A glimpse into the lab evaluation process

Michael Weis

Michael Weis, DOE Fermi Site Office manager, wrote this column.

In previous Fermilab Today articles, I have described the strong partnership we have between the Fermi Site Office and the lab. Communication and feedback are some of the most effective tools available for building this partnership and for driving improvement and growth in all relationships. Since the annual lab evaluation process starts and ends on Oct. 1, I thought you might benefit from a little insight into the “mystery” of this process.

DOE Office of Science laboratories all have the same established feedback process, which occurs every year. DOE specifies the criteria, format and methodology for the annual evaluation of the labs in the Performance Evaluation Measurement Plan, or PEMP. The PEMP is part of the labs’ contracts with DOE and includes eight broad, balanced performance goals and related objectives for each goal. Since 2010, the Office of Science (SC) has also included a critical few targeted notable outcomes for each lab.

Three goals (goals 1-3) in the PEMP are focused on science program delivery and are generally evaluated by the SC programs at headquarters, while operational goals (goals 5-8) are focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of execution of work at the lab and are evaluated by the site office. Goal number 4 is focused on leadership of both the lab management team and the corporate parent for the lab and is graded by the Office of Science director. The “meets expectations” targets for the science and leadership goals are given a grade of A-minus, while the “meets expectations” target for the operational goals are given a grade of B-plus. The actual evaluation process is a rather involved set of mathematical calculations, but the results are generally straightforward in terms of describing performance.

The results of the evaluations are discussed with the lab and provided in writing each year. Results determine the amount of award fee and whether or not an additional year of contract term has been earned by the lab team. The Office of Science approach provides a common structure and scoring system for all 10 of the SC laboratories but is not intended to compare labs, since the individual science objectives and notables are specific to each laboratory. The details of the process are available on the DOE Office of Science website. The goal is to support continuous improvement at all the laboratories.

I hope that this article provides a little insight into the process that is used to develop and deliver feedback to the lab on an annual basis, builds a little more trust in the process and continues to build on our partnership for improvement. In an effort to continue our learning, I will be asking Nigel and his team for honest feedback on the site office performance, so if you have anything you would like to share, let him know, or just stop by and let me know directly.