06: Nope. Not a real estate agent. Just a recently departed LANL staff member who remembered a post of that same URL from earlier this year on this blog. I thought it was interesting that the significant upward trend started to jitter around up and down during the summer instead of continuing upward.

Anonymous said...

Won't be long before the good citizens of Los Alamos will be saying "Build the Pit Factory HERE, and build it NOW!!!".

Somehow, I think that was the plan all along. We just needed a little psychological prodding to move us towards that realization. RIFs and severe budget cuts at LANL should do the trick. And, for G-d's sake, don't let the lab diversify into other areas of science. Keep it firmly rooted in the declining weapons budget.

When can we start construction? I can't wait. It's going to be a golden era for Bechtel at Los Alamos. Riley Bechtel is probably chuckling all the way to the bank. That small LANS management profit is nothing compared to the substantial and continuing profits to be made with the factory. Heck, it won't even have to be staffed with high paid LANL employees, as it will be operated under a different management team more directly controlled by Bechtel and BWXT.

Time to hand out a few more Bechtel VP positions to the facilitators of this plan over at the new LLCs, NNSA and DOE who are helping to move us in this bold, new direction. They've certainly earned it, haven't they?

Anonymous said...

Poster 1:37 AM, the topping pattern you see in the charts is probably normal. It's what happens every year. Home sales usually peak during the summer months when kids are out of school and it is easier for people to make their moves.

What is not normal is the point at which it has peaked this summer. It is at historical highs at a time when the number of people buying homes in Los Alamos is very low. I have no doubt that the sales figures that come out for this summer will be extremely low. Any real estate agents hoping to make their commission in Los Alamos County are in for a rough time over the next few years. And my heart goes out to the poor folks who must sell their homes in this depressed housing market. It's going to be very tough on them.

Anonymous said...

The GOP is hemorrhaging badly in terms of political support and they need to take drastic actions to regain traction going into the 2008 election cycle. Therefore, don't expect a continuing resolution (CR) with straight line funding for next year. The GOP wants a knock-out, drag-down fight and the Dems will give it to them. This will result in a government shutdown ala November 1995, when the GOP had taken back both sides of Congress in '94 and a Dem was President. Once the shutdown begins, both sides will start the blame game. This will make it very difficult for LANL in FY08.

Unfortunately for LANL, Bush is crowing about how he wants to hold the line on spending (the Dems want a 6.5% increase in non-defense), so I don't think it will be politically expedient for the GOP to allow the weapons budget to default to the higher Senate levels. Instead, we'll be held much closer to the House levels with some painful cutbacks accruing to LANL. Remember that it is mainly LANL who was targeted for the DOE budget hits this year so there will be little nationwide crying to fix to the DOE/NNSA budget. Most of the other DOE sites see budget increases even in the House budget! Furthermore, St. Pete has lost his powerful position as chairmen of the Senate Energy Committee, Sen. Bingamin seems lukewarm about LANL, and Tom Udall seems downright hostile about the lab's funding. This setup indicates we shouldn't expect to see St. Pete come riding to our rescue this year. Besides, St. Pete probably doesn't mind seeing a few layoffs at LANL so the folks around New Mexico are reminded of the good ol' days and are inclined to go back to voting for a GOP majority in 2008, when Pete will be running for re-election one last time.

In summary, these types of political setups are ripe for budget shutdowns and the outcome will probably be a significant shortfall in LANL funding for the coming year. No political rescue is likely to come our way this year. The FY08 political period has a lot in common with the FY95 period, and wasn't 1995 close to the time when LANL had it's last RIF? It's deja-vu all over again.

Anonymous said...

It's good to be the "honorable" congressman Burton having the taxpayers rent his Cadillac DeVille and Grand Caravan for him:

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070830/LOCAL19/70830027

'Burton said he is “proud of my record as a fiscal conservative.”'

Anonymous said...

In memory of the infamous Leona Helmsly who recently passed away, "only the little people have to pay for their cars."

At least Burton isn't stalking around dirty airport restrooms looking to get down on his hands and knees to give blowjobs to total strangers. I think Sen. Craig took the old saying that "politicans are nothing but whores" a bit to literal. Now we know just how low they will go!

A little more vigorous hand work, Senator, and I think I'll be just about ready to finish.

Anonymous said...

Our comrades over at LLNL are quickly approaching a Sept 17th decision date for deciding on TCP1 or TCP2. You might find it interesting to peruse the latest postings on the LLNL blog. They are going through some of the same gut-wrenching choices made at LANL over a year ago:

http://llnl-the-corporate-story.blogspot.com/

As of Aug 22nd, it appears to be about 50/50 on the TCP1/TCP2 decision, but they have 15 more days to go before a final decision must be rendered to LLNS.

Anonymous said...

Were's senile Pete these days? Mr. "Character Counts. Yea right! Lost Alamos' St. Pete ain't bringing home the pork like he used to. His colleagues finally woke up to the fact that he's a hog when it comes to pork and Lost Alamos can't ever get enough. Time to put the Lost Alamos millionairs on a diet.

Anonymous said...

