“Conducted by the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO), the evaluation called for improvements in cost control, schedule and risk management, along with work planning and control processes.”
Lingering struggles to complete construction projects on schedule while controlling costs at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant factored into the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual fee allotment to primary contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP).
NWP earned 67 percent of its potential, performance-based fee – about $10.9 million of about $16.2 million available to the contractor in Fiscal Year 2021.
About $7.6 million of the fee was awarded for specific task incentives with $10.9 million available, and the other $3.3 million came from the subjective portion of the evaluation from a total offering of $5.3 million.
Conducted by the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO), the evaluation called for improvements in cost control, schedule and risk management, along with work planning and control processes.
The contractor received 50 percent or $396,093 of its available fee for schedule compliance, the same as last year, and 40 percent or $422,499 for cost control, also unimproved from FY 2020.
Management performance was rated at 68 percent or $1.07 million, up from 50 percent last year and regulatory performance was at 80 percent of the available fee or $633,748, unchanged from the previous evaluation.
NWP should “improve baseline development/execution to improve cost control, schedule and risk management performance,” and “improve procedural quality and compliance increase rigor in work planning/work control processes,” read the scorecard.
The CBFO also cited NWP for needed improvements in subcontract management for capital projects, procedural quality and compliance and design control.
The DOE noted that NWP could recover up to 6 percent of the fee or $741,000 for taking corrective actions related to a worker injury at the WIPP site in May 2021.
A report from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board noted NWP conducted a “safety stand down,” pausing operations in July due to multiple “operations-related incidents” in both the WIPP underground and on the surface. No incidents occurred near waste.
NWP was rated as “good” for its quality performance, per the scorecard issued with the fee allotment, receiving 70 percent of $739,373 of the available $1.06 million in that category, the same percent as in FY 2020’s evaluation.
Strengths noted in the scorecard were waste certification and transportation to meet demands as about 210 shipments of nuclear waste were disposed of at the site in 2021 from DOE sites around the country.
The scorecard also noted progress in capital projects such as the rebuild of WIPP’s ventilation system through the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS) project and fifth utility shaft, along with mine safety improvements and efforts at WIPP to maximize teleworking and develop a work plan amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
The scorecard said NWP created a “comprehensive COVID-19 operating plan to continue mission essential operations while maximizing telework for workforce.”
“I carefully considered the contractor’s performance in five areas of the fiscal year 2021 performance evaluation measurement plan in determining the fee award,” said Reinhard Knerr, CBFO manager who lead the evaluation.
NWP’s earned fee decline steadily in the last three years.
For FY 2019, the contractor earned 83 percent or $14.3 million of $17.2 million available that year, and 75 percent for Fiscal Year 2020 for about $13.2 million of the $17.6 million in potential earnings.
Needed improvements noted last year were cost and schedule planning for the SSCVS project and management of subcontractors.
“Safety and health/project oversight on capital asset projects and general plant projects requires additional focus to ensure the high standards set for WIPP performance are maintained. Particular focus should be on oversight/management of subcontractors,” read the 2020 report.