Dec 12, 2009

Customer Service


By request, we are making a top level post around this rather bizarre letter that was sent to all staff last week by Larry Freestone, Group Leader, Personal Security.

Here's the letter, which was posted to the Don't plan on going anywhere, anytime soon post:

Serving close to 2,500 employees per week, the Laboratory's Personnel Security Group is a hub -- helping Lab staff address clearance issues, resolve badge-related problems, process classified visit requests, respond to drug tests, and so on.

Few Lab employees engage Personnel Security by choice, and our staff periodically sees some unprofessional behavior that should not be present in any workplace. Fortunately, these people represent a small percentage of personnel security customers, but the numbers seem to be increasing.

"Customer service is not easy. Few people have the temperament to be successful in this type of job. However, every single person working at Los Alamos National Laboratory provides some level of customer service."People seem to be less tolerant and more vocal in ever-increasing numbers both here and across the country. Common courtesies are giving way to rude, sarcastic, cutting, or belittling comments. What perceptions does this behavior create in other Laboratory workers and in our visitors?

Although we are unsure why some choose to behave badly, we hope that it's not the result of perceived inefficiencies by Personnel Security. We strive to make every customer's visit as pleasant as possible given the conditions and procedures over which we have control. When any customer service agent, not just those in Personnel Security, fails to meet expectations, please patiently seek to understand why.

Customer service is not easy. Few people have the temperament to be successful in this type of job. However, every single person working at Los Alamos National Laboratory provides some level of customer service. It may be behind a counter dealing with walk-ins, observing a procedure to ensure it is being done safely, troubleshooting an equation, or courting visitors who have programmatic funds to spend.

I am proud of Personnel Security Group employees for their pleasant and professional behavior day in and day out. There is no place for rudeness; patience and understanding should be the norm. In other words, please treat others as you would want to be treated.

Larry Freestone, Group Leader, Personnel Security


This is one of the comments that discusses the letter.

The trouble with Freestone's letter is that it was driven by a single incident in the personnel security department. Also, while in general personnel security have provided good customer service, unfortunately, there have been a few incidents where they have provided very poor service, particularly in the past. There have been incidents where they have treated my military (Air Force and Navy) customers without any care or patience. In fact, one my key customers from the Air Force Weapons Laboratory (AFWL) indicated he had never been treated so disrespectfully. The other problem I have with this letter, is that I'm sure Anastasio gave the approval to send this to All Employees. Will this be a pattern of hammering all employees every time Mike get's an opportunity? It was "poor customer service" in itself to send this letter to us. LANS wonders why they have not yet "commanded" any respect from us when they send us letters like this one.


Sounds like we may be hearing more about this.


93 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that Freestone needs to find a different job.

Anonymous said...

It has always been the case that LANL's support organizations are the tail wagging the dog. They see themselves as entitled to their jobs, and they don't think of the people who come to them for services as customers. What are we going to do, take our business somewhere else?

It is these very same overhead support staff who undoubtedly gave high job satisfaction ratings on the recent morale survey. Overhead-funded jobs at LANL are great work, if you can get one. Performance doesn't matter, it pays the same. The same comment applies to our crack LANS "management team" as well.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm the letter is just asking people to stop acting like a bunch of spoiled children...guess the first two posters just can't grow out of it.

Anonymous said...

"Hmmm the letter is just asking people to stop acting like a bunch of spoiled children...guess the first three posters just can't grow out of it.

There, fixed that for you, 1:54.

Anonymous said...

Sending visitors to get badged, especially foreign visitors, can be a nerve racking event - depending on who is at the desk, how busy they are, if their computers are down, or if anything is out of the ordinary process flow. I know of three incidents in recent years where I did not want to be associated with the badge office personnel, i.e., that they worked for LANS also.

Whoever Mr. Freestone is complaining about, probably had similar experiences, so I sympathize with them for that. One time i did see one of the top tier managers loose their temper at the badge office, and really act like a pompus ass until they realized that the computers were really down (this is something that they could improve on), leaving the poor clerks there without a way to make badges.

It is unfortunate that the service/support personnel have to suck up and deal with disrespectful workers daily, its the same in the airline industry, telephone company, Microsoft, etc.

Anonymous said...

It's called customer feedback.

Get used to it or fix your behavior.

People have a right to express their dissatisfaction with poor performance (First amendment).

Courtesy is no excuse for poor service.

Someone who gets poor service and doesn't speakout is a weakling.

Perhaps embarassment will get your team to peform up to expectations.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, while there are many fine people in the support organizations, there are some real jerk and nothing is ever done about them.

Anonymous said...

I would like Freestone to have to deal with customers who have a choice.

Those of us on WFO mostly have customers who do have a choice.
It's quite different than having a captive audience that has no recourse.

Anonymous said...

People who work 'in the field' don't have the luxury of explaining everything to the desk jockeys who are supposed to be on their team. How about a little more support from the support staff?

Or would you prefer to trade jobs?

Anonymous said...

Oh my, my. Why can’t they understand that it’s my job to point out things that are wrong that need correction.
No, I don’t think this reflects the typical LANL employee attitude - just the whiners here.

Anonymous said...

The whole place is a joke, try getting a clear answer from these people.....

Anonymous said...

Perhaps embarassment will get your team to peform up to expectations.

