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Overview:

Located within the Department of Energy, the Office of Science is one of the federal government’s largest distributors of research money for science exploration. The office supports research in areas ranging from high-energy physics to nanoscience to bioenergy. Much of the work funded by the Office of Science involves research universities from across the country, including some of the top schools in academia.

 

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History:

By the close of World War II, the United States was at the dawn of a new era. With the development of the first atomic bombs through the Manhattan Project, the federal government faced decisions over what to do with this new, highly powerful and potentially destructive energy source. Realizing the commercial as well as military potential of nuclear power, the federal government established the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1946 and transferred to it the responsibility for atomic energy research from the War Department. The AEC oversaw research programs in nuclear and radiation physics, as well as chemistry and applied mathematics, much of which was carried out by universities and national laboratories in conjunction with research labs owned by private companies.

 

In the early 1970s the OPEC crisis prompted Congress to expand the research mission of AEC to include other forms of energy and related technologies. However, as the worry over energy supplies grew, lawmakers came to the conclusion that the AEC had outlived its usefulness and that a new government agency was needed to meet the energy challenge. On December 31, 1974, as part of a larger series of energy-related policy initiatives, the AEC was abolished and replaced by the newly created Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA). Chartered with an expanded research mission, the ERDA was responsible for programs involving nuclear, solar and geothermal power, fossil fuels, and energy conservation.

 

The ERDA, however, was short-lived. President Jimmy Carter believed that a cabinet-level department was needed to address the country’s energy concerns. Thus, in 1977, the Department of Energy (DOE) was established. It gathered under one authority most of the energy-related activities that had evolved during the 1970s among a number of federal agencies. Included in the reorganization were the missions of the ERDA, the Bureau of Mines, the Federal Energy Administration, and the regulatory responsibilities of the Federal Power Commission.

 

Under the DOE, energy technologies were not divided by fuel type, such as fossil, nuclear or solar, but grouped under assistant secretaries ranging in responsibilities from research and development to application and commercialization. Over time the DOE placed less emphasis on research of nuclear power in favor of other energy sources. This work was done within the department by the Office of Energy Research (OER), which was established at the same time the DOE was created. The OER managed R&D programs, as well as laboratories conducting non-weapons-related research. It also oversaw education and research activities that promoted science careers. These duties continued after OER’s name was changed to the Office of Science in 1999.

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What it Does:

The Office of Science (OS) is one of the federal government’s largest distributors of research money for science exploration. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, the office provides more than 40% of total funding in this area. It also oversees research programs in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, fusion energy sciences, basic energy sciences, biological and environmental sciences, and computational science. In addition, the Office of Science is the federal government’s largest single financial supporter of materials and chemical sciences, and it supports programs involving climate change, geophysics, genomics, life sciences, and science education.

 

The OS operates six interdisciplinary program offices: Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics. It also sponsors a range of science education initiatives through its Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists program.

Office of Science Organizational Chart (pdf)

 

Additional programs supported by the OS are: Office of Project Assessment, Safety, Security, and Infrastructure, and the DOE Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer.

 

Another key duty of the OS is managing the “crown jewels” of America’s national laboratory system. Considered the most comprehensive research system of its kind in the world, the 10 labs are: Argonne National Laboratory; Brookhaven National Laboratory; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Ames Laboratory; Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility; Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Office of Science Organization

 

The OS also oversees the operation of some of the nation’s most advanced R&D user facilities located at national laboratories and universities. These include particle and nuclear physics accelerators, synchrotron light sources, neutron scattering facilities, supercomputers and high-speed computer networks. In FY 2012 these facilities were used by more than 29,000 researchers from universities, national laboratories, private industry, and other federal science agencies.

 

Nanoscience is another area of research that the office supports. Nanomaterials—typically on the scale of billionths of a meter or 10,000 times smaller than a human hair—offer different chemical and physical properties than bulk materials and have the potential to form the basis of new technologies. To support the synthesis, processing, fabrication, and analysis at the nanoscale, the Office of Science developed five Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRC). The centers are part of DOE’s contribution to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. These facilities are:

 

The Office of Science also runs several Bioenergy Research Centers with the goal of developing substitutes for gasoline through the conversion of cellulose in plant material into ethanol or other biofuels. The centers are:

  • DOE BioEnergy Science Center (Oak Ridge National Laboratory). This center focuses on the resistance of plant fiber to breakdown into sugars and is studying the potential energy crops poplar and switchgrass.
  • DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (University of Wisconsin in Madison, in collaboration with Michigan State University in East Lansing). This center is studying a range of plants and, in addition to exploring plant fiber breakdown, aims to increase plant production of starches and oils that are more easily converted to fuels. This center also has a major focus on sustainability, examining the environmental and socioeconomic implications of moving to a biofuels economy.
  • DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). This center will concentrate on “model” crops of rice and Arabidopsis, in the search for game-changing breakthroughs in basic science and is exploring microbial-based synthesis of fuels beyond ethanol.

