Director’s message: Making forward progress
The lab has taken some important steps forward since my last message, including drafting our annual lab plan.
Acknowledging such progress is especially important amid the news headlines coming out of Washington about the FY17 and FY18 budgets. Today, Congress passed another weeklong continuing resolution to maintain the current level of funding through May 5, while lawmakers continue work on a spending package to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year. As Congress and the White House consider the options going forward, it is natural to wonder whether we can do much more than wait.
There are things we can do, however. Continuing to chart a course for the future is essential and that is precisely what our annual lab plan does. The lab plan details for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) our science strategy and major initiatives based upon our core competencies and capabilities. The lab plan also describes our efforts toward sustaining a diverse and inclusive workplace and growing the lab through prosperous relationships with DOE and other federal sponsors as well as partners in academia, industry and other sectors.
We are also preparing to respond to the President’s Budget Request for FY18 that will be released within the next few weeks. As I have mentioned before, that request is the first step in a process that also includes budget resolutions from both houses of Congress, appropriations bills, and final signature by the president. Steve Binkley, Deputy Director of the Office of Science, and Harriet Kung, Associate Director of Science for Basic Energy Sciences, already have committed to engaging with us within hours of the budget request being released, and we anticipate receiving real-time feedback from other sponsors as well. Other senior lab leaders and I will come to those conversations ready to talk about how Argonne could be impacted, including the ways in which we might pursue new opportunities offered by the budget.
As lab leadership has tended to those activities, you have remained dedicated to fulfilling the lab’s mission, to working safely and to supporting one another. I thank you for that. There are many examples of what we can achieve when we combine our skills and experience — allow me to share one I had the privilege of celebrating this past week.
Facility ownership for Building 350, the former location of the New Brunswick Laboratory, was just transferred from DOE to Argonne. This is a major milestone for the lab, the result of months of work by a group of about 30 DOE and Argonne employees. Planning and executing the de-inventory of materials and clean-up of a radiological facility used for over 40 years was no small task. The diligence of every team member, as well as patience and commitment to cope with inevitable challenges, were critical to reaching the goal of reusing the facility. This group has done the lab and DOE proud, and serves as a role model for all of us to look up to.
My thanks go out to every employee giving their best to the lab every day — countless other examples abound across the lab of exceptional work and progress that keeps us top of mind with our stakeholders. And as we close Administrative Professionals Week, let me extend a special thanks to this group of employees without whom the lab simply would not run. Each and every day our administrative professionals work with efficiency, professionalism and grace under pressure, which too often go unacknowledged because everything going right can sometimes be invisible. Please join me in thanking them for all that they do.
Have a suggestion, feedback or question about something in this column, or another topic entirely? Please remember you can always reach me at email@example.com, and join me for Conversations with Kearns on Mondays from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Building 213 Cafeteria. This week’s conversation features a short presentation from Jim Kerby on the APS Upgrade, with ample time for all types of questions afterward.