of the research environment and connections with internal and external customers. It elucidates what is working or what is getting in the way in terms of innovation. The board also meets with customers of the organization and examines the impacts of prior investments. It assesses whether investments have enabled the laboratories to continue fruitful work or to initiate new work. Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funds are an important element of the laboratories. The laboratories’ director is permitted to decide how the LDRD funds are allocated across projects consistent with the laboratories’ mission. The National Nuclear Security Administration provides oversight for this program, which captures principal-investigator-generated ideas within the management context. The program includes five or six grand challenges projects; each of these larger projects has an assigned external advisory board. Historically, these larger projects have transitioned successfully to have impact within the laboratories or have achieved follow-on external funding—these impacts have been achieved with the help of the external advisory boards.
Assessments have been traditionally performed according to a balanced scorecard that guides the selection of data to support assessment decisions. Metrics are defined to assess three areas of measurement: value to customers, outputs, and inputs. Within each area, metrics are defined to support the assessment of what the organization is doing and how it is doing it. To assess value to customers, the value and impact in terms of leadership, stewardship, and mission satisfaction are addressed by examining measures of the effectiveness of strategic partnerships with industry and technical collaborators. To assess outputs, the excellence of scientific and technical advances is addressed within the context of management excellence, which involves measuring elements of the work environment and management assurance. To assess inputs, the capabilities of staff, technology infrastructure, and facilities are addressed by examining the science, technology, and engineering strategy through measurements of parameters indicative of the portfolio and the technical planning process.
The evolving assessment processes increasingly include the examination of qualitative factors informed by the quantitative data. The following elements are assessed: clarity, completeness, and alignment of the research strategy; alignment of the research with the organization’s missions; the quality and innovation of the research; the vitality of the organization’s scientists and engineers; and long- and short-term impacts of the research with respect to the organization’s missions and to advancing the frontiers of science and engineering.
In summary, successful organizations and their assessors strive to be clear about the purposes of the assessment and its context, carefully decide what data to collect and what the assessment framework is, and link the assessment to the organization’s concept of what makes a great organization.