Oct 25, 2007

Terry Wallace's talk this morning, with editorial comments from an attendee.....

Sent in by a reader.

--Gussie

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 12:something -0600
To:
From:
Subject: Terry Wallace's talk this morning

Here are me notes from Terry Wallace’s talk this morning regarding the potential RIF. If you were present and would like to correct or add, please feel free.

[I’ve added some editorial comments in brackets.]

One of Terry Wallace’s messages to us was that he *hopes* a voluntary separation plan will be approved by congress, and that there will be enough voluntary separations so that we are not forced to go to an involuntary reduction.

Currently, the House budget is $188M low and the President’s is $80M low. The senate hasn't passed a budget.

Another driver for a RIF is that fact that Los Alamos spends about 70% of its funds on labor and other labs spend less than 60%. We need to get our number down so that we have money for other things such as infrastructure.

Attrition as always been low at LANL. We usually run about 3% as compared to 6% at other labs. [Well duh, at other places people can change jobs without relocating their families.]

Attrition over the past couple of years has been about 1.5% [Well double-duh, we can't sell our houses. Potential retirees at sitting back and waiting for incentives.]

*If* a voluntary separation is approved, takers would get the severance pay and possibly some percentage as an incentive.

Our severance pay rate is built into our contract. The Los Alamos severance is more generous than that of other sites. DOE does not like this, but can't change it until they are allowed to change the contract, which can't happen this year.

*If* a voluntary separation happens, they want it done in 2 weeks. Basically, we will be given 2 weeks to decide. It will be a lump sum of money and LANL wants it paid out in this CY. (It’s cheaper for LANL to pay it out this CY, but it would mean a big tax burden on those accepting it.)

There will not be anything like a 3+3 incentive. DOE is ultimately responsible for the pension plan (This is probably good news.), and they will *not* take on the liability of such an incentive. Also, I think Wallace said something about congress outlawing such incentives for government/contract workers sometime after the last ones were done, but I didn't quite catch what he said.

The AD will make decisions about whether an individual will be allowed to take the voluntary separation. He may deny it because LANL has met its target or because the individual is crucial to a program. [So doing would simply create a disgruntled employee who will be leaving at the first opportunity anyway.]

Note again that LANL does *not* have approval for a voluntary separation plan nor for an incentive. So, talk of such things is speculative.

We have all been placed into job categories based on a skills inventory. They are broad like Physicist, chemist, and computer scientist, manager, etc. If an involuntary RIF happens, ADs will have targets (the number they RIF from a certain category) and they will be allowed caps (If they lose more than the cap, they can't complete the given function.)

Deciding factors for an involuntary RIF are: performance, capability, and seniority.

Some have been given exclusions – they won't be RIFed. For example, ADs and above are excluded from the RIF.

ADs will decide who will go in an involuntary RIF.

Seniority counts in our favor if we want to take a voluntary, and counts in our favor should we find ourselves on an involuntary RIF list.

LANL (out of LANL funds) will have to pay for both severance and incentives. (This is some carry-over money that would be used.)

There have been rumors about a furlough – everyone go home for a while and not get paid. This will not happen.

Wallace is concerned that we are still not paying our best people well enough, and that is something that they want to fix.

Bechtel and the other contractors brought in about 210 people.

The average age of the Lab population is a little under 50.

All internal transfers will be frozen during a RIF period so as not to confuse the job categories. If a voluntary separation succeeds in meeting targets, the freeze can be lifted at that point. If not, it may last longer.

The director talked about the 120 clock from when we are notified to when an involuntary RIF and occur. When did or does that clock start ticking? Wallace wasn't sure, but he said that it may have started back when this process started – about 60 days ago. [This is *not* what the director said.]

Wallace believes that if a worse-case reduction happened, for example, if we lost ¼ of the workforce all at once, then the Lab would have to shut down: Losing that many people would mean that we couldn't meet our compliance deadlines, we couldn't even do our regular jobs so everyone in that function would have to stop work, and that the internal taxes generated would not be available to fund other activities. Anyway, he doesn't believe that we will suffer such a drastic cut.

Budget and headcount numbers
--------------
Over the years, weapons budgets have increased gradually. Under Carter, budgets increased and the money was earmarked for energy work. Under Reagan, there were bigger increases for SDI. In the late 90s that were increase for the LEP (Lifetime Extension Program). We hired like crazy during those times, and we still ended up with some carry-over because we couldn't spend it all. Over the past couple of years, we have been in deficit because of reduced budgets and this carry-over has made us solvent. There is some of the carry-over left and that’s the money that would be used for severance and incentive pay.

In 2007, we have 8597 Regular employees, 359 Post docs, 1027 Students, and 454 ?. (Total 10, 437). The year before, the number was 11,034.

The total population is about 13,500 when you include PTLA, KSL, and other contractors.

---
Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

so he says a RIF of 25% means Lab Death.

What's interesting is that LLNL is dealing with a potential cut of 20%. They aren't talking Lab Death.

I wonder where the real line is?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this quickly.


Those affected, both here and at LLNL, deserved to be treated better.

Supposedly, LANS will only add people who already have 2 years of solid funding.

I no longer have any confidence that there is such a thing.

Anonymous said...

Why is there only 1 manager talking to the masses - and only a subset of the masses at that? Is this same info available to all the AD's but Wallace is the only one sharing it and is his act of sharing it folly or an attempt to garner favor...?

Anonymous said...

Some comments...

********
"Another driver for a RIF is that fact that Los Alamos spends about 70% of its funds on labor and other labs spend less than 60%. We need to get our number down so that we have money for other things such as infrastructure."

This is ass-backwards thinking. The reason LANL spends 70% of its funds on labor is because of the bloated management and support orgs! Fix it, LANS! Instead of fixing this situation, LANS is getting ready to lay off a large segment of TSM scientists. Science is what this lab is about, not management and support. We are about to kill the goose that lays the golden age in return for putting up some shiny new buildings. This is pathetic!


*********
"Our severance pay rate is built into our contract. The Los Alamos severance is more generous than that of other sites. DOE does not like this, but can't change it until they are allowed to change the contract, which can't happen this year."

This sounds rather ominous. As if DOE hasn't already said "F.U!" to the staff loud enough, it sounds to me like DOE is probably planning to destroy severance pay at some future date. Come work at LANL at your own risk and be prepared for financial bankruptcy once you get laid off. That should have the top scientists beating down our doors to work here!


*********
"Note again that LANL does *not* have approval for a voluntary separation plan nor for an incentive. So, talk of such things is speculative."

Yeah, DOE just can't yell "F.U!" to the LANL staff loud enough, so they won't allow anything that sounds the least bit generous. I'm beginning to believe DOE is eager to see workers and this town suffer.


*********
"Some have been given exclusions – they won't be RIFed. For example, ADs and above are excluded from the RIF."

And what about the AD's staff? Are they, likewise, protected from this RIF? I suspect they are, as the AD's won't allow any layoffs to extend to those who work in their almighty midst.


*********
"Bechtel and the other contractors brought in about 210 people."

We have way too many people working at LANL already, yet LANS welcomes in over 200 Bechtelites. Who are these people and why were they allowed jobs at LANL given our budget situation? Every one of those RIFed in this next year should consider that a Bechtelite stood in their place and helped shoved them out the front door.


*********
"Wallace believes that if a worse-case reduction happened, for example, if we lost ¼ of the workforce all at once, then the Lab would have to shut down: Losing that many people would mean that we couldn't meet our compliance deadlines"

Yeah, compliance is everything at LANL today. Forget the science, compliance is all that matters. And, though we won't kick 25% of the workforce out THIS year, you can be sure that RIFs will be a continuing event each and every year from now on. LANL is going to be slowly downsized drop by drop, like a Chinese water torture. It's what NNSA wants so they can put up shiny new buildings. That's what is important in America these days. Forget about the science. Shiny new buildings are what this country needs to keep it safe and secure. Hey, let's get our good friends at Bechtel to construct these shiny new buildings for us!!! That will be just swell!


Face it, LANL has become a very sick place to work. It doesn't look like things are going to improve in the next few years. Indeed, if appears that morale will be sinking even lower and working conditions will only get worse. This lab has died, most of the staff just don't know it yet.

Anonymous said...

Why the rush to downsize LANL, LLNL, and Sandia?

A possible tale, based on Alberto Gonzales and the DoJ and standard partisan politics.

The administration realizes that it has lost Congress. In the next major election, the only position that might be in play is the presidency.

For Republicans to win the presidency, they need a tolerable candidate, a large war chest, and some sleight of hand.

Most companies are splitting their campaign contributions equally between the Democrats and the Republicans. So, normal means of raising a large war chest will not work.

Attempts to raise campaign contributions through politicizing cabinet departments have been found out and will no longer work.

The only department left to make more partisan is DoE.

So, privatize DoE labs quickly to Republican companies. In return for which get the non public companies that now run the Labs to give large campaign contributions. Contributions that public universities like UC can't give. Raise a lot of money, about $150,000,000.

The presidency can now be bought and will now stay in Republican hands.

A few thousand people will lose their jobs, but this is chump change with respect to the goal of retaining the presidency.

