Laboratory Directed Research & Development

Proposal Guiding Principles


The Department of Energy (DOE) and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) encourages innovation, creativity, originality and quality to maintain the Laboratory’s research activities and staff at the forefront of science and technology. To further direct the Laboratory’s scientific research capabilities the Laboratory allocates a portion of its funds for the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. With DOE guidance, the LDRD program enables SLAC scientists to make rapid and significant contributions solving critical national science and technology problems. The project proposals can be characterized as:

  • Small-scale research and development activities or pilot projects;
  • Bench-scale research projects;
  • Computer modeling, conceptual design and feasibility studies.

It is possible that in addition to building core competencies that support the DOE missions the LDRD project proposals will also conduct scientific research and development that support the missions of other federal agencies and/or non-federal sponsors. A project’s relevance is established by the following criteria: a) a realistic potential for competing for follow-on funding by an agency, or b) the LDRD project directly advances the technical competencies at SLAC that another agency may need for work in which we competed and received the programmatic funding.

The Director establishes the level of LDRD funding for the coming fiscal year. SLAC has developed a formal process for allocation of these funds. The process relies on individual scientific investigators and the scientific leadership of the Laboratory identifying opportunities that will contribute to scientific and institutional goals. From year to year, the distribution of funds among the scientific program areas will change. This flexibility optimizes the Laboratory’s ability to respond to research opportunities and challenges.

Typically, approved project proposals supported by the LDRD program are bench-scale research or conceptual designs and do not involve modification to buildings or other structures. All LDRD activities are reviewed by the LDRD Program Manager for consistency with the LDRD Program Plan.

Planning for fund administration and management is developed by the Directorate Business Managers when project proposals are sent to the DOE Office of Science LDRD Program Director for approval. The LDRD Site Representative in CFO/Budget Office will review to ensure the integrity of the proposed budget.

Funds cannot be dispersed until DOE approval.

While funds can be granted to scientists at any time throughout the year there is an annual process for competing for the bulk of the funds. The Laboratory does not automatically extend or renew funds each year. Existing project proposals must reapply annually following the LDRD guidelines. The expected period of performance is up to three calendar years. Additional years are possible subject to DOE Office of Science approval.

Consistent with the DOE Order 413.2B, it is not possible to fund general purpose capital expenditures with the exception of acquisition of general purpose equipment that is clearly required for the project and is not otherwise readily available from laboratory inventory, fund projects requiring the addition of non-LDRD funds to accomplish the technical goals of the project, or substitute for or increase funding for any tasks for which a specific limitation has been established by Congress or the DOE, or for any specific tasks that are funded by DOE or collaborators.

The LDRD program internal guidelines and procedures are managed consistent with DOE Order 413.2B, and LDRD projects must meet SLAC environment, health, and safety requirements. This is normally accomplished with a review by SLAC Safety Oversight Committee (SOC) Chair. The chair calls on Subject Matter Experts who may in turn convene advisory committees. Consistent with NEPA goals, each LDRD project proposal is reviewed by NEPA Managers to determine the level of NEPA documentation, if any, that is required.

As previously indicated, the LDRD program contributes to the Laboratory’s scientific staff capability and vitality by supporting initial and exploratory work in forefront areas of science and technology that enrich Laboratory research and development core competencies. Areas eligible for support include:

  • Advanced study of new hypotheses, new concepts, and innovative approaches to scientific or technical problems;
  • Experiments directed towards "proof-of-principle" or early determination of the utility of new scientific ideas, technical concepts, or devices; and
  • Conception and preliminary technical analysis of experimental facilities or devices.

Within these eligible research areas, the LDRD program is conducted with a scale of effort using existing research facilities.

As in prior years, mission-oriented SLAC directors are encouraged to provide proposals. Assistant Laboratory Directors (ALDs) in AD, LCLS, SSRL, PPA, and PS may select and forward conceptual ideas to be considered for proposal development. ALDs evaluate and prioritize the proposals consistent with their field(s) and missions, and analyze the budget for each proposal and, if appropriate, recommend a revised budget.

For FY2014, SLAC refined the LDRD program with the addition of a second type of proposal that will provide the opportunity for investment in "high risk/high payoff" areas. Thus there will be two categories of proposals for the upcoming call:

  • Proposals intended to initiate and/or develop major new strategic directions.
  • "Discovery" proposals with higher scientific risk and potential.

Proposals that are cross-cutting and engage and leverage core capabilities across multiple directorates are welcomed. Collaborations will designate a lead investigator and home directorate.

Proposals are requested and reviewed annually by the Laboratory Director, and considered for multiyear funding at that time. The Laboratory Director will choose which project proposals to support, and require concurrence from the Department of Energy (DOE) before funding is approved.

Following is the process by which LDRD project proposals are called for and created, accepted and funded, begun and ended. Oversight responsibility is delegated to the LDRD Program Manager. Administrative questions on LDRD may be addressed to Mark Hartney, LDRD Program Manager.

  • ALDs, with guidance from Laboratory Director on funding level, call to lead scientists for project proposals.
  • Lead scientists submit project proposals to LDRD Program Manager within 45 days of the call following the LDRD Calendar.
  • LDRD Program Manager coordinates peer-reviewers (internal and external to SLAC) to review the project proposals.
  • Laboratory Director, with Executive Council, reviews and discusses project proposals.
  • Laboratory Director chooses final project proposals.
  • Laboratory Director submits LDRD Proposal Package to the DOE SSO for concurrence.
  • LDRD Program Manager coordinates NEPA review and approval of current year’s project proposals.
  • LDRD Program Manager receives LDRD Proposal Package approval from the DOE SSO.
  • LDRD Program Manager holds LDRD Program kick-off with lead scientists, and distributes project funds.
  • Lead scientists submit final reports to the LDRD Program Manager following the LDRD Calendar.

Proposals should be prepared using the proposal template. Proposals must meet the following requirements:

  • Proposal length cannot exceed three pages. A fourth page can contain the vita of the lead scientist, and citations to pertinent publications.
  • Budget request forms must be filled out and submitted with all proposals, accessible within the budget request template.
  • Proposals for continuing projects must include a statement of progress to date and current fiscal year plans within the three-page limit.
  • Provide a summary of the scientific concept including the motivation for the undertaking and the approach that will be used to conduct the investigation. Indicate how the project meets the general criteria of the LDRD Program and how it is tied to the DOE Mission.
  • State expected results and describe how they will impact the science.
  • Indicate the intent to use collaborators, postdoctoral research associates, and/or students.
  • Document proposal approval from the Department/Division Administrator, Department Chair/Division Manager, and ALD.
  • Upload completed proposals to the LDRD website.
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