|On Target (September 1998)|
The U.S. Department of Energy announced earlier this month that it will negotiate with Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc., to extend the current multi-year performance-based contract for the management and operation of Jefferson Lab.
"This decision is based on outstanding scientific, technical, operations, environmental, safety and health, and institutional management accomplishments, as well as excellent performance in business and administrative practices at Jefferson Lab.
"I would like to commend SURA and Jefferson Lab for their 'outstanding' scientific research and management performance over the term of this contract, and for nurturing constructive partnerships with state and local governments, private industry, and academia," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "This high standard of performance in achieving scientific, technical and management objectives generates strong economic and educational benefits for these partners and the American people."
According to Jefferson Lab's DOE Site Office Manager, Dean Helms, this decision reflects the Department of Energy's confidence in SURA and Jefferson Lab. "The DepartmentÕs policy strongly favors [contract] competition over extensions. The highest standards of performance must be met before the Department will even consider the possibility of a contract extension," Helms explained. "We believe that high standard has been met and maintained in all mission and support areas; and the Site Office strongly recommended that the current contractÕs extension option be exercised." This recommendation was reviewed and endorsed at several levels of the DOE, culminating with Deputy Secretary of Energy, Betsy Moler.
The Department's current contract with SURA runs through September 30, 1999. The new contract extension to be negotiated would extend this agreement for an additional five years. The DOE Site Office Contracting Officer, Wayne Skinner, will begin contract renegotiations with SURA in the near future. He concurred with Helms, adding, The hard work, long hours, dedication and many achievements [of Jefferson Lab and its staff] have been noted by the DOE. The Department really presses to compete these contracts; the decision to extend the current contract reflects well on SURA and the Lab-from top to bottom."
The current contract was one of the first performance-based contracts the DOE executed with a nonprofit institution-under the Department's Contract Reform Initiative launched in February 1994. These reforms called for increased accountability for contractors, reduced government oversight practices that do not add value, and increased use of performance measures and incentives to achieve excellence and emphasize results.
A key incentive under the current agreement was an option permitting DOE to extend the contract for an additional five years based on superior performance. The Department's decision to begin negotiations preliminary to exercising the option is based in part on performance reviews under the contract. For example, in FY 1997, DOE rated SURA's science, technology, operations, ES&H, and institutional management performance as "Outstanding," the highest rating that can be achieved. Business and administrative performance was rated "Excellent," the second highest rating.
"This is a great position for a young lab to be in," Helms said. "This will provide Jefferson Lab with continued stability in its goals, management and the Lab's
institutional profile. It will allow Lab staff to maintain focus, productivity and morale. Jefferson Lab's accomplishments reflect its total team effort."