Appendix A: Excessive Oversight And Micromanaging

The present structuring and operation of the laboratories is governed by the class of contracting: Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated (GOCO).

Were it possible to have a true government-owned, contractor-operated system it is conceivable that there could be a continuing activity under such a rubric. But wherever we turn we see evidence of nothing but a government owned and more government operated system.

As a function of the detail with which the Congress prescribes what should be done in the laboratories and the Congress's obsession with the issue of accountability, the Department is driven both to honor the prescriptions from Congress and to overprescribe in order not to be at risk of failing to be super attentive to the Congress's intentions.

The net effect is that thousands of people are engaged on the government payroll to oversee and prescribe tens of thousands of how-to functions. The laboratories must staff up or reallocate the resources of its people to be responsive to such myriads of directives; more and more of the science intended resources are having to be redirected to the phenomenon of accountability versus producing science and technology benefits.

This report could contain thousands of supportive pages from the thousands of involved people who unanimously complain of this phenomenon. We will merely illustrate with a few examples that could be multiplied were we to fully evidence this overaccountability practice.

The essence of our governance is to account for all the how-to's in contrast to "what" the laboratories contribute.

As a consequence the system is rife with:

Appendix B: If GOCO System Is Obliged

If the authorities oblige that the GOCO system is retained, the Congress and the Department must improve operational efficiencies and motivational conditions of the federal system by correcting the policies and practices listed below. If these are not completely revised the Congress/Department/Laboratory system is destined to bear excessive unaffordable, micromanaging costs and demotivational consequences. It will follow that plan to deactivate and/or dispose of the laboratories at some liquidation value will be inevitable because the public will not countenance the high cost/low value output that will be destined.

Base DOE Oversight on Laboratories' Performance

Operate labs according to industry-wide regulatory standards

Consolidate roles of DOE oversight offices

Apply rational, consistent business management principles

Manage lab infrastructure in a responsible fashion

Challenge labs to reduce costs


Appendix C: Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference
Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force on
Alternative Futures for the Department of Energy National Laboratories


The 1990s are a period of substantial change for the Department of Energy's (DOE) nine multi-program National Laboratories, particularly the Department's three nuclear weapons laboratories. Sweeping geopolitical changes, limitations on nuclear weapons testing, increased attention to economic competitiveness, and the continuing demands of energy development and environmental quality--all within the context of tight federal budgets--are but a few of the factors that confront the DOE laboratories with challenges and opportunities for the future.

The purpose for establishing the Advisory Board Task Force on Alternative Futures for the DOE Laboratories is to carefully examine options for change within these laboratories and to propose specific alternatives for directing the scientific and engineering resources of these institutions toward the economic, environmental, defense, scientific, and energy needs of the nation. The Task Force should focus its initial efforts on developing a comprehensive and current understanding of the facilities, resources, core competencies, activities, and missions of the Department's multi-program national laboratories, both as individual institutions and as a system. The Task Force should also develop an early understanding of the national defense requirements that necessarily will play a major role in shaping the configuration of the defense laboratories for years to come, and should closely examine the unprecedented recent growth in collaborations between DOE laboratories and the private sector.

Once a fundamental understanding of these matters has been established, the Task Force should broadly explore critical issues facing DOE's multiprogram laboratories (and single-program laboratories, as deemed appropriate) and should examine alternative scenarios for future utilization of these laboratories for meeting national missions. Among the alternative scenarios, the Task Force should specifically address options involving the possible redirection, restructuring, and/or closure of elements of the DOE laboratory system. The Task Force should identify the costs and benefits to the nation of various alternative futures for the DOE multiprogram laboratories, and within one year (January 1995) should report these assessments along with recommendations, as deemed appropriate.


  1. The Task Force should develop a clear understanding of the roles played by the DOE multi-program laboratories in the research and technology development process. Specifically, the Task Force should examine the roles of the laboratories in meeting public missions, in serving as an R&D provider to other agencies and the private sector, and in working with academia to advance fundamental science. This examination should include an assessment of the contribution of the DOE laboratory system to the overall national investment in science and technology, and a comparison of the activities of the DOE laboratories to the R&D focus of other government agencies, academia, and the private sector.

  2. The Task Force should become well versed with the nuclear weapons-related research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) needs for the nation over the coming decade, and the options for satisfying these needs. Specifically, the Task Force should closely examine the strategic planning efforts currently underway within DOE Defense Programs, particularly those efforts aimed at shifting the nuclear weapons safeguards program from underground nuclear testing to science-based stockpile stewardship.

  3. The Task Force should examine the current configuration of nuclear weapons RDT&E activities among Los Alamos National Laboratory, Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. This should include an assessment of the strategy behind the current configuration, which involves purposeful redundancy to promote competition and peer review. Alternatives to the existing configuration should be examined.

  4. The Task Force should assess the role of the National Laboratories in supporting economic competitiveness and contributing to the U.S. industrial R&D base. This should include an examination of the opportunities and the mechanisms for the National Laboratories--as a system--to contribute to large partnerships with the private sector.

  5. With a current assessment of the roles and missions of the DOE multiprogram laboratories in mind, the Task Force should examine several options for the future of these institutions in terms of budgets, management, and mission assignments, including an analysis of possible costs and benefits of each alternative. As part of the examination of costs and benefits, the Task Force should assess the ability of R&D institutions such as the DOE laboratories to adapt to varying levels of change. This analysis should assist the Task Force in recommending implementation options.


The Task Force members would like to acknowledge the support of a large number of people in the laboratories, the Department of Energy, the contractor organizations, and the affected communities, for their insights, information, and opinions. In particular, we would like to thank Sean McDonald, Sean Headrick, John Clarke, Tom Jervis, and Susan Barisas, Frances Musgrove, and Mable Dawson for their significant contributions.

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