A majority of science committee members insist that DOE prioritize the Office of Science

(Washington, DC) – Today, House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Brandon Williams, along with Republican members of the Energy Subcommittee, sent a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE) expressing concern about the lack of stable and consistent support for its Office of Science.

“This department’s leadership team appears to be more concerned with serving industry interests and scoring political expedient points than advancing key fundamental research programs and capabilities,” Members wrote. “The Office of Science is the engine that drives breakthrough scientific discoveries. This is an essential part of the federal research enterprise, and we urge the Department to begin treating it as such.

The letter comes in response to the president’s FY24 budget request and amid recent reports of workforce issues at the Office of Science. The House Science Committee has long supported bold funding and long-term programmatic direction for the Office of Science to accelerate US competitiveness and remain at the forefront of research and technology.

“The mission of this office is ‘to provide scientific discoveries and basic scientific tools to transform our understanding of nature and improve the energy, economic, and national security of the United States,'” Members wrote. “Although this mission is essential to DOE’s overall mandate, the Department, through its budget proposals and administrative actions, continues to demonstrate indifference to this central responsibility.” Rather than taking a balanced approach to its research and development portfolio, the Department appears to consistently prioritize applied energy activities, often at the expense of the Office of Science and its research infrastructure.

The letter notes that while the Office of Science accounts for nearly 20 percent of DOE’s annual funding profile, it receives less than 2 percent of DOE’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act appropriations . “The majority of this $100 billion expansion of DOE programs went to clean energy deployment and applied energy activities such as those conducted through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED). Instead of addressing this huge disparity, the Department, through the President’s FY 2024 budget request, further exacerbates the imbalance by continuing to prioritize these extremely well-funded activities: requiring higher percentage increases in funding for EERE and OCED , than for the Office of Science. “

Members also highlighted workforce issues, writing: “The Department for Education and Science’s neglect of the Office of Science is already having a damaging impact, manifesting as cracks in the workforce. Recently, as members of the scientific community have grown increasingly frustrated with DOE’s lack of adequate support for this office, we have seen an unprecedented exodus of senior career Office of Science employees. Five senior program management positions in the Office of Science have been vacated in the past year and, as of the date of this letter, only one has been successfully filled.’

The following is the full list of signatories:

  • Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK)
  • Representative Brandon Williams (R-NY)
  • Representative Randy Weber (R-TX)
  • Representative Jim Baird (R-IN)
  • Representative Stephanie Bice (R-OK)
  • Representative Claudia Tenney (R-NY)
  • Representative Max Miller (R-OH)
  • Representative Tom Kean (R-NJ)

Read the full letter here.

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