Sep 27, 2007

Judge Finds DOE Violation

By Raam Wong
Journal Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Energy made a "mockery" out of open-records laws by taking nearly two years to provide requested information concerning Los Alamos National Laboratory to a government watchdog group, a federal judge has found.

The judge ruled last week that DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration violated the Freedom of Information Act by creating a "convoluted" review process for determining what can be released to the public.

In a sharply worded ruling, U.S. District Judge Bruce Black found that the agency offered "no rationale" for the complex method of handling information requests "or the inevitable delay it guarantees."

The federal law is intended to allow citizens to learn what their government is doing. Government agencies have 20 days after receiving an information request to provide the records or notify the party making the request of a denial.

In December 2004, Nuclear Watch New Mexico submitted a request to the NNSA's Albuquerque office for copies of Los Alamos' Ten-Year Comprehensive Site Plans for 2002 through 2005.

The lab and other NNSA sites compile the comprehensive site plans annually and include information on existing programs and missions, as well as plans and goals for future facilities, weapons work, land-use and operations.

When the plans were not delivered, the group sued for their release, alleging a "pattern and practice of unlawfully withholding agency records" by the NNSA.

The redacted records were not released until June 2006, more than 17 months after they were requested.

NNSA's Albuquerque office is responsible for handling information requests for itself and five other NNSA site offices, including Los Alamos and the Pantex Plant in Texas.

NNSA has argued that an extensive, multilayered review process was needed to ensure that sensitive information was redacted from the documents.

Nuclear Watch executive director Jay Coghlan said the group would continue to insist that NNSA provide documents in a timely manner.

"We won't tolerate the months and years of delays and suppression of information that NNSA is guilty of," Coghlan said in a statement.

Black wrote in his ruling that he would schedule future hearings on possible remedies for the violation.

Coghlan responded, "We look forward to real remedies that require prompt disclosure of information under citizens' right to know."

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was told that a local newspaper filed a request for the list of names and salaries of all LANL employees and was told because LANS is a private company, that information no longer has to be made public. However, LANL employees are paid from public funds so the information should be available.

Anonymous said...

"Same monkeys, different trees."
--Sig Hecker, former LANL Director

In other words, nothing changes when it comes LANL.

Anonymous said...

To 9:43,

The US Government buys LOTS of stuff from
private companies!!!

The Govt buys cars, airplanes, ships.....

Therefore the salaries of the employees
of Ford, GM, Chrysler,...Boeing, Grumman..
should all be made public by your "logic".

I'm sorry - but NO!!

The Govt. is like any other customer -
the money paid by the Govt is for the
PRODUCT!!!

Just because the Govt. or any other
customer pays for a product doesn't
mean the company making the product
has to open their books to the customer.

Pinky and The Brain said...

"Just because the Govt. or any other
customer..."

What other customers are there for pits? Can I buy one?

Anonymous said...

"Just because the Govt. or any other customer pays for a product doesn't mean the company making the product has to open their books to the customer."

Really? LANL is 100% funded by the government. All assets are 100% owned by the government. We are the government, therefore we have a right to know. But just because you take UC out of the picture, and put it back immediately, but with a cadre of industrial-military partners and the LLC lable following a new name to suggest new corporate governance and yet, as said earlier, "same managers, just a different name," we now do NOT have a right to know? What's changed? It's still all taxpayer money! 100% taxpayer money! It's babbling idiots like 9:43AM that gives new meaning to stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I think you meant 12:09PM is the babbling idiot, not 9:43AM.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry 12:39PM. You're right. I did mean 12:09PM, not 9:43AM. Good thing you were paying attention.

12:29PM (too many numbers)

Anonymous said...

"We won't tolerate the months and years of delays and suppression of information that NNSA is guilty of,"Coghlan said in a statement.

Sadly, groups like Coghlan's Nuclear Watch have lots of pull with the Democrats in power these days -- guys like Tom Udall and Bill Richardson.

It's Coghlan's day in the sun and he must be enjoying it. Perhaps if Bill wins the US Presidency he can see to it that Greg Mello is our next LANL Director. That wasn't a joke, by the way.

Anonymous said...

LANL is 100% funded by the government
12:19PM - not quite. Some projets are funded through corporate agreements, some through mathing funds with industries, some by royalties from companies for licenses of patents and software. So inrevising your statement, the majority of LANL is funded by the government, not 100%.

Anonymous said...

What? We haven't yet killed off all the non DOE/NNSA work at LANL? OK, we'll get LANS on it right away. Mike knows what he needs to do for his 20% bonus.

-- Tom D'Agostino

Anonymous said...

Wrong...ALL contactors ARE subject to government audits if they do work for the government, and even at that we still end up paying $700 for a $10 hammer. The issue is whether a contactor's costs should be made public? If the facility is 100% owned by the public then you damn well better believe it! How fu_king stupid are we to believe this tripe abount company records not be subject to public scrutiny? Just because corporate hacks serving in Congress spew that crap doesn't make it so. Wake up! It's )OUR tax dollars paying for all the waste and fraud occurring under the guise of corporate privilege. Bull! Nothing occurring at LANL doesn't occur without DOE approval and the reason is simple--the facility belongs to the taxpayer, NOT LANS, NOT UC, and sure as hell not Bechtel. Wake up stupid! It' YOUR Lab!

