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Anonymous Letter to Congress

SUBJECT: Continuing problems at the Los Alamos Site Office

As recent media attention verifies, problems continue at the Los Alamos National
Laboratory. Many of these problems. are due to actions by the NNSA Los Alamos Site
Office. Due to fear of retaliation by the Department of Energy management, we are
sending you an anonymous letter and requesting that Congress initiate an investigation
into mismanagement at the Los Alamos Site Office of the Department of Energy. The
problems noted below constitute health, safety, security and management concerns.
While whistleblower protection is afforded per 10 CFR 708; we fear DOE management
retaliation because we have personally seen what has happened to another whistleblower
at the Los Alamos Site Office, Chris Steele.

The "we" who have authored this letter constitute a group of current and former
employees of the Los Alamos Site Office (LASO) and the New Mexico DOE Complex.
As a group our personnel have a sum of more that 100 years of experience. We can say
with confidence that we have never in our careers, either in public service or the private
sector
ector witnessed such gross mismanagement as seen at the Los Alamos Site Office.

Our concerns are not unique to our group but are shared by a major portion of the Site
Office employees, save those who, are senior managers installed by and supportive of the
previous Site Office Manager (Ed Wilmot, now disgraced and reassigned).

We are so concerned with the existing adverse working conditions, hostile work
environment and low worker morale that we felt it necessary to bring these concerns to
your attention. Our concerns include the following:

CULTURE OF MISMANAGEMENT

There are acknowledged problems at the Site Office and Laboratory that have been
historically labeled as solely the fault of LANL. The previous Site Office Manager
surrounded himself with senior managers that are known to be responsible for
mismanagement within the organization. The DOE among others has stated on numerous
occasions that the "culture of the lab" is to blame for problems that have occurred. The
"dirty little NNSA/LASO secret" is that the same senior managers have guided or
directed the lab in their work and are therefore complicit in this mismanagement. Plainly
said, the lab culture has not gotten this way on its own but was in a very real way allowed
to fester through negligence or lack of oversight by LASO management. The previous
Site Office Manager not only surrounded himself with managers lacking competence but
chastised employees in front of their peers who attempted to improve the organization
through constructive criticism. Proof of this approach is evidenced in a Site Office wide
employee performance standard instituted at the direction of senior management that
specifically requires "constructive feedback". This requirement therefore becomes a
performance metric on support of the site management. This subjective and ludicrous
metric is sure to be abused by management. Thus, this requirement is a direct signal to
all employees that if they critique management, they will suffer consequences.

QUESTIONABLE NEED FOR THE LASO PILOT

The previous Site Office Manager (Wilmot) stated that tat the direction of the NNSA
Administrator (AMB Brooks, now removed) the site office was required to institute a
"pilot program" for management and oversight of the new LANL contract. Several
employees have on good authority that this directive was actually penned by the former
Site Office Manager with assistance from his Deputy (who remains at LASO). This
"pilot" effort followed several other major office initiatives of questionable value.
Approximately 3 years ago following arrival of Mr. Wilmot, the Site Office implemented
a CREM review after serious problems were discovered with classified documents.
Following the CREM initiative, the site office implemented a "Strategic Pause" after a
laser incident occurred at the lab that partially blinded a student employee. The "pause"
required that LASO employees totally revamp processes and procedures, most of which
were never used. Following the "Strategic Pause", the Site Office implemented
"Contract Transition" in order to prepare for the transition to the new LANL contractor.
On the heels of the contractor change came the ill advised "pilot". It appears that LASO
senior management endorsed a "flavor of the month" change and these misguided efforts
have resulted in the frustration and "burn out" of many dedicated and hard working
employees. A tell tale sign of mismanagement and incompetence is constant change in
organizational structure and continued implementation of "grand. initiatives". Note that
this approach also impacts the operating contractor as they cannot determine who should
provide their direction and who they come to with questions and concerns.

Given past problems, one must question why the LASO was thought to be the appropriate
site for implementation of a pilot of reduced contractor oversight as a way of doing
business. Why select a site that is-known to have had a history of serious management
problems and serious problems with business systems. Audits and review of other
documentation will verify the lack of a viable business system at LANL. The
implementation of a "lassie faire" approach to LANL contract oversight by LASO that
depends greatly on a "Contractor Assurance System" (CAS) is also highly questionable
given the recent and highly publicized security breach (known in some literary circles as
the "CREM DE METH" caper). Many Federally mandated requirements including those
related to worker safety are receiving minimal attention due to disruption caused by
implementation of the new pilot. LASO employees are being forced to occupy new
positions and review activities that they are unfamiliar with and/or not qualified to
review. Reliance on a CAS system has resulted in the creation of numerous new
databases of limited use but great cost to the taxpayer.

