From the Director: SLAC’s FY15 DOE Report Card

January 12, 2016

SLAC Lab Director Chi-Chang Kao

A few days before we shut down for the winter closure, the DOE Office of Science released fiscal year 2015 report cards for all of the Office of Science national laboratories. As many of you know, these annual report cards are how DOE evaluates each laboratory’s performance against eight goals (three for science and five for management and operations) and their related objectives for the year. SLAC’s related objectives, which are spelled out in our annual Performance Evaluation and Measurement Plan (PEMP), typically focus on our scientific priorities, how we operate our facilities and how we manage construction projects and operations as a whole.

Each year, I travel to Washington, D.C., along with Lab Deputy Director Norbert Holtkamp, Stanford Vice President for SLAC Bill Madia and DOE Site Office Manager Paul Golan, to receive SLAC’s annual grades, walk through the DOE’s highlights of our performance and discuss their feedback in detail. I’m happy to report that feedback on the lab’s FY15 performance was generally very good.

On the first three science-focused goals, SLAC maintained a grade of A- for the third year in a row. We were praised for consistently making a high impact in all of the scientific areas we pursue, from our strong role in the development of cosmic-frontier physics and in the LSST project to one-of-a-kind plasma wakefield acceleration at FACET to world-leading high energy density science at LCLS. In addition, both SSRL and LCLS were recognized for continuing to run reliably, achieve their operational goals and provide vision and leadership to improve efficiency and capabilities for the benefit of our user community.

On the operations side, goals four through eight, the DOE recognized that SLAC has sustained the same high level of performance as we have in past years. While there are a handful of small areas we can improve, as there will always be, we are meeting, and in many areas exceeding, expectations.

The credit for this positive feedback goes to all of you. As Bill Madia said to me when we got the scores, “We have a great team that is delivering outstanding results to DOE.” I couldn’t agree with him more.

We were also commended for how well we managed our projects, including the successful completion of the Science and User Support Building and steady progress on the Photon Science Laboratory Building. Perhaps most importantly, DOE took note of Stanford’s investment in SLAC through PSLB and gave Stanford the first A+ grade ever given to a contractor for managing a lab.

The challenge of doing so well is maintaining our current level of performance, as Paul Golan often says. We need to be very mindful that this continued high performance results in higher expectations. Our task is to meet this ever-rising bar, and the best way to do that is to raise our expectations of ourselves. This means asking ourselves who is the best in the world and how do we measure up. If we push ourselves to be the best and never allow ourselves to be complacent, I’m confident we’ll continue delivering outstanding results.