Holidays are a time to focus on what's most important
The holidays are upon us, and once again many of us are stringing lights from chimneys and eaves, hanging decorations inside and out and rushing about with last-minute shopping and errands. Winter storms are bringing snow to the mountains and cold rain and fog to the valleys.
The scene is set for happy holidays with family and friends. But all too often, the scene also is set for accidents. So I’m urging each and every one of you to keep safety - at home and here at the Laboratory - topmost in your mind during this hectic season.
We continue to emphasize the need to do work safely in all Laboratory activities. We made good progress earlier this year in decreasing safety incidents and injuries, but there are indications that our safety culture continues to need improvement. Most worrisome are rumblings that some employees are afraid to speak up about safety issues and are feeling pressured to meet schedules and deliverables at all costs.
I want to emphasize that no work, no schedule, no deliverable is more important than your safety. Laboratory management is absolutely committed to ensuring that employees are empowered to raise safety concerns or stop work for safety reasons with no negative repercussions. If you feel for any reason that this is not the case, I want to hear from you, and I will personally work to correct the situation.
As 2008 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your contributions to our Laboratory and its continuing success during this extremely challenging period of time. We've seen major changes over the past 15 months - the new contract, new management team, organizational changes and the workforce restructuring and reduction to name a few. We've also seen an amazing procession of accomplishments.
We achieved scientific breakthroughs that explain some of the key unknowns in nuclear weapons performance and are critical to developing the predictive science of stockpile stewardship. Experiments conducted at the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) facility allowed us to accurately determine the low-pressure equation of state for plutonium and we met an NNSA Top 10 deliverable with the development of a first-generation, three-dimensional energy balance model.
The National Ignition Facility project is more than 99 percent complete. All 192 beamlines have been tested and operationally qualified, and we have entered the home stretch toward NIF's scheduled completion date of March 31, 2009. We also conducted initial studies of the Laser Inertial Confinement Fusion-Fission Energy (LIFE) concept and showcased both NIF and LIFE to Gov. Schwarzenegger last month.
As part of our global security mission, the Autonomous Pathogen Detection System was selected by the Department of Homeland Security for possible deployment within the national BioWatch system. In addition, we made good progress in increasing our work for sponsors other than NNSA, bringing our total work-for-others funding to nearly $350 million.
We continued our tradition of scientific excellence and technical innovation, garnering three R&D 100 awards, six Nanotech 50 awards and numerous honors for individual Laboratory employees. We've used our Zeus and Thunder supercomputers to address a wide range of scientific grand challenges, such as visualizing the structure of nanolipoproteins. Our researchers also created billions of particles of anti-matter in the laboratory and were part of an international team that discovered a new solar system.
A major thrust this year has been to make our Laboratory more efficient and cost competitive. We instituted industry-best practices for performance management, financial management and project management and streamlined numerous other processes. We reduced our support costs by $75 million and reduced our energy usage by nearly 10 percent.
Our Laboratory also continued its tradition of community outreach through science and math education and charitable giving. More than 6,000 people attended our Science on Saturdays lectures and several hundred teachers participated in summer programs aimed at enhancing science education.
For more than a decade, employees have donated more than $1 million to our annual HOME (Helping Others More Effectively) campaign. This year's contributions totaled more than $1.7 million. This figure highlights the amazing generosity of Laboratory employees and I am so proud to work with you.
I wish all of you a happy holiday season and extend my sincere thanks for all you do for our Laboratory, our communities and the nation.
And once again, please be safe in all you do so that you can enjoy the holidays to the fullest.
Director George Miller
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