Nov 30, 2007

Window opens for voluntary departures

Window opens for voluntary departures

By ROGER SNODGRASS, Monitor Assistant Editor

The voluntary program to reduce the workforce at Los Alamos National Laboratory began Wednesday, after formal approval from the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The program is an effort to reduce the workforce by 500-750 employees, in order to avoid an involuntary selection of individuals for lay-offs. If the total reaches 750, that would amount to about 9 percent of regular laboratory employees.
Some employees may find they are not eligible to resign. As laboratory director Michael Anastasio explained in previous communications, some employees will not qualify for the restructuring program.

Workers in defined classifications with critical skills or strategic responsibilities and managers defined as key personnel under LANL’s government contract will not be allowed leave under the self-selection plan.

Eligible employees were to receive notices Wednesday, as were employees who are excluded from the voluntary program. About 7 percent of the workforce will be excluded, Anastasio has said.
In an all-employee memo on Wednesday, Laboratory Deputy Director Jan Van Prooyen opened the first phase of the restructuring plan, requesting employees who are interested in stepping down from their jobs to fill out an application before Dec. 6.

Another work week is allowed for the employee to change his or her mind – before Dec. 13.
Van Prooyen detailed a schedule to notify applicants by Dec. 20, whether their application had been accepted or not.

The post-holiday week of Jan. 2 through Jan. 8 would be devoted to employee departure meetings, so that accepted employees would be separated from the laboratory as of Jan. 10.

“Today was the first day for people to apply,” said lab spokesman Kevin Roark Wednesday. “The process is fairly well structured, and we won’t announce how many people have applied until folks are notified whether they have been accepted.”

Van Prooyen said the laboratory proposal that Anastasio has outlined to employees and state legislators was approved by NNSA, with one main difference.

The laboratory had proposed evaluating possible job cuts within its “flexible workforce,” to follow approval of voluntary departures in the first phase.

“The flexible workforce is made up of limited term employees and “other contractors,” Roark said, “basically those contractors aside from KSL and PTLA.”

Roark said no specific number had been projected for trimming the flexible workforce.
“It’s whatever can be done appropriately without damaging the long-term viability of meeting our commitments, and another hedge against the unknown,” he said.

Van Prooyen’s memo indicated the laboratory had amended a policy in the Laboratory Administrative Manual “to remove a provision prohibiting a Self-Selection Program.”
Citing concern about community impacts, lab officials have scheduled two community information sessions to discuss the workforce restructuring plan next week.

Employees were encouraged to consult a special internal website and attend internal laboratory informational sessions, two-hour daily meetings that began Wednesday and continue through Tuesday.

The laboratory will host an informational session in Pojoaque from 7-9 p.m. Monday at the Cities of Gold Conference Center.

A second meeting is scheduled to take place from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday in Los Alamos at Duane Smith Auditorium.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like these types of "meeting" will be a regular part of LANL for the forseeable future, Sen Domenici was quoted in a New Mexican article: "the House cut labs (LANL)budget by 25% for FY 08"! Wow with those kinds of cuts, Mikey need to find another 2,000+ more employees to RIF....

Anonymous said...

750 employees out the door by Jan. 08, to make room for the big hit, about 1,880-2000 FTE's by early April 08. Got House?

Anonymous said...

I think after all of the doom and gloom news in Los Alamos, the Business Community is ready to pack their bags, and leave us with only "Smiths"....

Anonymous said...

Rome took awhile to fall,,, LANL will fall in 1-2 years, Mikey is still running around trying to figure out what to do...He really thought Sen Dominic was going to bale his butt out , just like he has done in the past, but as a lame brain... ooops I mean a lame duck he has no power left...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen Mikey lately? Jan seems to be doing all the meetings.

Is Mikey hiding in an undisclosed location in the "Management Protection Program?"

Anonymous said...

Poster 8:20
What is your information source? I heard contrary information from my manager. I was told that letting more people go this spring will not solve the budget problem for this fiscal year because it is so late in the year and that other means will be used to make up the budget deficit.

Anonymous said...

Typical of DOE. I tried to find out about the SSP from the LASO website but their 'recent update' link doesn't work. No information on the LANL site either. And now I'm told that LANS considers the SSP plan a corporate secret.
Do they really expect us to trust them and just sign up?
I asked management what formula is being used to calculate losing severance since you can get at most 9 months severance but you're penalized if you return to DOE within a year. They don't know and can't find out.

Anonymous said...

9:44 Do you belive your manager?

Anonymous said...

9:44 What planet are you on....too late in the year to Riff? Hey if you don't have money you can't pay employees...duh....cuts in other locations like what? Your manager is full of BS.

Anonymous said...

