Department of Energy cleanup efforts at the Savannah River site compensated temporary contractor employees more than was required, the agency’s inspector general found in a recent report.As part of the economic stimulus bill passed in 2009, DOE’s Office of Environmental Management received $6 billion to hire temporary workers and accelerate cleanup projects. Federal rules require the agency to give workers either advanced notice or additional pay when funding for the estimated 4,450 temporary positions expires. By choosing the additional salary option, the inspector general said, Savannah River made $7.7 million in payments that were unnecessary.“Even though not required by statute or departmental order, Savannah River elected to provide separating employees with 60 days of pay rather than giving them the required advance termination notices. This decision resulted in payments for which the department received no direct benefit,” read the report dated Feb. 22.In contrast to the Savannah River Nuclear Solutions employees at the site in South Carolina, the report notes temporary employees working for CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company at Washington’s Hanford site were given notice instead of the extra pay. The practice of giving notice a certain period in advance or providing pay for a similar amount of work time stems from a law that requires the department and its contractors to give employees advanced warning of layoffs. Irrespective of the payments addressed in the report, employees at both companies received severance payments, as well as health and outplacement benefits. A Savannah River official told the inspector general’s office that the extra pay in lieu of advance warning benefited site safety and had been a customary practice since 1995. Nonetheless, DOE management agreed with the report’s suggestion that the agency should review the notice policy and make it more consistent.