Office Will Align DOE’s World-Class Expertise on Technologies Like Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Quantum, and Semiconductors

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the launch of the Office of Critical and Emerging Technology to ensure U.S. investments in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, quantum computing, and semiconductors leverage the Department’s wide range of assets and expertise to accelerate progress in these critical sectors. Critical and emerging technologies (CET) have broad applications throughout DOE, such as clean energy, national defense, and pandemic preparedness. Major advances in CET hold extraordinary potential for the economy and national security but also pose significant risks, and DOE’s new office will focus the Department’s efforts to ensuring that its capabilities are helping to solve critical science, energy, and security challenges.

“Since their inception, DOE’s National Laboratories have been central to the nation’s scientific and technological advancement, and we are preparing to ensure that, as new technologies emerge, the United States leads the way in exploring those frontiers,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Our new Office of Critical and Emerging Technology will leverage DOE’s world-class scientists and technical capabilities in the interest of American security and competitiveness.”

Helena Fu, who was Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Science and Innovation after serving as Director for Technology and National Security at the National Security Council, was named director of the new office. Fu will also serve as DOE’s Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, whose responsibility—laid out in President Biden’s executive order on AI that was released in October—will coordinate the Department’s use of AI, manage risks from its use, and promote innovation.

President Biden’s executive order tasked DOE with establishing the new office as one of several ways the Department will “support the goal of strengthening our Nation’s resilience against climate change impacts and building an equitable clean energy economy for the future.”

The Office of Critical and Emerging Technology will report to the Under Secretary for Science and Innovation and will focus collective efforts across the Department, including its 17 National Laboratories and numerous university research and development programs. The office will serve as a single point of contact on CET at the Department to help ensure that the Federal Government, in partnership with the private sector and academia, continues to be at the forefront of research, development, and deployment of key innovations impacting U.S. competitiveness and security.

U.S. leadership in science, technology, and innovation is key to the economic, national security, and social benefits enjoyed by Americans, from good-paying jobs to access to reliable and affordable electricity. Leadership in critical and emerging technologies provides the United States a competitive advantage.

DOE houses world-class expertise and capabilities in critical and emerging technology areas across the National Laboratories and several program offices, including Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E); the National Nuclear Security Administration; and the Offices of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response; Electricity; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Fossil Energy and Carbon Management; Nuclear Energy; Science; Intelligence and Counterintelligence; and International Affairs.