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Sustainable PNNL - Balancing social, environmental, and economic needs for a more sustainable future


Governance Structure: The Laboratory Leadership Team (LLT) consists of the Director, Deputy Director for Science and Technology (DDST), Chief Operations Officer, various Associate Laboratory Directors (ALDs) for research and support functions, and functional office directors. Key responsibilities of the LLT include the following:

  • Establishing and approving PNNL's mission, vision, and strategy
  • Tracking and demonstrating performance against the strategy to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Battelle, and other customers
  • Effectively and efficiently managing and operating PNNL to assure that all applicable laws, regulations, and requirements are met
  • Demonstrating commitment to achieving excellence in environment, safety, health, quality, and safeguards and security
  • Establishing a supportive work environment for employees
  • Providing leadership in the community, especially for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

As a unitary board, PNNL's LLT solicits input on strategy and its execution each year from various external advisory committees. The LLT shares responsibility for delivering a balanced report and for assuring simultaneous excellence in Science and Technology (S&T) operations and service encompasses the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of our work. Specifically, the DDST stewards the economic dimension, including serving as the primary interface with our customers, and the Chief Operations Officer leads the environmental dimension, which includes occupational health and safety, materials, energy, water, biodiversity, effluents and waste, emissions, and environmental compliance.

The ALD for Organizational Development stewards the labor and society dimensions, which include factors related to employment, labor-management relations, training and education, diversity and equal opportunity, equal remuneration for women and men, and non-discrimination. The Director of the Office of General Counsel is responsible for aspects related to anti-corruption, anti-competitive behavior, and compliance. The Director of Technology Deployment and Outreach is responsible for local community engagement and some indirect economic impacts on the community. Collectively, these individuals are responsible for assessing both the sustainability opportunities and risks for the organization.

Composition of Highest Governance Body
Number of Executives % male % female Age 30-50 Age 50+ White Indian/Alaska Native/ Black / African American / Hispanic / Latino
FY 2010 10 60% 40% 40% 60% 90% 10%
FY 2011 10 70% 30% 30% 70% 90% 10%
FY 2012 10 70% 30% 20% 80% 90% 10%
FY 2013 13 69% 31% 31% 69% 92% 8%
FY 2014 13 69% 31% 15% 85% 92% 8%
FY 2015 13 77% 23% 23% 77% 92% 8%
FY 2016 14 79% 21% 14% 86% 93% 7%
FY 2017 14 71% 29% 21% 79% 93% 0%
FY 2018 14 71% 29% 14% 86% 93% 7%

PNNL Performance Assurance and Risk Management: Battelle's Pacific Northwest Division (PNWD) Board and its committees oversee and hold the PNNL LLT accountable through the tri-annual performance review cycle. Laboratory management provides performance data to the Board, which then provides feedback to the LLT about Lab performance and determines if the risks are adequately managed. The Board also affirms that the risk processes and controls used by the LLT are effective and efficient. Risk packages documenting performance and meeting minutes are maintained in the Legal Office.

One example of actions taken at a governance level, using stakeholder feedback and assessment results, was when Battelle identified a need to build Laboratory leadership talent and developed and deployed Battelle-wide training programs to benefit the DOE community and serve as a model for similar programs across the National Lab Complex. In the PNNL FY 2018 DOE Evaluation Report, DOE noted "The Contractor’s corporate parent continues to deploy the Laboratory Operations Management Academy (LOMA), Laboratory Operations Leadership Academy (LOLA), and the Laboratory Operations Supervisor Academy (LOSA) across the Laboratory complex in support of building leadership talent." The PNNL LLT advises and assesses whether appropriate performance expectations have been established and communicated, risks are identified and managed, and ultimately, whether PNNL's mission, business, and operational objectives are being accomplished. Three times per year, the LLT reviews an Enterprise Risk Register that contains the highest level risks for the institution and is informed through many levels of risk management throughout the Laboratory. The mitigations for these enterprise risks are reviewed and the LLT makes adjustments as necessary to assure they are adequately controlled. In FY 2018, there were 314 new issues identified for corrective action (including 12 "Medium" or "High" significance issues) and 322 issues closed and reported to Laboratory Management. These issues are investigated, and a timely causal analysis is conducted for more significant issues. Corrective Action Plans are developed and tracked to closure in the PNNL Issue Tracking System. As a result of raising a concern to Lab Management regarding the timeliness of closing "Medium" issues at the end of FY 2017, the Lab Director requested increased leadership attention, resulting in the closure of 26 "Medium" issues and reducing the backlog significantly. New timeliness expectations were also put in place..

