University Committee on Research Policy Academic Senate
May 13, 1996
Arnold Leiman, Chair
University of California Academic Council
You asked for comments from the Directors of LANL and LLNL on the UCORP report. It should be made clear that your position was already known, and it is no surprise that the comments cater to this position. I doubt that the Directors would have been as negative about the UCORP report if they felt the issue of renewal was truly open for consideration by leaders of the Senate. Thus Hecker (LANL) picks up the Leiman language of being "disappointed" in the report, but goes further to characterize the report as expressing a "narrow viewpoint" and to include "distortions". These kinds of comments are out of place in a serious discussion of the merits of the management contract; resorting to ad hominem arguments generally indicates that substantive arguments are not available.
Many of the comments in Hecker's letter deal with his assessment of the value of the DOE Labs. UCORP acknowledged the value of the Labs and the science done there, but this was not the main focus of our report, which properly addressed the impact on UC of holding the management contracts. Many or most of the specifics Hecker deals with could as easily have taken place (collaborations, coauthored papers, helping Russia) without a UC management arrangement, a point made in the UCORP report that is ignored.
Tartar's letter covers much the same ground, and uses some of the same language. He correctly notes that the UCORP report focuses on the "self-interest of the University". We believe this is a proper focus for a Senate committee, to be interested in the welfare of the University. We recognized that the contracts represented a "service to the Nation", but pointed out that this particular public service can be inappropriate for UC.
Tartar's letter is at odds in one respect with information provided to UCORP by Carl Poppe. Tartar claims that "Each Lab organization is reviewed by an external peer review committee annually"; per Poppe, only about a third of the units are reviewed each year. The Director should know, since he appoints the review committees, but Poppe seemed quite sure of his facts when he discussed this feature with UCORP. This discrepancy is not a significant issue for UCORP, since we acknowledged that the science and technology at the Labs are excellent, and clearly our role was not intended to duplicate these reviews.
We are not sure what to make of his list (p.5) of a "half dozen UC Institutes and joint Programs" that were "omitted" from the UCORP discussion. With the exception of IGPP, none of these have ORU status; and without exception, none are mentioned in the management contract. Does the Director wish to provide a list of all uses of his discretionary funding for comment by UCORP?
The most disturbing item appears on p. 6 of Tartar's letter. Tartar indicates that he has given UC special treatment from his discretionary funding, which appears to be at variance with the charter of a National Laboratory. He provides a thinly veiled threat that he would direct funds to Caltech and Stanford instead of UC should the management contract be terminated. It seems to us that as Director of a National Lab, he has fiduciary responsibility for providing the best use of these federal funds, and if Caltech and Stanford can do a job better than UC personnel, they should already be getting these grants/contracts. This issue should be addressed by the Academic Council, the Office of the President, and by DOE.
Warren Gold, Chair
University Committee on Research Policy