Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Constant's Five Minutes: The Nanos Dobbleganger

Someone lost their job. But are they gone from the scene? How far will America go?

Correction: Title should read = "doppleganger"

1. Security Issues: Funding

Subject of security costs caught my eye.

Looks like there's at least two prongs here: One argument suggesting that there's not enough money, so shut things down; while at the same time, government admitting that money wasn't spent right, so let's spend more.

Sounds like more of the SAIC-approach to the DoJ-software upgrade--"keep sending us money, even if the end result is marginally better than the starting position."

There are other companies like DynCorp that are connected to both DTRA and the Lab. DynCorp had some alleged problems with torture in re Battalion 316 and Negropante.

2. Cost savings

Sometimes the "efficiencies" aren't related to actually cutting things, but in bringing in more work that already complements what is going on.

Also, rather than spend money on TDY for hotels, could purchase property like condos.

Downside of combining certain departments with contractors: Government loses the ability to have the needed space to go over issues in private.

3. Risk to Lab: Nanos Next Assignment

DTRA has two areas which Nanos will likely have something to do with: One is the technology development area; and another area is a DHS-DOD liaison function.

Both which have a relationship with the Lab. He may be gone, but it doesn't mean that he's gone from the Lab's future. Take a look at his bio again: Before he was director, he was the principal deputy associate director for Los Alamos National Laboratory's Threat Reduction Directorate. That's what DTRA is!

That's alot of acquisition and development background. DTRA will likely rely on his knowledge of the acquisition, procurement, and engineering areas to acquire the needed DHS technology. You want him to take the workload elsewhere?

Of concern to the lab is the fact that DTRA has a known problem in-house squabbling over WMD. Again, WMD is a known lab function. There could likely be some overlap with the Lab in re DHS-DoD acquisition, development, and advanced studies.

The DTRA director's bio lists him as being from Sandia, meaning that the DTRA and his predecessor are going to be relying on Sandia for something. If the Director has burned a bridge with Sandia, who better to send in for payback? If things are bad between DTRA and any lab, the director would have nothing to lose to send Nanos back to make it worse.

Note in the agency response to the GAO report that DTRA recognizes that it has a problem with performance, but says that that isn't required. Huh? How does any agency, regardless statute, justify funding if there's no basis to say things are going well? This looks like a real mess; and if anyone from the Lab has to interact with DTRA, know that the agency has some performance measurement tools that need attention [See letter 5/37].

What does this have to do with anything? Well, the problem with Nanos [not just at the lab] has been his inability to listen and professionally interact. If he's going to walk into DTRA [whose job is to monitor external agencies], but DTRA has a problem with it's own compliance programs [in re performance monitoring, per the GAO report], then he's the wrong guy going into the wrong agency: They need to hide this guy, not throw him into a high profile position where there's more of what got him into trouble at the Lab: A requirement to coordinate.

Hello?!?! Does anyone see the parallels between what happened prior to 9-11/FAA stuff/DoJ screwups and what's going on with Nanos? It's like the perfect storm -- throwing allegedly the most inept person into the agency that is potentially on the high list of vulnerable areas.Ref

Need to look at whether DTRA's Ristvet was the one who assisted Nanos in getting the job, and what type of professional relationship Nanos and Ristvet have.

  • Did Ristvet have a role in creating Nanos' job at DTRA?

    Need to understand what DTRA is going to want in return for taking Nanos. Look for some reprogramming favors. Those funds may have already been shifted after coordination with the Committee analysts. I'd encourage the budget analysts to watch for this, and be inquisitive as to the actual destination of the funding. It may not be visible at the lab, but if the money has shifted, someone would have that visibility.

    The question for Congress is: If the money has shifted to DTRA, why was this not in the original President's Budget request; does the language match the stated reason; and what are the bonafide requirements been itemized to justify this transition.

