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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.

2 Feb 2016

A joint NASA-DOE effort to restart production of plutonium-238 has borne its first fruit: a 50 gram demonstration batch created at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Although this development comes as a relief to those concerned about the U.S.’ dwindling supply of plutonium-238 essential for powering deep space missions, some in Congress are still seeking details on potential ways to reduce demand for the material by using more efficient technologies such as advanced Stirling generators.

28 Jan 2016

At a House Armed Service Committee hearing, representatives and witnesses focused on arguments for and against a National Academies study panel’s recommendation that the labs perform a series of nuclear weapon design competitions as a means of maintaining a skilled weapons design workforce.

27 Jan 2016

The Senate begins debate on a major energy policy bill that would authorize increases in basic research funding at the Department of Energy Office of Science, boost technology transfer activities at the national laboratories, advance exascale computing, and modernize national critical mineral policy.

22 Dec 2015

The Senate confirmed Cherry Murray as Director of the Department of Energy Office of Science and Stephen Welby as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

22 Dec 2015

The annual spending law for FY 2016 increases spending at the National Nuclear Security Administration by 9.9 percent over FY 2015 levels and the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy by 8.0 percent. The law also provides direction on nuclear research, development, and safety matters, including the medical isotope molybdenum-99, inertial confinement fusion energy, advanced reactor concepts, and used nuclear fuel disposition.

17 Dec 2015

The annual spending legislation for FY 2016 would increase spending at the Department of Energy Office of Science by 5.6 percent over FY 2015 levels and provide direction on matters including the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, next-generation supercomputing, climate modeling, and a slew of physical sciences facilities and projects.

4 Dec 2015

President Obama signed into law the final 2016 defense policy authorization bill after vetoing an earlier version. The law includes a number of provisions supporting scientific research and collaboration at the Departments of Defense and Energy, including an easing of conference travel restrictions on federal scientists and engineers.

23 Nov 2015

The Secretaries of Energy and Interior jointly announced the establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which will preserve and protect key sites that contributed to the research and development of the first nuclear bombs and also laid the groundwork for the national laboratory system and the Department of Energy itself

9 Nov 2015

Newly elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan brings a record of leading a bipartisan budget effort that provided relief from spending cuts at the science agencies, although he has also proposed multiple federal budgets that would have imposed cuts to discretionary spending, from which R&D is funded. In some cases, he has opposed federal support for science facilities and areas of research he believes are wasteful, at risk of mismanagement, or not government’s proper role.

29 Oct 2015

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider six of President Obama’s nominees for leadership positions at the Department of Energy and Department of Interior, including Cherry Murray to be Director of the DOE Office of Science.