 

The OS also supports education programs. Approximately a third of the office’s research funding goes to support research at more than 300 colleges and universities, mostly to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers early in their careers. Nearly half of the 25,000 researchers that use the office’s facilities are university students and faculty. The office also conducts outreach to K-12 schools to help improve students’ knowledge of science and mathematics and their understanding of global energy and environmental challenges. To attract and encourage students to pursue science or engineering educations, the office supports the National Science Bowl®, an educational competition for high school and middle school students involving all branches of science. Each year, the National Science Bowl® attracts over 14,000 students from across the country. During its 22-year history, more than 225,000 students have participated.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ten-Year Plans for the Office of Science National Laboratories

 

 

From the Web Site of the Office of Science

Budget

Contact Form

Discovery and Innovation

Field Offices

Funding Opportunities

GAO Audit Reports

Grants Map

History

Honors and Awards

In Focus

Jobs

Laboratories

Leadership

News

News Archive

Organization

Organization Chart

Presentations and Testimony

Programs

Universities

User Facilities

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Where Does the Money Go:

The Office of Science (OS) has spent more than $11 billion on contractor spending during the past decade, according to USAspending.gov. The top five types of products or services purchased by the office during this period were operation of government R&D facilities ($4,935,615,173), ADP and telecommunications ($693,763,792), engineering and technical services ($524,814,375), engineering and technical support ($477,659,319), and drugs/biological ($336,058,824).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending were:

1. State of California                                      $4,893,560,315          

2. Computer Sciences Corporation                 $1,748,136,339          

3. SAIC Inc.                                                   $1,660,421,853          

4. Human Genome Sciences, Inc.                      $336,058,824          

5. California Institute of Technology                $285,599,655          

 

Some of the nation’s most prestigious universities operate the national laboratories and other research centers that the office manages. Key stakeholders, and the labs they help run, include: Iowa State University (Ames Laboratory); Princeton University (Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory); Stanford University (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center); State University of New York (Brookhaven National Laboratory); University of Chicago (Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory); University of California (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory); University of Tennessee (Oak Ridge National Laboratory); and University of Wisconsin/Michigan State University (Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center).

 

In addition to these higher education institutions, two university consortiums are involved with the work of certain national laboratories. The Universities Research Association, a consortium of 86 universities in the United States, with members also in Canada, Japan, and Italy, co-operates the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory with the University of Chicago. Also, the Southeastern Universities Research Association, a collection of 60 universities from across the U.S., helps run the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility along with Computer Sciences Corporation. The state of Virginia and the City of Newport News, Virginia, also provide funding to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.

 

The largest private contractor involved with the Office of Science is Battelle, an applied science and technology company that co-operates the Brookhaven National Laboratory with the State University of New York and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the University of Tennessee. Battelle also runs the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory without a university partner.

 

Other private contractors help operate Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies is located. These lab contractors include Lockheed Martin Corporation, Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group  and URS Corporation.

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Controversies:

Office of Science Involved in Scientific Misconduct

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE OS) was swept up in controversy when details from an unpublished report emerged in 2011 alleging researchers at a national laboratory were accused of scientific misconduct.

 

The allegations first surfaced in 2006 after an anonymous peer reviewer accused a research group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee of fabricating data in two manuscripts: a then-current submission to Nature Physics, which had not been published, and a paper that had been published in 1993 by the magazine Nature.

 

The ORNL group was headed by Stephen Pennycook, an electron microscopist who produced a landmark paper on atomic-scale imaging. Pennycook, a pioneer of such techniques, had been pushing the limits of spatial resolution in electron microscopy to solve problems in a variety of research areas, including materials sciences, nanotechnology, and condensed-matter physics.

 

That same year, Republican lawmakers challenged the Obama administration’s science czar over what they claimed were repeat incidents of “scientific misconduct” among agencies.

 

In a letter to John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the GOP lawmakers, concerned that there was a trend developing, cited other controversies in recent years in which scientific findings were questioned or misinterpreted, covering topics ranging from a deepwater drilling moratorium to formaldehyde.

