November 1999

Lab teams form to aid transition to UT-Battelle

The decision came early: A partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle has won out over a Universities Research Associates and Lockheed Martin team for the job of managing Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The decision, which came on October 20, cut at least two months off the wait for the announcement, which was initially expected in late December.

Between now and April 1, 2000, when UT–Battelle takes over, ORNL staff members can look forward to the necessary transition activities. Teams have already met to make plans for as smooth a changeover as possible.

“You’ll see changes at the top,” said ORO Manager Leah Dever at the news conference. “At lower levels, there won’t be a lot of significant change.” ORNL’s Director-designate, Bill Madia of Battelle, echoed Dever’s remarks, adding that, aside from preannounced top-level positions, there would be “very little change” to the Lab’s organizational structure.

Office of Science Associate Director Milton Johnson, who had responsibility for making the decision, said that the early announcement came because the process was ahead of schedule. He characterized the competing proposals as close. The deciding factor, he said, was that the UT–Battelle team acceded to a list of DOE’s terms and conditions mainly concerning liability, while the URA-LM team offered counterproposals that DOE determined would increase its costs.

Johnson said he outlined his decision before Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, who told him to “go for it.”

Also present at the news conference were Battelle President and CEO Doug Olesen and UT President Wade Gilley.

The new management team named so far includes current managers and figures with ties to the Lab. Gil Gilliland will stay on as associate director for energy. Jim Roberto will serve as associate director for physical and computational sciences. DOE specified that David Moncton continue leading the Spallation Neutron Source project.

Frank Harris, head of UT’s biology department, will be associate director for biological and environmental sciences. He has ORNL ties as does Lee Riedinger, currently the head of UT’s physics department, who will be deputy director for science and technology. Energy Systems’ Frank Akers will be associate director for national security at both ORNL and Y-12.

Battelle’s Jeff Smith will be deputy director of operations and UT’s Billy Stair has been named as director of communications. UT–Battelle will fill six more positions.

A 10-day “cooling off period” immediately following the announcement, in effect at press time, had many of the next-step transition activities on hold. There is a project transition team in place at ORNL, led by Engineering’s Tom Etheridge. The LMER teams, and the leaders, are

The Lab director come April 1, Bill Madia, sent a memo to staff via e-mail following the October 20 announcement that included the following:

“On behalf of our team, we are honored to join the outstanding staff of this great national laboratory and help contribute to what we see as a bright future.

“Transition to a new contractor raises numerous questions. During transition, we will be in regular communication with you regarding the content of our proposal, the plans and actions we proposed for ORNL, and especially the myriad of issues regarding staffing, organization and benefits. Until that time, you can contact us at

“We look forward to a long and prosperous future together.”—B.C.


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