What would the world be like without DDs? Pretty flat if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Bottom 30% is probably at risk, and bottom 10% is screwed. Now is not a good time to give your supervisor reasons to pick your name instead of somebody else.

Anonymous said...

You guys are making these assessments based on the assumption that the upcoming RIFs are going to be made based on real, production-oriented work-place assessments.

They are not. LANS intends to rid themselves of

1) Expensive people who will be completely useless in a pit fab operation,

2) The new kids on the block (no room for future scientists in today's LANL), and

3) Troublemakers.

The LANL of yesteryear is gone, for better and worse. Bechtel's plans for the future LANL have their roots in profitability. Science per se is not profitable. Constructing pit manufacturing facilities and running cost-plus pit fab operations is.

Wake up.

Anonymous said...

So, if Bechtel's plans for LANL are to turn it into a Pit Factory, I wonder what's their plan for LLNL?

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Ooh.

Good question.

--Gussie

Anonymous said...

How long do folks think they can stay at the bottom 10% percentile in their division and keep working at LANL? Probably not much longer would be my guess. We'll see a cut of the bottom 10%, mostly TSMs, as that won't cause legal or political problems. However, bottom rated cuts will become an annual event for the TSM staff. Be extra nice to your bosses as your rating and job longevity will now depend on it. Expect to see some intense jockeying among the TSM staff for higher ratings as people attempt to save their jobs. Also, don't plan on seeing any raises. LANS wants to increase the TSM attrition levels as a way to help save the budget for other endeavors. Scientists will be used mainly for window dressing, so try to smile a lot and be pleasant to everyone.

As far as LLNL goes, they still have NIF. I'm sure Bechtel will find a way to milk it for a couple billion more. LLNL will also become the lead computer science lab, with the big iron saved exclusive for LLNL from this point forward. The LANS/LLNS integration plan is meant to save money and integrate, so there will be no need for large supercomputers at both facilities. Just getting a new PC on your desk is going to be an accomplishment at LANL over the next few years. Don't even get me started on the new PC regs that are about to hit next year. You won't believe what you are reading when the new policies come out.

Anonymous said...

LLNL and SNL stand to assume all work presently being done at LANL that has nothing to do with Pu production, with the possible exception of some black WFO project work being done for the CIA, NSA, and other three-letter sponsors.

DOE's plans for LANL are to ramp up its pit manufacturing capacity. If Congress stands in the way of that, there is the real possibility that LANL will simply be shut down and *all* remaining work shopped out to SNL and LLNL. "The World's Greatest Science Protecting America" notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

9/2/07 9:03 PM - we got lots of these types in T-, C- and MPA-Divisions!

Anonymous said...

Is there no bright future left for LANL science? None at all? What about the Director's bold new vision called MaRIE? What about LANS push to help reduce the cost of doing science? What about DARHT 2nd-axis? What about our plans for developing the design for the follow-on RRW-2 efforts?

Stop being so gloomy. Trust your new management to make wise choices and lead us to a bright future. Listen and obey your managers and follow all policies to the letter. We can lift LANL up if we all try a little harder. Remember, LANS has the plan for making LANL grand! Don't give up just yet.

Anonymous said...

12:39,

Your sarcasm is sufficiently subtle that I am afraid there will be a spate of posts from the humorless, literal-minded members of our community chastising you for your perceived trust in LANS.

I know better, however. Nice job: the "Director's bold new vision" bit was especially clever.

Anonymous said...

Rather than "trusting your new management" to lead you to the promised land, how about coming together to find it for ourselves? Do you really think that it is wise to simply let someone else do this for you?

Anonymous said...

On MaRIE, straight from the horse's mouth (LANL NewsLetter, week of 08/27/07):

"The new facility would be used to deliver significant science and push the limits of science...

It also would support what Anastasio called translational research, or work that ranges from concept to scientific product."

Huh? "Significant science and push the limits of science"? "Translational research"? This verbal diarrhea betrays complete incompetence. The man has NO CLUE about what science is and how it is done. If you want to predict the future of LANL, look no further.

Anonymous said...

Significant science at LANL? I much prefer to do insignificant science. The peer review is soooo much easier that way. I believe it's called science-based Stockpile Stewardship. We keep bringing in millions of dollars by saying things like "are you sure about that old warhead part?". We are currently attempting to bring in new funding for designing warheads that will never even be built!

It's boring work but it keeps the paycheck coming and in about 20 years I'll be able to retire and live off a nice pension. That makes it all worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

I don't advocate a return to underground testing, but it is becoming increasingly clear to me that without it, both LANL and LLNL are probably headed for drastic downsizing over the next decade. The nuclear defense labs coasted for awhile after testing ended in the early 90's, but are now completely rudderless and headed for the rocks. Other than non-proliferation and a small amount of other national security work, not much gets done at the labs that is of much value to the country. This lack of direction is why the lab bureaucracy has grown to such enormous size and one of the reasons why Congress spends so much time attacking LANL. We have very little vision or purpose left to feed the spirit of the work force. You can't fake the "vision thing". Either you have it or you don't.

Anonymous said...

You won't be doing stockpile stewardship much longer, will you?

Anonymous said...

