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Contractor Assurance

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Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) is managed and operated by Fermi Research Alliance (FRA), LLC, under Contract DE-AC02-07CH11359 (the Prime Contract) with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science (SC). The Prime Contract's Clause H.13, Contractor Assurance System, requires FRA to develop a Contractor Assurance System (CAS) that is owned jointly the three parties: DOE as sponsor/steward, the M&O contractor as holder of the Prime Contract, and the laboratory as performer of the work.  At Fermilab, CAS is managed and overseen through the Office of the Chief Operating Officer. FRA executes the Prime Contract by employing 16 management systems that encompass all work activities and applies to all personnel performing work at Fermilab and Fermilab leased spaces including subcontractors and guests. The management systems are periodically reviewed and improved through a variety of devices including self-assessments, peer reviews, benchmarking efforts, and operational readiness reviews.

Fermilab views the Contractor Assurance Program as the primary tool for demonstrating operations are compliant, safe, secure, efficient, and providing quality products and services to our customers.  Assurance activities cut across every function within the laboratory and are used as a learning vehicle to highlight and facilitate change and continual improvement.

By the Prime Contract, the CAS, at a minimum, must include the following key attributes:

  1. A comprehensive description of the assurance system with processes, key activities, and accountabilities clearly defined.
  2. A method for verifying/ensuring effective assurance system processes. Third party audits, peer reviews, independent assessments, and external certification ( VPP, ISO, etc.) may be used.
  3. Timely notification of the DOE-Fermi Site Office (FSO) Contracting Officer of significant assurance system changes prior to changes.
  4. Rigorous, risk-based, credible self-assessments, and feedback and improvement reviews to assess and improve Fermilab's work process and to carry out independent risk and vulnerability studies.
  5. Independent verification and correction of negative performance/compliance trends before they become significant issues.
  6. Integration of assurance system with other management systems including Integrated Safety Management (ISM).
  7. Metrics and targets to assess performance, including benchmarking of key functional areas with other DOE contractors, industry and research institutions. Assure development of metrics and targets that result in efficient and cost effective performance.
  8. Continuous feedback and performance improvement.
  9. An implementation plan (if needed) that considers and mitigates risks.
  10. Timely and appropriate communication to the FSO Contracting Officer, including electronic access, of assurance related information.

What does this mean for Fermilab?  The mission of the laboratory is to advance research and innovation in key areas of science and engineering (primarily related to particle physics and accelerators).  The sixteen, cross-cutting management systems under the CAS govern how Fermilab carries out that mission, not what it does. That is, CAS drives Fermilab toward efficiency and integrity, and the mission drives operational performance and impact.

Fermilab makes every reasonable effort to ensure sufficient internal controls and oversight systems are in place and operating properly to ensure:

  • the prompt identification of deficiencies and opportunities for improvement,
  • the prompt and accurate reporting of deficiencies and improvement opportunities to the responsible laboratory managers, DOE, or other authorities, and
  • the timely and effective implementation of corrective actions.

The Fermilab Assurance Council (AC) is a key element of contractor assurance. The members of the AC are Management System owners and major process owners. The AC identifies and tracks issues that arise though an awareness of changes in the laboratory's operating environment, applicable laws and regulations, self-assessments, and the various review processes of the laboratory.