Energy Policy:

Evolution of DOE's Process for Developing a National Energy Strategy

RCED-91-76: Published: Feb 21, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 20, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) process for developing the National Energy Strategy (NES), focusing on the opportunities DOE provided for public comment.

GAO found that: (1) DOE began developing NES in July 1989 in response to a presidential directive and legislative requirement that the President biennially prepare and submit to Congress a National Energy Policy Plan; (2) DOE expected NES to serve as a comprehensive blueprint for decisions about energy and be an administration plan rather than a DOE plan; (3) NES received significantly greater public input in the early development stage than in the latter stages; (4) DOE held 18 public hearings during NES development on a variety of energy topics and received 2,067 written submissions; (5) DOE failed to announce public hearings far in advance, providing less than 2 weeks' notice for 10 hearings and less than 1 weeks' notice for 6 hearings; (6) the Secretary of Energy intended that the first NES draft to help Congress understand the direction of the national energy policy and how the administration planned to achieve it and to facilitate continued dialogue; (7) the interim NES report summarized the voluminous public input rather than the intended draft strategy; (8) although the interim report did not satisfy the plan criteria, DOE planned to meet the requirements with its final NES report; (9) public review of NES options under consideration was limited; and (10) the option summaries lacked sufficient information to act as a quality control mechanism and were not presented in a manner that facilitated comparison in terms of the President's NES objectives.