U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz last week announced the release of the inaugural State of the Department of Energy National Laboratories Report.
The report highlights the remarkable accomplishments and capabilities of the National Labs, evaluates some of the improvements DOE has made in recent years in its management and coordination with the labs, and charts a course for continued American leadership in science and technology. Overall, the report concludes that the vitality of the DOE National Laboratories has improved over the past decade in part due to increased investments made into the labs and from a focus on enhancing the relationship between the Laboratories and DOE.
“Our National Lab system is an enduring science and technology powerhouse comprised of more than 20,000 scientists and engineers who deliver new discoveries and provide world-class technological capabilities,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This report makes clear that the state of our National Lab system is strong, and that it has become stronger in recent years. This report also provides a roadmap to continue supporting American leadership in science and technology in our labs and beyond.”
Some of the specific lab accomplishments highlighted in the report include:
- Conducting fundamental and applied research that enabled both the shale gas revolution and the development of nuclear energy, photovoltaics, and energy storage for the transportation industry;
- Developing energy efficiency technologies and standards that have saved U.S. taxpayers over $1 trillion;
- Delivering forefront scientific discoveries, from new chemical elements to new states of matter;
- Sustaining safe and secure U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing through high performance computing, cutting-edge innovations in facilities, and other advanced technologies.
The report organizes issues and recommendations into six themes: Recognizing Value, Rebuilding Trust, Maintaining Alignment and Quality, Maximizing Impact, Managing Effectiveness and Efficiency, and Ensuring Lasting Change.
As the report notes, significant progress has been made in many of these areas over the last few years – from prioritizing mission-driven DOE-Laboratory relationships rather than mere transactional relationships, to improving infrastructure planning and pursuing simplified contracting models. Secretary Moniz’s reorganization of the Department and the creation of a single Under Secretary for Science and Energy has maximized impact by establishing a series of crosscutting initiatives that have brought together experts from across the DOE-Lab complex to tackle major challenges like grid modernization.
The report also identifies challenges that lie ahead, such as maintaining a skilled workforce and sustaining the unique, complicated, fragile, and often aging infrastructure that supports the suite of critical facilities and assets.
The report also contains summaries highlighting the capabilities and accomplishments of each of the 17 National Labs, and details the DOE Laboratory management model and recounts the history of the Lab system.
The report was prepared in response to the Congressionally-mandated Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories, which recommended that the Department should better communicate the value that the labs provide to the Nation.
The entire report can be found here.