Three Questions For Karen Lingua on PSPS

October 15, 2020

Last year the Lab was faced with several Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) which provided unique challenges to a large scientific community such as the Lab.

Karen Lingua is a Procurement Program Manager in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO). As Finance Section Chief in the Emergency Operations Center, Karen, in rotation with two of her peers from OCFO, plays a vital role by providing financial support that is unique to the emergency.

How long have you been a member of the EOC, and was last year’s PSPS your first real, as opposed to drill, emergency?

I first joined the EOC in mid-2013. For many years supporting the EOC meant annual training and desktop exercises. Only recently has it become a lot more interesting. The PSPS events in 2019 were not my first real emergency. In prior years there had been smaller events.

We hear about the work that the electricians and building managers do during an emergency, but one doesn’t normally think about money. What role does spending money play in an emergency?

Every day the OCFO supports the Lab’s scientific mission with financial and procurement stewardship. During an EOC event, OCFO support includes procuring items to ensure the continuing operations of the Laboratory (examples include generators and fuel, lab equipment, and repair services). The Finance Section Chief also tries to ensure that no unallowable costs are created during the event and establishes the financial structure to capture costs related to the emergency activities.

What key learning are you carrying over from last year into planning for this year?

One of the key strengths of the OCFO is collaboration, which starts with Minh Huebner, our Chief Financial Officer and her senior staff, and includes every OCFO employee. During last year’s PSPS events, I saw that collaboration in action. Cross functional teams quickly solved urgent problems and ensured the best outcome for the Lab. This year the OCFO is taking what we learned to do early planning so we can be even more efficient during emergency situations.