Director Parney Albright opened his first all-hands meeting of the year with the observation that 2012 is "going to be a very busy year, and the next couple years are going to be very important for our Lab and how we contribute to the nation."
He then presented his view of the Laboratory's mission, vision, values and priorities, noting the things he will focus on, as well as what he wants employees to focus on. (See the whole presentation).
"Our mission is pretty much straight out of the LLNS Prime Contract," Albright noted. "Or as George Shultz put it during his recent visit here this week, our 'real mission is to make the world safer.'
"We do this in a lot of different ways - our traditional focus on nuclear deterrence and our broadening efforts in national security. In fact, there's a lot of debate in Congress and elsewhere on how to move to a stable global environment."
Turning to his vision for the Lab, Albright said that he thinks "we're pretty much there - leading in delivering solutions for the nation's most challenging problems."
He stressed that one of the challenges with vision statements demonstrating or measuring success is achieving that vision. In describing the three elements of his vision, Albright repeatedly emphasized the imperative for excellence and the goal of being recognized as second to none.
"We're expensive, so we need to be worth the money," he explained. "When people have a hard problem, I want them to think that the first place to go is Livermore."
Albright also noted that a reputation for excellence is critical if LLNL is going to continue to be a top destination for the best scientists, engineers and other professionals. "People come here because they want to work with the very best - the best people, the best facilities, the best workplace environment."
Moving onto Lab values, he observed that these characteristics are not necessarily where we are today. Rather, they describe the values and the culture that we want to strive to create.
At the top of the Director's list is his strong belief that "We are one Lab." He emphasized that all employees should feel a sense of pride in all the accomplishments made at the Lab, regardless of what program they work in and regardless of the program making the accomplishments. "We have shared pride and shared responsibility. We need to think institutionally."
In discussing the next two values - operating solely in the national interest and focusing on sponsor needs - Albright cautioned against hubris. "We need to be careful not to think that because we're really smart, we know best. That's a slippery slope.
"We don't own a thing here," he added. "The U.S. government owns all of this and we need to take care of that responsibility."
With regard to the values describing workplace interactions, Albright was emphatic that striving for excellence, intense competition of ideas and rigorous critique must be "rank blind."
"No person, no matter how junior, should feel constrained from asking questions or offering suggestions or opinions," he said.
Turning to his priorities, Albright observed that while mission, vision and values are "hopefully timeless," this list "is what I want us to focus on over the next few years."
Not surprisingly, the top priority is to deliver on the W78 Life Extension Program and the National Ignition Campaign. "We must deliver on these important commitments."
Albright also emphasized his focus on improving business practices, giving as an example the existence of five different financial systems across the Lab. "There may have been good reasons for developing these different systems at one time or another, but it makes it hard to be cost efficient."
As part of his emphasis on creating a workplace that fosters excellence, he noted that the priority of ensuring cutting-edge science and technology capabilities means more than recruiting a top-notch workforce. "It also means facilities and equipment and infrastructure.
"We've ridden on the back of the Weapons Program, but we can't do that anymore. We need to find institutional ways to support these capabilities so we can stay at the cutting edge and in front of the power curve as new areas emerge."
Also on the list of priorities is expanding the Lab's contributions to the local and national economy through industry and university partnerships. "My vision is that, several years from now, we'll be in the midst of a vibrant innovation center, a technology hub with the Lab at its center.
To make this vision a reality, Albright noted that in addition to Sequoia, the world's fastest supercomputer, the Lab will soon be home to a powerful multi-petaflop unclassified machine at the Livermore Valley Open Campus (LVOC) to solve problems of economic importance to the country.
In addition, Albright announced that Buck Koonce has been appointed director of Economic Development, with responsibility for integrating the Laboratory's partnership activities with industry, academia, economic development and the Livermore Valley Open Campus.
Several other key management appointments were also announced, including Bruce Warner as acting principal associate director for Global Security, Wes Spain as acting director of the Office of Strategic Outcomes and Al Ramponi as the director's chief of staff. In addition, Kimberley Davis was introduced as the new manager of the Livermore Site Office.
Albright introduced the 10 recipients who have been recently selected as Laboratory Distinguished Members of the Technical Staff: Jim Candy, John Castor, Jim Hammer, Omar Hurricane, Neil Joeck, Nino Landen, Ken Moody, Bruce Remington, Dimitri Ryutov, and Tom Slezak. These individuals are recognized for their extraordinary scientific and technical contributions to the Laboratory and its missions as acknowledged by their professional peers and the larger community. [A feature article will appear in Newsline next week highlighting the recipients.]
Wrapping up his briefing, Parney noted that one focus area for the coming year is succession planning, both for management positions and for critical-skilled personnel
He announced that because of the Laboratory's outstanding performance last year, a 1.5-percent Strategic Performance Bonus will be distributed to eligible personnel this year; the one-time payment will be made some time in April. "We had a really good year last year. In fact, we had the highest performance score of all the NNSA labs."
(For more information on this program, see the Web.)
Albright also reported that NNSA has, for the second time, denied the Lab's request to begin employer contributions to the TCP1 defined benefit pension plan, based on the rationale that because the plan is currently funded at 104 percent of its obligations, contributions are not legally required. "We're not happy with this decision, and we're watching the situation very closely. If need be, we will elevate this issue to higher levels," Albright said.
Albright also mentioned that the Laboratory is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Various activities and events are being planned to commemorate the occasion, including a Family Open House.
In closing, Albright emphasized "we're all in this together. Let's work together as one Lab. Let's keep our communications strong and promote the sponsor relationships we need to really make a difference for the nation."
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