Aug 1, 2007

Senate schedule leaves little time for LANL budget

ROGER SNODGRASS Monitor Assistant Editor

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said that he expected budget cuts for Los Alamos National Laboratory to be more modest than those indicated in the House appropriation bill.

"As far as the level of funding, there will be some cuts, but not nearly as drastic as the House proposed," Bingaman said Tuesday in a weekly press conference with New Mexico radio reporters. "That's where I expect it will come out."

Asked if there were other missions that the laboratory might pursue in addition to nuclear weapons work, Bingaman said the laboratory is already doing a great deal - working with intelligence agencies and other non-nuclear defense work, alternative energy and other national priorities.

"Funding to maintain and modernize our nuclear weapons program is probably not going to be as robust in the future as it has been in the past," he said.

The Senate version of the bill that funds the Department of Energy and the weapons program emerged from the Senate Appropriations Committee closer in many respects to the administration's original request.

The House bill was approved by the House 312-111, but the Senate bill has yet to be considered on the Senate floor.

Bingaman was not sure when that time would arrive, but indicated that it would not be before the August recess, which begins Friday.

"We'll try to have that debate in September, when the Senate comes back in session," he said. "I hope very much that it can be done at that time. If not, it will be in October."

The Senate resumes on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day. The fiscal year, by which the federal budget is apportioned, begins Oct. 1.

LANL Director Michael Anastasio said last week that there would be no workforce reduction before that time.

If no budget has been approved, Congress normally passes a "continuing resolution" to cover obligations for a specific time period.

"Continuing resolutions are something we are used to," said lab spokesman Kevin Roark this morning. He said he had seen a recent chart showing that the lab had operated on continuing resolutions for five out of the last seven years, one of them for nine months.

"Normally, you continue to operate under a profile identical to the last," he said. "We do the best of our ability to maintain the status quo until there's a bill."

According to laboratory figures, total employment at the laboratory is a little more than 12,150.

As of June 30, LANS employees numbered 9,070; the security force under Protection Technology Los Alamos had 632. The main services subcontractor KSL totaled 954.

A miscellaneous group including students, post-docs and other contractors were about 1,500.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If there are any cuts, it should be in the Lab's legal budget. The abuse in this arena is the Lab's filthy little secret nobody wants to talk about. It's time for the DOE to stop issuing the Lab blank checks for litigation that we, the taxpayer, get stuck with and that we, the workforce of Los Alamos, pay for as well through lost productivity and now, the prospect of lost jobs. When it comes to Lab litigation we're talking 10s of millions a year, perhaps even more. On top of that you have the settlements and the corresponding adverse publicity that continues to tar and feather the institution. This litigious mindset has to change, and if it ever does the moneys saved will preserve dozens of jobs and allow the institution to mend fences inside and out. But will the powers that be allow that to happen? Not likely. How else can you keep on polluting, mistreating employees, harassing whistleblowers, and dumping on neighboring communities with imputing unless Saint Pete and others continue to support the Lab's slash and burn approach to dealing with critics? So this filthy little monster will remain in our midst, unchallenged and unchanged. That's part of the stench we smell.

Anonymous said...

I think that the biggest problem with litigation at LANL is the willingness to settle instead of fight so many of these lawsuits. The lawyers will encourage settlement on the basis that it is less expensive than fighting the suit. That is in fact the case for many individual lawsuits. BUT, it is a very poor long -term strategy as these settlements just encourage more lawsuits. If we fought and won more of these, then there would be fewer lawyers willing to take on these lawsuits on a contingency basis.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:01. The lab has been known to settle lawsuits even when overwhelming evidence, including documentation and eyewitnesses, indicates that the plaintiff is full of shit.

On the other hand, the risk of having a bunch of Lab-hating Santa Feans on a jury is high enough that I'm almost inclined to be sympathetic toward such cowardice.

Anonymous said...

10:01AM, you don't know the first thing about this issue or what's really occurring, and frankly I doubt that you really care to know. Yours is a mindset that sees no problem wasting $10 million to layoff a woman who testified in a sexual harassment case against the Lab, and in retaliation was later terminated (by the Lab) for incurring a $2.50 charge on the Lab's cell phone. After a lengthy jury trial the woman was awarded $1 million in damages. Of course the Lab then appealed (as 10:01AM would want) and got a second trial granted by an idiotic judge. The second trial however resulted in the woman being awarded $2 million in damages (twice what the first jury had awarded). Later it came out in the news that the Lab, after paying for attorney's fees on both sides and paying the jury award, ended up wasting nearly $10 million in taxpayer resources for the sake of making an example of an employee set up to be terminated for incurring a $2.50 personal phone call using a Lab phone. So wake up 10:01AM, put your bias in check for a second and consider that this is also YOUR tax dollars being wasted in this manner. Or do just resent the fact that women and minorities do prevail on occassion on such matters and just can stand it? I suspect we know the answer. You fit the Los Alamos mindset like a glove.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8/2/07 12:53 PM wrote "On the other hand, the risk of having a bunch of Lab-hating Santa Feans on a jury is high enough that I'm almost inclined to be sympathetic toward such cowardice."

For the lawsuit that happened after the 1995 RIF, the crap in the Santa Fe newspaper was so bad that LANL was able to get a change of venue to Albuquerque. And, there LANL prevailed against the two women and two Hispanics but lost againts the 55 year old White male.

Anonymous said...

Poster 8/2/07 2:37 PM, you don't know what the hell you are talking about. Poster 10:01 does and is correct in saying that the lab Legal idiots have settled lawsuits even when overwhelming evidence, including documentation and eyewitnesses, indicates that the plaintiff is full of shit. All you have have to say is "I got hurt because my boss told me to do something unsafe like look into a laser, breath noxious acid fumes, or work too hard" and you can sue the pants off the Lab.

The lab Legal lawyers are simply second-rate idiots who could not hack a job in the real world and came to LANL where they can hire real lawyers to work their cases and then they just settle and we the taxpayers have to pay. The next few months should be telling when the RIF starts ... the "support" people will be targeted first and my guess is that lots and lots of lawsuits will be filed and the Lab will cave ... just watch. In the end the 50+ year old white males are going to end up getting shafted to avoid more litigation.

Anonymous said...

I guess what 4:20PM is trying to say is that juries are just a reflection of our society, and racism is known to be alive and well in the courtroom because of it. I agree 100%. Wasn't that long ago that you couldn't get a jury in the deep south to convict a white person who committed a crime against a black person regardless. The jury decision in the layoff case was an obvious tip of the hat to the racist juries of the deep south. This was a slap across the face for all New Mexicans. But for 4:20PM, not likely since he probably immigrated to Los Alamos from somewhere else where racist jury decisions are as American as apple pie.

Anonymous said...

When 8:01PM makes reference to "50+ year old white males" he's obviously referring to Nanos' "arrogant butt-head cowboy" characterization. If so, then what's the problem with getting rid of them? Maybe the Lab would begin to recover so that future generations of committed workers can thrive without the baggage of outdated dinosaurs like these in our midst. Progressive 50+ year old white males are a different thing though. We need more of them, not less. But of course they're very difficult to find.

Anonymous said...

8:13, since you bring up jury bias, have you researched the composition of the jury for that RIF case in Abq?

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:21 AM, you seem to be suggesting a "political purge" of LANL staff. Way to go. That puts you in the company of other infamous people like Stalin and Hitler. What a proud, shining example of American democracy you demonstrate. Heil!