Jan 27, 2010

Last Post

In memory of Frank Young.
1963 - 2010

Jan 23, 2010


I just received this note from Frank's wife:

I just got a call from Frank's parents in South Carolina. Frank's body was found this morning at the motel where he was staying near our property where he was building our house. I don't have many more details. I know he's been ill the last few weeks. His parents and I were encouraging him to see a doctor, but he had refused.

I will be shutting this blog down shortly. If someone wants to start a new LANL blog send me email at lanlblog@parrot-farm.net and I will post a link to it.


Jan 19, 2010

Position Open

Job Title: Blog Maintainer

Job Description: Long hours, no pay, no measurable benefits. Current maintainers totally fed up. Plenty of (potential) upside. Must be willing to take abuse from Anonymous Cowards.

Plenty of purported reportable corporate malfeasance and active cover-up activities currently in progress. Think explosions.

Applicants inquire within. Contact current (and soon-to-be past) blog maintainers for job interview.

Reply to lanlblog@parrot-farm.net, Ref: There Are Plenty Of Better Jobs Out There, if interested.

Jan 12, 2010

Time to Declare Victory

Yes, I do believe it's time to declare victory.

LANS has won; nearly everybody else lost. I agree with the consensus opinion that a new Deputy Administrator at NNSA will not make a bit of difference with regards to how the "new, improved" LANL is being run. Given that, there really is not much reason for my continued participation in moderating this blog.

One reflection of the new work environment at LANL is that while we still occasionally receive a clever or humorous contribution from a reader, the vast majority of comments we see here depict an increasingly bitter, back-stabbing, cowardly, and (dare I say) stupid element from the "new, improved" LANL community. Kudus, however, to Anonymous poster of 11:46 AM from the Will it make any difference? post. LANS is leading LANL to greatness. Funny stuff.

From my perspective the time has come to leave you all in the capable hands of that crack team of upper-level LANS managers, their Performance Blog, and not least of all, that fine cadre of spin-masters (Hi, Kevin!) who work in the LANL Communications Office.

I'll still hang around here, but probably won't contribute much; we'll leave that to Frank. In the mean time, I'll share some of the more appropriate contributions from the good folks at Despair.com which seem to have been written specifically with LANL in mind.



Jan 10, 2010

Will it make any difference?

Will the appointment of a new Deputy under D'Agostino at NNSA result in any improvements at LANL? I personally doubt it.

PBI's, baby.


Donald L. Cook, Nominee for Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy

Dr. Donald L. Cook was the Managing Director of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in the United Kingdom from 2006 to 2009. In this capacity, he was accountable for AWE’s performance on the contract with the U.K. Ministry of Defence, which includes support of the U.K. Trident warheads and development and sustainment of capability in nuclear weapon design, development, manufacturing, qualification, assembly, transport, support in service, and finally, decommissioning, dismantlement, and disposal. Prior to heading AWE, Dr. Cook worked at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico for 28 years in Pulsed Power Sciences, Microtechnologies, Infrastructure, and Security. From 1999-2006, he was Director of the MESA Program Center, accountable for design and construction of the Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) complex. In 2003, he assumed Program Director responsibilities for Sandia’s Infrastructure Program and for Sandia’s Safeguards and Security Technologies Program, which responded to a new Design Basis Threat. From 1977-1999, Dr. Cook led efforts in pulsed power accelerator design and experimentation, fusion research, hydrodynamics, radiography, diagnostic development, and computational code development. He managed the Sandia Inertial Confinement Fusion program from 1984-1993 and was Director of Pulsed Power Sciences from 1993-1999. Dr. Cook is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Institute of Physics (IOP).

Jan 8, 2010

Continuing in the Theme

A comment from the previous post:

DOE Gives Nuclear Labs One Heck of a Long Winter Vacation
Enjoy your vaction.

No oversight required: friends cover for friends. Monkey no see, monkey no [yada yada] ...


Jan 3, 2010


Back in early 2005 when the bid preparation activities for the LANL contract were hot and heavy, NNSA's Tom D'Agostino justified the 10-fold increase in the new LANL contract award fee by stating that "increased efficiencies of operation" by the new Corporate M&O would "more than offset" the additional cost of the contract.

Now, five years later we see that the real additional cost of running LANL is on the order of $200 million more than it was back in the days of non-profit operations when the University of California ran the place for a mere $8 million per year. Since LANL is now run by a for-profit corporation, it has to pay Gross Receipt Taxes to the state of New Mexico, which accounts for most of the additional cost of operations over and above the current $79 million award fee.

Have we seen any cost savings due to increased efficiencies of operation by the new corporate M&O of LANL? Let's innumerate some of the efficiency improvements that the NNSA and LANS, LLC have brought to LANL:

  • JB Weld! Stuffed into the USB ports of every lab computer in sight. In addition to making use of the computer less efficient, it voided the warranties of thousands of LANL machines.
  • Ladder Training.
  • Shoes that GRIP!
  • LOOK out for each other!
  • Tripling the number of upper-level managers.
  • NNSA-mandated 5% annual staff attrition rates.
  • Glovebox computing.
  • Efficient loss of all email accrued during the 2008 holiday shutdown.
  • Efficient (and friendly) service by the laboratory's Personal Security Group.
  • Abysmal "Employment Engagement" survey results, with planned 5-month results "rollout".
  • "Secret" NNSA lab Performance Reports.
  • Automatic LANS, LLC annual contract renewal, in perpetuity.
  • On again, off again manned guard stations.
  • Ballooning overhead burden. This may have something to do with the 40 - 50 additional highly-paid top level managers who now enjoy employment at LANL. It may also be related to the increased efficiency of operations.
  • A new, efficient T&E system, with blazingly fast turn-around.

Considering that one person, NNSA's Tom D'Agostino was the sole person responsible for selecting the Bechtel-led LANS, LLC to be the new LANL contractor, and

considering that the promised "efficiency improvements" never materialized, and

considering that Mr. D'Agostino has declared that the annual NNSA Performance Evaluation awards by which NNSA judged LANS, LLC deserving of an Outstanding, 90% performance rating this year are Secret, Not For Public Viewing,

You don't suppose that there is a government/corporate cover-up in progress, do you?

Nah, me neither.