9/3/07 8:08 PM wrote - You can't fake the "vision thing". Either you have it or you don't.

ADCLES has a vision (or at least she keeps telling us during All-Hands meetings) she just won't share it. Maybe she is following Mike's lead ...

Anonymous said...

Only 27 more RIF-free days left until Mikey's new promise of 'no layoffs till Oct 1st' has come and gone. Enjoy each and every one of them while they last. Next year looks like it's going to scare the holy bejesus out of almost everyone at LANL. Perfect storm may not be a strong enough analogy. Perhaps a better analogy is a direct hit by an large Earth-shattering asteroid.

Anonymous said...

"9/2/07 9:03 PM - we got lots of these types in T-, C- and MPA-Divisions!

9/3/07 9:15 AM "

Hey jackass, unless you are going to name some names you should shut your mouth. T, C, MPA and I would add P division are by far scientifically the most outstanding groups in LANL. These groups combined count for about 75% or more of the publications from LANL. Most of the people can get jobs outside of the lab. I am really sick of anonymous morons who just spew pure bullcrap on this blog. Also for the mentally challenged who say "who cares about publications", get a clue it is how science works, how it is evaluated, and how it progresses. It is also a clear measure of how healthy a scientific insitute in terms of its ability to do science.

Anonymous said...

"We are experiencing home price depreciation almost like never before, with the exception of the Great Depression", Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide CEO

"House prices in some U.S. cities may fall by as much as half", Robert Shiller, Yale Univ. economist

Meanwhile, back in Los Alamos, hundreds of homes site on the market that can't be sold for almost any asking price. Dingell and Stupak emit evil laughs of delight as they watch the Los Alamos population feel near Depression era panic that mimics that of their own state of Michigan. Tom Udall votes to cut LANL's budget, St. Pete is overtaken by senility, and Mr. Bingamin pretends not to notice what is occurring up on the Hill.

Cover up your doors and windows and circle your home with lots of extra sand bags because the Perfect Storm has now arrived!

Tom You-Doll said...

9/3/07 8:08 PM, Pay attention people! I've got a vision for the Lab. It's "Do energy type stuff." If you can make it "translational research" well that's all the better.

Now what are you waiting for?

Anonymous said...

11:39AM does a nice political analysis, but as usual we forget that a many of us at the Lab supported the conservative agenda (after all we think we're more gifted than the rest). We now have to eat some crow by facing up the fact that we put Bush and his cronies in power and, in a bizarre twist of fate, the Republicans were the ones that kicked us in the teeth collectively as we saw our lucrative retirement plan vaporize in front of our collective noses. They kicked UC out of Los Alamos, even though UC did manage to stay connected to the government teet in Los Alamos through LANS, kind of like the leech that UC has evolved into over the past 50 years. We, almost to the person, applauded the U.S invasion of the wrong country after the Twin Tower attack. We stuck our head in our rear ends in other words, as we proceeded to cheer on as our armed forces took on a ruthless dictator, using video game technology, knowing all along that this had nothing to do with September 11th, but had everything to do with baby Bush wanting to prove to daddy Bush that he could succeed where daddy Bush failed. But we went along for the ride nonetheless, pretending that somehow or another Saddam was connected to the Word Trade Center attack, but we knew it was a lie. And in the process we allowed our rights as citizens of this country to be stripped from us step by step, right by right, all in the name of patriotism and the war on terror. Well nearly $800 billion dollars later, 4,000 American lives later, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives later, and with the Idiot Nation label now firmly affixed to our collect foreheads and, by the way, no weapons of mass destruction to be found, we find ourselves in the current budget fix. Well Idiot Nation disciples--now you just deal with it! Now's your chance to join the armed forces and serve your nation you bunch of gun-ho morons!

Anonymous said...

9:03AM

I agree with you in general but I do not like the idea of painting everyone at LANL as republicans. I would say about half of TSM in LANL do not vote for conservatives. This may depend on the division. In T division I would say only 20-25% vote for republicans. I think that there was some statistics from the last election that showed that Los Alamos went slightly blue and White Rock went red. I have yet to meet anyone at LANL who said they thought Iraq was behind 9/11.

As for Iraq it is only hubris if you lose but it looks like we lost.Maybe Jesus was serious when he said to turn the other cheek. I forgot that the people in the Christian Right do not read the bible.

Anonymous said...

Poster 9:03 AM, it's clear you hate Bush. WE get it. However, WE didn't all vote for him and WE don't, for the most part, care much for him at all given his latest poll readings. YOU, on the other hand, have some obvious anger issues. YOU need to stop projecting your hatred on WE the people. YOU need to get over it. WE all know the bozo will be gone in a little over a year and WE are all looking forward to that day. BTW, WE don't like your broad brush stereotyping, either. WE think you need to get a life outside of Bush-bashing. WE believe there other important issues in life beyond spending the majority of your time hating the man who now holds the US presidency. In summary, WE believe YOU need to get a life.

Anonymous said...

The first poster at 10:15 AM indicated he's hearing about a possible 10% reduction in the Weapons Program staff. What are other workers at LANL hearing? Is your management telling you anything, or are they just waiting to suddenly drop the bomb on their staff all at once?

