Ranking Member Johnson Requests Comptroller General Examine Reports of DOE Withholding Funds from ARPA-E

May 8, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Recently, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry requesting information on reports that ARPA-E is currently subject to a “no contract action” order which prevents the program from taking any action to distribute and manage FY2016 or prior year funds as directed by law, and that requests for routine no cost extensions of contracts are also not being considered by the agency. The Department of Energy (DOE) responded on May 4, but that response did not address whether prior year appropriated funds were being inappropriately unobligated to projects which had already been competitively selected for awards.

Today, Ranking Member Johnson sent a letter to Mr. Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and Director of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requesting that he look into these allegations and take any actions he feels are necessary to ensure Executive compliance with Congressional direction.

Ranking Member Johnson said in the letter, “The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, as amended, requires Federal Agencies to devote lawfully directed appropriations to the programs to which they are dedicated. Congress specifically passed the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 because of frustration that President Richard Nixon had impounded congressionally appropriated funds for federal agencies. Moreover, the courts have declared that agencies may not attempt to thwart the intent of Congress by withholding or impounding funds intended for a specific purpose. If the Department of Energy has subjected ARPA-E to a ‘no contract action’ which has this effect, the Department could be in violation of the law.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.