Audit finds $7.7 million overpaid to 526 SRS workers

Audit finds $7.7 million given in severance compensation

Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 12:25 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 2:10 AM
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Savannah River Nuclear Solutions paid out $7.7 million in unnecessary separation payments to stimulus-funded workers at Savannah River Site, according to a new audit report by the U.S. Energy Department’s Inspector General.

The study examined American Recovery & Reinvestment Act spending at the two Energy Department facilities that received the largest share of stimulus dollars for environmental management programs. SRS, which received $1.615 billion, was second only to the Hanford Plant in Richland, Wash., which received $1.633 billion.

Though management contractors at both sites emphasized to workers they were being hired for temporary projects, “the transition approach adopted at Savannah River has resulted in unnecessary payments of nearly $7.7 million to separated contractor employees,” auditors concluded.

Rather than provide workers with a required 60-day notice of separation – as contractors at Hanford properly did – SRNS opted instead to pay 526 workers an additional 60 days pay above and beyond the usual severance compensation, the report said. “This decision resulted in payments for which the Department received no direct benefit.”

The sum computes to a per-employee average of $14,638.

“We are concerned that it may not have been reasonable or equitable to provide terminated employees in Savannah River with additional payments beyond the suite of benefits provided to similarly situated employees in Hanford,” auditors wrote, noting also that the Energy Department is partly responsible for the problem. The department’s headquarters failed to provide formal guidance on the separation payment issue, the report said. “Instead, site contractors were allowed to decide whether to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice.”

The inspector general recommended further review of separation payment programs and development of formal guidance from headquarters in future situations.

Jim Giusti, an Energy Department spokesman at SRS, said Savannah River Nuclear Solutions will not be asked to repay the funds.

“DOE headquarters approved the plan, so they basically did what we told them to do,” he said. “ The inspector general has come back and said there is a better way of doing this.” SRS management agrees with the report and its findings, Giusti added. “But as far as a penalty or anything, the answer is no.”

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farrowtrent
0
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farrowtrent 02/27/12 - 01:34 pm
0
0
wow

wow

TrulyWorried
14535
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TrulyWorried 02/27/12 - 01:37 pm
2
0
Good grief - what else can

Good grief - what else can there be? Everywhere they are spending the taxpayers' money with no accountability! What does it take to turn this whole mess that is getting bigger and bigger around??

Sweet son
10547
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Sweet son 02/27/12 - 01:43 pm
0
0
Can't even think of anything

Can't even think of anything to say that Sean would not pull! Sickening!

TParty
6003
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TParty 02/27/12 - 02:28 pm
0
2
Look at these poor people,

Look at these poor people, deciding the mooch off the system, deciding to stay home and have babies while we pay for them. I cannot believe we are paying these people not to work, bunch of welfare babies...

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 02/27/12 - 02:29 pm
1
1
And I would guess on top of

And I would guess on top of that, they are still eligilble for their 99 weeks of unemployment. What a wonderful, wonderufl, world!

SCEagle Eye
917
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SCEagle Eye 02/27/12 - 02:49 pm
2
0
SRS is on track to become

SRS is on track to become even more dependent on big government. The $7.7 million but a mere fraction of the billions which SRS and contractors are aiming for. Keep your fiscal conservative eyes on the bigger schemes - like plutonium fuel(MOX) which is eating up billions on top of wasted billions.

bdouglas
5131
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bdouglas 02/27/12 - 03:02 pm
1
2
So they got paid for 60 days

So they got paid for 60 days in exchange for immediately being laid off, rather than getting 60 days notice before being laid off. How exactly is this causing a big stink, then? All these stories do is give people who complain about the place with no direct knowledge more ammunition in their quest to be king complainer.

TParty: Seriously? Welfare babies? At SRS? Right.

rmwardsr: They will be eligible for unemployment at the same time you would be, minus a set waiting period, just like you or anyone else would be had the same happened to you at any other employer.

TrulyWorried
14535
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TrulyWorried 02/27/12 - 03:24 pm
0
1
bd - I think we are a few

bd - I think we are a few bucks short when it comes to adding up what was paid -- wonder where the rest of the money went. I think my old way of arithmetic (pen and paper) came up with a much smaller sum.
Am I right folks, let's get this right!

bdouglas
5131
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bdouglas 02/27/12 - 03:30 pm
1
1
TW- How do you figure?

