Lessons Learned from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Response to the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic, January 2021

The Secretary of Energy, in a July 1, 2020 memorandum, directed the Office of Enterprise Assessments (EA) to conduct a lessons learned review of the pandemic across the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) enterprise.  In response, EA worked collaboratively with the DOE enterprise lessons learned contributors, including the National Nuclear Security Administration’s and DOE program, staff, and field elements; the national laboratories and technology centers; site operating and production contractors and support service contractors; and the Power Marketing Administrations.  Through this collaboration, EA collected, analyzed, and compiled contributors’ experiences with DOE’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

This review, Lessons Learned from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Response to the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic, January 2021, focused on actions taken to maintain effective command and control, continue essential work performance in a safe and secure manner, achieve maximum telework, and effectively communicate in response to COVID-19 related government direction and guidance.

The data collection and analysis approach was patterned on Rapid Qualitative Inquiry, an established social science methodology.  As shown in the figure on the right, approximately 3,000 inputs from the collective enterprise feedback, as well as 122 interviews, were iteratively analyzed to produce a set of Specific Lessons Learned, Enterprise Lessons Learned, Best Practices, and Recommendations. 

COVID Tier Graph Chart

A separate command and control EA review team focused on the effectiveness of DOE Headquarters command, control, and communication and supporting emergency response structures used during the response; a separate report addresses these results (Lessons Learned: Command, Control, and Communication During the COVID-19 Pandemic Response, December 2020).