Confronted with a “severe budget crisis ... unlike any we have faced historically at this site,” in the name of a $175 million shortfall, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions released a comprehensive plan to employees Thursday, outlining the impacts on them and the Department of Energy site’s missions.

SRNS President and CEO Dwayne Wilson sent a video message to all employees regarding the shortfall in the fiscal year 2013 budget, and addressed the impacts and expectations regarding holiday time off and the cooperation of staff.

“SRNS is in a severe budget crisis, very urgent in nature, unlike any we have faced historically at this site,” the response from SRNS reads. “Regarding the holidays, management is expected to ensure minimal necessary staffing to support ongoing deliberate operations.”

“The decision to reduce staffing during this period is an attempt to ease the impact of budget shortfalls and avoid further actions. Everyone is expected to join the effort to avoid more drastic measures,” SRNS’ response continued.

The plan to have employees take vacation leave over the holiday period is one that has less impact than a regular week on workers, but saves SRNS substantially.

Thanksgiving week contains two paid vacation days, Thanksgiving Thursday and the Friday after. With employees taking three vacation days, they are at home for the week while burning only three days of vacation time. Add to this that vacation leave was renewed at the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, so employees still will have a majority of leave after the holiday period.

“The expectation is that every employee who can be off during the holidays, will be, including leadership,” SRNS’ response said. “The priorities are first to meet regulatory commitments, then to ensure continued operations at H Canyon and retention of core competencies at the Savannah River National Laboratory.”

In outlining the actions, SRNS Senior Vice President of Corporate Services Jim Hanna said that 341 employees participated in the previous voluntary separation program. The management and operations contractor has also significantly reduced staff augmentation and construction craft support by more than 450 positions. SRNS has also cancelled service contracts and reduced overtime shifts.

These efforts have “closed the funding gap by over $70 million, but a substantial shortfall remains,” according to SRNS.