Jun 7, 2009

Comment of the Week

This week our COW examines the relationships between certain NNSA individuals and the corporations that benefited from the LANS and LLNS contract awards. From the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Updated “Safeguards” and Net Assessments post, 11:02am asks the following question:


Why do you think D'Agostino put Bechtel and BWXT in charge of LANL and LLNL as for-profit entities and that he's constantly pushing things like Six Sigma?

He knows what he is doing. His buddy Smolen has recently made out well with his new position and D'Agostino also expect[s] to see a nice return on his "investment" in Bechtel and BWXT once he leaves NNSA.

Follow the money. It's not about science or national security any more in the NNSA complex


The "Smolen" referred to in the comment is Robert Smolen, former NNSA deputy administrator for defense programs. Smolen has since left the nuclear agency to become a senior national security fellow at Lawrence Livermore's Center for Global Security Research.

What do you think? Payoff for government-assisted profiteering, or just your typical, normal every day corporate America business as usual?

--Doug

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

And the contractor award to COMPA, founded by another Bechtelian..... the fix is in.

It's so obvious what's happening but of course no one in DC (hello Bingaman and Udall??? Are you awake?)sees anything at all.

Anonymous said...

12:34 pm: "It's so obvious what's happening but of course no one in DC (hello Bingaman and Udall??? Are you awake?)sees anything at all."

Yes they do - they see masters at the game and aspire to be as good. Yes, it is "business as usual," but the rules of this particular game were written long ago. Fairness has nothing to do with it. You can't stop the game, so all you can do is choose to play (or not), or choose to watch (or not). These days, the only mistake the players have to watch out for is to do something so blatantly crooked that it gets on the radar screen of the national press. POGO doesn't count, and neither does Fox News - their known agendas blunt their message too much.

Anonymous said...

http://llnlthetruth.blogspot.com/

for all of you LLNL employees who would like to have a blog space with NO politics (No reflection on the content of this blog)! It is an alternative to LLNL-The True Story which is filled with non related blather like..."Where is All The Ammo" or "No New Taxes"or this tasty nugget "It's very evident that now's the time to become well armed, become proficient and fight crime, one shot at a time". This new site is only concerned with LLNL and all political commentary will be screened.

Anonymous said...

6/7/09 1:43 PM

I loved the ammo post. LANL The Rest of the Story has some whacked out posts but nothing like the the stuff on the LLNL blog.

Anonymous said...

Of course they are awake 12:34, and quietly anticipating all those juicy campaign donations from each and every corporation involved in LANS,LLC, and all of their subsidiaries.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Bingaman and Udall get major campaign contributions from LANS, Bechtel, etc. Maybe not direct contributions, which can be traced, but I would be that some money changes hands.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to observe how some government organizations, like the NIH for example take every step that they can to avoid even the slightest appearance of influence peddling and financial malfeasance.

The NNSA, on the other hand, seems to seek out opportunities to demonstrate that they are open to offers of kickbacks, "royalties", and rewards for favors done to large military industrial corporations.

Bingaman is aware of this. Udall is aware of this. We get it, guys: you are part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2009/090203.aspx

Anonymous said...

Gee, how many folks were filled with outrage when the influence was of the St. Pete variety?

Anonymous said...

While it is true that St. Pete had a few problems, as far as is known he was supportive of science and was not on the take from anybody like Bechtel.

Anonymous said...

Plutonium Pete was a pork barrel politician from the word go. But, his objective was primarily to fund LANL, and not to line the pockets of large beltway bandit corporations like Bechtel, BWXT, and WG.

NNSA positively reeks of corruption, by comparison to Pete.

Anonymous said...

Agreed 10:02, but I don't understand the reasoning behind the earlier insinuations that Bingaman and Udall are on the take from Bechtel. To the contrary, I don't think they give two sh*ts about LANL or Los Alamos, and they both have safe seats.

Anonymous said...

Actually, both Bingaman and Udall are too stupid to steal.

Anonymous said...

The point being, 10:23pm and 9:27am is that both Bingaman and Udall are well aware of how badly the NNSA profiteering approach for running the labs has damaged LANL. They are aware of the kickback nature of the interactions between NNSA and Bechtel, BWXT, and the Washington Group.

And they have done nothing. That makes them complicit, and part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Obama has said he wants to "walk the walk and not just do the talk" when it comes to demonstrating serious US interest in getting rid of nuclear weapons. Therefore, expect him to "walk the walk" by reducing the size of the weapons complex in the US and letting it decline through neglect. Most of Congress with go along with this plan and do so under cover of the idea of "balancing the budget".

Meanwhile, welfare payments will be going up and the US will have close to a $2 trillion deficit for this next year. Go figure? At least those welfare payments may help the unemployed scientists when they get laid off for the weapons labs.

Anonymous said...

During the selection process for the new lab contractor it was stated that people making this decision could not be employed in the future by any of the parties involved. Would any documentation exist along these lines for such invididuals? or are memories fading with time about these details?

Anonymous said...

At least those welfare payments may help the unemployed scientists when they get laid off for the weapons labs

I don't think that these scientist will be unemployed for long. DOE/Office of Science labs are actively recruiting scientists, for example.

Anonymous said...

4:12,

I imagine some of the remaining LANL staff "scientists" could find work at a DOE Office of Science lab.

However, I suspect many here would not make the cut, even if they got an interview. The most employable scientific staff left LANL in that first exodus of 2004 - 2005. About 3,000 of them were in the first wave who voted with their feet.

Anonymous said...

