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U.S. senator criticizes incentive pay for work at Hanford vit plant via the Tri-City Herald

A U.S. senator criticized incentive pay given to Bechtel National for its work at the Hanford vitrification plant during a hearing Thursday on Department of Energy environmental cleanup contracting policies.

Cleaning up radioactive waste and contamination left from past production of nuclear weapons, much of it at Hanford, is important work, said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee.

DOE environmental cleanup work is estimated to cost $270 billion through 2087, she said.

“When hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are at stake, we need to make sure those dollars are not just being squandered,” she said.

Across the DOE environmental cleanup complex, almost $4 billion in performance pay was awarded to contractors between 2002 and 2012 despite poor performance and, in some cases, before required work had been completed, she said.

Across the DOE environmental cleanup complex, almost $4 billion in performance pay was awarded to contractors between 2002 and 2012 despite poor performance and, in some cases, before required work had been completed, she said.
[...]
DOE’s reliance on contracts that reimburse costs causes the government to bear the risk of overruns, she said. The cost overrun just on the Hanford vitrification plant is approaching $10 billion, she said.

Until a few months ago DOE’s environmental cleanup office did not require a cost estimate and there still is no requirement that the estimate be well-documented or accurate, she said. One GAO official recently told the panel that writing a number on a piece of paper would meet the requirement.

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