Mar 23, 2008

LANL leadership rates low in first-year evaluation

By ROGER SNODGRASS, Los Alamos Monitor Editor

Editors note: On Jan. 17, 2008, the Monitor filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the FY 2007 Performance Evaluation Report of Los Alamos National Security, LLC, Management and Operation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos National Laboratory declined to make public the key document for assessing the first year of a new contract. After the formal request, the document was made available and forms the basis for the following story.

One version of an old joke asks, “How do you go about watching an 800-pound gorilla?”

The answer: “Very carefully.”

But the same answer more seriously seems to apply equally well to the question of how the National Nuclear Security Administration goes about evaluating the job performance of a $2-billion-a-year national nuclear weapons laboratory.

Very carefully, in more than 180 pages, the report represents the essential annual assessment of the contractor under the terms of the contract. It is used to establish the bottom line, the amount of performance fee the contractors will be paid, based on how well they have met the challenges of the job.

The total fee available was $73,280,000, with $21,984,004 of that a fixed fee, regardless of performance. The remainder, $51,295,996, was available in incentives, of which LANL earned $36,224,982 or 71 percent of the available fee and $58,208,986 in total.

Roger Snyder, acting deputy site manager in the local NNSA office that supervises the laboratory, was involved in the evaluation.

“The department went into the contract with a larger fee than we have ever had, the largest fee in all the NNSA sites,” he said in an interview Friday. “We went into that as a demanding customer, knowing that we needed improvements and that it was a challenge that would have been hard to meet.”

In the future, the performance incentives will also provide a criterion for deciding whether there will be an automatic contract extension.

“The contract extension provision is not available in the first year,” Snyder said. “It would be an unfair bar at this point to get to the satisfaction level.”

Incentives

The evaluation categories consisted of 13 performance-based incentives (PBI), 12 of which were largely objective, as the document points out. Overall, there were 170 milestones with specific performance measures, which, if performed correctly, qualified for a full share of the available incentive fee. Most of the milestones or metrics or deliverables were pass/fail; if accomplished the reward is earned; if not, only a partial amount is earned, or none at all.

Among the objective measures, LANL’s percentage of fee was highest in the areas of the weapons programs (98 percent); weapons quality assurance (100 percent) and threat reduction (100 percent). In a category shared with other sites across the complex, all the sites were awarded 90 percent of fee for such things as coordinating interdependent projects within the nuclear weapons complex and sharing best practices.

The lowest percentages were earned in project management (73 percent), environmental operations and programs (58 percent), safety and health (53 percent), and facilities management (44 percent).

In the area of contractor assurance, the laboratory’s performance in identifying, self-assessing and responding to problems on their own, earned 49 percent of fee, despite “impressive progress,” against challenging goals, according to the report.

In the area of safeguards and security, LANL was awarded 89 percent of fee, despite a nationally publicized cybersecurity incident that occurred during the first month of the new management and led to Congressional hearings and numerous audits and investigations. The performance-related assessment of this event was shifted to the overall management category, officials said, because it was an emergent issue without a finite response and thus a more subjective judgment.

Management

The final measure, “Management Integration and Effectiveness,” is considered a subjective measure. In this category, with the largest amount of fee at stake, LANS received its lowest rating, 35 percent of the available fee.

Snyder compared the difference between the objective and the subjective measure to building a sidewalk.

“If you build the sidewalk, you can stand on it and you can measure it,” he said, describing the objective measurement.

“But how well did you do? Some of that is in the eye of the beholder,” Snyder said.

A further indication of how subjective this category might be can be found in the report.

Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio’s self-assessment stated that “significant progress” had been made.

“Focusing on results that we have delivered and the improvements that we have made, in spite of numerous obstacles, I can only assess our overall performance over the past year as highly effective,” he stated.

This statement is followed in the report by the Los Alamos Site Office evaluation which credits LANS for having recruited “significant talent in the form of key personnel” to help address “longstanding weaknesses” at the laboratory. The weaknesses included “the integration of mission planning and execution with safe, secure and environmentally sound operations.”

