Oct 3, 2008

Payouts Upset Some Lab Employees

By Raam Wong
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

Some Los Alamos National Laboratory workers are upset over who received payments as part of a $12 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against the lab's former manager.

The federal lawsuit against the University of California — which was settled last year — alleged pay and promotion disparities stemming from years of gender and racial discrimination at the lab.

But critics say that among the claimants receiving payouts are well-paid mid- and high-level lab managers.

“These are not the people who are salary-deprived at the lab ... and yet they had the audacity to partake in this hard-won victory for those lab workers who deserved vindication,” said longtime lab employee Charles “Chuck” Montaño, who helped bring the pay disparities to light. “Instead of vindication, they've been slapped across the face by those individuals in management who couldn't suppress their greed at least this once.”

Montaño is also upset that at least two lab attorneys have also received payouts. Montaño said it was conflict of interest for the attorneys — who previously worked for UC and now represent Los Alamos National Security, the lab's new manager — to receive part of the settlement.

Montaño, who says he received $3,800 as part of the settlement, said he wished there had been stricter guidelines concerning who could file claims.

John Bienvenu, one of the attorneys representing the class representatives, defended the payments.

“Certainly the payments were made to all levels of the class” because female and Hispanics across the board were discriminated against, Bienvenu said. The attorney said a statistician and a labor economist determined how much each employee should receive by calculating what their salary would have been if they were not discriminated against.

UC spokesman Chris Harrington said in a statement that the “class” in the class action case included all female and Hispanic employees.

“The decision of whether or not to participate in the class action was a personal one made by each individual class member,” Harrington said. “The laboratory took no action to influence the decision of any employee regarding whether to participate in the class action, as that was a personal choice and legal right.”

Harrington said all eligible employees, including managers and attorneys, were free to make their own decisions as to whether to participate in the settlement.

The settlement stems from two discrimination lawsuits filed against the lab in 2003 and 2004 that were merged into a single class-action case.

Individual payments were based on a number of factors, including a formula outlined in the agreement and the number of people who file claims.

Settlement payouts have been a bone of contention before in the case. Last year, lab employee Laurie Quon appealed the settlement, arguing that women who originally initiated the lawsuit would receive excessive payouts.

96 comments:

Anonymous said...

The whole thing is a crock.
When I look at the list of people who got these awards, I sure see a lot of the laziest goof-oofs at the lab. This process has eliminated all performance-based compensation.

Anonymous said...

Testing. One. Two. Three. Testing. A colleague at LANL asked if I could read this website.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody really care what Chuck Montano has to say?

Anonymous said...

Apparently so, he's been referenced in dozens of articles over the years and a few books. Just because you don't like what he has to say doesn't mean you're the authority on what people care to listen to. We do still have the right to express an opinion don't we, or did the Patriot Act take that away from us as well?

Not to worry, Obama will fix it.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, if any employee is overpaid and undeserving of this payout it is Chuckie Montano.

Anonymous said...

So the assumption here is that mid-level female and Hispanic managers already receive equal pay for equal work? Snort.

Oh I forgot, all those wimmin-folk managers take more sick leave (to take care of their kids) than their male counterparts (who only take sick leave to take care of their triple bypass surgeries).

Anonymous said...

Seems that I recognize some non-Hispanic and non-female names in the list. What's up with that?

Anonymous said...

Charles "Chuck" Montano is upset because Tommy Hook didn't get him the $4 Million Dollars in the lawsuit that they both filed together. Mr. Hook thought that lap dancing was better.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time for another lawsuit?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10/3/08 3:50 PM said...

"Oh I forgot, all those wimmin-folk managers take more sick leave (to take care of their kids) than their male counterparts."

Well, like it our not, it's true.

And, if you want more of this, compare the sick leave and bereavement leave of the Hispanics to that of the Anglos.

Anonymous said...

10/3/08 2:16 PM

No! He should shut his &*^% mouth for good. We're tired of him.

Anonymous said...

The whole thing is a crock.
When I look at the list of people who got these awards, I sure see a lot of the laziest goof-oofs at the lab. This process has eliminated all performance-based compensation.

10/3/08 1:47 PM


LANL has become a massive Ponzi scheme. Even upper management is in on the scheme. As a research TSM, why bother to help keep the project funding flowing into LANL any longer? You'll only end up busting your ass to help feed many of the goof-offs hired on the well known LANL "friends and family" plan.

Anonymous said...

2:37 pm: "Not to worry, Obama will fix it."

Oh yeah - He'll fix it all right. If you liked Jimmy Carter, you'll love Obama. I give it six months, tops. He'll find out that Americans HATE it when the same party controls Congress and the Executive. We'll all hate it, when we find out that all the liberal "fixes" to our problems result in everyone who actaully works for a living being less well off. Well, it's not like we haven't been down this road before. My question is, who's the next Reagan who will oust Obama and get the country straight again?

Anonymous said...

Your biggotry is showing, again! Keep pretending you didn't get your collective butts kicked, again! Don't like it much do you? Obama to the rescue!

Anonymous said...

10/3/08 2:16 PM--No! He should shut his &*^% mouth for good. We're tired of him.

So wy don't you tell him to his face if you have the guts! No, didn't think so.

How brave we all are when we can slander others anonymously.

Anonymous said...

I can only assume from the comments that you all have little understanding of LANL’s past and current promotion practices. They give ridiculously low promotion increases to all but a few chosen ones and hire at the mid-point for new employees doing the same job. The fact that it impacted women and minorities more was mostly due to more women and minorities being in the structure series.

I was at the Lab for about almost 30 years and promoted 3 times. When I went from SSM-1 to SSM-2 there was no pay increase. When I was promoted to an SSM-3 the increase was $1,600 for the year. When I was promoted to an SSM-4 I received a $10K per year increase and that was only because I no longer worked for a support division.

The litigious women that took Mr. Marquez to task were underpaid compared to the people being brought in from the outside to do the same job. They asked for a salary plan to fix the $10K inequity. Mr. Marquez refused; hence many of us benefited from his stubbornness and their willingness to stand up to the inequity of LANL’s promotion pay practices. The taxpayers paid out $12M plus court and attorney fees.

I am sorry you all are unhappy about this situation but I am sure if you all try real hard you can get over it and find something else to complain about. Many of you are content to complain instead of leaving LANL when you are so unhappy.

I can attest to there is life after LANL, you should try it.

Sincerely,

Retired and doing fine!

Anonymous said...

Terry Wallace put up a viewgraph this week that showed the TCP1 pension had lost about 7% on investments as of Aug 31st of this year. The deep drops in the markets during September were not included in this figure.

If you assume that a pension needs to have an average ROI of about 7% per year to remain stable, then that would put the pension in a shortfall condition of about 14% by the end of this calendar year (7% in market losses + 7% in the loss of the expected pension ROI). If the markets don't recover in '09 (very possible given a recession) then the shortfall will quickly become even larger. A 0% ROI in 2009 would reduce TCP1's assets to cover future liabilities by 21% on December'09 ( 14% carryover losses from '08 + another 7% in '09 because of a zero ROI).

This indicates the strong possibility of salary contributions to bulk-up TCP1 in the not too distant future. A lot depends on what markets do over the next year and just how big LANS will let the TCP1 asset liabilities grow before taking prudent action.

Anonymous said...

9:10 PM, I'm guessing we'll see the need for about a 5% TCP1 salary contribution starting before the end of this fiscal year. That would zero out the recent 5% TSM salary raises given for FY09. Coincidence? You betcha!

Anonymous said...

Terry Wallace?

What planet is this guy from? It seems like the scientist at the lab are really starting to hate him.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice the steep drop off in both post docs and in post doc conversions to limited and regular staff in Terry's presentation? The drop offs over the last two years are not at all surprising given the conditions at LANL.

PADSTE management is putting increasing pressure on staff to bring in more post docs, but no full time TSM wants to bring in post docs to this clusterf*ck. This is especially true given the chances of further layoffs and budget cutbacks, increasingly high overhead costs to do research, and policies which tend to create the infamous work free safety zones. LANL is making a new name for itself in the academic community, but it's not a good one.

Anonymous said...

10:51 PM, "starting"?

I liked how he acknowledged that people are leaving because it's too hard to get work done here. "That's something we have to fix."

For god's sake, man, you've been PAD for two years and an AD for two years before that. Please feel free to start "fixing" this problem any day now.

Anonymous said...

10/3/08 8:41 PM

Chuck Montano has been told in many different ways while at LANL. He doesn't get the hint. We don't want him anywhere near us anymore. He's like a bad disease that just won't go away. Get some counseling soon Chuck.

