America is currently facing energy, security, and environmental challenges that, in their scope and complexity, are perhaps unparalleled in the nation’s history. The national laboratories are charged with providing scientific breakthroughs needed to develop long-term solutions to those challenges.
In 1992, Congress authorized Los Alamos and the other national laboratories to initiate the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. The program was set up to foster a research environment conducive to scientific innovation and provide critical financial support necessary to execute world-class science and engineering.
Investing in Science and Technology
The LDRD program is a prestigious source of research and development (R&D) funding awarded through a rigorous and highly competitive peer-review process.
As the sole source of discretionary R&D funding at the Laboratory, LDRD resources are carefully invested in high-risk, potentially high-payoff activities that build technical capabilities and explore ways to meet future mission needs.
As a result, many of the Laboratory’s most exciting innovations—from energy security to large-scale infrastructure modeling and from actinide science to nuclear nonproliferation and detection—can be traced to LDRD investment.
Return on Investment
Funded with approximately 6 percent of the Laboratory’s budget, the LDRD program yields an exceptional return on a relatively small investment. The technical output of LDRD researchers—patent disclosures, peer-reviewed publications, and publications cited by other authors—typically accounts for fully one-quarter of the Laboratory’s total.
More important, LDRD gives the Laboratory the means to recruit and retain the finest scientific talent. The program traditionally supports more than half of the postdocs at the Laboratory and more than half of the conversions from postdoc to regular full-time staff member.
It is the role of the national laboratories, and especially the national security laboratories, to advance the science that will form the foundation of tomorrow’s technology. Through our robust LDRD program, Los Alamos will be able to sustain the scientific workforce required to meet the nation’s long-term national security science needs.