Monitoring EERE's Recovery Act Portfolio of RDD&D Awards

clock June 21, 2012 11:11 by author Bulletin Board
As the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Recovery Act-funded projects were quickly initiated to provide an economic stimulus, EERE needed tools and processes to ensure uniform oversight across the portfolio of programs and technologies. As of the fall of 2010, an EERE-wide central repository had not been established for storing and analyzing project performance data for Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment (RDD&D) awards. In addition to this lack of a central monitoring and reporting system, a reference hub where Technical Project Officers (TPOs) located in multiple offices could view guidance documents, access forms, or retrieve other relevant data did not exist. [More]

Improving the NEPA Review Process

clock June 8, 2012 15:35 by author Bulletin Board
How does the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) process more than 3,000 new projects ­­- many with subawards - generated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) to meet the compliance standards of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)? How can this be done quickly and efficiently so that projects can get underway and Recovery Act funds can be put into the economy as soon as possible? How is project status reported across various offices in a timely manner? These were just some of the challenges facing the EERE NEPA team as they began this herculean effort in 2009. [More]

Optimizing the TPO Onsite Visit Experience: A Real-World Example

clock May 22, 2012 10:09 by author Bulletin Board
EERE’s Technical Project Officers (TPOs) conduct periodic onsite visits (or onsite reviews) for projects to monitor progress and assess recipient performance. The TPO determines whether a site visit is needed based on conversations with the recipients, reporting information, and monitoring requirements. These visits provide the opportunity to obtain firsthand information and meet the key players in person.

Given the large number of projects in EERE’s financial assistance award portfolio, TPOs have developed methods to make the best use of limited time during the visits. [More]

Public-Facing Dashboard Helps to Ensure Accountability

clock May 14, 2012 10:11 by author Bulletin Board
One way to ensure accountability is to show the public how well a project is meeting its stated Recovery Act goals. A large municipal government in the western United States developed a website dedicated to showing its citizens the progress it made on its building retrofit program. The public-facing dashboard provides both financial information and a range of statistics showing the number of retrofits completed by category. Categories include single and multi-family homes, small businesses, larger commercial entities, hospitals, and city-owned buildings. Summary statistics show both energy assessments conducted and retrofits completed. [More]

The Project Management Plan: A Recipient’s Stellar Example

clock May 4, 2012 11:35 by author Bulletin Board
Thanks to the Recovery Act, the EERE portfolio of financial assistance grew eight-fold, resulting in a broad range of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology projects. Regardless of the type of the Recipient or the technology focus, DOE expects all Recipients to meet basic requirements of accountability, oversight, monitoring, and reporting.

Good planning at the outset of a project helps ensure strong performance during implementation. One tool in particular that DOE believes is particularly useful is known as the Project Management Plan (PMP). [More]

Not Reinventing the Wheel: Using Information from Past Projects

clock April 20, 2012 14:40 by author Bulletin Board
Leveraging past work enables DOE to save time and money. For example, one Recipient used data collected from a previous residential solar photovoltaic (PV) project to advance new efforts to integrate these distributed energy systems into the regional power grid.

This Recipient, a publicly-owned utility company in the Western United States, is using Recovery Act funds to determine the best configuration for integrating small PV systems into the power grid, including an analysis of storage and transmission needs. Two types of configurations are being tested, using a select group of residential customers with grid-connected solar PV systems. The project involves collaboration with a half dozen other entities, including companies in the construction, engineering, and solar power industries. [More]

Enhancing Project Management with Effective Project Communication

clock April 13, 2012 16:14 by author Bulletin Board
Well-run projects generally have effective communications occurring among project participants. This is even more critical when the Recipient is a consortium consisting of multiple members and different teams from academia, industry, and government. One such complex Recipient is utilizing a web-based communications tool that identifies ongoing research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities in order to communicate with its various members as well as the interested public. [More]

Making Tough Decisions Upfront Can Ensure Ultimate Project Success

clock April 6, 2012 15:06 by author Bulletin Board
The realization that things are not working out – and that it’s time to cut losses – is never easy and requires difficult decisions. In the long run, making difficult decisions can be worth it if the project is successfully completed or taxpayer dollars are saved.

This happened with a project to build a wind turbine drive-train test facility. Bringing a high dollar, high capital asset facility online requires a range of complex and overlapping activities such as designing, permitting, constructing, and commissioning. To meet the schedule, specialized skills were needed to successfully complete key activities. However, a few months into the project, it became clear that the sub-recipient lacked the requisite skills to design this particular type of facility. [More]

Analyzing Audits to Improve EERE Monitoring and Oversight - Expanded Review Underway

clock March 16, 2012 18:24 by author Bulletin Board
EERE is committed to continually improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its monitoring and oversight activities for financial assistance. Audits represent an essential oversight function and may be conducted by a wide range of internal and external parties: the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General (OIG); the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); or other independent agencies or firms. Audits scrutinize the technical and financial performance and management controls of EERE’s technology programs and its financial assistance Recipients. Individually, these audits have helped inform and strengthen EERE’s monitoring activities. Collectively, they can help to identify and address common issues. [More]

Benefits of the Stage Gate Process: the Case of a Biofuels Project

clock March 9, 2012 15:00 by author Bulletin Board
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has a variety of tools for risk management and effective project decision-making. The stage gate decision-making process has been particularly valuable in a biomass technologies project which seeks to merge an existing electrical generation platform with an emerging gasification-based producer gas technology. The larger project purpose is to determine the commercial viability of using biomass-based fuels in existing fossil fuel-fired electrical generators. [More]