From the CIO: What the heck is a PEMP?
Chief Information Officer Rob Roser
It’s hard to believe there are only a few more sleeps before the Christmas holiday break. I considered writing a year in review, but honestly, I could not do it justice. We did have a spectacular year, by any and all accounts, and our success was noted at all levels of the lab and government.
Following up on Nigel’s all-hands talk, in which he mentioned the PEMP process, I’d like to put a finer point on things and give more context.
First, what is PEMP? Each year as part of the Performance Evaluation and Measurement Plan, the Office of Science conducts an evaluation of the scientific, technological, managerial and operational performance of the contractors who manage and operate its 10 national laboratories. These evaluations provide the basis for determining annual performance fees and, ultimately, how well a given lab is being managed. Basically, the lab is given eight grades, three on different aspects of science and technology and four on managing the materials and operations contract. The eighth grade is for the management team directly and is weighted more than the others.
Fermilab did quite well this year, earning four A’s and four B+’s. Our grades put us solidly in the middle of the pack amongst all the other labs. But how do we interpret them? First, there is something to be said for NOT getting all A’s in the materials and operations portion of the report card. Those labs that do may be spending too much on contract requirements, making less funding available for science. However, one should ace the science and technology and leadership components; in those areas, we did get three A’s and one B+, which, as Nigel said, was the result of comments in the comprehensive Operations Review last summer that critiqued the lab’s lack of a “plan B” if LBNF stumbles, no long term workforce strategy (succession planning) and lack of a coherent strategic plan for the lab. None of this is particularly surprising to us, and we, as a laboratory, are working to rectify each of the above criticisms in the coming year.
While our grades are not as good as last years’ (six A’s and two B+’s), they are still well above threshold in terms of our contract. We did not lose any management fee, nor was our contract shortened! We can learn from the constructive comments that we were given, raise our game in those areas and get back to being one of the leading labs.
I appreciate that Nigel is willing to discuss these sorts of topics, something I don’t recall any former administration doing. I think it shows that he wants to engage at a different level and be as transparent as possible.
I wish a happy holiday season and New Year to you and your family and friends! Thank you for all for your hard work—it takes a team to do what we have done this year!