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IntheLoop | 11.18.2002

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computubg Sciences Employees

November 18, 2002

Reminder: Check Your Open Enrollment Materials for Significant Changes This Year

Here's a reminder from Computing Sciences' HR staff:
It is very important that you take the time to review your personalized
Open Enrollment materials carefully and make any changes in your
benefits by Saturday, Nov. 30. This year there are significant changes
in medical coverage and costs:

  • All medical plans, except the Core medical plan, will have a monthly
    employee premium in 2003.
  • Employee costs are rising for all of the medical plans. Even if you do
    nothing during Open Enrollment, you can expect to see a change in your
    January paycheck deduction for medical coverage.
  • To help keep costs affordable for lower-paid employees, UC will be
    making additional contributions to monthly premiums for employees with
    annual salaries of $40,000 or less.
  • A new four-tiered rate structure has been adopted for medical plan
    premiums: employee only, employee plus child(ren), employee plus adult
    and employee plus family (adult and child or children).
  • UC Care (Aetna) will no longer be offered, effective December 31,
    2002; instead, two new plans (Blue Cross PLUS and Blue Cross PPO) will
    be offered, with coverage beginning January 1, 2003.
  • A new Health Care Reimbursement Account is available, which allows
    employees to set aside pretax dollars to pay for eligible out-of-pocket
    health care expenses, including copayments, prescription drugs,
    orthodontia, eyeglasses and more.
  • Employees currently participating in the Dependent Care (DepCare) plan
    must re-enroll during Open Enrollment. Information about changes in
    DepCare has been sent to participants.

For more information and instructions on how to make changes see
http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/open_enrollment/employees/cal/cal_index.html.

Even though costs are going up and employees will begin paying more for
health care, not everything is changing. UC will continue to offer
employees 100% employer-paid dental and vision coverage, and the costs
for some non-medical plans, including life and disability insurance, are
actually dropping.

Open Enrollment ends at midnight Saturday, November 30, 2002. All Open
Enrollment changes will be effective January 1, 2003.

You may contact the Lab Benefits Office at X6403 or benefits@lbl.gov for
further information.


UC Regents Approve Extra Retirement Funds for Second Consecutive Year

In an effort to mitigate disappointing 2002-03 salary increases due to
limited state funding, the University of California Board of Regents
last week approved additional retirement funds for eligible UC employees
by way of a special retirement account. Although the program is designed
primarily to supplement compensation for campus employees paid from
state funds, the program also covers Lab employees paid out of federal
funding.

Due to the recent economic downturn and resulting decline in state
revenues, the University of California received significantly limited
state funding for 2002-03, which only provided UC with enough funds to
offer administrative employees 1.5 percent raises systemwide. This is
the second consecutive year that UC received less-than-expected state
funding for employee salaries.

The special account, called a Capital Accumulation Provision (CAP), will
put the equivalent of 5 percent of the employee's salary into a separate
retirement account in the University of California Retirement Plan
(UCRP) where it will earn a specified rate of interest (currently 7.5
percent). Employees will have access to the funds when they retire from
or leave the university.

UC employees who are active members in the UCRP on April 1, 2003, will
be eligible for the CAP. This would include UCRP members on sabbatical
or approved leave of absence. Disabled, retired and inactive members
would be ineligible.

This is not the first time UC has offered employees a Capital
Accumulation Provision. UC regents approved a CAP last year to help
offset similarly disappointing salary increases. The 2001 CAP provided
eligible employees with 3 percent of salary, at a current interest rate
of 7.5 percent.

In the early 1990s, when the state's budget was under similar pressure,
eligible employees also received CAPs to offset disappointing salary
increases. In the last 10 years, UC has offered five separate CAP
programs.


Findings of Workshop on NERSC Users' Visualization Needs Now Available

Last June, as part of the NERSC Users Group meeting at the Lab, a
"Visualization Requirements Workshop" was held help identify crucial
scientific data visualization needs. The workshop hosted computational
scientists and engineers from across the DOE Scientific Computing
programs who discussed their visualization requirements for current and
next generation projects. These requirements have been assembled into a
white paper and is being made available to DOE for further planning of
the visualization program in MICS, in particular for potentially growing
the program. The workshop complemented DOE's SciDAC (Scientific
Discovery through Advanced Computing) program launched last year.

The workshop findings, which are organized by research area, can be
found at
http://vis.lbl.gov/Events/VisGreenbookWorkshop-June02/VisGreenFindings-LBNL-51699.pdf.


This Month's Computer Protection Brown Bag Event

This month's computer protection brown bag event is a presentation by
Christopher Manders titled "What do you have to lose if you don't make
backups?" The event is at noon Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Bldg. 50
auditorium. Bring your lunch and your questions.


Last Chance to Sign Up for Security Fundamentals Course

The last date to sign up for the free Computer Security Fundamentals
course is C.O.B., Thursday, November 21. This half-day course is from 9
a.m. - 12:15 p.m. on Monday, November 25, in the Bldg. 66 auditorium. To
enroll, go to https://hris.lbl.gov/.


About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 6,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.