On the money
By Jeff Purnell, Chief Financial Officer
Recent news headlines regarding the federal budget have prompted some questions to email@example.com. I thank our questioners for their inquiries and want to share my answers with the whole lab.
The first question I received was, “What percentage of our budget comes from sources outside of the Department of Energy (DOE)?” The answer is about 20 percent, from sources such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security and our partnerships with industry. This means, of course, that around 80 percent of our budget comes from DOE — of that funding, about 55 percent comes from the Office of the Science (SC).
As Interim Laboratory Director Paul Kearns noted in his director’s message about the budget, the blueprint released by the White House earlier this month is just the first step in a long federal budget process. You can be sure my colleagues and I in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer will be monitoring that process closely and communicating with our DOE contacts about potential changes to our budget and its makeup.
I received another question about the amount of overhead — that is, costs like facilities-related and administrative expenses — that Argonne charges its research programs, and how our rate compares to that of other labs. While each of the SC labs structures its finances and defines non-direct costs slightly differently, the overall costs of research across the complex are actually quite comparable.
The Argonne leadership team is committed to providing the highest value for the most competitive cost — these principles guide our decision-making and planning. There are numerous initiatives underway to help the lab more effectively enable its research programs, including the recent reorganization of mission support.
In addition, the lab’s new integrated financial system, Workday Financials, went live on April 3 for the entire workforce. Workday will serve as the central location for all of the lab’s financial information beginning with the April accounting month. This system will enable greater awareness of our financial status, improve our responsiveness to opportunities and priorities, strengthen our ability to meet DOE’s reporting and compliance requirements, and provide the necessary tools for effective financial management of the lab.
As with the implementation of any new software system, the shift to Workday Financials has produced some hiccups and we will probably experience a few more as we settle in to managing our financial processes through Workday. I thank everyone for their perseverance through this long process and their patience as we address these issues and use this new system to strengthen the lab’s ability to achieve its mission. Less effort and more real-time access to financial information increases our confidence that we are making the best use of the funding we receive from all sources.
As your Chief Financial Officer, I encourage all employees to increase their knowledge of the lab’s finances. Our monthly “financial snapshots,” posted on Inside Argonne, provide a wealth of information regarding our funding and how we manage it. I encourage you to check out these reports and contact me if you have further questions about the financial structure of the Lab.