The Multiprogram Laboratories:

A National Resource for Nonnuclear Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration

EMD-78-62: Published: May 22, 1978. Publicly Released: May 22, 1978.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The eight multiprogram laboratories under the Department of Energy (DOE) are government-owned research and production facilities operated by university, industry, or nonprofit contractors. In the past, most of their resources have been directed toward nuclear energy, but they have more recently developed capabilities in the fields of nonnuclear energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D).

The nonnuclear energy tasks undertaken by the laboratories have been relatively small and often appear to focus on fragmented portions of technologies. The initial organizational alinement of the laboratories, with five under an Assistant Secretary or Office responsible for specific programs, is not conducive to their role in nonnuclear energy RD&D. Factors tending to restrict the laboratories' involvement in this area include: (1) the piecemeal basis by which their roles were determined; (2) DOE emphasis on using private industry; (3) incompatibility with the Administration's emphasis on near- and mid-term technologies; (4) DOE reluctance to expand the laboratories; and (5) competition from other in-house research facilities. Also, the laboratories' roles in nonnuclear RD&D have not been adequately defined. In defining the roles, relationships with other research entities should be considered and issues addressed involving the extent of missions in this area, management responsibilities, use of laboratories to funnel money to other institutions, and policy planning.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should: (1) align the laboratories to a separate Office which is not responsible for specific programatic areas; (2) closely monitor the development of the planning, programing, and budgeting system to ensure timely implementation, giving priority to defining the roles of the laboratories and integration with DOE energy RD&D efforts; (3) assess ramifications of assigning missions in each of the technologies being developed; (4) assign missions, including support roles, in areas where other entities have greater capabilities; (5) agument staff capabilities; (6) delegate authority to carry out management responsibilities; and (7) expand the laboratories' advisory roles within assigned missions.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 20, 2018

Mar 14, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

Feb 16, 2018

Feb 6, 2018

Jan 30, 2018

Dec 7, 2017

Nov 14, 2017

Nov 1, 2017

Oct 26, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here