Department of Energy:

Research and Agency Missions Need Reevaluating

T-RCED-95-105: Published: Feb 13, 1995. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 1995.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) role and missions. GAO noted that: (1) DOE missions and priorities have changed from energy concerns to weapons production and environmental cleanup since its creation in 1977; (2) science and industrial competitiveness have emerged as new DOE missions; (3) as its missions changed, DOE reorganized to integrate its activities and overcome its management problems, but its performance has been poor; (4) DOE failure to control the environmental effects of its nuclear weapons production has resulted in estimated cleanup costs of $300 billion; (5) DOE has poorly overseen its large pool of contractor employees and lacks workforce skills in key technical areas and an effective management information system; (6) DOE has implemented several initiatives to strengthen its contract management and strategic plans to define its existing missions to guide its reorganization; (7) the majority of experts surveyed believe that DOE should refocus on its energy policy and research missions and move its other missions to other agencies or to joint operations; (8) DOE needs to define its national laboratories' roles and missions and improve their oversight and guidance; and (9) DOE needs to determine which missions are governmental functions, how best to meet those missions, and whether the private sector could better perform some missions.

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