United States Department of Energy

United States Department of Energy
United States
Department of Energy
Seal of the Department of Energy
US Dept of Energy Forrestal Building.jpg
James Forrestal headquarters complex in Washington, D.C.
Department overview
Formed August 4, 1977
Preceding agencies Energy Research and Development Administration
Federal Energy Administration
Employees 16,000 federal (2009)[1]
93,094 contract (2008)
Annual budget $24.1 billion (2009)
Department executives Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary
Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material. Its responsibilities include the nation's nuclear weapons program, nuclear reactor production for the United States Navy, energy conservation, energy-related research, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production. DOE also sponsors more basic and applied scientific research than any other US federal agency; most of this is funded through its system of United States Department of Energy National Laboratories.

The agency is administered by the United States Secretary of Energy, and its headquarters are located in southwest Washington, D.C., on Independence Avenue in the Forrestal Building, named for James Forrestal, as well as in Germantown, Maryland.



In 1942, during World War II, the United States started the Manhattan Project, a project to develop the atomic bomb, under the eye of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After the war, the Atomic Energy Commission was created to control the future of the project.

The AEC was reinstated and gave way to Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which was tasked with regulating the nuclear power industry, and the Energy Research and Development Administration, which was tasked to manage the nuclear weapon, naval reactor, and energy development programs.

The 1973 oil crisis called attention to the need to consolidate energy policy. On August 4, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed into law The Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-91, 91 Stat. 565), which created the Department of Energy.[2] The new agency, which began operations on October 1, 1977, assumed the responsibilities of the Federal Energy Administration, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Federal Power Commission, and programs of various other agencies.


Sign in front of the United States Department of Energy Forrestal Building on Independence Avenue in Washington D.C.

The Department is under the control and supervision of a United States Secretary of Energy, a political appointee of the President of the United States. The Energy Secretary is assisted in managing the Department by a United States Deputy Secretary of Energy, also appointed by the President, who assumes the duties of the Secretary in his absence. The Department also has three Under Secretaries of Energy, each appointed by the President, who oversee the major areas of the Department's work. To aid the Under Secretaries in the performance of their duties, the President also appoints eight Assistant Secretaries of Energy. The Energy Secretary assigns their functions and duties.


As the lead energy research and development agency in the United States, the Department of Energy operates a number of science laboratories. They are as follows:

Responsibility for nuclear weapons

In the United States, all nuclear weapons deployed by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) are actually on loan to DoD from the DOE/NNSA,[3] which has federal responsibility for the design, testing and production of all nuclear weapons. NNSA in turn uses contractors to carry out its responsibilities at the following government owned sites:


During the Wen Ho Lee scandal, involving stolen nuclear secrets from Los Alamos National Laboratory, hearings were called in Congress regarding the Department of Energy's handling of the matter. Republican senators thought that an independent agency should be in charge of nuclear weapons and security issues, not the Department of Energy.[4] Federal officials, including then-Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, had publicly named Lee as a suspect in the theft of classified nuclear documents before he was charged with a crime; he was later cleared of the spying charges and won a settlement with the federal government.[5]

Related legislation

Hierarchy of the U.S. Department of Energy


President Barack Obama unveiled on May 7 a $26.4 billion budget request for DOE for fiscal year (FY) 2010, including $2.3 billion for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The budget aims to substantially expand the use of renewable energy sources while improving energy transmission infrastructure. It also makes significant investments in hybrids and plug-in hybrids, in smart grid technologies, and in scientific research and innovation.[6]

As part of the $789 billion economic stimulus package in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress provided Energy with an additional $38.3 billion for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, adding about 75 percent to Energy's annual budgets. Most of the stimulus spending was in the form of grants and contracts. Yet, according to Robert Alvarez, "Even with additional stimulus money, spending for bombs and cleanup will still exceed those for actual energy-related functions. Spending for the weapons complex is currently comparable to that during the height of the nuclear arms race in the 1950s. The big difference now — half of that money is spent dealing with the Cold War's environmental legacy.[7] "

For fiscal year 2011, each of the operating units of the Department of Energy operate with the following budgets:[8]

Division Funding (in billions)
Management $0.4
Energy and Environment $10.6
Science $4.9
Nuclear Security $10.5
Other $0.6
Total $27

Energy Savings Performance Contract

Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) are contracts under which a contractor designs, constructs, and obtains the necessary financing for an energy savings project, and the federal agency makes payments over time to the contractor from the savings in the agency's utility bills. The contractor guarantees the energy improvements will generate savings, and after the contract ends, all continuing cost savings accrue to the federal agency.[9]

 = Loan Guarantee Program =
  {Main|Loan guarantee}

Title XVII of Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to issue loan guarantees to eligible projects that "avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases" and "employ new or significantly improved technologies as compared to technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued".[10]

In loan guarantees, a conditional commitment requires to meet an equity commitment, as well as other conditions, before the loan guarantee is closed.[11]

Energy Innovation Hubs

Energy Innovation Hubs are multi-disciplinary meant to advance highly promising areas of energy science and technology from their early stages of research to the point that the risk level will be low enough for industry to commercialize the technologies.[6]

The DOE budget includes $280 million to fund eight Energy Innovation Hubs, each of which is focused on a particular energy challenge. Two of the eight hubs are included in the EERE budget and will focus on integrating smart materials, designs, and systems into buildings to better conserve energy and on designing and discovering new concepts and materials needed to convert solar energy into electricity. Another two hubs, included in the DOE Office of Science budget, will tackle the challenges of devising advanced methods of energy storage and creating fuels directly from sunlight without the use of plants or microbes. Yet another hub will develop "smart" materials that will allow the electrical grid to adapt and respond to changing conditions.[6]

Past Secretaries of Energy

Term Name President served
August 6, 1977 - August 23, 1979 James R. Schlesinger Jimmy Carter
August 24, 1979 - January 20, 1981 Charles W. Duncan, Jr. Jimmy Carter
January 23, 1981 - November 5, 1982 James B. Edwards Ronald Reagan
November 5, 1982 - February 7, 1985 Donald Paul Hodel Ronald Reagan
February 7, 1985 - January 20, 1989 John S. Herrington Ronald Reagan
March 1, 1989 - January 20, 1993 James D. Watkins George H.W. Bush
January 22, 1993 - January 20, 1997 Hazel R. O'Leary Bill Clinton
March 12, 1997 - June 30, 1998 Federico F. Peña Bill Clinton
August 18, 1998 - January 20, 2001 Bill Richardson Bill Clinton
January 20, 2001 - January 31, 2005 Spencer Abraham George W. Bush
February 1, 2005 - January 20, 2009 - Samuel W. Bodman George W. Bush
January 21, 2009 - Current Steven Chu Barack Obama

See also


  1. ^ http://www.cfo.doe.gov/CF1-2/2008CR.pdf
  2. ^ Relyea, Harold; Thomas P. Carr (2003). The executive branch, creation and reorganization. Nova Publishers. pp. 29. 
  3. ^ Chomsky, Noam (1993-02). "The Pentagon System". Z Magazine. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Chomsky/PentagonSystem_Chom.html. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  4. ^ Plotz, David (June 23, 2000). "Energy Secretary Bill Richardson". Slate.com. http://www.slate.com/id/84864/. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  5. ^ Mears, Bill (May 22, 2006). "Deal in Wen Ho Lee case may be imminent". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/05/22/scotus.wenholee/. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  6. ^ a b c "EERE News: DOE Requests $2.3 Billion for Efficiency, Renewable Energy in FY 2010". Apps1.eere.energy.gov. 2009-05-13. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/news_detail.cfm/news_id=12509. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  7. ^ Is the Energy Department Ready to Reboot the Country?, Institute for Policy Studies, March 27, 2009
  8. ^ Department of Energy FY2012 Budget Request, Department of Energy - Office of the Chief Finanicial Officer, February 2012
  9. ^ "EERE News: DOE Awards 16 Contracts for Energy Savings at Federal Facilities". Apps1.eere.energy.gov. 2009-01-07. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/news_detail.cfm/news_id=12163. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  10. ^ "Department of Energy - Loan Guarantee Program". Lgprogram.energy.gov. 2006-12-31. http://www.lgprogram.energy.gov/features.html. Retrieved 2009-08-25. [dead link]
  11. ^ "EERE News: DOE Offers $535 Million Loan Guarantee to Solyndra, Inc". Apps1.eere.energy.gov. 2009-03-20. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/news_detail.cfm/news_id=12360. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 

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