Anonymous said...

Retired and doing fine! at 10/3/08 8:45 PM writes:

"The litigious women that took Mr. Marquez to task were underpaid compared to the people being brought in from the outside to do the same job."

I worked with some of the principles in the lawsuit. They were not very good employees and were overpaid.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10/3/08 11:50 PM writes:

"PADSTE management is putting increasing pressure on staff to bring in more post docs, but no full time TSM wants to bring in post docs to this clusterf*ck."

Any post doc dumb enough to come here is too dumb to do any worthile work.

Things have reach near bottom level (hopefully) when an organizations' employees tell prospective applicants to go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

10/4/08 1:00 AM - Wallace is a spineless f*ckwad who lies and is incapable of making a decision. He has done nothing useful for the last four years as AD or as PAD, except cost the institution millions of dollars in lawsuits and hurt the institution's reputation by the reputation he is building in how he mistreats staff and how he is single-handedly killing science at Los ALamos. Let's give Wallace another bonus folks!

Anonymous said...

Apparently the new complex is going to have a large fraction of space in the form of cubicles for scientsits to sit. So it will go like this, managers get offices mabey 6-5s also get offices. Everyone else gets a cubicle. Who the hell would want to come here now? Suppose I am a young person with an offer from North Texas State and Los Alamos? I would take North Texas State since I would get an office. No offense to NTU, I have a freind there, but at some point LANL used to considered on par with good research universities, but very soon even the weakest academic positions will be far better than LANL.

A bunch os are trying to figure out if Terry Wallace is simply a total idiot or just corrupt? It is is truley bizzare.

Anonymous said...

I think that there are some who deserved a payment of the settlement.

Then there are others that did not deserve any of it. Upper level managers are paid outrageous salaries and they are paid part of the settlement and think they deserve it. What a crock after all the grief that they put the workers through, intimidation, fear, retribution, intimidation, they should all be ashamed. But then upper management never sees that they do any wrong.

As far as Chuck goes, maybe he does deserve it. I for one think he uses his situation as a disservice to those he wants to represent. Is he trustworthy? I think that he used a position, which he doesn’t have any more to have a symbol removed at Los Alamos High School, which he thought was wrong. To me that was wrong and he lost all his creditability with me. He will never get any support from me.

On a personal note after looking at the list of persons who did receive a settlement in my group the females that got it did not deserve it. One is a manager 3, who is totally lost, the other two are not discriminated against one of them is so incompetent that it is not funny and they just keep getting promoted. The others just because they are female. One male was on the list, why because he is Hispanic, he is one of higher paid employees in my group. He gets paid more that most of us do, and does not do as muck work except with his mouth. So I can’t make any sense out of any of this.

One of the attorneys defends these people as deserving of the payments they received. How much was he paid when everything was said and done?

I did notice when looking at the list that there were American Indians on the list.

I thought that this was for the female and Hispanics were Indians left out on purpose.

Nothing has changed its still business as usual even after two years of supposed improvements.

Anonymous said...

"LANL is making a new name for itself in the academic community, but it's not a good one."

Well, what else would you expect of a privately-run government laboratory? Apparently, some LANL employees still persist in the fantasy that they are part of academia. Why would a private, for-profit organization need a position called "post-doc"??

Anonymous said...

Response to 10/4/08 11:45 AM:

It's Native Americans NOT American Indians and/or Indians. Your lack of respect for minorities is disgusting! You're probably a member of the "White Supremacy" in Los Alamos.

Anonymous said...

You are joking, right?

Anonymous said...

The quality of post-docs is deteriorating except, perhaps, for the director's post-docs. The trend began long before Nanos when we began to be told that research professors were losing respect for LANL, in particular. Take a look, if you can, at the deteriorating qualities of the graduate schools that send their new PhDs to LANL.

Anonymous said...

Indeed it is interesting that Indians were not included in this. That would seem typical of the attitudes of some Hispanics.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Terry's famous Science Complex is planning to put "The Best and Brightest" into huge rooms filled with cramped cubicles. Nothing says "You're just a little cog in a great big, heartless machine" more than cramped cubicles set into big rooms. How depressing.

Other buildings LANL has built over the last few years didn't resort to this type of poor design.

Good thing I'll be out of here long before Terry's little Sweat Box goes up. Maybe he can fill it with ultra-cheap Chinese laborers.

