The U.S. Department of Energy is not responding to questions about Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s advocacy of Oak Ridge or the fiscal year 2018 budget request.
The only question from Oak Ridge Today that DOE has answered is: Will the department have a teleconference to discuss the budget request with reporters? The answer was “no.”
DOE, which could have a funding decrease under President Donald Trump’s budget request, has not responded to any specific questions about the budget itself. Oak Ridge Today has tried about a dozen times in the past month to reach someone in the public affairs office at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., using emails, phone calls, and on Wednesday night, a five-part tweet to active Twitter accounts for Perry and the DOE press staff.
Oak Ridge Today has sought information from the department since Trump sent the fiscal year 2018 budget request to Congress on Tuesday, May 23. Among other things, the news website has wanted to make sure that it is correctly interpreting the preliminary budget numbers published online by DOE. (See here, here, and here for more information about the budget request.)
According to the information Oak Ridge Today has received and reviewed, some Oak Ridge programs and sites could see funding increases under the president’s budget request, while others could see decreases. The programs and sites that could benefit include the environmental management program (the cleanup work at federal sites), Oak Ridge Office, and Y-12 National Security Complex. Those that could lose funding are DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information, or OSTI; Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which is managed by ORAU; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak Ridge Today has sent specific questions about funding for most of these programs and sites to the public affairs office at DOE headquarters, but no spokespeople have responded, not even to acknowledge that the messages were received or to reply with a “no comment.”
Oak Ridge Today has also tried to follow up on Perry’s pledge to be a strong advocate for at least some programs in Oak Ridge. Perry made the pledge at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Hardin Valley on Monday, May 22. The pledge came after he toured ORNL, the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, and Y-12. During his visit to Oak Ridge and Hardin Valley, Perry learned about the planned Uranium Processing Facility and nuclear weapons work at Y-12, the environmental management program, and advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, materials science research, and supercomputing at ORNL. [Read more…]