Dec 9, 2007

Lab employees vent frustrations on blog

By Betsy Mason, STAFF WRITER

A record of some of the most negative feelings circulating through Lawrence Livermore Laboratory was posted on a blog titled "LLNL: The Final Story," which has re-emerged as "LLNL: The True Story" (

Some employees have taken to venting their frustrations and anxiety on the blog, which is filled with venom, anxiety and accusations.

"I think there's a lot more to come, and they're just feeding you the bad news a little at a time so you don't have heart failure," one anonymous blogger wrote Nov. 27. "It's time to break out the life jackets because this ship (LLNL) is going down."

"Realistically the entire idea of taking us out from under UC was the biggest waste of money I have ever seen," said another contributor.

The blog has also become a repository for rumors, including these: There are plans to cut the workforce in half, most of the work at the lab will be outsourced, and the lab will close during the holidays to save money. One of the most persistent rumors that extends well beyond the blog has been that the director and upper-level management received raises that more than doubled their pay.

A review of the salaries of a dozen or so managers, which are still public information because they are partly paid by the University of California, shows that although upper-management employees did get raises, no salaries doubled, or even approached that.

Lab director George Miller's salary was bumped $19,600 to $410,000, director of science and technology Cherry Murray's salary stayed at $337,000 and National Ignition Facility head Ed Moses' pay rose $18,000 to $330,000. And just like the rest of the employees, those raises have not yet gone into effect.

And as for the managers who came in from Bechtel and the other managing companies, Miller said, "They are in the same salary structure as the rest of the laboratory."

[Congrats Scooby!]


Anonymous said...

"Cherry Murray's salary stayed at $337,000 "

That name sounds very familliar. Oh, yes ... Bell Labs. This person was in charge when Hendrick Schon conducted the biggest act of scientific fraud in physics history. So the head of physical science at Bell Labs went to upper management at LLNL after that debacle?

Anonymous said...

So are the new Bechtel employees salary $410,000, $337,000 $330,000. Note they didn't tell you the facts only they've become part of the good old boy system that make the big bucks.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the rumor years ago about Mikey making $1.3M. Did anyone ever confirm this slary. Did anyone ever get a slary sheet should what all of the ULM at Los Alamos makes. The people of LLNL would like to know since this article says non of this is true for LLNL's ULM, or at least that is what the editor was told. If Besty is smart she'll dig into this herself and not take the word of ULM, or, maybe print what they tell her at the interview then dig up the truth and write that article too, making ULM appear to be _what ever they are_.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the same posters exist on the LLNL blog.

Anonymous said...

From a document on the UC Regents website:


• During his five-year appointment as LANS President/LANL Director, will receive an
annual non-base building supplement in the amount of $100,000 in addition to his base
salary of $367,000 ($350,000 paid by LANS and $17,700 by the University).
• Automobile allowance of $743 per month.
• Following his service at LANS and when he retires, the purchase of an annuity (or buy-
back of UCRP service credit if appropriate) in the amount necessary to compensate for
the loss in pension benefits attributable to his actual period of service at LANS rather
than remaining under the UC Retirement Plan, to be calculated by appropriately off-
setting the amount of employer contributions that he will have received in the LANS
market-based benefit package.
• If he is terminated without cause prior to the end of his five-year term, or resigns from
his position after two years but before five years, and accepts an appointment proposed
by the University, his then-existing base salary as Laboratory Director, not including the
$100,000 University-paid salary supplement referred to above, will be guaranteed for the
balance of the 5-year period.
• Participate in the newly-proposed LANS performance incentive bonus program, which
may provide up to 20% of base pay.
• The source of funding for these items is UC’s portion of the DOE management fee.

The compensation described above shall constitute the University's total commitment until modified by The Regents.

Anonymous said...

> The compensation described above
> shall constitute the University's
> total commitment until modified by
> The Regents.

What about Bechtel's commitment?
How much are the upper management getting from them in addition to what they are receiving from the University's "commitment"?

Anonymous said...

LANS also replied this Summer 2007 to a formal request from Congress for the salaries of the upper management. See the PDF at http:// /Investigations /LANL.QFR.resptoAnastasio.QFR.ltr.pdf at the site http:// Investigations/LANL.shtml

Anonymous said...

On viewing the salaries over at the House site, remember to add on an additional 20% for the executive bonus. The LANS response memo lists salary and fringe but conveniently forgot to add in the bonuses, even though bonus info was requested by Congress.

Anonymous said...

I spent most of last night reviewing the salary of every employee in my division based upon the UPTE file on their website. If management were to reduce the salary of each ex-manager down to something more in line with their current, reduced responsibilities, my division could save almost $2 million a year. Why aren't we looking at things like this before going to a RIF? How many other divisions could save a similar amount or even more?

Anonymous said...

Poster 4:24 PM, you have a good point. The fact that LANL seems to allow former managers to hold positions with made-up names (i.e., Chief Scientist, etc) and keep the salaries at their former levels is a scandal. However, it's part of the tradition of the good ol' boy network at the lab. It will never change, even if needed to help stop a RIF.

Anonymous said...

8:42 PM ... just look at the most of the people that make up the Contract Assurance Office and hold top positions in STB.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and let's not forget that we had to find a position for Bill Priedorsky who needs a possee of over 15 to do what Watkins did on a meager budget ... and Watkins did not need a deputy!