LASO’s summary credited “significant efforts,” to improve, but also found important shortcomings.

“As the initial year of performance under the performance-based contract, LANS was expected to integrate the organization, eliminate stovepipes, establish clear roles and responsibilities and develop and implement a framework for integrated planning and policy development and execution,” the summary stated. “They have been only partially successful in their efforts.”

On Thursday, Anastasio was asked in a telephone interview if he considered the 35-percent rating for management integration and effectiveness to be a failing grade.

“I don’t think of these as grades at all,” he said. “The government is offering to pay a significantly large fee to us in LANS to make significant changes and significant improvements. We all knew that it would be a challenging job that would take many years to accomplish.”

Snyder agreed that the numbers of the performance measures could not easily be converted into a final grade, because the performance was based on improvement.

“If this set of challenges were presented to the former contractor, the fee would have been lower,” he said. “We’d be surprised if a firm got an A-plus in the first year, because change is hard.”

“I feel it was a fair assessment on how well we did meeting the objectives that were laid out for us,” Anastasio concluded. “We did not get it all done. I don’t agree that’s a grade by which to judge the laboratory.”

[Download the FY 2007 Performance Evaluation Report here.]

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The final measure, “Management Integration and Effectiveness,” is considered a subjective measure. In this category, with the largest amount of fee at stake, LANS received its lowest rating, 35 percent of the available fee."

It would have been more interesting if the employees would have been allowed to do the grading on managment.

How do you spell "zero?"

Anonymous said...

The facilities management was 44 percent. They must have cheated.
FM is the worst organization at LANL. Look at the fraud with JCI!

Anonymous said...

The final measure, “Management Integration and Effectiveness,” is considered a subjective measure. In this category, with the largest amount of fee at stake, LANS received its lowest rating, 35 percent of the available fee. (LA Monitor)

It's no surprise to anyone who works at LANL that LANS' executive level management is a complete failure in terms of their effectiveness.

A zero rating is right. They are running the lab straight into the ground. I know of almost no one on LANL's staff who is happy with the performance of the our LANS management team. With a 35 percent rating, perhaps it's time to trim back some of the huge salary gains that were doled out at the top when LANS took over.

Anonymous said...

Nice job, D'Agostino. Nice job, Bodman. You picked a real winner with LANS.

Not to worry, though. Bechtel will "make it right" (we're talking $$$ here, of course, targeted at select members of Congress and the Senate), and so I am sure that next year's evaluation will be Much Better.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, what a joke. How can our management keep a straight face amongst it's employees? This tells us as both as employees and taxpayers what type of operation is being run by LANS, and the demise of a once famous lab, what a shame! Im so glad I retired, but so sad to see whats happening.

Anonymous said...

Why did it take a "Freedom of Information" request to get the results/ratings? How much longer can they NNSA, LAAO, cover up for poor performance? No one trusts LANS, and they are earning every bit of mis-trust bestowed upon them.

Anonymous said...

12:21 -- It took an FOI request to get the review because LANS tried to classify it, just as they classified the TA-48 Germanium uptake incident. Just for grins, someone should file a FOI request to get that little piece of corporate cover up out into the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Well, with managers like Susan Seestrom who spend time on approving individual Travel Requests, and who make decisions on MaRIE before any serious community input is obtained, managers who let the best people go and are even happy to see them go, any grade above "zero" should be considered quite surprising!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha FM & KSL are among the lowest.... but since when was that news to anyone.

Anonymous said...

1:06 pm: "12:21 -- It took an FOI request to get the review because LANS tried to classify it, just as they classified the TA-48 Germanium uptake incident. Just for grins, someone should file a FOI request to get that little piece of corporate cover up out into the light of day."

Get real, even if someone "tried to classify it" it would have been the originators (LASO) not LANS. LANL can't classify a NNSA document. It's moot anyway - the fact that it was released without deletions means it was at most OUO to start with, not classified. You can calm down now.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mikey!
Are you reading this?

We think that you stink as a laboratory director!

Anonymous said...

Mikey says: “Focusing on results that we have delivered and the improvements that we have made, in spite of numerous obstacles, I can only assess our overall performance over the past year as highly effective,” he stated.

