tory and (2) NE/INL is the landlord for a large, multitenant site in deteriorating condition. Each of these challenges is described briefly below.

Building Scientific and Engineering Capability

INL’s Strategic Plan (DOE, 2006b, p. 3) states its assigned mission as “ensur[ing] the nation’s energy security with safe, competitive, and sustainable energy systems and unique homeland security capabilities.” The laboratory’s vision is that, “within ten years, INL will be the preeminent national and international nuclear energy center with synergistic, world-class, multi-program capabilities and partnerships.” To achieve its ambitious goals, INL must attract and retain world-class scientists and engineers in a multiplicity of engineering and scientific disciplines. INL must have a budget to acquire and maintain state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that will be used by researchers of the highest technical competence to lead the development of and sustain nuclear power as a valued energy option nationally and internationally.1

To specify the facilities and other capabilities required to realize its vision, INL has prepared three plans, all of which the committee has carefully studied and discussed with NE and INL management.

  • The INL Strategic Plan sets out 18 specific objectives that support the vision. Figure 5-1 reproduces the strategy map from the plan that specifies these objectives and the relationship among them. The Strategic Plan has been approved by NE and, according to the Idaho Operations Office (ID), is entirely consistent with the statement of work contained in the operating contract with BEA.

  • The Ten-Year Site Plan presents the building-by-building, year-by-year actions recommended to acquire the facilities that INL requires for its mission. Appendix B of the plan lists all of the facilities the laboratory believes it needs for its mission and programs. The Ten-Year Site Plan available to the committee was prepared in June 2006 and is currently being updated to ensure consistency with the INL Business Plan. As a result, the documented track from strategy to business plan to detailed facilities plan is not as tight as it might be. Based on its site visit and discussions with laboratory and ID management, however, the committee concludes that there are no major inconsistencies. Indeed, as a matter of process, the logical progression of plans that INL has developed and is developing present a clear picture of what laboratory management believes is necessary to become “the preeminent, internationally recognized nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration laboratory.”

  • The INL Business Plan disaggregates the broad objectives into business lines and the laboratory capabilities that distinguish it. While the Business Plan has not yet been made public, the committee discussed it extensively with INL and DOE staff and found it to be consistent with the Ten-Year Site Plan and the Strategic Plan.

It is important to note that the formal INL plan documents were all prepared by INL staff. The committee recognizes and emphasizes the need for NE and ID to fully participate in the planning activity and to eventually agree on what activities are to be carried out and the schedule.

To summarize this sequence of plans, it is useful to distinguish between facilities needed to support the capabilities envisioned for the laboratory and those that would be constructed by programs that might locate at the site, in part because of those capabilities. The latter, for example, might be the reactor or reprocessing demonstration facilities for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) or the prototype of a Generation IV reactor for process heat applications. Site tenants other than NE might also build facilities there–for example, the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Navy. INL will compete with other laboratories for these program facilities.

Given the relatively large fraction of a PSO’s budget that must be devoted to landlord-related activities at a site,2 it is most important to closely couple the project-related facilities and those needed to achieve world-class status for the laboratory and attract capable personnel. Advanced computing capabilities, or highly technical facilities such as test reactors or postirradiation examination laboratories and hot shops are examples. These facilities are very expensive to obtain and keep operational and up to date, so there is a continuing burden on the PSO—first, for a large initial investment and then for the expense of long-term support. Thus the PSO needs to utilize a strategy of making sure facilities to establish world-class capabilities closely overlap with those needed for specific projects. This suggests that investments in those types of capabilities and facilities need to be paced and scheduled so they match project needs, and the capabilities provided should be developed based on specifications that satisfy specific project needs.

As an example, NE has indicated a potential need for major computation and simulation capabilities. This is analogous to the need for similar capability in DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Weapons Stockpile Stewardship Program. The needs of the specific weapons simulation and modeling projects were first established to define the minimum capability needed for those projects.


INL also intends to build capability to support the Department of Homeland Security. According to materials supplied to the committee by DOE on November 28, 2006, National and Homeland Security funding in FY 2006 was 15 percent ($104 million) of the total INL business volume, $686 million. However, this report focuses on the DOE program at the laboratory.


Informal discussions with DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) personnel associated with managing their laboratories indicated this could range up to 50 percent. In general, the NNSA laboratories are in a more stable state than INL and require less “landlord” funding. This is because of the very high proportion of aging and obsolete facilities at INL to be eliminated and the many new facilities to be added.

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