User Agreement

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is home to a number of highly sophisticated experimental user facilities. These research facilities, instruments, and laboratories are designed to serve ORNL researchers, engineers, and technical staff, as well as external researchers from universities, industries, foreign institutions and other government laboratories. Sharing these state-of-the-art facilities with the scientific, industrial, and technical communities provides access to unique and specialized technology, equipment and instrumentation without burdening the user with the astronomical capital costs of building such facilities.

Characteristics of User Agreements

User Agreements come in two types; proprietary and non-proprietary. The characteristics of each, and the circumstances dictating choice between the two, are described below:

  • Non-Proprietary – appropriate when 1) all tasks will be directed toward non-proprietary research that advances the state of the art in the user's area of interest, rather than toward a commercial end result (e.g., a marketable product); 2) user intends to publish the research results in the open scientific literature; and 3) user does not require a proprietary level of protection for any of the output. The user may use proprietary data or software in performing the project, if all the project output is non-proprietary.
  • Proprietary – requires full cost recovery because the user does not want the results disseminated to the public. A proprietary agreement is also used when full-cost recovery is required, regardless of dissemination of results.

Individual user projects to be conducted under a User Agreement are described in, and approved through the use of, a form called an "Appendix A." This is a simple, one-page document providing a general statement of the work to be performed at the designated facility, the period of performance, incorporation of any special provisions for the facility and billing arrangements, if any. Different embodiments of the Appendix A are described below:

  • Project-Specific Appendix A – executed when costs are involved. Advance payment is required prior to initiation of work.
  • Facility-Specific Appendix A – authorizes the user institution's work at a particular ORNL facility. Appendix A is part of the "master" agreement and delineates the general purpose, term, and special provisions, if any. Facility access is controlled through proposal review and approval, scheduling, and badging.

Authorship of publications based on research from these facilities should reflect the normal considerations of recognizing collaborations. It is expected that the users report any publications that include research conducted at one of the user facilities to the User Office of the specific facility. Users must include an acknowledgement on all publications that include work performed at ORNL. Users should refer to their user facility web page for procedures regarding the acknowledgement of publications. A sponsor acknowledgement statement should also appear on all publications that include work done at a user facility at ORNL. Users should refer to their user facility web page for procedures regarding the acknowledgement of publications.

How Does My Company/Agency/University Engage the Laboratory for a User Partnership?

Prospective Users are encouraged to explore the capabilities of the various ORNL User Facilities and to consult with the facility contacts and scientists to determine the capabilities and availability at each user facility. The following link will provide much needed information in this regard: /user-facilities.

Users must complete certain administrative requirements before access to ORNL User Facilities will be granted. Access to the ORNL User Facilities is through the review and approval of user proposals which depends on the scientific merit, suitability of the user facilities and the appropriateness of the work to DOE objectives. The information links on the web page linked above will assist you in becoming an ORNL user.

Prospective users are encouraged to preview the proposal forms and initiate contact with appropriate ORNL research staff early in the proposal development process to ensure familiarity with the proposal requirements and to gage the feasibility and time requirements of the research being proposed.

Upon proposal approval, your company will work with the ORNL Partnerships Directorate to complete the process to execute a user agreement with the user facility.

In order to have unescorted access at ORNL, you must complete the required Site Access Training (SAT) prior to your arrival. After a user has been scheduled for a facility and approved for access, an email will be sent and information provided for the user to take the Site Access Training online electronically. In addition to SAT, all users are required to successfully complete the training needed to perform their experiment safely.

ORNL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory and access to ORNL is controlled by DOE and DOE policies. Acceptance of an experiment proposal does not imply approval for access.

Advantages of User Agreements for the User

  • Access to one-of-a-kind facilities to accomplish leading-edge science and technology development.
  • Many facilities available for use free of charge if the work being performed is non-proprietary.
  • Proprietary work at unique facilities can be performed on a pay-as-needed basis, obviating the need for the User to recreate the facility available at ORNL at enormous cost.

Key ORNL Contacts for the User

Technical Contacts:

Prospective Users should seek to learn about the various User Facilities available at ORNL. A list of ORNL User Facilities, as well as descriptions of each facility and key technical contacts, can be found on the ORNL User Facility website.

Agreement Contacts:

Sponsors or potential Sponsors wishing to discuss User Agreements should contact one of the following:

Cindy Kendrick; Telephone 865.241.6584, Email
Mark Reeves; Telephone 865.576.2577, Email


We're always happy to get feedback from our users. Please use the Comments form to send us your comments, questions, and observations.