Yes, HIGHLY EFFECTIVE at lining their pockete with bonuses!

Anonymous said...

Huge surprise. LANS got a poor performance review. News at 11:00.

BTW, 3:27pm: LANS management and NNSA can easily get any LANL-related document they want to become classified as "Top Secret", "SCI", or whatever other classification level that they want. The report on the TA-48 Germanium contamination episode ended up classified for the next 75 years for "National Security" reasons.

Apparently NNSA felt that it was not worth a legal battle to try to keep this year's LANS performance report under wraps.

Anonymous said...

From AP, Associated Press, Today in History: Sunday, March 23, 2008;

1983: President Ronald Reagan proposed the development of technology to intercept enemy nuclear missiles [SDI Project]; the plan was dubbed "Star Wars" by its critics.

(//hosted.ap.org/static/specials/today-in-history/03/audio/0322starwars.wav)

Anonymous said...

Now all they have to do is get a one point increase in their next years score, and Bingo! they get a large incentive for improvement. You know how this games is played. How would you like to be a manager at LANS?

Anonymous said...

Thank you again to Roger and the Monitor.

Ever heard of the Federal False Claims Act (Lincoln Law)?

Perhaps Pinky can post segments of the evaluation and LANL staff can comment on what factors may not have been properly considered.

Pinky and The Brain said...

pdf must be converted before I can post it, and the formatting is lost. Reworking it into a reasonable facsimile of the original usually isn't possible.

I did post a link where readers can download a complete copy of the original performance evaluation report. Look at the bottom of the story.

Eric said...

Pinky and Roger,
Thanks for the PEP in pdf format.
I downloaded it and read about 30% of it.

It is one of the odder documents that I have seen.

Penalties are round numbers like 30% while fees are never round number. Most of the fees end in an odd number like 7.

LANS lost all of one fee because Oak Ridge could not get its act together in a $44,000,000 plant to make a particular part. Why is this LANS's fault?

Oh, well. Onward.

Anonymous said...

4:03 PM: "BTW, 3:27pm: LANS management and NNSA can easily get any LANL-related document they want to become classified as "Top Secret", "SCI", or whatever other classification level that they want."

Only by seriously breaking the law (look it up). The classifier would have to sign his name to the document, opening him- or herself to prosecution. And the FOIA process (especially with its appeal process) would expose that to the world. Please don't speak about subjects of which you have no knowledge. BTW, "SCI" is not a classification level.

Anonymous said...

Get real 8:19. Just add the right sentence and any document becomes SRD.

Anonymous said...

This is 4:03pm. I spent 25 years at LANL, 8:19pm. I was a derivative classifier. I do believe I know what I'm talking about: all that is required to classify a document is for a LANL manager to tell a derivative classifier to do so. It then becomes classified.

I suggest that you stick to theory; reality isn't your strong suit.

Anonymous said...

I will give LANS an A+ if they would just please clean the bathrooms everyday. I have never worked for a place that did not clean the the bathrooms everyday. It's so depressing.

Anonymous said...

No surprises here:
piss-poor management and the usual incompetence and malfeasance in Facilities Management.

Still, how is a $22M guaranteed base fee justified when UC did it for 1/3rd of that and not guaranteed?

Do we get to grade the DOE?

Anonymous said...

So Mike and his buddies got a horrible rating for managerial "effectiveness" and then tried to hide it from the public. All the while, they are battering the staff with new performance metrics and capping staff member salaries. Oh, and don't forget the nice 20% bonus being handed out to all of Mike's poorly functioning PADs and ADs. I guess these top level guys and gals are held to a different type of performance metric than the rest of the staff.

Isn't working for LANS just grand?

Anonymous said...

The problem in a nut shell is that LANS was created to milk the Los Alamos contract. The don't value LANL, they don't take care of it or improve it, they only fix what is measurably tied to 'fees.' They bring in cronies from elsewhere and they all fly home each weekend to where ever they were from.

I hope LANL can hang on long enough to 'earn' a better contractor in seven years- DOE are you listening?