Anonymous said...

At least CTN employees can relax about RIF's. I've just received initial word that the Infrastructure tax is going to be raised by about 3% to fund a standard level of yellow network support. Not to worry, we have EVERY reason to believe that our Org Support overhead rates will be lowered to make up for it. Also, I've been told that this flat rate will help ensure that everyone across the lab gets the same level of service.

We're from CTN, and we're here to help!

Anonymous said...

Once armed services recruiters get posts established at the Lab, 11:11AM ought to do the right thing and enlist.

As for those that would like to portray the Lab as having a large number of closet-blues, who can blame you? Who wouldn't be embarassed with the fact, with perhaps the exception of one or two little Texas communities down south, Los Alamos County is known far and wide as State's number one Republican County stronghold community. Epicenters of bigotry usually are. But now that the Republican's have pretty much taken a royal dump on Los Alamos and the Lab, I guess some would like to suggest otherwise. Of course if it were only the rest of the world that was being dumped on, that would be ok. Nonetheless suggest all you want, the voting record of Los Alamos is quite clear.

Anonymous said...

Hey, let's not get angry! After all, our infrastructure (like bridges) is crumbling, national labs are being destroyed (like Los Alamos and Livermore), democracy is on the ropes (like wiretapping and judicial limbo), the planet is burning up (we need to support corporate America after all) and we're now the laughing stock of the world (the Idiot Nation). So what's to get angry about? Just get another few hundred million directed towards LANL and all will be well.

Anonymous said...

12:54PM - CTN desktop support sucks. I knew that eventually management would go for the tax across the board concept. If CTN is so great then how come no one signs on voluntarily? I would say that greater than 60% of the workers in CTN are boneheads.

Anonymous said...

1:07pm

Christ man can't you see that you are an idiot? It amazes me that people as stupid as you can even use a computer. Since you bring up race so much it is becoming obvious to everyone on the blog that you must be some kind of closet racists. Just keep posting your bs rantings so the rest of the world can see just how sick and messed up some of the people are that hate LANL. The world sees right through you.

Anonymous said...

Just another tard attack from 1:07pm

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:41

No dispute that those groups publish the most.

Big dispute that their staff could get hired elsewhere. Everyone who could have left has already done so. (I know, you are different and eminently hire-able elsewhere, ROFL).

So what about publications. Of course they are a measure of science. However, science is only 6-10% of LANL. So why do you keep making such a big deal about something that is irrelevant to LANL.

Anonymous said...

Real question: What is so retarded about 1:07's comments?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9/4/07 1:29 PM states "If CTN is so great then how come no one signs on voluntarily?"

A very true statement. I think that we should outsource computer support, upper management, facilities management, and HR. None of these functions could stand the test of competition.

Anonymous said...

Reply to 3:38pm

"
Big dispute that their staff could get hired elsewhere. Everyone who could have left has already done so. (I know, you are different and eminently hire-able elsewhere, ROFL)."

I know at least 30 people in these groups who had faculty offers but decided to stay. I can categorically prove that your statement "Everyone who could have left has already done so" is completely false. I will also just toss out a few names of people who never applied but could easily get jobs elsewhere. Klimov, Baskes, Korber, Zurek, Hay, Taylor, Voter, Sickafus, and it goes on and on. You really need to get your facts straight before you make more nonsensical statements. Do you even work at LANL?

Anonymous said...

Well, 4:04:

Starting next month a lot of folks at LANL are going to get the chance to prove that they can get a job elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Klimov, Baskes, Korber, Zurek, Hay, Taylor, Voter, Sickafus...

OK, so that's maybe one person for every 1-2 science groups. So between 2-5% of LANL's "top" science staff could get a job elsewhere.

I stand muchly corrected.

30 people who turned down academic jobs? Watch out for the drug tests there, sport. And the polygraph tests.

(PS - why do you assume that anyone who doesn't lick your balls does not work at LANL?)

Anonymous said...

"(PS - why do you assume that anyone who doesn't lick your balls does not work at LANL?)"

Precedent, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Precedent???

Are you trolling for ball-licking like the senator from idaho?

More seriously, what precedent could you possibly be talking about?

Anonymous said...

7:36pm

I said there where many many others. Try
reading for a change.

"
30 people who turned down academic jobs? Watch out for the drug tests there, sport. And the polygraph tests."

Yep I can name all 30. These are only the ones I know off the top of my head.

"
(PS - why do you assume that anyone who doesn't lick your balls does not work at LANL?)"

I am guessing that you do not work at LANL since you have said things about the place that I know are completely false. I would assume that anyone who really did work at LANL would also know many people who have turned down faculty various faculty positions. Of course some people have left but many other good people have not. In any case I have real doubts that you work at LANL. If you do work at LANL and are a TSM tell me the divsion you work in and I may know some of the people in that division that did get faculty offers. If you do work at LANL you apparantely do not interact with anyone or you would know this stuff. This stuff gets around LANL pretty fast so I am pretty sure you do not work at LANL or have been out of LANL for a very long time. It looks to me like you just out to hurt LANL.

