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Department of Energy Implementation Activities in the Case of a Lapse of Appropriations

September 27, 2013 - 2:45pm

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Editor's note: This plan was updated on October 2, 2013.

Department of Energy Lapse of Appropriations Plan

1. How many employees are impacted by the DOE plan?

Total number of employees at DOE before implementation: 13,814

Total number of employees retained under the plan: 937 excepted personnel and 11 PAS

Total number of employees under the plan financed by other than annual appropriations: 3,106

Total number of employees, not otherwise exempt, to be retained to protect life and property: 937

Estimated time to complete the shutdown: DOE will be able to shutdown all non-excepted Federal functions within a half day of exhaustion of available balances, with some exceptions involving the movement of nuclear materials; however, it will take longer than a half day to do that for some contractor performed activities in order to protect property. For example, some large equipment may need to be cooled down before it can be shutdown, while other equipment may need to stay operational at a low level in order for it not to be permanently damaged.

2. How would DOE implement its existing plan for operating in the event of a lapse of appropriations?

DOE has a written Order entitled Plan for Operating in the event of a Lapse in Appropriations (DOE Order 137.1B), that addresses its plan and procedures for (1) continuing operations using balances from prior years, if available, during a lapse in appropriations, and (2) upon exhaustion of all available balances, (a) continuing only those excepted functions related to emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property and (b) initiating orderly shutdown of those activities not considered excepted. This Order was issued on September 30, 2011, and can be found at https://www.directives.doe.gov/directives/137.1-BOrder-b/view.

Most of DOE's appropriations are multi-year or no-year. In the immediate future, we expect –

  • Federal employees to continue to report for work as scheduled.  A prolonged lapse in appropriations may require subsequent employee furloughs. If there is an imminent threat to human life or protection of property, a limited number of employees may be recalled from furlough status.
     
  • To continue performance of contracts and financial assistance instruments in accordance with their terms, including any provisions about limitations of funding. However, depending upon the length of the lapse of the appropriations, whether Government oversight is needed, and the availability of prior-year funding, the Department may need to review the activities of its contractors and only those activities where the suspension of the function of the contract would imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property will be permitted to continue.

3. What types of actions will DOE conduct during a funding hiatus?

Unless otherwise noted, if a Departmental element does not have functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property, all functions performed by that element will close if there is a lapse in appropriations and unexpended balances have been exhausted. All PAS employees will continue to report to duty.

Office of the Secretary (4 Excepted employees; 2 Presidentially Appointed, Senate-Confirmed (PAS)) - Charged with helping implement the President's agenda to maintain our nuclear deterrent and reduce the threat that nuclear material falls in the wrong hands, invest in clean energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and address the global climate crisis. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would perform functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property.

Advanced Energy Research Projects - Energy (ARPA-E) (0 Excepted employees) - Responsible for identifying creative "out-of-the-box" transformational energy research that industry by itself cannot or will not support due to its high risk, but where success would provide dramatic benefits for the nation; sustaining those projects whose promise remains real, while phasing out projects that do not prove to be as promising as anticipated; and creating a new tool to bridge the gap between basic energy research and development/industrial innovation. It does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CF) (6 Excepted employees) - Responsible for the financial integrity of DOE programs, activities, and resources; develops, implements and monitors DOE-wide policies and systems in the areas of budget administration, program analysis and evaluation, finance and accounting, internal controls, corporate financial systems, and strategic planning. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would provide support to portions of DOE that perform functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs (CI) (0 Excepted employees) - Promotes DOE policies, programs, and initiatives through liaison, communications, coordination and interaction with Congress, State, City, County and Tribal Governments, other Federal agencies, stakeholders, and the general public. It does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) (0 Excepted employees, 1 PAS) - Develops and executes Department-wide policies that strengthen diversity goals affecting equal employment opportunities, small and disadvantaged businesses, minority educational institutions, and historically under-represented communities. It does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) (1 Excepted employee, 1 PAS) - Invests in clean energy technologies. Operates 10 energy programs: biomass, building technologies, Federal energy management, geothermal technologies, fuel cell technologies, advanced manufacturing, solar energy technologies, vehicle technologies, wind and water power, and weatherization and intergovernmental program. EE is responsible for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the nation's primary laboratory for research and development into energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property.

