OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — The Oak Ridge National Laboratory will offer a voluntary separation package to selected employees as it tries to cut 350 positions in anticipation of federal budget cuts.
ORNL Director Thom Mason told The Oak Ridger on Thursday that the lab will extend the offer from Oct. 3 to Nov. 16 (http://bit.ly/ovW3u9).
The program will include incentives for those choosing to leave.
If not enough employees take advantage of the voluntary separation, Mason said there will have to be layoffs.
Mason said the lab is doing everything it can to adjust costs.
Another voluntary separation package was offered in the spring and 161 employees took advantage of it.
The lab employs about 4,700 people.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s officeL
WASHINGTON – At a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting held Wednesday to mark up fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) praised the Energy and Water bill’s reduced spending level, as well as its prioritization of projects at Tennessee labs:
“Labs in Tennessee have a number of programs that are critical to the country and Congress has made them a priority,” Alexander said.
The appropriations bills being discussed are for fiscal year 2012 and do not include any earmarks, in keeping with Senate rules changed by request of Senate Republicans. Therefore, funds directed toward Tennessee projects reflect the priorities of Senate as a whole.
At a subcommittee meeting this week, Alexander said: “I want to make sure that our timidity in failing to rein in runaway healthcare spending doesn’t squeeze out necessary funding on pro-growth functions of the government that we need to continue. One of those is advanced research. …The same is true with our locks and our dams and other things we deal with with the Army Corps of Engineers. That’s all part of a pro-growth policy and it’s all part of this bill. My view is that the federal government ought to appropriately accelerate its research in key areas.”
Tennessee projects funded in the bill include:
While pizza was on the menu, upcoming new teacher evaluations were on the minds of educators during a luncheon with the governor at an Oak Ridge landmark, reports Bob Fowler.
Wednesday’s get-together at the iconic Big Ed’s Pizza was another in Gov. Bill Haslam’s sessions with local educators across the state and the first since the Legislature adjourned in May. Teachers and principals, at the invitation of Oak Ridge and Anderson County school administrators, joined the governor.
The upcoming evaluations were enacted as part of state legislation to comply with guidelines for the $500 million in federal Race to the Top funding that Tennessee received. The evaluations will also play a key role in tightened teacher tenure guidelines approved by lawmakers during their latest session. Haslam called the new evaluation process “a good one.”
“I think it’s important to have standards and raise standards,” he said.
OAK RIDGE – It was a briefing, not a negotiation, but there was plenty of give and take Wednesday when Gov. Bill Haslam and members of his administration met with federal officials in Oak Ridge to discuss budgets, cleanup and other issues that could become contentious in the months and years ahead.
More from Frank Munger’s report:
Following the meeting at Y-12’s New Hope Center, Haslam said he wants the state to have a good working relationship with the Department of Energy – one that doesn’t involve disputes and court battles. But, he emphasized, members of his administration don’t want that good will used against them.
He noted that Oak Ridge hasn’t fared as well as other DOE sites around the country when it comes to funding for cleanup projects, which are important for the environment and the economy.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has raised that issue for years; yet this year’s spending on Oak Ridge cleanup dropped precipitously to about $400 million – the lowest in years.
John Eschenberg, DOE’s cleanup chief in Oak Ridge, agreed that the Oak Ridge share of the total cleanup funding was not what it should be percentage wise. Oak Ridge currently is getting a little more than 6 percent of DOE’s cleanup budget of $5.6 billion, he said.