Jan 10, 2009

NNSA Consolidates Gas Transfer System Work

Pinky,
This item was quietly posted in the Newsbulletin yesterday. Oddly, it doesn't mention that LANL currently performs this work for all LANL designs, and that the Sandia work is performed in Livermore, not Albuquerque. So what happens to the LANL GTS engineers now?
-Anonymous

No idea, Anonymous. Even if they can sell their homes in Los Alamos, can they afford to live in Northern California? Will their salaries be adjusted? Will there be relocation assistance? Are they even being offered the chance to keep their moved jobs?

NNSA consolidates gas transfer system work
January 9, 2009

Gas transfer system research, development, and design authority will be consolidated to Sandia National Laboratories.

“This is one example of our efforts to downsize, streamline, and clarify work throughout NNSA’s national security enterprise,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Robert Smolen. “Like any business, we are taking steps to eliminate redundancies and create focused mission centers at our sites.”

The gas transfer system is an essential non-nuclear warhead component that enables tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, to boost the yield of a nuclear weapon.

To read a news release, click here.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does this mean that I have to go to Sandia to pass gas?

Anonymous said...

The NNSA is accepting a huge amount of risk with this decision. I participated on a Tri-Lab risk assessment on this about 8 years ago which indicated high risk with this move. Sandia does not have the personnel, capacity, knowledge, or experience to take on this responsibility. The vast knowledge and experience on GTS exists at LANL. This decision by NNSA was based on saving money and merely being forced to find a mission for Sandia. In general the consolidation of capability eliminates the competition between the Labs which produced the best product for our Nation.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think NNSA gives a rat's ass about the financial problems of anyone in their contract work force at LANL?

People who work at the weapons labs are nothing special to NNSA. They see lab workers as everyday contract employees who are all replaceable. Tom D'Agostino is enabling an attitude at NNSA that is quickly destroying any 'esprit de corp' left within the weapons research complex. Heckava job, Tommy!

Anonymous said...

Another girder of the once-great Los Alamos National Laboratory has been removed from its superstructure. Dismantling of Los Alamos is well underway.

Whatever happened to the DOE's logic of competing design work between more than one laboratory?

Consolidation of nuclear programs into distributed, but dependendent, single point failures is a very great security risk!

Anonymous said...

9:34 pm: "Consolidation of nuclear programs into distributed, but dependendent, single point failures is a very great security risk!"

You are correct, and the issue is one of extreme importance and urgency. However, the general public doesn't care, the people in government who should care don't, the congress doesn't care, and the (new) President doesn't care. They don't see the connection between nuclear security and national security - the "cold war" is over and not even remembered for it's significance. When the mushroom cloud appears over Manhattan, or San Francisco, then people will care, and look for scapegoats, but it will be too late for our country.

Anonymous said...

Holy moly 10:30! You conclusively proved a direct link between Sandia doing some work and the nuclear annihilation of major US cities.

Everybody panic! Aaahhh! Help!

Anonymous said...

1/10/09 10:30 PM

Can tell us how our nuclear stockpile prevents a mushroom cloud over a major metropolitan area? This going to be good, wait a few minutes though, my popcorn is still in the microwave.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1/10/09 8:27 PM wrote "... This decision by NNSA was based on saving money and merely being forced to find a mission for Sandia."

If NNSA is really serious about saving money, they would cancel the contracts to run LANL and LLNL and give them back to UC. That would save more than $200M!

Hα said...

The NNSA/Bechtel does take the loss on the homes of the high-level executives it has moved around but I have never heard of it below that level. There are some in LA where they've absorbed six figure losses.

We are somewhat new to Los Alamos (Yes, we came here of our own choice a couple years because a job is better than no job) and cannot figure out why normal - not executive - house prices here are so mind-bogglingly high for a place with a population and employer in decline. Plus I find it hard to believe that everyone in town is making a six-figure salary. In any case if anyone is looking to exit we are looking to buy a place and would really prefer to do it without a six percent realtor tax. Single family >2000sq ft, in LA not WR, big yard, quiet street, walking distance ~1mi to elementary school. Will pay current market $/sq ft.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the point of redundancy for the simple fact that if one site gets attacked or breaks then the entire capability doesn't collapse because of a single-point failure?

Guess we really don't have any concerns about ever needing weapons again.

Anonymous said...

