Study gives high marks to energy research agency

Study gives high marks to energy research agency
© Getty

A congressional mandated study found Tuesday that a key Energy Department research agency is on track to accomplish its goals.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), modeled after the Pentagon office responsible for innovations such as the technology that became the internet, is being targeted for elimination under President Trump’s budget proposal for 2018.

But the 239-page report released Tuesday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says the nimble, somewhat independent research agency should serve as a model for the rest of the federal government.

“Roughly half have published results of their research in peer-reviewed journals, and about 13 percent have obtained patents. One quarter of the supported project teams or technologies have received follow-on funding for continued work,” the panel wrote in the report.

“All of these are positive indicators for technologies on a trajectory toward commercialized products. In fact, several are either already commercially available or poised to enter the commercial market.”

The panel warned that since ARPA-E was only created nine years ago, it’s difficult to just some of the outcomes of its work.

But the outcomes that can be judged are positive, and the study’s authors said they’re confident that future indicators will keep showing success.

The agency, with an annual budget of around $290 million, is frequently targeted by budget hawks and conservatives as wasteful.

It nonetheless enjoys a degree of bipartisan support, and many Republicans objected to Trump’s proposal to defund it.