Aug 25, 2009

Study on Labs' Control Nixed

By John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

The Obama administration has abandoned a controversial study that could have led to Pentagon control over U.S. nuclear weapons design and manufacturing.

In February, the administration's Office of Management and Budget called for a study of the possibility of moving nuclear weapons work run by the National Nuclear Security Administration, including Los Alamos and Sandia labs, out of the civilian Department of Energy and into the Department of Defense.

But after missing a key study milestone, an Office of Management and Budget spokesman acknowledged Monday that the study will not be done.

The decision to abandon the study, first reported Monday by Global Security Newswire, does not mean the idea of Pentagon control is dead, according to the statement from OMB communications director Ken Baer. But rather than a fast track study, the issue will instead be considered as part of broader discussions of the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

"The administration is looking at the most effective positioning for the NNSA," Baer's statement said, "and it very well may be that the best place for the NNSA is exactly where it is now."

In response, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., issued a statement reiterating his belief that putting the labs under military control is a bad idea.

"I do not believe the proposal to move the NNSA to the Department of Defense ever made sense. But I do believe that it's important to examine what steps we can take to ensure NNSA is strengthened and improved," Bingaman said.

The study, called for in an internal Office of Management and Budget memorandum, would have looked at the costs and benefits of taking control of the National Nuclear Security Administration away from the Department of Energy, where it now resides.

In New Mexico, it could have led to the end of six decades of civilian management of Sandia and Los Alamos national labs, which design and maintain nuclear weapons.

Administration officials never commented publicly on their reasons for launching the study, citing the internal nature of the deliberations. But others, including former Sandia National Laboratories Director C. Paul Robinson, said a change would solve management problems with the current system. The agency has faced major projects running over budget and behind schedule, along with a string of embarrassing security incidents.

The first phase of the study was to have been done in early August, with the hope that necessary decisions could be made in time to begin any resulting management changes by 2011. News of the study, first reported by the Journal in February based on an internal Obama administration document, drew intense criticism.

In March, Bingaman and a bipartisan group of senators representing key committees with jurisdiction over the labs, wrote to the administration to express "our firm opposition to the transfer of the NNSA to the Department of Defense."

It was signed by Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as well as Bingaman's Republican counterpart on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the leaders of two other key Senate committees with jurisdiction over the nuclear weapons program.


Anonymous said...

The best place for the NNSA is to abolish the Department of Energy.

Anonymous said...

you publish this shit and NOTHING ever comes of it. why bother posting? these fuckers like Neu/Seestrum/Bishop only care about how many people either leave, die, or kill themselves.

Anonymous said...

Leaving the status quo is a death sentence for LANL. The corpse may still twitch from time to time, but the spirit is quickly fading away.

Congress and the Administration have apparently decided to let the stinking carcass known as NNSA remain in the dark were it can rot for a while longer and the stentch can permeate the labs. There will be no breath of fresh air.

At least the Bechtel maggots will be well fed.

Frank Young said...

9:40 PM,
I hear ya. I can only hope the senators involved had to call in a lot of favors to stop this - favors they could have used for something else. Change we can believe in has morphed into change that almost happened.

Anonymous said...

9:39 PM - just shut the fuck up. nobody cares or will ever listen. NNSA - National No Science Administration. They want people ot leave or die. Done. Read the obits.

Anonymous said...

"The administration is looking at the most effective positioning for the NNSA," Baer's statement said, "and it very well may be that the best place for the NNSA is exactly where it is now." (Article)

For the love of God.... NOOOOoooooooooooo!!!!!!!

This portends just more of the same slow decline into the sink hole.

Have these people in the administration not read the many official reports indicating just how bad NNSA is at micro-managing their labs into a stupefied state of extraordinary high cost, zero productivity and extremely low staff morale? The status quo is killing off the NNSA labs.

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine the DoD could do any worse running the Lab. Remember when we got that stupid broad Hazel O'Leary as Sec of Energy? She had to be told that part of her job would be to oversee nuclear weapons. She, and the Tiger Team had a lot to do with our demise.

Anonymous said...

Bingaman has no idea how much damage he is doing to the New Mexico labs by keeping the failing status quo in effect. Did Bechtel Inc. just write out a big campaign contribution check to this guy?

Anonymous said...

*Somebody* has paid off our fine elected officials to turn a blind eye towards the problems that NNSA and LANS have caused at LANL. Bechtel is a likely candidate; they have means, motive, and opportunity.

Anonymous said...

It's official. LASO has ordered that crypto-card logins be canceled for anyone who fails to complete a single online course by their due date. Of course, all of the online courses that are constantly being mandated require you to sign on with the very same crypto-card! This creates a Catch-22 situation.

LASO is full of idiots!

Anonymous said...

LANS has started awarding the $212 million in stimulus money for environmental cleanup. Actually, let me re-phrase that... Bechtel has started awarding the funds to their cronies and political friends. Does this pattern below look familiar to anyone?

- Well connected former politician as the CEO? CHECK!!!

- Company President and Founder once worked for Bechtel? CHECK!!!

