March 24, 2015

Udall, Heinrich Introduce Bill to Boost Funding for Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program

LDRD program advances the frontiers of science and engineering, invests in critical national security missions, and helps recruit and retain staff for national laboratories

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich introduced S.830, the LDRD Enhancement Act of 2015, a bill to increase the maximum percentage each laboratory director may set aside for Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) from 6 to 10 percent of the lab's budget. The U.S. Department of Energy's discretionary LDRD program advances the frontiers of science and engineering, invests in critical national security missions, and helps recruit and retain staff for national laboratories.

"Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories produce some of the most innovative research and technology in the country while providing a crucial foundation for New Mexico's economy," Udall said. "Encouraging investment in laboratory-directed research and development will open up more opportunities for high-risk innovation in energy and national security, attracting top scientific talent to New Mexico and ensuring our labs stay strong well into the future."

"This bill supports the national security missions at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, while allowing scientists and engineers to pursue solutions to some of our nation's most pressing energy, security, and environmental challenges," Heinrich said. "The LDRD program is a powerful recruitment tool that attracts and retains some of the brightest minds from across the country. The program also fosters collaboration between our labs and small businesses that often results in innovative products, spinoff ideas, and new jobs."

Senators Udall and Heinrich are staunch supporters of the LDRD program. Senator Udall has long promoted diversification of New Mexico's national labs, which in turn supports the science and engineering behind the core nuclear security missions. Senator Udall will continue to fight for LDRD and technology transfer programs as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as strong funding to support the men and women carrying out the national security priorities at our national labs. During a Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing earlier this month, Senator Heinrich discussed the impacts and benefits of funding the LDRD program. Last September, Senator Heinrich met with representatives from Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory where they presented their latest LDRD projects.

A copy of the bill is available here.

Last month the U.S. Department of Energy's Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories released an interim report highlighting the invaluable contributions of our national labs. The study included the benefits of the LDRD program. A copy of the report is available here.