Report details sequestration fallout

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NNSA > Furloughs may be on tap for LANL

By John Severance

The Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee released a report on sequestration.

The news did not look as bad for Los Alamos as it did for other National Nuclear Security Administration sites.

The report indicated that LANL would have to enact a furlough for more than 500 employees for about two weeks if Congress does not come up with a resolution before March 1.

It’s worse at other sites, according to the report.

Sequestration would require the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to furlough 700-1,000 of 4,500 employees for a period of up to six months.

The Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas will furlough up to 2,500 employees for 3 weeks. and Sandia National Labs will lay off up to 100 positions and forgo hiring staff to support the B61 bomb life extension program.

The report stated, “the NNSA plays a critical national security role in developing and maintaining the Nation’s nuclear deterrent. In the area of our nuclear weapons stockpile, efforts to refurbish and extend the life of several weapons systems would be delayed, including the B-61, leading to increased costs and impacts to deployment and readiness in the future.

“Sequestration would erode the security posture at sites and facilities by layoffs, workforce reassignments, and project deferrals. Sequestration would hamper the internal oversight function of DOE nuclear facilities and reduce the depth and frequency of audits and evaluations needed to ensure ongoing robust security operations.”

LANL Director Charlie McMillan said in an email to employees that workforce reduction was not a viable option in dealing with sequestration impacts.

McMillan said should sequestration occur, the lab would look at four main levers to reduce costs.

They include:
• Further controlling procurements

• Examining our subcontracted labor force

• Effectively using carryover balances, and
• Furlough of the permanent workforce for a short duration.

“I want to stress that once we see our official funding profile and decisions are made, you will hear it from me first. To date, absolutely no decisions have been made, nor are we taking actions,” McMillan wrote.

According to the report, cleanup also would be affected at various sites because thousands of contractor workers would face furloughs if sequestration is enacted.

“Up to 30 compliance  milestones across the complex would be delayed which could result in significant  fines and penalties,” the report states.

Sequestration would result in the suspension of shipments of  transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, cutting back operations  at the Oak Ridge on-site landfill, suspension of waste exhumation at Idaho,  delays in tank waste processing at Hanford and the Savannah River Site and  the suspension of plutonium processing at Savannah River’s H-Canyon facility.

In other news involving NNSA, Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor reported that Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, , earned a one-year  contract extension as part of its recently released Fiscal Year 2012 Performance Evaluation Review, but only after the help of a top NNSA official.

Acting NNSA Administrator Neile Miller, the agency’s Principal Deputy Administrator and Fee Determining  Official, increased the at-risk fee assessment of LLNS on its FY 2012 PER by  $541,527 to help the lab meet the 80 percent threshold for achieving an award  term extension to its contract

Miller also enacted a one-time waiver for LANL, which resulted in an extra year in its contract.