Misconduct oversight at the DOE: Investigation closed (by Eugenie Samuel Reich, Nature)

GOP Lawmakers Challenge White House on 'Scientific Misconduct' (Fox News)

Scientific Integrity Report Card (Department of Energy)

 

Battelle Fraud Case

The OS has been criticized for helping a contractor with its legal battle involving fraud.

 

Battelle Memorial Institute, which has managed multiple national laboratories, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for decades, has been in an ongoing legal fight with Philip Pulver, owner of a small business, Catalogs Online.

 

Pulver approached PNNL in 2003 through the DOE’s Technical Assistance Program, which the lab has used to help hundreds of other private entrepreneurs, hoping it could help him develop specialized software to make hand-held electronic devices, such as cell phones, perform like desktop computers.

 

After several years of waiting, Pulver says the PNNL gave him worthless software, then took his concept, fixed up the software, applied for a patent, and marketed the product commercially as its own, offering it to a Fortune 500 company. So Pulver sued Battelle. He has spent years on the case, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

Meanwhile, the OS has provided Battelle with more than $750,000 to help pay for its lawyers. The government says it has to pay for Battelle’s legal costs under a Cold War policy that mandates the Energy Department support contractors running national laboratories.

Kennewick inventor battles Battelle in court (by John Trumbo, Tri-City Herald)

Pulver Emails to/from DOE Office of Science (Pnnlfraud.com)

4/30/12 Letter to DOE Inspector General (InspectorGeneralMisconduct.info)

9/10/12 Email to OMB and Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) (Cigie-Omb-Coveringupfraud.info)

 

Budget Cuts under George W. Bush

Since 2004 under the George W. Bush administration, the OS saw its appropriations reduced either as part of President Bush’s proposed budget plan or by congressional Democrats.

 

In 2005 the White House trimmed almost 4% from the OS budget. This decision stood in contrast to the administration’s support for greater research into new generations of nuclear power plants, which resulted in the Office of Nuclear Energy receiving even more money than it had requested (see Office of Nuclear Energy). One of the hardest-hit programs for the OS was the field of supercomputing, which sustained an almost 11% reduction. 

 

As a result of the budget cuts, some OS-funded experiments were shut down or delayed, and some scientists laid off. The cuts proved especially dangerous for a plan to have the U.S. serve as host of an international linear collider, which represented a significant loss for researchers involved in high-energy physics.

 

In 2006, the Bush administration bolstered funding for OS programs. Those increases were cut, however, after negotiations between the President’s and congressional negotiators. “It was glorious for [fiscal year] ’07 and it was glorious in [fiscal year] ’08, and in neither case was it realized,” said Persis Drell, director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, which terminated about 120 workers, including some scientists, from its staff of 1,600 because of budget cuts. Officials at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the nation’s top institution in particle physics, also decided to cut 10% of its staff.

 

In 2008, the George W. Bush administration again proposed budget increases for research in the physical sciences, and Congress agreed to raise the annual budget of the Office of Science from $4 billion to $4.65 billion. The office’s 2009 budget request increased to $4.722 billion.

 

Overall increases continued under the Obama administration, to $4.9 billion in 2010 and 2011, $5.4 billion in 2012, $5 billion in 2013, and a request for $5.15 billion in 2014.

Physicists Hope U.S. Budget Will Mean an End to Research Cuts (by Kenneth Chang, New York Times)

Alexander Urges Increased Science Funding In Continuing Resolution (Chattanoogan)

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Former Directors:

Steven E. Koonin        May 2009 – November 2011

Biography (AllGov)

 

Raymond L. Orbach               2006 – 2009

Biography (AllGov)

 

Former Directors

 

William F. Brinkman               2009 – 2013

Raymond L. Orbach               2002 – 2009

Mildred S. Dresselhaus           2000 – 2001

Martha A. Krebs                     1998 – 1999

 

Former Directors (Office of Science)

 

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Founded: 1977
Annual Budget: $5.15 billion (FY 2014 Request)
Employees: 1,010 (FY 2014 Request)
Official Website: http://science.energy.gov/
Office of Science
Orr, Franklin
Under Secretary

The nomination of Franklin M. (Lynn) Orr Jr. to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Science was approved by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on January 14, 2014. Orr is awaiting confirmation of his appointment by the full Senate. If approved, Orr will oversee all science and energy research by the Department of Energy. He will also be in charge of most of the national laboratories.

 

Orr is a native of Texas, attending high school in Houston. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1969 from Stanford University, the institution where he would end up spending much of his professional life. While an undergrad, Orr was named a Rotary Undergraduate Scholar and studied at Imperial College in London. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1976.

