Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Consideration of Risk in Federal Policy-Making: A Case Study of Self-Regulation at the Department of Energy

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 8:50 AM
Grenada (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ryan Whelan and Vanessa Pena, IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute
The Department of Energy (DOE) balances dual roles (1) in self-regulating and providing oversight of its 17 national laboratories and (2) in assuring scientific and technical performance of the laboratories towards DOE’s missions. The DOE laboratories have been on the receiving end of a dramatic increase in requirements that dictate significant improvements in control of certain areas, such as safety and security. However, DOE’s approach for setting new requirements is stove-piped leading to either or a combination of costly redundancies and conservatism that drives transactional compliance and does not optimize performance and value. Missing from DOE is rigorous risk assessment capability and management model that guides the development of its requirements. This paper draws on examples in how risk is considered and informs policy-making at other Federal entities, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, and management frameworks used across the DOE national laboratories. The authors also describe lessons learned and opportunities for DOE to improve management and the assessment of risk in its requirement-making process.