SAFETY/SECURITY STANDOWN

Within the last 3 years, a standown of operations was initiated at LANL to address safety
and security issues. This effort was initiated by LANL Management with full support of
F

the previous LASO Manager (Wilmot). This standown of LANL operations cost the
taxpayers in excess of 300 Million Dollars. The expppse of this effort is dubious since
most of the work products that came out of this pause were never put in place by the
LANL and were not verified by LASO to be implemented and effective. The recently
issued PNOV related to LANL operations of 1.1 Million Dollars (the largest fine ever
issued) is a prime indicator of the continued problems at LANL and the lack of qualified
oversight by LASO. There is at best only limited evidence that any true improvement in
the safety or security operations has resulted from the change in the operating contractor.
This is a direct reflection on the Los Alamos Site Office and their lack of oversight and
direction.

The LASO reorganization under the pilot has negatively impacted the technical
qualification of the LASO workforce in many key positions. In fact senior management
knowingly placed lesser qualified people into positions requiring significant technical
knowledge. These actions were endorsed by and implemented by LASO management as
directed by the former Site Manager (Wilmot). As examples, when Mr Wilmot arrived
there were 15 qualified NNSA Facility Representatives (who are the real "eyes and ears
of the NNSA"), now there are only 3 fully qualified FRs. At this time there is only ONE
qualified safety analyst while at the time of Mr Wilmot's arrival there were eight. A year
ago there were 8 fully qualified Senior Technical Safety Managers at LASO, now there
are only three. The former site manager systematically drove out qualified employees
and is rumored to have diverted training funds to support his "initiative of the month"
approach. The morale at the Site Office is at an all time low, thus leading to more
continuing resignations and departures from the LASO. There are currently over 15
vacancies at LASO.

THE SAGA CONTINUES (SADLY)

Even today, mismanagement at the LASO and LANL continues despite the presence, of a
new interim Site Manager. It appears that the new Site Manager is leading LASO and
LANL in the same footsteps as his predecessor. Indications of continued
mismanagement can be seen:

*Non-competitive selection of friends and former colleagues to positions. Recent


reorganization and vacancies have favored friends.
*Reorganization without full understanding of impacts. The new interim Site Manager
has implemented yet another reorganization. Need we remind Congress that threre has
been continuous reorganization at LASO over the past 2 years. No less than 3 major
reorganizations have taken place. This has merely been a "shuffling of the deck chairs on
the Titanic". Finally, why would the new interim Site Manager reorganize again if it is
his intent to vacate the position in 4 to 6 months. Once a new permanent site manager is
appointed we would expect yet another reorganization. Congress should demand an
accounting of these costly reorganizations!
* A direct consequence of the reorganizations has been the physical relocation of LASO
staff In less than 2 years there have been 3 costly physical relocations of employees to
different office space. It is well known that one of these moves cost the American
taxpayer $ 125K! The new site manager is implementing yet another move of employees
even though the Site Office will relocate to a new building in 1 year. Congress should
not tolerate this needless expense of taxpayer dollars. •
* Under the direction of the acting NNSA Administrator and the interim Site Office
Manager, LASO will add 1 new SES Technical Deputy position and 1 new EN-5 Cyber
Security Advisor, Currently there are 2 SES Site Office positions including 1 non-
technical deputy. DOE currently has an overabundance of SES positions that are not
fully utilized. A much needed EN-5 Senior Safety Advisor at LASO was eliminated as
part of these changes. Congress must be aware of past poor performance of the Security
Organizations at LANL and LASO. The addition of an EN-5 Cyber Security advisor is
seen as rewarding poor performance. Senior management, father than increasing the
number of working staff has opted to increase their own numbers and to insulate
themselves from accountability. What is needed is a strong leader that will utilize all
existing staff! Congress is already cognizant that LANL and LANL have the highest
grades and salaries in the field

CONCLUSION

In conclusion we ask Congress to initiate a full investigation of the LASO. Results of


this investigation will show a need to direct the DOE to implement a wholesale change in
senior management at LASO. Only through drastic measures will there be hope of
salvaging the future of LANL, a national science and engineering treasure. We are
stunned at the complacency of DOE management who are certainly aware of the
deteriorization of this institution. Please help us stop this problem by directing the DOE
to take swift and definitive action.

Sincerely,
Current and Former DOE employees.