TW- How do you figure? Multiply that average times 6 for 12 months and you come out a couple K shy of $90K per year. Multiply the 14,638 average times 526 workers and you get $7.7 million. I hope you used a pencil...

follower
59
Points
follower 02/27/12 - 03:35 pm
0
1
Bet there's no chance of

Bet there's no chance of holding the folks that received extra money responsible huh? Out of 526 people, are we to assume that none of them were honest enough to let someone know they were getting money that they didn't earn?

If the bank gives you too much change, is it right to keep it?

freespeach
4
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freespeach 02/27/12 - 03:37 pm
0
0
Bdouglas, SRS knew months
Unpublished

Bdouglas, SRS knew months ahead of time when the stimulus money would end. There was absolutely no need for "immediately being laid off" if that was the case. This was p poor management and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. SRNS should be made to pay the money back.
SRS is poorly run. This is just ANOTHER example!
I'm tired of SRS ripping off taxpayers and getting away with it.

freespeach
4
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freespeach 02/27/12 - 03:42 pm
0
0
A per-employee average of
Unpublished

A per-employee average of $14,638 for 60 days pay?
This would mean that the average annual pay of these temporary workers was $89,047!

bdouglas
5131
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bdouglas 02/27/12 - 03:46 pm
1
0
Are you people even reading

Are you people even reading the story? These people were given severance of 60 days pay IN EXCHANGE for not being given advance notice of their pending layoff. It was either that or tell them they're getting laid off 60 days before it happens. Either way it's 60 days pay. And if you think they would've done much in that 60 days, think again.

follower
59
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follower 02/27/12 - 03:59 pm
0
0
bdouglas, you're right, I

bdouglas, you're right, I didn't read carefully.

freespeach
4
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freespeach 02/27/12 - 04:13 pm
0
0
Bdouglas, these people should
Unpublished

Bdouglas, these people should have been given proper notice. They knew the job was going to end going in. It's not like it was a surprise. If they didn't perform their job well enough in the last 60 days, fire them. If they had been given proper notice, the would have received a total of 2 years pay. Instead, they receved 2 years and 60 days pay. Bottom line: This cost the taxpayers another $7.7 million! Your type of thinking is typical of SRS employees and contractors. You just don't get it. It's an extra $7.7 million of taxpayer dollars that were unnecessarily spent!

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 02/27/12 - 04:21 pm
1
3
You know, this was stimulus
Unpublished

You know, this was stimulus money that kept hundreds of people employed in the CSRA at the height of the recession, right? If you have any friends who were working at SRS on one of these contracts, the ONLY reason they had a job and were not "mooching off the system" was because the federal government gave SRS the money to hire contract employees and to keep the people they already employed on the payroll. Without that money, hundreds of jobs would have been lost and a lot more people int he CSRA would have become 99ers a lot faster, long before the economy began to show signs of turning around. Most of them got laid off a few months back. But with the expansion of Plant Vogtle getting underway, they have opportunities to do contract jobs out there or they may be able to enter the construction industry because of the housing needs the Plant Vogtle expansion will generate.

The SRS contract employees received a severance package that is pretty much exactly like what many city, state, and federal employees received to retire a couple years early during the depths of the recession. When a company or the government wants to save some money on paying benefits for a worker who had technically reached retirement age but may be three years short of actually earning their pension, the employer offers the employee a buy out. That buy out usually involves giving them credit for the three years they need to achieve pension and paying them a severance package of several months pay as reward for cooperating. The overall effect is to remove them from the benefits costs and reduce the amount to paid to them by about 40% (pensions are often only 60% of what your salary was when you retired).

SRS gave their contract employees a buy out. Instead of keeping them on the job doing nothing for two months, SRS bought out those two months. Either way, those contractors would have been paid two months salary. Did SRS do it the right way? Apparently not, since this investigating body seems to think SRS should have been more aware of when the work would end and should have given the contractors two months notice of when the work would end to avoid paying the buy out money. However, if the rules were not in place or they were not clear, SRS had the right to handle the situation however it pleased.

Some of you just hate to see that any of Obama's stimulus was effective, especially in your own backyard. In point of fact, GA received hundreds of millions in stimulus money for road projects, education, airport maintenance and expansions (including Bush Field), among other things. SRS just happened to be the big stimulus beneficiary in the CSRA. if SRS had had to lay off hundreds of people and had not had the ability to hire hundreds of people who had been laid off from other jobs, the CSRA could have seen 12-15% unemployment two years ago. That didn't happen because of the stimulus.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 02/27/12 - 04:31 pm
0
0
Does each of our local county

Does each of our local county governments have an inspector general?