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of public disclosure, I am an acting deputy division leader at LANL. My base salary is $153,000/year and I am currently receiving a $10,000/year stipend in my acting position. As a manager, my salary is not subject to overhead and the standard labor rate for my category is $110/hr. My fully salary (base + acting) equates to $78.56/hour. There is $32 or so in benefits, making up the $110/hr rate.

There, do you feel better?

Anonymous said...

PS (same acting DDL): If I was working on programmatic funding, my costs would be ~$500,000/year. But the cost per person in my division is approximately $300,000/person/year averaged over all job classes. It is a science division, not a support one.

Anonymous said...

12:29 pm:

"...we now do NOT have a right to know? What's changed? It's still all taxpayer money! 100% taxpayer money! It's babbling idiots like 9:43AM..."

So, any organization, public or private, that takes any money from
the federal government (or even a state or local government) must be forced to disclose the salaries of all of its employees??

Hehehe. Who's the "babbling idiot"? Name an organization that ISN'T one of the above.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Full Disclosure is Full of It. What about the rest of the $2.2 billion being wasted? Don't we have a right to know where that money is going? Of course not. You're an LLC now.

Anonymous said...

LANL is GOCO, government owned contractor operated. It's not a GM, or Ford, or whatever. GOCOs should be more transparent in their operations.

Anonymous said...

In the interest of full disclosure I haven't done a shred of real work since Nanos shut down the place, but I'm worth every penny nontheless. You can pay $20 for the toothless old druggy in the ally, or $1,000 for that supple young cover girl sitting at the bar in the Hyatt. The choice is yours. Either way, America needs us.

Anonymous said...

In the interest of full disclosure I haven't done a shred of real work since Nanos shut down the place, but I'm worth every penny nontheless. You can pay $20 for the toothless old druggy in the ally, or $1,000 for that supple young cover girl sitting at the bar in the Hyatt. The choice is yours. Either way, America needs us.

Anonymous said...

"In the spirit of public disclosure, I am an acting deputy division leader at LANL. My base salary is $153,000/year and I am currently receiving a $10,000/year stipend in my acting position. As a manager, my salary is not subject to overhead and the standard labor rate for my category is $110/hr." (7:36 PM)


If you're a Division leader who works for only $153 K per year, then LANS is getting you on the cheap. Look over the last public salary list and you'll see that most Division leaders make way more than that amount. There are plain vanilla TSMs who make more than you do.

As far as getting a special labor rate of only $110 per hour, try taking on the stress of being a 'average joe' TSM who makes way less than you, but is on the hook for over $200/hr because of LANL's bloated overhead structure. And then, consider the stress of having to go out and secure funding to pay this insane FTE rate. You have it easy, my friend. Your job is secure and you probably don't have to bring in any funding to protect your job.

The salaries we all really want to know about, however, are those at the very top. The ADs, PADs, etc. There is no reason on earth that these salaries are held back as "propriety LANS" information, other than the fact that these salaries went up by rather large amounts after the LLC transition. Holding back the salary information is a shallow, shady, CYA type tactic by LANS executives.

Is it any wonder that the 'us' versus 'them' attitude has now gotten much worse at LANL. Almost no one trusts the top LANS management any longer, and that includes some of the DLs.

Anonymous said...

8:31 pm:

"GOCOs should be more transparent in their operations."

Gee, thanks for your opinion. Care to guess what the law says?

Pinky and The Brain said...

Care to cite it so we all know?

Anonymous said...

Nope - do your own homework.

Pinky and The Brain said...

In other words you gave up looking for one after almost an hour and a half.

Anonymous said...

12:20pm: No, you can't. We have you on record as being too dangerous to own one. During a recent domestic wiretapping activity, we overheard the following:

Pinky: "Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
The Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky - Try to take over the world!"

No pits for you.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Curses, foiled again!

Anonymous said...

Too bad 11:05 didn't try to use the 11th amendment.

Anonymous said...

9:01pm, are you talking about Div Ldrs who were Group Ldrs before LANS (BL)?

Or are you talking about Div Ldrs who are now Directors.

If the person (who probably isn't a GL, a-DDL, Dir or any other manager) is making around $153K, I'd guess that it's a GL turned DL or DDL, not a Div Ldr as we knew them BL. And if the rate is not subject to overhead, you can bet it soon will be because now that you've flagged the gap for the bean counters, they'll add a bit onto your rate - because they can and you know the ewok's going to be hungry again soon.

Anonymous said...

7:36 PM, It does no matter what your base salary is. LANL uses the Standard Labor Rate method of charging your type out. It does not matter what your LANB checking account receives biweekly, it only matters what the standard labor rate your class is charged. I can assure you, that it is higher than what LANB receives.

Anonymous said...

3:42 pm is correct. Each LANL direct-funded employee's cost is budgeted by multiplying the "standard labor rate" provided by HR, for each employment grade (TSMs are calculated based on a tiering system determined by salary range,i.e., $100-110k) by an "average" number of hours worked for that grade. Actual cost to the group throughout the year varies depending on several things - vacation and sick time used are not charged to the group, for example. TSM and non-TSM management are treated exactly the same way.

The point is that there is no explicit "overhead" charge calculated in these cases - it's built in. Which leads me to believe that the 9/27 7:36 pm "acting DDL" is NOT direct-funded, but funded by G&A (overhead), which I believe he/she confirmed at 7:40 pm.

Anonymous said...

9/28/07 6:32 PM

None of the above, Division and Group level managers are paid out of Org Support taxes which are set and collected at the Directorate level.