One of the problems with the blog is that you have no idea who is posting or what their real agenda is.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like the new M&O of LANL: you don't really know who they are, nor what their real agenda is.

Anonymous said...

Material science. I have heard claims of vague offers, but never actually met someone who has seen one in writing. Let alone offers with the real details, such as teaching loads and start-up packages.

Yes, I know that offers usually start verbally to feel someone out. But when they don't progress beyond the verbal stage, then they probably aren't really reliable.

BTW, from your list, Victor, Toni and Jeff would have a hard time learning to actually compete for funding, as opposed to having it handed to them (while their balls - Toni included - were being licked).

Anonymous said...

I'm failing to see how generating a list that covers around 1% of the lab staff translates to the other 99% as being hirable. While I agree that a blanket statement that "nobody from LANL is hirable elsewhere", I find a short list of famous people uncompelling to convince me that the rest of the staff is equally desired by academic or industrial circles. Believe it or not, there are lots of people who exist at the lab who are unambitious, average, and not competitive with the others on the job market from elsewhere. I'm not sure where people around here got the idea that the lab is populated by Scientific Superheros who have people beating down their door to hiring them.

Anonymous said...

8:27pm,

I am not sure what you mean by materials science if you mean MST,
I know a number of people who did get offers. By the way you are very very wrong about Klimov and Toni. I know a thing or two about this and what the external offers
and funding would have been.

Anonymous said...

I just knows what I've seen. Please elaborate on these offers. e.g. amounts, institutions, etc.

Anonymous said...

8:42PM

Lets do a bit of math. I woud say
that LANL has about 1000 to 1500
people who could really be considered scientists. Thinking more carefully now I can come up with about 80 names who have had offers. As for industry jobs I know about 80 additional names, which gives 160. I figure that there could 160 to 250 more, giving about about 350. Thats about 30%. Now I also know some people who left but would have liked to stay but thier spouses could not find jobs. In the end all these people did get hired which leads me to believe that alot more people could get outside jobs that 350. There are age factors to take into account and so on but I would give it about
50% or 750 people at LANL.

Anonymous said...

You all can argue about what percentage of LANL staff will have a chance at finding employment outside of the lab if you want. Time will tell what the actual numbers are, should anyone care enough to follow the career path of each RIF'd staff member. Otherwise, all we will know for sure a couple of years from now is that a thousand or two labbies got RIF'd.

Anonymous said...

9:11pm


Hmm,
A school in Ohio CWR (eminent scholar) i.e a bigtime endowed professorship, $$$

There are many more stories of other people. I know for a fact that some current people at LANL had offers withen the last 5 years at Illinois, Davis, Ohio State, MIT, Purdue, CSM, Oregon, Virginia, TAMU, Arizona, Case Western, Missouri, North Texas, Stoney Brook, CFU, Indiana, VT, SFU, CMU, U Tennessee, UCR, WPI and many more.

You would see more if you opened your eyes.

Anonymous said...

It's silly to argue about potential jobs - how about some hard data to support your predictions. We've had people muttering about this sort of departure since the shutdown and following LANS transition. How many concrete examples can anyone come up with of this sort of thing? I can only think of a dozen or so. Not huge numbers given the blustery talk that so frequently comes out of the mouths of the people confident they can go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

9/4/07 11:17 AM asked " The first poster at 10:15 AM indicated he's hearing about a possible 10% reduction in the Weapons Program staff. What are other workers at LANL hearing? Is your management telling you anything, or are they just waiting to suddenly drop the bomb on their staff all at once?

Hearing nothing from my management. Seetrum is incompetent and does not communicate with her directorate and Sarrao is busy with his little Marie. But hey there is a LANS sponsored Fall Festival and we are all invited. Celebrations! Then on Monday Oct 1st, we all get f*cked! Thanks for the weiner!!

Anonymous said...

Reply to 9/4/07 4:04 PM ... "Klimov, Baskes, Korber, Zurek, Hay, Taylor, Voter, Sickafus, and it goes on and on. You really need to get your facts straight before you make more nonsensical statements..."

Exactly - Hay is semi-retired. Klimov is an ass who gets DR after DR tossed his way to keep him here. Zurek? Puh-lease. Taylor = see Klimov. Why don't we just toss Wallace into the mix and we are set ... oh wait! Wallace had to leave academics to come here and destroy science at LANL! Silly me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:08 said... "Starting next month a lot of folks at LANL are going to get the chance to prove that they can get a job elsewhere."

Hopefully, many of the prima-donnas stated by 4:04 will just leave so that some of the recently hired early career folks will have a shot at getting some funding and not have to suck the teet of the prima-donnas.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's a list. I have heard of STFU, but not SFU.

Zawodzinsky (spelling?) went to CWR several years ago. He took all of the fuel cell competence with him when he left.

Anonymous said...

9:19pm

Now lets be clear on one thing. I say that LANL does have some very good people, however I also know that LANL has some horrible people as well. God knows how they got hired but they did. I would put that number at 15-25%. I could not imagine that they could ever get any kind of technical job outside the lab with the records and resumes they have. Also I am not againts RIF's. If they are done right it would be a huge boom for the lab. I do not think the RIFs will target the top 10-30% of the lab. But who knows how it really will be done.

