- The U.S. Department of Energy yesterday announced up to $100 million in funding for new projects, through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s latest open funding opportunity for early-stage research and development projects.
- The announcement came just a day after a Government Accountability Office concluded the Trump administration inappropriately withheld $91 million in funding from ARPA-E. The funds had already been made available to the office, however, at the time GAO's report was published.
- ARPA-E has issued previous open solicitations in 2009, 2012, and 2015. The deadline for this round is Feb 12.
ARPA-E uses open funding solicitations to support "transformational projects" outside the scope of the agency's existing, focused programs. New approaches to energy innovation will be considered across the full spectrum of energy applications, DOE said in its announcement.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in a statement that with the new funding opportunity, "we are asking American energy entrepreneurs and researchers to show us the next breakthrough in energy security.”
DOE plays a "critical role in keeping the United States safe and secure," Perry added. "One of the ways we do this is by promoting energy innovations that make us more competitive and keep us ahead of the technology curve."
But the Trump Administration had proposed closing down the ARPA-E program as part of its efforts to shrink government spending outside of defense. The administration's request for FY 2018 proposed eliminating the energy innovation agency, and called for Congress cancel more than $46 million of ARPA- E's unobligated balances and require that another $45 million be used to close down operations.
According to GAO's Dec. 12 assessment, the $91 million is "now available" and as such, the office will not be sending a report to Congress. However, ARPA-E did violate the Impoundment Control Act, GAO concluded, in responding to a DOE request not to distribute the funds.