"Poster 8:20 What is your information source? I heard contrary information from my manager. I was told that letting more people go this spring will not solve the budget problem for this fiscal year because it is so late in the year and that other means will be used to make up the budget deficit." - 11/30/07 9:44 AM

We might be forced to take other drastic actions that temporarily save money, yet don't require severance payouts to cover for additional layoffs.

Think reduced hours in the work week. We go into a 4-day work week (no one works on any of the Fridays), along with a associated drop in staff pay to cover for the reduced hours.

Viola! Budget problems for FY08 are fixed and everyone gets an extra day off to relax in return for the reduced hours and pay.

I'm not advocating this be done, but it has been used in other places when budgets hit a brick wall. However, it's only a temporary solution. Long term budgetary problems can only be solved in one of two ways; either bring in more cash or lay off more staff.

Anonymous said...

Nothing done thus far would appear to be dealing with the needs which include:

1. Reducing the workforce to a level that can be supported by realisitically-anticitpated budgets.

2. Restructuring the workforce to produce the reduction in overhead rates that is necessary to bring in WFO.

Things like four-day workweeks (with proportionately reduced pay) are really only very temporary solutions. This would not reduce the fixed costs of operating the laboratory which include: facilities maintenance, management fee, employee medical benefits, etc.

Right now it is essential to bite the bullet and RIF down the workforce to a sustainable level and then to get on with our work. Too much effort is being spent on the RIF.

Anonymous said...

That's fine, 1:30. You go first.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11/30/07 1:35 PM said...
"That's fine, 1:30. You go first."

I am 1:30 PM. Over the past five years, I annually brought in enough WGO funding to cover myself and four or five others plus play the exhorbitant overhead taxes.

How much did you bring in?

The problem is that as the taxes rise, at some point, the sponsors will just say "NO!"

Read about killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the window opens. Time to jump through it.
It swings in and out, so don't let it hit your ass on the way out.

Anonymous said...

The other ~1300 to cut are the contractors and limited terms. They are being evaluated now and the plan is to eliminated the selected ones along with the voluntary. I got this from senior management this week. This along with the <750 volunteer will make up the 25% that need to go to meet this "crisis".

Eric said...

1:30 PM

The trick seems to be in determining what 'sustainable level' means.

In the past, 'sustainable level' referred to funding, not projects, that would come in each year. Projects could take many years, but as long as there was funding that could be used for the project each year, the project could get done.

It appears that now 'sustainable level' refers to this year only. So science research that takes more than one year to complete will no longer be welcome because DOE only funds one year at a time.

Is this what you had in mind with the term 'sustainable level.'

Anonymous said...

Poster 1:41 PM, I'm feeling the same pain as you. I've been bringing in WFO funding for many years to help feed the LANL 'Money Monster', but it's quickly coming to the point that it is no longer sustainable because of high FTE rates and stealth taxation. LANL also seems to offer very little in the way of true support for WFO projects. Everyone at LANL wants a cut of the incoming money, but no one really wants to offer value for what they take out.

Unless the FTE rates are brought down, and quickly, there is no way that LANL will be able to diversify into more WFO projects. You can't hide an average FTE rate of $450 K per year from outside sponsors. Maybe you can hide it from NNSA, but not from outside sponsors.

Good luck with your move, 1:41 PM.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11/30/07 5:36 PM writes of "stealth taxation."

Yes, that is a really bad thing that has been going on for a long time. The most blatant example was when Nanos made us charge all but the first week of the standdown to our programs. When you have put in a proposal to deliver a product and then laboratory management tells you to use those funds to do the standdown nonsense, you have breached your "contract" with the sponsor. A number of sponsors cancelled their programs. But, it seemed that nobody who mattered gave a damn.

This "stealth taxation" is fundamentally fraudulent. GAO should look into this and put an end to it. I would not at all be surprised to see parking meters and pay toilets in the near future.

What I fail to understand is why management continues to protect the overhead organizations to to detirment on the laboratory. We have reached the point where WOF is damned near impossible to bring in.

Anonymous said...

4:27, there are about 800-850 total LT and contractors.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is thinking that WFO will sustain his or her future at LANL needs to think again. WFO only exists because of facilities and capabilities established and maintained by DOE/NNSA. DOE/NNSA will always charge other agencies top dollar to "rent" these facilities and capabilities. Otherwise, DOE/NNSA will simply close them down, leaving nothing for other agencies to "hire." Also, expect DOE/NNSA to more strictly enforce the "non-interference" clause in their WFO order, meaning if DOE has any use for the facility or capability, it cannot be used by another agency. But, if DOE has no use for it, it will be closed down. Catch 22!

BTW, for "facility or capability" above, include "personnel."

Anonymous said...

ALONG the LANL streets, the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh.

Anonymous said...

This "stealth taxation" is fundamentally fraudulent.

Hmmmm.... Really? I look around, it seems like the cost of gas is increasing. I grocery shop and buy the same items and they seem to slowly cost more and more. The housing market (except for LA) has generally appreciated, new cars cost more, there is an inflation effect, need I continue?

Do you really not understand why the cost to operate the aging specialized facilities, the continual increased security costs due to careless infractions.

Sure there are signficant tokens and deadwood in the support organizations.

Stealth taxation....? Sounds a little fanatical, paranoid, and well quite dumb.

Anonymous said...

When Anastasio told the staff that this RIF would not save any money in FY '08, he was lying again.

Livermore has announced their layoffs will be in (reverse) seniority order within the job categories identified for reduction - last in, first out. "As required by contract and procedures".

LANS will implement a similar seniority-based approach for the involuntary RIF thus limiting severance payouts. LANS will start to save money by March.

Why would Anastasio lie to the staff? Beyond him simply being a habitual lier, it's so he can keep up the charade that this RIF is to prepare for the future and is not a direct consequence of the LANS fee and LANS bonuses.

My bet is that LANS (mis)Managers will also disapprove voluntary separation of many self-identified long-term staff with 39 weeks of severance pay owed.

Anonymous said...

I thought LLNL was currently in the process of trimming the flexible part of their workforce, not their career employees?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/1/07 5:07 AM writes:

"My bet is that LANS (mis)Managers will also disapprove voluntary separation of many self-identified long-term staff with 39 weeks of severance pay owed."

That would be very interesting. This is a two-edged sword. The individuals who would get 39 weeks of severance are of course long-term employees and are at the high-end of compensation within their respective peer groups. So the trade off is to pay a lot of money now to get rid of them or pay a lot of money in salary and retirement costs by keeping them.

The solution to this delima will no doubt earn Mikey and his minions large bonuses.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/1/07 12:41 AM states:

"Stealth taxation....? Sounds a little fanatical, paranoid, and well quite dumb."

This person was clearly not been involved in dealing with a WFO sponsor during the Admiral's standdown. Sponsors of unclassified work were not at all interested in having their project's funds exhausted while we sat around doing no work that related to their project.

Anonymous said...

"Stealth taxation....? Sounds a little fanatical, paranoid, and well quite dumb" (12/1/07 12:41 AM)

Prime example of someone at LANL who is most likely part of the problem and not part of the solution. Costs at LANL have gone up much faster than inflation over the last few years. Poster 12:41 AM is the dumb one.

Anonymous said...

I agree, 12:41AM doesn't know what he's talking about. "Stealth taxation" has been bleeding my programs dry. The latest new surprise tax is the new 3.5% to pay for CTN, yet we were given a briefing on just how little you get in return for your new tax. In our group, the new tax represents a full FTE of expense, yet virtually no support for our Macs and Linux computers. In response to our complaints, we were told to request a change for FY09. Fat chance.

Anonymous said...

"My bet is that LANS (mis)Managers will also disapprove voluntary separation of many self-identified long-term staff with 39 weeks of severance pay owed."

This is a weird statement. Managers have a powerful incentive to accept as many volunteers as possible (e.g. avoidance of lawsuits, workplace violence, and generalized stress and dysfunction among the survivors). I expect there will be very, very few people turned down for the SSP.

Anonymous said...

Poster 12:41 AM is undoubtedly working in an overhead organization. S/he exudes the entitlement mentality of many of those people. Many of them do not seem to understand that THEY ARE NOT the reason for the laborotory's existence.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think that LANS management cares at all how many of the SSPs get the max 39 weeks of severance at high salaries. Since the beginning it has been quite clear that neither LANS management nor the DOE give a damn about how much things cost or whether or not any work gets done.

Anonymous said...

12/1/07 12:41 AM, do you really not see the ghastly inefficiences and excesses around you? Professionals deployed to FOD organizations, having to request management level approval to buy a friggin' pencil? - and the the DPR has it delivered to the wrong drop point? Scientists with 6-figure salaries spending a half-day trying to upload receipts into Concur for reimbursements (and WTF with Karen Pao's letter to the Readers' Forum this week?!) Sys admins who spend half of their time documenting work tickets in Footprints for every time they fart, so that their idiot managers will think they are productive workers?

Anonymous said...

But the good news is everything will be better after this RIF.

Anonymous said...

Probably trying to keep her job and show she's not a complainer, just like everybody else. Gotta cut people some slack, with everything that's going on.

Anonymous said...

