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Audit Report: OAS-L-14-02

February 5, 2014

The Department's Management of Scientific User Facilities

The Department of Energy's (Department) Office of Science operates 31 Scientific User Facilities (user facilities).  These facilities provide scientific researchers with the most advanced tools of modern science and include accelerators, colliders, supercomputers, light sources and neutron sources, as well as facilities for studying the nanoworld, the environment and the atmosphere. 

Nothing came to our attention to indicate that the Office of Science had not effectively maximized the utilization of its user facilities and monitored user facility performance.  Our review of 2 Department laboratories that contained 8 of the Department's 31 user facilities found that 2 neutron science facilities at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) exceeded 2011 goals for operating hours, while the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility achieved an utilization rate of over 95 percent of optimal hours.  At Brookhaven National Laboratory (Brookhaven) the National Synchrotron Light Source exceeded its planned operating hours and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider achieved over 97 percent of its planned operating hours. 

Although our review did not identify any major concerns, we did identify two areas in which performance improvement may be possible, and we provided suggestions to the Office of Science and Brookhaven National Laboratory to address these areas.

Topic: Management and Administration