Ranking Member Johnson’s Statement on DOE Release of All FY 2016 ARPA-E Funds

Jun 14, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Department of Energy announced that it will release the remainder of FY 2016 funds previously frozen for over thirty competitively selected Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) awardees.

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX), statement is below.

“It greatly concerned me when I learned that the Administration was unjustifiably withholding funds from dozens of competitively selected ARPA-E awardees, arguably violating the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2016 as well as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. After first requesting that Secretary Perry take immediate action to ensure that the Department was complying with the law on April 26th, then initiating a GAO investigation into the matter on May 8th, I am happy to hear that the Department is now allowing all of these awards to move forward in accordance with Congressional direction. While this should never have happened in the first place, I hope that this decision represents a turning point in the Administration’s understanding of the critically important role that ARPA-E plays in our nation’s energy innovation ecosystem, as highlighted in a National Academies review of this program released yesterday.”

The National Academies’ key findings and recommendations include the following:

  • “ARPA-E is in many cases successfully enhancing the economic and energy security of the United States by funding transformational activities, white space, and feasibility studies to open up new technological directions and evaluate the technical merit of potential directions.”
  • “One of ARPA-E’s strengths is its focus on funding high-risk, potentially transformative technologies and overlooked, ‘off-roadmap’ opportunities pursued by neither private firms nor other funding agencies, including other programs and offices within DOE.”
  • “The results of some of these projects have prompted follow-on funding for various technologies, which are now beginning to enter the commercial market.”
  • “ARPA-E should preserve its distinctive and flexible management approach that empowers program directors and stresses active project management.”
  • “The Secretary of Energy should ensure that other offices and programs within DOE continue to explore and adopt elements of ARPA-E’s practices that can improve the department’s operations.”
  • “ARPA-E and DOE should provide incentives to encourage more interaction between other DOE program offices and ARPA-E, which could potentially help reduce DOE’s bureaucratic culture.”