DOE Defederalization of the Laramie and Grand Forks Energy Technology Centers

RCED-84-34: Published: Nov 16, 1983. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1983.

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In April 1983, the Department of Energy (DOE) defederalized its government-owned and -operated energy technology centers at Laramie, Wyoming, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, by transferring the centers to the Universities of Wyoming and North Dakota, respectively. Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO addressed the following: (1) the centers' funding; (2) the centers' established management structures; (3) the use of the reduction in force process; and (4) the transfer of the centers' property.

The GAO examination revealed that continued federal funding of research at the centers under cooperative agreements with the universities was consistent with the law authorizing the transfer. However, immediate budget savings, which were part of the motivation for the transfers, would not be realized. Despite this, DOE expected other benefits to be realized in the long run. GAO determined that the roles and functions of the post-transfer management structures were designed to facilitate project planning and management of all ongoing work in the assigned research areas. DOE expected that the involved management organizations would complement each other so that the goal of close industry-government cooperation on fossil energy research could be achieved. GAO also found that: (1) the separation of the centers' employees through a reduction-in-force process and determinations of entitlement to severance pay were carried out according to applicable federal regulations; and (2) P.L. 97-394 was the only law authorizing the transfer of the federal property at the centers to the universities.

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