 

In the midst of his graduate work, Orr took two years off, from 1970 to 1972, to serve as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. He served first at the National Air Pollution Control Administration and then at the Environmental Protection Agency upon its creation.

 

After leaving the University of Minnesota, Orr initially worked in the private sector as a research engineer for Shell in Houston. However, he returned to a college setting in 1978, becoming an adjunct professor at New Mexico Tech.

 

In 1985, Orr returned to Palo Alto to teach at Stanford in its department of petroleum engineering. He was made department chairman in 1991. He was named dean of Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences in 1994, a post he held until 2002. Also in 1994, Orr was made a member of the Department of Energy’s Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development.

 

Orr’s next responsibility was the founding of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). The purpose of the energy industry-supported project was to research technology options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. In 2006, Orr appeared in a documentary, A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash. That film dealt with the planet’s dwindling oil supply.

 

In 2009, Orr helped found the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. According to the institute’s website, its mission is to provide funding and associated support for cutting-edge energy research, support effective communication and intellectual exchange among scholars and others seeking energy solutions, and fostering knowledge of energy issues through educational programs and the dissemination of research results.

 

In recent years, the focus of Orr’s research has been into carbon capture and storage, in which emissions from power plants and other pollution sources are injected into the earth. The carbon dioxide is stored in underground formations where it can’t reach the atmosphere.

 

Orr is married to Hewlett-Packard heiress Susan Packard Orr, whom he met while attending Stanford. She is on the board of trustees of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, where her husband was formerly a board member. Orr is a licensed private pilot.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Lynn Orr to be Nominated by White House to Head DOE Energy Research (Stanford Report)

Statement of Franklin M. Orr, Jr. Nominee to be Under Secretary for Science U.S. Department of Energy (pdf)

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Koonin, Steven
Previous Under Secretary

The choice of Steven E. Koonin, a longtime physics professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and, since 2004, senior scientist for British Petroleum, to lead the Office of Science in the Department of Energy was viewed by those in the alternative energy field as a sign that President Barack Obama is serious about ramping up the nation’s production of biofuels. Confirmed by the Senate as the Undersecretary of Science on May 19, 2009, Koonin oversees the running of the national laboratory system, which conducts scientific research into both civilian and military-related projects.

 
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Koonin went to college at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he received his Bachelor of Science in physics in 1972. He then attended MIT and graduated with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1975.
 
He returned to Caltech in 1975 to join the faculty. While at Caltech, Koonin was a research fellow at the Niels Bohr Institute from 1976-1977, and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow from 1977-1979. He became a full professor at Caltech in 1981.
 
The year 1989 was important for two reasons for Koonin. He became chairman of the Caltech faculty (serving until 1991), and gained a national profile as part of a panel of experts that refuted claims by two scientists to have discovered cold fusion.
 
In 1995, Koonin was promoted to provost of Caltech. During his nine-year run as provost, Koonin oversaw an overhaul of Caltech’s biological sciences and expansion of neurosciences, as well as its involvement in projects such as the Thirty Meter Telescope.
 
In 1998 he received the E.O. Lawrence Award in Physics from the Department of Energy, and in 2002, he appeared before a congressional committee to help determine the potential threat of so-called “dirty bombs” to the nation’s security.
 
In 2004, Koonin left Caltech (technically on a leave of absence) to become chief scientist for oil giant BP, responsible for guiding the world’s second largest oil company’s long-range technology strategy, particularly in alternative and renewable energy sources. He remained at BP until his appointment to take over the Office of Science.
 
Koonin has been a member of the Council for Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission, and has served on a number of advisory committees for the National Science Foundation, the Energy Department, and the Department of Defense and its various national laboratories, along with JASON, an independent group of scientists that was first formed during the Cold War to provide the federal government with scientific analysis of sensitive national security projects. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. His research interests include theoretical nuclear, many-body, and computational physics, nuclear astrophysics, and global environmental science.
 
Koonin is a longtime colleague of Steven Chu, the new secretary of energy. Both Koonin and Chu played major roles in setting up a $500-million industry-university alliance between BP, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Illinois in 2007.
 
Dr. Steven E. Koonin Profile (Closer to Truth)
21st Century Provost (Caltech News)
Getting Serious About Biofuels (by Steven E. Koonin, Science)
Sustainable Ethanol Industry Rapidly Forming in U.S. (by Tonya Vinas, Lean and Green News)
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Bookmark and Share
Overview:

Located within the Department of Energy, the Office of Science is one of the federal government’s largest distributors of research money for science exploration. The office supports research in areas ranging from high-energy physics to nanoscience to bioenergy. Much of the work funded by the Office of Science involves research universities from across the country, including some of the top schools in academia.

