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EM Sees Growth Across Complex in Partnering Agreements with Contractors

May 30, 2013 - 12:00pm

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Representatives of DOE Savannah River Operations Office and liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation sign the next generation partnering agreement.

Representatives of DOE Savannah River Operations Office and liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation sign the next generation partnering agreement.

AIKEN, S.C. – DOE Savannah River Operations Office Manager Dave Moody views the partnering relationship between his office and liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) as an opportunity to view cleanup work from each other’s point of view. 

“While both DOE and SRR continue to work well together, the partnering agreement brings our people and our processes closer together to find win-win solutions. This next generation agreement brings us even more in line with our core values and mission,” Moody said.

Earlier this year, Savannah River Operations Office and SRR updated and renewed a partnering agreement, two years after signing the pact for the first time. And in New Mexico this month, the Carlsbad Field Office signed a similar partnering accord with the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant management and operating contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership.

The Savannah River and Carlsbad partnering agreements are among a dozen accords in place between EM field offices and their contractors across the DOE complex, and more are on the way.

EM instituted a partnering agreement policy in 2010 with the premise that EM cannot be successful in its Cold War cleanup program without its contractors being successful.

These agreements support project performance improvements to deliver EM projects on time and within cost. They are non-binding, and do not take the place of contracts that outline legal relationships. Instead, they lay out terms of working relationships based on a collaborative team approach to mutual goals, such as safe and effective nuclear cleanup. The pacts encourage shared visions and use of best practices — detect and resolve problems early, for example. They also aim to foster continually improving communications in a climate in which employees raise issues and discuss and resolve them openly and jointly.

EM’s policy calls for the parties involved in the agreements to revise the accords often so they reflect changes in the cleanup program. 

“The partnering agreements are not just intended to be signed and hung on a wall,” EM Office of Contract Assistance Director Reggie James said. “At least quarterly, the site manager or federal project director should go back with the general manager or president of the contracting company and revisit the document to see if tweaks or changes are needed to address the relevant issues at that time.”

The SRS agreement calls for members of the partnering team to work together in a manner consistent with the goals and objectives of a charter to achieve the contract commitments for safely treating and disposing of radioactive waste and closing high-level waste tanks.

“This Partnering Team will establish a performance record that is a model of excellence recognized by stakeholders, inside and outside the Department of Energy, as Best-In-Class due to its demonstrated commitment to safety, management, business and technical excellence in delivering results meeting the highest standards as promised on schedule, with maximum cost efficiency,” the charter says.

SRR President and Project Manager Dave Olson said, “The essence of this agreement is continuing to have open and honest communications, which serves as an underpinning of effective partnering.”

Earlier this year, representatives at SRS participated in a partnering workshop that led to changes in the agreement to ensure it reflects new elements of work. Olson said participants discussed how to better ensure success for both organizations.

“We are very pleased with the results of our partnering work relationship,” Olson said.

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