DOE's Decision To Defederalize the Bartlesville Energy Technology Center

RCED-83-109: Published: Feb 28, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 4, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on: (1) alternatives which the Department of Energy (DOE) considered in making its decision to defederalize the Bartlesville Energy Technology Center and the cost/benefit analysis supporting that decision; and (2) the effects of the decision on the center's current employees, future research decisions, the nation's energy supply balance, technology transfer, agreements with foreign governments and research work being performed for others.

In making its decision to defederalize the Center, DOE identified and assessed a number of alternatives but made no cost/benefit analysis to support its decision. DOE officials explained that this analysis was not performed because they were unable to quantify the benefits. However, DOE believes that its decision will be cost effective because, as a privately operated facility, the center can market its research capabilities thereby reducing its overall operating costs. A GAO review of the solicitation for a nonfederal organization to enter into a cooperative agreement with DOE to run the center showed that: (1) although the center's employees will be subject to a reduction in force, they will be given first right to accept positions for which they are qualified; (2) DOE is to have direct input in future research decisions at the center through various agreement participant reports, onsite monitoring, and review and approval of yearly work plans; (3) the center's technology transfer activities and any current agreements with foreign governments will remain a DOE responsibility, and DOE must approve any new research conducted for foreign governments; and (4) DOE plans do encourage the agreement participant to actively seek client financing to supplement federal appropriations. As a privately operated facility, the participant could market the center's research capabilities to a larger portion of the private sector.

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