Anonymous said...

"If a voluntary separation happens, they want it done in 2 weeks."

MARVELOUS. How in the hell are we supposed to have any continuity on a project? It is clear that neither the DOE nor LANS gives a damn about getting work done. This is yet another nail in the coffin of WFO.

Anonymous said...

"Bechtel and the other contractors brought in about 210 people."

Shouldn't they be the first to be RIFfed?

Anonymous said...

"We have all been placed into job categories based on a skills inventory. They are broad like Physicist, chemist, and computer scientist, manager, etc."

As a matter of fact, the categories are even broader than this. For example, "Crafts", "Laborers", "Managers", "Technicians", "Professional Administrative", "Engineers", and "Scientists" (I think this is most of them).

"All internal transfers will be frozen during a RIF period so as not to confuse the job categories."

Tell me - why wouldn't internal transfers be allowed within these very broad categories? Scientists could take another scientist job without impacting the distribution between categories.

"Deciding factors for an involuntary RIF are: performance, capability, and seniority."

Seniority is a factor that can be considered, but it doesn't have to be. From what I was told recently, seniority as a factor is written into the plan to accomodate sites with employees subject to collective bargaining agreements. Layoff provisions in these agreements typically, if not always, are tied to seniority.

"The Los Alamos severance is more generous than that of other sites."

That's a correct statement. As was pointed out in a response to another recent post, LANL's severance package is (correct me if I'm wrong) one week for every year for the first six years, then two weeks for every year beyond six, up to a maximum of 39 weeks pay. LLNL is one week for every year up to a maximum of 26 weeks. NSTec (at the NTS) is one week for every year up to a maximum of 15 weeks.

The generosity of the LANL severance package sticks out like a sore thumb.

A LANL employee with 22-1/2 years would receive 39 weeks pay. A LLNL employee with 22-1/2 years would receive 22-1/2 weeks pay, and an NSTec employee with 22-1/2 years would receive 15 weeks pay. With 22-1/2 years, the LANL employee receives 73% more than a LLNL employee and 160% more than an NSTec employee. So quit whining and count your blessings. In essence you'll have 16-1/2 weeks more time than your LLNL counterpart to find a new job, and a full 24 weeks more than your NSTec counterpart.

In general, and acknowledging that this is a second-hand account of the talk, it seems as though this one particular AD needs to bone up on his facts before speaking with the employees on such an important topic.

Anonymous said...

"Rif of 25% means Lab death" thats B.S, it depends on ;wHAT dIVISION, WHAT SKILLS AND WAHT PROGRAMS TAKE THE CUTS. The Lab would be fine around 5000 FTE's .....This is another "scare tactic" that Wallace uses, (not sure why) ....And the real factor will be what Congress decides what our main mission will be, not Wallace...

Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine that any job applicant who reads this blog would consider LANL or LLNL for employment.

Anonymous said...

Wallace's lab death comment fits perfectly into the NNSA plan: LANL is so screwed up it can't/won't handle a budget cut, LLNL management can, we only need one weapons lab. What is NNSA to do?

Anonymous said...

"DOE is ultimately responsible for the pension plan"
Does this mean that unlike any other 'private' pension the government/DOE will guarantee the TCP1 retiree benefits at current levels?
I suspect if you try to get such a written guarantee from them they'll say a defaulted TCP1 plan responsibility falls to the pension benefit guarantee corporation.

Anonymous said...

It'll be interesting if somebody is denied the VSP because they are 'critical' given the fact they were screwed at raise time.

Anonymous said...

Please release me, let me go....

Pinky and The Brain said...

For I don't love you anymore!

Anonymous said...

In the medical community there is an acronym related to death called C.T.D. ("Circling the Drain"). It means the patient is spiraling downward, ever faster, soon to exit this life. LANL is in CTD mode.

Anonymous said...

The AD will make decisions about whether an individual will be allowed to take the voluntary separation. He may deny it because LANL has met its target or because the individual is crucial to a program. [So doing would simply create a disgruntled employee who will be leaving at the first opportunity anyway.]
. . .
Wallace is concerned that we are still not paying our best people well enough, and that is something that they want to fix.
* * *

Underpaid disgruntled workers with no job security doing critical functions. Wow.

Someone should write a book about this management style - call it "Recipe for Disaster"?

Anonymous said...

Using seniority as a consideration when deciding who to layoff? My, my...what a concept.

Anonymous said...

"The Los Alamos severance is more generous than that of other sites."

This is appropriate. When you get RIFfed at LLNL or at other DOE labs, there are other jobs in town or in nearby towns. At LANL that is not the case. You and your family will be moving but probably unable to sell your house except at a loss. The difference between the LANL and LLNL severance does not come close to taking this into account.