Anonymous said...

"10/4/08 5:48 PM"

This thing of Terry's is going to be
deal-breaker or game changer for people.
I think almost any scientist will take a 3rd rate faculty position with an office over the crap that Terry is proposing. There is not a single academic or national laboratory that uses this. What the hell is Terry thinking?

Anonymous said...

As a scientist who left LANL in 2005, I will never advise any of my graduate students to go there for a postdoc.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe he can fill it with ultra-cheap Chinese laborers. - 10/4/08 5:48 PM"

Wallace's (Wall-Less) Palace will remain empty since the cheap Chinese laborers are already far ahead of us academically and are content to work from their own country. Fasten your seatbelts Labbies, America is going for a ride.

Anonymous said...

Again, private companies don't have "post-docs". Why would LANS?

Anonymous said...

Again, private companies don't have "post-docs". Why would LANS?
10/4/08 9:39 PM


More to the point, why would any rational post doc at LANL want to be converted to either Limited or Regular status? That would only greatly raise their FTE costs and make them prime RIF bait in the upcoming layoffs.

If Terry thinks the number of LANL post doc and post doc conversions in his charts are low right now, just wait. They are about to go much, much lower.

You would think this would greatly hurt LANS on the science side of their PBIs, but I'm sure NNSA will find a convenient way to ignore the scientific rot that is quickly over-taking LANL. Besides, it is clear to most employees that safety and security stats are the only real concerns that NNSA has at their labs (or, as Sig likes to call them, "prisons").

I guess this is what we should all expect now that we have Bechtel, a construction company for God's sake, calling the shots at LANL.

Anonymous said...

Science Complex?

It sounds more like a big Science Warehouse for LANL temp workers.

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side. Having all the scientists working in tiny cubicles will make it much easier to move them out once they've been laid off by LANS. They'll only need a small box or two to gather up all their belongings and be escorted off the premises. It's highly efficient.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10/4/08 10:43 AM and later commenters speak of the plan for cubicles for scientists and engineers. The word for this is DUMB!

As a GL at LANL, one of the attractions that I could offer prospective employees is a decent office. The reasonably-sized office with genuine privacy was quite an attraction to junior-level scientists who often shared offices at universities and to junion-level enginers who often sat in cubicles.

The other positive aspect of a private office over a cubicle is that it encourages people to work extra hours.

It is really clear that our upper management does not give a damn about the quality of the workforce or about productivity!

Anonymous said...

There certainly is a lot of dissatisfaction at LANL. The LANS management really seems to be out of touch with the employees. From this blog, it would appear that there has really developed an us verses them environment.

I was at LANL in the time of Sig Hecker and retired in the time of John Browne. Although neither of those men were perfect directors, they had nearly universal respect. Today, I would guess that there is nearly universal disrespect of LANL management. This is really a sad decline of a once-great laboratory.

Anonymous said...

10/4/08 4:11 PM

"Indeed it is interesting that Indians were not included in this. That would seem typical of the attitudes of some Hispanics."

Is that the same attitude of some White Women? The lawsuit was for women (all) and Hispanics.

Anonymous said...

"It is really clear that our upper management does not give a damn about the quality of the workforce or about productivity!

10/5/08 6:20 AM"

I am not sure if they are just out of touch, do no care, or are really trying to get rid of people. I am about done with LANL and I am running out of reasons to defend it. It may well be better for the nation if talented young people simply go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

"It is really clear that our upper management does not give a damn about the quality of the workforce or about productivity!"

10/5/08 6:20 AM

I gave LANS the benefit of the doubt for the first year. By the end of the second year, however, it became all too clear what LANS management was all about.

You've got a bunch of pigs feeding at the trough who don't give a damn about LANL's scientific workforce, regardless of what they may say in public. The "us" vs. "them" confrontation is utterly complete with most LANL workers.

No one I know of has any trust left in LANS' leadership and most of the better staff are now desperately looking at some means of escape before the Titantic sinks below the surface of the Parijito Sea. Meanwhile, LANS upper management walks along the deck, oblivious to the looming icebergs, and aimlessly shines all the brass. It's sickening to watch this play out.

Anonymous said...

10/4/08 10:43 AM asked "A bunch os are trying to figure out if Terry Wallace is simply a total idiot or just corrupt?"

