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Plans, Implementation, and Results Glossary

Definitions of the office overview, plans, implementation, and results document and website categories are provided below:

Overview

Key Office Overview Documents

This category contains informative fact sheets, Powerpoint briefings and similar documents that provide an overview of an Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office but are not covered by other categories below.

Legislative and Executive Guidance

EERE offices must operate within parameters established by Congress, the President and other officials in the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Management and Budget, and other government bodies. The Legislative and Executive Guidance category refers to Congressional statutory and other guidance such as Congressional Report language, Executive Branch guidance such as Executive Orders from the President, and other sources such as regulatory requirements that guide office activities. Many of these are listed at the start of each office's Congressional Budget Request under Public Law Authorizations.

Structure and Key Contacts

Office structure describes how the office is organized to accomplish its mission and principal goals. The emphasis is on describing the major research, development and deployment (RD&D) areas in which the office is involved, how they relate to one another, and key office contacts and their principal areas of responsibility.

Office News

Office news links to concise summaries of recent announcements and developments in each EERE office.

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Plans

Strategic Plans

Strategic plans are documents that provide a high-level perspective of the goals of the office and how they will be achieved. Such plans frame the development of logical budgets for successful office management toward these goals. This includes how resources needed to address key technical challenges will be mobilized within EERE and with (1) other parts of DOE, (2) other federal agencies, and (3) the private sector. This also includes how learning demonstrations are to be coupled with R&D on one side and feed into commercial demonstrations on the other. Strategic plans often also address infrastructure, health and safety, codes and standards, education and outreach, and other important supporting activities. Similar documents, such as Vision Plans and Posture Plans, fall into this general category as well.

Technology Roadmaps

Technology roadmaps are developed to support and reinforce the visions, goals, and missions articulated in strategic plans. They are drafted in collaboration with partners such as industry, trade associations, universities, national laboratories, professional societies, and other interested parties, and are often widely vetted throughout a technology community. Technology roadmaps identify major technical barriers and potential avenues of research to address them. They help determine in a logical manner the principal research, development, and demonstration activities needed to successfully develop the technology. Technology roadmaps are often amended to address new developments as R&D progresses.

Multiyear Program Plans

Multiyear Program Plans (MYPP) serve as operational guides for EERE offices in managing their activities and help identify clear linkages between key office activities and progress toward goals. MYPPs may include risk analyses to understand the risks of the research and alternative pathways. Market analyses in MYPPs help illuminate both the opportunities as well as the consumer requirements for a new technology to succeed. MYPPs are used by a broad group of office stakeholders.

Office Budgets

Each office has two key budget documents: its budget request and its appropriated budget. An office's Presidential Budget Request is submitted annually to Congress. The budget request incorporates inputs from numerous sources including an office's many planning activities as well as public officials at various levels within the Administration and DOE. The budget request describes an office's overall portfolio and how it is balanced across dimensions of time—near-, mid-, and long-term impacts; scale of impact; cost; risk; and other factors. To conform with the Government Performance and Results Act, the budget request contains analysis of the expected ("prospective") benefits that will accrue from RD&D activities proposed in the budget request. Of particular importance, the budget request provides support and justification for an office's proposed cutting-edge activities—a critical element of its portfolio.

While an office's budget request is an informative document, its appropriated budget determines the amount of funding actually available for the work. After reviewing an office's budget request, Congress determines the total amount of funding the office will receive and typically allocates that amount among various Budget and Reporting categories.

Analysis (Risk, Benefit, Portfolio)

EERE offices are responsible for judiciously investing public funds in RD&D and related activities. To help guide their decisions, set priorities, evaluate options, select projects and make adjustments, offices conduct a wide range of analytical activities. This typically entails the use of a range of models and other tools, methods, and analytical studies. It is often an iterative process that weighs benefits against costs and risks while taking into account constantly updated information about emerging technologies, markets, and barriers. Each office is also implementing procedures to conduct probabilistic risk analysis of potential RD&D activities. Broadly speaking, portfolio analysis is intended to help determine an office's optimal mix of R&D investment decisions.

