The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is the lead Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory for electron-based high energy physics. It is dedicated to research in elementary particle physics, accelerator physics and in allied fields that can make use of its synchrotron radiation facilities—including biology, chemistry, geology, materials science and environmental engineering. Operated on behalf of the DOE by Stanford University, SLAC is a national user facility serving universities, industry and other research institutions throughout the world. Its mission can be summarized as follows:
Perform world-class research in high energy physics, particle astrophysics and cosmology, and in the use of synchrotron radiation
Provide accelerators, detectors, instrumentation and support for national and international research programs in elementary particle physics and allied fields that use synchrotron radiation
Advance the art of accelerators and related devices through development of sources of high energy particles and synchrotron radiation, plus new techniques for their scientific utilization
Advance the critical technologies necessary to maintain its leadership and excellence in particle physics, accelerator physics, particle astrophysics and cosmology, and synchrotron radiation
Transfer practical knowledge and innovative technology to the private sector
Contribute to the education of the next generation of scientists and engineers, and to the scientific awareness of the public
Achieve and maintain excellence in matters of environmental concern and provide for the safety and health of its staff and the general public.
The Budget Office is part of the Business Services Division’s Finance Office. The major responsibilities of the Budget Office include:
Formulation and revision of SLAC budgets.
Establish and maintain budget controls and provide guidance on budgetary issues to all SLAC organizations.
Assistance in preparation of materials required for Line Item Construction projects, capital equipment projects and plant projects.
Petty Cash Function.
Preparation and/or review of authorization requests for capital and plant.
Control of commitments for capital equipment, construction activities, and advanced funded work.
Assistance to DOE with respect to supplemental budget inquiries and information
Financial and special analyses upon request.
Robert Strohecker, Budget Officer; Evan Economos, Laurie Escudero, and Ron Kirkland, Financial Analysts
Scope of Self-Assessment
Discussion of Individual Performance Objectives
Performance Objective #2 Financial Stewardship
Quality Budget Formulation & Effective Budget Execution
Performance Criterion: 2.1
Budgets are submitted timely.
Performance Measure Result: 2.1.a
Supportable budgets submissions meet due dates, follow form, include all requested items and incorporate budget validation.
The FY2006 Budget Request was submitted on time on April 30. Unique to this year’s submittal was the submittal of secondary materials simultaneous with the primary materials. All direction and guidance was followed appropriately, and uncosted balances were considered in requesting new budget authority. Oversight of the laboratory’s budget shifted from Oakland to Chicago in January. Included in the transfer were the budget validation responsibilities. Since transitions are seldom instantaneous this year’s budget validation is in progress as of this writing. Given the above factors this measure is rated “Excellent” given the approved extension and the expected completion of the 2006 budget validation by the time the laboratory’s self-assessment is final.
The laboratory director had a “kickoff” budget meeting on February 26 to discuss the basic programmatic assumptions upon which to build the request. The Budget Office provided planning rates for fringe benefits, leave accruals, and indirect rates for procurement, G&A, Common Site Support (CSS). On February 27th the Budget Office issued a call to the Directorate for the Field Task Proposal Agreement (FTPA) written materials, and also included was the FY2006 Budget Request Preparation Schedule. The Budget Office worked closely with each of the division planners as they developed their respective budget details. Without guidance from Headquarters the laboratory assumed a due date the same as the previous year, the end of April. The guidance was issued early in March with a due date of April 23. The laboratory requested a one week extension to maintain the lab’s internal schedule, and the extension was granted. This year’s process was again similar to last year’s because given the President’s budget, again this year, the laboratory needed more time than usual to decide what to request for FY2005 as well as FY2006.
Once available it was again helpful to be able to obtain the DOE Budget Guidance off the WEB, and as stated above the laboratory was well supported by SSO and Chicago.
