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Argonne National Laboratory Cuts Jobs

Federal Funding: Uncertainty over future Department of Energy budget forces laboratory to reassess its fiscal health

by Rajendrani Mukhopadhyay
August 15, 2011

Anticipated future battles in Congress over the Department of Energy’s research funding levels have prompted one of the department’s oldest and largest laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), to lay off 48 workers last week. The layoffs, in the offices of the director and laboratory operations, follow an assessment of ANL’s financial situation and R&D budget uncertainties, Director Eric Isaacs said in a memorandum to staff.

“The ongoing national debate about America’s investment in scientific research has made us keenly aware of the need to achieve our mission more efficiently and to find ways to reduce spending wherever possible,” Isaacs said.

Combined with the 27 employees who took voluntary buyouts earlier this year, the 75 personnel cuts are expected to save the laboratory $13 million per year, he said. Prior to the buyouts and layoffs, the laboratory had about 3,200 employees. Its annual operating budget is $640 million.

The layoffs were “a difficult decision, and one that none of us takes lightly,” Isaacs continued. “By trimming our operations and refocusing on the bottom line, we are demonstrating our fiscal responsibility, improving the delivery and effectiveness of our mission support functions, and safeguarding the laboratory’s ability to do groundbreaking science in the months and years ahead.”

In addition to the personnel cuts, ANL has designed and implemented a “reorganization plan,” which goes into effect on Aug. 15, and aims to streamline operations and save money.


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