Source: Knoxville News Sentinel | Brittany Crocker | January 9, 2018
Oak Ridge National Laboratory plans to lay off about 100 employees after applications to its voluntary workforce reduction fell short last year, according to an announcement in the laboratory’s internal newsletter obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee.
ORNL received more than 300 applications for the voluntary reduction, which provided eligible participants one week of compensation for every year of service at ORNL, up to 25 years.
The laboratory approved 232 of the applicants. To meet its goal, more than 100 additional employees must be terminated.
“Last week managers began the process of identifying about 100 positions for elimination,” the announcement said. “Managers will review operations in light of the (voluntary) reductions and identify additional work that can be eliminated or streamlined without weakening support for key missions and priorities.”
Cut staff will be notified by mid-February, according to the newsletter.
Last summer the Department of Energy approved UT-Battelle’s plan to reduce the ORNL workforce by 7 percent, or as many as 350 positions.
The cuts have targeted research areas affected by fiscal year 2017 budget reductions, including climate change research done for the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center and biomedical research done for the National Institutes of Health.
ORNL Department of Homeland Security research areas, Fusion energy research and the Oak Ridge office for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) have also been affected.
Now, ORNL spokesman David Keim said the reductions will focus more on overhead positions that aren’t directly funded by the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security or other government and university partnerships. “Until we complete this process, however, we can’t say for sure exactly which programs may be further impacted,” Keim said.
In August, Zacharia said reducing the positions would help the laboratory maintain competitive charge-out rates and free up resources for discretionary investments and core research areas.
The cuts get the laboratory lean and mean in case it must withstand politically driven budget cuts like those Congress is considering for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Nuclear Energy, and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.