Even in the absence of GPRA and similar federal actions, performance measurement and assessment would exist within BES, because it is a part of good management practice. However, as with other organizations that support basic research, understanding and implementing performance management is most definitely a work in progress; thus, the obvious caveats apply.

The Basic Energy Sciences Program

With an FY 1997 appropriation of approximately $650 million, the BES program within the DOE's Office of Energy Research (ER) is one of the nation's primary sponsors of fundamental research in materials sciences, chemical sciences, geosciences, plant and microbial sciences, and engineering sciences. The program funds more than 2,400 researchers at 200 institutions nationwide and supports 17 major national user facilities. Included among these are the four major synchrotron radiation light sources; four neutron sources; and a number of specialized facilities for electron-beam micro-characterization, materials synthesis and processing, combustion research, pulsed radiolysis, and ion beam studies. Over 4,500 users, including hundreds of industrial scientists from about 100 U.S. companies, are accommodated at the major BES scientific user facilities each year. Detailed descriptions of the BES programs and the facilities as well as links to other related sites can be found on the BES home page at <http://www.er.doe.gov/production/bes/>.

In creating a portfolio of basic research in support of DOE's energy mission, BES has evolved an eclectic set of programs, many of which are cross-disciplinary or multidisciplinary, yet all of which have strong disciplinary grounding. In the area of the chemical sciences—the area addressed by this Chemical Sciences Roundtable workshop—BES research programs include topics such as analytical chemistry; atomic, molecular, and optical science; batteries and fuel cells; chemical kinetics; combustion dynamics; electrochemistry; heavy element chemistry; homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis; organometallic chemistry; photochemistry; photosynthetic mechanisms; separations science; solar energy conversion; and thermophysical properties.

Mission, Goals, and Tenets of the BES Program

The first step in performance management is defining the goals of the organization. As Yogi Berra allegedly said, ''If you don't know where you are going, you won't know when you get there." Therefore, the BES approach to performance measurement and assessment relies heavily on the formulation of and subsequent adherence to the mission, goals, and tenets of the program.

The mission of the BES program, which derives both from the Energy Policy Act (EPACT) of 1992 and from the DOE and ER Strategic Plans, is as follows:

To foster and support fundamental research in the natural sciences and engineering leading both to new and improved energy technologies and to an understanding and mitigation of the environmental impacts of energy technologies; and

To plan, construct, and operate major scientific user facilities to serve researchers at universities, national laboratories, and industrial laboratories.

The goals of the BES program—which, in turn. derive from EPACT, the DOE and ER Strategic Plans, and the BES mission statement—are to do the following:

  •  To maintain U.S. world leadership in those areas of the natural sciences and engineering that are


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