12/12/09 2:44 PM

Nope, 2:44 PM, it got the complainer fired.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, one my key customers from the Air Force Weapons Laboratory (AFWL) indicated he had never been treated so disrespectfully." (Top Post)


Way to go, Freestone. From the tone of your bizarre letter berating your lab "customers", it sounds like your office is doing a real heckava job!

NNSA and LANS must be so proud of you. From the sound of that AFWL event, it sounds like yet another WFO prospect with cash in hand likely got rudeley pushed out of the lab to head for another, more functional, research laboratory.

This place is done. It's time to move on now that a construction company calls the shots. And morale? It will only keep heading downhill from here with guys like Freestone running the place straight into the ground.

Anonymous said...

Just when you think you've seen it all at LANL under LANS, a letter like that of Freestone's arrives.

It keeps getting worse and worse with time, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Following the release of those record low morale survey results, you would think that posting Larry Freestone's diatribe front & center on the lab's internal web page most have been some type of horrible mistake. However, given LANS, I don't think so.

They are feeding staff a message that has been fairly consistent. To put it bluntly, they don't care about the employees. Only the PBIs matter.

Anonymous said...

"12/12/09 2:44 PM

Nope, 2:44 PM, it got the complainer fired.

12/12/09 8:01 PM"

Sounds like a big time lawsuit. Expect to see a lot more of this.

Anonymous said...

The incident involved one individual. Deal with an investigation of the incident; there is probably a combination of poor customer service and rude behavior. What actions were taken to improve service and correct the bad behavior?

The memo illustrates that management is not committed to solving problems and improving management systems. The memo allowed one group to vent their emotions at the expenses of the rest of the organization.

Anonymous said...

Treat others as you would like to be treated. I can sense the outrage from the LANL whiners....now they might have to sprinkle rosepedals in front of the peons...the horror!

Anonymous said...

When I had to be rebadged for my contractor's job, I called the badge office to find out what times of the day they were the busiest because I have a back injury and can't stand in line for a long period of time. I explained that to the person answering the phone and asked how I could check in, be placed in line, and then sit until it was my turn if there were a line of folks. I also told the clerk that my injury allowed me to have a handicapped parking placard so I was not trying to get special treatment but just trying to follow my doctor's orders in the hopes of avoiding serious back surgery.

The response I got was less than professional. Basically I was told that there are no accommodations for folks who are unable to stand in line, even if you have to wait for 10 or 15 minutes to be served. In previous trips to the badge office, I noticed that even if no one was in line, sometimes it took 5 minutes for a clerk to wander from the back of the room to a computer to process a "customer". The person I spoke to on the phone also implied that I should not be working at LANL if I was unable to do something as simple as stand in line! Talk about unprofessional!

It's just a job to those folks. They are unconcerned about how they treat people because they do not have to be concerned. Everyone has to have a badge, and they can do their job however they want. Some are good; some are not.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/13/09 11:11 AM tells an unforetunate story. The blame clearly lies with management. That would be Freestone.

Anonymous said...

Under LANS, the support groups have become even more "enabled", so they can cause even greater headaches for TSMs trying to work on funded projects.

LANS only cares about compliance and many support people are more than willing to follow LANS' lead in this matter. If you are a TSM trying to work on funded projects, you now have both LANS upper management and large segments of the support staff working against you. It's an untenable situation.

Anonymous said...

11:11 AM, LANS not being helpful to those staff that have disabilities? Does anyone know of good labor lawyers who are willing to listen and take on cases that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Anonymous said...

How does Mr. Freestone know the "service" provided by his group is anywhere near acceptable? Has he solicited feedback from his customers? Has anyone in his group lost his job as a consequence of providing terrible service?

I bet if Mr. Freestone had actually conducted a customer survey, he'd be shocked to find out how bad the "service" provided by his group can be.

Instead, it is only when a customer blows up that he notices a problem. Just as interesting is his interpretation of the cause. He observes in his message that the number of disgruntled customers seems to be increasing. Could that, by any chance, be a sign that his "service" is getting worse? No, he prefers to think that "People seem to be less tolerant and more vocal in ever-increasing numbers both here and across the country."

Having satisfied himself with this conclusion, he sends a rumbling, semi-coherent message to this effect to the ENTIRE lab. I suppose he meant to email the whole country, to tell people everywhere they are not polite and patient enough, just couldn't find the appropriate mailing list.

I have to agree with 12/12/09 1:22 PM. It does seem Mr. Freestone needs to find a different kind of work.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if Mr. Freestone did *not* get Anastasio's approval prior to sending out his little self-serving missive last week.

Tit in a wringer time.

Anonymous said...

Freestone has to go.
His attitude is imappropriate for a service organization.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. First, a disclaimer: I work for a support organization so feel free to (without objective basis for doing so)discredit this post.

The reality is that support organizations are implementing provisions of regulatory and contractual requirements that--in many cases--they do not agree with. Nonetheless, it is the law or it is required contractually. Further, they are trying to do so with ever-decreasing resources. Each and every year for at least the last 10 years the G&A budgets have decreased. I don't disagree that we need to reduce the cost of doing business. But, nobody has reduced the requirements. To the contrary, we are obligated to do more by law and contract every year. In a number of areas, the Laboratory is now being held accountable (OMG!) for doing things we were supposed to be doing for years but never did because we were "special." Go figure.

