All projects begin with an idea. Within EERE, these ideas are often born out of a strategic goal or technology-specific research and development objective. Each year, EERE partners with stakeholders from large and small companies, non-profits, universities, state and local governments, and other public agencies to develop and advance these new energy ideas and goals. These partnerships result in billions of dollars of active projects working towards building a clean energy economy.
The EERE project life cycle begins with the nurturing of these ideas that mature into projects and eventually new energy technologies. This life cycle consists of five phases: Program Planning and Roadmapping, ; Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Development; Application Receipt and Review; Selection and Award; and Project Execution and Oversight.
The first phase of the project life cycle is known as the “Program Planning and Roadmapping” phase. Through a multi-year process, an idea is carefully developed through DOE strategic planning, EERE leadership interactions, stakeholder engagement, and technical reviews. The resulting ideas are integrated into program planning and budgeting and ultimately they become the topic for a FOA. This careful “pre-FOA” planning and idea development process is crucial to the success of the second phase of the life cycle.
The second phase of the project life cycle is known as “FOA Development.” During this phase, the FOA concept undergoes further development through multiple rounds of review. Funding plans are also developed. Eventually, the FOA is finalized and announced.
It is at this point that the application receipt and review process can begin. During this time, potential recipients submit proposals for carrying out the proposed research, development, demonstration, or deployment (RDD&D) activities that have been set forth in the FOA. Each project proposal is subject to multiple rounds of expert reviews including both Federal staff and independent reviewers to ensure that only those projects that best represent the goals of the FOA are selected.
The next step in the process is to select recipients and make awards. During this fourth phase, EERE conducts a technical evaluation of a project’s scope and budget. Any additional required certifications or forms are also completed. At this stage, the EERE Award is finalized. After the award is finalized, the recipient can initiate its project.
But the project life cycle doesn’t end there, because the project itself is a process. The fifth and final phase of the EERE project lifecycle is known as project execution and oversight. EERE actively manages award recipients to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the awards and to keep the project within the agreed upon scope, schedule, and budget. Project spending is reviewed monthly and recipients with awards greater than $1 million are required to submit quarterly reports on project status.
It’s during this oversight period that EERE evaluates how well the project is moving towards meeting its milestones and the EERE program goals. Special analytical tools such as “stage gates” are used when important decisions must be made. “Stage gates” are milestones within projects where decisions are made regarding progress to date and whether a project will move forward into the next phase or will end. The ultimate “go/no-go” decision is made by DOE management, typically based on criteria developed in collaboration with the Recipient and/or other stakeholders. Risk factors are tracked regularly to ensure that the recipient can deal with any challenges that may arise. All of these efforts help EERE ensure that a project is not veering off track from its goals.
EERE’s involvement with its projects and recipients continues beyond the project’s completion. As part of project execution and oversight, EERE also manages the project closeout. This phase includes collecting any project deliverables, conducting a financial audit, archiving all project documents and presenting a final report to the public as the final activity in the project.