Department of Energy

Executive Summary

DOE was established by the Department of Energy Organization Act on October 1, 1977. The act consolidated the major federal energy functions into one cabinet-level department. The agencies incorporated into the new department were the Federal Energy Administration (FEA), the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), the Federal Power Commission (FPC), and units of several other agencies. Today, the department provides the framework for a compre-hensive national energy plan by coordinating and administering the energy functions of the federal government. DOE also is responsible for long-term, high-risk research and development of energy technologies, marketing federal power, promoting energy conservation, a greatly reduced nuclear weapons program and an increased nuclear clean-up program, energy regulatory programs, and a central energy data collection and analysis program.

The NPR has identified eight issues for discussion in this report and made recommendations for further action. These issues and recommendations highlight key reinvention principles as well as fundamental areas of critical importance to agency management.

NPR has helped identify a number of ways to ensure that environmental cleanup activities at DOE weapons production sites can be accomplished with better value for the substantial costs and increased responsiveness to local stakeholders. These recommendations include improvements in environmental contract management and incorporation of sitewide future land use planning into the cleanup process.

The first of these recommendations encourages DOE to promote true competition among environmental restoration contractors and to improve management at cleanup sites. DOE should improve cost estimates, reduce costs, and use outcome-oriented performance measures. The second recommendation is designed to ensure a reasonable level of cleanup and to encourage cooperation with local partners to identify future uses of sites.

NPR has also worked with DOE to develop policies to make the laboratory contracting process more accountable to customers and to make contracts for DOE field facilities more outcome-oriented.

NPR encourages DOE to upgrade the status of the office responsible for directing a governmentwide energy efficiency and water conservation program by strengthening the Federal Energy Management Program. This recommendation will empower and encourage employees to accomplish their mission. In addition, this program takes advantage of private sector incentives that save federal dollars and stimulate business.

As federal agencies plan and prioritize their activities to make the best use of limited resources, NPR has identified ways to adjust the mission and operations of its national laboratories and former weapons production facilities to meet the challenges of the post-Cold War era. The end result is that the laboratory assets will be more effectively shared with other agencies, industry, and universities.

NPR recommends that restrictive legislation be amended to provide incentives for private sector involvement in constructing and operating new cogeneration power plants at government facilities. This program can greatly reduce costs to the government, increase business opportunities, and encourage growth. Finally, market mechanisms can also help improve decisions about price and usage of hydroelectricity. Implementing energy conservation programs, recovering full costs of hydroelectric power by the Power Marketing Administrations, and allowing market rate studies will all help make decisions more objective and equitable.

NPR recommendations are estimated to provide net benefits to the federal government of nearly $3 billion in savings and $3.5 billion in additional revenues between 1994 and 1999. Some increase in federal employment to ensure stronger management of the field facilities is expected, but this should be offset by reductions in contractor costs at these sites.

Secretary O'Leary established 15 Priorities Teams to take a hard look at the critical management and technical issues that are important to the future of DOE. In March, she announced a new organizational structure for DOE geared to achieve the administration's energy, environmental, and economic objectives. Six reinvention laboratories have been initiated to improve DOE's services.

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