DOE extends UT-Battelle contract to manage ORNL
The Department of Energy has extended the contract for the University of Tennessee and Battelle Memorial Institute to co-manage Oak Ridge National Laboratory for another five years.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was joined by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, University of Tennessee Interim President Jan Simek and Battelle President Jeff Wadsworth in announcing the new contract during a visit by Chu to Oak Ridge. UT-Battelle, a joint venture between the two institutions, was first awarded the lab's management contract in April 2000.
"When a lab is being managed as well as Oak Ridge, it makes no sense not to extend the contract," Chu said. "…in this case Oak Ridge was being managed so well there was no need for a competition." The Secretary delivered the news before a group of approximately 350 ORNL and DOE staff.
Since 2000, the state of Tennessee has formed a close relationship with ORNL. Over this period the laboratory has become an increasingly important component of Tennessee's economic development strategy. The recent announcement by a major solar company to locate in Tennessee was credited in part to the opportunity for access to the expertise located in Oak Ridge.
Bredesen's participation in the announcement was evidence of the state's interest in the national laboratory. Bredesen said, "The success of the partnership between UT and Battelle has brought our state world-class expertise in research, high-performance computing, nanotechnology and other areas of science. This announcement ensures Tennessee will be well-positioned to continue to attract research investments and other economic benefits generated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory."
Under UT-Battelle management, the lab has grown from 3,700 to approximately 4,700 employees. During the same period, the laboratory's research portfolio has increased from $640 million to $1.6 billion.
Among the most dramatic changes has been a transformation of an outdated and expensive infrastructure that included dozens of inefficient buildings and miles of chain link fences. With support from the Department of Energy, the state of Tennessee and a creative program of third-party financing, the ORNL campus was rapidly transformed into one of the most attractive and modern research campuses in the DOE laboratory system.
ORNL's modernization included an expansion of science and technology facilities. The most prominent is the $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source, completed in 2006 as the world's most powerful pulsed neutron accelerator used in the study the structure of materials at the molecular level.
During UT-Battelle's tenure, Oak Ridge has also become the world's leading center for high-performance computing. ORNL's Jaguar supercomputer, capable of 2,300 trillion calculations per second, is the world's most powerful. UT's Kraken supercomputer, housed at ORNL, is the world's most powerful academic computer and ranks third overall.
Among the most significant developments under UT-Battelle has been the expansion of the partnership between ORNL and the University of Tennessee. Dating back to World War II, the partnership today includes five joint institutes, including four facilities on the ORNL campus dedicated to collaboration in biology, computing, neutron sciences and heavy ion research. The next phase of the partnership will be marked by the creation in 2010 of a new interdisciplinary graduate program in energy and engineering sciences that will include the use of ORNL research staff as UT faculty. The University's partnership with ORNL today includes approximately 60 faculty members with joint appointments and more than 100 students working at the lab. UT and lab officials expect that number to grow to more than 200 faculty and 500 graduate students with the new program.
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations