Department of Energy

Observations on the Future of the Department Gao ID: T-RCED-96-224 September 4, 1996

Now is the ideal time to reevaluate the Energy Department (DOE) and its missions. The agency's priorities have changed dramatically since its creation in 1977 in response to the energy crisis, shifting to nuclear weapons production in the 1980s and environmental cleanup in the 1990s. Many former DOE officials and other experts believe that DOE should focus on just a few of its current missions. Much needed reforms are under way at the agency, but GAO believes that a more fundamental rethinking is in order. DOE could begin by looking at the validity of its missions and their organizational placement. Because transferring missions from DOE to other agencies has profound implications, GAO believes that a governmentwide approach to restructuring is desirable. Regardless of DOE's future, many long-term issues, such as contract reform, major acquisitions, and environmental cleanup and waste management, will need addressing.

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