A View to the Future - Berkeley Lab 2005/2006 Report nameplate

Operations Overview

Outstanding Science for Each Taxpayer Dollar

Scientific achievement depends upon the dedication of first-rate staff working to rigorous standards and procedures, using state-of-the-art tools and facilities. Operations and business management require a strategy to continuously improve and enhance the research support services that keep Berkeley Lab running.

A number of initiatives and improvements are envisioned during the coming years to insure that science excellence is being delivered with maximum efficiency and at the lowest possible cost, justifying its public support through a comprehensive assurance process and performance metrics.

The Management Priorities

Safety continues to be the number one priority for operations at Berkeley Lab. In FY04, the Lab posted the best safety record of the 10 Office of Science national laboratories, slashing by more than 50 percent both its injury rate and the number of accidents resulting in lost workdays among its full-time employees. In July of 2004, Berkeley Lab’s self-assessment program was the first of its kind to be certified by the DOE, and its Integrated Safety Management program was among the first to achieve DOE validation.

Image of the Molecular Foundry
The construction site at the Molecular Foundry displays a vivid reminder to put safety first.

When Director Chu arrived in August of 2004, he delivered the same urgent message that his predecessor, Chuck Shank, had emphasized. He initiated a campaign to reduce even further the number of incidents and accidents that jeopardized worker safety. Chu said his goal is to drive accident and injury rates as close to zero as humanly possible. Thus he will implement a five-year roadmap for continuous improvement in the area of environment, safety and health. Included will be a project to consolidate and integrate incident reporting, investigation, corrective actions, and lessons-learned processes.

The backbone of the modern laboratory — information management — will undergo a major assessment and overhaul, as Berkeley Lab moves toward standardizing and centralizing workstations through equipment and software upgrades. The savings over five years that will result from lower lifecycle costs, data protection, and strengthened cybersecurity is estimated at $5.8 million. Implementation in 2004 of the Berkeley Lab Information System (BLIS), a one-stop-shopping Internet control panel for employees, was an important first step.

Along with information technology, sound financial management is a priority at Berkeley Lab. A new supply-chain management system — including an electronic ordering system, pre-approved vendors, bulk pricing contracts, and streamlined source-to-payment processes — is expected to save the Lab $30 million over five years. And that means more money for science and less time spent on product acquisition by researchers. Its financial systems received significant upgrades in 2004, thanks in part to the hiring of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jeffrey Fernandez and additional key talent in the budget administration area. A primary goal of the Office of the CFO is to develop a Laboratory-wide budgeting and planning system, allowing the divisions to more accurately forecast and price out financial plans and budgets. This will also enable more stability in the institutional budgeting and rate-setting efforts.

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