From Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Peoples: the Finance Section’s top five

Vanessa Peoples

The Finance Section all-hands meeting was held on Wednesday, June 6. Our meeting was a group effort. My segment focused on service, support and business partnerships, as well as the Finance section’s contributions to the lab’s success. Guest speakers included Whitney Begner, Fermi Site Office, who “demystified” the roles of the FSO and of the contracting officer and their importance to Fermilab’s success. Stacey Vassallo presented HR updates, and Jon Ylinen represented ESH&Q. Last, but certainly not least, we received a fraud briefing from Jose Vazquez, special agent from DOE’s Office of the Inspector General. Here are the top five takeaways from our meeting:

Safety remains paramount. Fermilab is now operating both in Batavia, Illinois, and Lead, South Dakota. It is important to balance our focus on safety between South Dakota and Illinois. We must ensure operations in South Dakota are up to our standards as well as DOE’s. This includes physical safety as well as cybersecurity. In today’s society, scams can present themselves in many different forms, from email phishing, to phone calls requesting gift cards, to fraudulent purchase orders. We must remain vigilant and verify everything.

Hosting LBNF/DUNE/PIP-II is a labwide effort. LBNF/DUNE and PIP-II are priorities that must be successfully implemented and executed. The complexity and volume of activities is increasing, not just in Finance but across the lab. Recognizing this trend will likely continue for a while, and we must continually ask ourselves how we can better support the flagship program.

The One Lab approach is more important than ever before. One Lab means that we operate as a coordinated and aligned organization, not stuck in silos. Communication is paramount. We will maintain an organizational view of how resources are allocated and uphold the transparency that allows us to distribute resources appropriately. We will work across aisles, within Finance and alongside other support functions to “make it happen.”

Projects are on target and funding is on profile. Construction projects make up more than 50 percent of our overall funding portfolio. That’s a significant swing for the lab and will require incremental effort and service across the lab. The Finance Section must pivot to provide appropriate support.

The Finance Section’s support and service delivery model will continue to evolve to support the lab’s strategic priorities. The lab’s financial support structure must shift to be able to support a heavier project portfolio, as well as provide support for South Dakota. We will continue to make the requisite changes to effectively support the lab’s priorities.