SRS Sign, OIG Audit

An entrance to the Savannah River Site. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is the SRS management and operations contractor.

A recent audit handled by the U.S. Department of Energy inspector general's office states the Savannah River Site management and operations contractor approved millions of dollars of improper invoices from one of its subcontractors.

Since fiscal year 2014, FOUR LLC invoiced Savannah River Nuclear Solutions more than $9 million for "information technology goods and services," according to a May 8 memo from Debra Solmonson, the deputy assistant inspector general for audits and inspections. Of the $9 million charged, SRNS procurement personnel approved about $8.5 million in invoices that were not in line with federal regulations, per the same information.

"Based on our analysis of select SRNS subcontract procurements, we concluded that, in some instances, SRNS had not appropriately acquired goods and services at the Savannah River Site," the memo states.

The audit itself was conducted from June 2016 to March of this year. It targeted subcontracts that were either awarded, active or closed between Oct. 1, 2014 and June 28, 2016.

Nine FOUR LLC invoices were reviewed, five of which did not include detailed unit pricing; that sort of granular information allows for verification, according to the memo.

"The SRNS contract with the department establishes requirements for purchasing goods and services," the audit memo reads. "SRNS is required to ensure the acquisition of quality products and services at fair and reasonable prices through the use of effective competitive procurement techniques."

SRNS between October 2014 and June 2016 procured more than $606 million in goods and services via subcontracts.

SRNS – backed by Fluor, Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell International – has been the lead contractor at SRS for years now. The contractor secured a $1 billion, one-year contract extension last summer and is poised for another continuation at the end of July.

At the Site, SRNS oversees environmental cleanup work, National Nuclear Security Administration activities and the Savannah River National Laboratory.

The liquid waste mission – working with and processing millions of gallons of nuclear waste – as well as overall SRS security are handled by other contractors.

Management at SRS concurred with the audit's findings, according to responses collated in the overall report, which is publicly available. That includes correspondence from SRS manager Michael Budney, who stated fixes have been relayed to the appropriate people.

When the invoicing issues were brought to SRNS's attention, the contractor amended its policies and procedures to better satisfy federal requirements, according to Solmonson's memo.

A SRNS spokesperson, in a prepared statement, said the contractor is "always open" to assessments and audits.

The spokesperson said all of the "concerns have been addressed," adding the costs have since been determined to be within requirements.

Further review — following the draft report — determined the costs "to be allowable," according to Solmonson's memo. The management response attached to the report states there were "no unallowable costs."

This article was updated May 22.

Colin Demarest is the government and Savannah River Site reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin