Jan 3, 2008

Doing WFO homework


Somebody in the U.S. House of Reps is doing a little background digging into the WFO situation at LANL. Perhaps Udall's office is belatedly checking out the feasibility of the rather puzzling suggestion that Udall made to Anastasio last month, indicating that LANL needed to diversify itself into areas of alternate energy research. I hope whichever House minion was reading the blog this morning didn't miss this post: Energy lab looking at bright future.

I still wonder what the hell Udall was thinking when he publicly told Bill Dupuy of KSFR News that he, Udall, would "hold Anastasio accountable for diversifying the lab". Was he, as others have suggested, simply laying the groundwork for being able say a year from now, "I told LANL they needed to diversify," when LANL's FY'09 NNSA budget takes another big hit?

Or was he ignorant of NNSA's new rules about what kinds of WFO they will allow at their NNSA labs. Does Udall have a clue about how impossible it is to recruit WFO at today's exorbitant LANL FTE rates, even if NNSA would allow it? Does he know what LANL's current FTE rates are, and how they compare to what they were before LANS was handed the contract?

And what about the fact that a National Renewable Energy Laboratory already exists?

Udall makes no sense to me on the issue of WFO at LANL.

-Gus

20 comments:

frank said...

Why not contact him directly, and maybe even invite him to participate on this Blog??

http://www.tomudall.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=223

Doug Roberts said...

Not a bad idea, Frank.

Since I doubt that Congressman Udall would seriously consider an invitation to participate on the blog from moderators named either Pinky and the Brain, or Gussie Fink-Nottle, I was happy to send the invitation myself. Here is the email that I just sent to Congressman Udall:


Dear Congressman Udall,

The interview that you gave to Bill DuPuy of Santa Fe's KSFR Public Radio Station on 12/19/2007 has raised some questions about the feasibility of Los Alamos National Laboratory diversifying into Work For Others (WFO) programmatic areas, such as alternative energy research.

The issues and questions on this topic are currently being discussed on the "Lanl, The Rest of the Story" blog: http://lanl-the-rest-of-the-story.blogspot.com/.

One reader of the blog suggested that you should be invited to participate in the discussion, and possibly clear up some of the questions that have been aired. Should you chose to do so, the relevant post on the blog is

http://lanl-the-rest-of-the-story.blogspot.com/2008/01/doing-wfo-homework.html

This blog post also contains a link to a podcast of Bill DuPuy's 12/19/2007 interview of you.

Please consider this message as an invitation to share your thoughts with us.

Regards,

Doug Roberts
LANL, Retired 2005

Anonymous said...

Another relevant suggestion:

Congressman Tom Udall could personally call, by telephone, Dr. C. Paul Robinson, previous successful director at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), previously 18 years (1967-1985) at LANL, and now chairman for the Space Operations Committee, for the NASA Advisory Council, regarding the "WFO issue" at LANL today.

(Dr. C. Paul Robinson could also be invited to this blog, regarding the above mentioned topic, and also give his comment about the LANS, LLC "leadership" since June 1, 2006 at LANL.)

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Thanks, Doug, for taking the initiative to invite Congressman Udall to participate in the discussion here.

I will take it upon myself to keep the dialog on this post clean and as non-contentious as feasible.

-Gus

Anonymous said...

3:26,

I seriously doubt that Paul Robinson would have any interest in participating in a discussion here. It is my understanding that he is thoroughly disgusted with LANS' piss-poor performance to date as LANL's new contractor.

However, if you have reason to believe differently and think that he would be willing to contribute to the discussion here, then perhaps an invitation for him to participate on the blog might not be a bad idea. I would be astonished if he agreed to do so, though.

Anonymous said...

"Or was he ignorant of NNSA's new rules about what kinds of WFO they will allow at their NNSA labs?"

How about "Or is he ignorant"?

Anonymous said...

Just a small point; just because there is one alternative energy lab (NREL) does not mean that others cannot do alternative energy research at their labs. For example, by that logic, only one National Security Lab (LLNL, LANL or SNL) should exist, and no other labs would be doing national security work. Since all three labs exist, and national security research is done at labs other than the three NNSA labs, the argument doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

No offense, guys, but what possible benefit could there be in having either Udall or Robinson comment here. Would it lower our FTE rates? Would it change NNSA's policy about WFO or their plans to limit LANL's mission to pit production?

I don't think so.

frank said...

I don't know the details, but I believe at one time there was just ORNL and then they created Y12 and K25 as separate NNSA entities and ORNL became just a science Lab!!

If true, then maybe that fact can be leveraged to due something similar for LANL!!

PS to Gus..Is there a way to embed a spell checker in this comment section??

frank said...

1/3/08 8:21 PM....Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Why not? There doesn't seem to be anything else happening at the worker level. This is OUR forum. Let’s make it work to our advantage.

Anonymous said...

1/3/08 8:21 PM,
You commented and it didn't lower our FTE rates nor change NNSA's policy about WFO nor their plans to limit LANL's mission to pit production. Yet you think we want to hear your opinion and not hear Udall's or Robinson's?

I don't think so.

MrsFB said...

I've flown to Washington, DC and visited with Udall's, Bingaman's, Domenici's & Pearce's staff on a topic that was important to me and many other New Mexico families - childhood cancer and the research that needs commitment and funding - and ask for their commitment. In some ways it was frustrating as Udall's office has sent automated form letters and not seemed to give a moment's thought to the issue.

The trip wasn't cheap nor did I have a lot of time to make a leisurely vacation of the trip but the issue was important enough to me to get off my duff and at least try to get some attention for the bill(s) (S.911 and HR.1553) that are active and pertinent so our elected officials would know that they work for us even if they are on the east coast and living a detached life from those they represent. (Wilson's office didn't provide an appointment but later signed on as a co-sponsor so I'm glad for that. Bingaman & Domenici are supporting the Senate bill also. Pearce's office has not signed on to co-sponsor.)

That's what I think is going to have to happen if you/we want any elected official's attention: we're going to have to make the effort to go to them, figure out what we can propose for LANL's future or offer a vision of some other entity that would offer NM and the US something of value even if LANL under LANS (or any other management) is limited to pit production.

If you want their attention, make the trip, schedule the appointment and then be ready to hustle to push for change from the top down - Congress to DOE to NNSA. You've got to be willing to do what's necessary to engage the elected officials in discussion or your voice is like a whisper in a whirlwind and perhaps even more so when it's an anonymous post on a blog. That's not to say they don't or won't read it here, they just don't have much reason to react to the views expressed here.

Anonymous said...

> Udall makes no sense to me on the
> issue of WFO at LANL.

Repeat with me:
"Udall is an Idiot!"

Anonymous said...

1/3/08 10:23 PM wrote: "In some ways it was frustrating as Udall's office has sent automated form letters and not seemed to give a moment's thought to the issue."

That is what I got in response to my letter to Udall about the logic of significant budget cuts for the lab before an achievable plan for diversification was in place. It said something like "I have always supported the lab". Not a single point of mine was addressed.

I feel that if you have no case then the best defense is silence rather than evasiveness.

Maybe he will come here and clear that up.

Anonymous said...

Frank said, "I don't know the details, but I believe at one time there was just ORNL and then they created Y12 and K25 as separate NNSA entities and ORNL became just a science Lab!!

If true, then maybe that fact can be leveraged to due something similar for LANL!!"

It was done at PNNL in the past, too (a couple of times; once separating the weapons work from the science to create the lab, and another time pulling out the cleanup work altogether--which caused a RIF by the way). Perhaps it's an option for LANL?

At many other labs change has been a way of life. Changing contractors, changing missions, decreasing benefits. Get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Several people have mentioned splitting pit manufacturing into a separate entity at some point, similar to the ORNL/Y12 model. The idea comes and goes.

frank said...

I'm getting an indication that perhaps some of the folks who write on this Blog [as well as others]could organize and go to Washington, as a Team, and talk to Udall/others!

Can someone act as the event coordinator and pull it together?

Anonymous said...

"Several people have mentioned splitting pit manufacturing into a separate entity at some point, similar to the ORNL/Y12 model. The idea comes and goes."

Which leads me to another prediction - although not necessarily for 2008. Pit manufacturing activities and TA-55 Facility Management will be split off to a separate contract, NLT the end of FY2009.

Anonymous said...

All of the New Mexico politicians are keyed in to what's going on behind closed doors in Washington DC. They all know that LANL is headed for a big fall in funding over the next few years. They also know that there is little they can really do to help stop this fall from occurring.

What's happening now is mostly PR posturing among the New Mexico politicians so that when LANL goes down hard they can all claim they were not part of the effort that brought it down.

This is not pleasant to watch, but I can almost guarantee to you that if you think times in Los Alamos County are hard right now, brace yourself. Unfortunately, you 'aint seen noth'in yet.

Anonymous said...

I'm betting that Udall doesn't answer Doug's email, except for perhaps a form letter. I am absolutely certain that he will not participate in the discussion here on the blog. I expect his staff have already told him that he made a huge mistake in saying what he did about WFO in Bill DuPuy's interview, and I expect he now just wishes the issue would go away.