Thursday, Nov. 13, 2003
Chris Harrington (202) 974-6300


As part of its ongoing commitment to strengthen the management of the UC-managed national laboratories, the University of California announced today (Thursday, Nov. 13) a new management organization that initially includes a strengthened internal organization and a new UC Laboratory Management Council. The organizational changes take effect immediately.

These actions by the university follow the recent appointment of retired Admiral S. Robert Foley as vice president for laboratory management and come a week before action is expected to be taken by the University of California Board of Regents to establish a National Securities Laboratories Board of Directors.

"This represents a continuation of a series of changes to improve performance that have been undertaken by the University of California over the course of the last year," Foley said. "In addition to the business practice improvements that we have undertaken at the national laboratories, we also want to assure that we have the best and most effective university management in place."

Key among the changes is the creation of two associate vice president positions reporting to the vice president for laboratory management -- one to oversee laboratory operations and administration and the other to oversee laboratory programs. Robert Van Ness has been named associate vice president for laboratory operations. Van Ness has been with the University of California for the past decade and prior to joining UC he served in senior executive positions both in the federal government and with private industry.

The associate vice president for laboratory programs position will be filled by John Birely, who has held numerous senior leadership positions with the Department of Defense and advising the U.S. Strategic Command and Defense Intelligence Agency. Birely also has a strong relationship with the national laboratories, including serving at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, one of three national laboratories managed by UC.

The new management includes the appointment of Merna Hurd as special assistant to the vice president for laboratory management and the appointment of Buck Koonce as deputy associate vice president for operations. Hurd currently serves as deputy to the deputy director of operations at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is also managed by UC. Koonce previously worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has been with the University of California Office of the President for the past 10 years.

UC's middle laboratory management is further strengthened with the establishment of four executive director positions that include executive directors for business and finance, contracts and administration, programs, and science and technology. The executive director positions for programs and science and technology will be rotated among staff appointments from the UC-managed national laboratories. The timing and duration of appointments are being determined.

Under the new management model, the University of California is also establishing a Laboratory Management Council that will leverage the professional skills, expertise, experiences and manpower already available in UC's functional organizations to enhance effective and efficient operation of the national laboratories.

"The UC Laboratory Management Council will broaden our outreach and take advantage of the exceptional resources that are within the University of California," said Van Ness. "The council will allow us to bring the expertise of the University of California's functional operations, including the offices of financial management and human resources and benefits to the management and oversight of the laboratories."

The UC Laboratory Management Council will have the responsibility to develop, issue and implement appropriate corporate policy as well as advise the vice president for laboratory management on numerous issues including effectiveness of internal controls, performance improvements and identified risk areas. In addition, the UC Laboratory Council will participate in key laboratory hires for functional positions.

For more information regarding the upcoming regental action regarding the National Securities Laboratories Board of Directors, please see the regent's agenda at

The University of California manages the three national laboratories on behalf of the Department of Energy. Today, Livermore and Los Alamos laboratories each employ more then 8,000 UC staff and have combined annual operating budgets exceeding $3.5 billion, while Berkeley Lab has approximately 4,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $500 million.

The three laboratories are major sources of scientific and technical strength for the nation in fields ranging from national security to basic physics, biotechnology, climate studies, computer development, materials science, energy, and the environment. The laboratories contribute to the country's economic competitiveness through research partnerships with industry and engage in math and science education for students and teachers at all levels.

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