On June 9, I presented the Annual Laboratory Plan (ALP) to the leadership of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE/SC). This is an important event for the Laboratory, and I thought I might take this moment to discuss with you its significance and describe what occurred.
DOE/SC is the lead federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and the nation’s principal supporter of several areas of scientific research. SC has responsibility for ten national laboratories that carry out most of that research, including Berkeley Lab. Every year, we submit an Annual Laboratory Plan to SC as part of their overall planning process. You can see what they request from us here. You will also find at this webpage a document that consolidates summaries from the 2016 plans of all the DOE’s science and energy laboratories.
I gave an hour-long presentation of our plan to Steve Binkley (the Acting Director of SC), the Deputy Directors, the Associate Directors who lead the 6 research programs, and other members of the SC management team, including Paul Golan, the manager of the Berkeley Site Office. In addition, several of the DOE energy technology offices that support research programs also attended. Because we have such a diverse research portfolio, we have probably the largest attendance at our ALP presentation of any laboratory. Our Deputy Directors and Associate Lab Directors also participated.
I began my presentation by saying: “I have the privilege of leading this great Laboratory, which I believe is unique in its ability to carry out world-leading research over such a wide range of science and technology.” I talked about what the nation needs from its national laboratories, and gave examples of how our laboratory is addressing those needs. I then discussed our major research initiatives, the five user facilities, the seven major science projects under way, and the strategic roadmaps developed by the research areas.
I also gave several examples of how we have strategically used Laboratory Directed R&D (LDRD) projects to shape the remarkably strong research institution that Berkeley Lab is today. I ended the research section of the talk by identifying a central element of our success: “Our ability to meet these challenges depends on our ability to bring together diverse teams of talented, creative, and committed scientists and engineers.”
I then emphasized the importance of excellent operations to our world-class science, and the fact that we have significantly increased our investment in scientific facilities and infrastructure. Reva Nickelson, our Division Director for Facilities, then followed with an outstanding presentation detailing our 10-year infrastructure strategy. She explained our overarching goal: to construct new scientific facilities and to modernize existing facilities so that ten years from now we will have the physical infrastructure needed to support a world-leading research program.
I am pleased to say that the immediate feedback we received on the ALP document and both presentations was extremely positive. The research program managers at the DOE recognize the extraordinary quality of our individual research programs and they understand the remarkable degree to which they are tightly integrated here at Berkeley Lab.
The research program offices within the DOE are now developing the FY 19 budget request, at the same time that Congress is starting to write the FY 18 appropriations bills. The presentation of the Annual Laboratory Plan represents a unique and timely opportunity for us to exchange ideas with our partners at the DOE about our shared strategy for the future.
I will arrange to give a State of the Lab address this summer, as I did last year, and I will use most of the ALP slides at that time. You will be able to see for yourself how I discuss our plan with our DOE partners.