 

more
History:

By the close of World War II, the United States was at the dawn of a new era. With the development of the first atomic bombs through the Manhattan Project, the federal government faced decisions over what to do with this new, highly powerful and potentially destructive energy source. Realizing the commercial as well as military potential of nuclear power, the federal government established the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1946 and transferred to it the responsibility for atomic energy research from the War Department. The AEC oversaw research programs in nuclear and radiation physics, as well as chemistry and applied mathematics, much of which was carried out by universities and national laboratories in conjunction with research labs owned by private companies.

 

In the early 1970s the OPEC crisis prompted Congress to expand the research mission of AEC to include other forms of energy and related technologies. However, as the worry over energy supplies grew, lawmakers came to the conclusion that the AEC had outlived its usefulness and that a new government agency was needed to meet the energy challenge. On December 31, 1974, as part of a larger series of energy-related policy initiatives, the AEC was abolished and replaced by the newly created Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA). Chartered with an expanded research mission, the ERDA was responsible for programs involving nuclear, solar and geothermal power, fossil fuels, and energy conservation.

 

The ERDA, however, was short-lived. President Jimmy Carter believed that a cabinet-level department was needed to address the country’s energy concerns. Thus, in 1977, the Department of Energy (DOE) was established. It gathered under one authority most of the energy-related activities that had evolved during the 1970s among a number of federal agencies. Included in the reorganization were the missions of the ERDA, the Bureau of Mines, the Federal Energy Administration, and the regulatory responsibilities of the Federal Power Commission.

 

Under the DOE, energy technologies were not divided by fuel type, such as fossil, nuclear or solar, but grouped under assistant secretaries ranging in responsibilities from research and development to application and commercialization. Over time the DOE placed less emphasis on research of nuclear power in favor of other energy sources. This work was done within the department by the Office of Energy Research (OER), which was established at the same time the DOE was created. The OER managed R&D programs, as well as laboratories conducting non-weapons-related research. It also oversaw education and research activities that promoted science careers. These duties continued after OER’s name was changed to the Office of Science in 1999.

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What it Does:

The Office of Science (OS) is one of the federal government’s largest distributors of research money for science exploration. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, the office provides more than 40% of total funding in this area. It also oversees research programs in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, fusion energy sciences, basic energy sciences, biological and environmental sciences, and computational science. In addition, the Office of Science is the federal government’s largest single financial supporter of materials and chemical sciences, and it supports programs involving climate change, geophysics, genomics, life sciences, and science education.

 

The OS operates six interdisciplinary program offices: Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, and Nuclear Physics. It also sponsors a range of science education initiatives through its Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists program.

Office of Science Organizational Chart (pdf)

 

Additional programs supported by the OS are: Office of Project Assessment, Safety, Security, and Infrastructure, and the DOE Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer.

 

Another key duty of the OS is managing the “crown jewels” of America’s national laboratory system. Considered the most comprehensive research system of its kind in the world, the 10 labs are: Argonne National Laboratory; Brookhaven National Laboratory; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Ames Laboratory; Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility; Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Office of Science Organization

 

The OS also oversees the operation of some of the nation’s most advanced R&D user facilities located at national laboratories and universities. These include particle and nuclear physics accelerators, synchrotron light sources, neutron scattering facilities, supercomputers and high-speed computer networks. In FY 2012 these facilities were used by more than 29,000 researchers from universities, national laboratories, private industry, and other federal science agencies.

 

Nanoscience is another area of research that the office supports. Nanomaterials—typically on the scale of billionths of a meter or 10,000 times smaller than a human hair—offer different chemical and physical properties than bulk materials and have the potential to form the basis of new technologies. To support the synthesis, processing, fabrication, and analysis at the nanoscale, the Office of Science developed five Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRC). The centers are part of DOE’s contribution to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. These facilities are:

 

The Office of Science also runs several Bioenergy Research Centers with the goal of developing substitutes for gasoline through the conversion of cellulose in plant material into ethanol or other biofuels. The centers are:

  • DOE BioEnergy Science Center (Oak Ridge National Laboratory). This center focuses on the resistance of plant fiber to breakdown into sugars and is studying the potential energy crops poplar and switchgrass.
  • DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (University of Wisconsin in Madison, in collaboration with Michigan State University in East Lansing). This center is studying a range of plants and, in addition to exploring plant fiber breakdown, aims to increase plant production of starches and oils that are more easily converted to fuels. This center also has a major focus on sustainability, examining the environmental and socioeconomic implications of moving to a biofuels economy.
  • DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). This center will concentrate on “model” crops of rice and Arabidopsis, in the search for game-changing breakthroughs in basic science and is exploring microbial-based synthesis of fuels beyond ethanol.

 

The OS also supports education programs. Approximately a third of the office’s research funding goes to support research at more than 300 colleges and universities, mostly to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers early in their careers. Nearly half of the 25,000 researchers that use the office’s facilities are university students and faculty. The office also conducts outreach to K-12 schools to help improve students’ knowledge of science and mathematics and their understanding of global energy and environmental challenges. To attract and encourage students to pursue science or engineering educations, the office supports the National Science Bowl®, an educational competition for high school and middle school students involving all branches of science. Each year, the National Science Bowl® attracts over 14,000 students from across the country. During its 22-year history, more than 225,000 students have participated.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ten-Year Plans for the Office of Science National Laboratories

 

 

From the Web Site of the Office of Science

Budget

Contact Form

Discovery and Innovation

Field Offices

Funding Opportunities

GAO Audit Reports

Grants Map

History

Honors and Awards

In Focus

Jobs

Laboratories

Leadership

News

News Archive

Organization

Organization Chart

Presentations and Testimony

Programs

Universities

User Facilities

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The Office of Science (OS) has spent more than $11 billion on contractor spending during the past decade, according to USAspending.gov. The top five types of products or services purchased by the office during this period were operation of government R&D facilities ($4,935,615,173), ADP and telecommunications ($693,763,792), engineering and technical services ($524,814,375), engineering and technical support ($477,659,319), and drugs/biological ($336,058,824).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending were:

1. State of California                                      $4,893,560,315          

2. Computer Sciences Corporation                 $1,748,136,339          

3. SAIC Inc.                                                   $1,660,421,853          

4. Human Genome Sciences, Inc.                      $336,058,824          

5. California Institute of Technology                $285,599,655          

 

Some of the nation’s most prestigious universities operate the national laboratories and other research centers that the office manages. Key stakeholders, and the labs they help run, include: Iowa State University (Ames Laboratory); Princeton University (Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory); Stanford University (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center); State University of New York (Brookhaven National Laboratory); University of Chicago (Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory); University of California (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory); University of Tennessee (Oak Ridge National Laboratory); and University of Wisconsin/Michigan State University (Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center).

 

In addition to these higher education institutions, two university consortiums are involved with the work of certain national laboratories. The Universities Research Association, a consortium of 86 universities in the United States, with members also in Canada, Japan, and Italy, co-operates the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory with the University of Chicago. Also, the Southeastern Universities Research Association, a collection of 60 universities from across the U.S., helps run the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility along with Computer Sciences Corporation. The state of Virginia and the City of Newport News, Virginia, also provide funding to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.

 

The largest private contractor involved with the Office of Science is Battelle, an applied science and technology company that co-operates the Brookhaven National Laboratory with the State University of New York and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the University of Tennessee. Battelle also runs the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory without a university partner.

 

Other private contractors help operate Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies is located. These lab contractors include Lockheed Martin Corporation, Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group  and URS Corporation.

more
Controversies:

Office of Science Involved in Scientific Misconduct

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE OS) was swept up in controversy when details from an unpublished report emerged in 2011 alleging researchers at a national laboratory were accused of scientific misconduct.

 

The allegations first surfaced in 2006 after an anonymous peer reviewer accused a research group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee of fabricating data in two manuscripts: a then-current submission to Nature Physics, which had not been published, and a paper that had been published in 1993 by the magazine Nature.

 

The ORNL group was headed by Stephen Pennycook, an electron microscopist who produced a landmark paper on atomic-scale imaging. Pennycook, a pioneer of such techniques, had been pushing the limits of spatial resolution in electron microscopy to solve problems in a variety of research areas, including materials sciences, nanotechnology, and condensed-matter physics.

 

That same year, Republican lawmakers challenged the Obama administration’s science czar over what they claimed were repeat incidents of “scientific misconduct” among agencies.

 

In a letter to John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the GOP lawmakers, concerned that there was a trend developing, cited other controversies in recent years in which scientific findings were questioned or misinterpreted, covering topics ranging from a deepwater drilling moratorium to formaldehyde.

