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DOE reshuffles energy, science offices

The U.S. Department of Energy is reshuffling its energy and science program offices to largely fall under two new undersecretaries in a move that unwinds the prior administration’s consolidation of many of those offices under one umbrella.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry in a staff town hall meeting this morning called the changes “initial steps” in his broader plan to transform the agency into a more “efficient, forward-looking adaptive enterprise.”

"Our efforts can be more focused and more closely aligned with our evolving mission," Perry said. “Redundant layers of bureaucracy are making it difficult to reach timely decisions and engage in immediate action to address real challenges and threats."

“Our contracting practices, our emergency response capabilities. Those are areas that I believe would benefit from some added focus and leadership,” Perry said before adding modernizing the nuclear weapons program to that list. The structural changes also advance President Donald Trump’s goal of promoting energy development, Perry suggested.

“This new structure will support American energy dominance, enhance our energy and national security, and improve outcomes in environmental management while ensuring DOE remains the leader in scientific innovation,” Perry said in a statement.

The agency is eliminating the Office of the Under Secretary for Management & Performance and is divvying up the Office of Under Secretary for Science and Energy, which was established by former Secretary Ernest Moniz in 2013, into the Office of the Under Secretary for Science and the Office of the Under Secretary for Energy.

The offices that will now report to the undersecretary of energy will focus on energy-related policies, applied technologies, security and reliability issues, and certain DOE-wide management functions. Also, the Loans Program Office and the Energy Policy and Systems Analysis Office, which Perry has renamed as the Office of Policy, will both report to the energy undersecretary instead of to the secretary’s office.

The undersecretary of science will focus on supporting innovation, basic scientific research and environmental cleanup. The undersecretary will oversee the Office of Science, the Office of Technology Transition, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, the Office of Legacy Management and the National Laboratory Operations Board.

Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette at the town hall told employees the reorganization would not result in any layoffs, reductions in force or terminations.

The Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and National Nuclear Security Administration and its underlying offices remain unchanged, according to the new organizational chart that takes effect today. But Brouillette said some changes may be ahead for that division. “We are going to look at their operations and begin to work with them to make things more efficient.”

He also said “we are not making changes to the national laboratory system” nor “selling off” the power marketing administrations.