Anonymous said...

Here's a chuckle for today.
A Livermore buddy is concerned about LLNS and their RIF plans so he asked if I thought there might be some job openings at LANL.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he'd fit right in, if he's as oblivious as that.

Anonymous said...

"Wallace is concerned that we are still not paying our best people well enough, and that is something that they want to fix."

That means I'll be getting a big fat raise next year! If I don't get riffed this year that is. This member of the best-and-brightest club just doesn't know how to anticipate my future anymore.

Anonymous said...

"A Livermore buddy is concerned about LLNS and their RIF plans so he asked if I thought there might be some job openings at LANL." - 1:40 PM

Whoa! Stuff like this really scares me when I hear it. Kinda reminds me of that old saying: Somewhere a village is missing the town idiot.

Only the best and brightest at the NNSA labs, right?

Anonymous said...

"Wallace is concerned that we are still not paying our best people well enough, and that is something that they want to fix."

Wallace is a liar. He just held a meeting with the Fellows and couldn't explain why he personally fucked us over this year with our salaries - we all got shitty raises and none of the group has been aligned with each other or the so-called Senior Fellows. Aren't the Fellows "LANL's Best"? Double talk out of both sides of his ass. He doesn't give a crap about anyone but himself and his big bonuses.

Anonymous said...

...and this is news to you?

Anonymous said...

Is Wallace retarded? That is the only plausible explanation I can come to. Any person with even limited intelligence wouldn't...but Wallace does.

Reminds me of those "Mikey Likes it" commercials

Anonymous said...

Get the message - being associated with LANL / LANS does not imply "best and brightest". If you are intelligent and competent there are many places to go. I have been associated with LANL of for over 30 years, and I am now shamed by that fact.

LANL / LANS not conveys the "worst and dumbest" image. Why stay? I can only think of one reason - you can't find employement elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

If the Fellows are LANLs "Best", are they also "critical skills"? Are they exempt from both the RIF and the voluntary separation? Can we expect them to do real work now, and not just play an advisory role?

As for raises, the final UC salary list shows that most (not all) Fellows were in the $150-170K range. Their pay is comparable to group leaders. There are quite a few regular TSMs in the same pay range - must be the rest of the "critical skills" crew.

Anonymous said...

Regarding salaries, there are GLs and then there are GLs. Some GLs must go out and hustle WFO from non-NNSA sponsors and then make sure that deliverables are delivered in-spec, on-time, and in-budget. These individuals are very valuable and should be highly-compensated.

Other GLs, mostly those in overhead (e.ge., FM) groups or operations groups (e.g., DARHT & LANSCE) just get money handed to them every year. These individuals are not worth so much.

Of course, these days, there has been "rank inflation." Many groups are comparable to previous teams, many divisions are not much more than previous groups. And, with 16 Associate Directorates, that level has also been diminished.

So, with LANS, we got more management, not better management.

As far as Lab Fellows, only Senior Fellows are on scholarship. The "regular" fellows must do programmatic work.

Anonymous said...

"so he says a RIF of 25% means Lab Death. "

What's interesting is that LLNL is dealing with a potential cut of 20%. They aren't talking Lab Death.

I wonder where the real line is?

I don't think a 25% reduction in force in Jan or Feb at LLNL would affect the lab at all. We have no money and hundreds of people on the EBA list. I say let's get-her done and over with. I'm ready. Hell there's nothing left at these two facilities anyway. It's time to get in contact with a housing auctioneer and see what he or she can do for you. It's time to move to somewhere less populated and less likely to get hit by a terrorist attack.

Anonymous said...

"Wallace is a liar..
..He doesn't give a crap about anyone but himself and his big bonuses." (9:22 PM)

"Is Wallace retarded? That is the only plausible explanation" (8:58 AM)


Anyone who puts faith in what Terry tells them is treading on very thin ice. I don't know what it is with this man, but he regularly spouts off stuff that has no basis in facts and is know as someone who doesn't bother to back up his words.

He's not an evil or mean person, just a clueless one. It amazes me that someone like Terry was placed in such a critical position by LANS management.

Anonymous said...

"Wallace is concerned that we are still not paying our best people well enough, and that is something that they want to fix."

Oh yea, after meeting my PBI deliverable for FY07, I got a whopping 1.9% raise. Now that's paying your good performers!

Anonymous said...

10/26 9:11 am wrote:
As a matter of fact, the categories are even broader than this. For example, "Crafts", "Laborers", "Managers", "Technicians", "Professional Administrative", "Engineers", and "Scientists" (I think this is most of them).

