Bechtel National had its best performance last year since early 2009, according to the Department of Energy pay scorecard released Monday.
The contractor, which is building the Hanford vitrification plant, received 66 percent of the incentive pay possible for 2015 in the first year since returning to annual — rather than twice-annual — appraisals.
Bechtel was rated slightly better than in its most recent pay evaluation, when it earned 65 percent of the pay possible for the second half of 2014.
“This is our highest award out of the last 12 award periods,” said Peggy McCullough, Bechtel project director, in a message to employees Monday.
Bechtel was paid $8.3 million out of a total $12.6 million possible for calendar year 2015.
Its award for 2014, paid out after two six-month reviews, was about $8.1 million. In 2013 its pay award fell below 50 percent of possible pay. In the second half of 2012 it voluntarily gave up its incentive pay after work ramped down on parts of the project plagued with technical issues.
“Over the last couple of years, we have made great strides in working safely, improving the quality of our work and documenting the quality of our work,” McCullough said in the employee message. “Let’s stay on this path of improving performance.”
DOE rated performance overall as “good.”
Our continued improvement is good, but we can and must do better.
Peggy McCullough, Bechtel National project director
Bechtel did best in 2015 in the category of “One System,” its efforts to integrate work at the vitrification plant with the tank farms holding the waste that will be treated for disposal at the vit plant. It received 100 percent of the One System pay available.
Its lowest rating, 46 percent, was in the category of “nuclear safety,” which is related to the future safe operation of the plant.
Bechtel submitted documents — design basis change packages — intended to make sure the appropriate levels of safety were incorporated into the design for the plant that did not meet DOE standards. They required rework, according to the DOE scorecard.
Bechtel also struggled with quality and quality assurance issues, receiving 49 percent of the pay possible, and resolution of technical issues, receiving 50 percent of the pay possible, according to the scorecard.
Analyses of quality issues were not being completed as soon as DOE would have liked and Bechtel’s plan to improve quality assurance needs work, DOE said. Bechtel is not fully meeting requirements to make sure vendors selling material and equipment for the plant are capable of providing materials that meet strict nuclear quality standards, but it is focusing on the issue.
Under technical issues, DOE said Bechtel’s work to resolve issues at the Pretreatment Facility was not meeting the contractor’s internal schedule. The justifications provided to DOE for closing technical issues were not yet fully defensible, the scorecard said.
Bechtel received the DOE Voluntary Protection Program Star of Excellence award for its safety program.
The most pay — $3.5 million — was available for project performance based on cost, schedule and efficiencies. Bechtel earned 75 percent of that.
It is meeting commitments for a planned new facility to prepare some low-activity radioactive waste to be fed directly to the plant, bypassing the Pretreatment Facility where technical issues are being resolved.
It completed more concrete work at the High Level Waste Facility than anticipated.
It also had good news from an independent review of how it was addressing previously identified serious issues of management through a comprehensive Managed Improvement Plan. The review found that it had made considerable progress.
DOE also was pleased with Bechtel’s performance in safety on the construction project and its efforts to create a workplace with employees focused on safety. It received 97 percent of available pay for the category.
The DOE Office of Enterprise Assessment conducted an assessment in early 2015 and found improvements in 10 of the 12 categories it measured related to worker attitudes and their confidence they could raise safety concerns without retaliation.