User Agreement

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is home to a number of highly sophisticated experimental facilities that have been designated by DOE as User Facilities. These research facilities, instruments, and laboratories are designed to serve ORNL researchers, engineers, and technical staff, as well as external researchers from universities, industries, foreign institutions and other government laboratories. Sharing these state-of-the-art facilities with the scientific, industrial, and technical communities provides access to unique and specialized technology, equipment and instrumentation without burdening the User with the astronomical capital costs of building such facilities.  Project results and data published by Users are valuable to the broader scientific and technical community and advance DOE's research mission.

Characteristics of User Agreements

User Agreements come in two major types, proprietary and non-proprietary. The characteristics of each, and the circumstances dictating choice between the two, are described below:

  • Non-Proprietary – appropriate when 1) all tasks will be directed toward non-proprietary research that advances the state of the art in the User's area of interest, rather than toward a commercial end result (e.g., a marketable product); 2) User intends to publish the research results in the open scientific literature; and 3) User does not require a proprietary level of protection for any of the output. The User may use proprietary data or software in performing the project, if all the project output is non-proprietary.
  • Proprietary – requires full cost recovery because the User does not want the results disseminated to the public. A proprietary agreement is also used when full-cost recovery is required, regardless of dissemination of results.  Laboratory staff are prohibited from collaborating with Users under Proprietary User Agreements.

The agreements provide an umbrella of terms and conditions that apply to all of a User's Institution Projects at any of ORNL's User Facilities, so the agreements need to be executed only once.  These agreements are to be signed by legally authorized officials of the User's Institution.  Many valid agreements signed prior to April 2012 require an additional, simple Appendix A to authorize work at one or more specific User Facilities.  For projects requiring cost recovery, a project-specific Invoice/Appendix A will be executed and advance payment collected prior to initiation of work.

Upon project completion, both non-proprietary and proprietary Users are required to provide a non-proprietary, publicly releasable report describing the work performed.  Authorship of publications based on research from these facilities should reflect the normal considerations of recognizing collaborations. Users are to report any publications that include research conducted at one of the User Facilities as directed by the specific User Facility. Users must include an acknowledgement on any publications that include work performed at ORNL. Users should refer to the specific User Facility web page for procedures regarding the acknowledgement of publications.

How Does My Company/Agency/University Engage the Laboratory for a User Partnership?

Prospective Users are encouraged to explore the capabilities of the various ORNL User Facilities and to consult with the facility contacts and scientists to determine the capabilities and availability at each User Facility. The following link will provide information about the User Facilities and how to become a User:  ORNL User Facilities.

Users must complete certain administrative requirements before access to ORNL User Facilities will be granted.  Access to the ORNL User Facilities is through the review and approval of proposals based on the scientific merit, suitability of the User Facilities and the appropriateness of the work to DOE objectives. 

Upon proposal approval, the ORNL Partnerships Directorate will work with the User's Institution to execute a User Agreement if one is not already in place.

After a User has been approved and scheduled for facility access, an email will be sent and information provided for the User to complete mandatory Site Access Training online. Users must also successfully complete any additional training needed to perform their experiments safely.

ORNL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory and access to ORNL is controlled by DOE and DOE policies. Acceptance of a proposal does not guarantee approval for access.

Advantages of User Agreements for the User

  • Users have access to one-of-a-kind facilities to accomplish leading-edge science and technology development.
  • Many facilities are available for use free of charge if the work being performed is non-proprietary and the User intends to publish results.
  • Proprietary work at unique facilities can be performed on a pay-as-needed basis, obviating the need and enormous cost for the User to recreate the facility.

Key ORNL Contacts for the User

Technical Contacts

A list of ORNL User Facilities, their descriptions, and links to their specific web sites can be found on the ORNL User Facility website.

Agreement Contacts

Users or potential Users wishing to discuss User Agreements should contact one of the following:

Cindy Kendrick; Telephone 865.241.6584, Email
Mark Reeves; Telephone 865.576.2577, Email