Estimating the Benefits of Government-Sponsored Energy Research and Development, May 4 and 5, Hilton Crystal City
Conference Program Information Conference Presentations Rapporteurs' Summaries Synthesis Report
Knowledge Center Steering Committee Speakers and Panelists Pre-Conference Reading

A highly stimulating conference took place on March 4 and 5, 2002. Its purpose was to identify methods which might assist the energy resource and science offices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to improve their estimates of the benefits of their R&D programs.

FY 2005 Interagency Research and Development Priorities  
Final version of the Synthesis Report

Context and Motivation for the Conference

These estimates are important means of assessing both the potential future benefits from public R&D, and the performance and results of past research efforts. Under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), federal agencies are required to report annually on their plans and performance. In his “management agenda,” President George W. Bush emphasized that the federal government needs to measure the effectiveness of its R&D investments and he chose "energy resources" as the first area to apply new R&D selection criteria, including their contributions to public benefits.1 The National Energy Policy identifies a number of such potential benefits, including energy security and environmental improvements.2

Improved methods of estimating the value of energy R&D can increase the effectiveness of future investments in it. A recent National Research Council (NRC) study developed a framework for evaluating the benefits of DOE’s past energy efficiency and fossil energy R&D programs.3 The study's implementation of this framework included conventional methods used in programmatic and economic analysis, as well as cutting-edge methods in need of further assessment and development.

Overview of the Conference Agenda

The conference consisted of plenary sessions and workshops. The plenary sessions presented approaches currently used by DOE and other departments, identified legislative and other performance-measurement requirements, and discussed the use of a "straw person" methodological framework for identifying benefits of R&D programs. The four workshops addressed the following key topics:

  1. Prospective benefits -- cross-cutting issues in estimating the prospective benefits of R&D programs,
  2. Options which R&D programs provide -- defining and estimating their value,
  3. Knowledge -- defining and estimating the value of the scientific and engineering knowledge generated by R&D programs, and
  4. Security, economic, and environmental benefits of energy technologies and systems.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Ms. Stephanie Floyd
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
P.O. Box 2008, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6207
Phone: 865-574-5517; Fax: 865-574-8272; E-mail:
Russell Lee
Phone: 865-576-6818; Fax: 865-574-8272; E-mail:

1 Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, The President’s Management Agenda, Fiscal Year 2002, August 2001.
2National Energy Policy Development Group, National Energy Policy, Washington, DC, May 2001.
3 National Research Council’s Committee on Benefits of DOE R&D on Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy, Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It?, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, July 2001. The report was requested by the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.


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