    Also, at UCSD there is the Jacobs School which has a DHS role, and will likely interface with Nanos. Those subcontractors and vendors associated with both the Lab and UCSD are likely going to run into Nanos again through that avenue. If there were issues with University of California, regardless the change of oversight after the competition, changing the lead management team will not solve what failed in California.

    In turn, if Nanos et al are still working with the Lab-associates at UCSD, then you've got the worst of two worlds: Someone backdooring you, going to the very entity that failed, and all the while you're stuck with interfacing with those who have to deal with him. In other words, all they've done is made is footprint, albeit less close, wider. That's not a cozy feeling if the goal was "to get away from that style of management." Now, rather than just dealing with him and his immediate underlings, you now have potentially 1,200 new people who are going to be infected with him.

    This is analogous to moving a tumor from the right side of the brain to the left. But not sewing up the incision, and constantly returning in the middle of the night to ask, "Are you awake?" That's more of the Abu Ghraib "concern" program we saw on the still photos.

    4. DC and Pentagon

    I think Nanos needs to know that there are X-thousand people who have information and they're willing to continue sharing it with the new people.

    Whether this means e-mailing the folks there to let them know about the blog; or encouraging them to set up their own blog, make no difference to me.

    But I want to make sure that Nanos knows that if he wants to use the "transition phase" and "learning curve of the new job" as an excuse to find new targets, getting moved from DoE to DoD isn't going to be his cover.

    Rather, he needs to know that the folks in his new area are well aware of what's been going on at LANL, and that they are ready to deal with him.

    Also, in my view, the only catalyst for real action was the credible threat of litigation.

    DoE records need to be available for discovery. There are some at DoD IG and GAO from the last go around: The reference code you'll need for a FOIA and discovery is in HDTRA011, subject to limitations in DoD ยง318.15 Rules.

    Outside litigators need to know the specific documents to ask for in both DoE and DoD so that the information can be collated.

    Also, I'd like to see OPM get some more attention. How do they explain why this guy keeps getting bumped around? [Curious analogy: Multi-jurisdication means the litigation becomes more complicated]

    Based on the plain reading of the OPM guidelines in re SES, once Nanos was offered a job he had 15 days to accept it or retire. I suspect that's what happened in this case.
    SES members may be reassigned to any SES position in the same agency for which qualified, but career appointees must have at least 15 days advance written notice (60 days if reassigned between commuting areas). They may be removed from the service for failing to accept a directed reassignment. SES members may transfer to another agency that agrees to employment, but may not be involuntarily transferred. Career appointees are entitled to accompany their position in a transfer of function between agencies.
    Guess when the real rumors of a reassignment came? That's right at the 15-day point, prior to Nanos' final day at LANL.

    OPM in re DoE can't simply throw up their hands and say, "it's all over." On the contrary, OPM needs to get their act together and provide a straight story to Senator McCain [R-Arizona] on this:

  • What happened at the lab?

  • How was the situation handled

  • Why, despite who it was actually handled, was Nanos retained?

  • Why is Nanos the right person for this DTRA slot?

    Recall McCain's ire when the Guantanamo-Abu Ghraib scandals broke. He was very specific with Rumsfeld:

  • Who was in charge;

  • Who issued the orders;

  • What was the form of the instructions;

  • Who issued those instructions on prisoner abuse; and

  • Who was actually in control of the forces?

    If Nanos brings the same confusion to DTRA, then its likely after the fallout, DoD oversight is going to be asking the same thing.

    Congressional oversight over DHS, and the HASC and SASC need to get spuon up on what's been going on things outside their perview in DoE.

    This is a classic OPM move: Hide the disaster and make it more difficult to hold people accountable. They've crossed multiple departments [by design] and the staffers on the new committee aren't going to care about a single man [by design], but they should.

    My overall concern is that Nanos can't walk around DTRS or the POAC thinking "these new people will take some time to figure me out". DTRS agency employees need the benefit of what's gone on at LANL.