I am puzzeled. 8:27 States that this decision was based on saving money AND finding a mission for Sandia. While I see the MISSION part of that statement, why is this a cost cutting measure? Is the FTE cost that much less at Sandia? Even if it is less how much infrastructure is needed to be built and at what cost, and if it is cheaper to operate at Sandia, how long will it take to recoup the costs of moving.

Is this for Sandia NM or Sandia CA?

Anonymous said...

I remind the readers that not every task is a research topic worthy of support by $500,000 FTEs. This technology, removed from the nuclear mystique, is not a big deal partially because tritium must be added on a time scale compared with its half-life. We're talking about stainless steel tubing after all.
I do, however, understand the panic at LANL. When we peel away the skills like this, found to be mundane, does anything remain?

Anonymous said...

"cannot figure out why normal - not executive - house prices here are so mind-bogglingly high for a place with a population and employer in decline."

You are a perfect example of why. You say prices are too high yet you then say you are looking to buy and will pay the inflated cost. Your intuition is correct. Do yourself a favor and rent, put money in the bank, leave in 5 years when you can't stand LANL anymore. If you don't plan to stay here for at least 10 or more years buying a house in LA seems like a losing proposition.

Anonymous said...

9:33 PM, just because NNSA doesn't care, it doesn't follow that we at LANL shouldn't care either. I would be interested to know whether any offers will be extended to the LANL team by Sandia.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 12:01 as far as renting for now. Seems reasonable to at least wait until the FY10 budget is passed. Current feeling seems to be the CR will be extended to finish out FY09.

Anonymous said...

The NW complex is making a transition to being a jobs/pork/patronage program, and the decisions about what gets done where will be dominated by politics, not technical realities. If you want to see what happens in such a situation, look at NASA, which made this transition almost 40 years ago and has been bleeding competent people ever since. At this point they can't even design a new ELV (see: Ares) to compare with the magnificent systems they had in the 60s.

Don't hold your breath waiting for this to improve. It won't. Don't stake your career on it getting better. It won't. If you work in NW, make your exit plans now.

Anonymous said...

“Like any business, we are taking steps to eliminate redundancies and create focused mission centers at our sites.” (Robert Smolen, NNSA, Retired Air Force)


Like any other business?

TRANSLATION:

LANL and LLNL are little more that corporate businesses now, like any other corporate business. And like the rest of the "for-profit" corporate world, we will squeeze contractors and fire contract employees in mass at any time.

As far as the NNSA labs go, they are being focused on production issues that can be handled by cheap, everyday engineers. When we don't need these people, we'll quickly fire them.

As in the rest of the corporate defense complex, me and my retired DOD military buddies will be hiring each other into lucrative VP slots with the contractors we previously selected to manage the NNSA complex. In case you have been slow to figure it out, NNSA is now a "pay-to-play" operation.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the prudent action in Los Alamos is to rent. In fact, rental rates are dropping. Buying a house in Los Alamos is financial suicide.

Anonymous said...

Frank, feel free to cut this out and use it as a top level post. I'm curious what others at LANL think about Udall's views on the future of LANL.

www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/
c2.cgi?075+article+News
+20090110105315075075007

---------
Sen. Udall predicts bright future for LANL - Los Alamos Monitor, Jan 11, 2009

Former congressman begins new chapter in U.S. Senate

By CAROL A. CLARK

Newly sworn-in Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., met Thursday with Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio in Washington, D.C.

In discussing the laboratory’s budget, Udall described Anastasio as “upbeat. He felt good about this budget year,” said Udall during an interview from Washington Thursday evening.

The laboratory’s future looks bright, too, he said, explaining that strong science is needed in all of the challenges facing the world.

“Our national laboratories are front and center in that effort and I’m going to be urging this administration to carve out an important role for us,” Udall said. “Science and scientific endeavors are important to President-elect Obama. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him visit our laboratory very soon.”

All 17 national laboratory directors work together in a group with the energy secretary and Udall said he wants to use that force to help Congress understand the importance of science in finding solutions to current challenges.

“Global warming, infectious diseases, homeland security..., all of this is a big part of the agenda that faces us and science is a part it,” he said, adding that the battery research taking place at LANL is where it can make a big contribution to the country’s next generation of cars.

He and Anastasio will meet on a regular basis, he said. “We’re going to work very hard with our delegation to see that the big challenges are adequately funded,” Udall said.

Udall described his emotions as he was sworn in to the United States Senate at noon Tuesday.

“I was ecstatic, I was excited, I was thrilled,” he said. “It was wonderful having my father and family with me.”