So why beat up on Larry who is just trying defend his staff who are doing the best (thankless) job they can under trying circumstances? When I received my new badge (required by DOE, not LANL), the individual helping me did her best to deal with circumstances beyond her (or LANL's) span of control. Why beat the crap out of her? No doubt there are some exceptions, but the reality (yes--the reality) is that the vast majority of the support staff have the same interest all of us should have in supporting execution of the Laboratory's mission (okay--understand this will generate a thread on the legitimacy of the mission. Sigh...)

And (showing my insensitive side now), why the hell are we hiring contractors that cannot stand up? If you can't stand in line to get a badge, how can you add value to the Laboratory and the taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to LANS where the customer is always.....wrong.

Anonymous said...

"12/13/09 9:31 PM"

To your main point you are wrong not because you work in a support area but because of the following reasons.

First I would like to say how happy and grateful I am to support staff and other staff members who actually do the best job they can, there are many at LANL and I wish they would get the recognition they deserve.


"So why beat up on Larry who is just trying defend his staff who are doing the best (thankless) job they can under trying circumstances?"

Larry is being beaten up because the letter he wrote was bizarrely worded, incoherent, and at times nonsensical. The letter also gives the impression that he will simply back up his people no matter what creating an us versus them atmosphere. It is not really clear what one is suppose to take from the letter. Everyone I know seems to see it as a screw you note raising the animosity level. In any case it seems like a profoundly poor management to write such a letter. I was embarrassed for LANL when I read it. There is a reason management was ranked so low in recent surveys.

As for the people doing the best they can. I would simply disagree with this and point out that in all the places I have worked the service organizations at LANL is the worst I have seen in terms of competency and behavior. As for thankless I would again disagree. You can say what you want but compared to how service people in business are treated by customers when they mess up the people at LANL have it very easy. I really do not understand why service organizations are so poor at LANL, when compared to my interactions with other national laboratories such LLNL, Sandia, Argonne, OakRidge, and Ames. How can we be so different?

"the Laboratory is now being held accountable (OMG!) for doing things we were supposed to be doing for years but never did because we were "special." Go figure."

This just opinion on your part. There is no "we are special" nor was there a time we where not held accountable. Every lab is held accountable.

" but the reality (yes--the reality) is that the vast majority of the support staff have the same interest all of us should have in supporting execution of the Laboratory's mission"

How do you know that it is the reality? Should we simply take your word for it? I do not know the number but a fast tally of the interactions with some of the people give me about 25% or about 1/4 times there is a problem. This seems absurdly high to me. I know I am not the only one. Yet when I go to other labs it is about 5% or five times lower. Could it be that LANL is the only lab that is being accountable as you say, or is asked to do more and more?

I would suggest that a study be done of LANL and comparable labs to analyze services to:
(1) Try and see if LANL services really are worse
than other labs.I say this since I am only giving anecdotal evidence.
(2) Try and learn from the other labs how to do it better.


"And (showing my insensitive side now), why the hell are we hiring contractors that cannot stand up? If you can't stand in line to get a badge, how can you add value to the Laboratory and the taxpayers?

12/13/09 9:31 PM"

This is a truly disgusting and ignorant comment on your part and I feel ashamed and disturbed to have to work at the same institution as you.

The person could be all sorts of jobs where they spend their time using their brain rather than
the back. Perhaps you think a person like Stephen Hawking would not add value to the laboratory or any other institution. Franklin Roosevelt would also be of no value to the taxpayer. Do you know what the person does?

I would suggest that you read the following.

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/12/29/us/battle-over-discrimination-against-disabled-is-opened.html

Anonymous said...

"If you can't stand in line to get a badge, how can you add value to the Laboratory and the taxpayers?"

12/13/09 9:31 PM


For people who suffer with painful disabilities and yet still need to work, the above statement by 9:31 is abhorrent on so many different levels. If this post is in any way typical of the people working in LANL "support", then God help us!

By the way, 9:31, I know people who can't even walk, and yet their minds are brilliant and they add great scientific service to the this nation's national defense. You, sir, are quite the jerk.

Anonymous said...

Larry Freestone should think long and hard about his memos before he hits the "send" button. But what I find even more amazing is that LANS management apparently felt it was OK to put up Larry's portrait and place his memo at the top of the lab's internal web pages. And this, coming just days after the release of the dismal results in the morale rating survey!

If that doesn't tell you something about LANS management, then you've got to be pretty dense and in deep denial about what's happening to this lab.

Anonymous said...

"And (showing my insensitive side now), why the hell are we hiring contractors that cannot stand up? If you can't stand in line to get a badge, how can you add value to the Laboratory and the taxpayers?"

What rock did you crawl out from under? Since when is being able to stand in line for 10 or 15 minutes a requirement for a desk job at LANL?

Go back to your cave, beat your woman, and eat raw meat.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/13/09 9:31 PM writes:

"And (showing my insensitive side now), why the hell are we hiring contractors that cannot stand up? If you can't stand in line to get a badge, how can you add value to the Laboratory and the taxpayers?"

This asshole, who admits to working in a "service" organization, needs to be fired. This is precisely that attitude that prevails in the so-called service organizations.

Anonymous said...

"This just opinion on your part. There is no "we are special" nor was there a time we where not held accountable."