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 02/27/12 - 04:32 pm
0
0
Does each of our local county

Does each of our local county governments have an inspector general?

freespeach
4
Points
freespeach 02/27/12 - 04:34 pm
0
0
Of course, $7.7 million is
Unpublished

Of course, $7.7 million is just a drop in the bucket in terms of the waste.
Does anyone think SRS can show taxpayers that we got our money's worth out of their 1.615 BILLION DOLLAR stimulus allotment?
Do you think you, as a taxpayer, would have done a better job with your money if you had held on to your tax money yourself instead of giving it to the federal government to allocate on your behalf, as in this example?

freespeach
4
Points
freespeach 02/27/12 - 04:47 pm
0
0
Fools_and_sages, exactly how
Unpublished

Fools_and_sages, exactly how many real jobs were created or saved over this 2 year period? Then divide $1.615 BILLION by that number and tell us how much it costed us per job. I'm eager to hear your answer. Or if anyone at SRS can give us this information, I'm all ears.

bdouglas
5131
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bdouglas 02/27/12 - 05:46 pm
0
0
@Craig: That was the DOE's

@Craig: That was the DOE's inspector general, not any county's.

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 02/27/12 - 06:54 pm
1
1
bdouglas, I am aware of the

bdouglas, I am aware of the way the unemployment benefits system works. According to the article, they were paid for the additional two months rather than stand around and do nothing every day and get paid. I have no problem with that.The article does not say exactly what period their severance pay covered, only that they were paid for the additional two months over and above the severance pay. Depending on their lifestyle, the $14,638 mentioned in the article will either tide them over until their unemployment benefits kick in, or they will squander it all and have to find work. Most severance contracts are for six months pay, and with the additionsl two months tacked on, those employees will not even be able to file an unemployment claim until late in the year. I really don't see what the stink is about, I guess everyone would be complaining if the article had been about them getting paid to play cards for two months. In this economy, I am glad they were taken care of.

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 02/27/12 - 07:02 pm
1
1
Fools-and-sages, I really do

Fools-and-sages, I really do not think this was a result of Obama's stimulus program being successful. These people still wound up unemployed, and a majority of them will be on our unemployment rolls for 99 weeks. So with their severance packages, they have no motivation to work or seek work for the next three years. Don't get me wrong, I am glad they have been compensated in such a generous manner, but what you apparently don't understand, that is part of making them dependent on the government.

KSL
131267
Points
KSL 02/27/12 - 09:54 pm
1
1
So Obama's stimulus money was

So Obama's stimulus money was dumped into temporary jobs, and had it been rightly placed and the economy actually allowed to recover by getting rid of instead of propping up failing businesses, it might have worked (has in the past). But no, the intent was political payback for past support or future votes, or as stated above, to make more people government dependent.

KSL
131267
Points
KSL 02/27/12 - 10:09 pm
1
1
Anyone wanting to complain

Anyone wanting to complain about this best be complaining about stimulus money going to businesses without a chance of being solvent down the road, translation: so called green energy companies without a prayer of making it.

sand gnat
523
Points
sand gnat 02/28/12 - 12:55 am
1
0
It's always easy to spend

It's always easy to spend "free" money.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 02/28/12 - 08:10 am
0
0
At the end of 60 days you
Unpublished

At the end of 60 days you still would have a smaller workforce and less payroll. These people are not welfare babies or people used to taking handouts.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 02/28/12 - 08:30 am
0
0
7.7M? Let's see how much

7.7M? Let's see how much more the USDOE IG will find when they return to subject SRNS to more extensive and scrupulous scrutiny.

Little Lamb
46392
Points
Little Lamb 02/28/12 - 08:45 am
0
2
Truckinranger posted: These

Truckinranger posted:

These people are not welfare babies or people used to taking handouts.

They weren't; but they are getting used to it now.

SCEagle Eye
917
Points
SCEagle Eye 02/28/12 - 09:43 am
0
0
The bigger problem is that

The bigger problem is that DOE has created financially and psychologically dependent communities around the large DOE nuclear sites. While the clean-up missions must be pursued and that's where the focus must remain, the sites don't know anything but dependency on big government. Efforts to bring in private business to SRS are so vague and lacking in detail as to where the money will come from that it appears that all roads lead back to the federal pocket book. Strange business for a community that thinks itself "conservative" but may well really be quite the opposite.

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