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SRS staff dispute could take months

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A personnel shake-up at Savannah River Site involving veteran site manager Jeff Allison and others could take months to resolve, according to the U.S. Energy Department's assistant secretary for environmental management.

"To serve the community better and ensure we can efficiently fulfill our important mission, the Environmental Management Program is undertaking a staff reorganization that should be completed within the next few months," Dr. Ines Triay said Friday in a prepared statement. "Jeff Allison will be assisting Headquarters with the implementation of the reorganization while he continues to perform his duties as the Savannah River Site Manager."

Mr. Allison, the department's senior official since 2003, was said to be taking a new position at DOE's Washington headquarters as "manager of small sites." Dr. Triay announced the change earlier this week during a meeting in North Charleston, S.C., after which another headquarters official -- Dr. Vince Adams -- was introduced as "acting" site manager.

However, Mr. Allison -- in a series of e-mails made public earlier this week -- has said the reassignment was forced.

"I did not volunteer for this detail, in fact I was directed by Ines that I would go along with this detail and put a positive spin on it to my staff and stakeholders," he wrote, adding that he was later threatened that the offer of an executive headquarters position might be withdrawn by Dr. Triay as "retaliation" for his cooperation in an ongoing inquiry by the department's inspector general.

Also Friday, a department spokesman in Washington clarified that Dr. Adams is not the acting site manager but has the title of director of the Savannah River Recovery Act Program.

The team from the inspector general's office is interviewing site employees and auditing e-mails as it explores allegations of ethical misconduct involving the manner in which hiring was conducted for 3,000 jobs funded by $1.6 billion SRS received in stimulus funding.

In her statement Friday, Dr. Triay said she welcomes the investigation and expects all employees to cooperate.

"Concerns were raised recently at the Savannah River site about certain issues," she wrote. "I welcome the involvement of the Inspector General in helping to resolve these issues. I want and expect everyone to cooperate fully with the Inspector General. I will not tolerate or condone anyone being adversely affected for doing so."

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com

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