I vote for both. He is a totally corrupt idiot.

Anonymous said...

Response to:
"So wy don't you tell him to his face if you have the guts! No, didn't think so.

How brave we all are when we can slander others anonymously."
10/3/08 8:41 PM


First, no one could ruin Montano's reputation any worse than he has already done whether it be verbal (slander) or written (libel). Why doesn't Montano leave LANL already? He's obviously not happy here and we'd be better off without him. You can't tell him anything to his face because then he cries discrimination and retaliation. It's obvious he wants a cushy State job with a great LANL salary: http://www.auditforum.org/speaker%20presentations/wiaf/wiaf%20swiaf%20mpiaf%2002%2008/balderas.pdf
Seems he's created the ideal job for himself! In my opinion, if he's doing a State job then he should be paid State wages. Are managers afraid to deal with him because they fear he'll file another lawsuit? How long will Montano's manipulation and abuse of the system go on? How much of the taxpayer's money will be wasted defending frivolous lawsuits?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10/5/08 2:38 PM asks:

"Why doesn't Montano leave LANL already?"

Where else would he go?
Nobody in their right mind would hire him. Even LULAC wouldn't want him around.

Forget the state of NM jobs. They pay far less than he gets at LANL and they also know him.

I have worked around him. He is really not very skilled at the low-level jobs that has had at LANL. And, he is poison in the workplace.

Maybe he and Lapdance Tommy could start a management consulting firm.

Anonymous said...

"It's obvious he wants a cushy State job with a great LANL salary"

As opposed to the scientists, for whom it's obvious they want a cushy academic job with a great LANL salary.

Anonymous said...

"As opposed to the scientists, for whom it's obvious they want a cushy academic job with a great LANL salary.

10/5/08 5:02 PM"

Uhh, this does not make any sense at all. Appartenly you have no idea what academic jobs are like or what they pay.

Are you that utterly clueless?

Anonymous said...

10/5/08 2:38 PM:

"How long will Montano's manipulation and abuse of the system go on? How much of the taxpayer's money will be wasted defending frivolous lawsuits?"

When he was on a Sabbatical with Highlands University he very seldom went to work. Isn't the time frame allowed for one year? Why is he continuing to get this opportunity? Outrageous!!! Indviduals should mount a lawsuit against him and his abuses within LANL.

Anonymous said...

I would have said the scientists want a LANL salary, the complete "academic freedom" to work in their chosen sandbox, and for the weapons program to pay for it all.

Oh, hang on, that would be LDRD!

Anonymous said...

"
I would have said the scientists want a LANL salary, the complete "academic freedom" to work in their chosen sandbox, and for the weapons program to pay for it all.

Oh, hang on, that would be LDRD!

10/5/08 6:55 PM"

I do not wish to go into depth on this subject however I will say that one of the good things that LANL has is the LDRD program. Any healthy applied science instistute will have budget with 5 to 12 percent invested in basic science. LANL has done very well in this,
and LDRD has more than paid for itself for LANL and the nation. What I have to say is simply anecdotal but the small number of people that I know who have a problem with LDRD are of very poor quality and really should not be in science. Most people at LANL "get it" and appreciate and understand the value of LDRD.

Anonymous said...

8:57 pm: "the small number of people that I know who have a problem with LDRD are of very poor quality and really should not be in science."

Oh, can you say "arrogance"?? Exactly what gives you the right to decide who is "of very poor quality"?? Jeez, get a clue. You self-absorbed LDRD queens are paid for by people who have actual deadlines and responsibilities. You'd be of "very poor quality" to anyone who was trying to make a profit. LANL is no longer the place for this kind of work. It is a for-profit, non-academic institution. Freeloaders need not apply. Get it? Now, leave. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, can you say "arrogance"?? Exactly what gives you the right to decide who is "of very poor quality"?? "

Like it or not there are well defined standards for scientific excellence. Your point about LAN being a "for profit company" is non-argument. Many "for profit" companies have R and D for basic and applied science with outstanding people. Other companies have partmerships
with unversities. If LANS wishes to be successfull it is absolutely necessary for them to have LDRD or something equivalent. It will also be necessary to make sure that only the best science is funded through these programs.

Anonymous said...

12:09 am: "Like it or not there are well defined standards for scientific excellence."

