SLAC Today logo

From the Chief Operating Officer: Board of Overseers Input

(Photo - Sandy Merola)
(Photo by Linda Cicero.)

I thought you might be interested to receive a short briefing regarding the SLAC Board of Overseers' feedback to the Operations Directorate, from the November meetings. As you probably know, the SLAC Board of Overseers is appointed by the president of Stanford University to provide scientific and technical guidance, oversight, direction and advice in all aspects of SLAC planning and operations. Three of the Board's committees address the SLAC Operations Directorate; these include the committees of Finance and Audit, Operations, and Human Resources. In a nutshell, their feedback this November suggests that we are moving in the right directions, with some cautions.

The Board was pleased with what they characterized as a compelling and comprehensive scientific and mission support plan for the future of SLAC. The cautioned us to be more conscious of risks, both to the level of program funding and to our own internal vulnerability.

A key concern expressed by the Board was about the effectiveness of financial controls throughout SLAC business practices. The SLAC Office of the Chief Finance Officer has now developed a more aggressive corrective action plan that is being reviewed by Stanford Internal Audit.

There was much encouragement to aggressively move forward with a strategic system that would serve the business and administrative functions of SLAC (such as budgeting, accounting, procurement, HR self-service, time reporting, etc). The current systems are too out-of-date to be upgraded. We have a plan in place to evaluate whether to pursue a possible partnership with Stanford to replace the current systems, or whether we need to proceed independently, with a decision date of June 2011.

The Board was briefed on this year's progress and issues associated with moving to objective-based performance reviews. They noted that changing the performance review approach while concurrently providing an automated tool had the less-than-satisfactory results that some of us experienced. They support the approach that Human Resources, with representatives from throughout SLAC, are taking to improve this process . This will be rolled out in the next month or so and includes workshops on objective setting, an expanded performance rating scale and the retirement of Taleo. The Board members also supported our increased use of performance-based compensation, and said they believe that SLAC would be well served by aligning the timeframes of institutional planning and feedback with individual performance-based reviews and associated compensation reviews.

Operations management greatly appreciates the insight of the Board and we intend to aggressively implement their suggestions as we continue to provide SLAC with the mission support infrastructure and services that directly enable our mission

—Alexander Merola
SLAC Today, December 10, 2010