Battelle has received another strong report card, earning the contractor $11.75 million for its work in fiscal 2016 to operate Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.
It received six As and two Bs on its annual scorecard. The award fee was 94 percent of the $12.5 million maximum available, the same percentage it has earned in recent years.
“Overall, this year’s evaluation was one of our best in recent years,” said Steven Ashby, director of the national lab in Richland.
It earned the highest science and technology scores among national laboratories under the DOE Office of Science, he said.
Battelle was evaluated in eight areas. It improved in six and held steady in the other two, Ashby said. The nonprofit corporation received all As and A minuses in categories related to its research, with is highest grade for “mission accomplishment,” the quality and productivity of its research and development.
Its two B pluses were in categories related to is management and operation of the lab — business systems and security and emergency management.
Battelle’s grades in those areas match expectations of the Department of Energy, said Julie Erickson, deputy manager of the DOE Pacific Northwest Site Office. DOE wants the lab to concentrate on and focus its budget on scientific research.
In fiscal 2016, Battelle balanced science and technology development with good operation of the lab, and new facilities were the icing on the cake, Erickson said.
PNNL celebrated work underway or completed on three new buildings in October. They will add 66,500 square feet of state of the art research and other space to the PNNL campus.
“Where they have really done well is participating in national Office of Science activities,” Erickson said. Best practices at PNNL are shared with other national labs.
PNNL’s good grades came as Battelle has been awarded a five-year contract extension through September 2022 and is working on increasing partnerships with regional universities.
Battelle was graded not only by the DOE Office of Science, but also other agencies for which it conducts research.
The Department of Homeland Security called PNNL its “go to” laboratory, in the annual evaluation. For the eighth year it received the department’s highest performance rating and the largest percentage of its research dollars of any national lab, according to the evaluation.
Among highlights in the annual review was praise for being a “world leader” in certain areas of molecular sciences and energy storage research, Ashby told staff. The lab’s strong performance in atmospheric research also was highlighted.
DOE called out the lab’s work to help resolve technical challenges at the Hanford nuclear reservation, and the National Nuclear Security Administration praised its work in nonproliferation and arms control.
DOE thanked the national lab for its support of several energy secretary priorities, including the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris climate agreement.
Battelle did an exemplary job at managing the overall cost of doing business, DOE said in the review.
Among areas for improvement was consolidating human resource practices and procedures across lab departments to ensure consistency.
Much of the award fee earned by Battelle, a nonprofit corporation, will be invested back into the lab and used for the Mid-Columbia charities that Battelle supports, including support of education, arts and human services organizations.
Some of the money is expected to be used for upkeep of buildings and equipment and to cover business expenses not reimbursed by the government.