ROFLMAO! LANL was never held accountable for anything before the Nanos stand-down.

Anonymous said...

"ROFLMAO! LANL was never held accountable for anything before the Nanos stand-down.

12/14/09 7:06 AM"

Not true, never was true and never will be true.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a misperception among some posters here. The safeguards and security directorate (of which Freestone is a part) is direct-funded by NNSA. It is not a G&A organization and is not funded by LANL overhead. One poster had it right: many of the directives and mandates that the oganization must oversee and enforce are recognized by S&S to not be in the best interests of the Laboratory. Nevertheless, the contractual requirements are binding. There is no "pushing back" in the S&S world.

Anonymous said...

Larry Freestone is the model "LANS-man" and a hero for this lab. That's why I had him put front & center on the LANL web page. I hope all employees follow Larry's lead and join with the wining LANS team!

Larry fully understands, as I do, that there is only one "customer" at LANL... NNSA. The rest of you can go suck rotten eggs.

Comply or leave, and preferable the latter. I need to see at least a 5% attrition rate this year to get my 20% bonus!

- MIKEY

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an ex-military man to me. Stop your complaining and get back to work!

Anonymous said...

There are many staff at the Lab who are patronizing and rude to anyone they see as "beneath" them; i.e., "support personnel." If the poor schlub trying to help them takes offense, then the staff member escalates the issue into yelling and worse. I've seen it hundreds of times. Those who are flaming Larry Freestone on this post can either claim it doesn't happen, or that it is their right to act that way. As I see it, most of the posts here strongly support Larry's observation that "Common courtesies are giving way to rude, sarcastic, cutting, or belittling comments." Hey, if you don't like the way Brett Knapp treats you, why do you treat other people that way?

Anonymous said...

What if I like the way Bret Knapp treats me? Then what? Can I get a free promotion like most of the deadwood management in the weapons program?

Anonymous said...

Good news! LANS removed the smiling face of Larry Freestone and the link to his bizarre memo late this afternoon. In its place was a picture of a smiling Director Anastasio with the following holiday greeting:

" The holiday season is a time for taking stock, helping others, and celebrating. I wish you and your families a safe and joyous holiday season....and...

...ahhh...uhhh...er... Oh, what the hell: FUCK YOU ALL!!! "


— Mike Anastasio, Laboratory Director

Anonymous said...

Now, this is down-right creepy... LANS said the recent morale survey was "TOTALLY anonymous" (their exact words), and yet below is the Associate Director of science and engineering, Alan Bishop, in his latest memo to employees talking about all the comments in the survey that came from *his* Directorate.

Oh, and those low morale results? Obviously, according to him they they are caused by some type of employee "misunderstanding".

Frigg'in unbelievable! LANS has got to be the worst upper management team ever assembled to run a research lab. :


-- Alan's Weekly Update (Dec 14 '09) --

"The Employee Survey results from last September are being reviewed by management. Input from TSC staff contained many good thoughts that we will consider carefully. The input from TSC and generally around the Lab also suggested some misunderstandings regarding the Lab's program and contract commitments. There is an accelerated Leadership engagement now underway to better align all manager's planning directions and priorities - and engage all of us with opportunities to improve both working conditions and mission delivery. LANL's performance was excellent in FY09 and has earned a contract award extension for another year (to 2015). This success is a result of all parts of the Lab working as a team and gives us renewed impetus to continue our planning and execution for great national laboratory contributions to the many national security challenges of this century. TSC has much to celebrate on all fronts, and we will be reviewing last year's impressive accomplishments at an all-employee meeting in January with PADSTE, Terry Wallace."

Anonymous said...

"I've seen it hundreds of times. Those who are flaming Larry Freestone on this post can either claim it doesn't happen, or that it is their right to act that way."

Hundreds of times? I think not.

We all agree that the services at LANL are poor. The question is why?
As pointed out earlier the same services are done much better at the other labs. So far the supporters of the service areas keep blaming others but it would appear that they really need to look at themselves or the management that has allowed it to get this far. The recent survey results clearly indicate that managment is failing at LANL. Sandia has the same if not more restrictions as LANL and they do not have the same issues with the service departments or managment that LANL has. You may argue that the LANL scientists are different from the scientists at the other labs but this is just nonsense as makeup of the other labs is about the same.

No matter how you choose to spin it Freestone's email is just an example of painfully poor management skills and does nothing to help the situation.

Anonymous said...

8:19 PM wrote ...

"Good news! LANS removed the smiling face of Larry Freestone and the link to his bizarre memo late this afternoon."


Management by Blog (MBB)!

Anonymous said...

Why was this letter from Freestone necessary? On this very blog we refer to others as whiners, peons, spoiled children, trolls etc. when we disagree with them. Any wonder why civil discourse at the Lab is nothing more than a pipe dream these days? What a bunch of arrogant butt-head cowboys!!!

Anonymous said...

Let's assume for a minute that all of the employees in the badge office are really first rate at customer service. (My impression, in fact, is that they are trying). And yet, most of the visitors I bring to the lab from other DOE sites report that our badge office is far more inefficient than they have encountered elsewhere. So the only way to reconcile these two thoughts is to decide that our badge office has some sort of systemic inefficiency of process. Maybe it's the physical layout. Maybe it's the equipment they are using is obsolete.