Misconduct oversight at the DOE: Investigation closed (by Eugenie Samuel Reich, Nature)

GOP Lawmakers Challenge White House on 'Scientific Misconduct' (Fox News)

Scientific Integrity Report Card (Department of Energy)

 

Battelle Fraud Case

The OS has been criticized for helping a contractor with its legal battle involving fraud.

 

Battelle Memorial Institute, which has managed multiple national laboratories, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for decades, has been in an ongoing legal fight with Philip Pulver, owner of a small business, Catalogs Online.

 

Pulver approached PNNL in 2003 through the DOE’s Technical Assistance Program, which the lab has used to help hundreds of other private entrepreneurs, hoping it could help him develop specialized software to make hand-held electronic devices, such as cell phones, perform like desktop computers.

 

After several years of waiting, Pulver says the PNNL gave him worthless software, then took his concept, fixed up the software, applied for a patent, and marketed the product commercially as its own, offering it to a Fortune 500 company. So Pulver sued Battelle. He has spent years on the case, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

Meanwhile, the OS has provided Battelle with more than $750,000 to help pay for its lawyers. The government says it has to pay for Battelle’s legal costs under a Cold War policy that mandates the Energy Department support contractors running national laboratories.

Kennewick inventor battles Battelle in court (by John Trumbo, Tri-City Herald)

Pulver Emails to/from DOE Office of Science (Pnnlfraud.com)

4/30/12 Letter to DOE Inspector General (InspectorGeneralMisconduct.info)

9/10/12 Email to OMB and Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) (Cigie-Omb-Coveringupfraud.info)

 

Budget Cuts under George W. Bush

Since 2004 under the George W. Bush administration, the OS saw its appropriations reduced either as part of President Bush’s proposed budget plan or by congressional Democrats.

 

In 2005 the White House trimmed almost 4% from the OS budget. This decision stood in contrast to the administration’s support for greater research into new generations of nuclear power plants, which resulted in the Office of Nuclear Energy receiving even more money than it had requested (see Office of Nuclear Energy). One of the hardest-hit programs for the OS was the field of supercomputing, which sustained an almost 11% reduction. 

 

As a result of the budget cuts, some OS-funded experiments were shut down or delayed, and some scientists laid off. The cuts proved especially dangerous for a plan to have the U.S. serve as host of an international linear collider, which represented a significant loss for researchers involved in high-energy physics.

 

In 2006, the Bush administration bolstered funding for OS programs. Those increases were cut, however, after negotiations between the President’s and congressional negotiators. “It was glorious for [fiscal year] ’07 and it was glorious in [fiscal year] ’08, and in neither case was it realized,” said Persis Drell, director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, which terminated about 120 workers, including some scientists, from its staff of 1,600 because of budget cuts. Officials at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the nation’s top institution in particle physics, also decided to cut 10% of its staff.

 

In 2008, the George W. Bush administration again proposed budget increases for research in the physical sciences, and Congress agreed to raise the annual budget of the Office of Science from $4 billion to $4.65 billion. The office’s 2009 budget request increased to $4.722 billion.

 

Overall increases continued under the Obama administration, to $4.9 billion in 2010 and 2011, $5.4 billion in 2012, $5 billion in 2013, and a request for $5.15 billion in 2014.

Physicists Hope U.S. Budget Will Mean an End to Research Cuts (by Kenneth Chang, New York Times)

Alexander Urges Increased Science Funding In Continuing Resolution (Chattanoogan)

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Former Directors:

Steven E. Koonin        May 2009 – November 2011

Biography (AllGov)

 

Raymond L. Orbach               2006 – 2009

Biography (AllGov)

 

Former Directors

 

William F. Brinkman               2009 – 2013

Raymond L. Orbach               2002 – 2009

Mildred S. Dresselhaus           2000 – 2001

Martha A. Krebs                     1998 – 1999

 

Former Directors (Office of Science)

 

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Founded: 1977
Annual Budget: $5.15 billion (FY 2014 Request)
Employees: 1,010 (FY 2014 Request)
Official Website: http://science.energy.gov/
Office of Science
Orr, Franklin
Under Secretary

The nomination of Franklin M. (Lynn) Orr Jr. to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Science was approved by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on January 14, 2014. Orr is awaiting confirmation of his appointment by the full Senate. If approved, Orr will oversee all science and energy research by the Department of Energy. He will also be in charge of most of the national laboratories.

 

Orr is a native of Texas, attending high school in Houston. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1969 from Stanford University, the institution where he would end up spending much of his professional life. While an undergrad, Orr was named a Rotary Undergraduate Scholar and studied at Imperial College in London. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1976.