Energy Information Administration (EIA) (1 Excepted employee; 1 PAS) - Collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. EIA conducts a comprehensive data collection program. EIA also prepares informative energy analyses, monthly short-term forecasts of energy market trends, and long-term U.S. and international energy outlooks. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property.

Office of Environmental Management (EM) (4 Excepted employees) - Responsible for environmental restoration as a result of Cold War activities, waste management, stabilization/disposition of special nuclear materials, technology development, and facility transition and management. EM projects are tasked with solving the large scale, technically challenging risks, and hazardous conditions posed by the world's largest nuclear cleanup located at 17 sites covering more than two million acres in 11 states. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property.

EM also has responsibility for a number of other facilities:

Richland (5 Excepted employees); West Valley Demonstration Project (4 Excepted employees); Office of River Protection (2 Excepted employees); Consolidated Business Center (CBC) (3 Excepted employees); Savannah River Operations Office (22 Excepted employees); Carlsbad Field Office (3 Excepted employees); Portsmouth Paducah Project Office (6 Excepted employees), Idaho (3 Excepted employees),  Energy Technology Engineering Center (1 Excepted employee), SPRU (3 Excepted employees), Oak Ridge (2 Excepted employees); MOAB (small sites) (2 Excepted employees); Nevada (3 Excepted employees); and Los Alamos (2 Excepted employees).

Office of Fossil Energy (FE) (1 Excepted employee) - Responsible for oversight of fossil energy research and development programs (encompassing coal, oil, and natural gas). In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property.

FE also has responsibility for a number of other facilities:

National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) (4 Excepted employees); U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves (11 Excepted employees); and the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC) (2 Excepted employees).

Office of the General Counsel (GC) (3 Excepted employees, 1 PAS) - Provides legal advice, counsel, and support to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and all Departmental elements, except the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would provide support to portions of DOE that perform functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property

Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (HC) (3 Excepted Employees) - Responsible for strategically aligning DOE's workforce to its missions through effective management of human capital policies and programs. HC advises and assists agency officials, in recruiting, developing, training, and managing a highly skilled, productive, and diverse workforce in accordance with merit system principles and all applicable statutory requirements. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would provide support to portions of DOE that perform functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of Hearings and Appeals (HG) (0 Excepted employees) - Conducts hearings and issues decisions involving personnel security clearance cases, and contractor employee whistleblower cases. It has jurisdiction for deciding Freedom of Information and Privacy Act appeals, as well as other appeals involving administrative determinations reached by DOE officials under the jurisdiction of the Secretary. It also provides an adjudicatory forum in matters involving contested issues of fact or law. It is responsible for deciding Applications for Exception from generally applicable requirements of a rule, regulation or order of DOE, and for hearing Petitions for Special Redress seeking "extraordinary relief" - apart from or in addition to - any other remedy provided in the Department's enabling statutes. It does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of Health, Safety, and Security (HSS) (8 Excepted employees) - Responsible for health, safety, environment, physical security, and information security. HSS focuses on facilitating the development of DOE policy and requirements in this area, working to improve competencies of the federal and contractor workforce in safety and security through the National Training Center, implementing enforcement programs for DOE's self-regulation of nuclear safety, worker health and safety, and information security; and providing feedback to senior management through independent oversight inspections and reviews of contractor and DOE performance in safety and security. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property and of the Secretary and to support other elements of DOE performing functions related to the safety of human life and protection of property.

Office of the Inspector General (IG) (0 Excepted employees; 1 PAS) - Responsible for investigating allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse; identifying opportunities for cost savings and operational efficiencies in Department programs; auditing DOE's financial statements; and issuing a host of reports identifying concrete opportunities to reform DOE contract management, waste management, environment, safety and health stewardship, research and development, major facilities and project construction and operation, and human capital. Also serves as IG for FERC. It does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of the Chief Information Officer (IM) (7 Excepted employees) - Leads the management of information technology (IT) in the Department of Energy, ensuring that the Department takes advantage of IT as it carries out its missions, and adequately protecting its IT systems and information. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would provide support to portions of DOE that perform functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property as well as protect property.

Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (IN) (10 Excepted employee) - Responsible for informing U.S. national security policy by collecting and analyzing information in the fields of nuclear terrorism, counterintelligence, cyber threats, nuclear proliferation, strategic surprise, and energy and environmental security. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property and to support other elements of DOE performing functions related to the safety of human life and protection of property.

Office of Legacy Management (LM) (2 Excepted employees) - Responsible for ensuring that DOE's post-closure responsibilities are met and for providing DOE programs for long-term surveillance and maintenance, records management, work force restructuring and benefits continuity, property management, land use planning, and community assistance. Legacy Management has control and custody for legacy land, structures, and facilities and is responsible for maintaining them at levels consistent with Departmental long-term plans. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property.

Loan Programs Office (LPO) (0 Excepted employees) - Enables DOE to work with private companies and lenders to mitigate the financing risks associated with clean energy projects, and thereby encourage their development on a broader and much-needed scale. LPO originates, guarantees, and monitors loans to support clean energy projects through these programs. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would be in place related to the protection of property.

Office of Management (MA) (7 Excepted employees) - Acts as DOE's central management organization providing leadership in areas such as project and acquisition management. MA also has responsibility for overseeing more than $22 billion in annual contract obligations and $2 billion in financial assistance obligations and is responsible for management of the Department's multi-billion dollar project portfolio. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would provide support to portions of DOE that perform functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) (140 Excepted employees; 2 PAS) - Responsible for the management and security of the nation's nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs. It also responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad. NNSA transports nuclear weapons and components and special nuclear material. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, it would perform functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property.

The vast majority of excepted employees are connected to NNSA programs falling significantly into three program areas: maintenance and safeguarding of nuclear weapons; international non-proliferation activities; and servicing deployed naval reactors. With regard to weapons programs, excepted personnel will have oversight concerning stopping or maintaining critical control operations systems that involve nuclear materials or maintenance of one-of a-kind equipment (e.g. nuclear processing facilities) in order to make shutdown decisions. Employees also need to stand ready for movement, dismantlement and safe harboring of nuclear materials, weapons parts and weapons systems. Non-proliferation involves the international movement of weapons grade and exploitable nuclear sources from at risk areas around the world. Pick up and movement of these materials is not easily interrupted due to the sensitive and international nature of the activity. Ensuring that these nuclear materials are safe is an essential activity in protection of human life. Naval Reactors (NR) has direct operations and oversight responsibilities for the deployed fleet of the nation's submarine force and aircraft carriers. As part of their responsibility, NR maintains design and operations authority over all work to refuel, maintain and operate the reactors aboard these vessels. These operations, due to the national security work of the deployed forces will continue during any lapse. The NR technical workforce and its unique fleet support and laboratory structure will need to be active and operational. NNSA also has responsibility for several DOE laboratories and naval reactor facilities:

Livermore Site Office (6 Excepted employees), Los Alamos Site Office (6 Excepted employees), Sandia Site Office (5 Excepted employees), Kansas City Site Office (3 Excepted employees), Nevada Site Office (7 Excepted employees), Savannah River Site Office (4 Excepted employees), NNSA Production Office (9 Excepted employees), Naval Reactors (158 Excepted employees).

Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) (2 Excepted employees, 1 PAS) - Responsible for advancing nuclear power as a resource capable of meeting the Nation's energy, environmental, and national security needs. NE also performs several mission-related functions including providing: international engagement in support of the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy as well as support to other DOE offices and other federal agencies on issues related to the international use of civilian nuclear energy; supporting the development of and furnishing nuclear power systems for use in national security and space exploration missions; oversight for specifically assigned front-end fuel cycle responsibilities.. NE also oversees the Idaho National Laboratory. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, it would perform limited functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property. NE also has responsibility for the DOE Idaho Operations Office (3 Excepted employees).

Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) (0 Excepted employees; 1 PAS) - Responsible for leading the Department’s efforts to help ensure that the Nation's electricity delivery system is secure, resilient and reliable; facilitates the creation, advancement and deployment of the "next generation" technologies; and provides expertise on the structure and makeup of the electricity sector and the interpretation of proposed policies and rulemakings that may potentially affect it. Serves as DOE's staff liaison with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. OE works in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security to help secure the Nation's energy infrastructure against attack and natural disasters and to facilitate repairs and restoration when it is damaged or services are disrupted. Absent a disaster impacting the power grid, it does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property. Employees would be recalled if such a disaster were to occur.

Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs (OIEPP) (0 Excepted employees) - Responsible for directing, fostering, coordinating, and implementing energy planning, education, management, and programs that assist tribes with energy development, capacity building, energy infrastructure, energy costs, and electrification of Indian lands and homes. OIEPP works with other government agencies, and with Indian tribes and organizations to promote Indian energy policies and initiatives. It does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Office of Public Affairs (PA) (2 Excepted employees) - Responsible for serving as the chief spokesperson for the DOE, as well as managing and overseeing the Department's liaison on public affairs efforts, which includes public information activities, press and media services, DOE home-page content, speaking engagements, special projects, internal communications and editorial services. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, a small staff would provide support to portions of DOE that perform functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property.

Energy Policy and Systems Analysis (EPSA) (0 Excepted employees) - Serves as the principal policy advisor to the Secretary on energy and related integration of energy systems.  The office serves as a focal point for policy coordination within the Department on the formulation, analysis, and implementation of energy policy and related programmatic options and initiatives that could facilitate the transition to a low-carbon and secure energy economy. Absent a disaster impacting the power grid, EPSA does not perform any functions related to the safety of human life or the protection of property. Employees would be recalled if such a disaster were to occur.

Office International Affairs (IA) (0 Excepted employees) - Responsible for advising DOE leadership on strategic implementation of the United States energy systems.  The office serves as a focal point for policy coordination and multilateral research and development cooperation, including investment and trade activities with other nations and international agencies. It also represents the Department and the U.S. Government in interagency processes, intergovernmental forums, and bilateral and multilateral proceedings that address the development and implementation of energy policies, strategies and objectives.  IA has lead responsibility for the Department in responding to international oil markets emergencies and generating coordinated international responses to global oil market disruptions.

Office of Science (SC) (1 Excepted employee at Headquarters office and 7 Excepted employees at the Chicago office) - Responsible for supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and is the Nation's largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. SC provides direct support of scientific research and direct support of the development, construction, and operation of unique, open-access scientific user facilities. SC User Facilities provide the Nation's researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities that are unmatched anywhere in the world.

SC also has responsibility for 10 of the 17 DOE laboratories, including:

Ames Site Office (0 Excepted employees), Argonne Site Office (2 Excepted employees), Brookhaven Site Office (2 Excepted employees), Fermi Site Office (2 Excepted employee), Berkeley Site Office (2 Excepted employees), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (8 Excepted employees), Pacific Northwest Site Office (2 Excepted employees), Princeton Site Office (2 Excepted employees), SLAC Site Office (2 Excepted employees), and the Thomas Jefferson Site Office (2 Excepted employees).

In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, it would perform functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property.

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) (3,103 employees financed by other than annual appropriations) - Is self-funding under the permanent, indefinite appropriation known as the Bonneville Fund, established in the Federal Columbia River Transmission System Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. § 838i(b)). It markets wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydro projects in the Columbia River Basin, one nonfederal nuclear plant, and several other small nonfederal power plants. BPA also operates and maintains about three-fourths of the high-voltage transmission in its service territory, which includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington, western Montana and small parts of eastern Montana, California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. BPA will continue to operate normally.

Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA) (16 Excepted employees) - Markets electric power and energy generated at reservoirs to customers in the states of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, southern Illinois, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Southeastern does not own transmission facilities. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, it would perform functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property. The excepted employees are primarily engaged in controlling and directing power to utilities that purchase the power. These activities are performed in the protection of human life.

Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA) (77 Excepted employees) - Markets hydroelectric power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas from 24 multipurpose dams. It operates and maintains 1,380 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, substations, and a communications system that includes microwave, VHF radio, and state-of-the-art fiber optics. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, it would perform functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property. The excepted employees are primarily engaging in controlling and directing power to utilities, transmission or power, and repair of the power transmission system. These activities are performed in the protection of human life and property.

Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) (332 Excepted employees, 3 employees financed by other than annual appropriations) - Markets and delivers hydroelectric power and related services within a 15-state region (North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Arizona, Nevada and California) of the central and western U.S. WAPA's transmission system carries electricity from 57 power plants. In the event of a lapse of appropriations and the exhaustion of available balances, it would perform functions related to the safety of human life and the protection of property. Construction projects (financed by other than annual appropriations) will continue to be supervised by 3 exempt Federal construction supervisors also paid from other than annual appropriations. The excepted employees are primarily engaging in controlling and directing power to utilities, transmission or power, and repair of the power transmission system. These activities are performed in the protection of human life and property.

4. What additional key points apply to DOE in the event of a lapse of appropriations?

DOE operates with multi-year and no-year money. Each component of DOE will continue to operate until prior year balances for funding of federal employees is exhausted. Pursuant to the DOE Order each office that has prior year balances will continue to operate as long as those balances remain available. Their operations under those circumstances will be somewhat modified. For example, travel will generally be curtailed. DOE has some limited transfer and reprogramming authority which may enable DOE to extend the number of days of funding available in some limited cases.

All offices may end up recalling individuals who are not currently excepted based on world events and the length of the shutdown. All such recalls must be approved by the Office of the General Counsel or the NNSA General Counsel, as applicable.

The Office of Secure Transportation (OST), which is part of NNSA, is responsible for transporting the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. If there is a lapse of appropriation and prior year balances are expended, OST will ensure that the stockpile is in secure locations and will recall employees as needed in the event that nuclear weapons must be transported during the lapse.

BPA operates funds under a permanent, indefinite appropriation known as the Bonneville Fund. Therefore, BPA will continue to operate normally.

If a lapse of appropriations occurs and the unexpended balances are exhausted, the remaining Power Marketing Administrations (SEPA, SWPA, and WAPA) no longer have prior year balances available, they will operate on a skeletal staff for the first week or so, barring any storms or other issues that can cause a major disruption of service to the electricity transmission system. After the first week or so, additional personnel will need to be recalled to duty by SWPA and WAPA in order to perform maintenance on the electric transmission grid in order to preserve Federal property and to ensure that the integrity of the grid is maintained, thereby also protecting life.

At most DOE facilities, all operations will cease once prior year balances have been exhausted. Under the protection of property exception, DOE will be physically protecting the sites (guns, guards, and gates) and maintaining Government equipment and property (e.g., caring for laboratory animals and ensuring that scientific equipment and nuclear reactors are safely maintained).

There are some DOE programs, for example, medical isotope program, where DOE may need to produce additional isotopes in order to protect human life. The need to do this will depend on the length of the lapse and the stockpile of individual isotopes.

All other agency programs will close if there is a lapse of appropriations and prior year balances are exhausted.

If there is a furlough of DOE employees, at the end of the furlough individuals will be notified to return to work by calling a toll free number or checking a designated webpage.

5. What is the personnel breakdown?

The breakdown by office of the number of excepted personnel is listed above. DOE plans to notify excepted personnel that they are excepted when appropriate. For the most part, excepted personnel include a sufficient number of contracting officers who can enter into and modify contracts, if needed, and other employees who are needed to ensure that Government property is protected.

6. Are there any outstanding Legal and Other Issues?

Contracts -- we are reviewing what functions will continue because of protection of human life or property.

Numbers of excepted personnel and obligation rates on prior-year funds is subject to change.

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