Wednesday, July 24, 2013

House Hearing On DOE Management Problems & Structure

Jul 24: The House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, Chaired by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), held a hearing entitled, Department of Energy Oversight: What is Necessary to Improve Project Management and Mission Performance? Witnesses testifying at the hearing included representatives from the: U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); DOE Inspector General; and Government Accountability Office.
    In an opening statement, Full Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) said, "Today we take a look at plans for a new management structure and other changes at the Department of Energy announced last week by Secretary Moniz. Our question is, will these reforms help transform DOE for the innovation era? DOE has recently experienced a number of management challenges, particularly with regard to its stewardship of the nuclear weapons programs and nuclear cleanup. These challenges -- and the tremendous risks to the public from failure to address them -- are not new. . . The big lesson is that the agency's safety, security, and contract management problems span administrations and Congresses. From my experience, and as our witnesses will explain, improving DOE's performance requires long, sustained attention to ensure lasting improvement in agency
performance. . .
    "We need to start discussing whether the agency is structured and able to adapt to the realities of this nation's very bright energy picture. DOE has significant responsibilities that will not and should not go away; the agency must be poised to take on new responsibilities that best serve the energy, environmental, and security needs of the nation. But we also must acknowledge that if we were to start from a clean slate, there is no question an Energy Department for this new era of abundance would hardly resemble the Department of today."
     Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) also issued an opening statement indicating, "The energy subject at the top of my priority list is climate change. Secretary Moniz understands the challenges posed by rising levels of carbon pollution. He will play a key role in the implementation of the President's National Climate Action Plan. His efforts to identify the threats our energy sector faces due to climate change and to improve energy efficiency are important. I am also impressed at the quick action he has taken to address the subject of this hearing: long-standing DOE problems with cost management, environmental compliance, and physical security at the nation's nuclear complex. . .
    "As one of his first acts, Secretary Moniz announced a reorganization that will create a new Under Secretary for Management and Performance. The President has nominated Beth Robinson, currently NASA's Chief Financial Officer, to fill the position. This restructuring will put one official in charge of strengthening environmental cleanup, contracting oversight, human capital, and other important functions. . . Most recently, we held a hearing in March on the alarming incident involving an 83-year-old breaking into the highly secure DOE Y-12 facility in Tennessee. . . We know that the long-standing problems at DOE will not be easy to solve. But the Department of Energy's vital missions to develop new clean energy technologies and protect our nuclear stockpile are too important to the nation for us to ignore. . ."
    DOE's testimony focused on the July 12, Secretary-approved top-level reorganization of the Department that reallocates the responsibilities of the Department's three Offices of Under Secretary. This reorganization has three primary objectives: (1) To improve integration of the science and applied energy R&D programs of the Department by establishing an Under Secretary for Science and Energy; (2) To improve project management and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our mission support functions across the Department by establishing an Under Secretary for Management and Performance; and (3) To establish an enterprise-wide vision and coordination of major cross-cutting programs.
    Access the GOP hearing website for links to testimony, statements and video (click here). Access the Dems hearing website for links to testimony, statements and video (click here). [#Energy]