Mikey is on a cruise. Needed a little R&R after a job well done. He did his part, now he's on a 15 day luxury cruise. That's why you haven't seen him roaming around. What do you think of that?

Anonymous said...

12/1/07 10:44 AM

12/1/07 12:02 PM

quick to place blamne (12:41 here) I do not work in an overhead organization.

You do seem to care how your tax dollars are spent? I do, and I get pissed off when I walk around and see how much money is wasted..bbbbbut we're doing science.

I will agree that accounting and finance is poorply managed, and you are right that some of these taxes do not make sense. I will also agree there are alot of tokens and dead weight in the support orgs. Where else could they go?

This crap about "stealth" is exactly that. Crap.

Anonymous said...

"I thought LLNL was currently in the process of trimming the flexible part of their workforce, not their career employees?"

They're starting with the flexible workforce - a large contingent out the door NLT January 31st. This will be followed by the career employees - in the late March timeframe.

Anonymous said...

"Livermore has announced their layoffs will be in (reverse) seniority order within the job categories identified for reduction - last in, first out. "As required by contract and procedures"."

That's not what I heard here in Livermore - except maybe bargaining unit employees. Seniority is less important than SKAs needed to continue the mission (at least that part of the mission that will continue) and job performance.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 3:46, it is spelled "blame" and not "blamne". And try "poorly" instead of "poorply".

12:41 AM/3:46 PM... Obviously a very poor speller. Regardless of what s/he says, s/he is mostly likely one of the poorly educated workers you frequently see in support or someone who acts as an aid in one of our many management offices.

Her barely cloaked hostility to scientists at LANL easily gives her away. I've seen this same attitude among many of the support workers.

Anonymous said...

"Mikey is on a cruise."


Anonymous said...

Can you outsource your support orgs? How much money would that save? At least it might save some scientists.

Anonymous said...

> And try "poorly" instead of
> "poorply".

No, he meant, "pooply." As in, "... accounting and finance is pooply managed..."

Anonymous said...

12/1/07 8:45 PM

12:41 / 3:46 here. You are the only one to get it.

It was a combination of poop and poor

Anonymous said...

and how scientists are managed........

Please respond with an intelligent argument.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding about the story of Mike being on a cruise, right? I can't believe he would take off on a pre-Holiday vacation while LANS is getting ready to implement work force reductions. Please tell me this is some sort of sick joke.

I suppose if we don't see Mike's black sports car parked in the Director's slot over the next 2 weeks at LANL, then we can begin to suspect that this story has some truth to it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/1/07 7:30 PM said...

"Can you outsource your support orgs? How much money would that save?"

That is what a lot of REAL companies do. But, about 10 years ago when LANL considered outsourcing, the plan was to oursource D division which was primarily WFO. The sponsors made threats and the oursourcing idea was dropped.

Anonymous said...

"You've got to be kidding about the story of Mike being on a cruise, right?"

It is consistent with everything else including his living in Santa Fe, maintaining a home in Livermore, car, bonuses, and perks. And you think he should plan his "well-earned" vacation at a less offensive time? Or maybe even return or donate his bonus? Right.

Mike is following the "Art of Demotivation" quite well. See , especially the video,

"Creating Social Distance

Face-to-face interaction of executives with their employee subordinates is an unfortunate necessity in most organizations. However distasteful, such exchanges do provide fertile opportunities for the seeding of Radical Demotivation™ in the employee psyche. In this segment, Dr. E.L. Kersten explains one of several disconfirmational communication tactics which can be helpful in disabusing employees of their narcissistic delusions of parity. "

Welcome to the corporate world!

Anonymous said...

"Mikey is on a cruise."

Was it the same cruise that ran into an iceberg in Antarctica?

Anonymous said...

LANS must be handing out Dr. E.L. Kersten's "The Art of Demotivation" book to all the PADs and ADs. Mike probably has the special leather bound Chairmen's Edition.

Anonymous said...

Check out the T-Shirts at the Demotivation site. Ouch! These really hurt.

My favorite was,

but never thought they'd be so bad, so long, and so frequent."

Anonymous said...

"You've got to be kidding about the story of Mike being on a cruise, right?"

Why the heck not? At least he's (presumably) using his own bonus to pay for the cruise. Whereas ADCLES took a two-week European tour with her hubby and charged it all to your overhead nickel. Not to worry, I'm sure it's going to result in a new influx of money from, uh... Europe?

Zeke said...

We need to cut the deadwood at all levels within the Lab, not just in support organizations. It's the deadwood that perpetuates the myth of the cush "labbie" job. Unfortunately, the RIFs will likely occur to those who are the most hungry and eager to work hard, not the deadwood who are riding the gravy train at others expense. In this case, if the deadwood falls in the forest, a lot of people will hear.