Udall’s wife, Jill Cooper Udall, held the Bible during the swearing in ceremony conducted by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Hundreds of people attended a reception the night before the swearing in ceremony, including many New Mexicans.

“It was great to see so many familiar faces here supporting us,” he said. “This was the vice president's last official act apart from presiding over the joint session of the House and Senate for the counting of the electoral votes.”

Cheney and President George W. Bush are set to leave the White House following Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration.

Udall replaces retired Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

“He walked down the aisle with Sen. (Jeff) Bingamen and me when we were sworn in,” Udall said. “He found out my father was here and spent a good lengthy visit with him. He's going to stay in Washington with a foundation and is joining his son, Pete Jr.'s, law firm as a consultant. He and his wife Nancy are staying in the same place so I'm sure we'll see them at social events.”

While there has been concern in losing Domenici's seniority, Udall just found out that he expects to be appointed to two top-level Senate committees – the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has a wide jurisdiction, ranging from consumer protection to oversight and expansion of the nation’s communications infrastructure.

The Committee also is responsible for encouraging innovation and promoting science and jurisdiction over the nation's railways, which is critical to a rural state like New Mexico, he said.

“With two of the nation’s preeminent labs and some of the world’s best scientists, New Mexico wins when America invests in innovation,” Udall said. “On the Commerce Committee, I will be able to support the kinds of innovation that our state and our country need.”

Udall also highlighted the Commerce Committee’s role in spurring economic development.

“New Mexico’s future ability to create high-quality jobs depends on having a modern system of transportation and communication,” he said. “We also need strong rules to protect consumers and help American businesses keep the public’s trust. On the Commerce Committee, I will be able to address all of these issues and ensure that my constituents have a strong advocate for their interests.”

The Committee on Environment and Public Works plays the lead role in crafting federal environmental policy and will have a major role in crafting any legislation to address global warming.

The committee helps develop America’s infrastructure plans, a task that will be particularly crucial as Obama and Congress begin to spur infrastructure development as a means for producing American jobs, Udall said. EPW also has jurisdiction over the federal highway bill, which will be reauthorized in 2009.

“New Mexicans care deeply about the issues EPW addresses,” he said. “We want the kinds of public investments that will spur clean energy jobs now and allow our state to prosper for years to come. We want safe roads and bridges and rules that protect our public health and allow us to pass down our natural inheritance to future generations. On this committee, I will be able to help protect New Mexico’s economy today while helping to protect our world for generations to come.”

Udall’s committee assignments will become final when both Senate leaders agree to the new committee ratios and the Senate passes a confirmation resolution.

SIDEBAR:

Udall's life before the Senate

Prior to his election to the Senate, Udall served five-terms in the U.S. Congress and before that he served eight years as New Mexico Attorney General. He voted against the Iraq War in 2002 and urges withdrawal of U.S. troops as soon as practicable.

Udall is an avid supporter of wilderness areas and wildlife, and strongly opposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other areas. He guided the 2005 Ojito Wilderness Act through Congress, which created 11,000 new acres of protected lands in New Mexico.

Udall began his career as a law clerk to Chief Justice Oliver Seth of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1977 to 1978. He became Assistant U.S. Attorney for New Mexico from 1978 to 1981, then Chief Counsel to New Mexico's Health & Environmental Department, a partner in the Miller Law firm and New Mexico's Attorney General from 1990 to 1998. Udall ran twice for Congress, in 1982 and 1988, before winning the 3rd District seat in 1998.

Udall was born May 18, 1948 in Tucson, Ariz. He is one of six children born to Stewart and Erma lee Udall. He earned his bachelor's degree in education from Prescott College in Arizona in 1970, his Bachelor of Law from Cambridge University in Great Britain in 1975 and his J.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1977.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 3:05 PM. People are still holding out for a high price in Los Alamos. There are plenty of homes that have been on the market for over 2 years.

Don't buy now! Wait until the layoffs hit. You'll get a 30% discount from current prices. Until then, rent and enjoy the fact that you have the luxury to easily move to another job in another town, if necessary.

Anonymous said...

"The NW complex is making a transition to being a jobs/pork/patronage program, and the decisions about what gets done where will be dominated by politics, not technical realities."

making???

Where have you been for the 36 years St Pete was in the Senate?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Sen. Udall will have to say about LANL's "bright future" when his Democratic Congress applies massive budget cuts to the lab's weapons budget by around $300 million next fiscal year?

Anonymous said...

