The infrastructure projects necessary to support Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium work are so numerous and complicated that in June 2021 a new organization was created to handle the work.
The Associate Laboratory Directorate for Plutonium Infrastructure (ALDPI) is led by Mark Anthony, an engineer and former Marine with more than 32 years of experience leading large organizations focused on technical work.
Now nearly two years into his new role, Anthony spoke to National Security Science about ALDPI’s ambitious mission.
How does ALDPI’s mission resonate with you?
I spent five years building the European Spallation Source research facility in Lund, Sweden. I’ve performed maintenance on reactors, led major equipment upgrades, and run large-scale projects through most of my career. Some may find it odd, but I enjoy leading large and complex technical organizations with significant responsibilities. The ALDPI project portfolio checks all the boxes. As a former Marine, joining the Lab offered another opportunity to address our country’s national security challenges. Semper Fi.
What’s your approach to meeting project milestones while ensuring, as you often say, that the team works safely and securely or not at all?
We have a team well prepared to take on the massive, multiyear projects in our portfolio, and we have great support from our federal partners. The list of deliverables doesn’t stop. Staying on schedule doesn’t just mean going faster in our line of work—it means decreasing risk through thorough planning. Your confidence level goes up when you can remove not only barriers but also potential risks. If you plan and do your homework upfront, you will not be caught o guard when problems happen. Your team will be ready and able to get to a resolution quickly. We value continuous improvement and are willing to take steps back, review lessons learned, and discuss how we can improve. We’ve had a strong safety record here. In its first 15 months, ALDPI logged more than 1.7 million hours worked without a recordable or lost-time injury. This didn’t happen by luck or by chance—it was a result of deliberately implementing best practices, using good human error prevention techniques, and having an overall healthy questioning attitude.
ALDPI is rapidly hiring and expects to double in size to more than 1,500 staffers by 2024. What do you want prospective applicants to know about your organization?
Continued growth of ALDPI will be in the mid-management and below levels, including craft and technicians. Right now, there are more than 920 full-time employees supporting ALDPI, and that number is going up. But this isn’t just about filling jobs. What would I tell prospective applicants? I go back to my first impression of the Laboratory five years ago: this is a great team of professionals who are very proud of their work. If you’re enthusiastic about supporting our national security mission and you like seeing results, there is no other place to be. ★