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INL gets low marks from Department of Energy

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Dec 10 2012 05:46:25 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 10 2012 07:18:29 PM CST

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

The Idaho National Laboratory has received its lowest performance evaluation by the Department of Energy since 2005.

On Monday, the lab's main contractor, Battelle Energy Alliance, responded to the review.

BEA runs research and development at the INL site, but according to the review, this year was far from its best.

The seven-page performance review from the DOE mentioned the 16 workers exposed to plutonium in November 2011.

The review said INL experienced, "significant problems in the execution of projects."

Management of the Advanced Test Rector Loop 2A project is also blasted in the report.

"Although the ATR Loop 2A installation was finally completed this year, it was only accomplished after years of ineffective management by INL and BEA's corporate partners," DOE. Fee Determination Official Richard Provencher wrote. "Because of the poor management, performance and accountability issues associated with the ATR Loop 2A, I am deducting $750,000 from the otherwise earned fee for FY 2012."

The $750,000 deduction is not subject to restoration, according to the review.

According to the report, the deduction is just one figure contributing to an earnings gap for the fiscal year.

Battelle earned a fraction of its total available contracting fee. Earnings were about $16.2 million for fiscal year 2012.

That number represents about 90 percent of a potential $18.7 million.

INL Deputy Director Juan Alvarez offered our station this statement Monday:

"In the letter, DOE recognized INL's delivery of outstanding transformational research and development; contribution to programmatic milestones of national importance in nuclear, national security, and energy and environment; investments to expand capabilities; effective collaborations with universities and industry, and overall leadership. We had a challenging year, but DOE did recognize the good work being done to make overall improvements in operations and project management."

The DOE letter pointed out advancements in "Transformational Research and Development" which, according to the report, accounted for only 5 percent of the areas of focus for the lab in the fiscal year 2012.

The full review is available at http://goo.gl/tx3hE.

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