Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Report: Possible conflict not disclosed in contract award

    The Department of Energy Inspector General is investigating an allegation from the Los Alamos Field Office concerning a possible conflict of interest in a consultant agreement awarded to an individual who was the spouse of a senior manager at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    According to documents obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor, in a memorandum to the acting manager of the Los Alamos Field Office from Sandra D. Bruce, the assistant Inspector General for Inspections, it was alleged that neither the consultant nor the senior manager disclosed their spousal relationship to LANL.
    The document went onto to say that it was further alleged that work was performed before the consultant agreement was signed and also that hours were charged by the consultant for work that was not performed.
    The inspection, meanwhile, substantiated all aspects of the allegation.
    “We found that LANL inappropriately awarded a sole source consultant agreement to an individual who was the spouse of a senior LANL manager.”
    The inspection also said, “we also discovered that the consultant did not disclose his spousal relationship with the senior LANL manager at the time of the award.”

  • Pantex HPFL work done under budget

    Work on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s High Pressure Fire Loop (HPFL) project at its Pantex Plant, located near Amarillo, Texas, was completed in December 2013 on schedule and more than $5 million under budget.
    The HPFL is designed to enhance the reliability of safety-class fire suppression systems to ensure that the Pantex Plant will be able to meet mission assignments in critical production areas.
    According to a press release issued by the NNSA, this project reduces the risk of unplanned facility system outages, reduces system maintenance requirements and represents NNSA’s broader efforts to improve project management.
    “The successful completion of the High Pressure Fire Loop saved taxpayers millions of dollars while ensuring that critical NNSA mission work can be completed safely and on time,” said Bob Raines, NNSA’s associate administrator for acquisition and project management. “We have worked hard to get better at project management, and as our nuclear security enterprise ages and we continue to undertake similar projects, our work at Pantex should serve as an example moving forward. The dedication and teamwork demonstrated by B&W Pantex and the Federal project team were instrumental in the successful completion of the project.”

  • IG targets security project

    Last week, the Department of Energy Inspector General released a special report regarding the NNSA’s management of the $245 million Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project Phase II at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The project has struggled with cost tracking, estimates, and construction defects.
    In a statement, lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said, “We’ve acknowledged that there were deficiencies and we’re committed to correcting them, not only in the specific ways mentioned in the Inspector General’s report but in a broader sense on project management lab-wide. In fiscal year 2013, we achieved official project completion (CD-4) on five projects, each on or ahead of schedule and under the agreed costs. That’s what the government expects and that is our goal on each project.”
    On Nov. 15, LANL project managers declared construction completion on the NMSSUP system surrounding its primary plutonium facility, and the first portion of the system’s Entry Control Facility is now in use.
    The upgrade is now in the activation and testing phase and security officers are receiving training on the new equipment and software while activation and testing, continued during the holiday break.

  • Herrera elected chair

    Susan Herrera, CEO of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, has been elected chair of the Board of the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers.
    The association serves foundations and private philanthropists throughout New Mexico. It hosted a conference “Finding Common Ground: Joining Together to Improve New Mexico” late last year at Tamaya Resort for grantmakers and nonprofits. The conference was partially funded by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
    Other officers are Dolores Roybal, executive director of Con Alma Health Care Foundation; immediate past board chair; Adam Rubel, steering committee member of the Kindle Project, vice-chair; Laurie Betlach, program director of the Lannan Foundation, secretary; and Bob Mang treasurer of Jessica’s Love Foundation, treasurer.
    The association plans to hire a new executive director by March.

  • Employee at LANL honored

    Gabriel Montaño of LANL’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies was named president-elect of of the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
    His term as president is for four years: the first year as president-elect, two years as president and the fourth year as past president.
    Montaño joined the laboratory in 2002 as a postdoc in the Biosciences Division. He became a fulltime staff member in 2005 in the Laboratory’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. Montaño has a bachelor’s degree in biology from New Mexico State (1997) and a doctorate in molecular cell biology from Arizona State (2002). 

