In a video shared with workers, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions officials said the funding challenge is significant and has the greatest effect on environmental management projects, where the shortfall amounts to a 25 percent reduction that became apparent in September, just weeks before the 2013 budget year began Oct. 1.
Steps taken to reduce costs include eliminating 341 employees through voluntary separation and the release of about 440 staff augmentation and craft workers.
So far, the cost-cutting efforts have enabled the company to save about $70 million, said Jim Hanna, the senior vice president of corporate services.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to be as efficient as we can,” he said.
Employees were also briefed on a plan to operate only with essential personnel during the three holiday weeks, when most workers will be urged to use vacation time. Hanna said workers who stay home during the holiday weeks have enough leave time to ensure they will be paid.
“Based on the timing of this effort, we do not foresee anyone without enough vacation time to charge it to their time bank,” he said.
A new stipulation requires workers to use all leave time earned during fiscal 2013 during the year, he said.
Until the budget issues can be resolved with the U.S. Department of Energy and its congressional funding sources, the priorities are first to meet regulatory commitments, then to ensure continued operations at H Canyon and retention of core competencies at the Savannah River National Laboratory, Hanna said.