Part of the budgeting process includes almost daily contact with the division planners answering questions, checking status of budget development, and providing further guidance as required. Division budget targets as decided by the Laboratory Directorate guided the inputs; consequently if the division submittals were close to the expected targets, the Budget Office’s responsibility to assure reasonableness was made easier. The Office reviews the relative size of the cost categories of SLAC labor, non-shop contract labor, shop services, and materials & services. The Office also concentrates its review on the year-to-year changes. For this year’s request the challenge for the Office was to properly reflect the assumptions of the need of the Laboratory in the FY2005 and FY2006 budget years.
Performance Criterion: 2.2
Manage Uncosted Balances
Performance Measure Result 2.2a
Reduce or maintain uncosted balances within the criteria established by the DOE
For FY2004 total uncosted balances came in at $41,577K versus Obligations of $250,900K for a ratio of 16.6%. When these results are adjusted to exclude line item construction, work for others, and reimbursables to meet the performance measure definition, the corresponding numbers are uncosted balances of $35,561K and obligations of $214,831K for a ratio of 16.6%. These uncosted balances have decreased by over $4.6M from last year’s level, but the percentage requiring justification jumped to 21%. As a final note the awareness of “uncosted balances” has permeated the Laboratory to a large degree, and given this year’s especially tight budget, the laboratory experienced a significant decrease in uncosted balances.
The FY2003 uncosted balance report was submitted and required no subsequent adjustments. All division financial planners have access to the SLAC cost system for checking the status of costs for all their activities and creating reports for their division managers. In addition, the Budget Office produces a monthly report tracking costs against funding and budgets, tracking funding received and expected, tracking FTEs, and tracking limited funded accounts. In addition regular meetings have been scheduled to review the status of AIP and Infrastructure projects.
This performance warrants a rating of “Outstanding”, given the overall decrease in balances.
Performance Criterion: 2.3
Costs and commitments of all programs, including cost of work for others and work for others including reimbursable work are managed properly.
Performance Measure Result: 2.3a
Ensure costs and commitments are properly reported and within DOE authorized funding levels.
Costs and commitments of all programs were within the DOE authorized funding levels.
The BIS system has continued to become more routine. The emphasis of the Budget Office has been to improve the reporting capabilities and the number of reports available from the new system. As mentioned in last year’s self-assessment the number of “limited funded” activities has continued to grow this year as well, and the emphasis on the Office efforts was to work more closely with Cost Accounting to ensure that funding levels were never violated. The contract modification information was formally added to the Laboratory Peoplesoft financial system. With funding information in Peoplesoft it is much easier for cost accounting to spot anomalies and bring them to the attention of the Budget Office. The Budget Office continued to provide training to internal laboratory customers on the financial system, budget requirements, and proposal requirements. As stated above, the monthly report is the document used to track costs against control levels. At SLAC there are between 30 and 40 major OCL levels and a comparable number of levels in the reimbursable and “special funding” categories. In addition, projects are tracked by project against its budget level monthly to ensure project control levels are not exceeded.
This measure is rated “Outstanding” given the clean record of the past year.
Improvement Action Plan/Goals
A significant effort continued to be expended to improve information on Buildings and other structures to allow the Laboratory to work towards its target for maintenance on non-programmatic buildings. Much work was done to develop consistent definitions and calculations of replacement values. In addition significant time has been allocated to the reconciliation of laboratory’s information reported in MARS and FIMS, the DOE’s major facilities database.
Goals for FY05
The Office will continue to be more supportive in providing important information to the laboratory and work to provide more timely communication of new funding financial status on a monthly basis. The Office will participate in a couple of process improvement initiatives: a) the development of a summary report to be available on the first day after the transmittal of MARS and b) the development of new methods to aid in the development of the labs leave accrual rates and indirect rates.
In the past year the Office has been able to respond to the start of Linear Coherent Light Source PED portion of the project, continued iterations of the detail content of the forthcoming SLI construction project, and follow-up analyses based on the infrastructure crosscut submittal. The Office has also been working closely with the GLAST project in support of their financial requirements. The Office has been able to support the division planning staffs in meeting their needs and goals. Finally, it must be stated that the transition of budget responsibilities from Oakland to the Stanford Site Office and Chicago has gone very well, and all the parties have learned much since January about each others requirements and needs.
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