Not true. Google "DOE Common Occupational Classification System." LANL uses the second tier categories (chemist, physicist...).

Anonymous said...

"Bechtel and the other contractors brought in about 210 people."

And at what salary levels? I doubt that any of them were brought in to contribute technically to any projects, so likely they are all on overhead. So, 210 people at an averaage of $100k-$150k each (and the average is likely higher), that's $21M-$31M.

And what did LANS get for all that money?

Anonymous said...

6:27 PM, LANS doesn't care - we the workers who bring in the money are paying for it. LANS got its 70 million dollar fee. That is all they care about.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe all of the tearing of hair over not being able to attract the "best and the brightest" or good postdocs in the future! Get a clue folks, they are not needed for pit manufacturing, which is the only reason NNSA needs LANL. To see your real future, go out and rent a copy of the "Silkwood" DVD.

Anonymous said...

Silkwood was lucky, she died.

Anonymous said...

4:47 PM wrote -
Oh yea, after meeting my PBI deliverable for FY07, I got a whopping 1.9% raise. Now that's paying your good performers!

Well, don't be too hard on yourself. I exceeded my PBI and brought in millions of dollars for LANL and I ended up with only a 1% raise. C-division has and continues to discriminate against women.

Anonymous said...

10:05, are you going to do the same thing again this year? If so, do you expect a different result?

Anonymous said...

"I exceeded my PBI and brought in millions of dollars for LANL and I ended up with only a 1% raise. C-division has and continues to discriminate against women."

C-division + female + millions of dollars brought in (ie not LDRD) = does not exist.

Only two women have brought in these numbers to C, and both moved to other organizations several years ago.

10:05 - you are a liar.

Anonymous said...

It's not surprising that you only got a 1% raise, 10:05 PM. LANS recently made it clear that they don't want staff to bring in any funding into LANL unless it has been explicitly authorized by Congress. You probably broke the new rules of Terry and Mike that are designed to help radically downsize LANL towards a Pit Factory future.

Anonymous said...

"One of Terry Wallace’s messages to us was that he *hopes* a voluntary separation plan will be approved by congress,..."

WTF, a voluntary separation plan needs to be approved by Congress?

Anonymous said...

11:33 : read 9:44.

Anonymous said...

10/28/07 9:44 AM, only two in the history of C Division? Wow, that's a pretty broad brush you're painting with. Care to name your two candidates?

Anonymous said...

Criteria =

- "I...brought in millions of dollars for LANL" = millions of dollars in EXTERNAL funding, which I approximate as >500K/year, for which the candidate was primarily responsible *

- female

- C-division (not it's predecessor CST, although that was 8-9 years ago and probably does not change the picture; if you go back to INC/CLS, then you are just playing semantics)

Neu is the only one I can think of, with BES and EMSP.


* you need a sufficiently short money flux, otherwise any chump with a smattering of BES over 2 decades can hit a million dollars

** also the money has to be relatively recent, unless 10:05 is trying to take credit for millions brought in a long time ago, so yes, I only count recent history not all of history

Anonymous said...

OK snarky 5:26 PM - Neu is only one. Name another.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of Sauer, but on reflection, her money was internal. Vital, programmatic, etc, but internal.

To be fair, few men have met the criteria of millions + C-div. C tends to provide tech support to other technical divisions such as nuclear analysis and remote sensing.

Anonymous said...

7:47 PM & 8:35 PM - Tammy Taylor formerly of C-Division and then a N-Division GL, no longer at the Lab. She brought in over $5 million which was one of the first big scores that LANL had from DARPA.

Anonymous said...

Ruggiero wrote most of Neu's bio proposals, so she ought to at least share credit for Mary's millions.

Kim Thomas was central to landing the WFO activities that now fund C-NR.

Jen Hollingsworth

Cynthia Mahan

Sandy Wagner

Jeanne Robinson

Anonymous said...

10:05 here. Funny how 9:00 PM and 9:23 PM fail to mention any guys. And didn't Kim Thomas get fired from her DDL post? Like I said, C-division has and continues to discriminate against women.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your adding Taylor to the list, but she is long gone as well.

The "Thomas" money has been coming in for 15 years, and is on auto pilot. Count it if you wish, but it started when she was a GL. Anyway, isn't she long gone as well?

Anonymous said...

I think the real story here is 9:44 AM's oh-so-casual:

"Only two women have brought in these numbers to C, and both moved to other organizations several years ago."

Isn't it amazing how 9:44 talks about these departures as if they are not just acceptable but even to be expected? Are you guys betting on how fast you can run them off, or what?

Anonymous said...

Umm, actually they were promoted, not run off.