The LDRD Program continues to seek improvement through both internal and external reviews of program management, program execution, and the programmatic oversight of individual LDRD projects. In accordance with DOE Order 226.1B of the prime contract between NNSA and Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, a contractor assurance system is in place at the Laboratory. The LDRD office uses this and the tools provided to support the LDRD Program in its ongoing effort to improve performance.

Federal Oversight and Response in FY16

Federal oversight took two forms in FY16. First, accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 was a provision for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the funding limits and personnel of the LDRD Programs of the NNSA, including the Program at Livermore. Accordingly, on April 8, 2016, the GAO delivered a briefing to the Senate and House Armed Services Committee. The GAO found the NNSA’s Programs to be in-line with other DOE LDRD Programs and did not recommend any changes.

Second, the LDRD Program at Livermore began implementing its response to recommendations made the previous year by the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on DOE National Laboratories, which issued a report on June 17, 2015, the purpose of which was “to identif[y] the constraints on and evaluate the effectiveness of laboratory operations that impact the efficiency of the DOE national laboratories.” The task force complimented the DOE LDRD Programs, saying “LDRD support has been responsible for some of the most important ideas coming from the laboratories.” The task force also offered six recommendations to the National Laboratories Directors’ Council (NLDC) regarding the DOE LDRD Programs for the purposes of further enhancing efficiency, communication, creativity, and collaboration. Those recommendations that are within the domain of the individual laboratories are described briefly below, including Livermore’s response where appropriate:

  1. Create a document detailing best-practices for LDRD management. The DOE LDRD Programs, including Livermore, collaborated on a best-practices Website.
  2. Enhance reporting to Congress. Livermore LDRD, working with representatives from the Office of Science, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Idaho National Laboratory, produced the document Laboratory Directed Research and Development at the National Laboratories Highlights, October 2016. This document describes in layperson’s terms the purposes, achievements, and impacts of a diverse sample of LDRD projects from across the DOE laboratories.
  3. Pilot an independent review program focusing on impacts and processes. The first such independent review, conducted by a board of outside experts selected by the DOE Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee, covered four laboratories, including Livermore. The committee visited Livermore the first week of January, 2017. The findings of the review will be described in next year’s annual report.