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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Weapons work versus diversification
The central matter facing UC as they search for the next Director is should LLNL be uniquely focused on weapons work, or expanding its sponsor suite. This question has been danced around since the transition, but still remains an open subject. In the last six years, between the two facilities, six leaders have been tasked with program funding diversification in an effort to migrate towards a multi-sponsor lab (LLNL: Doesburg, Albright, Warner; LANL: Beason, Reese, Wallace). Internally some have regarded this as a fool’s errand, while others have watched SNL benefit from non-weapons programmatic projects. In its typical schizophrenic fashion, NNSA has sent mixed signals on how these efforts are viewed – derisively calling them work for “others” and simultaneously making a big deal out of the cooperation agreement that was signed with DOD, DHS, and IC. The multiple attempts by multiple lab leaders to move the needle on WFO funding have led to very limited success, and in most cases have actually decreased external support. As the next Director is selected, it is worth a critical examination of why WFO only increased under one of the above six leaders. Perhaps the enterprise is not ready for diversification, and should uniquely focus on weapons work. From all accounts, this is clearly the path that LANL has taken most recently, and maybe LLNL should follow that lead as well.
By scooby at December 10, 2013
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