SEC to compete for Los Alamos task orders - UPI News, Aug 16 2009

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has contracted Homeland Security Capital Corp. to provide remedial action and decommissioning support.

U.S. company HSCC announced a team led by its environmental remediation subsidiary Safety and Ecology Corp. was awarded the contract. Under the master task order agreement, worth up to $100 million in contracts to the awardees, the SEC-led team will compete for remedial action and decommissioning and demolition work.

Officials say the SEC-led team was one of four teams selected to compete for task orders by the Los Alamos National Laboratory for services at more than 20 buildings and structures.

"Overall, 11 companies submitted bids for the master task order agreements," Fred deSousa, Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesperson, said in a statement.

"Of the winners, these companies met our criteria better than the others and we believe they'll be the ones to provide the value the taxpayers expect."

From the Homeland Security Capital Corp's Website

* C. Thomas McMillen, Chairman and CEO:
...From 1987 through 1993, McMillen served three consecutive terms in the United States House of Representatives from the 4th Congressional District.

* Christopher (Chris) P. Leichtweis, President

...serves as President of HSCC and CEO of SEC Holdings Corporation....Prior to founding SEC, he was employed by ***Bechtel National and Bechtel Environmental, Inc.*** (various business units) and was a key contributor to major federal nuclear legacy programs.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who doesn't see what Bechtel is doing to LANL is a damn fool.

Anonymous said...

The only reasons not to put the laboratories under military control are
1. will not have corporate payouts
2. stockpile would be protected
3. waste, fraud, and abuse would be abolished
4. they would be productive

I can keep going, but it is not a hard argument.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was Nincompoops Not Serving America

Frank Young said...

No No, Semi-Accountable.

Anonymous said...

"The only reasons not to put the laboratories under military control are
1. will not have corporate payouts
3. waste, fraud, and abuse would be abolished"

You nailed it. There are no corporate favorites at the DOD, and never any wast, fraud or abuse!

Anonymous said...

With a name like "Homeland Security Capital Corp" you can figure it's got to be full of cronies. Perhaps they'll get lucky and someday be bought out by the politically connected Carlyle Group.

Anonymous said...

Which NNSA contractor will Tom D'Agostino get a lucrative VP slot with once he finally leaves NNSA?

Bechtel, BWXT, Pro2Serve? The choices are almost endless.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes... the rampant cronyism continues:

8:35am -- Who Killed Richardson Probe? (ABQ Journal)

Thursday, 27 August 2009 08:35

Source tells AP decision to drop case was made by top Justice Department officials.

The U.S. Department of Justice has decided not to seek criminal indictments against Gov. Bill Richardson or former high-ranking members of his administration in what has been described as an investigation into an alleged pay-to-play deal, according to a story that first broke late Wednesday on KRQE News 13.

The Associated Press followed up this morning with a story in which an unnamed person familiar with the investigation told the AP's Barry Massey that the decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials.

"It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington," the source told the AP.

Richardson and members of his staff were in Cuba this week and couldn't be reached for comment, and Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos didn't immediately respond to AP's e-mail messages seeking confirmation.


Anonymous said...

I guess we now know why Gov. Richardson was so eager to endorse Obama during the election. He got something really nice in return.

Anonymous said...

Did you see that the DOE auditors are extremely pleased and impressed by the Lab's computer security efforts? The same incompetent, draconian efforts that made it virtually impossible to get any work done.

What better proof could there be that LANS is giving DOE/NNSA exactly what they want?

Anonymous said...

Sure thing, if you can't get any work done because you can't read your emails, your laptop was encrypted into an unreadable state, your cryptocard no longer works because you missed the training deadline by one day and now can't do the training without a working cryptocard, your office workstation was blocked from the network by 'mistake', then your workplace is indeed safe and secure (and completely work-free).

If on top of that LANS could institute mandatory Abu Ghraib-style interrogations of the science staff, DOE would pee in its pants from joy.

Anonymous said...

The plan is to get rid of most of the scientists still left at LANL. Haven't you guys figure that out by now?

It's cheaper to run the "lab" as a production and maintenance facility. Scientists are very expensive and hard to keep reliably funded. LANS (Bechtel) doesn't like dealing with the budget problems that this causes for them. Layoffs are expensive. Therefore, LANS is working to modify policies so as raise the attrition rate of the remaining TSM employees. Almost all of the 5% attrition rate that NNSA wants to see at LANL for this next fiscal year will be coming from the scientist level positions as scientists give up and bail.

Anonymous said...

LANS doesn't need many expensive scientists. A continuous stream of cheap post-docs will do just fine.

We'll pack them in like sardines into cramped cubicles inside my new "Science Warehouse" and kick them out of the lab after they've been here for a few years. My plan is a fantastic idea that will maximize LANS future profits and greatly reduce lab benefit costs. I'm brilliant!


Anonymous said...

Does anyone have statistics on th e number of postdocs hired/month over the past 5 years? Are postdoc hires being used to circumvent TSM hiring restrictions?