Whatever... The problem here is that Larry Freestone's attitude is that the customer must be wrong. He won't even concede there is a problem in how his organization operates, so by definition he's not going to try to solve the problem. That measn his employees will continue to be stressed out, and his customers will continue to be frustrated.

Anonymous said...

I know - off topic.

But all the COMPA folks will have to wait until after the new year to know their fate, as indicated by Mark Barth, the PADS and the illustrious HR Leader:

To all,

Approval has been granted by Mark Barth to extend enforcement of the” two year staff augmentation assignment rule” for COMPA employees to the end of January 2010. A meeting will be held with the PADs on January 4th to discuss a longer term decision. Please disseminate this message to your HR staff that advises laboratory managers on this topic.

Thanks,
Ben Glover
LANL Human Resources Division Leader

Anonymous said...

"Why was this letter from Freestone necessary? On this very blog we refer to others as whiners, peons, spoiled children, trolls etc. when we disagree with them. Any wonder why civil discourse at the Lab is nothing more than a pipe dream these days? What a bunch of arrogant butt-head cowboys!!!

12/15/09 12:51 AM"

This does not make any sense.

Anonymous said...

"Why was this letter from Freestone necessary?" (12:41 am)


Because LANS management thinks that the peon employees have some "misunderstandings" about how the lab is suppose to work (see Alan Bishop memo). Got it?

Anonymous said...

"Why was this letter from Freestone necessary?" (12:41 am)

Not everything that is done is "necessary." Some things are done simply because someone wants to do them and no one up the chain objects. Chill.

Anonymous said...

I happen to know that Freestone gets more complaints than any other organization at LANL, hence his letter.....

Anonymous said...

I happen to know your an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Oh, good. Let the flaming begin over 5:33's illiteracy. I'll start:

I happen to know 5:33 is illiterate.

(I can just see him scratching his head trying to figure out what bit of stupidity his little comment revealed).

Anonymous said...

I wonder which is more sad, and perhaps more indicative of what is wrong with LANL, and by proxy with the rest of the whole fucking country:

a) the fact that 5:33 would make an illiterate post for the whole world to read, or

b) the fact that he undoubtedly has no clue why he sounds like a 5th grade dropout hillbilly from the Ozarks.

I'm going with b) on this.

Anonymous said...

Give it a rest would you 6:17? And stop the serial posts.

Anonymous said...

2009 performance review gives LANS, LLC 90% of available award fee and another year to contract term
By comparison, the award fee for FY08 was 88% and 81% for FY07.

The National Nuclear Security Administration has evaluated the Laboratory’s performance for fiscal year 2009 and awarded LANS, LLC 90% of the available award fee and added another year to the term of the LANS contract to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory. That extension stretches the contract term through September 30, 2015. By comparison, the award fee for FY08 was 88% and 81% for FY07.

NNSA cited its “very high expectations” and noted significant progress in the Lab’s performance overall, especially in achieving its mission and delivering on program assignments.

“Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication to continuous improvement,” said Lab Director Michael Anastasio.

Anastasio noted that many accomplishments throughout the Laboratory contributed to this encouraging customer assessment, including substantially completing construction of the RLUOB facility as part of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project, the use of the Roadrunner supercomputer, and the accelerated shipment offsite of transuranic waste.

“We’re proud that this year's assessment continues our upward trend,” said Ike Richardson, deputy director. “NNSA’s view of our work is a tribute to the LANL team's continued efforts to enhance discovery science as well as productivity.”

SUMMARY OF FY2009 LANS AWARD FEE DETERMINATION
Los Alamos National Security, LLC
Manager and operator of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Total available fee: $80.2 million
Earned “fee at risk,” or incentive fee: 84%, or $43.3 million
Portion earned of overall fee: 90%, or $72.1 million
(includes fee at risk, fixed fee, work for others):

Anonymous said...

"Give it a rest would you 6:17? And stop the serial posts.

12/15/09 7:58 PM"

6:17pm I like your posts and think they are funny and even insightful.
I cannot say they same about 7:58 PM.

Anonymous said...

You might think that today's news (8:05 PM, regarding the extension of the contract) is bad news. However, rest assured that if LANS is replaced, the next contractor will provides benefits way lower than the current ones, and will not necessarily manage the Lab any better.

Anonymous said...

The contract extension is yet another proof (as if we needed one!) that the worse things at LANL are, the happier NNSA is.

The lower the scores on the morale survey, the higher the award fee. Seems to be a nearly perfect anticorrelation.

Maybe that was the purpose of conducting the survey in the first place? "Are your scientists finally miserable, after all this humiliation and abuse we ordered you to inflict on them? They are?! At last! Here are your bonuses."

Anonymous said...

Why is half the Laboratory afraid to have good management?

Anonymous said...

"2009 performance review gives LANS, LLC 90% of available award fee and another year to contract term
By comparison, the award fee for FY08 was 88% and 81% for FY07."

interesting...even with laptop-gate and the abysmal survey results?? there is something wrong here. it also doesn't bode well for the workers since lans is now encouraged to continue with business as usual.

Anonymous said...

The comments written on this blog practice a time honored tradition at the laboratory: character assassination. You do not agree with something but cannot articulate a response...why bother, just attach the messenger. Management practices it all the time when someone, or som organization is critical of them. The personnel below management (us workers why get the management outstanding performance but do not share in the rewards, just the toil of working and making the impossible possible) just learn from those they work for.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/15/09 8:49 PM
said...

"You might think that today's news (8:05 PM, regarding the extension of the contract) is bad news. However, rest assured that if LANS is replaced, the next contractor will provides benefits way lower than the current ones, and will not necessarily manage the Lab any better."

Unforetunately, this writer is probably correct.

So, my advice is:
If you are still here, get out.
If you are not here, don't come.

I am age 55 so am in the golden handcuffs with regard to salary, pension, and ability to change jobs. I am going to stick it out until retirement. With the new retiree medical policy of make retirees pay the full cost of medical and dental insurance, I will stick it out until age 65 when I can go on Medicare. In my remaining 10 years, I am going to keep my head down, avoid taking risks, not criticise or challenge the stupid decisions of management, and try to get a job in Freestone's organization.

Anonymous said...

You had a choice back in June 2006 to choose your retirement option. Those who chose TCP1 have the same quality pension benefits and retiree medical plan as before the transition. If you chose TCP2 and had less than 10 years of service on 5/31/2006, then medical benefits are paid by the employee, but it was your choice, not LANS

Eric said...

To say that it was 'your choice not LANS' is technically true but cruel.

We counseled lots of people and know why hundreds picked TCP1 or TCP2. For most, the choices were very complicated for non-financial reasons. Simply, they were hoping for a LANL that they could continue to trust and that would treat them well.

In retrospect, you might call this feeling naive but to many at the time this feeling felt loyal not naive.

Sympathy now would be a good response.

To the 55 year old in golden handcuffs, there may still be a way out. There were many more ways out a few years ago, but there may still be some.

Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

Eric,

I actually did lose a pension from a previous employer based on 27 years of hard and loyal service so I know what can happen. I came to LANL to try and replace that pension so I chose TCP1. I too have to work till age 66 so that I am medicare eligible when I retire in order to get the subsidized retiree medical with 10 years of service, and I am happy to do so.

I am unaware that any LANS employee has not been provided with the benefits that were promised to them back in 2006 when LANS took over, so I am not sure how the comment "it was your choice not LANS'" is somehow cruel. As you said yourself, people had many reasons for making the choices they made. That does not make the fact that they made one choice or the other cruel or unusual. People across this country make those choice all the time

We should all be glad that we have a great paying job with solid benefits, no matter what choice we made, since many of our friends and associates not fortunate enough to work at LANS, may not.

You and I absolutely agree on one thing, I wish everyone...

Merry Christmas

Eric said...

@ 1:01 PM

'Cruel' meant that many people made the wrong choice and I try not to bring up that they made the wrong choice. I do not bring it up because they already know that they made the wrong choice. They know it daily. To point out that their choice was not the best strikes me as cruel. I would rather just be kind to colleagues and friends and help only if they want me to.

Does that make more sense?

Anonymous said...

In choesing TCP2 over TCP1, there was a lot of fear that the UCRS pension fund would not be able to meet its obligations. That fear continues.

Eric said...

@1:40

I know about that fear. At the time, we helped a hundred or so people come up with a plan that would protect them, no matter what.

I am sad that the fear continues and apparently has gotten worse. I have had many discussions about how real the fear should be. A big question has been 'If LANS leaves the contract, who holds my pension and is that holder trustworthy.'

The answer is complex but may appear to some as a nice present under the tree.

At the moment, I am not actively explaining the details to anyone. I am building companies in renewable energy and other cool things.

Sorry if the above is not cheery.

I still wish everyone a fulfilling holiday season and a better 2010 than 2009 has been.

Anonymous said...

The post starts with the statement that "Serving close to 2,500 employees per week, the Laboratory's Personnel Security Group is a hub -..."

Taking into account regular employees, students, post-docs, and contractors, there are about 11,000 people working (supposedly) at LANL.

Does this mean that over 20% of us deal with the Personnel Security Group every week?

That does not pass the "ho-ho" test. I don't recall dealing with them except when my clearance is re-investigated about every five years.

Anonymous said...

It is the same 2,500 open cases each week. Only 500 of them still work here but the personnel stuff is not yet completed.

Anonymous said...

In choesing TCP2 over TCP1, there was a lot of fear that the UCRS pension fund would not be able to meet its obligations. That fear continues.

12/16/09 1:40 PM

Actually I stayed with UCRP and went TCP2 because their is a clause that if UCRP has a shortfall then DOE has to cover that shortfall for prior UC/LANL employees that are still vested in UCRP. Seems better to me. Two systems would need to fail vs one with TCP1.

Anonymous said...

Possibly the most offensive signage in the history of LANS was posted around TA-3 today. The new poster-size signs are planted around walkways and parking lots and they read:

"Please PAY ATTENTION. Slip, trip and fall area. Don't become a Lesson Learned."

I take this to mean that LANS has no intention of even trying to clear ice and snow off of our walkways anymore. We have been duly warned that any slips and falls that occur from here on out will be attributed to the employee not paying adequate attention to the walking surfaces.

Anonymous said...

8:37, seems to me they are asking for people fall and sue. Considering LANS had everyone come to work following the big snowstorm last week without clearing a single path for pedestrians ... well, sue baby sue.

Anonymous said...

