between the national laboratories, the government agencies, universities, and industry. This collaboration ensures that the national laboratories know industry’s needs and have its input while ensuring that industry has knowledge of the developing technologies at the national laboratories.

Combustion modeling is an outstanding example of a technology developed collaboratively at the national laboratories and universities that has been adopted to fulfill the needs of industry for modeling to improve on and develop new combustion systems, identify promising engine operating configurations, and reduce hardware testing. By continuing to focus programs in the national laboratories on the fundamental aspects of the needs of industry and/or government agencies, timely transition of mobility technologies from the laboratory to practice can be facilitated.

PRIORITIZATION OF PROJECTS

The organizational structure of the 21CTP precludes any systematic prioritization of research projects for the total program. Each of the four agencies included in the 21CTP has its own separate budgets and priorities. The industrial partners also have their own needs, priorities, and resources. As a consequence, the program-wide prioritization that does occur is the result of a complex interaction (summarized in Figures 2-1 through 2-3) among government agencies, the industrial partners, the national laboratories, and the Congress and the Office of Management and Budget.

In summary, the primary intent of the 21CTP is to facilitate communication among the many partners to avoid duplication of effort, to communicate technical achievements, and to provide financial support to assist in moving new technology through development to commercialization.

In the NRC Phase 1 report, the committee recommended the creation of “a portfolio management process that sets priorities and aligns budgets among the agencies and industrial partners” (NRC, 2008, Recommendation 2-2). In response, the Partnership stated that although this recommendation “will be considered … the ability to directly align budgetary decisions across the agencies, however desirable, may be outside the scope of this voluntarily collaborative organization” (see Appendix C). For the reasons cited above, the committee concluded that, although indeed highly desirable, such a portfolio management process is simply not likely to happen with the decentralized nature of the Partnership.

Although prioritization across agencies is unlikely to happen in any meaningful way, the DOE has focused much of its 21CTP effort going forward on three SuperTruck projects, two funded with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, Public Law 111-5) funds and one receiving DOE internal funds. These projects, detailed in Chapters 3 and 8, are directed towards demonstrating feasibility, fuel efficiency, and emissions compliance with full vehicle hardware, as recommended in the NRC Phase 1 report. The committee applauds the prioritization of available ARRA and DOE funds on these projects.

In the process of moving a new concept from research idea to commercial product, DOE research organizations use the general process shown in Figure 2-4. The “Basic Research” steps are clearly dominated by DOE laboratories and “Commercial Research and Design” by industry. Research results and budget proposals are thoroughly reviewed. Those not approved or having marginal benefit go into the “Valley of Death” where they remain until circumstances change.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

In summary, the 21CTP is operated as a virtual network of agencies, industry, and government laboratories, and it is difficult in many cases to identify individual Agency priorities and budgets. As in the Phase 1 review, the committee is con-

image

FIGURE 2-4 Department of Energy project management and innovation process. Acronyms are defined in Appendix I. SOURCE: Submitted to the committee by the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies, January 29, 2011.

_____________________

2 The committee and others have referred to the organization of this program as a “virtual network” or “virtual structure” or “virtual management” because there are no clear lines of authority across the various agencies. As discussed in the NRC Phase 1 report (NRC, 2008) and in this chapter, there is no overall management structure with authority vested in a central manager whose direction is followed by other agency managers associated with the Partnership.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement