Sep 6, 2007

Los Alamos Head Warns of Possible Cuts

By SUE MAJOR HOLMES

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory told employees Thursday the lab must plan for possible layoffs, saying the nuclear weapons lab doesn't know how much money Congress will give it next year.

Michael Anastasio said in a memo that outlined the steps managers have taken — such as cutting non-personnel costs and reducing spending — "as a hedge against employee layoffs."

"But given the current budget uncertainty and given that the biggest cost for the laboratory is personnel, these steps may not prove to be sufficient," Anastasio warned in the memo, issued after an all-employees meeting.

In late July, Anastasio told jittery workers at the northern New Mexico lab that there would be no further cuts before the new federal budget year begins Oct. 1.

The U.S. House has passed a bill that eliminated about $350 million from the lab's current budget of $2.2 billion.

A Senate committee essentially left the current budget intact. That isn't expected to change when the full Senate votes on the measure, leaving a conference committee to produce a final version.

There's no way to estimate the impact on employees, but to delay a contingency plan only would compound the problem, said Anastasio, who recently finished his first year as head of the lab under its new private operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC.

He formed a team to meet with National Nuclear Security Administration and Department of Energy officials to start developing what he called "a work force restructuring plan."

The plan "will focus on preserving the right jobs and people so that the laboratory can successfully carry out its missions," he said, adding that the plan will enable the lab to deal with "any budget uncertainties in the future."

The House bill affects other labs in the DOE's complex, including Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, which held a manager's meeting Thursday and said it also is planning for the future.

In June, Sandia officials said that lab faced a potential $180 million cut.

Stephanie Holinka, a spokeswoman for Sandia, said Thursday the lab has not announced any layoffs but is "trying to do some serious and unpleasant planning."

"We wanted employees to know that it wasn't looking very good for anything to pass anytime soon. ... We're not happy; we're nervous; this planning process will be going on for some time," she said.

Greg Mello of Albuquerque, a member of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear watchdog group, contended it would be good for the nation if lab budgets are deeply cut over the next few years.

"There would be no need for layoffs this year, back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest, if NNSA and our congressional delegation worked together on a few relatively easy reforms including retirement incentives," he said.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

A lot of LANL staff who thought that Mike's All-Hands for today was "just another silly meeting" will be intently watching replays of it on Real Player by Friday morning.

Pay attention, people! Your jobs are now at stake.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that Sandia management knew about this months ago and Mike & co. pretended that he just found out about the RIFs?

Anonymous said...

9:47 PM - MIke was being told what to say by the lovely Rich Marquez, whose job is nice and safe as Mike's puppet. SHit, they wouldn't even let Mike or Doris Heim answer the question about the recent big changes to the RIF section in the Admin manual. C'mon, they don't know? Doris doesn't know?!? Please!!

Anonymous said...

"There would be no need for layoffs this year, back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest, if NNSA and our congressional delegation worked together on a few relatively easy reforms including retirement incentives" (Greg Mello)

With the ability to double-dip their way to instant prosperity, there is no way in Hell you could come up with a retirement incentive to get any of the DD'ers to now leave this place. They'll stay around until they are all old, toothless, and being pushed around in wheel-chairs by the younger TSMs who have nothing better to do.

Anonymous said...

"They'll stay around until they are all old, toothless, and being pushed around in wheel-chairs by the younger TSMs who have nothing better to do."

You mean as long as the younger TSMs don't have to stay after 4/5 pm, right?

Anonymous said...

"You mean as long as the younger TSMs don't have to stay after 4/5 pm, right?" (10:08 PM)

Well, the old, toothless DD'ers in wheelchairs will probably turn in for bedtime by 4pm, so I think the young'ins will have no problem handling their care-taker duties and still making it out of the LANL parking lots by 5 PM.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a number of oldtimers are on the 10-4-4 rule. In at 10AM
out at 4PM four days a week.

Anonymous said...

Nothing about cutting management salaries is there? Pretty soon LANL will be staffed only by managers!

Anonymous said...

I worry that this whole thing could start to get much much worse. Now that the fear, stress and even panic start to set in we could see a huge increase in safety and security incidents. This will lead to even more bashing by the Congress and even lower budgets which in turn leads to even more fear, stress, and panic which leads to... you get the picture. I think we may be in uncharted water. Maybe LANL will end up being closed down in the near future. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Poster 10:36 PM, I think you're on to something. It's called a poorly designed negative feedback loop. It's bad for swaying bridge designs, bad for electronic networks, and especially bad for LANL. Looks like our "designers" over at DOE and Congress did a poor job with this one. This circuit is about to start smoking and go BOOM!

Anonymous said...

When this little exercise is all over, the size of the NNSA labs are going to be much smaller and the scientific quality much lower. We are already looking at a cut of 20% in staffing for this next year if the 2500 figure announced by Mike on Thursday plays out.

If you have the opportunity to jump over to one of the DOE labs, I would strongly suggest you take it ASAP. LANS doesn't care if you stay here any longer. In fact, they would like to see a lot of TSMs leave LANL during the next year. It will only help LANS to earn a bigger management fee and a bonus from NNSA.

Anonymous said...

Congress gets paid $165K a year plus perks, generous pension and medical benefits, and their staff personnel have a shot to jump over to the well-paid lobby industry or into political appointee jobs. The Congress did not produce a budget last year. They are not going to produce a budget this year. Seems to me, the Congress and the Hill staff are not doing their jobs. I'd say they all might be in for a RIF come November 2008. What do you think?