  • Talking North Korea, Iran

    Former LANL director Siegfried Hecker presented a lecture at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Friday night. The subject: How the political situation Iran and North Korea has changed within a year, and the reasons behind it. Be sure to pick up Tuesday’s Los Alamos Monitor to get the full story.

  • Hecker to speak on N. Korea, Iran

    Former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Siegfried Hecker will present a public lecture on “Iran and North Korea what a difference a year makes” at 7 p.m. Friday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1967 18th Street in Los Alamos.
    In a release, Hecker, who now works at Stanford, said, “one year ago, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad was still threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the map while Iran’s nuclear program was progressing steadily.
    “Now, recently elected President Hassan Rohani and his foreign minister Javad Zarif are pursuing a nuclear deal and rapprochment with the West. In North Korea, the young, Swiss-educated Kim appeared to be willing to compromise with the West. But recently he carried out one of the most brutal leadership purges, including executing his uncle.
    “In the meantime, the North’s nuclear program is moving ahead on all fronts. I will provide a perspective on these two nuclear cases based on interactions with key officials from both countries.”
    Hawkins to speak
    at Bradbury

  • NNSA lists its highlights

    As 2014 begins, the National Nuclear Security Administration last week released a list of some of its most important accomplishments and improvements over the past year. NNSA reached significant milestones in the areas of nonproliferation and counterterrorism, made a host of significant achievements through its work with the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile, and saw improved operations throughout the complex.
    “In 2013, even with a challenging budget situation, NNSA’s successes ensured that the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, secure and effective; saved taxpayers millions of dollars; and supported emergency preparedness and the next generation of nuclear security workers,” said NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held.
     “Our people, both our government employees and the employees in our government-owned labs and plants, have done great work executing our mission and improving the way we do business.”
    NNSA’s 2013 list highlights accomplishments in operations and at its sites, international partnerships to support nonproliferation and removals of dangerous materials, and emergency preparedness trainings and university programs.
    Improved Operations and Site Achievements:

  • Sexual harrassment case now moving to civil court

     Criminal charges were dropped against former Emergency Operations division leader Anthony Stanford in December after Stanford was charged with assault and battery last year.
    Stanford’s troubles, though, are far from over.
    A married couple employed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory filed a civil suit earlier this month against Stanford, alleging that assault and battery was committed against Erika Gorman.
    The suit also names Los Alamos National Security, which alleges it was negligent in hiring, supervising and retaining Stanford.
    A lab spokesman refused comment on the pending litigation. Attorney Aaron Boland, who represented Stanford in the criminal case, did not return an inquiry for comment.
    The district attorney’s office dismissed the charges without prejudice in magistrate court against Stanford.
    The Gormans’ attorney said it was Erika Gorman’s call to file the suit, which was filed in district court.
    “Under the criminal case, the worst punishment Stanford could have been assessed would be probation and he probably would not have gotten jail time,” said attorney John Day. “We did not want to put Erika Gorman through a criminal case. We have a civil case ready to go and Erika is certainly happy with that.”

  • LANL highlights its top science stories

     Noteworthy science achievements for 2013 from Los Alamos National Laboratory were as diverse as the scientific disciplines necessary for sustaining the institution’s national security mission; they included a ringside seat for the birth of a black hole, novel strategies for an HIV vaccine, sobering insights into the ravages of climate change, a dip into Mars’s watery past, clever processes for extracting energy from biomass, and a fleeting snapshot of the mysterious mechanisms that possibly power Earth’s radiation belts, among other discoveries.
    HIV vaccine under development
    The range of Los Alamos research on HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is significant, from groundbreaking vaccine concepts that are about to move into human trials, to computer modeling approaches to better understand how the virus moves through different populations. The Laboratory has long maintained the national HIV research database, in addition to the original research, and this year millions of readers worldwide had the chance to learn more.
     Climate impacts: forest mortality/wildfire contribution to global warming