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I. Introduction Statement of Task In the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act, P.L. 111-84, Congress directed DOE to request the National Academy of Sciences to review the quality of science and engineering research at the three National Security Laboratories. Specifically, the Congress mandated that (a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Energy shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of the following Laboratories: (1) The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California. (2) The Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico. (3) The Sandia National Laboratories, California and New Mexico. (b) ELEMENTS— The study required under subsection (a) shall include, with respect to each Laboratory specified in such subsection, an evaluation of the following: (1) The quality of the scientific research being conducted at the Laboratory, including research with respect to weapons science, nonproliferation, energy, and basic science. (2) The quality of the engineering being conducted at the Laboratory. (3) The criteria used to assess the quality of scientific research and engineering being conducted at the Laboratory. (4) The relationship between the quality of the science and engineering at the Laboratory and the contract for managing and operating the Laboratory. (5) The management of work conducted by the Laboratory for entities other than the Department of Energy, including academic institutions and other Federal agencies, and interactions between the Laboratory and such entities. The principal motivation of Congress for this study is given in the conference report associated with this Act:7 There is a growing concern about the ability of the Department of Energy to maintain the overall quality of the scientific research and engineering capability at the three Laboratories. This concern was most recently highlighted in the report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. The conferees believe that an even handed, unbiased assessment of the quality of the scientific research and engineering at each of the three Laboratories, with a clear understanding of the criteria used to measure quality and what factors influence quality would be useful in long-term planning for the operations of the Laboratories. 7 U.S. Congress, H. Report 111-288 (2010), p. 910. 7 PREPUBLICATION COPY—SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION
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The study was divided into two consecutive phases; the first to look at the management issues and the second to assess the quality of the science and engineering research.8 This report covers the first phase, which addresses tasks (4) and (5) and partially addresses task (3): roughly speaking, how management at all levels affects the quality of the science and engineering (S&E) at the three Laboratories. The study’s second phase will evaluate the quality of S&E in key subject areas. To conduct the first phase, the NRC formed a study committee whose membership was carefully chosen to provide broad and deep applicable expertise and experience in the management of S&E at major research and development Laboratories. The study committee members include former directors of major government and industry Laboratories, current and former Laboratory executives, and others with relevant experience and expertise. Each of these NNSA National Security Laboratories is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) operated for NNSA under a Government- Owned/Contractor-Operated (GOCO) relationship. This contracting mechanism allows the government access to the capabilities and knowledge of industry and universities to manage these technically complex institutions. Contracting relationships for some FFRDCs—in particular, LLNL and LANL—have endured for many decades. In 2004, Congress mandated that the long-standing contracts with the University of California to manage Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national Laboratories (LLNL and LANL) be re-competed.9 As a result, these two management and operations (M&O) contracts were awarded to two independent LLCs that both include Bechtel Corporation and the University of California.10 Subsequently, a number of current and former employees of these Laboratories have expressed concerns about deterioration of morale at the Laboratories along with ongoing or potential declines in the quality of science and engineering. Many of those employees attributed those inferred trends to the new M&O contracts and contractors. Conduct of the Study To investigate these concerns, the study committee met with Congressional staffers, senior leadership of NNSA and DOE, staff from the NNSA site offices that serve as a vital link between NNSA and day-to-day Laboratory management, and a wide variety of former and current employees of the three Laboratories. It held site visits at each of the Laboratories, centered on panel discussions with a large number of employees at different levels, from bench scientists to senior management. At LANL and LLNL, the study committee also held well-advertised public sessions at which anyone was invited to speak with management voluntarily absent. A complete list of those who made presentations or provided testimony to the study committee and/or held discussions with the study committee 8 This division was largely motivated by security concerns. However, it facilitated appointing two different study committees, one focused on management and one on science and engineering. 9 U. S. Congress, H. Rpt. 108-292, Division C-Energy and Water Appropriations Act, 2005, Sec. 301, p.151, Nov. 2004. The new M&O contractor for LANL took over in 2006, and the new contractor for LLNL began work in 2007. 10 The parent organizations of Los Alamos National Security (LANS) are The University of California, Bechtel, Babcock and Wilcox, and URS. For Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS) the parent organizations consist of the same four plus Battelle. 8 PREPUBLICATION COPY—SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION
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during open sessions of three study committee meetings and the Laboratory visits is contained in Appendix 2. At the SNL site visit, the study committee engaged in extensive discussions with 20 SNL employees. At LANL, the study committee benefited from input from 38 employees, and at LLNL, 42 employees. The public comment sessions did not draw a large number of speakers: only 4 at LANL, and 6 at LLNL. The tone of the public comment sessions was, like that of the interactions with Laboratory staff, constructive. The Laboratory staff members, raised many points of concern, but on several occasions also offered statements of satisfaction and pride. Appendix 8 lists the questions that were sent ahead of time to each of the panels for these site visits. As context for its evaluation of the Laboratories’ management, the study committee identified the high-level ways in which management of any Laboratory affects the quality of the S&E. First, the S&E can only be as good as the people employed. Thus, ensuring that high-quality people are attracted to the NNSA National Security Laboratories, and that they are retained, is a necessary condition for the Laboratories to carry out high-quality S&E. Assuming that foundation is available, high-quality S&E then requires good facilities and adequate resources, and operating processes that do not impede the ability of those scientists and engineers to perform at their highest levels. Management controls these conditions, and this report evaluates the quality of the Laboratories’ management, at all levels, by its success in providing these prerequisites for high-quality S&E. Because of this high-level view of management’s role with respect to the quality of S&E, the study committee saw no distinction between management of the Laboratories’ work for NNSA (roughly, Task 4) and their work for other entities (Task 5). Therefore, the discussion and recommendations in this report generally apply to the Laboratories’ S&E work across the board. The study committee examined the substantial body of relevant work that has been undertaken over the past 10-15 years (see Appendix 3). The nuclear testing moratorium, the Stockpile Stewardship Program, the operational problems at LANL, and the change in M&O contractors at LANL and LLNL stimulated a number of major studies, some of which are presented and discussed in Appendix 3. These studies contain much valuable research and insightful analysis, but each is a product of the specific time and issue(s) that stimulated it and the situation at the Laboratories has been evolving. Accordingly, in accordance with the SOT that requested an evaluation of the current situation and in consultation with sponsors (NNSA and Congressional committee staff), the study committee took its task to be to take a fresh look at the management of these Laboratories in 2011 through the perspectives of the study committee members, and not to extend, critique, or update previous work or to provide a scorecard of the implementation of earlier findings and recommendations. The study committee also examined the most recent available M&O contracts, performance evaluation plans (PEP), performance evaluation reports (PER), contract management plans, parent organization oversight plans, and other similar documents for each of the three Laboratories (see Appendix 5). The study committee assimilated and analyzed this information to develop a detailed understanding of the current state of governance and management, and of the conditions under which science and engineering are conducted at the three Laboratories, within the relevant historical context with particular—but not exclusive—emphasis on those matters 9 PREPUBLICATION COPY—SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION
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that have been affected by the changes in M&O contractors at LANL and LLNL. The study committee focused on the interactions among government agencies (especially NNSA and the DOE site offices), the M&O contractor organizations, Laboratory management, and research staff at the Laboratories. Portions of each meeting and site visit were devoted to closed sessions, at which its members deliberated on their findings, conclusions, and recommendations, which are presented in this report. In arriving at its findings and recommendations, the study committee applied its collective judgment to determine the consistency, credibility, and implications of the information it had gathered. Based on this process, the study committee developed an informed consensus regarding facts, significant perceptions among staff and management, and problems that are real and significant. Trends and implications that might affect future quality of science and engineering at the Laboratories were identified, as was the role of management in these trends. As it identified trends and problems, the study committee strove (in keeping with the study task) to identify the degree to which each of those could be associated with the change in M&O contractors at LANL and LLNL. Outline of the Report Chapter 2 of this report provides a discussion of the effects of the contracts on the management of S&E at LLNL and LANL. Comparisons are made to SNL, which has had the same M&O contractor since 1993.11 Chapter 3 presents the study committee’s assessments of the evolution of the mission of the NNSA Labs and the management and performance of research in support of the missions, and the relationship between the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program and the ability of the Labs to fulfill their mission. Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the relationships among the several players in the management of the Labs—the NNSA, the site offices, the contractors, and the Lab managers—and the effect of that relationship on the Laboratories’ ability to carry out science and engineering research. Finally, Chapter 5 examines the framework for managing science and engineering research at the Labs. In addition, the following appendices are included: Appendix 1: Governance Charter for an Interagency Council on the Strategic Capability of DOE National Laboratories as National Security Assets; Appendix 2: Presenters and Speakers at Meetings for the Committee to Review the Quality of the Management and of the Science and Engineering Research at the Department of Energy’s National Security Laboratories—Phase 1; Appendix 3: Review of Relevant Studies and Reports 1995-2010; Appendix 4: The Structure of Management Organizations that Govern the NNSA National Security Laboratories; Appendix 5: Conduct and Evaluation of Science and Engineering Under the Terms of the Management and Operations (M&O) Contracts; Appendix 6: The Investment/Value Returned Framework for Management of S & E; Appendix 7: Selected Supporting Information; and Appendix 8: Questions Posed to Panels at the Site Visits. 11 SNL has been managed by the Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, since 1993. 10 PREPUBLICATION COPY—SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION