SLAC Today logo

From the DOE SLAC Site Office Manager:  Conservation of Energy

(Photo - Paul Golan)

As the SLAC Site Office, SLAC, and Stanford University grow our relationship and develop more trust, interactions between our organizations can become less episodic and more productive. We should over time have fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and spend less time and effort developing paper, writing reports and generating processes not central to our mission.

After all, we are here to do science.

Everyone's life is full of transactions—from buying groceries to waiting for airport security. Supporting SLAC science also requires transactions—things done as a necessity, activities that support the lab's mission…but at the end of the day are not the mission itself. As a Laboratory, we need to understand and minimize the amount of time and energy each transaction consumes so that we can put as much time and energy as possible into our mission work.

As an example, consider the Office of Science Performance Evaluation and Management Plan process, also known as the PEMP. Through this process, SSO and SLAC establish performance expectations at the beginning of each fiscal year. This is a very important process as it articulates what the Department of Energy expects the lab to do. Here are some thoughts to illustrate how we can have a more effective and less resource consuming process going forward, while still achieving what we set out to do.

Using data from the FY07 and FY08 PEMP process, participants produced the following final products (note this does not include the time and energy spent on creating "draft versions," "prep work" or the like):

  • The PEMP itself: a 60 page document, with the A–F grading scale repeated 9 times
  • SLAC's mid-year performance self assessment: 96 power point slides
  • SLAC's end-of-year self assessment report: 232 pages
  • SSO's assessments, presentations, and reports to support the PEMP: more that 150 pages total

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was 246 words.

My point is not that the PEMP unimportant, but it consumes too many resources and we need to work to streamline this transaction. So here is what we are going to do differently this year:

  • The SSO mid-year evaluation of SLAC's performance for FY09 was two pages long (PPT, 60 KB).
  • I have asked the Laboratory Director to limit SLAC's FY09 end-of-year self-assessment to 16 pages, essentially 2 pages per goal.
  • The FY10 PEMP will be 100% outcome-based and each goal (items 4 through 8) should be articulated in about 1-page.
  • DOE is eliminating the "how-to's" requirement for FY10 PEMP .
  • SSO will focus our evaluation of Goals 5-8 on how they supported the mission—sustainable excellence in science.
  • SSO will not conduct an end-of year PEMP assessment; but will instead use the observations that we collected over the year to arrive at our evaluation of the lab's performance.

SSO, SLAC and Stanford are working together to minimize transactional costs on many fronts, from restructuring the integrated assessment schedule to improving how we make our required annual Integrated Safety Management System declaration (PDF, 312 KB). Underpinning this effort is a relationship built on trust and transparency that focuses everyone at the lab on our mutual success in sustainable outstanding science.

I challenge each and every one of you to look at the transactions viewed as normal in the daily course of business, and consider how best to continue doing what is needed and required while conserving our precious time and energy.

—Paul Golan
SLAC Today, July 17, 2009