At what point is somebody important going to admit that it was a huge mistake to have sold off LANL to Bechtel, a large construction company? How much more evidence will it take before somebody owns up to the fact that that the additional $200 million it costs each year to have Bechtel, hiding under the umbrella of the LANS Limited Liability Corporation running LANL will never be reclaimed through "increased efficiency of operations", as was claimed back in 2005 when NNSA put LANL up on the bidding block?
When the University of California operated the LANL contract, they did so for a fee of $8 million per year. Granted, they did a terrible job during the last twenty or thirty years of LANL's history. Remember Pete Nanos, UC's grand plan for putting LANL back on the straight and narrow? Look where that got us. However, three years later LANS and Bechtel, in retrospect, make UC look like a paragon of efficiency. And that's saying something. If you worked at LANL under UC, you know what I mean.
Before anybody rushes to explain to *why* no one has owned up to the horrible mistake that NNSA made back in 2005 when they put the LANL contract up for bid, I already think I know the answer. Let's see if you agree.
But before we get too much farther on in this ramble, let's just take a second to thank former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici one more time for his brilliant decision to create the NNSA. It's the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, Pete.
Ok, back to *why* nobody will admit that the NNSA, and their decision to sell off LANL (and LLNL) to a large, for-profit military industrial construction contractor was a huge mistake. I actually think there are three, perhaps four possible explanations for this massively flawed decision, and why nobody will now own up to it:
Explanation Number 1. Congress and Bill Richardson, ex-DOE Secretary of Energy actually believed Linton Brooks, then head of the NNSA, and Tom D'Agostino when they made their claim that the new LLC would recoup their approximately $200 / year costs through improved efficiencies of operation. Nobody will admit to having believed that now, since it is so patently absurd to have ever believed the fairy tail, in retrospect. Domenici is no longer around, so he's certainly not going to 'fess up to falling for such a whopper. Bingaman? Udall? Don't make me laugh.
Explanation Number 2. Nobody believed Brooks and D'Agostino, because they were all in agreement with the (then) secret plan to strip all non-plutonium pit science from LANL, and turn the rest of the place into the next Rocky Flats Plant. Costs? Efficiency of operation? Who gives a shit? Now, however, since the plans to build a new "Taj Mahal" of a plutonium science complex at LANL seem to be falling apart, nobody is going to admit having been a backer of that plan.
Explanation Number 3. Everybody believed Brooks and D'Agostino on their claims that the new LLC would be more cost-efficient than UC had been. I guess it is possible for that many people high up in the decision chain to be that stupid, but who would ever admit to it after the fact?
Explanation Number 4. Bechtel wanted the LANL contract, so Bechtel bought the contract through the usual corporate/political process; i.e. they bought the miscellaneous government officials responsible for approving the sale, thus guaranteeing the sale.
Take a look at LANL and LLNL today. They are buried under unbelievable mountains of useless bureaucracy. They make the old days of working under the University of California look like a finely tuned Swiss clock. Look at the latest gems that Bechtel has bequeathed upon the two sister labs: Ladder Training for both sites, and mandatory Bicycle Helmet Training for anybody at LLNL who wants to ride one of the old clunker bikes they have laying around the place for staff to use to get from one building to another. Have you ever been to Livermore, and have you ever seen one of those bikes? First, it's flat as a pancake at LLNL, and second, you could not get one of those old clunkers going fast enough to hurt anybody, and finally, it has worked fine the just way it is now for umpteen years.
These are just two of the latest dictoms of idiocy that our fine new for-profit contractor has brought to the table. Why is nobody paying attention? Where is DOE Secretary Chu while all of this is happening? Good questions; I have no idea.