That's correct. However, the statement was about the "quality" of people, not the "excellence" (or not) of their work. So, you're still arrogant. And clueless about LANL's future.

Anonymous said...

Some things never change about the Lab--greed, hate-filled rhetoric, racism, greed, hate-filled rhetoric, racism, greed...

Nice to know our nuclear deterrent is in the hands of such stable minds.

Anonymous said...

You can always measure how effective the truth is by the onslaught of verbal and venemous assaults directed toward Mr. Montano. No wander he is not working at LANL. I'd be afraid of being eaten alive by these mangy wolves and bitches.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 10/6/08 3:32 PM,
you are correct that Chuck Montano is "not working at LANL." He is, however, on the payroll. He just doesn't do anything.

Anonymous said...

Response to 10/6/08 3:32 PM:

Nice reply Mr. Montano.

Anonymous said...

"Many "for profit" companies have R and D for basic and applied science with outstanding people."

Please name one company that still performs R&D in basic science.

Anonymous said...

"Please name one company that still performs R&D in basic science."

Southwest Research Institute

Anonymous said...

"Please name one company that still performs R&D in basic science.

10/6/08 6:21 PM"

???????????????, Your kidding right?

How about Exxon-Mobile, BP, Abbot labs, Pfizer, AIT, Google, and Microsoft.

Hello ... anyone out there?

Hello ???

Anonymous said...

Southwest Research Institute is a nonprofit organization.

Anonymous said...

No I am not kidding about basic R&D. And Exxon-Mobile, BP, Abbott, and Pfizer sure do not perform basic science. They are looking for medicines and catalysts that they can sell.

Not sure about Google and Microsoft - any computer people out there to rule on this one?

Anonymous said...

And you are different how, 5:35?

Anonymous said...

10:01pm: You ARE kidding. Maybe you accept Glaxo, Smith, Kine, or Procter & Gamble instead of Pfizer. They use ODEs and graph theory to identify potential drug targets. Sure applied math is "applied" but it's a far cry from a drug you buy at a drug store. IBM is a big player in basic computer science / bioinformatics developing new parallel programming "tools" and algorithms for automatic genome annotation and analysis.

Or your understanding of "basic science" is skewed and only pure math such as cohomologies or quantum chromo dynamics count for you as basic science...

Anonymous said...

"No I am not kidding about basic R&D. And Exxon-Mobile, BP, Abbott, and Pfizer sure do not perform basic science."

Yes they do.

Anonymous said...

Basic science is science which fundamentally changes our basic understanding of the world around us in profound ways. It breaks us out of the old ways of thinking into completely new ways. It may or may not have anything to do with commercialization issues.

This arguing back and forth about who does the more important types of science is juvenile and petty. It's also all too commonly seen within much of the staff at LANL.

Anonymous said...

The fundamental question is whether the (new) mission at LANL includes basic research (i.e., not directly contributing to the profit of the company running LANL); and is it is required, wanted, or neeed by LANS management. The establishment of a post-doc prgram is but one (although an important one) of the indicators of the answer to this. My impression, based on history to date, is that LANS couldn't give a flip about post-docs. I'm not sure there is a compelling (non-personal) argument why they should, from a corporate standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Post docs are relatively cheap and help LANS meet the science portion of the contract PBIs at minimal cost. That's why LANS wants them at LANL. In fact, LANS probably believes they can replace much of the expensive regular staff with cheap, temporary post docs. Even the few post docs that get converted to Limited or Regular status will cost less since they will not be given the same benefit package as those hired before June 1st, 2006.

Anonymous said...

There's a funny thing about LDRD, especially the ER component. It's hard to get a proposal funded if it doesn't have some real-world hook that can be understood by all the committee members - whether that hook be energy, environment, health, space, sensors, whatever.

However, it is the kiss of death for an LDRD-ER proposal to claim a connection or benefit to the weapons program. Those are instantly dismissed by review committees as "too programmatic" despite the fact that the weapons program encounters many more fundamental "small science" questions that will ever be funded for study directly by NNSA. (In fact, remarkably few "small science" questions are funded by NNSA, in favor of large projects such as NIF, DARHT, and supercomputing).

This is true despite the weapons program (still!) being the primary donor of funds into LDRD, by at least 2x over "threat reduction" taken in the aggregate.

So my question is: what other company would intentionally allow its basic research arm to systematically exclude support to its single most profitable product line?

Anonymous said...

I certainly agree with anonymous at 10/8/08 7:19 AM.
I served on an ER committee for
three years. Far too often, the statement was made that a proposal was "too programmatic" and should
not get LDRD funding.

Anonymous said...

"However, it is the kiss of death for an LDRD-ER proposal to claim a connection or benefit to the weapons program. Those are instantly dismissed by review committees as "too programmatic""

I have sat on many of these committees and your statments are completely false.

Anonymous said...

I am Anonymous at 10/8/08 10:25 AM.

Anonymous at 10/8/08 10:31 AM must have been on different ER panels than I was. LDRD proposals that could in anyway be contrued as "programmatic" did not make the first cut.

Anonymous said...

Either 10/8/08 10:25 AM or 10/8/08 10:31 AM appears to be 1) wrong, 2) clueless, or 3) lying. So, why are these the people who are determining the funding for LDRD? LANL LDRD corruption is well known to any but the most naive, and it has persisted for more than anyone can remember. I am sorry to see that it has survived the privatization (Livermorization?) of the lab.

Anonymous said...

6:55 pm: " LANL LDRD corruption is well known to any but the most naive, and it has persisted for more than anyone can remember."

Remember France Cordova? Some of us do.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to 6:55, 10:31 and 10:25 could have served on different committees and seen different things.

My experience serving on these committees matches that described by 10:25, though.

Anonymous said...

"Remember France Cordova? Some of us do.

10/8/08 8:08 PM"

Yes I do!!!. Outstanding scientist. One of the very best and is absolutely brillant. She shows how great Los Alamos use to be.

May 7, 2007

Purdue's new president 'out of this world'

An internationally recognized astrophysicist who is chancellor of University of California, Riverside, was chosen Monday (May 7) as the 11th president of Purdue University.

After earning her doctorate in physics from Cal Tech in 1979, Córdova spent the next decade at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a member of the Space Astronomy and Astrophysics Group. She then joined Penn State University to head the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

She has published more than 150 scientific papers and reports and has a current experiment flying on the European Space Agency's X-Ray Multi-Mirror Mission.

She is the winner of NASA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and was recognized as a 2000 Kilby Laureate for "contributions to society through science, technology, innovation, invention and education."


Chancellor France Córdova RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) University of California, Riverside Chancellor France Córdova has been selected to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the California Institute of Technology.

Córdova, who received her doctorate in physics from Caltech in 1979, was selected for the prestigious award by members of the faculty, an alumni committee and the board of trustees.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is considered the highest honor Caltech bestows on graduates and recognizes the recipient’s achievements and accomplishments. Córdova's research focuses on observational and experimental astrophysics, X-ray and gamma-ray sources, and space-borne instrumentation.




UCR Chancellor Córdova Receives Honor from California Institute of Technology
Distinguished Alumni Awards Bestowed on Graduates for Achievements and Accomplishments of Note in Science, Business, Engineering and the Arts

“Because of her numerous achievements in government, in research and in education, Dr. Córdova represents the quality of graduates that Caltech hopes to acknowledge with this award,” said Andy Shaindlin, executive director of Caltech’s Alumni Association.

France A. Córdova - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaCórdova was the youngest person and first woman to hold the position. Córdova headed the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Pennsylvania State ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_A._Córdova - 30k - Cached - Similar pages

Anonymous said...

"Contrary to 6:55, 10:31 and 10:25 could have served on different committees and seen different things.

My experience serving on these committees matches that described by 10:25, though.

10/8/08 8:40 PM"

By congressional mandate LDRD cannot be programatic.

Anonymous said...

"Remember France Cordova? Some of us do."

Explain, please, for those of us who do not remember.

Anonymous said...

So, 9:42? The point is not that LDRD is used for programmatic (which you are correct is illegal). The point is that the committees tend to reject proposals out of hand if the committee believes that the proposal is relevant to anything programmatic, regardless of the scientific merit of the proposal and regardless of whether programs would ever pay for that proposal.

Anonymous said...

"The point is that the committees tend to reject proposals out of hand if the committee believes that the proposal is relevant to anything programmatic, regardless of the scientific merit of the proposal and regardless of whether programs would ever pay for that proposal.

10/8/08 10:45 PM"

This is completely contrary to my experience on these committees. Pure programmatic work was not considered however proposals had to have potential for benifit to lab missions and programmatic work to be successful.

