Local Blogs

By Tim Hunt

A very rapid transition for the lab

Uploaded: Oct 31, 2013

The surprise of the week, if not the month, was the
abrupt resignation of Parney Albright as director of Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory and president of the corporation that
operates the lab.

Albright leaves today, just a week after he broke the news of his departure to lab
employees. He has served less than two years in the top role, taking
over in December of 2011 when George Miller retired.

Miller led the lab through the transition from an institution managed by the
University of California (as it had been for more than 50 years) to an
organization managed by a for-profit corporation with several partners
including the university and Bechtel Corp.

Albright was the first of the Livermore directors in decades who was
not home-grown with deep career ties to the lab. He came moved to
Livermore in 2009 to head the Global Security Organization. Prior
assignments in Washington D.C. included assistant secretary in the
Homeland Security Dept. and 15 years in key roles with the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency.

He has not commented on why he stepped down so quickly—normally
leadership transitions have been planned for months if not more than a

A Google search shows precious little explanation or speculation
of the leadership change. That's a commentary—a sad one—on the state
of the so-called main stream media in this country. Albright led one
of two—the only two—national labs involved in nuclear weapons design as
well as the only one with the very expensive National Ignition Project
(the giant laser that, thus far, has failed to achieve its goal of
nuclear fusion).

In my days in daily newspapering, my newspaper and its
competition both had full-time reporters assigned to the lab. Today,
it is less than an after-thought despite being the valley's largest single employer.

Starting Friday, Bret Knapp will take over as interim director, moving
back to Livermore from its sister lab at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Knapp
worked in a variety of roles at Lawrence Livermore for 26 years before
moving to New Mexico to join the senior management team as principal
associate director for weapons.

Knapp will be the rare non-physicist to lead the organization—his bachelors and masters degrees are from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in mechanical engineering.

Knapp will serve as interim director while the board launches and conducts a national search for the new director.