Feb. 2, 2001

Organizational changes reflect increased emphasis on Lab operations issues By Lynda Seaver Newsline staff writer


A new administration, a new direction for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a new structure within the University of California and a new contract for operation of the Laboratory are just a few of the factors which were considered in designing the organizational changes announced by Director Bruce Tarter last week.

In an electronic bulletin and administrative memo distributed Friday, Tarter outlined a new organizational structure that reflects the increased emphasis and importance of operations and administrative areas, as well as the lessening of day-to-day line management responsibilities in the Director’s Office. The change removes many line management organizations from reporting to the Deputy Director for Operations, and assigns them into three new directorates: Safety and Security, Administration and Laboratory Services.

Earlier this week, Tarter and Bob Kuckuck, who is retiring as Deputy Director for Operations, sat down with Newsline staff to discuss the reasons behind the organizational changes.

Newsline: What was the strategy behind the development of the new associate director positions?

Bruce Tarter: Bob’s job has become far too much for one person to do. In corporations, senior vice presidents rarely own line organizations as Bob did. Bob has had a long tenure at the Lab and has developed many relationships here, at the DOE and the UC, which greatly enhanced his ability to do this job. The new candidate will have some of those relationships, but will have to develop others. This cannot happen effectively if that person also has to devote significant time to line management issues. So we are taking the line management issues and putting them at the AD level.

Bob Kuckuck: The changes also reflect the important role these various administration and operations areas play at the Lab. Functions such as safety and security are increasing in importance and should be championed by a manager at the AD level. And I agree with Bruce, this will allow the new Deputy Director for Operations to focus more time on the broader, more strategic and cross-cutting issues of the Lab.

Newsline: Why make these changes now instead of two or three years ago?

Tarter: Part of it coincides with Bob’s retiring, but much of it also coincides with a new administration, a new NNSA, a new contract and a new UC organizational structure. With Bob leaving, we began to think of how we might split the functions of his office. His retiring provided a stimulus for what probably would have eventually happened anyway.

Newsline: With many of the responsibilities taken away from the Deputy Director for Operations, what will be the role of the new DDO?

Kuckuck: The DDO plays a major role in resolving cross-cutting issues that arise from the naturally competing needs of various elements of the Laboratory, and which cannot be resolved by ADs. Establishing G&A rates and deciding where to draw the line between the Laboratory’s need for institutional standards and individual directorate and program needs for flexibility, are two examples of this. The DDO also has extensive responsibilities for working with the UC, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Board, and others.

Tarter: The DDO will also be the principal point of contact with NNSA for all operations issues.

Newsline: Will the new directorates be permanent or could they change depending upon the wishes of the new DDO?

Tarter: Permanent. Again, this organization reflects the importance of operational and administrative functions, particularly people functions, and the need to have a senior individual dedicated to each area. Having said that however, it is possible that some of the details as to what’s in each directorate may evolve as we learn the pros and cons of this structure in the future.

Newsline: How will the AD positions for the new administration and operations directorates be filled?

Tarter: The postings for the three new operations and administration directorates will be published today. Because these jobs require extensive DOE/Laboratory experience and strong knowledge of Lab practices and policies, I see them requiring candidates who are "internal" to the UC/DOE Laboratory complex. So, since we have a small, well-defined pool of applicants, I will be closing these postings in only three weeks. I will establish committees that will review the applicants in late February. Then in early March, I will interview the candidates and fill all seven of our open AD positions.

Newsline: Seven? So this means you will also be selecting the science and technology AD positions at the same time?

Tarter: Yes. This is a unique opportunity to have so many AD openings to fill simultaneously. It will allow me to select a large segment of our team at one time, much like a president selects a "cabinet," instead of sequentially filling seven individual jobs. I am looking for complementary skills and how people work together. I am trying to create a group with chemistry focused toward the future.

Kuckuck: Concerning the operations and administration positions, we will be selecting a team of managers prepared to jump in and lead organizations that are already well-developed and operating effectively and efficiently. We have already implemented great positive change in these areas over the last several years and we are now looking for a continuation of that good management. We are looking for candidates with excellent track records of their own.

Newsline: What is the status of the search committees for the various S&T AD positions?

Tarter: I am asking those search committees to close off their searches and give me a list of viable candidates by March 5. Identifying a large, diverse list of candidates in some of these S&T areas is not an easy task and we have a tendency to continue to try a little longer. However, it is time to bring these efforts to a close and get on with our new team. As always, I have charged all search committees to provide a diverse pool of candidates and I believe they will succeed.

Newsline: Where does the posting for a DDO fit into the selection of ADs and team building?

Tarter: That posting will also come out today. That job is much higher in visibility, so I won’t commit to closing the posting in only three weeks. I will personally chair the search committee, with a broad search for candidates. Still, I expect this position to be filled in the relatively near future.