The LDRD Program, established by Congress at DOE national laboratories in 1991, is Livermore’s most important single resource for fostering excellent science and technology for today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. This internally directed research and development funding program enables high-risk, potentially high-payoff projects at the forefront of science and technology.
According to its Congressional mandate (DOE Order 413.2C), the LDRD Program serves to:
- support the missions, strategic vision, and core competencies of the DOE/NNSA and Livermore;
- maintain the Laboratory’s science, technology, and engineering vitality;
- attract and retain the most qualified scientists and engineers and allow scientific and technical staff to enhance their skills and expertise;
- pursue collaborations with academia, industry, and other government laboratories;
- generate intellectual property; and
- strengthen the U.S. economy.
Myriad LDRD projects over the years have made important contributions to every facet of the Laboratory’s mission and strategic vision, including its commitment to nuclear, global, energy, and environmental security; cutting-edge science, technology, and engineering in high-energy-density matter; high-performance computing, simulation and data science; advanced material and manufacturing; lasers and optical systems; and bioscience and biotechnology.
By enabling Livermore to fund creative fundamental and applied research activities in areas aligned with its missions, the LDRD Program develops and extends the Laboratory’s intellectual foundations and maintains its status as a premier research institution. The present scientific and technical strengths of Livermore are, in large part, a product of LDRD investment choices in the past.
Because LDRD funds exciting research and development projects, the Program helps recruit, train, and mentor top talent in new and emerging fields. The LDRD Program, for example, generally supports about 50% of the Laboratory’s postdoctoral researchers, more than any other Program, and many go on to become full-time employees. Many LDRD researchers are recognized as world-class scientists in their field.
The value of LDRD to DOE as well as to the country has been clearly articulated. According to a National Academy of Sciences report to DOE in 2012, “A crucial part of the Laboratories’ ability to conduct their missions is derived from Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD), the primary source for internally directed R&D funding. Among its other benefits, LDRD provides a major resource for supporting and training staff at each Laboratory.” The DOE 2014 report to Congress notes “The LDRD Program provides the laboratories with the opportunity and flexibility to establish and maintain an environment that encourages and supports creativity and innovation, and contributes to their long-term viability. LDRD allows the Department’s laboratories to position themselves to advance our national security mission and respond to our Nation’s future research needs.”
At Livermore in 2016, Laboratory Director William Goldstein and Deputy Director for Science and Technology Patricia Falcone were responsible for the LDRD Program. Execution of the Program was delegated to the Senior Advisor to the Director, Rokaya Al-Ayat. The LDRD Program at Livermore is in compliance with DOE Order 413.2C and other relevant DOE orders and guidelines.