Mark Zulim, Livermore Field Office’s (LFO) Maintenance Program Manager, navigates the SAFER portal’s home page.
Mark Zulim, Livermore Field Office’s (LFO) Maintenance Program Manager, navigates the SAFER portal’s home page.

In 2019, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) released three strategic vision documents outlining its vision as “One NNSA” for the Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE).  With eight sites, seven field offices, six program offices, five functional offices, and a workforce of more than 50,000 comprising the Enterprise, information sharing across One NNSA is a formidable challenge.

Further compounding the challenge, as NNSA’s workload increases in scope and complexity, the sum of the experience of its safety professionals is decreasing.  In fact, 40 percent of NNSA’s workforce is eligible to retire within the next five years.  So how do we equip our current and future workforce with modern tools that add value and efficiency to problem-solving and enable better knowledge management?

Enter SAFER.

SAFER, Safety, Analytics, Forecasting, Evaluation, and Reporting, is a cutting-edge software tool designed to connect with any database and extract information for the user in a simple and secure web browser – helping bridge the inevitable gaps that arise when using a variety of systems to address complex tasks.

SAFER organizes and synthesizes data, providing key notifications using algorithms and rules developed by experts from various facility, operational, and safety programs across the NNSA. By identifying important trends and providing timely notifications, SAFER lets NNSA personnel focus resources on areas in need of attention without sorting through large volumes of data. It also allows the Enterprise to make decisions based upon a holistic set of information. SAFER gives NNSA decisionmakers a better understanding of the complex, intertwined relationships among facilities, systems, events, issues, availability of resources, and metrics, and ultimately more insight into the health of NNSA’s safety management programs.

For example, last year, a team of innovative thinkers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) were tapped to lead the SAFER maintenance pilot with NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations. Together, they developed a prototype tool to streamline the process of collecting information from multiple sources and making it available in one location. The tool will provide NNSA with a clearer picture of the overall health of the operational and safety programs at each site and across the Enterprise.

The LLNL maintenance work order system was the first database to be integrated with SAFER but additional integration with other databases are planned in the future.

Overall, the SAFER project is looking to:

  • Understand the interdependencies, cause, and effects of safety systems
  • Actively measure and monitor the health and risk of safety systems
  • Increase the effectiveness and efficiencies of our workforce
  • Capture the knowledge of our workforce ensuring its availability across the Enterprise now and in the future.

With these long-term results in mind, the main short-term goal of SAFER is to develop tools for converting available data into useful information for decisionmakers to understand, communicate, and manage risks. To achieve this goal, NNSA needs to:

  • Offer a common operating platform for sharing information, and facilitating knowledge management across our workforce
  • Modernize safety functions to make analysis and operational tasks easier
  • Provide new capabilities in analysis and data visualizations to help convert data into actionable information
  • Provide new insights in information gathering and synthesis, to ensure we are measuring what matters, and using the information we gather.

“The long-term outcomes of this effort will enable decisionmakers to leverage resources and cross-enterprise knowledge to support healthy safety management groups,” said Jim McConnell, NNSA’s Associate Administrator of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations. “But the possibilities of SAFER’s future use across NNSA are endless.”

When completed, SAFER will encompass at least 13 safety management programs.  The development of each element, such as maintenance, fire protection, and criticality safety, is led by the most senior most subject matter expert in the given field.  The knowledge of the expert is captured through extensive interviews and encoded using computer algorithms that ‘mimic’ how they think.  The purpose of the expert algorithms is not to replace the experts, but to pass on knowledge to future generations of Nuclear Security Enterprise personnel.

NNSA’s SAFER is using innovation to enhance the efforts of our workforce, capture the impact of safety on our missions, and foster healthy, robust, and proactive safety management systems.  Ultimately, NNSA is ensuring that we are 50,000 strong; working from a single source of truth, and as an integrated organization that learns as work is performed and experiences are captured, enhancing the safety and security of our Nation.