Most Americans probably assume that DOE is already focused on energy innovation; in fact, it was never properly designed for that task.

Lightbulb_Button_Black_SmallShould the Senate confirm him to lead the Department of Energy (DOE), Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Ernest Moniz will be returning to a department he knows well from service as an under secretary during the Clinton administration. He has the opportunity to transform DOE, if he is willing to reform, restructure and refocus the organization to put energy innovation at the forefront of its agenda.

Most Americans probably assume that DOE is already focused on energy innovation; in fact, it was never properly designed for that task.

To start with, DOE is hamstrung by its responsibilities to maintain, refurbish, and modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, and to clean up the radioactive legacy from 70 years of weapons production. These missions demand most of DOE’s budget, and much of its senior leadership’s time and attention.

While it would make sense to move these defense and environmental missions to other departments, those decisions must be made in Congress and the White House. But there is a lot that a new energy secretary could do to change DOE’s structure and culture to make it more productive.

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Source: Armond Cohen, David Garman and Samuel Thernstrom | The Hill | April 4, 2013