Sec Moniz refuses to address disciplinary actions for DOE retaliation against
employee who provided info to Committee staff

Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Science, Space and Technology today received testimony from Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz on the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2017.  The hearing examined DOE’s science and technology priorities and their impact on the allocation of funding.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The president refuses to make the tough choices necessary in a responsible budget environment.  Instead, the proposal reads like a wish-list for the White House’s political allies. It uses budget gimmicks to add more spending for expensive commercial technologies already available to American consumers or rejected by them in the market. As we shape the future of DOE, our priority must be basic energy research and development that only the federal government has the resources to pursue.  This will allow the private sector to move groundbreaking technology to the market across the energy spectrum, create jobs and help our economy.” [Video HERE]

Chairman Smith today questioned Sec. Moniz on a recent incident where a DOE employee was removed from her position just six days after answering questions from Science Committee staff. Last month, Smith along with Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) sent a letter requesting information and documents surrounding the incident and potential intimidation of whistleblowers at the Department.

Sec. Moniz confirmed that after a review of the incident a settlement was reached and the employee was reinstated. But he refused to say whether any DOE officials had been disciplined. Moniz committed to provide the Committee with communications surrounding the incident.

Members also asked about significant spending to support the administration’s “Mission Innovation” initiative, a commitment made during the Paris climate change negotiations. The initiative doubles federal spending on clean energy research and development. Members criticized the lack of transparency surrounding the initiative and questioned what the Department hopes to accomplish and how DOE justifies cuts to projects with bipartisan support in order to fund this initiative. 

Members on both sides of the aisle expressed strong support for DOE’s Office of Science and the agency’s basic research projects. Last year, the House passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which provided $5.3 billion for basic research. That authorized level was enacted into law as part of the 2016 omnibus appropriations.

For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, please visit the Committee’s website.