Anonymous said...

there is no desire at LANL to eliminate waste. after many years of trying to increase results i am convinced - waste is not the target.
all you have to do is convert the $41 million "slush fund" at KSL to LANL FTEs (using the director's $100M/750fte ratio) and you see the waste of 300 FTEs...hmmmmmm!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Gussie could open up a new thread where folks do the same type of "research" on their own organization. Maybe LANS management needs this spelled out for them...

Anonymous said...

If $100M / 750 FTE is the formula to be used for the RIF then we need to can ~ 3,750 people to bring the budget into stability. Will all of those people be removed from LANL before FY-08 ends. Isn't LANL in the holes $450M or has that been reduced? Using the same formula for LLNL I'd say they need to dump 2,250 people before end FY-08. What the heck. Lets give ourselves a little buffer zones in prepartion for futre budget cuts and make it an even 4000 at LANL and 3000 at LLNL that way we can skip a RIF for 2009 and wait until 2010 when NIF is done.

Anonymous said...

The solution isn't paycuts, layoffs, furloughs, or deferred maintenance to pay for the exorbitant LANS costs. The solution is for Congress to direct DOE/NNSA to dump LANS and return to a not-for-profit manager. LANS can immediately restructure as necessary if the LANS managers want to stay employed. How? LANS can put UC in charge and demote the other partners in the LLC to subcontractors. LANS can refile as a not-for-profit.

LANS would be run by the same exact monkeys, but $160M would be returned to the LANL annual budget. $1B over the duration of the LANS contract.

The LANS rape of LANL would come to a swift end.

When DOE realizes that these LANS monkeys can't run the lab, they can always recompete the contract.

Contact your Congressperson and ask him/her to request the GAO do a study on the cost-effectiveness of LANS and LLNS.

Anonymous said...

Do you think UC really wants to be "in charge" of LANL and LLNL at this point?

What makes you think the "$160M would be returned to the LANL annual budget"?

Anonymous said...

Actually, 7:48AM points out what would be the perverse outcome of switching us back to a "UC-like" model: $160M in savings would be announced and deducted from the budget.

It's not a symmetric system.

Anonymous said...

6:31am has described an all too-familiar fallacy of logic: the logical conclusion of potential outcome while 7:48am interjected a reasoned, tried and true inquiry. 9:03am has offered the most likely, rather than pessimestic, projection.

Anonymous said...

Congress is eagerly waiting to see more problems arise at LANL so they can hold public hearings and shout,

"You mean we are now paying $175 M to run Los Alamos, and the problems are still occuring? This is outrageous! Shut the place down!!!".

I give it about 2 more years before we see severe downsizing at LANL and a trajectory that takes us to becoming nothing more than a low volume pit production facility.

Anonymous said...

"there is no desire at LANL to eliminate waste." - 10:54 PM

More truthful words have never been uttered! If anything, LANL's waste-to-work ratio appears to be getting worse under LANS.

LANS only needs to make sure that safety and security look like they have been measurable improved. They will accomplish this through the use of intimidation and fear, more management layers, and more inane policies that are rigorously enforced. If they concentrate on safety and security, NNSA will be happy and the LANS executive team will receive a 20% end of year bonus. The rest of you will have to be happy with a more miserly 2% salary increase.

Safety and security is probably the only "work" that LANS is interested in performing at LANL for the next few years. Both NNSA and LANS have to make it appear that the $175 M increase in operating cost has accomplished something which Congressmen can easily appreciate. Scientific progress is too nebulous a concept for Congressmen to grasp.

Anonymous said...

Tom D'Agostino comes out of an outhouse with a grim look on his face.

"What's wrong?" says Sammy Bodman, "why so glum?"

"I dropped a quarter down the one-holer," says Tom, totally dejected.

"Oh, my! You haven't had such bad luck since you sent $8m to the University of California to run Los Alamos," says slimy Sammy with a look of indigestion worse than Wednesday at the LANL cafeteria.

"Why I have an idea," says Tom, "loan me $20 dollars, will ya?"

"What for Tom, my trusted administrator?"

"You don't think I'm going down there after just a quarter, do ya?"

"What a clever idea, Tom, here's a $100, that'll work even better!"

And that's the precise moment when the idea for LANS came to be.

Anonymous said...

I had a nasty thought yesterday. What if this blog was just a "storefront" for a covert LANS operation to ferret out the identities of all the Lab's miscreants in preparation for an involuntary RIF? Gussie is Rich Marquez and Pinky is Chris Chandler, and posting just *looks* anonymous. And like the good undercover agents they are, our blogmeisters occasionally egg us on by pretending to be sympathetic.

Anonymous said...

Here's an even better one, 7:02 AM.

What if a poster who works for LANS top management placed a post with a conspiracy story that this blog was really operated by LANS, and he made up this wild story as a means to scare people away from the blog.

That sounds to me like a far more credible scenario.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Add 7:02 AM to the RIF list, Rich... err I mean Gussie.

Anonymous said...

Another LLNL blog bites the big one!

12-19-07 RIP

Pinky and The Brain said...

I don't see any announcement and Scooby posted something just yesterday. Why do you say it's bit the dust?

Maybe double check the URL: