Need for a System To Establish Priorities Among Fossil Energy Technologies

EMD-80-65: Published: Apr 8, 1980. Publicly Released: May 1, 1980.

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In an earlier report, GAO recommended that the Department of Energy (DOE) develop a system to establish priorities among the different fossil energy technologies and processes. A follow-up review of the DOE response to that report demonstrated again the need for DOE to establish a priority-setting system. Because little data exist for emerging technologies, considerable reliance will be placed on estimates and projections, and methods used to establish priorities rely heavily on subjective judgment. However, applying such judgment consistently can better ensure the inclusion of all significant factors and provide a better-documented basis for priority-setting.

A DOE memo used in the fiscal year 1980 budget for fossil energy programs identified eight technologies as having the highest priority. However, there was no individual ranking which placed the technologies in priority order. GAO found no evidence that predetermined criteria were ranked or weighted according to their importance in meeting program goals or were used consistently. Office of Management and Budget and Environmental Protection Agency officials expressed concern over the priority-setting process.

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