NNSA releases performance details for Y-12/Pantex contractor’s first report card

As  noted last December, when the performance scores and fee totals became available for Consolidated Nuclear Security’s first report card, the Y-12/Pantex contractor received an overall score of 57 (out of 100) and earned about $42.6 million (out of a maximum pool of $51.2 million). In a message to employees at the two sites, then-President Jim Haynes expressed his disappointment.Basic RGB

Now, several months later, the National Nuclear Security Administration has finally released the performance evaluation for the government contractor — a partnership that’s headed by Bechtel and includes Lockheed Martin and other companies — and it provides a more detailed look at why CNS received a low score for the period ending Sept. 30, 2015.

Some of the language is pretty blunt, such as this excerpt from the NNSA’s assessment of operations and infrastructure (which accounts for 35 percent of the at-risk fee):

“A lack of formality of operations persists as evidenced by operational failure to consistently implement security-based requirements; recurring events in the protection of Personally Identifiable Information and Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information (e.g., off-site locations) indicated that a sound strategy for integrating security requirements among the CNS business partners doesn’t exist; and that a lack of understanding regarding security-based requirements is evident.

“An event involving the packaging and shipment of highly enriched uranium highlighted the overall lack of success that CNS has experienced in turning around performance as related to conduct and formality of operations. A shipment from Y-12 to an offsite laboratory exemplifies this culture and performance problem. Areas of concern include supervisory engagement and control, procedural compliance, manual manipulation of data, lack of questioning attitude, and confidence in material control and accountability. The CNS initiative to strive for performance excellence, which encompasses formality of operations and an increased safety and security conscious work environment, has not yet shown results.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration noted that CNS is developing a strategic framework to establish a “vision strategy and organizational philosophy” for the safety, security and emergency services organization.

While the strategic approach is being developed by the contractor into a detailed plan, the performance report stated, “recurring events continued to demonstrate that the current CNS approach to security is lacking. The high number of security incidents that occurred during this rating period indicates that improvements in safety culture are needed.”

Even in areas where there were strong criticisms, there were positive findings as well, with the report citing good performance in the human reliability program, classification and protective force.

“Y-12 security operations overall are effective,” the report stated, noting a number of technical improvements at the Oak Ridge plant. Among them were updates to the main entrance to the Protected Area; lighting along Bear Creek Road that illuminates the ridge where protesters entered the plant in July 2012; and measures taken to prevent animals from triggering false alarms in the security sensors.

The report also noted that security operations at Pantex are “effective and continue to improve.”

The report noted that, like Y-12, Pantex is faced with the challenges of an aged security infrastructure..

“Although Pantex possesses a ‘can do’ production attitude, the Plant security culture is an area that always requires management vigilance,” the performance report said.

There’s much more to report later from this 45-page report.

As noted in earlier posts, the fees awarded to Consolidated Nuclear Security don’t seem to reflect the overall performance review. That’s because many areas included fixed fees for the contractor’s initial operations period, and more of the fees will be at risk in future performance evaluations.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.