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Department of Energy

In covering DOE’s science-related activities, FYI focuses on the Office of Science, including its six program offices and 10 national laboratories. FYI also covers the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy and the science-related activities of the National Nuclear Security Administration, including its three national laboratories.

11 Oct 2017

At a hearing last week, members of the House Science Committee heard testimony about the status of domestic plutonium-238 supplies, an essential fuel for many robotic science missions. A Government Accountability Office report released at the same time recommends that the Department of Energy improve its long-term planning for producing Pu-238 and associated power systems.

5 Oct 2017

A National Academies study committee is currently conducting a decadal survey for materials research at the request of the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. The committee is seeking broad input from materials science and engineering stakeholders as it prepares a final report for completion in early 2018.

26 Sep 2017

Last week, representatives of the U.S. and U.K. governments signed the first-ever umbrella agreement on science and technology between the two nations. The first major project supported under the agreement is the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility / Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment project at Fermilab.

22 Sep 2017

The Senate passed its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act on Sept. 18, sending the bill to conference committee. House and Senate conferees now must come to an agreement on a vast library of provisions, including many concerning R&D policy.

19 Sep 2017

On Sept. 12, President Trump nominated Walter Copan to be director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. FYI spoke with Copan, a scientist who has dedicated much of his career to facilitating technology transfer between the public and private sectors, about why he is interested in the role and his initial vision for the agency.

15 Sep 2017

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing this week on the Department of Energy’s national labs, committee members praised the labs’ technology development and commercialization activities. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) also announced his introduction of a bipartisan bill authorizing a DOE initiative for funding technology maturation projects.

5 Sep 2017

According to a new report, the Department of Energy’s program to develop advanced nuclear reactors has shifted priorities too often and overspent on facility upkeep. After $2 billion in expenditures, no advanced design is ready for deployment.

11 Aug 2017

The House and Senate appropriations bills for the National Nuclear Security Administration would provide much of the Trump administration’s requested 10 percent increase to weapons-related research, development, test, and evaluation activities.

7 Aug 2017

The House spending bill for the Department of Energy proposes to halve the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, changes that would upend the department’s later-stage R&D activities. Both House and Senate spending bills also propose a range of less drastic funding cuts to DOE’s other applied energy offices.

2 Aug 2017

Paul Dabbar and Mark Menezes, President Trump’s nominees for the two open under secretary positions in the Department of Energy, are awaiting confirmation. DOE is currently considering reconfiguring the positions’ responsibilities, with potential implications for how the department coordinates its R&D portfolio.