Reviews help our plans for great science

Fermilab Director
Nigel Lockyer

Reviews are a part of our everyday life at Fermilab. We executed over 250 internal and external reviews, assessments and inspections in 2014. That’s almost one for every business day of the year. Perhaps this number is not surprising to many of you. Although a significant burden on the lab staff, reviews help us ensure that we are carrying out our science efficiently and safely. Reviews often include outside experts, giving us an opportunity to “learn from the best.” And they provide regularly scheduled opportunities for us to hone our strategic planning at all levels, from individual offices to projects to the lab as a whole.

Last month’s DOE Institutional Review provided an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our recent strides in strategic planning. A team of 22 people from DOE, other labs and universities spent four days delving into our lab from the perspective of five areas: CMS, the cosmic frontier, neutrinos, muons and technology R&D. Unlike many reviews that are narrowly focused, this once-every-three-years review evaluates the entire lab’s scientific program and support structures to ensure that we are well coordinated and synergistic.

This was a very successful review, as evidenced by excerpts from the closeout:

“The lab is aligned very well to P5 priorities and following P5 recommendations. There is palpable excitement for the recent positive developments in securing international support for the long-baseline neutrino program. Fermilab has long been the focal point for high-energy physics in the United States. The lab should strive to maintain this role.”

As always, the review identified some opportunities for improvement that we will follow up on in the coming years. This review took months to prepare for, and Joe Lykken, Erik Gottschalk and a 25-member team did a great job in developing and telling the lab’s story from the perspective of the DOE’s five areas.

And of course the review work is never done. The senior leadership and financial teams have spent the last few weeks preparing a refined 10-year strategic plan for tomorrow’s budget briefing to the Office of High Energy Physics. This will be another opportunity for us to present our plans for the future, which are more focused than ever. We look forward to the feedback.