Possibly the most offensive signage in the history of LANS was posted around TA-3 today. The new poster-size signs are planted around walkways and parking lots and they read:

"Please PAY ATTENTION. Slip, trip and fall area. Don't become a Lesson Learned."

I take this to mean that LANS has no intention of even trying to clear ice and snow off of our walkways anymore. We have been duly warned that any slips and falls that occur from here on out will be attributed to the employee not paying adequate attention to the walking surfaces.

12/16/09 8:37 PM

Yeah, this sign really sends a negative message. I thought LANS management promoted and practiced the importance of lessons-learned from incidents/accidents? This sign really says, don't be LANS next accident or there will be repercussions. Or, don't bring any accidents/incidents to our attention, we don't wants to hear about it or count it.

Anonymous said...

"Please PAY ATTENTION. Slip, trip and fall area. Don't become a Lesson Learned." ...I take this to mean that LANS has no intention of even trying to clear ice and snow off of our walkways anymore"

Actually, it's management's way of saying you're too dumb to walk and chew gum without falling. So pay attention!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you poor bastards planning to stay until age 65 to retire. Fat chance! Don't you know that around 50 or so you become persona non grata? Raises become non-existant. They sit you off in a corner rewriting SOP's and shit like that. That'll be the longest 15 years of your life! Go ask any 60 year old, if you can find one.

Anonymous said...

They didn't even attempt to clear the upper level of the parking garage at Otowi for more than 1 week. When the snow-removal phone line was questioned about this they said the snow removal equipment was too heavy and the laborers had been instructed not to clear the parking structures. They didn't know of any plan to remove the snow. Good planning!

Anonymous said...

12/17/09 10:39 AM

This is an old and recurring problem since the new parking structures were built and has nothing to do with LANS. But LANS, particularly Rechtel could have thought about a solution to this problem instead of just closing it off.

Anonymous said...

I think this fits in the "customer service" comment section. This is from the internal LANL blog. From the lack of internal comments, I would project that everyone is holding back, for one reason or another, from commenting. And do they really write like this in the "real" world? Jesus mother of Mary Christ...... etc.


Colleagues,

I'd like to begin with a quick note on the Winter Closure:

As has been practice in previous years, please power down your desktop and laptop computers before leaving for Winter Closure. Those who intend to use the SSL Portal and RDP to connect to an office computer during the holidays will need to leave that machine powered on. We take this measure not only to save energy, but also to reduce the potential for certain types of malicious cyber activity to occur. In response to requests from the Laboratory's programmatic organizations, the Office of the CIO and Network/Infrastructure Engineering Division (NIE) have decided not to interrupt Internet service or quarantine e-mail over the Winter Closure. If you access work e-mail over the Closure, please exercise extra vigilance and do not open any questionable e-mails or attachments.

In my view, 2009 has been a foundational year for Information Security at the Laboratory. Over the recent past, our IT and Information Security personnel have done their level best to provide us with an efficient, secure platform to drive the mission. Our focus going forward must be to tie this platform more closely to the needs of the programmatic organizations.

This year, the Office of the CIO (OCIO) has made significant strides toward this goal.

Internally, we have:
(1) Developed evaluation metrics for IT and Information Security that tie support performance back to programmatic delivery;
(2) Improved our portfolio management and IT governance processes;
(3) Streamlined processes and reduced process-imposed overhead.

Hopefully, though, you've had the opportunity to experience our external-facing improvements first hand:
(1) Increased focus on customer satisfaction;
(2) Face-to-face meetings with the programmatic community to better understand their needs and challenges;
(3) Timely, consistent, and effective communication;
(4) Forward progress on IT and InfoSec issues affecting the mission.

The level of support and participation we have been receiving from programmatic stakeholders throughout the Laboratory has been fantastic. We sincerely thank you for it, and hope that you will sustain that level of commitment into 2010 and beyond. In return, we in OCIO/OCISO will continue to improve, to gather input and solicit feedback. Together, we will drive IT and Information Security forward.

From all of us in the Office of the CIO, please enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.

Ahmad Douglas
Senior Cyber Security Leader
Office of the CIO

Posted in Cyber Security | No Comments »

Anonymous said...

Ahmad Douglas
Senior Cyber Security Leader
Office of the CIO

Posted in Cyber Security | No Comments »

12/19/09 11:49 AM

To Ahmad. Thanks for being concise and not using many superlatives. Also, huh?

Anonymous said...

"nternally, we have:
(1) Developed evaluation metrics for IT and Information Security that tie support performance back to programmatic delivery;
(2) Improved our portfolio management and IT governance processes;
(3) Streamlined processes and reduced process-imposed overhead.

Hopefully, though, you've had the opportunity to experience our external-facing improvements first hand:
(1) Increased focus on customer satisfaction;
(2) Face-to-face meetings with the programmatic community to better understand their needs and challenges;
(3) Timely, consistent, and effective communication;
(4) Forward progress on IT and InfoSec issues affecting the mission."

What on earth does any of it mean?
Point "(3) effective communication" is clearly wrong.

Anonymous said...

"In response to requests from the Laboratory's programmatic organizations, the Office of the CIO and Network/Infrastructure Engineering Division (NIE) have decided not to interrupt Internet service or quarantine e-mail over the Winter Closure." (Office of the CIO)


Oh, how touching and so very special! Lab email for the holidays. Enjoy your Xmas holiday gift from LANS. Just don't expect gifts like this every holiday season.

