letter to Academic Council Chair Arnold Leiman dated March 12,
Carl Poppe attached a document responding to the UCORP
Report on the University's Relations with the Department of Energy
Poppe's response is reproduced below.
A UCORP rebuttal to Poppe's response can be found here.
Comments on the Report of the
University Committee on Research Policy Report on the
University's Relations the Department of Energy Laboratories
Carl H. Poppe
Office of Research
March 11, 1996
The Office of Research and the Laboratory Administration Office of
the UC Office of the President has the day-to-day responsibility for
the management of the contracts between the University and the
Department of Energy for the three laboratories -- Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory (LBNL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
(LLNL), and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). This daily
interaction with the Laboratories over the years has given us a
unique opportunity to observe and understand their operation and
activities. Consequently, the we take exception to a number of issues
and statements raised by the University Committee on Research Policy
Report on the University's Relations with the Department of Energy
Laboratories (January 1996). Our reading of the report has
uncovered a number of statements that we believe are incorrect,
inaccurate, or misleading. A sampling of such statements is compiled
While the statement is true, it ignores the fact that LBNL had a
history of classified and weapons research, during which time it also
had a close and integral relation with the Berkeley campus. Also by
ignoring LBNL in the report, UCORP ignores the relationship and
synergy among the three labs, assuming that actions taken to sever
management relations with LLNL and LANL would not be detrimental to
LBNL. This assumption is at best questionable and is neither
discussed nor proven.
- "This report does not involve the Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory (LBNL) which has long been an integral part of
the Berkeley campus and is not involved in classified research or
nuclear weapons research."(p. 3).
While this was a conclusion of the Galvin Committee, it is taken out
of context and implies that there is
something fundamentally wrong about the GOCO arrangement under which
manages the laboratories. In fact, it is well-accepted that the GOCO
concept has served the nation extremely well and that federal
laboratories managed under such an arrangement are traditionally
superior to those managed under other arrangements. The conclusion of
the Galvin Committee was to recognize that the current implementation
of GOCO by the government has strayed from the original concept and
needs to be corrected.
- "Among other findings the Galvin Committee concluded that
government-ownership and contractor-operation of the laboratories
does not work well."(p. 5).
None of the publications cited were internal. classified documents.
This information was readily available. and the statement gives the
impression that the laboratories were trying to hide something or
were padding, the numbers.
- " Similarly it is not known how many of these reported
publications are internal, classified documents, and how many were
external and published in unclassified peer-reviewed, professional
journals." (p. 6).
In some cases, private corporations managing laboratories do maintain
substantial university collaborations, but it is doubtful that these
corporations would maintain the activities mentioned in this
- "While some UC-Laboratory collaborations are funded by
management contract moneys, such as the Institute for Geophysics and
Planetary Physic (IGPP), the lnstitute on Global Conflicts and
Cooperation (IGCC), and the current CLC grants, other laboratories
which are managed by private corporations maintain extensive
university collaborations. "(pp. 6-7).
After having stated that the Report would not involve LBNL, this
statement, while certainly true for LBNL, appears to imply that
something else is true for LLNL and LANL. On the contrary, it can be
argued that the statement applies equally well to the other labs,
with the exception of the portion of research that is classified. The
unclassified research at these laboratories is also known for its
excellence and openness and there is no ambiguity for these
laboratories that DOE is their customer. They certainly accept the
responsibility to deliver scientific products of the highest quality.
- "LBNL is truly a Multi-campus Organized Research Unit of
the UC system. It is known for its excellence and openness in
research. There is no ambiguity about DOE being a customer of LBNL.
LBNL accepts the responsibility to deliver scientific products of the
highest quality for which it is duly compensated."(p. 7).
This allegation has no basis in fact. A number of programs at LANL
and LLNL that have highly integrated classified components have
exhibited extensive collaborations with faculty.
- "0n the other hand when classified research programs are
closely integrated into the
physical arrangement and programs of the National Laboratories close
collaborations between laboratory scientists and university faculty
appear to become much more difficult." (p. 8).
This allegation is simply not true. There are substantial data to the
contrary, which were made available to UCORP and can be made
available to the Academic Council upon request.
- "Thus it is not surprising that relatively few campus
laboratory collaborations have taken root at either LANL or LLNL."
IGCC funding comes from the Office of the President out of the
contract compensation received by the University for managing the
laboratories. There is no reason to expect that the DOE would
continue this funding in the absence of the management contracts,
especially in view of federal budget cutbacks.
- "The IGCC appears to be the only UC organization that may
be directly dependent upon the Laboratory management contract,
although to the extent that its work is of value to the DOE beyond
encouraging renewal of the contract, this funding could be
maintained." (p. 8)
This section in the Report is based on several anecdotal reports and
does not reflect the long tradition of protection of free speech
afforded to members of the laboratory. No examples, of which there
are many, of University management protecting free speech were given
or apparently sought. In fact, Dr. DeWitt was allowed to speak his
mind freely on many occasions, something that may not have happened
if LLNL had been managed by a private corporation during his tenure.
Furthermore, this statement gives the impression that it was LLNL
that removed his clearance, when it was, in fact, removed by the DOE.
Also, simply because classified material may appear in the
Congressional Record, it does not make it unclassified or remove the
responsibility of cleared individuals from their responsibility for
protecting classified information.