    Just as there are cross talks between similar functions at different units about to undergo an IG visit, I'd like to encourage there to be some formalized cross talks between LANL and the equivalent-grade personnel at DTRS.

    They need to know what's been going on, given sample documents and presentations, and get a good feel for how this guy operations before Nanos arrives on Day 1. DTRS needs to be moving at a faster speed than DTRS.

    That way and then be in a position to know:

  • What games are possible

  • What they need to do to organize, document, and help each other out

  • What information DoD IG and OPM needs to document to have Nano's stripped of his SES standing

  • What they need to do to consult with private attorneys who can help provide the congressional committees information on the problems in DoE/DoD oversight

  • Where the specific information is; what information should be in his files; and the basis to claim an obstruction of justice if known documents [that are in the file] are not turned over to Congress

    5. Training aids for Nanos' new boss: Take a look at this.

    6. Moira Gunn's beef with the lab

    Gunn runs a technation radio program. She's had some contact with Lab personnel in the past.

    On May 2nd she ran a personal 5-minute segment [her personal opinion-time] where she talked about blogs. Guess who came up?

    She mentioned Doug's picture on the motorcycle.

    Talked about Doug's reference 16 years ago [?] to some speech on Cold Fusion. Paraphrasing, Gunn was surprised that Doug was enamored with Cold Fusion and thought it looked real.

    Gunn characterized Blogs as being a water cooler.

  • Does Gunn have a blog with XML feeds? NooooOOOOOOoooooOOOOO!

    But let's not stop there, look at what she said about blogs. Isn't that what her site is: Just a blog, but without the XML-feed for podcasting and listen comments.

    But who's stuck in the past? She's got a website and a radio show. Let's take a look at her remarks about Radio-to-TV conversion. The TV was like a radio with the legs cut off. Ref.

    Isn't the same progression of technology applicable to Radio to blogs? Sure.

    Mind you this is someone who complains about people using blogs [as if its just gossip], but then, on a technology show, talks about cigarette smoking and home selling.

    Not that there's anything wrong with talking about smoking; but if Moira is allowed to talk about things unrelated to technology, why aren't' others allowed to discuss "other topics" as well in a blog? Apparently, it's OK if Moira throws stones. Fortunately for the public bloggers we can see she's living in a glass house.

    If you stay within the envelope there's no way the Lab will make a nano-video-camera. Let's take a look at some nanocameras.

    But Moira wants the public to just think about healthy eating. Brilliant. Did she bother to think which Lab managers and analysts were the ones that were monitoring the food supply; making sure that the new incoming products were still edible; or that the FDA related drugs were actually working as intended as they get combined with various food products? That's right Moira, the same people who like to blog: The ones that just got rid of their director.

    Government doesn't do anything, Moira. It doesn't keep us safe. They have to hire someone or convince someone to give up their freedom to keep us safe from bad organism like Mad Cow. So why the lab? Because if we don't have LANL, we're all going to die from that crappy Canadian mad cow stuff. And what better way to talk about Mad Cow than have a blog?

    Nanos didn't resign. He was given the option of a new job, or a loss of an SES status position. Nobody goes from a 12,000-person lab to a smaller organization where they have to report to someone else.

    Why was Nanos fired? Because he wasn't trusted. Stealing from Moira,
    QUOTE"You've got to be able to look them in the eye, be with them in meetings and one-on-one's, see if they're playing straight, if their public goals match their private actions, if what they say is what you get."ENDQUOTE Ref
    So what is it, Moira: Do you want to talk about Technology advances, but stay inside the envelope; or do you want to be able to trust the people you're talking to, but then not really be able to talk to them about technology advances like blogs?

    "Oh, I give up, it's all so confusing."

    Blogs. They're pretty simple. Kind of like a webpage, but they can cut other's leg's off. Ouch!

    And that's been 5 minutes with Constant.

    George Pete Nanos OR G. Pete Nanos Defense Threat Reducation Agency Defense Threat Reduction Agency