Anonymous said...

What on earth does any of it mean?

"nternally, we have:
(1) Developed evaluation metrics for IT
(The computers are running and we got paid.)

and Information Security

(No embarrassing lapses stayed in the press for long.)

that tie support performance back to programmatic delivery;

(We got paid.)

(2) Improved our portfolio management and IT governance processes;

(Created homemade versions of commercial software and have them mostly installed. We are faster at beating up people who stray from the plan. We will have the plan done in 2013. We like the letters HTML.)

(3) Streamlined processes and reduced process-imposed overhead.

(One person took a job somewhere else and was not replaced.)

Hopefully, though, you've had the opportunity to experience our external-facing
(The Chinese like what we have done.)

improvements first hand:
(1) Increased focus on customer satisfaction;

(Last year we did not give a sh*% about customers. This year we have improved to 'don't care.')

(2) Face-to-face meetings with the programmatic community to better understand their needs and challenges;

(We went to meetings, did not listen, took a couple of notes, and did not change anything. Next year, more meetings.)

(3) Timely, consistent, and effective communication;

(We knew what time it was on the clock when messages were sent. The messages were the same ones we sent last year. The messages were effective because they took very little time to compose and we saved more time by not reading the responses.)

(4) Forward progress on IT and InfoSec issues affecting the mission."

(Some of the PCs in manager's offices were out of date. We replaced them with models that we thought portrayed POWER. We started to transmit messages securely by using Caesar's code.)

Anonymous said...

"In response to requests from the Laboratory's programmatic organizations, the Office of the CIO and Network/Infrastructure Engineering Division (NIE) have decided not to interrupt Internet service or quarantine e-mail over the Winter Closure." (Office of the CIO)

Promises, promises,.....you mean like last year? Personally, I wouldn't have gone on out on this limb. You know, shit happens.

Anonymous said...

What a joke. A+ from DOE.

Anonymous said...

"(3) Timely, consistent, and effective communication;"

OK, let's just take one example: FDE. First, every laptop owner with an off-site pass was emailed an explanation of what they needed to do. So far so good.

Then, direction abruptly changed and EVERY laptop was required to get FDE, regardless of offsite use or not. This was communicated via OCSR's, not to laptop owners directly.

Eventually line organizations were told that exceptions could be requested by sending an email to a certain address. After sending such an email, the line org's received an auto-response that exceptions needed to be individually filed by the laptop owner through the CIO footprints request system.

The FDE Depot itself established an email address, but never responded to any emails. The staff had cell phones available, but only gave out the phone number only under duress.

Deadlines and requirements were spontaneously revised. After Sept 30, suddenly it was announced that the FY09 quota had been met so there was no longer any urgency to finish the job. The FDE depot closed, with no mechanism established to complete the job, e.g. for laptops used by COS employees.

So in summary: Communication has varied from reasonable, to unpredictable, to non existent. Heckuva job!

Anonymous said...

What if I like the way Bret Knapp treats me? Then what? Can I get a free promotion like most of the deadwood management in the weapons program?

12/14/09 7:05 PM

Absolutely. In W-Division we have Mark Ledoux and Tony Vidlak as Executive Vice Division Directors. To boot, James Owen just got promoted to their level; now there are 3 huge mouths to fed. What a joke! W-Division has more personnel in the Division Office than they have in all the Groups combined. And this was due to Bret Knapp's great "hands on" leadership! Incidentally, what does W-Division do?

Anonymous said...

Take heed everyone. The FDE exercise on laptops was so successful that now we are going to implement it on every single desktop at LANS. Are we having fun yet?

Mikey

Anonymous said...

Back to Freestone's customer service monologue:

You get paid to get trained, whether the training matters or not.

You get paid to stand in line, whether that matters or not.

You get paid to wait for other people to do their jobs.

You get paid to attend management meetings, whether they matter or not.

I fail to understand why so many people whine about poor customer service, when said poor customer service provides so many opportunities for your tenure at LANL to pass uneventfully. If you can just endure 35 years of waiting for other people to figure out what they are supposed to be doing, you can retire. It's easy!

Anonymous said...

10:28 Once upon a time Los Alamos employees, from the janitor to the director, "got paid" to defend the free world - a job we took enormous pride in and one that we did extremely well. Tragically, you are correct. Today we are paid to stand in a bread line with Bechtilian scum like you waiting to get our share.

Anonymous said...

"The FDE exercise on laptops was so successful that now we are going to implement it on every single desktop at LANS." (8:00 PM)

OMG, you've got to be kidding, right?

Please, tell me this is just a joke!

Anonymous said...

"The FDE exercise on laptops was so successful that now we are going to implement it on every single desktop at LANS." (8:00 PM)

OMG, you've got to be kidding, right?

Please, tell me this is just a joke!

12/23/09 8:59 PM

I ain't shittin ya. Only difference is that the work will be performed by LANS employees and directed by LANS managers. Is that scary or what?

Anonymous said...

"I ain't shittin ya. Only difference is that the work will be performed by LANS employees and directed by LANS managers. Is that scary or what?"

12/24/09 6:24 AM


That's scary stuff. I guess Mikey and his Get-Rich-Quick buddies are all shooting for a 95% performance score from NNSA for next year.