I would also say that over that last 20 years LANL has lost more good people than they have replaced. This is a simple rate equation: good people have the option to leave and bad people do not so over time you get more and more bad people.

What I am againts is comments that say everyone in LANL is worthless.
This is simply not true.

Anonymous said...

Can this post be promoted back to the top of the blog given the continued activity? I'm getting tired of scrolling down past the loooong articles and pictures of cones to get here to read the latest comments. Pretty please?

Anonymous said...

From the 9/4/07 8:27 PM post: "BTW, from your list, Victor, Toni and Jeff would have a hard time learning to actually compete for funding, as opposed to having it handed to them (while their balls - Toni included - were being licked)."

Indeed - Victor and Toni and actually Sergei Tretiak are definitely handed both LDRD funding(official and unofficial - ie gift from Terry) and numerous fully-funded postdocs (anothe gift from Terry) just to keep them happy and here. Honestly, why would these people leave such a great job? In fact, Victor and Toni (Tretiak is theory - doesn't apply to him) both get to ignore rules and regs and can do what the hell they want - great work if you you can get it - so why would they leave?

Pinky and The Brain said...

9/4/07 9:59 PM,
Possibly. For now, try clicking the little triangle to the left of the August archive, then click the top link.

Anonymous said...

"At least CTN employees can relax about RIF's. I've just received initial word that the Infrastructure tax is going to be raised by about 3% to fund a standard level of yellow network support.
We're from CTN, and we're here to help!" ( 9/4/07 12:54 PM )


Oh, my God! More overhead taxation for protected class employees. Why do I bother to continue bringing in funding as a TSM any longer? It's hopeless.

It's time for everyone to get in the back of the wagon for a free ride on overhead. We'll let one staff member pull the wagon to bring in all the funding and charge him at an FTE rate of $2.2 billion per year. It will be hell for the that single TSM, but for an easy ride on overhead for everyone else. Sound like a plan?

If you're from CTN, you are definitely not here to help. You're apparently here to tax to the max. I've had enough of taxes! Taxes for DOE, for LDRD, for Program Managers, for Division support... it just goes on and on and seems to get worse every year. By the time the funding actually reaches my group there is precious little money left to actually fund my work. I secure the funding for projects but it is frittered away by all the LANL overhead charges. This is the main reason that TSM labor is running close to $450 K per year at LANL and soon headed higher.

And the part that really stinks is that when layoffs hit, it's going to be the TSM folks who try to bring in funding that eventually get laid off, and not those who live the easy life off the overhead. If you're a TSM with out funding, you won't be able to suddenly create an overhead charge code out of thin air to save your ass. Instead, you'll lose your job.

LANL is completely f_cked up when it comes to overhead taxation and LANS apparently is going to let it get worse this next year. Were is our LANS leadership? They promised to bring down costs for the scientists, but I see no sign of it.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we're not the only ones to go "oops" with nukes.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/05/loose.nukes/index.html

Eric said...

The comments here are interesting and have a decent amount of content.

I have details on the ability of LANL staff to be hired elsewhere. The ability to be hired depends strongly on marketability (recognized reputation, work ethic, ability to bring in money, and ability to work productively on a team against an immovable deadline).

I get requests for personnel (about 300 requests a week).

In general, LANL staff do not compete well for these openings. They are out worked by people from other places.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

"Indeed - Victor and Toni and actually Sergei Tretiak are definitely handed both LDRD funding(official and unofficial - ie gift from Terry) and numerous fully-funded postdocs (anothe gift from Terry) just to keep them happy and here. Honestly, why would these people leave such a great job? In fact, Victor and Toni (Tretiak is theory - doesn't apply to him) both get to ignore rules and regs and can do what the hell they want - great work if you you can get it - so why would they leave? "

Your statments are out and out dishonest. None of these people "are handed LDRD" by Terry or anyone else. I know this for a fact. Nor are the given fully funded postdocs. If someone is an outstanding scientists than outstanding posdoc candidates will apply to them who have a chance at a Directors funded position.

Your comments indicate that you want LANL to suffer. I cannot imagine that LANL or any other orginization would want somone like you.

Anonymous said...

Poster 9:28 AM, on Monday it was reported that Pentagon computers were hacked by the Chinese government. On Wednesday we learn that the Airforce misplaced 5 nukes! Compared to this, LANL is looking pretty good these days, wouldn't you say? Either that, or perhaps the whole US is starting to systematically break down. That's another real possibility, given the poor way this country is now run. I mean, we've now got Senators stalking airport restroom looking to give blowjobs to strangers. It's a sign of the times.

Anonymous said...

11:37AM: Good points - nobody is truly being "handed" LDRDs. It is quite hard though to argue that there is no unusual tendency for certain people, teams, or groups to pull in a higher-than-average amount of LDRD funding (especially at the ER level). I saw this while competing for LDRDs, being on a review committee, and fielding the complaints from many people who pointed out the obvious, that some people just seem to always win. That said, the proposals that these folks win with are often pretty good, but not so ground shattering that they truly deserve to have this fairly reliable LDRD stream.

