DOE releases report on state of labs

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By Tris DeRoma

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released a report to the public today detailing the state of the national laboratories.
The report was in response to a request from the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories that the nation’s 17 laboratories should more publicly demonstrate their value and contributions to science, engineering, energy and other disciplines.
“One of the recommendations was that we do an annual report on the state of the annual laboratories, a concise report that would capture annual progress,” Moniz said.
The 212-page report, titled “Annual Report on the State of the DOE National Laboratories,” also includes Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Since this report was the first of its kind, the DOE decided to give a bigger picture and go more in depth than it will in later reports.
“What we decided to do is start out with a very comprehensive report that would also provide some of the history and go into quite some detail so that future editions presumably can revert to the much more concise updates with a strong foundation provided in this report,” Moniz said.
“With a change in administration coming we also thought it would be an excellent document that would provide the new team with a comprehensive picture about the laboratories.”
 Moniz also hoped the new document will provide the new team with a blueprint to complete what he described as the “unfinished business” of the National Laboratories.
“We think, in the beginning, this will be a very useful document for the new team going forward as they develop their programs and their relationships with the laboratories,” Moniz said.
One of those items of unfinished business is “high performance computing” an area that grew out of a way the U.S. can test the strength of its nuclear arsenal without resorting to actual explosions.
“That has required a lot tremendous new science, and it has required us to continue the historical responsibility of pushing the frontiers of high performance computing,” Moniz said. “Those frontiers now are presenting novel challenges which the laboratories are now taking up of integrating enormous scale computation of the big data problems that we and others must address.”
Moniz also described the laboratories as “on call” resources that helped the nation and the world deal with man made and natural disasters, such as the damage done to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan by a tsunami in 2011 or more recently, the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak in California.
The DOE also recently used the labs for analytical work in assessing the state of the nation’s power grid.
The report can be found on the DOE’s web site at doe.gov beginning today.