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Establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy

Introduced in the House December 6, 2005;
Failed when proposed as amendment to H.R. 5656

Committee Markup June 27, 2006

During markup of H.R. 5656, the Energy Research, Development, Demonstration and Commercial Applications Act of 2006, Click image to begin playback of debate on Rep. Gordon's amendment to H.R. 5656Rep. Bart Gordon proposed to amend the bill by inserting the text of H.R. 4435 in place of the language asking the National Academies to study the concept again.  Gordon argued that the Committee had sufficient justification to move forward.  The amendment lost on a voice vote.  Click on the image to watch the debate »


Committee Hearing March 9, 2006

The U.S. House Committee on Science heard from a panel of experts today on ideas to advance U.S. competitiveness in the energy arena – specifically, whether the creation of a new research agency (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE) could streamline the movement of Federal research into practical ideas that advance U.S. energy independence.

Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ranking Democrat on the House Science Committee"We all agree that energy research and development is key to energy independence, innovation, workforce development and U.S. security," stated Science Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN).  "The question is how far are we willing to go to enact real change that garners tangible results?  Establishing an ARPA-E is a bold step, but it just may be the tool that gets the job done."...

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Hearing information »

Summary

The bill establishes an Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy within the U.S. Department of Energy. Modeled after the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the goal of ARPA-E is to reduce U.S. foreign energy dependence by 20% over a 10-year period. The bill is intended to implement the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.

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Contents of Bill by Section

Section 1.      Findings

Section 2.      Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy

Establishes the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy. This new agency is modeled after the Department of Defense's Defense successful Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This new organization structure will be better positioned to support revolutionary and transformational energy research where risk and pay-offs are high.

The goal of ARPA-E is to reduce the dependence of the U.S. on foreign energy sources by 20% over the next 10 years. ARPA-E should support high-risk, high pay-off research to accelerate the innovation cycle for both traditional and alternative energy sources and energy efficiency.

ARPA-E shall be headed by a Director appointed by the Secretary. The Director shall designate program managers to manage individual projects. In addition, the Director shall ensure that ARPA-E's activities are coordinated with other Federal research agencies and that ARPA-E may carry out projects jointly with other agencies.

The project managers shall have flexibility in establishing R&D goals for the program. Program managers will also be responsible for selecting projects for support as well as monitoring their progress. The ARPA-E will have authority to hire specialized science and engineering personnel to be program managers. (This is similar to DARPA and HS-ARPA.) Participation in the program will be limited to institutions of higher education, companies or consortia of universities and companies and these consortia may also include federally funded research and development centers.

Section 3.     Energy Independence Acceleration Fund

Establishes the Energy Independence Acceleration Fund administered by the Director of ARPA-E. This is created as an independent fund in order to allow it to accept non-federal contributions. Funding is authorized from FY 2007 thru 2012, ramping up from an initial authorization of $300 million to $915 million.

Section 4.     Recoupment

This provision is based upon current DOE clean coal recoupment provisions. If a project is successful the Federal Government can recoup some of its original investment. The provision allows the Secretary complete flexibility in developing recoupment provisions and he may waive them entirely if necessary for the commercial viability of the project. All recouped funds will be returned to the Energy Independence Acceleration Fund.

Section 5.     Advisory Committee

The ARPA-E Advisory Committee may seek advice either from an existing DOE advisory committee or may establish a new advisory committee. If the Director needs industry advice, a panel to advise on a specific technology area, or to hire a consultant, these provisions provide him with the appropriate authorities.

Section 6.     ARPA-E Evaluation

At the end of five and one-half years, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) shall evaluate how well ARPA-E has performed in achieving its goals and mission.  The Committee is required to recommend whether ARPA-E should be continued or terminated as well as lessons learned from its operation. This will provide an objective evaluation of ARPA-E.

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Comparison With the Academy Recommendations

The following table compares the provisions of H.R. 4435 to the recommendations made by the Augustine Committee in its report:

Augustine Report Recommendations

H.R. 4435

Recommendation B-5: Create in DOE the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA - E). FY 2007, $300 million.

H.R. 4435 tracks B-5 recommendation. FY 2007, $300 million.

Recommendation B-6: Create Presidential Innovation Award. FY 2007, $50 million.

H.R. 4435 establishes an innovation award (a medal) through OSTP

For a comparison to Senate legislation and the President's competitiveness initiative, download this chart prepared by the Democratic staff.

109th Congress