Review of PNNL Sustainability Program: Part of the Operational Systems Directorate managed by the Chief Operations Officer, the PNNL Sustainability Management and Operations Program represents the functions and processes necessary to establish our comprehensive sustainability performance, inform our sustainability strategy, and create a more sustainable operating environment through facilities and operations. The Sustainability Program helps PNNL achieve its sustainability vision by:

  • Tracking PNNL performance against the triple bottom line
  • Supporting the LLT in establishing sustainability priorities and strategic plans
  • Directly managing our performance in facility energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas mitigation
  • Integrating leading-edge technology developed by PNNL, other national laboratories, and industry
  • Supporting other key functions that impact our sustainability performance.

PNNL uses the International Organization for Standardization 14001 certified Environmental Management System (EMS) to set PNNL's sustainability goals and manage environmental impacts. Potential environmental impacts (aspects) from laboratory operations are identified and controlled using several methods. PNNL's senior management reviews the effectiveness of PNNL's EMS, including PNNL's sustainability goals and progress, on an annual basis (and as needed). Any issues or recommendations for continuous improvements of the EMS are approved by the senior management team and forwarded to the LLT.

The Sustainability Program also coordinates with PNNL's Sustainability Core Team, an authorized working group responsible for making recommendations to senior management for their decision on environmental objectives and supporting the successful implementation of PNNL sustainability activities. It comprises environmental program leads, research directorate representatives, and PNNL Management Systems owners. The Core Team has direct responsibility for:

  • Developing and prioritizing PNNL environmental objectives and targets to meet applicable internal and external requirements
  • Successfully implementing environmental performance objectives and targets
  • Reporting progress and keeping management informed.

Compensation and Performance: PNNL's compensation approach is to provide pay that is linked to the recruitment and retention of a workforce dedicated to serving the nation by developing and applying the best S&T to make the world a better, safer place. At PNNL, the goal is to support and develop extraordinary people—people with great passion, working on important missions. To recognize and reward the work performed and the contributions made, investments in staff extend beyond base pay. The compensation philosophy is based on the Competitive, Equitable, Performance-Based, and Transparent design principles to which PNNL holds itself and its leaders accountable.

For Executives and Managers, job category expectations include ensuring that PNNL strategies are understood, integrating our programs and technologies with stakeholders, and delivering products and services in compliance with DOE contractual requirements, which include expectations for fiscal responsibility as well as compliance with environmental and social policies. Candidates for director and executive positions are evaluated based on their demonstrated ability to perform the specific job category requirements as described above, including compliance with policies in business, environmental, and ethical standards.

We also take into account stakeholder views regarding remuneration. Our DOE sponsor provides guidance on staff compensation through Battelle's operating contract with DOE, and Battelle annually conducts a market-based compensation analysis and reports to DOE its findings in requesting an authorization to award merit, promotional, and special adjustment dollars to staff. As a separate endeavor, Battelle is required to conduct a Benefits Valuation (Ben-Val) survey every two years to demonstrate that the benefits packages provided at PNNL are competitive, based on an indexing system that compares PNNL to other appropriate organizations in our industry. If we are above or below the index at pre-defined thresholds, a corrective management plan is put in place.

PNNL staff also has the opportunity to discuss compensation with their manager during their annual staff development reviews, and they are free to approach their Human Resources representative at any time to express concerns.

Standards of Conduct and Precautionary Approach: PNNL has a work control that describes the basic requirements and considerations for being employed by PNNL, as well as for work activities in PNNL-operated work environments. These include the following:

  • Staff expectations, safety rights, and concerns
  • Staff responsibilities and limitations, security requirements, and use of PNNL facilities
  • Business ethics and staff conduct
  • Time billing
  • Preparing for work, maintaining workspaces, and performing work
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Prohibited and controlled articles and activities
  • Use of Battelle property.

As part of its precautionary approach, PNNL provides guidance to all employees on raising and addressing concerns about any work-related issue, such as scientific misconduct. If the concern is serious and could result in immediate harm to people or the environment, work is stopped until the risks can be fully evaluated.

PNNL's Quality Assurance Program verifies that the quality requirements are integrated into research activities such that results are complete, accurate, and defensible, and the conduct of the research meets management and customer expectations.

Finally, the DOE-Battelle Prime Contract for the Management and Operation of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (DE-AC05-76RL01830), Section I Contract Clauses, outlines procedures that must be followed to avoid any organizational conflicts of interest at PNNL.

PNNL Sustainability