Former Texas governor Rick Perry was confirmed as Secretary of Energy on March 2. Last Thursday, one week after his confirmation, Secretary Perry gave a keynote address at the DOE Big Ideas Summit (BIS-4). The BIS series was organized to encourage teams from across the DOE national laboratory complex to propose initiatives that would focus broad multi-laboratory efforts to address grand national challenges.
Secretary Perry spoke with great enthusiasm about the national laboratories, repeating what he said earlier in the week: “The national labs are America’s science and engineering treasures. I look forward to promoting their vital work.” He met with the laboratory directors before his speech. We said that the national labs represented a science and technology powerhouse that were continuously applied to the most important technical challenges facing the country. We thanked him for giving the laboratories such positive attention in his first week on the job. He said that he was looking forward to getting out and seeing the laboratories early in his tenure.
The National Laboratory Directors’ Council, which includes the directors of all 17 DOE national laboratories, will be meeting in Washington from March 27-30 to engage in detailed discussions with many members of the DOE leadership on how the labs can most effectively advance the science and technology mission of the Department. I was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the NLDC, and will serve in that role for the next two years.
The Trump administration will send an FY18 budget request to Congress soon. This will probably be a budget outline, not a detailed budget, but it will give the first official sign of the administration’s priorities. When you see reports of this, please remember that this is the first stage in what is always a long and complex budget process. The House and Senate appropriations committees will be working on the FY18 budget from now until October 1, and possibly beyond.
All of us are engaged in bringing science solutions to the world, which is a critical service for the nation. Please keep in mind that the most important thing we can do is the thing we do best: delivering scientific breakthroughs.