- It’s not a long read. An important part of Fermilab’s strategic planning process, the annual lab plan is a document that paints an exciting yet realistic picture of Fermilab’s future. The lab’s immediate and long-range challenges, strengths and weaknesses, as well as resources needed to achieve goals are covered in the abridged version of the plan, which is just 21 pages.
- It’s not optional. Each DOE lab is required to submit an updated plan each year to the Office of Science. The plans help to create a shared understanding of how the labs are aligned with DOE science priorities and goals. DOE provides 28 pages of guidance describing the required contents of the annual lab plan. One of the plan’s sections describes the lab’s core capabilities, with Fermilab having four out of a total of 24 core capabilities established by DOE. Fermilab’s four core capabilities are particle physics; accelerator science and technology; advanced computer science, visualization, and data; and large-scale user facilities and advanced instrumentation.
- It’s not easy to assemble. The annual lab plan, which includes contributions from many people across the lab, revolves around seven strategic themes. Six of the seven themes directly support the P5 plan, including accelerator science, computational science, cosmic science, LHC science, neutrino science and precision science. Each themed section is developed by a strategic planning group led by a lab employee who has been selected by the lab director and the chiefs. In addition to the strategic planning groups, others are asked to contribute to the annual lab plan to address each of the sections required by DOE. The entire effort takes about two months to complete and is coordinated by the Office of Integrated Planning and Performance Management.
- It’s not a mystery anymore. Understanding the lab’s strategy for the future is not only important for DOE but also for lab employees, too. In principle, all of the work we do at the lab is described in the annual lab plan. In practice, the plan is presented in terms that make sense to DOE and at a level that makes it possible for DOE to aggregate lab plans into a consistent vision for all of the national labs. The context of the work we do is described, but not necessarily all of the detail, so you might find it difficult to find explicit references to the work you are doing. That may soon change. Together with the Office of Communication we are working on making information on lab strategy more accessible to everybody at the lab … so stay tuned.
Erik Gottschalk is the head of the Office of Integrated Planning and Program Management.