Jun 9, 2007
Speaking to a crowd of 150 people, Jan A. Van Prooyen, acting deputy director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, spoke of the laboratory's vision and accomplishments since the new leadership team of Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) took over the helm in June 2006. He was keynote speaker at the Chamberfest Appreciation Banquet 2007 Friday evening at Central Avenue Grill.
Van Prooyen said the laboratory has made significant progress and improvements, yet in today's climate, "Congress is anxious"; more changes and more improvements will be needed.
"Our vision is 'Make LANL a premier national science laboratory for the 21st century,'" Van Prooyen said. In order to accomplish this, he said the community needs first-rate schools, first-rate churches, first-rate hospitals and first-rate businesses to bring in the best scientists. He emphasized the need for everyone to "believe in the laboratory" for it to be successful.
Van Prooyen listed several accomplishments that have met the vision milestone over the past nine months:
# Safety/security. Fifty less employees have received serious injury from the previous year, a 30-percent improvement in safety. "We intend to bring current rates down," he said.
# National recognition. The Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility (DAHRT) has tested its second axis, greatly improving imaging; and the Cibola Flight Experiment, carrying a payload that is capable of performing more than 1 trillion operations per second, "is 350 miles above us," Van Prooyen said. Both are important for our security, he said.
# Tools to measure success. Van Prooyen spoke of improved leadership using upward feedback and maximizing individual performance, thus making LANL a better place.
# Boosted efficiency and effectiveness. "We consciously decided to keep our laboratory employees. We chose to delete contractors, even though it was painful. As a result, we are financially viable," Van Prooyen said.
Van Prooyen said LANS is planning for the long run, with more goals to be met.
"We intend to meet our goals this year and go forward," he said.
LANL is working very hard, he said, working more closely with the environmental department, with great improvement over the past year in getting documents delivered on time; increasing its run of the LANSE accelerator to meet the increased need for medical isotopes; protecting the country by locating over 15,000 radioactive sources around the world this past year; pursuing medical research to quell HIV and hepatitis C; and by putting 1100 students on the role, the most of any DOE facility in the country.
LANL has committed $875,000 so far in regional economic development, made technical assistance available to small businesses, offered 5 percent preference to regional purchasing and $1.1 million in scholarships and grants to local schools and colleges.
It has also supported United Way by more than doubling last year's contributions.
The June 7 Los Alamos Monitor headline read "Lab budget sees cuts," which referred to the House Appropriation Committee zeroing out funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and a plutonium pit production center.
Cuts would also affect all funding for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility, Nuclear Safeguard and Security Upgrade Phase II and Advanced Scientific Computing, which would block funding to support the Roadrunner High Performance Computer acquisition for LANL.
Van Prooyen said the Roadrunner supercomputer will be able to compute in two minutes what the Cray I could do when it was installed 30 years ago.
He emphasized goals, improvements and changes will continue to happen in order to meet the vision and calm Congress' anxiety about Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Van Prooyen closed his speech by saying, "We will strive to meet the needs of our country through open honest communication. We need to listen to one another and understand each other's intentions."
Van Prooyen holds a B.S. in engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Virginia, was a National Security Fellow at Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, is a member of the American Nuclear Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Chemical Stockpile Demilitarization and currently serves on the National boards of the Armed Services YMCA and National Defense Industrial Association.
He is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star for Valor.
Originally from Napa, Calif., Van Prooyen now makes his home in Los Alamos with wife, Cindy.