There are still some first-rate people left at LANL. They are mostly over the age of 50 and unable to get jobs due to age diecrimination. There are also some others who are double-dipping, drawing their UC pensions while drawing LANS salaries.
These people are far above the level of the D students that populate the DOE.

But, the top-knotch younger people are leaving (not coming) and, in about 10 years, the level of competence at LANL will be about equivalent to that of the DOE.

Anonymous said...

"I imagine some of the remaining LANL staff "scientists" could find work at a DOE Office of Science lab. However, I suspect many here would not make the cut, even if they got an interview."

I'm a PD and office of science labs don't want anything to do with LANL. I interviewed with 3 labs over the past 5 months and they flat out said "We're not looking for anyone from LANL but your CV is strong..." One guy candidly told me that they aren't impressed with the LANL hires so far. It's hard convincing them I'm not like the rest. Thanks guys!

Anonymous said...

6/8/09 5:07 PM:

You are full of crap. GOOD post docs from LANL get lots of offers from places where they are wanted. The truth is that they thought you suck and just wanted to make an excuse (to your face) not to not hire you.

Anonymous said...

"I'm a PD and office of science labs don't want anything to do with LANL. I interviewed with 3 labs over the past 5 months and they flat out said "We're not looking for anyone from LANL but your CV is strong..." One guy candidly told me that they aren't impressed with the LANL hires so far. It's hard convincing them I'm not like the rest. Thanks guys!

6/8/09 5:07 PM"

I am calling bullshit on this. Sorry but you are a fake.

Anonymous said...

6/8/09 5:07 PM
I'm a PD and office of science labs don't want anything to do with LANL. I interviewed with 3 labs over the past 5 months and they flat out said "We're not looking for anyone from LANL but your CV is strong..." One guy candidly told me that they aren't impressed with the LANL hires so far. It's hard convincing them I'm not like the rest. Thanks guys!


Lemme guess ... you work for doc aq? If so, that's your problem not LANL.

Anonymous said...

"One guy candidly told me that they aren't impressed with the LANL hires so far. It's hard convincing them I'm not like the rest. Thanks guys!" - 5:07 PM

The new reputation of LANL is that of a lab of poor quality and word is spreading quickly. This is more evidence of the decline in "intellectual integrity" that recent official reports talk about. Best and brightest scientists don't want to come work at a place that Sig Hecker has called an overly risk adverse scientific "prison". LANL and LLNL appear to have no future.

Working at LANL has now become a blot on an unwise good resume. The future of this "lab" involves cleanup, construction and plant management -- all Bechtel and BWXT fortes. Coincidence? I think not.

Good luck with your national security needs, Mister and Misses America. You're going to need it!

Anonymous said...

The stimulus money flowing into DOE is significantly higher than the DOE's annual budget. It's an enormous amount of money!

And out of all of this additional money, LANL get's almost nothing for additional science. The $200 million that did come LANL's way is only for cleanup and will pay of outside subcontractor work.

Science is about to enter a new, golden era with huge increases in federal funding, while back at the NNSA complex the weapon labs will whither away with NNSA hoping for yearly attrition in the remaining scientific staff.

There is a strong message in all of this stuff.

Anonymous said...

I left LANL and went to work for a small company on the west coast. The company has a number of former LANL employees.

We have been told by a few potential customers that they were leery of doing business with us because "we had too many ex-LANL employees."

Believe me, LANL's reputation is in the toilet!

Anonymous said...

Believe me, LANL's reputation is in the toilet!

6/9/09 6:45 AM

I'm sure Mikey and Terry will turn around this sad situation in no time at all. We just need to get a new "skill set" going at LANL (LANS translation: Get rid of all the current staff and bring in cheap new hires for doing cleanup and construction work).

Anonymous said...

8:56 PM

I suck, therefore I'm here.

BTW, most of the PDs in my division either leave without jobs, or leave with jobs they didn't want. Get your head out of your ass.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that we are getting the quality of PDs that we did five years ago. That has something to do with why our PDs are not getting good jobs. The smart PDs are going to places where science, not the Director's bonus, is important.

Anonymous said...

The smart PDs are going to places where science, not the Director's bonus, is important.

6/9/09 3:55 PM

You've got to be kidding me. What bright PD researcher wouldn't want to come work for Bechtel? You might even get one of those swell looking construction hats with the job offer!

Anonymous said...

What division are you in, 11:51?

Anonymous said...

At some level, isn't this a mentor problem? If a postdoc appears to be struggling with a project, shouldn't we work with them rather than ignore them? I have some colleagues that haven't spoken with their students and/or postdocs in months, and they are ok with that. I prefer a more hands-on approach and be actively involved in their research. It helps to head off problems before they start.

Anonymous said...

6/9/09 11:51 AM:

I'm sure glad you aren't my post-doc! You freely admit you are a lousy scientist, perhaps that is why you aren't getting offers. My current post-doc got an offer from almost everywhere he interviewed. (mostly tier 1 schools) A couple offers came with very generous start-up money. EVERY post-doc I have ever had has ended their post with at least a decent offer.

You'd also do well to drop the chip off your shoulder.

Anonymous said...

I am the worst postdoc ever! They're talking about converting me!

Anonymous said...

Dear 6/10/09 6:14 PM

6/9/09 11:51 AM is a fake.
The person is not a postdoc at Los Alamos. This phoney has been on the blog for awhile now and is very sad and bitter.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope he does better in academia than you did, Jim.

Anonymous said...

decent - of a level of quality that meets one's needs or standards

he did a decent job on his homework, but there╩╝s still room for improvement

see adequate, satisfactory