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Ames Laboratory receives its highest ratings ever in annual report card

Contacts:                                                                                     For Release: December 14, 2017
Adam Schwartz, Director, 515-294-2770
Alissa Brammer, Public Affairs, 515-294-1048  

Ames, IA – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released Ames Laboratory’s Performance Evaluation Report Card for FY 2017, and the results show the Laboratory improved on its FY 2016 performance and now exceeds expectations in a majority of the key performance areas measured. 

The DOE Office of Science annually measures its 10 national laboratories against eight standard performance goals. Those goals include mission accomplishment; program management; leadership and stewardship; environment, safety and health; business systems; facilities and infrastructure; and security and emergency management. Because Ames Laboratory does not operate a national scientific user facility, no grade is given in that category. 

In addition to maintaining an A- in the key category of mission accomplishment, the Laboratory also improved its grades in two important performance areas – science and technology program management and management of facilities and infrastructure – from a B+ in 2016 to an A- in 2017. In the DOE grading system, a B+ means the Laboratory’s overall performance meets expectations.

“The scientists and staff at Ames Laboratory work hard every day to ensure the Laboratory operates as a world-class research institution,” said Ames Laboratory Director Adam Schwartz. “I am especially encouraged that the emphasis we’ve placed on effective program management and strategic planning over the last year has shown a positive impact.” 

Under mission accomplishment, Ames Laboratory again received an overall grade of A- and the report praised the “strong synergies enabled by close connections with the university” and touted the Laboratory’s research programs in superconductivity and metamaterials as “world-leading” and “making important and significant contributions to the field.”

The report described the Laboratory’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) staff as being among the leading experts in the area of rare-earth elements, and cited technologies developed at CMI as able to make “dramatic positive impact on the scientific and industrial community involved in critical materials.” The report also praised the Laboratory for a “willingness to tackle high-risk/high-reward activities” that are “often challenges unique to Ames Laboratory personnel capabilities and foresight.”

In the science and technology program management area, the report described the Laboratory’s Critical Materials Institute as having “excellent program vision and leadership” that has allowed “outstanding research progress during FY17.” The report also cited Ames Laboratory’s core unique capabilities in biological and environmental research and encouraged the Laboratory to continue to develop and maintain these capabilities. The report also commended the Laboratory for “identifying, recruiting, and training mentors/advisors critical to the success of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) programs.”

In its analysis of facilities and infrastructure management, the other performance area where Ames Laboratory improved this year, DOE’s report cited a number of performance highlights, including the Laboratory’s completion of over “$1 million of equipment design, fabrication and installation work” along with streamlined corrective and preventative maintenance tracking programs and reductions in deferred maintenance.

Other areas in which Ames Laboratory received A- grades were contractor leadership and stewardship and environment, safety and health. The report praised Ames Laboratory for exceeding expectations in leadership and stewardship, noting that the Laboratory expended significant effort in FY17 to define the vision and future direction of the Laboratory in a strategic plan. DOE leadership who were involved in the strategic planning process reported that they were “extremely impressed with Ames Laboratory, the Lab’s capabilities, and research accomplishments, and the commitment from ISU leadership to this relationship.”

In the environment, safety and health category, the report praised the Laboratory for its “Perfect Record Award” for zero lost work days in 2016 and its continued “exceptional commitment” to improving safety throughout the Laboratory.

The two areas that received a B+ were business systems and security and emergency management. Under these areas, Ames Laboratory was commended for exceeding its small business subcontracting goal, its continued emphasis on identifying opportunities to increase diversity and inclusion, and for effectively operating its cyber security program.

Iowa State University Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert congratulated the Ames Laboratory’s scientists and staff for their best-ever overall grades. “Director Schwartz and his team do a superb job not only enabling the scientific breakthroughs that occur in its research programs, but also maintaining safety, enhancing diversity, and running the Lab in an effective manner.”

For meeting the DOE’s goals in scientific and technical performance and management and operations, and for demonstrating strong Laboratory management and contractor leadership and stewardship, ISU will receive a 12-month extension of its contract to operate Ames Laboratory and its performance fee.

A full list of Ames Laboratory’s grades in all eight standard performance goals can be found at: http://science.energy.gov/lp/laboratory-appraisal-process/.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems. 

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.  For more information, please visit science.energy.gov

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