Anonymous said...

Many employees at LANL are stressed out watching their 401ks drop in value along with the steeply declining stock market and are feeling the pain while their homes on the Hill drop in price due to fears of future LANL layoffs.

In this regards, an interesting item showed up in today's LANL Lab Link email (Wed, Oct 8th):

************
SECURITY
Distressed Workers

Financial issues are distressing a record number of Americans, and workers at the Laboratory are no exception. Cleared workers and applicants facing foreclosures, liens on property, bankruptcy, or other financial hardships must report them immediately to the Clearance Processing Team.

************

While this requirement makes sense from a security standpoint, just knowing that your clearance could be in jeopardy due to a home foreclosure only adds to the current stress at LANL. I guess LANS forgot to end this little message to "Distressed Workers" with a stress-busting: "Have a nice day!"

Anonymous said...

"By congressional mandate LDRD cannot be programatic."

Wrong on two counts. LDRD is regulated by DOE Order 413.2B; only the annual funding authorization comes from Congress. And the specific prohibition text is this:

"e. LDRD funds will not be used to—
(1) substitute for or increase funding for any tasks for which a specific limitation has been established by Congress or the Department or for any specific tasks that are funded by DOE/NNSA or other users of the laboratory;
(2) fund projects that will require the addition of non-LDRD funds to accomplish the technical goals of the LDRD project, except as provided by legislation."

The term of art is "augmentation" and simply means you cannot mix LDRD and program funds to accomplish a single set of project goals.

This restriction *in no way* prohibits LDRD funds from being used to address scientific questions that, in the eyes of a proposal reviewer, might just as well be funded by a program office.

Anonymous said...

6:17 pm: "LDRD is regulated by DOE Order 413.2B; only the annual funding authorization comes from Congress. And the specific prohibition text is this:..."

Great, nice job. But, you fail to address the question, which is whather LDRD belongs at a non-academic, for-profit, privately-run corporation like LANS. If you hope to have a scientific career, you can do better on your resume. The "University of California" shown bright - "LANS" is a dark and damning entry.

Anonymous said...

10/9/08 6:17 PM

Like yaaaa! that was my point.
Do you get it now?? Reread it.

Anonymous said...

If you hope to have a scientific career, you can do better on your resume. The "University of California" shown bright - "LANS" is a dark and damning entry.

10/9/08 10:29 PM


Using the more accurate term of "Bechtel" would be closer to the truth at LANL, and presents and even darker and more damning entry.

Anonymous said...

At LANL, we do the world's best science under the management of a sleazy, politically connected construction company (Bechtel).

Perhaps NNSA should have gone ahead and given the lab contract to Tony Soprano and the mob. At least they know how to get things done and their kickbacks can be a lot more fun and more profitable.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, boys and girls, that Bechtel is privately held...a 'family affair'. Bechtel has no publicly traded stock and has done well by befriending the very top of our government's officials.

Anonymous said...

"Like yaaaa! that was my point.
Do you get it now?? Reread it."

LOL, there are 90 anonymous posts on this thread. You're gonna have to be a tad more specific if you want your point reread.

Anonymous said...

Actually, one reason the LDRD program is so corrupt is because of the idiot running the program. Preidorsky is more worried about making Mary, Sue, and Terry happy than he is about doing the right thing. He shifts people up and down the rankings without any reason and will try 3 different ways to Sunday to get people off of funding lists just because they aren't blessed by the ADs or the PADSTE. So let's not blame Bechtel for everything ... except for hiring Priedorsky as the LDRD program manager and a Level 6 at that.

Anonymous said...

Bill Priedorsky was put into a Level 6 TSM position? You've got to be kidding me! Was the whole LANS rating scheme really that broken?

Anonymous said...

Priedhorsky has been anti-nuclear and anti-LANL forever. Of course, now he can claim he can separate LDRD from programmatic work, since he hates LANL's programmatic mission.

Anonymous said...

I *think* Bill P is a level 6 Project Director, not level 6 Scientist. Level 6 Project Director is equivalent to a Division Leader.

Anonymous said...

I wish that they would abolish LDRD! I am tired of paying high overhead rates for the useless bunch of morons that reside in PADSTE. Get rid of Terry, Mary, and the crew sucking on the "teet" of the weapons program and perhaps this lab could get back on track and support the work that it was created to do!