Progress on NOvA

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

Last week, the NOvA collaboration held a vibrant meeting at Fermilab. The construction of NOvA is going well: Production and assembly rates are encouraging, leading us to believe that we will be able to complete the detector on budget and on schedule. This goal is important for the laboratory since we need to establish excellence in project management given the number of projects that are ahead of us. If we continue on track, NOvA will be the third project in a row that we have completed on budget and on schedule.

This was not the situation last fall when the contingency did not appear adequate to finish the job. The laboratory took many steps to up our game, control contingency and complete ongoing work well within expected cost parameters. Now, as we look at the current situation, much more work has been completed, nearly 14 percent contingency remains, and essentially all known remaining construction risks are retired except for the price of oil. While we have adequate contingency to cover significant market fluctuations in the price of oil, a world crisis could lead to an extraordinary fluctuation, which is impossible to plan for. Of course, this is not the time to let our guard down and we will not do so until the project is completed.

Last month we completed a comprehensive review of project management at Fermilab. We were fortunate to enlist four top managers who are highly regarded within the DOE lab system. Their team’s report, which is posted on the Web, includes six overarching recommendations. The report is obligatory reading for anyone doing projects at Fermilab, and we are being quite open about the issues and challenges we are addressing so that other DOE labs may also benefit from our experiences. While the report did reveal areas for improvement, the team was very complimentary of the capabilities and commitment of our project managers and of the program improvements deployed over the past year. I have asked our COO Jack Anderson to prepare a laboratory plan to address the committee recommendations and integrate them into our improvement agenda.