GAO: R&D: DOE Activities and Costs to Oversee Investments
In fiscal year 2015, five DOE program offices and ARPA-E invested $7.36 billion for civilian R&D in DOE national laboratories as well as in universities, industry, and other entities. These civilian R&D investments supported diverse science and energy research areas, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and nuclear energy. The five program offices and ARPA-E also obligated funds for staff to oversee these R&D investments—referred to as staff costs in this report—and include federal staff salaries and benefits, travel, support services, and other costs.
GAO found that Energy spent around $650 million in 2015 to help manage and oversee these civilian R&D investments. Those funds paid for employees in headquarters, research, and site offices who conduct oversight activities, such as identifying research priorities, and monitoring and reviewing R&D projects via periodic assessments, site visits, and meetings. Report.
GAO: Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Could Benefit from Information on Applicants' Prior Funding
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy's (ARPA-E) purpose is to overcome long-term and high-risk technological barriers in the development of energy technologies. Since 2009, ARPA-E has awarded $521.7 million to universities, public and private companies, and national laboratories to fund energy research projects.
GAO’s review suggests that most ARPA-E projects could not have been funded solely by private investors. Private venture capital firms told GAO that, among other considerations, they generally do not fund projects that rely on unproven technologies and tend to invest in projects that can be commercialized in less than 3 years.