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Implementation

Systems Engineering

The development of technology systems that can meet specific requirements of cost, performance, reliability, and other factors of critical importance in commercial markets requires careful, best-practice engineering. Systems engineering focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem. Systems engineering processes, practices, and tools help EERE offices meet the challenges of aligning RD&D efforts with their strategic goals and directing funding to the efforts that offer the most promise.

Technology Evaluations

Technology evaluations are detailed engineering evaluations of processes, potential costs and performance of a technology system. Such studies often help guide the direction of competitive R&D solicitations for innovative approaches to overcoming barriers identified in the evaluations. Technology evaluations also include detailed technical, performance, and financial information on commercially available technologies.

Deployment and Diffusion

Deployment and diffusion include activities that promote the adoption of advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and practices. In EERE this includes: (1) a variety of information dissemination activities; (2) promulgation of codes and standards; (3) provision of rebates and other incentives (including tax credits or direct payments); (4) programmatic purchase mandates in formula grants for weatherization or other state and local energy-related activities; (5) social marketing efforts to change energy use or technology choices; (6) the granting of recognition and awards for key products or achievements; and (7) other means of promoting acceptance, purchase, or application of improved energy supply or use technologies or practices.

Codes, Standards, and Regulation

Codes regulate how something must be done. Standards indicate how something should be done. DOE's Building Energy Codes Program is an information resource on national model energy codes. It works with other government agencies, state and local jurisdictions, national code organizations, and industry to promote stronger building energy codes and help states adopt, implement, and enforce those codes. DOE establishes federal standards to keep consistent, national energy efficiency requirements for selected appliances and equipment. By law, DOE must upgrade standards to the maximum level of energy efficiency that is technically feasible and economically justified. DOE strives to establish standards that maximize consumer benefits and minimize negative impacts on manufacturers and others. EERE is also helping to establish codes and standards regulating the integration of renewable energy technologies into the national electric power grid.

Education and Workforce Development

Education and workforce development activities include information outreach to key target audiences directly and indirectly involved in the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy. These efforts help to facilitate installation, near-term demonstration, commercialization, and long-term market acceptance of both EERE-supported technologies as well as best practices not yet widely adapted in the marketplace. Target audiences variously include:

  • Potential end-users
  • Potential installers
  • Energy system designers
  • Manufacturers
  • State and local government representatives
  • Local communities
  • General public
  • Safety and code officials
  • Students, professors, and middle and high school teachers
  • Entrepreneurial, venture capital, industrial and investment communities.
Competitive Solicitations and Grant Process

Most financial assistance awarded by EERE is done through a competitive solicitation process. Solicitations identify office objectives and requirements as well as information such as the due date, contact(s), available funding, anticipated number of awards and the period of performance. Solicitations also include applicant eligibility requirements, cost-share, and Energy Policy Act requirements. Competition ensures awards are made based on merit. In response to the solicitation requirements, applicants develop technical proposals that explain their proposed method of achieving the technical, budget, personnel and project scheduling requirements specified in the solicitation.

After the submission deadline, EERE reviews proposals it has received using pre-established evaluation criteria to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. Reviewers consider factors specified in the solicitation as well as price and the candidate's ability to meet its goals. Proposals determined to be nonresponsive to the requirements of the solicitation are removed from consideration, and their submitters are notified in writing of the decision. Organizations that submit proposals selected for funding are notified of their award. They then meet with DOE officials to negotiate the terms of a formal agreement specifying the work to be accomplished and amount of funding to be awarded.

In-Progress Peer Reviews and Process Assessments

In-progress peer review is a rigorous, formal, and documented evaluation process using objective criteria. Qualified, independent reviewers make judgments about the technical, scientific, and business merit, the actual or anticipated results, and the productivity and management effectiveness of offices and/or projects. In-progress peer reviews should be distinguished from other EERE review processes including (1) merit review to select winners of competitive solicitations; (2) stage gate reviews to determine when a technology is ready to move to the next phase of development, and (3) other management activities such as quarterly milestone reviews or budget reviews.

Stage Gating

Stage gating is a risk management process that enables EERE to make fact-based funding decisions based on a set of defined criteria. It recognizes that the latter phases of an R&D project are much more expensive than the initial stages. It provides EERE managers with a system that enables them to match the amount of resources they provide for a project with the level of confidence they have in the value of the work. It also recognizes that more information is required to evaluate risk as more resources are committed in the advanced stages. Stage gate reviews carefully evaluate a technology's strategic value, technical progress, potential market value, and other factors. These reviews result in four types of decisions: (1) Graduate the technology to the next level of development toward commercialization; (2) Continue the technology at the current level as it has promise but needs further development; (3) Suspend work on the project as it is promising but other factors, such as external market factors, may have reduced its value; (4) Terminate the project as it is not making adequate progress, no reasonable approaches are likely to resuscitate it, or future prospects, such as market conditions, are unfavorable.

Internal Controls, Project Tracking, and Progress Reports

Internal control is a major part of managing any organization. It comprises the plans, methods, and procedures used to meet missions, goals, and objectives and supports performance-based management. Internal control also helps safeguard assets and prevent and detect errors and fraud. In short, internal control helps EERE managers achieve desired results through effective stewardship of public resources. Internal controls provide reasonable assurance that EERE's objectives are being met in the following categories:

  • Effectiveness and efficiency of operations including the use of the organization's resources
  • Reliability of financial reporting, including reports on budget execution, financial statements, and other reports for internal and external use
  • Compliance with applicable laws and regulations

EERE project managers: (1) monitor (track) the progress of their projects against statement of work milestones; (2) conduct site visits and project reviews; (3) maintain ongoing communications with principal investigators and team members; (4) review invoices and reimbursements; (5) review and analyze progress reports; and (6) ensure projects are conducted within specified requirements and regulations. Progress reports include reports that track compliance with federal laws and regulations.

Graduations, Redirections, Terminations, Watch-List

Graduations are projects that have successfully completed one stage of work and are being moved to the next stage of development and ultimately completion and commercialization. Redirections are activities that potentially provide appropriate public benefits but require and receive redirection and/or redefinition to increase the probability of success. Terminations are activities that are closed because the work does not provide sufficient public benefit. Watch-list activities are identified to receive close monitoring to ensure that they advance effectively and expeditiously.

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Results

Commercial Outcomes

Commercial outcomes identify technologies that have moved from laboratories and demonstration stages to use by industry or consumers. They include EERE-supported technologies that have full scale operation and are generating sales revenue. This includes technologies that have been put into commercial operaton but may not have had significant deployment beyond the first few systems. Technologies that have not been commercialized are described under Technical Outcomes below.

Technical Outcomes

Technologies in this category have completed technical development and may (or may not) have demonstrated improved technical performance, reduced cost, or other improved performance compared to existing technologies, processes or products, but have not been commercialized. Promising technologies in this category often become the basis for further research or experimentation that ultimately leads to commercial success. A subset of these technologies have option value, meaning that under changing economic, market, and environmental conditions they may in the future become viable commercial technologies. Technology development efforts that were not successful are also described here.

Case Studies

Case studies examine technology development, demonstration, deployment, or other EERE-supported activities, both successful and unsuccessful, in order to identify the lessons learned from those efforts. The results can be used to improve technology RD&D activities, and in some cases highlight particular opportunities for new technologies and practices.

Cost/Benefit and Return on Investment Studies

Cost/benefit and return on investment studies quantify the public value and impacts of EERE R&D and technology deployment efforts. These studies document EERE office contributions to realized market share, and energy, environmental, and energy security impacts for commercialized technologies. Measures of societal and public net benefits are also sometimes provided. Studies in this category may also include market, energy and non-energy benefits absent the analysis of costs.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property refers to awarded and cited patents for EERE-supported technologies, as well as other measures of intellectual property. The granting of a patent validates a unique technical achievement. Though many patented technologies are never commercialized, few, if any, newly commercialized technologies remain unpatented. The awarding of patents to and citing of EERE-supported technologies promote the dissemination of new knowledge and know-how. In turn, this can contribute to additional technological advances and commercializations.

External Recognition

External recognition such as R&D 100 Awards or similar esteemed public acknowledgments typically are conferred only on technical achievements of exceptional merit. While such recognition does not always equate to commercial success, increased public attention on such technologies can boost the chances for such success or encourage further public or private investment in them. For deployment projects, this category includes recognition of the responsible people or organization.

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