Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel
  • Turn cutting-edge science and engineering into technology for energy and environmental applications.

  • Accelerate innovation in both traditional and alternative energy sources and in energy-efficiency mechanisms.

  • Foster consortia of companies, colleges and universities, and laboratories to work on critical research problems, such as the development of fuel cells.

The agency’s basic administrative structure and goals would mirror those of DARPA, but there would be some important differences. DARPA exists mainly to provide a long-term “break-through” perspective for the armed forces. DOE already has some mechanisms for long-term research, but it sometimes lacks the mechanisms for transforming the results into technology that meets the government’s needs. DARPA also helps develop technology for purchase by the government for military use. By contrast, most energy technology is acquired and deployed in the private sector, although DOE does have specific procurement needs. Like DARPA, ARPA-E would have a very small staff, would perform no R&D itself, would turn over its staff every 3 to 4 years, and would have the same personnel and contracting freedoms now granted to DARPA. Box 6-6 illustrates some energy technologies identified by the National Commission on Energy Policy as areas of research where federal research investment is warranted that is in research areas in which industry is unlikely to invest.


The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) should institute a Presidential Innovation Award to stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest. While existing Presidential awards address lifetime achievements or promising young scholars, the proposed awards would identify and recognize individuals who develop unique scientific and engineering innovations in the national interest at the time they occur.

A number of organizations currently offer prizes and awards to stimulate research, but an expanded system of recognition could push new scientific and engineering advances that are in the national interest. The current presidential honors for scientists and engineers are the National Medal of Science,47 the National Medal of Technology, and the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. The National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology recognize career-long achievement.

The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers pro-

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement