Busy Week

Busy Week
May 17, 2013

In modern parlance, the week of May 6, 2013 was something else!

We work hard every week, but there are some periods when the events all seem to land on top of each other. I was expecting the week of May 6 to be big, but it surpassed all expectations.

Nuclear Physics DC Day: May 6. A number of Jefferson Lab users joined with colleagues and users of the Michigan State National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Lab to participate in the Nuclear Physics D.C. Day in Washington. They visited different congressional delegations, advocating for support of the president’s budget for nuclear physics, which we discussed in the previous Montage. Reports are that it was a very positive experience, and that the physicists enjoyed advocating for their physics, while gleaning some insight into the views “on the hill.”

Visit from Congressman Scott Rigell, May 6. Before the most recent congressional elections a number of the boundaries between districts were adjusted, and after the elections Congressman Scott Rigell now represents our district where as previously it was Congressman Rob Wittman. On Friday, Congressman Rigell’s office asked if he could visit Monday morning. “Of course!” was our response. One hour was a little short for both a briefing and a tour, and since I had spoken with him in Washington a few weeks ago, we went with a tour. We visited the Test Lab Addition, Hall A and the FEL. He was very interested and voiced his praise for what we do. Short but sweet, and I am sure he will be back soon.

QCD Evolutions Workshop: May 6-10. Had we not been hosting Congressman Rigell, I was slated to give a welcome to the workshop on QCD evolution. We at Jefferson Lab give pride of place to our investigations of the strong interaction among quarks and gluons. But in addition to being of incredible interest itself, the strong interactions play in most of the nuclear and particle investigations of other interactions. For example, a key piece of the Q-weak experiment to measure the weak charge of the proton is getting a handle on the hadronic pieces so they don’t limit the primary measurement. The QCD workshop was theorist dominated, and the attendees had a high name-recognition quotient.

Lehman Review of the 12 GeV Upgrade, May 7-9. Lehman Review is slang. Strictly, it was a DOE Independent Project Review. All Lehman Reviews are important. In a previous life, I used to measure my blood pressure every morning and there were clear spikes corresponding to Lehman Reviews. But some Lehman Reviews are more important than others. A high point is usually the CD2 Baseline Review; that’s when the overall scope, cost, and schedule are proposed and agreed. Because Congress reduced our funding in FY12 by $16 million, we got to repeat the experience by proposing a “rebaseline.” In addition to accounting for the delayed funding, we needed to examine all aspects of project performance, including the spectrometer superconducting magnets where we have had some challenges. The previous Lehman Review in November 2012 advised us to rework our proposal and conduct our own Director’s Review before appearing before Lehman again. In April, a revised plan was presented to an excellent Director’s Review team led by Ed Temple from ANL who gave us what I described as a “tough love” review. So, everyone was nervous on the morning of May 7 as the Lehman Review began.

By lunch, there were compliments about the presentations. The first afternoon and the following morning, our team was grilled during the breakout sessions. By evening of the second day, the JLab team started to get feedback from the reviewers. At 6 p.m., I received a visit from Tim Hallman and Jehanne Gillo from the Office of Nuclear Physics, from Dan Lehman and from Andy Lankford from UC Irvine, who was the lead reviewer of the physics subsystems. They concluded by advising me that I could sleep that night.

The closeout, in which the review team presents its findings, comments and recommendations, took place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, the final day. As far as the estimate of the cost to complete (ETC), there were mainly positive remarks and no recommendations. The reviewers did provide a number of recommendations regarding superconducting magnets. We appreciate this very much; we would agree that this is the area with the most challenges. Throughout the report there were comments about how much progress we have made. It was a very good outcome. We cannot relax - there is much to do - but there is a clear path forward. We expect to implement the rebaseline in about three months. The upgrade team was in the firing line, but essential support was provided by a large number of staff from across the lab. It was a labwide success.

JSA Electrical Safety Program Review, May 8, 9: Almost literally in the shadow of the other activities, JSA brought in a two-person team, at our request, to have a look at our electrical safety program. The team visited many parts of the lab and was extremely impressed by the knowledge of our staff involved in electrical work. They also pointed to some procedural defects, which we will be working to fix.

DOE Review of the Lattice QCD Project, May 9, 10: The Lattice QCD projects support a broad collaboration of particle and nuclear theorists who use lattice techniques. There are facilities hosted at Fermilab and Jefferson Lab, and a somewhat different type at BNL. Each year DOE reviews the progress and the way the effort has been managed as input to its funding decisions for the future. A written version of the closeout report is not yet available, but our management of an acquisition made possible by the stimulus (ARRA) funds from 2009 was called out for special mention in the closeout.

JSA Operations and Safety Committee Review, May 10: Every six months or so, the Jefferson Science Associates Operations and Safety committees visit the lab and examine our operations side. The committee met with the Site Office manager and with the Directorate, and then heard presentations of the work we have been doing, the high spots and the difficulties as appropriate. The review is part of what is called the Contractor Assurance System.

Performance Evaluation Management Plan, May 10: Every quarter, we submit a self-assessment of our performance in the eight categories used by the DOE to evaluate whether a lab is performing adequately. In addition to a written submission, at mid-year we provide a presentation to the Site Office staff. This helps them complete their evaluations. On this occasion, the JSA Operations Committee members attended. It went very well; several of the Site Office staff members made complimentary remarks.

So at the end of the week, we were breathless, but satisfied. When you take stock of all the activities we supported in addition to our regular work, we were a lab thoroughly engaged and deserving of the successes we achieved.

A busy week indeed!