Tag Archives: ORNL

Couple Indicted for Stealing $1.2M from Department of Energy

Michael Strayer, a former senior executive at the U.S. Department of Energy and longtime employee at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and his wife, Karen Earle, have been indicted in an alleged scheme that diverted $1.2 million in government funds to their personal use.
From Frank Munger’s report:
Strayer, 69, and Earle, 48, were arraigned last week in U.S. District Court in Maryland. Both entered not guilty pleas, and a trial date was tentatively scheduled for mid-August.
The case revolves around the alleged misuse of federal funding for the SciDAC (Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing) Review, a Department of Energy publication that Strayer started soon after he left ORNL in 2004 to take a job at DOE headquarters in Washington.
As DOE’s associate director of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Strayer used program funds for the publication to tout the work done by the agency’s scientific computing programs and related partnerships with universities.
According to the federal indictment, Strayer initiated a sole-source contracting process via ORNL to select a foreign publishing company — identified in the indictment as “Corporation A,” but reported to be IOP Publishing, based in England — to publish the SciDAC Review. In 2006, the indictment said, Strayer directed the publisher to hire Earle as a $60,000-a-year consultant “despite Earle’s lack of relevant qualifications” for the job.
“Shortly thereafter, Strayer began a romantic relationship with her and directed that the publisher later increase her consulting fees,” the Justice Department said in information released by the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland after the 13-count indictment was returned May 16.
Over time, Earle’s role broadened, and she was allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to acquire articles for SciDAC Review, even though the actual articles were provided free of charge by Oak Ridge and DOE’s other national labs — at the direction of Strayer, according to the criminal charges.

ORNL Buys Out 161 Employees (Including Billy Stair)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced Friday that 161 employees – including Communications Director Billy Stair and Chief Financial Officer Greg Turner, both members of the UT-Battelle leadership team – were approved for voluntary departures under an incentive-laden program designed to trim the lab’s payroll and drive down the cost of doing business.
More from Frank Munger:
The workers approved under the Voluntary Separation Program will leave the payroll before April 1. They will receive a package of one week’s pay for every year of service – up to a cap of 25 years.
In a telephone interview, ORNL Director Thom Mason said the job reductions would save the lab about $18 million in Fiscal Year 2012, which begins Oct. 1. Under the VSP program, only those jobs supported by the lab’s overhead accounts were considered. That means none of the lab’s research scientists and engineers will leave as part of the program.

Note: Stair, who one served as senior advisor to former Gov. Ned McWherter, has often acted as a spokesman for ORNL on matters before the Legislature.