March 15, 2002

President's Council praises labs' outstanding grades, post-Sept. 11 service

In the ninth annual report of the UC President’s Council on the National Laboratories, Bill Friend told the Regents Wednesday the University of California should be "proud of the service the laboratories render and the resource they are to the nation.

"I think none of us could have lived through the last six months without appreciating the importance of the laboratories’ contributions and potential for future response to the world that we have found ourselves in since September 11," said Friend, who chairs the President’s Council.

Friend praised Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley laboratories for continued excellence in science, technology and operations as reflected by outstanding grades in UC’s annual performance appraisals. He then went on to outline the ways the council’s five constituent panels are working with the laboratories to ensure those high marks continue.

The Laboratory Security Panel is a relatively new panel, but one of critical importance in recent times, Friend said. During the last year, the panel has focused on a number of issues, including building a relationship with senior DOE officials responsible for security and counterintelligence. The panel now advises the laboratories in meeting the challenges imposed by the changing threat in the post-9/11 environment.

"More than ever, it is important that the laboratories receive adequate resources and be allowed to apply those resources based upon greatest threat as determined through sound risk management evaluations," Friend said.

The Project Management Panel has reviewed progress of those major projects at the laboratories that present particular challenges, usually due to their scientific complexity. "Project management at the Laboratories has greatly improved in recent years and the projects reviewed are generally in good shape," Friend said.

The Environment Safety and Health Panel has been working with the laboratories as they implement Integrated Safety Management. As the laboratories pursue enhanced facilities for biosafety work, the panel has established a smaller subgroup to work the issues inherent in this work, including communication with the community regarding their plans and activities.

The National Security Panel works with Livermore and Los Alamos to ensure the labs are meeting their national security responsibilities in an exemplary manner. While the two labs were designed to be competitors, they must be each other’s peer reviewers, and they must also achieve efficiencies through collaboration, Friend explained. "The panel has steadfastly encouraged this closer cooperation, while realizing and respecting the fact that there will not always be scientific agreement."

Through the years, the panel has seen enhanced collaboration on the life extension programs for various weapons systems. These are led by one laboratory, but have critical involvement by the other.

"The panel has seen the results of experiments fielded by both Laboratories at each other’s unique facilities," Friend said. "Taken together, these laboratories provide a capability unique in the world, and the panel is pleased to advise on how to help best utilize this remarkable resource."

The Science and Technology Panel covers the gamut of all the research and development work at all three laboratories, including the Council’s "onerous task" of grading the huge volumes of S&T work at the laboratories each year.
"I am pleased to report that the panel awarded all three laboratories an overall S&T grade in the low 90s, which is in the outstanding category," Friend said. "But those simple numerical scores cannot describe to you the scientific and technical strength of these laboratories.

"It is the outstanding scientific and technological work at all three laboratories that is their very reason for existence," Friend said, "whether it is applied to national defense work or to most basic scientific questions of our time."
Several of the Regents, including UC President Dick Atkinson, spoke up in praise of Friend’s report, the President’s Council’s effort and the labs’ contributions to national goals.