Department of Energy:

Observations on the Future of the Department

T-RCED-96-224: Published: Sep 4, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 4, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) future, focusing on DOE efforts to restructure its missions and address policy and management issues. GAO noted that: (1) DOE is having a difficult time responding to its changing mission and organizational structure; (2) DOE is unable to evaluate its activities due to weak management and information systems; (3) DOE has a highly decentralized field structure that is unable to respond to changing conditions and priorities, fraught with communication problems, and ill-equipped to handle cross-cutting issues; (4) many former DOE officials and other experts believe that DOE should concentrate on several key issues such as energy policy, energy information, and energy supply research and development; (5) DOE is reforming its contracting practices to make them more business-like and results-oriented, opening up its decisionmaking processes to the public, and organizing high-level task forces on laboratory and research management; (6) DOE is on target with its planned budget savings under the Strategic Alignment and Downsizing Initiative and is depending on its process improvements and reengineering efforts to fulfill its mission under reduced budgets; (7) a governmentwide approach to restructuring DOE is desirable, since transferring any DOE mission will have a broad impact on other federal agencies; and (8) DOE will have to address contract reform, acquisitions, and environmental cleanup and waste management issues to effectively restructure its organization.

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