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Office of Legacy Management Designated as a High-Performing Organization

July 6, 2009 - 11:45am


Executive Summary: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) was established in 2003 to serve as the steward for the nation’s Cold War nuclear legacy. LM is responsible for the long-term surveillance and maintenance of environmental remedies, promotion of beneficial reuse, and management of records and information associated with over 70 former nuclear weapons production sites located in 26 states. LM is also responsible for the administration of contractor pension plans and post-retirement benefits for over 10,000 former contractor workers.

In 2005, LM initiated a rigorous self-assessment using the tools and techniques contained in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76, Performance of Commercial Activities, and the high-performance organization principles contained in the Government Accountability Office’s Commercial Activities Panel report. As a result of those efforts, LM developed and implemented a highly efficient organization that is projected to generate $15 million in savings over five years—a 29 percent reduction from baseline operational costs. On February 13, 2007, OMB granted the Department’s request for an OMB Circular A-76 deviation to accept LM’s high-performing organization effort as an alternative to a competitive sourcing study.

Background: LM was established with a staffing level of 81 full-time employees and was assigned responsibility for work in a variety of programs and activities that spanned multiple organizations within DOE. The work was focused primarily on activities associated with Cold War era nuclear legacy programs at sites no longer needed for DOE missions. The initial staffing, provided by transfers from predecessor organizations, was highly graded and did not have the skill mix necessary to accomplish the new office’s mission. In addition, the staff members were not located close to LM’s customers or key facilities.

Path Forward: To address the staffing situation, LM began a critical review of mission, functions, and human capital assets using the tools and techniques in OMB Circular A‑76. Part of that approach included applying the principles of high-performance organizations: clearly defining mission and goals, understanding the customer base, and establishing a leadership system and core values. Using a variety of employee-management teams, LM took the following actions: transferred out non-mission-related work and accepted the transfer of mission-related work (a net increase of $120 million of scope); aligned the LM budget with specific mission goals and established performance measurement tools; initiated 10 directed reassignments of staff; obtained early retirement authority; provided training in critical mission need areas; identified and prioritized critical hires, limiting hiring authority to the Director; reengineered federal and contractor business processes; closed one office location and opened three others to improve customer service and address additional scope; and completed a reorganization of remaining staff.

Accomplishments: By taking action on the self-assessment, LM reduced its authorized federal staffing by 28 percent without a reduction in force, realized an immediate $3 million in savings in FY 2007 and an estimated $15 million in savings over the five-year life of the high-performance organization certification period. LM also improved its supervisor-to-employee ratio from 1:7 to 1:12, realigned its staff to improve customer service, and restructured and partially relocated its organization into matrixed teams to improve communications and operations.