Long-Range Planning in Department of Energy

EMD-80-61: Published: May 7, 1980. Publicly Released: May 7, 1980.

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A request was made concerning further information on national energy planning. Specifically, the questions asked were whether GAO agreed with the conclusions of a March 1979 Coopers and Lybrand report concerning planning in the Department of Energy (DOE), and whether DOE has taken steps to improve its planning since the Coopers and Lybrand report was issued.

In response to the questions, GAO stated that it agreed with the Coopers and Lybrand conclusion that DOE does not have an effective planning process. Moreover, recent work on the National Energy Plan II (NEP) confirmed this again. However, since publication of the NEP II and the appointment of a new Secretary, DOE has taken steps to improve its planning process covering fiscal year 1982 through 1986 and to integrate it with the budget. The new system is a two-step, multiyear planning process modeled closely after the Defense Department's Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System. The difference between this system and the one which previously existed at DOE appears to be the feature of a two-step decisionmaking process, as well as added top-management attention. In this regard, GAO is concerned with the relatively short timeframe being considered in the new planning system. The planning process will cover 5 years, but this is a very short time when considered in terms of developing new energy production capabilities or even with achieving energy efficiency improvements. Moreover, it is not clear what the connection will be between the 5-year plan and the type of comprehensive national energy strategy mandated by Congress. Further, GAO believes that the effectiveness of the national energy policy requires a long-range strategy with an enunciated set of clearly defined goals, and programs designed to meet them. This should be accompanied by a series of milestones to chart progress, and stronger backup measures.

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