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Audit Report: DOE/IG-0912

May 22, 2014

The Department of Energy's Public Dissemination of Research Results

The Department of Energy invests over $11 billion annually in research and development. A significant portion of this funding is provided through financial assistance awards to academic institutions, small businesses, and others. The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 and subsequent laws and regulations encouraged the dissemination of Department-sponsored research results, when appropriate. The Department's mandate to publicly disseminate unclassified research results is fulfilled by the Office of Science's Office of Scientific and Technical Information in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The results of research funded by the Department are submitted to Energy Link, the Department's system for collecting, reviewing and releasing technical reports and other forms of scientific and technical information.

Our review revealed that Department-funded science and energy research results were not always properly disseminated to the public. We found that financial assistance recipients had not always submitted final technical reports to the responsible office, unrestricted reports submitted to Energy Link were not always reviewed and subsequently released publicly, and reports were not released after the expiration of associated data protection periods.

These issues occurred due to weaknesses in the Department's processes for monitoring receipt of final reports from recipients, reviewing and releasing reports that have been received, addressing processing errors that prevent receipt or release of reports, and identifying and releasing reports upon expiration of data protection periods. Management generally concurred with our recommendations and identified planned actions or action already completed to address these issues.

Topic: Science & Innovation