Unless the Savannah River Site gets $79 million in funds by May 22, hundreds of workers will lose their income. Starting June 1, 700 to 900 workers will go on full furlough.
The shortfall in funding is a result of sequestration, where SRS funding was cut by $100 million. The result was forced reduction in staffing and narrowing the scope of work.
In an effort to keep SRS running and keep their mission milestones within site, on March 18 the Department of Energy submitted a reprogramming request for $79 million.
But what exactly is reprogramming, and where does this money come from?
Reprogramming is the use of funds for a purpose other than that for which they were originally provided, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
This means that one project will not be using certain funds, so these can be repurposed and given to another project to use.
For SRS, the Department of Energy is currently working with the Office of Management and Budget to get a reprogramming proposal to Congress. The money is appropriated to SRS through the Department of Energy's Environmental Management division, but currently not in the correct accounts.
Once OMB signs off on the amount of funds, it will be passed to two committees in the U.S. House and two in Congress. Once there, the reprogramming must be approved, then it can be moved by the Department of Energy.
Currently, SRS's request is bundled within the larger DOE Environmental Management request, which includes the Hanford Site in Washington State, Idaho National Laboratory and the Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee. Worryingly for DOE and SRS employees and the Congressional delegation, this request has not advanced since March 18.
“On April 26, Director Sylvia Burwell was confirmed as the Director of the President's OMB. Our Delegation's hope is that one of her first actions will be to approve reprogramming,” Cong. Joe Wilson said Friday.
Through pressure from the public and the Washington and State delegation, Wilson is optimistic that the funding will be in place ahead of the May 22 deadline.