DOE: Institutional Reform, Part 2

The decisions made in the coming months and years will shape America’s ability to address its climate and energy challenges as well as its international competitiveness in the clean tech industry.

Org_Chart_DiagramU.S. clean energy innovation policy is at an inflection point. The decisions made in the coming months and years will shape America’s ability to address its climate and energy challenges as well as its international competitiveness in the clean tech industry. As such, advocates are rightly focused on creating new clean energy policies through Congressional action (see the debate on a carbon tax). Yet in the melee of federal sausage making, only minor attention has been paid to reforming the Department of Energy (DOE) as a potentially significant way of boosting support for clean energy.

Reforming DOE has been the source of continued, wonky debate since its creation in 1977. DOE last saw institutional change four years ago when current Secretary of Energy Steven Chu implemented a number of new programs like ARPA-E, the Innovation Hubs, and Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), aimed re-invigorating DOEs investments in clean energy. DOE also undertook its first Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR) to comprehensively assess the state of energy technologies. And the Department continues to implement the President’s Memorandum on Technology Transfer to accelerate the development of new ideas from Lab to market.

Without a doubt these changes have provided DOE with a new set of flexible tools to support technological innovation. Now it’s time to cement these changes as part of a long-term re-shaping of the Department. The President and the Secretary of Energy should continue the reforms of the last four years, but also continue reforming DOE to make it a well-oiled engine for clean energy innovation.

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Source: Matthew Stepp | Forbes