(Washington, DC) - Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Brandon Williams led a letter along with Republican Members of the Energy Subcommittee to the Department of Energy (DOE) expressing concerns with its lack of robust and consistent support for its Office of Science.
“This Department’s leadership team appears to be more concerned with serving industry interests and scoring politically expedient points than advancing key fundamental research programs and capabilities,” the Members wrote. “The Office of Science is the engine that drives breakthrough scientific discoveries. It is an essential part of the federal research enterprise, and we urge the Department to start treating it as such.”
The letter comes in response to the President’s FY24 budget request and amid recent reports of concerning workforce issues within the Office of Science. The House Science Committee has long supported bold funding and long-term program direction for the Office of Science to accelerate U.S. competitiveness and stay at the forefront of research and technology.
“The mission of this office is ‘to deliver scientific discoveries and major scientific tools to transform our understanding of nature and advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States,’ the Members wrote. “While this mission is essential to DOE’s overall mandate, the Department, through its budget proposals and administrative actions, continues to demonstrate an 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 noted that while the Office of Science accounts for nearly 20% of DOE’s annual funding profile, it received less than 2% 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 like those carried out through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED). Rather than address this massive disparity, the Department, through the President’s fiscal year 2024 budget request, further exacerbates the imbalance by continuing to prioritize these extremely well-funded activities: requesting higher percentage funding increases for EERE and OCED than for the Office of Science.”
The Members also highlighted workforce issues writing, “DOE’s neglect of the Office of Science is already having a detrimental effect, which is showing up as cracks in its workforce. Recently, as members of the scientific community have become increasingly frustrated with the DOE’s lack of adequate support for this office, we have seen an unprecedented exodus of senior career Office of Science employees. In the past year, five senior program leadership roles in the Office of Science were vacated, and, as of the date of this letter, only one has been successfully filled.”
The full list of signatories follows:
- Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)
- Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY)
- Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)
- Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN)
- Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK)
- Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY)
- Rep. Max Miller (R-OH)
- Rep. Tom Kean (R-NJ)
Read the full letter here.