Anonymous said...

Why is anybody surprised that the FOIA was required to get this information? Heck, we can't even get LANS to release the pension plan documents or the required annual statement.

Anonymous said...

12:21 -- It took an FOI request to get the review because LANS tried to classify it, just as they classified the TA-48 Germanium uptake incident.
===========

That doesn't explain it. An FOI isn't the
antidote to classification.

One of the exceptions in the Freedom of
Information Act is that it can NOT be used
to release information that is truly
classified.

If LANS were successful at getting it
classified; then a release under FOI
would be disallowed by the FOI Act itself.

This information clearly doesn't fit any
category of classified information that
I'm aware of - so I doubt classification
would be attempted.

I think it's clearly something that is
NOT classified, and should be available
for public comment.

Naturally, LANS doesn't want to release
a poor report card; but that's what the
FOI is for.

Anonymous said...

I was a derivative classifier. I do believe I know what I'm talking about: all that is required to classify a document is for a LANL manager to tell a derivative classifier to do so. It then becomes classified.
=============
If you were a DC; then you should know
that classification law expressly
FORBIDS classification to be used solely
to cover-up waste, fraud, abuse, or
cover-ups of embarrassing material.

If a DC classifies a document merely
because a manager tells them to, and
not based on legimate classification
guidance; for the purpose of covering-up
embarrassing material; then that DC
is in VIOLATION of LAW!!!

If you were a DC and believe what you
say above; then you were a piss-poor DC.

Anonymous said...

Can one get a FOI request regarding the Security infraction ala "The Questionable Mitchell Affair", LANS won't tell? Come on Mikey tells us what happend, or better yet how about Mr. Mitchell stepping up to the plate (not the trough) and come clean. (From some of the comments posted, I think Mr. Mitchell cruises the blog for time to time)

Anonymous said...

The "report" was not classified. Mikey and his bunch just did not give it to the requestor, (Monitor)a poor judgment call, no wonder they have had to hire a PR-Firm to help make common sense decisions.

Anonymous said...

Your many probing questions answered by the friendly LANS PR Office:
**************************************************

* "I will give LANS an A+ if they would just please clean the bathrooms everyday."

Clean it yourself or, better yet, walk into town and ask to use one of the many fine restrooms provided by the soon to be bankrupt businessmen in town. Get creative! You're suppose to be the world's "Best and Brightest".



* "Still, how is a $22M guaranteed base fee justified when UC did it for 1/3rd of that and not guaranteed?"

Oh, brother! Do we have to go over this again? The LLC "for-profit" structure was set up so that (A) Congressmen could received a new source of lobby money and so that (B) managers over at DOE/NNSA could eventually become highly paid VPs with weapon complex contractors. That's not too difficult to grasp, is it?



* "I hope LANL can hang on long enough to 'earn' a better contractor in seven years"

You're delusional, my friend. LANS has a solid lock on this contract for the next 30 years. Bechtel will be building the Pu factory and BWXT will be running it. This setup will be very profitable for the LLC contractors and that's the way NNSA wants it. End of story.



* "Why is anybody surprised that the FOIA was required to get this information?"

Beats us? You would think that the staff and town folk would understand the LANS way of doing business by now. Some people are a bit dense. If we want you to know something, we'll tell you about it. Otherwise, it "S.T.F.U." time. Look it up in the new policy handbook.



* "Isn't working for LANS just grand?"

No, but it isn't suppose to be. If the workers and local town folk aren't suffering because of LANS appearance on the mesa, then we aren't doing the job we were hired to do. We need to get rid of at least another 20% of the staff. Honestly, we want you to leave.


Remember, you work for LANS. Suck up, buck up, and follow all the new rules. If we lay you off, you'll be looking at the need to sell you home (which, by now, should be pretty much worthless, heh, heh!).

Anonymous said...

All of this going on and not any outrage from the "Wimployees"

Anonymous said...

3/23 9:42 pm: "all that is required to classify a document is for a LANL manager to tell a derivative classifier to do so. It then becomes classified."

