WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today held its first hearing as part of the committee’s ‘DOE Modernization’ series in which members will explore what is necessary to ensure effective execution of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) core national, economic, and energy security missions.
“Modernizing the Department of Energy means ensuring it has the appropriate statutory authorities and sound management structure to meet not only the challenges we know about today, but what may be coming over the horizon,” said #SubEnergy Chairman Upton. “It means ensuring agency leadership can align the department’s operations and resources to meet priorities. It means ensuring the tremendous scientific and technological assets of this agency are effectively focused for the benefit of the long-term security and prosperity of Americans.”
In his testimony, Dan Brouillette, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, spoke to efforts already underway to modernize DOE, stating, “To further the Department’s mission in light of the ever-changing world in which we operate and work, we as a Department must continue to adapt and to adjust our focus. Accordingly, last month, the Secretary announced his intention to modernize the Department not only to deploy its magnificent resources more effectively and efficiently in order to address present and future challenges, but also to return the Department to its statutory framework.”
Former E&C staffers Dan Brouillette and Mark Menezes testify before the committee
Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, discussed the relationship between DOE and its contractors, commenting, “The relationship between DOE and its contractors is ideally a partnership. … Simply stated, DOE decides what is to be done, and the M&O [management and operation] contractors decide how it is to be done. Over time, however, the M&O contracting environment has increasingly become one in which contractors are subjected to increasing oversight, duplicative and burdensome regulations, and greater liability, while having less authority and autonomy.”
Speaking to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) efforts to create a plan to address concerns stemming from a Congressional Advisory Panel report, Dr. Donald Levy, Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago and Co-Chair, Panel to Track and Assess Governance and Management, stated, “Our study has found – through multiple site visits, numerous meetings and phone calls with NNSA staff members, and study of relevant documents – that NNSA has initiated a large number of changes in response to the Augustine-Mies report and others. But, as noted in our first report, it ‘has not defined success and it lacks qualitative or quantitative metrics to identify and measure change.’ Moreover, the changes that have been made seem piecemeal and not as part of a larger, strategic plan intended to address longstanding problems.”
Rich Powell, Executive Director, ClearPath Foundation, discussed the importance of a modern DOE, commenting, “Therefore, a strong commitment to energy innovation and a modern DOE is essential for: (1) improving the nation’s geopolitical position as foreign competitors, such as China and Russia, invest in advanced energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) concepts; (2) enhancing American energy independence with more clean, reliable and affordable generation technologies; and (3) seizing a multi-trillion dollar economic development opportunity that will revitalize domestic manufacturing and create thousands of high-paying jobs.”
Sarah Ladislaw, Director, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, outlined suggestions to modernize the department to strengthen their hand in today’s geopolitical environment, stating, “DOE plays an underreported role in managing international affairs and geopolitics as they relate to energy. DOE has within its organizational structure an office of International Affairs led by an assistant secretary… This office should be strengthened and expanded to have a stronger analytical function designed to inform the secretary and DOE leadership’s thinking about global energy trends and challenges… Moreover, it is import for DOE to maintain its dominant analytical capabilities on energy because it practically serves as the lead agency on energy relations with other countries not least of which because other countries around the world see their energy ministers as the top emissaries for energy discussion with other countries.”
Chairman Walden delivers his opening statement
“We should keep in mind the benefits of the interconnected nature of the department’s missions. These missions – national security, energy security, environmental remediation, and mission-enabling scientific research – across the DOE enterprise can be difficult and expensive to manage,” concluded full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “I am confident that the team of professionals on our first panel today are up to this task. This committee will work through the remainder of this Congress, and beyond, to ensure the department’s organization and missions are aligned with the energy security challenges of today and are nimble enough to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”
The Majority Memorandum, witness testimony, and archived webcast can be found online HERE.
For more information on the committee’s ‘DOE Modernization’ series, click HERE.