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RL30307: Department of Energy: Programs and Reorganization Proposals


Created in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, the Department of Energy (DOE) survived an attempt to dismantle it early in the Reagan Administration, and another in the 104th Congress. Now the agency is again the subject of reorganization legislation, this time because of concern about the security of its nuclear weapons program. An amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2000 (H.R. 1555) was adopted by the Senate to create the Agency for Nuclear Stewardship within DOE. The head of that agency would report directly and only to the Secretary of Energy. The agency would have responsibility for all defense related activities within DOE and be responsible for all DOE facilities in which defense related programs are the sole or primary activity. A similar initiative, creating a National Nuclear Security Administration within DOE, was included by a House-Senate Conference Committee on the FY2000 Department of Defense Authorization bill (S. 1059), reported August 5, 1999.

This report, a revision of an earlier CRS review of DOE programs, consists of an introductory discussion of the agency and its mission as a whole, and a description of its major programs as independent entities. Many of DOE's original energy-related missions have disappeared or changed radically. In addition, with the end of the Cold War, DOE's nuclear weapons-related programs, almost two-thirds of the total budget, are undergoing modification. However, regardless of the outcome of the debate on DOE's future, many of its present functions will continue in one location or another.

In presenting DOE's present structure and a detailed description of its individual programs, the report analyzes the effect of the proposed legislation on the nuclear weapons program. In addition, it addresses two primary issues: the effect of restructuring on the original mission of the department -- enhancing national energy security in the face of dangerous interruptions in oil imports in the 1970s -- and its effect on DOE's energy R&D, basic research and environmental restoration programs.

* These CRS reports were produced by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress providing nonpartisan research reports to members of the House and Senate. The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has made these reports available to the public at large, but the Congressional Research Service is not affiliated with the NCSE or the National Library for the Environment (NLE). This web site is not endorsed by or associated with the Congressional Research Service. The material contained in the CRS reports does not necessarily express the views of NCSE, its supporters, or sponsors. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. NCSE disclaims all warranties, either express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall NCSE be liable for any damages.