Concerns regarding Report on the Solar Energy Research Institute

EMD-78-20: Published: Nov 25, 1977. Publicly Released: Nov 25, 1977.

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The September 9, 1977, GAO report on the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) was based on information obtained from continuing reviews of Federal solar energy research and development efforts. Research specifically related to the authorization and creation of SERI began in April 1977 after the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) announced the selection of a contractor for SERI. Disagreements were expressed relating to findings and conclusions in this report.

Clarifications were offered on the following questions raised about the report: (1) It inaccurately asserts that a certain amendment was adopted by the Senate during deliberations on the ERDA authorization bill. GAO did not make this assertion, but stated that a bill scheduled to be introduced in the House was similar to one adopted by the Senate. (2) It suggests that the need for SERI has been eliminated through consolidation of Federal solar energy efforts. At the present time, such efforts are fragmented. (3) GAO failed to recognize the congressional commitment to SERI by asserting that many of its projected functions could be performed at existing laboratories. Because of the time lapse since the SERI authorization, placing it at an existing laboratory could have hastened its operation. (4) Existing Federal laboratories are not geared to perform certain functions. Multiprogram laboratories not only have capabilities that could be built upon, but many laboratories have viable ongoing solar energy efforts. (5)Undefined factors do not limit the importance of SERI. The importance of SERI purposes were not questioned, but its need should be reexamined.

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