NNSA releases LANL performance evaluation

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By The Staff


It was reported back in December that Los Alamos National Laboratory received a score of 89 percent on its annual performance evaluation from the National Nuclear Security Administration.

LANL, though, was not awarded another year to its contract term.

The lab received scores of 95 percent in Science, Technology and Engineering, 91 percent in broader national security mission, 90 percent in contract leadership, 87 percent in nuclear weapons mission and 49 percent in operations and management.

A couple of weeks ago, the NNSA released the actual performance evaluation report.

The lab released the following statement about the report:

“The laboratory's performance evaluation from NNSA for Fiscal Year 2013 acknowledges our excellent work in science and technology and global security, meeting or exceeding our commitments in stockpile stewardship, and making major improvements in safety and security.  

“There is always room for improvement, however, and we recognize those areas where we and the NNSA have identified problems and will continually work to resolve those issues.  We appreciate the government's confidence in our ability to deliver national security science and technology solutions to the nation's most difficult problems, for acknowledging our partnerships with NNSA leadership and throughout the complex, and for recognizing our stewardship of resources and taxpayer funds during times of fiscal uncertainty.”

The lab’s contract currently runs through FY 18.

Here is an abbreviated rundown on the performance objectives and how LANL fared, according to the NNSA.

Performance Objective 1 – Nuclear Weapons Mission – Very Good: “ The overall rating of Very Good for this Performance Objective is the aggregate of several exceptional accomplishments, and the fulfillment of substantially all core expectations. Performance was negatively impacted by interruptions in facility availability, and weapons production quality issues.

“As specific positive examples, the conduct of the Gemini subcritical experiments, along with subsequent analysis and interpretation of highly complex data, was a major highlight of the performance period. These efforts enhance stockpile stewardship by demonstrating new diagnostic technologies and experimental designs that have produced expanded data collection for validating nuclear weapons simulations. While the Laboratory initiated a pause in TA-55 operations that delayed milestones, they proactively shipped samples for an experiment at Sandia before the end of the performance year, despite the pause in operations.”

Performance Objective 2 – Broader National Security Programs — Excellent:. “The overall rating of Excellent for this Performance Objective reflects outstanding performance in the highest priority areas, continued high performance in many legacy programs, and opportunities for improvement in some areas that support mission execution; such as coordination with NNSA programs, the accuracy of cost estimates, and facility availability and reliability. Significant, strategic contributions were made in International Source Recovery; Satellite-based and Land-based Nuclear Detonation Detection; International Nonproliferation Export Control; Nuclear Non-compliance Verification; Second Line of Defense Support; Insider Threat Mitigation; and, Plutonium Oxide Production.”

Performance Objective 3 – Science, Technology & Engineering – Excellent: “ The overall rating of Excellent for this Performance Objective reflects sustained superior performance in several key areas of intellectual inquiry and scientific achievement. The depth and breadth of accomplishments described reflect an institution that is not only pushing the limits of discovery, but which is building a highly capable scientific and technical cadre, which is leveraging broad scientific inquiry for the specific benefit of core NNSA missions, and which is focused on maximizing the return on our national investment. Toward these ends, the Laboratory has tightly coupled the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program to the Laboratory Science Pillars.

“The Laboratory has demonstrated the relevance of basic research to national security with advances in simulation codes, the ChemCam fielded on the Curiosity Mars Rover, free-electron laser systems for ship self-defense, energy storage systems for automobiles, and accurate measurements of neutron capture cross-sections in Uranium.

“The Laboratory demonstrated full engagement in technology transfer; advanced the Chevron-Los Alamos Alliance for Energy Solutions, and developed systems to streamline proposal approval and technology access. Building on these gains, progress has been made in developing a roadmap for future facility investments to position the institution for response to future national security priorities.”

Performance Objective 4 – Operations & Mission Excellence - Satisfactory. “The overall rating of Satisfactory for this Performance Objective is an aggregate of many noteworthy accomplishments, sustained high performance in many areas, some material shortcomings, and a subjective judgment about the tempo of progress toward several longstanding, well-documented challenges, framed against the high standards of the bilateral Performance Evaluation Plan.

Significant gains included the senior executive involvement in the exercise of Contractor Assurance System tools to promote enhanced Risk Management, which was a major milestone in the maturation of the Laboratory approach to institutional management.

The Environment, Safety and Health (ES&H) program executed a major reengineering and achieved continued reduction in injury rates. The Laboratory rapidly developed a technically defensible path- forward to address the emergent PF-4 seismic-induced collapse scenarios and initiated focused structural enhancements. The CFO effectively managed major budgetary challenges and remediated virtually all the long-standing fiscal deficiencies that had challenged the institution in past years.

The Laboratory sustained high performance in Physical Security, Property Management, Information Technology support, and Legal Management. In some areas with legacy challenges, the tempo of progress has been less than was expected, including: Formality of Operations maturation; Safety Basis maturation; the Earned Value Management System and associated construction performance; the maturation of cyber metrics; Quality Assurance performance; integration of safety into design for the Transuranic Waste Facility; and long term site stewardship efforts needed to sustain an aging infrastructure. For Criticality Safety, management inattention and delay early in the fiscal year resulted in a persistent downward trend in assurance of the program’s adequacy and long-term viability; contributed to conditions leading to a Plutonium Facility (FP-4) programmatic pause; and is limiting the rate of PF-4 resumption.

Finally, there have been missteps that have reflected adversely on the institution in the areas of security, contractual propriety, and project completion. In the aggregate, these conditions reflect an institution with broad areas of high performance, substantial success in some areas of concern, and insufficient progress in other key areas of concern.

Performance Objective 5 – Contractor Leadership – Very Good: “The overall rating of Very Good for this Performance Objective is the result of some very constructive engagement activities, especially with DOE/NNSA leaders locally and at the agency and bureau level. Measurable progress has been made in key areas of Institutional Leadership and Management. Other specific examples include: Engagement with key stakeholders in the Defense Community; Proactive coordination with other elements of the Nuclear Weapons Complex; Engagement with the broader scientific, technical and industrial community; and the sustainment of professional excellence in science and discovery, as well as in many professional and support disciplines. However, entering the eighth year of this contract, several aspects of Institutional Management that were identified as challenges at contract inception require further attention and improvement.”