Monday, December 25, 2006

Stuck with inefficient private industry

Remember the story from last October about how a routine drug bust had netted some classified material from Los Alamos National Laboratory?

Well, it seems that the cure was worse than the affliction. Los Alamos, having gone from institutional management via the University of California to a partnership with Bechtel, one of the most notorious recipients of corporate welfare in Washington, decided to fix the problem by having all the computers super-glued. Actually, the USB ports, more specifically had to be super-glued.

That’s right, Los Alamos Nuclear Labs, one of the top US research labs with some of the smartest scientists and engineers has decided that Super Glue is the best answer to their endpoint security problems.

What about PCMCIA slots, PS/2, Serial Ports, Firewire ports and CD-ROM drives? What will happen when a researcher needs to use a biometric device, or other USB device? The computer system is now ruined and will have to have the USB ports replaced, or the system replaced. Your tax dollars at work.

To say nothing of what happens when the letter 't' wears out on your keyboard? Now, instead of replacing a $20 keyboard, you have to trash the whole computer, probably worth thousands of dollars.

Well, what else did you expect when you gave control of the labs to private enterprise, especially a company like Bechtel which makes their living off of fat government contracts and has learned how to pocket tons of cash while actually doing very little?

Correction: Indy Voter pointed out some misleading statements, at least one of which 'government management' implied direct Federal management, which the lab has never had (though the University of California is an institution within a government entity.) Though this is technically not an error I will count it as one, so I presently have 7 errors in 510 posts, and in accordance with the previously announced policy at Deep Thought, I am publically acknowleging erroneous information in a blog post and still have a fielding percentage for post accuracy of 503/510 = .986


shrimplate said...

Great. A new low in the annals of stupidity and latent corruption. If they were still using slide rules Bechtel would probably glue those, too.

In response to one of your recent comments, about things that you don't miss from the Valley, I totally agree. While some areas here are quite nice, in general it's at least as ugly as any other large American city. Sprawl of the worst kind.

If I had my way I might set up shop permanently at La Posada in Winslow.

Anonymous said...

Eli, there are some very misleading statements in your second paragraph.

(1) The consortium which Bechtel leads won the LANL contract through a competitive bid process, the first time the LANL management contract was ever put out to bid. Your assertion that Bechtel is "one of the most notorious recipients of no-bid contracts" implies otherwise.

(2) Management of LANL has been contracted out for many decades, with the University of California being the manager until the competitive bid was issued two years ago. UC won the award with a no-bid contract, and renewed it regularly for decades with no-bid contracts, until the feds decided in the wake of recent scandals at LANL to put the contract out for competitive award. UC is still part of the management team, having partnered with Bechtel for their bid, but LANL employees are no longer UC employees.

I'm not a big fan of the Bechtel consortium, and find the superglue story to be hilarious (and typical of their mindset), but you shouldn't imply that Bechtel won a no-bid contract here nor that the US Government directly managed LANL prior to the current contract.

Eli Blake said...


Well, they have a nursing shortage up here... (and I'd buy you dinner). I've been absorbing Lakoff over the holiday ;)

Indy Voter:

You are correct, I knew that but didn't write the post to make it sufficiently clear. I will edit.