Concern Over Efforts To Put in Place a Permanent Facility for Solar Energy Research Institute

EMD-81-68: Published: Apr 27, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1981.

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GAO reviewed Department of Energy (DOE) efforts to put in place a planned permanent facility for the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) in Golden, Colorado.

GAO found that about $3 million has been spent over a 2-year period on designing the facility without the benefit of a clearly defined role for SERI in the national solar program or long-range requirements for the use of the SERI facility. DOE took needed actions to defer design work on the permanent facility pending its reassessment of the role and mission of SERI and a determination of the size and cost of the project. GAO agrees with this decision and believes that these actions should help ensure that DOE puts in place a facility which meets its needs. However, there are two matters which give GAO additional concern and which need immediate attention. First, the future design efforts may not take into consideration, to the extent practicable, the requirements for the use of the facility over its estimated life. Second, its associated support facilities, both of which are part of the total proposed permanent facility complex, should not proceed without adequate justification.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status:

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should defer related design and construction until such efforts are justified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status:

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should monitor the Office of Field Operations and International Programs' assessment of the role and mission of SERI to ensure that it is done in a timely manner and results in a clear definition of the SERI role in the national solar program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  3. Status:

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should identify, to the extent practicable, the research development and demonstration and administrative requirements for the facility over its estimated useful life and incorporate those requirements in a long range plan for the facility's use.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  4. Status:

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should give high priority to ensuring the justification is prepared and approved in a timely manner, taking into consideration the inadequacies of the leased facilities presently being used for carrying out the SERI activities and any advantage that an early commitment to such construction may offer in meeting Colorado's deadline and other requirements for transferring title to the land on which the facility is to be located.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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