Recommendation 3. Redirect student education activities to other governmental entities that have direct educational missions, with the exception of those activities directly related to the plant assessments performed by students for the Industrial Technology Program’s (ITP’s) Industrial Assessment Centers. Because the mission of the ITP is energy savings, not education, any student educational activities undertaken by the ITP should be justified in terms of their energy-saving results, not their educational goals.
Grants to states for educational purposes appear to the committee to be peripheral to ITP goals. State educational goals are not primary to the industrial program, and so these funds might effectively be reallocated to areas that directly impact ITP goals. Other government entities that have major educational missions, such as the National Science Foundation, are more appropriate for managing student education initiatives. Note that the Industrial Assessment Centers, for which students carry out on-site energy assessments for small to medium-sized manufacturing facilities, are an integral part of the ITP. Engineering students involved in these assessments gain an educational benefit that is a by-product of the activity, not the primary goal. Small and medium-sized facilities gain significant insight into energy-saving opportunities.
Recommendation 4. Review Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) subprogram management practices to ensure clarity and consistency or, where practices differ, to ensure that differences are justified.
Differences in management practices exist among the ITP subprograms. For example, the American Iron and Steel Institute manages steel solicitations outside the ITP for a management fee. Mining subprogram solicitations are managed internally by the ITP, and contract management appears divided between the ITP and industry for the forest products subprogram. If these differences are appropriate, the reasons should be clearly understood and communicated to stakeholders. This disparity raises some concern about the uniformity of criteria used to discontinue funding of marginal or failing projects and, indeed, about how the ITP judges them. Greater uniformity in program management practice is urged.
Recommendation 5. Increase benefits by propagating the Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) strategy, where appropriate, to other programs in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Divestitures to other parts of the EERE (e.g., agricultural industries to the Biomass Program) may make sense organizationally, but they currently dilute the practices of the ITP and increase the chance for management and budgetary inconsistencies. However, if the ITP model (also used in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles and FreedomCar programs) can be channeled to other programs in the EERE, the benefits would increase overall.
The strategy of partnering with the end user of the technology to determine overall program goals, set grand challenges, and share in the project costs is a proven success. The energy savings are easily quantified, and the satisfaction of the industry partners is clear. Expanding the strategy to other programs in the EERE is a clear tactic to improve both.