My take on the NNSA Lab budget "crisis": Congress and the Executive Branch pay the military-industrial complex for what they value. Over to Iraq, they shipped in container loads of cash, billions. They played football with bricks of $100 bills in the Green Zone. Most of that money disappeared without a trace (surprise, surprise). If they valued what NNSA Labs were doing, they would pay for it. There are other things they value more.
Google "Iraq for Sale" if you'd like to learn more about your tax dollars at work.

The way this will likely shake out is that all the folks with 35+ years in are going to be gently encouraged to retire, the ones critical to the effort will come back on contract, the contractor rolls will be cut back, and belts will get tighter. Managers without staff and staff without project funding are next in line to feel the friendly hand of assistance out the door. For all managers, future new hires are more likely to be retired 0-5 military and below with graduate and MBA degrees who will be the "project/program managers". The retired colonels and generals will be hired as the upper and senior management. Look around, it is happening already. If you think they value "science", wake up. They like things that work, come in on schedule, and under budget. A little science on the side is good to have, but it ain't the reason the heat is on in the winter.

Anonymous said...

"Over to Iraq, they shipped in container loads of cash, billions. They played football with bricks of $100 bills in the Green Zone. Most of that money disappeared without a trace (surprise, surprise). If they valued what NNSA Labs were doing, they would pay for it. There are other things they value more.
Google "Iraq for Sale" if you'd like to learn more about your tax dollars at work."

This kind of wild claim doesn't help your credibility.

Anonymous said...

8:07:

I bet you're one of those dickheads who still thinks everything is ok at the labs, too.

Check out

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/31/3519/

and

http://www.comw.org/warreport/iraqarchivecont.html

or any one of dozens of other storys on this. It is true about the bricks of $100 bills.

Anonymous said...

Zozobra burned down to the ground last night. No more doom and gloom around here! Nope. God's in His heaven and all's right with the world.

Anonymous said...

I love being a DD! With my seniority I have the inside track when it comes to the RIF. And then if a nice incentive is offerred I have options. Life is good ;)

PS No kids at home and mortgage nearly paid off what...me worry?

--Alfred Newman

Anonymous said...

Hopefully prospect of a RIF will encourage some of the bigots to buy a one way ticket out of New Mexico. We'll do just fine without them, third world country status or not. Good riddence!

Anonymous said...

Never fear! King Richard of LANS, along with Emperor Anistasio and our perenial savior--St. Pete to the rescue...NOT!

Anonymous said...

Nothing to worry about. There are plenty of jobs in Iraq! Military recruiters will make your day. Haliburton can help as well. Remember the wonderful war for oil...I mean on terror we all supported? Remember our support for the "bring it on" president the US Supreme court appointed for us. So this was the bed we all made for ourselves. So now deal with it morons!

Anonymous said...

AIM 114: would anyone post the old RIF policy please or at least point out the specific differences to the current policy? - Thanks

Anonymous said...

Previous retirement incentives were paid for out of surplus funds in the UC pension. There is no longer any such surplus. And, the TCP-2 retirement is NOT a fund, just private 401K accounts for the participants.

SO, any retirement incentive would have to be funded from the LANL (or LLNL) budget and that would just make the budget problem worse.

By the way, running off the senior TSMs and TECs is not going to get the work done. This is of particular importance if we really intend to diversify the work. Given that we are no lonager attracting the best and the brightest we are going to need the smart old farts to help bring in this work.

Of course, one can predict an increase in overhead rates as the number of TSMs and TECs decreaee. Note that the number of managers at AD and DD level has increased three-fold since LANS took over. They will no doubt reduce the overhead rate and find other ways to hide the indirect costs. I can see parking meters, pay toilets, internet service chargss (just like COMCAST), etc. And they can start the LLNL trick of having the GL charge your project for the time spent on your performance review.

In summary: WE ARE SCREWED!

Anonymous said...

Hey, 9:41 AM, many GLs have already started charging 100% of their time on overhead beginning with this last year, so I don't think GL overhead can get any worse than it already is. Almost anyone who can at LANL is trying to find some safety under overhead before the storm moves in. According to one poster, CTN Division recently found protection by instituting a new 3% tax on funding to force payments for their "services". The people most at risk will be low level TSMs who are trying to bring in funding but are having a hard time succeeding at it, esp. given our enormous $450 K FTE rate. I doubt LANS will do anything at all to fix this big problem.

Anonymous said...

I think all workers should have a standown. Those greedy fucks won't make any money if no one will work for them.

What a waste of a good lab.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Never fear! King Richard of LANS, along with Emperor Anistasio and our perenial savior--St. Pete to the rescue...NOT!

9/7/07 8:49 AM


Instead...the enemy from within.

Anonymous said...

So long MaRIE, Rest In Peace.

Oh Wait, it's not RIP, it's RIF !

Anonymous said...

LANS will probably use the current circumstances to institute a RIF whether we have flat-line funding or a $300 million budget cut. They want to better prepare LANL to meet future budgets. The hardest area to be hit will be those working under the Weapons Programs. Expect to see at least a 10% layoff even with flat-line funding, so as to better match future LANL budgets. Those who work on LDRD may also see some cuts, as less programmetic funding will be available to be taxed for LDRD support. The most promising funding areas at LANL are in non-poliferation and WFOs (if you can get outside sponsor funding at our high FTE rates). These are the best hopes for growing the programmatic funding base for LANL in the next few years as the weapons side begins to shrink. Non-poliferation actual saw a big increase in funding for this next year. Any new work in renewable energy or reactors design will take several years to develope, so don't expect any big increase from these areas just yet.

If we do the RIF now and get it over with, LANL will be better prepared to meet the future and there can be less stress for those who remain over the next few years.
The worse scenario would be to have RIF fears re-emerge year after year. Perhaps if we take the bitter medicine now, we can look forward to a brighter future.