This year 2009, will see significant down-sizing at LANL, so why is everyone so suprised? We all kenw this was in the works? And next year they will cut even more, again we are all aware of the massive cuts that are about to envoke us. We have bee extremely lucky to have held out as we have under the C.R.

Anonymous said...

The intened cuts to LANL are coming our way, if you did not prepare for these cuts, back 2-3 years ago when they were first announced, Tom and his partners at NNSA made it very clear we were to take on the order of 20% hits for the next few years, Did you not belive that could happen or, is you head stuck in the sand? Too late now, we have been warned.

Anonymous said...

Hey dude, did you really beleive that we were going to live off the C.R. forever? We are living on a borrowed dream, and thats about to go POP! just like your lively-hood.

Are You Ready ?

Anonymous said...

The LANL gas trasfer R&D workers may lose their positions at LANL but if Sandia offers them positions then they are, in many respects, ahead of the game.

Going forward, I would rather being working at a diversified and vibrant lab like SNL than at a declining lab like LANL.

Anonymous said...

Brett Knap's brother at Sandia Livermore does not have work, so Brett solved the problem by sending our jobs to CA. Sen. Udall, if you don't stand up and stop the looting of northern NM jobs, then we will be the next flint Mi.

Anonymous said...

"In discussing the laboratory’s budget, Udall described Anastasio as “upbeat. He felt good about this budget year,” said Udall during an interview from Washington Thursday evening."

Uhhhhhhhhh, are the names reversed here? Shouldn't we be hearing the director saying this after he spoke with Udall?

Anonymous said...

"In general the consolidation of capability eliminates the competition between the Labs which produced the best product for our Nation."

Didn't the Big Three US automakers say something like that?

Anonymous said...

Tom Udall is a fool. He'll be found to be powerless when it comes to stopping the job destruction headed LANL's way, courtesy of the newly install liberal Democratic US Congress.

Most of the people in his party hate the weapons research complex. They intend to snuff it out as best they can by starving the weapons labs for funding.

Anonymous said...

"The LANL gas trasfer R&D workers may lose their positions at LANL but if Sandia offers them positions then they are, in many respects, ahead of the game."

Isn't the lone R&D Engineer6 at LANL in GTS?

Anonymous said...

I would guess that there are not many high salary Sandia research jobs in gas transfer. The technology is already highly developed and not in much need for improvement. It is subject to security and secrecy but that niche is quickly shrinking. In a sense, it is a microcosm of many of the places where LANL scientists seem to think they are both important and irreplaceable.

Anonymous said...

I understand that you can get this work done much, much cheaper is you outsource it to China or Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Not only cheaper, 11:55, but probably done more competently as well.

Anonymous said...

1/12 10:35 pm: "Tom Udall is a fool. He'll be found to be powerless when it comes to stopping the job destruction headed LANL's way courtesy of the newly install liberal Democratic US Congress. Most of the people in his party hate the weapons research complex."

What?? "powerless to stop the job destruction"??? He's a PROPONENT of "job destruction" at LANL, you clueless jerk! He IS a "newly istall"(sic) liberal Democrat! "Most of the people in his party hate the weapons research complex," AND HE'S ONE OF THEM!!

For God's sake, get a clue. You got what you voted for.

Anonymous said...

1/13 4:57 pm: "I would guess that there are not many high salary Sandia research jobs in gas transfer. The technology is already highly developed and not in much need for improvement."

On the contrary, there are some significant improvements in efficiency and technology in the offing in this area. It is critical to RRW, and could dramatically improve all existing systems if fully developed and implemented. This isn't a "dead area" by any means. In fact, it is one of the more exciting areas of new ideas.

Anonymous said...

More raping of LANL by LLNL management cronies. No surprise. Udall is as dumb as a deer in the headlights. Who loses? Anyone who works at LANL and American taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

I don't work for any of the design labs. I am a 'contract' employee. All these concerns sound very familiar to me and I have one word of advice...forget about thinking you or your work is better than others, you have more knowledge, experience, or whatever. While all that may be true, 'they' don't care anymore. All of that means very little to a government agency bent on saving money and 'streamlining' the 'business.' Things have changed from what they were. Outsourcing, monetary performance awards, etc... now rule and corrupt the day. As for the engineers at the design labs and production facilities..while I can empathize, I do not feel sorry for you. Many of you never spoke up regarding questions of quality and managerial decision making impact but now that it is affecting you, you are pissed off. Country first.