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LANL Puts Out Big ‘Help Wanted’ Notice

on April 30, 2016 - 10:12am

LANL Director Charlie McMillan at Tuesday's Community Leaders Update in Santa Fe talks about reshaping the workforce of the future. Courtesy photo

NNSA Field Office Manager Kim Davis Lebak touts the virtues of a steady budget. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos Daily Post

An aging workforce and natural attrition, more than budget growth, are pushing Los Alamos National Laboratory toward a hiring spree. The lab will be looking for scientists and engineers as always, but also for business services professionals, support staff, as well as craft and technical employees.

“Taken together, we’re looking at something in excess of 2,000 people that we expect to hire at the laboratory over the next four years,” said LANL Director Charlie McMillan at Tuesday's Community Leaders’ Update at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe. “That’s an opportunity to shape the workforce of the future at the lab.”

To get the word out, McMillan said the lab has been using a lot of social media and has held resume-writing workshops with local organizations. He reminded interested people that the lab has to follow federal hiring regulations, which means people can’t just send in a resume. They have to apply for a job that is posted.

“But there are a lot of jobs posted,” he said. “The lab has traditionally hired some of the best people in the world and today we’re working to hire some of New Mexico’s best.”

DOE-EM Field Office Manager Doug Hintze lays out the plan for choosing a legacy cleanup contractor. Photo by Roger Snodgrass

Both Department of Energy Field Office managers gave updates on matters under their purview.

Kim Davis Lebak, the NNSA manager was especially enthusiastic about the outlook for the 2017 budget, which has made unusually speedy progress in Congress this year. “A  new, strong, hearty budget,” she called it. “A good solid budget with tons of scope to do,” she added. “From now through the early 20’s NNSA is pumping a lot of money into infrastructure.”

Her list of construction projects had an estimated construction cost that ranged from $1.8-$2.4 billion. The next big project set to begin commissioning between July 2016 and February 2017 is the new Transuranic Waste Facility in Technical Area 63. The TA-55 Reinvestment Project is scheduled to wrap up $92.7 million in improvements in November 2017. The big-ticket item (at $1.5-2.04 billion projected for the 2021-24 timeframe) still called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement, is under study as a modular construction project, related to plans to close out the old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility by 2019.

The EM field office manager and the newest member of the LANL leadership troika, Doug Hintze responded to a potential concern among LANL employees, who may at times wonder which office they should be dealing with, now that there are two federal offices at the laboratory.

“It should be transparent,” he said. “It doesn’t make a difference whether you go to Kim’s office or my office. We have a memorandum of understanding. Just come to us and we’ll work it out,” he said, with the confidence that comes from having had an eight-year cooperative relationship with his counterpart previously during a complex transition at Savannah River Site.

Hintze contributed to the hiring fever with his staffing update, noting that his office now has 21 individuals, but is in the process of doubling to 41.

Although EM has now been assigned the environmental management function at the laboratory, it is operating under a bridge contract for cleanup activities with Los Alamos National Security, the partnership that manages the lab. The bridge contract is for a one year period, which is the current fiscal year, but there are two six-month options. The EM managers are drafting a request for proposal now for the Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Contract. With an estimated value of about $1 billion, the legacy contractis conceived as a contract up to ten years with a five-year base period and two option periods.

“Probably October of 2017 is when that contract would go into effect,” Hintze said.

LANL continues to be the only nuclear cleanup site without a formal lifecycle baseline, a comprehensive cleanup plan with a corresponding budget, despite mounting complaints and a growing realization that the lack of a baseline has been detrimental to stability in the cleanup program.

Hintze said the baseline would have to incorporate relevant provisions of the revised Consent Order with the state that has been now been drafted. “That baseline I’m expecting to be released in the next couple of months.” But he asked not to be held to that deadline because everybody has already been waiting for a long time.

LANL Director Charlie McMillan greets Dist. 43 Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard at Tuesday's Community Leaders Update breakfast at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe. Courtesy photo

Scene from LANL Community Leaders Update breakfast Tuesday at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe. Photo by Roger Snodgrass/