strategic focus at Sandia relative to building collaborations with universities, with an emphasis on select university programs that support laboratory priorities, such as the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center or the research area of microelectronics. This view was echoed by Jeffrey Wadsworth from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who described a set of partnership activities between ORNL and targeted universities that is helping to build collaborative research programs and new joint institutes and to strengthen their staff capabilities and recruiting at the laboratory.
The importance of relationships at higher levels between the institutions was reinforced by presenters and some participants. At Oak Ridge, for example, Wadsworth pointed to the key role that Georgia Tech played in ORNL’s successful proposal for a nanoscale science research center. Stokes described the model for joint institutes, an emerging concept for collaboration, as an option for developing a strategic collaboration between a university and a laboratory at the institutional level. Yet at all levels, significant issues or challenges were identified that create disincentives for collaboration. These fall into three general areas:
Institutional structures, including contractual mechanisms;
Financing models and resource availability; and
Research models and expectations.
Key points raised by participants in the workshop in each of these areas are described below.
Institutional structures are optimized for each type of institution and there are differences among them. These differences present challenges for collaborative activity between institutions. The way in which each institution handles contracting, for example, is driven in part by its overall mission, its work culture, and the regulations under which it must operate. Contractual mechanisms were identified by many participants as extremely problematic. The breakout session identified at least three layers of regulations for the laboratories: (1) those stemming from DOE (which in itself is historically a composite of several agencies), (2) those stemming from practices in DOE field offices, and (3) those mandated by the contractor institutions running the laboratories. On the university side, the accounting and contract or grant language is dictated largely by federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars.
As a result of their different historical and sectoral origins, contractual language requirements of national labs and universities were often simply incompatible. For example, a laboratory might require an indem-