As for "Your comments indicate that you want LANL to suffer. I cannot imagine that LANL or any other orginization would want somone like you" -- this is a sentiment uttered around this blog way too often. Basically, whenever someone points out the fact that the lab has certain processes, activities, or patterns of behavior that are troublesome or negative in any way, people retort with "you hate LANL" (or something along those lines). Grow a pair of balls and deal with it -- the lab has some really serious faults, and if you really want the lab to change for the better, you have to both recognize and DEAL with the faults. Not pointing them out and failing to deal with them is far worse for the lab than talking about them on here.

Sort of reminds me of the old saying with substance addicts - "the first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem." The lab is unfortunately full of too many people unwilling to take this first step.

Anonymous said...

"LANL is completely f_cked up when it comes to overhead taxation and LANS apparently is going to let it get worse this next year. Were is our LANS leadership? They promised to bring down costs for the scientists, but I see no sign of it."

Where is our LANS management? Well, our ADs and PADs are enjoying nice pay-offs for looking the other way. They are busy going on trips and having a grand ole time "representing" LANL while they make travel so damn difficult for the rest of us. This is why all these new policies are getting enforced to make the "little people" suffer.

11:33 PM, I hope this answers your question.

ron said...

Well, score so far for people I know.

3 google. 1 cray. 1 IBM -- and they wanted that person so much they made a very sweet offer. I've lost track of how many have moved to ORNL -- and one person has 18 months to actually physically move, as ORNL wanted that person very much. 1 Fellow position at PNL. Several have left to accept jobs with instant tenure at VA Tech and other places. Of those, several have had labs built for them (nice incentive!) at their new job, with 3 years of very substantial funding waiting for them when they arrived. A friend just went to U. Oregon. Others have gone to SNL and LLNL. One to Norway, a very nice deal from the gov't there.

That's the several dozen I know who have left. They were pursued by several different gov't/university/corporate labs for some time. In many cases, the Nanos shutdown provided the impetus to leave.

We keep hearing about the RIF. '05, '06, '07, the only consistent part of the prediction is that it is always coming in a few months, just you wait, you're gonna get it! And then ... nothing. I think some of you need a new Magic 8 Ball.

Then we hear that LANL employees all suck, and can't get jobs elsewhere. Not my observation: LANL employees are highly sought after, and get very nice jobs when they move, as I pointed out above.

Then we hear that houses are all sitting on the market, with the keen observation that "boy there seem to be a lot of houses for sale when I drive around". That's not a very solid analysis of the market, to say the least.

I've left, I don't have to care, but I care only insomuch as I have friends left at LANL. They're good people. They aren't racists, they aren't stupid, they can leave any time they want, and they've got good jobs waiting if they do leave. And, in some cases, they have not left LANL because they're trying to save what's there. You can make fun of them for doing so, safe behind the veil of anonymity. I respect them for their decision.

I don't know who the posters are. I doubt that most of them are from LANL or even New Mexico. One thing's for sure: they don't know much about LANL or its people.

Those of you who read this blog, and have never seen LANL or New Mexico: don't assume that an anonymous poster knows anything, or is from LANL, or Los Alamos.

Anonymous said...

Ron, my experience is unfortunately just the opposite. I know many staff members in my Directorate with high qualifications. Some have moved on to good jobs at other DOE labs but the employers in private industry either don't make an offer, or if they do, the pay and benefits is much lower than what LANL offers. As far as housing goes, it present a huge financial problem if you decide to move off the Hill and are stuck with making a mortgage payment for a home you can't sell.

Anonymous said...

Very true. The RIF is always coming, yet never arrives. Tells you something about the value of rumors, right?

As for employability. You are right - there are many employable people at LANL. Especially within computing, as you indicate by pointing out the people who left to computing jobs at google (computing), cray (computing), and ibm (computing). I can only assume that the academic positions you mention are also for computing. Computer people are not bound to a specific area -- at LANL, they likely worked in supercomputing or scientific computing, but this doesn't make it difficult for them to adapt to business computing or other areas where computer expertise is required.

The probem is, computing is only a small part of LANL's world -- HPC and CCS to be exact, and they aren't where you find the majority of LANL scientists. Computing, although touted as a core area of expertise of the lab, has always been a minority science area -- not many people who could be considered scientists (PhD or equivalent work experience) work in it relative to the other fields.

Skilled computing people at any institution, LANL or not, are often highly employable simply because they can apply their skills to new areas in a huge number of industries. The question is -- does a similar diversity of jobs exist for people who are in the more traditional sciences, like chemistry (how often do you see a job ad like "wanted, actinide chemist") or nuclear engineering? I don't believe this to be true - people who are more specialized in a niche scientific domain are likely just not in as much demand, although I accept that I can be wrong as I'm just guessing here. The bottom line is that you can't measure the general hireability of LANL staff based on how hirable a group of people from a very in-demand field is. There isn't a "google" for physicists, chemists, or highly specialized engineers. Is there? The last instance of a place like that I can think of was Bell labs, and they are in much worse shape than LANL is.

