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Second-guessing is the easy part

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By The Staff

One of the easiest things to do is be a Monday morning quarterback. It is so easy to say what should be done when you are not the one responsible for doing it.This concept struck us following the release of the “Performance Evaluation Report of Los Alamos National Security, LLC, Management and Operation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory” by the National Nuclear Security Administration.In the report, LANS received a 37-percent rating for management integration and effectiveness.But what does this mean – other than that LANS did not receive as much money as it could have?Is it a failing grade? Does it mean the lab is poorly managed?We don’t think so.When asked about this, LANL Director Michael Anastasio said that he did not see this as a failing grade.“The government is offering to pay a significantly large fee to us in LANS to make significant changes and significant improvements. We all knew that it would be a challenging job that would take many years to accomplish,” he said.True enough.LANS had a large task when it came on board: It needed to change a culture 60 years in the making and needed to chart a new course for the lab.That is ongoing.Now, the right question to ask is not how good the leadership is, but is it steering in the right direction?That is a tougher one.There are some serious questions about the lab’s mission, how narrow its focus is and whether it is diversifying enough.These are the questions to be asking. Getting bogged down in trying to determine if the managers have “failed” or not is a useless exercise. They are there.What we need to be doing is discussing the lab’s missions.If they become the pit center, so be it. But what else is there to build upon?It is easy to sit back and say LANS has failed – it only got a 37 percent. But that is just Monday morning quarterbacking and is a waste of time.Our energies should be spent with the lab managers – and with our political leaders – in trying to expand the lab’s mission, get it more R&D work and work hard to take advantage of the outstanding scientists we have right here, right now.