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LANL chief’s compensation tops $1.5M

SANTA FE – The annual compensation for Los Alamos National Laboratory director Charles McMillan has topped $1.5 million, federal records show.

That’s up from the $800,348 director’s compensation that the same records showed for 2009 and is nearly three times the LANL chief’s compensation in 2006, the last year the lab was still run by the University of California.

McMILLAN: Los Alamos National Lab director

McMILLAN: Los Alamos National Lab director

The lab has since been run by a private consortium, Los Alamos National Security LLC, that includes the university, the Bechtel corporation and other partners.

Although LANS is a private enterprise, its compensation figures for top lab officials have been made public in the past few years as part of disclosure forms required for recipients of federal stimulus money distributed in the wake of the 2008 economic crash.

What appear to be two of the most recent disclosure forms, 2013 reports on funds awarded in 2009 and 2010, show McMillan’s annual compensation at $1,538,256. The second highest amount was $567,949, for the chief financial officer at the time covered by one of the disclosure forms.

LANL provided this brief statement about McMillan’s compensation: “The amount reported reflects total compensation that includes salary and the change in current value of pension benefits. Not all of the compensation comes directly from taxpayer money, a significant portion comes from the private corporation that manages the Laboratory. Note that the change in pension value is not a salary wage, but a change in the current value of future pension benefits.”

The last time the Journal reported on McMillan’s compensation, also from the stimulus award forms, was in 2012, when the amount was about $1.1 million.

No similar information was available for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. A spokesman said pay for officials at Sandia, also run by a private contractor, was proprietary.

In 2012, Sandia provided a statement to the Journal that president Paul Hommert’s total compensation was $1.3 million. That was down from what stimulus disclosure forms showed was $1.7 million for former Sandia president Tom Hunter, whom Hommert replaced in 2010.

Los Alamos lab watchdog Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, in an email calling attention to McMillan’s compensation, referred to the performance-based fee adjustments that LANS receives based on evaluating how it met standards set by the federal government.

“So the performance-based bonus system is working just fine, right?” Mello wrote. “It really helped with LANL’s performance vis-a-vis WIPP, didn’t it?”

The lab has come under fire after a radioactive waste drum packaged at Los Alamos popped open and contaminated the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, the nation’s underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad, earlier this year.

WIPP has been closed since. The cause of the chemical reaction that caused the breach in the LANL waste drum is still under investigation.

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