As for the housing question, now is the worst time to draw any conclusion about the housing market in Los Alamos. Turn on CNBC or any other news station with financial news, and you'll see that the real estate market is horrible in many places. It's stupid to draw a conclusion that the environment at the lab is the sole cause of problems in the local market. Lots of real estate markets suck right now, even without a struggling national lab next door.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ron for you 10:05 posting. Your comment agrees well with what I see in Los Alamos. I am always dubious of the veracity of anonymous postings on this blog or any other blog for that manner.

Charles Reichhardt

Anonymous said...

Regarding the discussion on pending RIFS: time will tell if the talk was baseless rumor, or accurate projection of budget realities. Discount the discussion, or take it into account in planning your future: it's your choice.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand where these mysteries divisions are in Los Alamos where people can not get jobs on the outside. I know a large number of people who did get offers from the outside, these where all in physics and chemistry.

Also the argument that anyone who could get a job on the outside has just does not make any sense. In my group two people left for tenured faculty positions. In general they were happy at LANL but left so there spouses had more career opportunities. Also these people where particularly mobile in that they did not have kids in school. As for the other people in the group they are are just as good as the the people who did leave however they simply are not as mobile as their kids are in school and the spouses have good very good positions.

I have read some of the negative posts on this blog about LANL and they are just so off the mark that I cannot help but think it can only be deliberate. I remember when the contract changed over that someone sent fake termination notices to people that worked at LANL. I would guess that whoever did this would have no problem posting untrue things about LANL to scare people or make it look bad.

Anonymous said...

For some, primarily those who work in areas where they can publish in the open literature, getting a job outside is not so difficult if you have been doing good work, have a reasonable list of publications in refereed journals, and have a good reputation outside of LANL.

But, many TSMs have been buried in the weapons program for most of their professional career. They may not have publications in the open literature and may not be known outside of the weapons community.

When these individuals started at LANL (or LLNL) 20+ years ago it was expected that there would be some employment security in consideration of their employability being diminished. That is a nearly-forgotten memory. These people have, in a sense, been screwed!

The other thing that has gotten bad at LANL is internal mobility. Take a look at that LANL-only job offerings on the LANL jobs website. There really are not a lot of truely technical jobs for TSMs and TECs. Budgets at our sponsors have been reduced. Our already-obscene taxes continue to increase making us less competetive. LANL Groups are very concerned with protecting their staff and thus there are few internal opportunities.

Fixing this is not going to be easy. The overhead rates need to be significantly reduced and that has two hurdles:

1. LANS management doesn't seem to be at all interested in reducing the overhead costs. Indeed since June of 2006 ADs, DDs, and GLs have been bred like rabbits.

2. Reducing overhead rates will require RIFfin people from overhead groups. Sig Hecker tried that in 1995 and it did not go over at all well. The demographics of the overhead organizations are disproportionately women and minorities. And, Nanos made it much worse by converting a lot of contract employees to UC/regular status.

As I write this, I really feel disheartened and very pessimistic about our future. While we have been encouraged to diversify our activities it is almost impossible to bring in WFO under the current costs.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, current TSM FTE rates are truly obscene, yet since well over half of the lab lives off overhead taxes (esp. in the management ranks), absolutely nothing will be done about it. When any of the overhead groups feel threatened, you can expect to see them add on additional taxes or add automatic stealth "service" charges to protect their safety margins, ala the recent actions over at CTN.

Anonymous said...

10:52: I think this pessimism about hirability is a function of how close people are to the weapons program, and how long they've been entrenched in it. Talk to someone close to it and someone far from it, and you very often will get two very different perspectives on the lab.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it fitting that "No plans for a RIF" Mikey wore his best circumcision haircut while preparing us for the upcoming RIF?

Anonymous said...

Well there you go, Charles. Anonymous blog posting of rumor of massive RIFs confirmed. 2,500 LANL staff to potentially hit the bricks.

You may go back to your own private little world now.

Anonymous said...

my guess is support side SMS types will bear the brunt of the RIF... certainly no Bechtel manager types will go anywhere or lose a penny..... and then there's that $80M management fee

Anonymous said...

Way to go, Ron and Charles! Your comments on "no RIFs" have just been proving to be 180 degrees wrong as of 2 pm this Thursday. The timing of your comments couldn't have been worse. I'll remember to be especially vigilant in the future to ignore any of your analysis of the situation at LANL.

Anonymous said...

7:22pm

Let it play out first.

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:03 PM, by the time it "plays out" it will be way too late to take action to minimize the upcoming events. People were warned that it was different this year, but many at LANL are living in denial and refuse to pay attention to the warning signs. So far, the poster of "Perfect Storm" seems to be right on track. LANL is New Orleans and the FY08 budget looks more and more like Katrina as each day passes.

Anonymous said...

So far, the poster of "Perfect Storm" seems to be right on track. LANL is New Orleans and the FY08 budget looks more and more like Katrina as each day passes.

Hmmm. One has to wonder who our FEMA is ...

Anonymous said...

I'd swear I heard D'Agostino learn over and whisper into Mikey's ear... "Heckavajob, Brownie!"