Battelle officials are once again pleased with their grades for operations at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The Department of Energy Office of Science Laboratories awarded Battelle $11.75 million of a possible $12.5 million fee, or 94 percent, for fiscal year 2015. That percentage is the same as last year.
“DOE commended PNNL for a clear vision and compelling strategy to achieve it, as well as a new organizational structure that has increased our alignment with, and delivery on, (Office of Science’s) mission priorities,” Steven Ashby, PNNL lab director, said in a message to employees. “Within this framework, you delivered high-caliber science and technology that exceeded DOE’s expectations.”
The Richland lab employs about 4,300 and has an annual operating budget of just under $1 billion for research in areas such as climate science, the electric grid, environmental remediation and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Battelle officials last year said that 2014 was the seventh consecutive year that DOE judged PNNL to have the highest or tied for the highest overall performance of the nine national laboratories.
(I)n our case, it’s important to note that our score was every bit as outstanding as it has been in recent years.
Greg Koller, PNNL spokesman
But Battelle spokesman Greg Koller said it was not clear whether it remained on top because of improvement at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which also got 94 percent of its available fee. A couple other labs also had comparable scores.
“But, in our case, it’s important to note that our score was every bit as outstanding as it has been in recent years,” he said.
DOE tries not to compare the national laboratories, since they perform different tasks, said Julie Erickson, deputy manager of DOE’s Pacific Northwest Site Office.
“They definitely are one of the top performing laboratories in the area of science,” she said of PNNL.
They definitely are one of the top performing laboratories in the area of science.
Julie Erickson, Department of Energy
Battelle received grades of A-minus in all three science and technology categories — mission accomplishment, scientific facilities and program management. It also received an A-minus for leadership and stewardship of the lab.
Mission accomplishment is considered the most important grade because it reflects the quality and productivity of the research work. PNNL received the same grade the previous year.
Battelle received B-plus this year in all four management and operations categories — business systems, facilities and infrastructure, security and emergency management and environment, safety and health.
“The site office really looked at the operation of the laboratory,” Erickson said. “We’re very pleased.”
Much of the fee Battelle receives is reinvested back into the Mid-Columbia community, in areas such as education, human services and art, Koller said. It is also used to go toward facilities, equipment and staff items not reimbursed by the government.
Much of the fee Battelle receives is reinvested back into the Mid-Columbia community, in areas such as education, human services and art.
DOE called PNNL’s performance exceptional in several areas, including fire protection, environmental management, emergency management, and radiological protection programs, Ashby said.
The evaluation also called out some areas where improvement is needed, including increasing communication with sponsors and better showing the alignment of PNNL’s technical capabilities with its priorities, Ashby said.
“Within operations, we have several areas where we need to improve internal controls, including business systems and human resources,” he said. “We understand these deficiencies and already are working to address them as part of our commitment to continuous improvement.”
Within operations, we have several areas where we need to improve internal controls, including business systems and human resources.
Steven Ashby, PNNL lab director
But the evaluation is “extremely positive” overall, Ashby said.
“It is a direct reflection of the quality and impact of our science and technology, the strong relationships we have with our sponsors, and our commitment to operational excellence,” he said.