 

In the midst of his graduate work, Orr took two years off, from 1970 to 1972, to serve as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. He served first at the National Air Pollution Control Administration and then at the Environmental Protection Agency upon its creation.

 

After leaving the University of Minnesota, Orr initially worked in the private sector as a research engineer for Shell in Houston. However, he returned to a college setting in 1978, becoming an adjunct professor at New Mexico Tech.

 

In 1985, Orr returned to Palo Alto to teach at Stanford in its department of petroleum engineering. He was made department chairman in 1991. He was named dean of Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences in 1994, a post he held until 2002. Also in 1994, Orr was made a member of the Department of Energy’s Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development.

 

Orr’s next responsibility was the founding of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). The purpose of the energy industry-supported project was to research technology options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. In 2006, Orr appeared in a documentary, A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash. That film dealt with the planet’s dwindling oil supply.

 

In 2009, Orr helped found the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford. According to the institute’s website, its mission is to provide funding and associated support for cutting-edge energy research, support effective communication and intellectual exchange among scholars and others seeking energy solutions, and fostering knowledge of energy issues through educational programs and the dissemination of research results.

 

In recent years, the focus of Orr’s research has been into carbon capture and storage, in which emissions from power plants and other pollution sources are injected into the earth. The carbon dioxide is stored in underground formations where it can’t reach the atmosphere.

 

Orr is married to Hewlett-Packard heiress Susan Packard Orr, whom he met while attending Stanford. She is on the board of trustees of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, where her husband was formerly a board member. Orr is a licensed private pilot.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Lynn Orr to be Nominated by White House to Head DOE Energy Research (Stanford Report)

Statement of Franklin M. Orr, Jr. Nominee to be Under Secretary for Science U.S. Department of Energy (pdf)

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Koonin, Steven
Previous Under Secretary

The choice of Steven E. Koonin, a longtime physics professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and, since 2004, senior scientist for British Petroleum, to lead the Office of Science in the Department of Energy was viewed by those in the alternative energy field as a sign that President Barack Obama is serious about ramping up the nation’s production of biofuels. Confirmed by the Senate as the Undersecretary of Science on May 19, 2009, Koonin oversees the running of the national laboratory system, which conducts scientific research into both civilian and military-related projects.

 
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Koonin went to college at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he received his Bachelor of Science in physics in 1972. He then attended MIT and graduated with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1975.
 
He returned to Caltech in 1975 to join the faculty. While at Caltech, Koonin was a research fellow at the Niels Bohr Institute from 1976-1977, and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow from 1977-1979. He became a full professor at Caltech in 1981.
 
The year 1989 was important for two reasons for Koonin. He became chairman of the Caltech faculty (serving until 1991), and gained a national profile as part of a panel of experts that refuted claims by two scientists to have discovered cold fusion.
 
In 1995, Koonin was promoted to provost of Caltech. During his nine-year run as provost, Koonin oversaw an overhaul of Caltech’s biological sciences and expansion of neurosciences, as well as its involvement in projects such as the Thirty Meter Telescope.
 
In 1998 he received the E.O. Lawrence Award in Physics from the Department of Energy, and in 2002, he appeared before a congressional committee to help determine the potential threat of so-called “dirty bombs” to the nation’s security.
 
In 2004, Koonin left Caltech (technically on a leave of absence) to become chief scientist for oil giant BP, responsible for guiding the world’s second largest oil company’s long-range technology strategy, particularly in alternative and renewable energy sources. He remained at BP until his appointment to take over the Office of Science.
 
Koonin has been a member of the Council for Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission, and has served on a number of advisory committees for the National Science Foundation, the Energy Department, and the Department of Defense and its various national laboratories, along with JASON, an independent group of scientists that was first formed during the Cold War to provide the federal government with scientific analysis of sensitive national security projects. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. His research interests include theoretical nuclear, many-body, and computational physics, nuclear astrophysics, and global environmental science.
 
Koonin is a longtime colleague of Steven Chu, the new secretary of energy. Both Koonin and Chu played major roles in setting up a $500-million industry-university alliance between BP, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Illinois in 2007.
 
Dr. Steven E. Koonin Profile (Closer to Truth)
21st Century Provost (Caltech News)
Getting Serious About Biofuels (by Steven E. Koonin, Science)
Sustainable Ethanol Industry Rapidly Forming in U.S. (by Tonya Vinas, Lean and Green News)
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