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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.

17 Aug 2016

The National Academies has released its midterm assessment of the 2010 decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics. A key theme is that increasingly expensive top-priority projects are responsible for outstanding breakthroughs, but are also putting pressure on high-priority medium-scale projects.

9 Aug 2016

The Obama Administration has released two reports on the state of quantum computing and related R&D projects. Among other issues addressed, the reports call attention to the organizational difficulties the field is facing as it grows and as other countries ramp up counterpart efforts.

4 Aug 2016

Sen. Lamar Alexander has introduced a bill that, if enacted, would authorize a multibillion-dollar increase in energy research funding while eliminating the wind production tax credit. These provisions reflect the senator’s longstanding priorities in the development of new clean energy options.

25 Jul 2016

Committee members and witnesses reflected on the feasibility of consent-based approaches to siting nuclear waste facilities and on whether scientific safety reviews and expanded nuclear R&D in Nevada could prove instrumental in securing public support for Yucca Mountain serving as a nuclear waste repository.

19 Jul 2016

Last week the House passed two bills which would establish new basic energy research initiatives at the Department of Energy, as well as a bill which would update policies for certain NIST programs and direct a comprehensive National Academies review of NIST laboratories.

13 Jul 2016

Among its most significant science-related provisions, the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate would assign management of Department of Defense R&D to a reconstituted Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering. The bill also contains multiple measures to improve DOD’s ability to hire top technical talent, and the authoring committee expresses interest in “comprehensive defense lab governance reform.”

11 Jul 2016

The House will soon vote on two bills that would create basic research initiatives at the Department of Energy focused on solar fuels and electricity storage, respectively. Although the House Science Committee cleared both with bipartisan support, committee members expressed divergent views at the markup on the proper role of the federal government in supporting energy R&D.

20 Jun 2016

After missing a goal for achieving a high-energy-yield fusion reaction by 2012, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is taking a step back to determine whether fusion ignition by laser is possible by 2020.

10 Jun 2016

The Department of Energy recommends that the U.S. remain a member of the international ITER fusion project through fiscal year 2018 and then reassess its participation. The department notes that without budget increases for the Office of Science, the required U.S. contributions to ITER could delay other facility construction projects, such as the pending upgrades to x-ray and neutron user facilities which an advisory committee just finished assessing.

3 Jun 2016

Last month, the House passed its version of the annual defense policy bill. The legislation contains various controversial components, including a provision which directs the Missile Defense Agency to begin development of a space-based missile defense system.