Not legally. The classifier is putting his ass on the line. "Derivative" means the classification must be "derived from" written DOE classification guidance. That guidance must be cited on the document by the classifier. Falsifying that is actually illegal under the atomic enery act and the executive order on classification. Under DOE orders, if discovered, the classifier mus thave his authority stripped, at a minimum.

Apparently, your "reality" involves fraud.

Anonymous said...

What a farce! Domenici's handy work once again costs taxpayers dearly. But what the hell, the campaign contributions keep rolling in. DOE/NNSA should be disbanded,its leaders arrested and the mob bosses running UC and the Lab forced eat pig exrement for the rest of their miserable existence. Even that's too good for the scum.

Anonymous said...

It does not seem suspect to see such a response. For years I watched the people that moved ahead and received promotions - the had their proverbial lips locked tight to the anus of the manager that could promote them.

There was not:
- independant thought
- brain trust / sharing of idea's
- confidence in management not making the wrong decision time after time because they would not engage with anyone who would not help them climb, althought the people in the trenches had the needed info to create a star manager.

Putting LANL up to corporate greed was a bad decision on so many levels - cost cutting measures work hand in hand with cutting out faith in the stockpile and the government. I am still trying to figure out what LANS did to earn the extra $58M on top of the $20+ mil base payment. UC did it for much less. You could argue that they did a bad job. Sure. So is LANS. As a taxpayer I am insenced. And pissed. And (to the politicians ) taking notes

Anonymous said...

5:04 hit the nail right on the head with the last comment. "Take Notes".

The only way things are going to change is to change the way things are. First of all, VOTE. Second, vote the people that are in office out.

Write your Alma Maters and tell them what is going on here, have the letter posted in the school newspaper, contact the information folks in your professional societies and let them know.

Nothing will change unless the people start the change. I know it is hard to speak up in meetings and ask pointed questions, for the the most part, you received your training as scientists and engineers. Let the journalists ask the hard questions. they say "there is another way to skin this cat." Nothing may happen for a while, but if enough folks start contacting the folks they know, things will happen.

Anonymous said...

This is a scandalous waste of the tax payers; money.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the DOE IG investigate this, as it is clearly waste and fraud?

Anonymous said...

1:20 PM: "What a farce! Domenici's handy work once again costs taxpayers dearly. But what the hell, the campaign contributions keep rolling in."

I'm afraid your anger has run away with your reason. What a shame. I assume you once had real intelligence (probably in high school, before you became so political?). Anyway, you may have heard that Dominici has decided not to run for another term? Sorry to burst your bubble, since you were obviously getting so high off it.

BTW, what is "exrement?" Like I said, anger running away with reason (or spelling). LOL

Anonymous said...

"If you were a DC; then you should know that classification law expressly FORBIDS classification to be used solelyto cover-up waste, fraud, abuse, or cover-ups of embarrassing material."


Bwaaahaaaaa! You're kidding, right? You can't possibly be that naïve! Ask Rich Marquez how much he fined UC when he was the DOE official in charge of the Lab contract. What, you think people like him land high paying jobs with the companies they regulate because they're taking care of our interests as taxpayers? Naïve? No. Try frigg'n clueless!

Anonymous said...

4:52 pm: How did your comment address the post you cited?? You really shouldn't be that drunk before 5:00 pm. Really. Get help.

Anonymous said...

Where is the surprise in this?

Put a person in a turkey pen, he will smell like turkey shit.

Anonymous said...

"Hey Mikey!
Are you reading this?
We think that you stink as a laboratory director!
3/23/08 3:49 PM"

And don't forget the slimeball Marquez!

Anonymous said...

Poster 4:34 PM, it should be very clear by now that Mikey and his pals don't really care very much about how the workers feel regarding the LANS LLC style of management. They get paid very well whether you are happy or not.

It's easier for LANS, however, if they simply follow all the NNSA orders to the letter and keep you very unhappy. If you don't like it you can leave which would probably make both LANS and NNSA very happy. After all, they still need to remove at least 20% of the workforce from the payroll.

That's the awful situation we currently face. It sucks.