Management Problems Impede Success of DOE's Solar Energy Projects

EMD-81-10: Published: Dec 22, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1980.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) management of its solar energy research and development (R&D) projects.

GAO found that: (1) DOE has taken important steps, such as instituting decentralized management, establishing a formalized management system, and initiating an automated contractor reporting system, to improve its R&D project management; (2) solar energy projects are continuing to experience cost increases, schedule slippages, and scope reductions despite the steps; and (3) more complete implementation of the DOE management initiatives, as well as strengthened controls over solar energy R&D project selections and administration, are needed to improve project success. GAO also found that effective project administration has been hampered by weak DOE contractor monitoring and delays caused by the DOE approach to project funding.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to more effectively implement the project management improvement initiatives that are required to be instituted DOE-wide by ensuring that decentralized project management is carried out in the most complete and effective manner. Special attention should be given to ensuring field offices are given authority commensurate with their project managment responsibilities and that sufficient expertise and resources are present at those field offices designated for assuming project management.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to justify prospective projects, once the multiyear program plans are finalized, in terms of their specific potential contribution to achieving the goals set forth. Further, ongoing projects should be evaluated to ensure that each is making a contribution toward achieving the plans' goals and that optimum use of available funds is being achieved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to take efforts to more strictly comply with DOE unsolicited proposal regulations during the selection and approval of solar projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to more effectively implement the project management improvement initiatives that are required to be instituted DOE-wide by studying the current status as well as potential effectiveness of the automated Uniform Contractor Reporting System's application in the solar program. If it is determined that the system can be effective as a project monitoring tool, the solar program office should be directed to expand and improve the timeliness and accuracy of its automated database and incoporate the capability for aggregating data inputs for more complete reporting of project status.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  5. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to consider expanding the use of long-term, multiyear funding commitments for solar projects, providing for periodic reexaminations to verify each project's merits.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  6. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to reemphasize to field office project managers the need for effective project monitoring and its importance in helping solar projects contribute effectively to the program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  7. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to more effectively implement the project management improvement initiatives that are required to be instituted DOE-wide by striving for more timely and complete implementation of the DOE project management system for those projects formally subject to its provisions, and explore opportunities for expanding the application of the system to solar projects on which formal application has not already been made.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  8. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the solar program office to expeditiously develop, finalize, and implement multiyear program plans for the overall solar program and for each solar technology.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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