Review the proposed two-page summary panel report with its intended users to ensure that decision-making needs are met. Within DOE, these users should include the under secretary, the chief financial officer, relevant assistant secretaries, and program managers. Congress should be consulted, including congressional appropriations staff. OMB analysts should be consulted to meet the needs of budget examiners as well as to establish the specific linkages to the Program Assessment and Rating Tool (PART). The linkages of the panel’s summary reports and full reports to the needs for Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) reporting should also be examined.
Prepare guidance for the program reviews to be conducted in Phase Two. The guidance would set forth in how-to style the committee’s recommended methodology contained in this Phase One report and would be used by each expert panel to ensure consistency of treatment among programs. To develop this guidance, the Phase Two committee should hold a workshop involving users and analysts to secure their comments on the recommended methodology. The committee will write a letter report that contains comments from the workshop and describes any modifications to the committee’s methodology.
Make an initial analysis of how the benefits methodology can be applied to portfolio design. The committee recommends that this analysis be conducted for major portions of the EE and FE programs. Of course, these programs will not all have been analyzed with the recommended methodology, but the committee believes that a panel that understands how the methodology would work can take a useful first step toward integrating benefits estimation and portfolio design.
Improve the process for estimating national security and environmental benefits. The committee intentionally did not address the issue of security benefits in Phase One. However, the definition of security has changed dramatically since the retrospective study. The committee believes that it will be possible to address this issue in Phase Two. The approach to estimating environmental benefits developed for the retrospective study is less likely to change, but the committee believes that a systematic review of this approach in the prospective context is warranted.
Refine and amplify the quality control process. In Chapter 4 of this report, the committee develops the general outlines of a process to assure the quality of the benefits estimates. Using the experience of applying the recommended methodology to several programs, Phase Two should identify the specific elements of the quality assurance process. For example, Phase Two might develop more specific guidance on minimum quality levels for individual program evaluations and the role and qualifications of the consultants who support the analytic process. In addition, OMB and the Congress should be consulted, since the quality assurance issue is of particular interest to them.
Recommend how to integrate the benefits estimation process into the program-budget cycle. The committee believes that benefits estimation provides important background information for the annual program-budget cycle but that it is not necessary to update the analysis for an individual program every year. Thus, the policy for updating analyses and for linking the available analyses to the annual program-budget cycle should be determined in Phase Two.
Select between two and six programs to which the methodology will be applied in Phase Two. This selection should be carried out in consultation with DOE, OMB, and the Congress and should consider the following:
The need to develop a basis for accomplishing the key objectives of Phase Two, as outlined above. Testing a methodology for estimating security benefits might be important here.
The importance of testing elements of the recommended methodology, such as the availability of proprietary information, an issue that was prominent in the panel report on stationary fuel cells.
The interests of OMB and Congress. For example, OMB may wish to include a program that will help identify the linkage to PART, and the Congress may have a need for information on which to base a particular decision.
The stress the methodology places on DOE resources. While the committee recommends that resources be made available for benefits estimation, it recognizes that DOE may have to redeploy resources to participate appropriately in Phase Two.