Director Charlie McMillan
In an email to employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory today, Director Charlie McMillan explained that because of the ongoing lapse in federal appropriations, the NNSA has directed all labs and sites to start preparing for the orderly closure of all operations except for those required to maintain minimum safety.
Without a resolution to the budget impasse, Los Alamos will complete the transition to closure as of the end of business on Friday, Oct. 18, McMillan said in his email message.
LANL will continue to conserve available funding through reductions in travel and discretionary spending, he said, adding that effective immediately, all travel, overtime and hiring must be approved by a PAD.
“We are currently preparing a list of the safety and security operations that will continue and personnel who would work through the closure to staff them,” McMillan said. “All other employees will be placed on unpaid furlough starting Monday, Oct. 21 until the Laboratory can safely restart.“
Employees with adequate vacation balances will be able to record vacation on timecards for the weeks starting Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 if they wish. Vacation advances or other paid leave (sick, jury duty, etc.) will not be allowed, with the exception of employees currently on long-term sick leave. Health care and most other benefits will continue, with employee premiums being collected after the furlough as necessary.
“I fully recognize this message will trigger a host of questions related to impacts on pension calculations and 401k issues, user facilities or university and industrial partners, change-of-station employees and foreign nationals here on visas,” McMillan said. “No doubt you will have other examples. We are working closely with NNSA and DOE to provide reliable guidance on these and other issues, and we’re preparing a number of online and in-person resources to provide answers as we get them.”
McMillan said in his email that he will hold an all-employee meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 to discuss the closure. Because he expects high interest and system capacity has proven to be inconsistent, McMillan said video streaming will be limited to conference rooms across the Laboratory, adding that more than 60 conference rooms have been identified and a list will be published online.
Starting Tuesday, Oct. 15, all work locations will begin the process of putting their facilities and equipment in safe and secure status, he said, and must be complete by the close of business Thursday, Oct. 17.
McMillan asked employees to remain vigilant and take extra time for safety and security, especially during these uncertain times.
“I understand the turmoil this creates for you, your families, and the region,” McMillan said. “I urge you make plans with a possible furlough in mind. Let me assure you that this Laboratory will continue to protect Special Nuclear Material, national security information, workers, the public, and the environment. We will maintain the ability to respond to national security emergencies. It is my sincere hope that this situation is resolved prior to Oct. 18. However, because of the size and complexity of our operations, we must begin the actions necessary for closure now.”