Department of Energy broke law in blocking research funds report says

first_img Email Sandia National Laboratory/Randy Montoya/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country A congressional watchdog agency says the Department of Energy (DOE) broke the law in trying to prevent one of its research units from spending part of its budget. The ruling, issued yesterday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), is part of a larger fight between President Donald Trump’s administration and Congress over the future of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds research designed to move new technologies into the marketplace.On 23 May, Trump’s 2018 budget request to Congress called for shutting the 9-year-old agency. The move came just days after lawmakers had finished work on a fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending bill that gave the agency $306 million.GAO’s decision doesn’t address the agency’s fate. But it says that DOE officials were wrong to allow the agency to redirect $91 million in 2017 funding before Congress had acted on the president’s 2018 request. Specifically, the administration wanted to return $46 million of ARPA-E’s 2017 appropriation to the U.S. Treasury and spend $45 million to begin shutting down operations (before Congress had approved that proposal).  Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Todd Griffith, a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, displays a wind turbine blade developed as part of a program funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.  By Jeffrey MervisDec. 13, 2017 , 1:30 PM Department of Energy broke law in blocking research funds, report says GAO launched its investigation last spring in the wake of media reports that DOE was refusing to release the money for dozens of ARPA-E grants it had already awarded. Although the money for those projects was coming from the agency’s 2016 budget, congressional Democrats were also concerned about another delay caused by DOE’s review of upcoming 2017 awards to see whether they aligned with the new administration’s energy priorities.In a seven-page report to four congressional committees that oversee the department, GAO says DOE violated a 1974 law that requires the executive branch to abide by congressionally approved appropriations. The law was enacted after former President Richard Nixon rejected spending for a handful of programs he opposed. The law allows the president to ask Congress for a so-called rescission of the money, giving reasons for the request. But DOE didn’t make such a formal request in this case, GAO notes.The GAO probe prompted an investigation by DOE’s legal team. In a 29 November letter to GAO, DOE’s acting general counsel, John Lucas, essentially admits that the department had flaunted the law.“Our review revealed that limited oral conversations regarding whether to withhold any budget authority in the [FY 2017] ARPA-E appropriation pursuant to the FY 2018 President’s budget did occur,” Lucas writes. Once the offending parties were told of their misstep, the letter says, they “took appropriate steps to be in compliance.” As a result, the letter notes, “all funds for this [2017] appropriation have been allotted and they are available for obligation.”Proof of that new reality came this morning when ARPA-E unveiled a $100 million grants competition. “We are asking American energy entrepreneurs and researchers to show us the next breakthrough in energy security,” Secretary of Energy Rick Perry declared in announcing the new funding opportunity across the full spectrum of technologies that ARPA-E supports.Legislators hope the GAO report will put an end to what they see as an attempt to usurp their authority. “I want to thank GAO for undertaking this investigation,” says Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), the top Democrat on the science committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. “I hope that the administration now understands that federal agencies must provide lawfully directed appropriations to the programs to which they are dedicated. It cannot attempt to shut down an agency or starve a program it doesn’t like by withholding funds.”last_img

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