Last week, the FRA Board of Directors met at Fermilab. The FRA Board is the highest authority in FRA and is responsible for delivering on Fermilab’s contract with DOE. It appoints the laboratory director and oversees the laboratory in its operations, strategic planning and the relations with its many stakeholders. Board committees delve deeper into their respective areas of expertise, including ES&H, audit, administration and finance, compensation, physics and science planning. The board also convenes additional external review committees that focus on specific areas, including the lab’s scientific programs and the implementation of our contractor assurance system.
The meetings of the board are always interesting and useful. Last week’s meeting included discussions of two important and timely issues.
The first discussion focused on the next steps to ensure that the outcome of this year’s DOE performance evaluation improves through better project management, tracking and oversight. The laboratory has recently made significant changes in the way we carry out these activities, and an ad-hoc external committee composed of top project managers within the DOE system of laboratories will review these changes in March. We will make additional changes if required following the external review.
The second important issue is how we recast the messages from the particle physics community and Fermilab in a way that resonates with the current emphasis on economic competitiveness. Two examples of these messages were recently published in the print issue of symmetry magazine (one of which is currently online). Coherence of messaging from Fermilab and the particle physics community is essential in maintaining the support of our field, both in how we advocate for the basic science we want to accomplish and in the consistency of the messages that describe how we have helped and will continue to advance the economy. The discussion at the board meeting was stimulating, identifying issues and barriers associated with recasting our message. In a future column I will describe the steps we are taking at Fermilab to address these issues.