Sandia’s overall performance during the 2015 fiscal year was outstanding, with top ratings in half of the rated criteria, NNSA announced recently in publishing the Labs’ annual Performance Evaluation Report, or PER.
“Taken as a whole, it was a positive and fair assessment,” said Sandia President and Laboratories Director Jill Hruby. “Throughout the document, many of NNSA’s comments recognize the sustained efforts and dedication of Sandia staff.”
The report was completed in November, but not posted publicly on the agency’s website until May 13. Jill thanked employees in a January memo for the hard work that led to the positive NNSA review.
“This rating is a result of your sustained efforts throughout the year,” Jill wrote of the 34-page, detailed evaluation. “While it is rewarding to see our hard work recognized, the PER also provides a good overview of our accomplishments and areas for continued improvement.”
Sandia received “Excellent” ratings in three of the six Performance Objectives: Reduce Global Nuclear Security Threats, DOE and Strategic Partnership Projects, and Science, Technology, and Engineering, as well as “Very Good” ratings in Manage the Nuclear Weapons Mission and in Operations and Infrastructure. The Labs’ scores were higher than the FY2014 ratings in Operations and Infrastructure and in Reduce Global Nuclear Security Threats.
In the sixth objective, Leadership, Sandia earned a “Satisfactory” rating. NNSA qualified that score by pointing to the “positive work of Sandia leadership in the majority of the performance objective,” but added, “This performance objective would have received a higher adjectival rating except for the results of the DOJ investigation” into allegations of improper use of government funds for lobbying activities between 2008 and 2011.
The Leadership discussion in the PER contained the only sharply critical language in the document, including the declaration, “Sandia fell short of meeting the high standards for business integrity required of FFRDCs and damaged the reputation of Sandia National Laboratories and its parent company.”
Another focus of the PER spotlight was the increased number of major security incidents during FY15. Failures to follow classification review policy, plus operational errors and oversights, were among the issues that led to the increase, NNSA said. However, NNSA acknowledged that significant increases in weapons work and the resulting “environment of expanded classified operations” contributed to the number of incidents.
On the other hand, NNSA recognized Sandia’s “leadership attention and initiatives” to raise awareness of security requirements and common mistakes and to expand its internal lessons learned program and recognized the Labs’ overall “concerted effort to improve information protection.”
NNSA also praised Sandia’s increased transparency, improvements in its self-assessments and assurance systems, and continued enhancements of its overall safety culture.
In the detailed, seven-page evaluation of the nuclear weapons mission, NNSA pointed specifically to the technical achievements gained through Z machine experiments in support of stockpile stewardship goals, successful full-system flight tests for the B61-12, and the way Sandia effectively “managed issues that arose during B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP) development activities without impacting the baseline plan.”
The PER summarized that work: “Sandia exceeded many expectations and performed outstanding work in managing the nuclear weapons mission.”
In giving the “Excellent” rating to Sandia’s nuclear security threats mission, Sandia was lauded for work that helped identify, protect, and secure nuclear material and aided in preventing the spread of nuclear and radiological material or other Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) technology.”
And in the DOE and Strategic Partnership Project Mission, Sandia exceeded expectations “by performing work within scope, budget, costs, schedule, and identifying and managing risks in order to provide timely and quality products and deliverables.”