Audit questions MOX plant temporary worker expenses

Monday, May 20, 2013 12:28 PM
Last updated Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:15 AM
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The contractor building the mixed oxide fuel plant at Savannah River Site might have overbilled the government as much as $3.7 million for temporary subcontractor living expenses, according to a new report.

The MOX plant at SRS, almost 60 percent complete, is the focus of an audit that questioned living expenses for temporary subcontractors.  SPECIAL
The MOX plant at SRS, almost 60 percent complete, is the focus of an audit that questioned living expenses for temporary subcontractors.

The payments to Shaw AREVA MOX Services, made from 2007 to 2012, were identified in an audit released Monday by the U.S. Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General.

The audit disclosed that MOX Services had not effectively managed its temporary living expense program and could have overbilled the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“Specifically, we concluded that, since January 2007, MOX Services was reimbursed about $3.7 million for inappropriate temporary living expenses for staff augmentation employment,” auditors said, calling those expenses “excessive and inconsistent with MOX Services’ policies.”

The MOX project, designed to dispose of surplus plutonium by blending it into commercial reactor fuel, has suffered from a shortage of qualified personnel, prompting a greater need for “temporary” subcontract employees, the report said.

However, auditors found many instances of temporary subcontractors who exceeded the two-year limit for temporary living expenses, with some workers exceeding that limit by as much as 2.5 additional years. “In fact, we determined that collectively these subcontractors could have been paid more than $2.31 million for temporary living expenses after passing the two-year limit applied to corporate employees.”

An additional $1.4 million was paid for subcontractor employees who had not met established requirements for receiving temporary living expenses.

“As a result, NNSA unnecessarily paid as much as $3.7 million to MOX Services for staff augmentation subcontractor temporary living expenses that could have been devoted to other critical mission areas or returned to the taxpayers,” auditors wrote.

In addition to more scrutiny to make sure MOX Services complies with reimbursement policies, the auditors recommended that the government re-examine the expenses questioned in the report to determine their allowability, and to “identify and recover any additional unallowable costs paid to staff augmentation subcontractor employees.”

Company officials are working with the Energy Department to resolve the issues raised in the audit.

“MOX Services disagrees with the conclusion,” a Shaw AREVA spokesman said in an email. “We are reviewing the report and are working with NNSA to determine the best path forward.”

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wildman 05/20/13 - 09:21 pm
Surprised, NOT!

If you are surprised please pull your head out of the sand. MOX has been a disaster waiting to happen. Lately anything involved with NNSA has been a failure or a disaster in some form. Why do we have the NNSA anyway? Why not have just DOE? Or better yet, disband DOE altogether and put everything under DOD. Why can't our horrible leaders in DC figure this out. Do away with both DOE's, Education and Energy.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 05/21/13 - 05:31 am
MOX boondoggle accountability?

Though the guilty should be prosecuted, this misspending is small potatoes. When will there be a full-blown investigation into the chronic mismanagement and massive over-spending of the entire MOX project by NNSA and Shaw AREVA? The huge cost increases of the MOX plant construction, to $8 billion or more, beg close examination. Some think that the tax payer was a cash machine to pay without pause for MOX. So, when will there ever be accountability for this MOX boondoggle? There is hope as fiscal conservatives in Congress rightly have MOX in their sites.

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