Bechtel National has received its best performance evaluation in more than two years.
The contractor will receive a payment of $3.97 million, or 63 percent of the amount possible, for its work during the first half of 2014, according to a scorecard released Thursday by the Department of Energy.
The percentage is higher than for its previous four evaluations, including the last two for which Bechtel received a little less than half the possible payment.
“It is clear that our initiatives to improve the quality of our work are showing positive results,” said Peggy McCullough, the Bechtel project director, in a message to employees Thursday. “Our scores were up in every area in which we were evaluated.”
Bechtel is the DOE contractor for the $12.3 billion vitrification plant being built to turn much of Hanford’s 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks into a stable glass form for disposal.
The largest amount of pay potentially available to Bechtel, $3.5 million, was for the project management category that included its efforts to do self analyses, conduct assessments, discover issues and correct problems.
A year ago DOE switched Bechtel to a new performance and evaluation measurement plan that focused on rewarding its work to find and fix issues with the plant.
The latest evaluation showed a substantial improvement in that work. In the first six months under the new evaluation system, Bechtel received just 49 percent of the award for that category, but in the evaluation released Thursday that increased to 70 percent of the possible pay, or $2.45 million.
“The contractor’s management team continued to emphasize becoming a learning organization with a specific emphasis on organizational effectiveness,” said Bechtel’s scorecard.
The 12-month rolling average of issues that Bechtel identified, as opposed to DOE or other agencies identifying them, increased from 81 percent to almost 86 percent, the review said. Bechtel also strengthened its processes for taking actions to correct the issues.
“The contractor’s management team continued to emphasize becoming a learning organization with a specific emphasis on organizational effectiveness,” the scorecard said.
Now it needs to work on resolving issues and preparing plans to make corrections more quickly, it said.
Bechtel also made progress in the management category that included a look at efforts to improve its programs to make sure the plant operates safely, among other environmental, health and safety issues. It scored 77 percent.
“DOE cited substantial improvement throughout the organization in our transparency and communications with (DOE) and significant emphasis on our efforts to improve the nuclear safety and quality culture,” McCullough said in the employee message.
The contractor scored particularly well for its current safety performance, which was rated in the range of best-in-class for a project of its size and complexity.
However, some worker sentiment showed that a longer, sustained effort is needed for excellence in its nuclear safety culture, which includes worker confidence that they can raise issues about the future safe and efficient operation of the plant and that the issues will be considered by management.
In the category of its quality insurance program, Bechtel received just 45 percent of the $800,000 available for its quality assurance program.
It has worked to resolve issues, but improvements have not had enough time to demonstrate results, the scorecard said.
Bechtel also had a potential $1 million available for its project leadership and management in the area of cost, but earned just 39 percent of that.
Positives included saving $8.1 million in purchasing and subcontracts on parts of the plant that will not handle high-level radioactive waste.
But it had trouble hiring enough staff and some work was not finished on schedule, including some plans for resolving technical issues at the plant’s Pretreatment Facility that were late, the scorecard said.
The scorecard is posted at http://1.usa.gov/1vVp6Aj.