Department of Energy: Review of Departmental Management and Oversight of the National Laboratories

January 2013 - The Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2012 Appropriations Bill directed the National Academy of Public Administration to conduct an independent review of the management and oversight of DOE’s national laboratories. In directing the study, the Appropriations Committees stated that the Academy should consider such issues as how DOE headquarters and site offices oversee lab operations and whether existing laboratory performance metrics for the Department’s management and operating contractors measure critical aspects of their performance and how the Department utilizes performance metrics and data.

Key Findings and Recommendations

In studying the specific questions related to lab management, the Panel, chaired by Jonathan Bruel, realized that they were part of a broader issue about defining and ensuring the future of the lab complex. New management approaches are needed to address changing conditions and drive the lab complex to optimize its future contribution to the Nation’s energy and security goals. To that end, the Panel examined several non-DOE Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, which perform work similar to many of the DOE labs, to identify potential best practices applicable to DOE’s lab oversight and evaluation.

The Panel is making recommendations with regard to lab oversight and evaluation that are intended, in the short term, to enhance DOE’s ongoing management changes. In the longer term, the Panel’s recommendations are aimed at maximizing the lab complex’s role in addressing national energy and security challenges with a view towards ensuring their long-term contributions to the Nation.