- "Unfortunately, the role played by the University in
protecting critics under the current contract still appears to leave
much to be desired (e.g., DeWitt had his security clearance rescinded
when accused of writing a review article which had been previously
reported in the Congressional Record)." (p. 9).
This is because no such evidence was sought. In fact, the University
has charged the President's Council on the National Laboratories
with monitoring the atmosphere at the laboratories for free and open
expression and as a result the Office of the President is presently
investigating an allegation. The quoted statement gives the
impression that harassment by supervisors is an ongoing problem.
While there will always be such allegations whenever there is a
supervisor-employee relationship, our experience over many years of
managing, the laboratories has been that such harassment is minor.
Laboratory scientists by and large express that the University
concern for freedom of expression is one of the major reasons they
view continued management by the University to be important.
- "There appears to be little evidence that the University
insured that critics were free to express themselves or were
protected from harassment by their supervisors." (p. 9).
This statement appears to treat allegations as facts and does not
provide the other side of the story. Most of the allegations were the
results of a reduction in force conducted by LANL last year. The
individuals who were laid off, faced with poor prospects for similar
employment in northern New Mexico, have sought redress through the
courts. That is not an unexpected outcome, but does not necessarily
imply that improper procedures were followed. It is true that LANL's
human resources policies differ in some respects from those of the
University, but that is allowed for business reasons and geographical
differences, after review by the University.
- "UCORP s review indicates that there are on-going
allegations from the staff at LANL charging that the human resources
policies of LANL are seriously out of line with University policy,
that staff are routinely threatened with loss of employment, and that
the Laboratory Administration Office is unable or unwilling to
improve conditions for workers. " (p.10)
UCORP does not distinguish which are allegations and which are not,
making it appear as if all allegations have resulted in court cases
settled in favor of the plaintiff. This is simply not true and
presents a misleading picture.
"UCORP notes that these are not just allegations, but settled court
cases in which LANL human resources policies were found to by unjust,
with significant settlements made by the DOE." (p. 10).
This number is greatly exaggerated, leading to the perception that
there is a significant rotation back to the Laboratories which is not
the case. Furthermore, some of those identified as having come from
"DOE Laboratories" did not come from laboratories managed by the UC,
but from other DOE laboratories. Furthermore, the Report does not
make clear why hiring some individuals from the labs would be a
conflict of interest.
- "This problem has been compounded because 30 -35
additional personnel have been hired from the DOE Laboratories to
serve as members of the Laboratory Oversight section of the OP
Business and Finance Office." (p. 11).
There is no basis in fact for this statement. OP exercises
considerably more oversight over the Laboratory Directors than it
does over the Chancellors of the campuses. In fact, it was exactly
this kind of excessive oversight that has been imposed on the
laboratories by the DOE that the Galvin Committee was complaining
about. UCORP would replace such oppressive DOE oversight by
- "OP delegates too much management and oversight to the
Laboratory Directors." (p. 12)
UCORP presents this as a criticism, when in fact it is a strength.
Science and technology do not lend themselves easily to objective
evaluation, as is the case for evaluating procurements, or
purchasing. Rather, science and technology are evaluated by a
thorough system of subjective peer reviews.
- "Lack of objectivity in performance-based evaluation of
Laboratory Science/Technology programs." (p. 13).
This is simply not true. Management receives a salary multiplier that
is tied directly to the results of the performance-based management
contract. One-half of the performance is based on the results of the
peer reviews evaluated by the President's Council of the science and
technology programs and the other half is determined by performance
in business and operations where specific performance indicators are
- "Incentives for senior management to achieve its goals
appear questionable because the incentives are not objective."
This statement is grossly misleading. The University would not enter
into a contract with the DOE that did not contain sufficient
protection to protect the assets of the University and the taxpayers
of the State of California. Given the protection that the contracts
do in fact provide, UCORP should probably be more concerned about
"nuclear energy or potentially hazardous" research at the campuses.
- "The potential large financial responsibility the
University would incur if there were a major environmental disaster
related to nuclear energy or any other potentially hazardous
Laboratory research." (p. 14).
UCORP implies that because
collaborations may benefit the University, this may somehow
constitute a conflict of interest. This implication has no basis in
fact, in that any collaborations that result because of the
management contracts are completely consistent with the terms of the
- "Again, to the extent that these are collaborations with UC
faculty, the greater conflict of interest with respect to 'public
How can "real administrative costs" be costs that were not actually
expended? This presumed argument is totally opaque.
- "The real administrative costs are not those that have
been spent, but those that would be required if the operations of the
Laboratories by the University were to be expended to include a
mechanism to ensure proper and objective management and
On p. 14, UCORP raised the concern about the potentially large
financial responsibility the University might incur from certain
laboratory activities. Here they are arguing for accepting such
"Unfortunately, the present contract frees both OP oversight and
Laboratory management from any fiscal responsibilities for errors in
administering human resources, or health and safety policies because
the DOE absorbs all these legal costs. (p. 15)
Neither statement has any basis in fact and is simply conjecture on
the part of UCORP. The second statement is incredible.
"Even with a larger management fee the time required for such
management and oversight by OP administrative personnel with adequate
and formal UC faculty input would probably have a negative impact on
existing University programs. Furthermore UCORP is concerned that DOE
funding for proper management and oversight of the Laboratories may
potentially jeopardize UC's non-profit status." (p. 15).