oversight

Energy Task Force: Process Used to Develop the National Energy Policy

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-08-22.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

              United States General Accounting Office

GAO           Report to Congressional Requesters




August 2003
              ENERGY TASK
              FORCE
              Process Used to
              Develop the National
              Energy Policy




GAO-03-894
              a
                                                August 2003


                                                ENERGY TASK FORCE

                                                Process Used to Develop the National
Highlights of GAO-03-894, a report to           Energy Policy
congressional requesters




On January 29, 2001, the President              According to the best information that GAO could obtain, the National
established the National Energy                 Energy Policy report was the product of a centralized, top-down, short-term,
Policy Development Group                        and labor-intensive process that involved the efforts of several hundred
(NEPDG)—a group of cabinet-level                federal employees governmentwide. In the 3 ½ months between the
and other senior administration                 inception of NEPDG and its presentation of the final report, the Principals
officials, chaired by the Vice
President—to gather information,
                                                (the Vice President, selected cabinet-level and other senior administration
deliberate, and recommend a                     officials) and their support staff (Support Group) controlled most facets of
national energy policy. The group               the report’s development, including setting meeting schedules and agendas,
presented its final report to the               controlling the workflow, distributing work assignments, rewriting chapters,
President in May 2001. GAO was                  and approving recommendations. Senior agency officials served on a select
asked to (1) describe the process               interagency Working Group, while the majority of agency staff working on
used by the NEPDG to develop the                the NEPDG effort played a tributary role, helping their agencies fulfill their
National Energy Policy report,                  NEPDG-related obligations and responding to the Support Group’s
including whom the group met with               subsequent requests for information, review, or comment.
and what topics were discussed
and (2) determine the costs                     In developing the National Energy Policy report, the NEPDG Principals,
associated with that process.
                                                Support Group, and participating agency officials and staff met with,
Although appointed NEPDG Chair,                 solicited input from, or received information and advice from nonfederal
the Vice President elected not to               energy stakeholders, principally petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, and
respond to GAO’s request for                    electricity industry representatives and lobbyists. The extent to which
certain factual NEPDG                           submissions from any of these stakeholders were solicited, influenced policy
information. Accordingly, as                    deliberations, or were incorporated into the final report cannot be
authorized by GAO’s access-to-                  determined based on the limited information made available to GAO.
records statute, and after                      NEPDG met and conducted its work in two distinct phases: the first phase
exhausting efforts to achieve a                 culminated in a March 19, 2001, briefing to the President on challenges
resolution and following the                    relating to energy supply and the resulting economic impact; the second
processes specified in that statute,            phase ended with the May 16, 2001, presentation of the final report to the
GAO filed suit in U.S. District Court
to obtain the information. The
                                                President. The Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) unwillingness to provide
district court later dismissed GAO’s            the NEPDG records or other related information precluded GAO from fully
suit on jurisdictional grounds,                 achieving its objectives and substantially limited GAO’s ability to
without reaching the merits of                  comprehensively analyze the NEPDG process.
GAO’s right to audit and evaluate
NEPDG activities or to obtain                   None of the key federal entities involved in the NEPDG effort provided GAO
access to NEPDG records. For a                  with a complete accounting of the costs that they incurred during the
variety of reasons, GAO decided                 development of the National Energy Policy report. The two federal entities
not to appeal the district court                responsible for funding the NEPDG effort—OVP and the Department of
decision.                                       Energy (DOE)—did not provide the comprehensive cost information that
                                                GAO requested. OVP provided GAO with 77 pages of information, two-thirds
DOE, Interior, and EPA reviewed
the draft report and chose not to
                                                of which contained no cost information while the remaining one-third
comment. OVP declined an offer to               contained some miscellaneous information of little to no usefulness. OVP
review the draft and comment.                   stated that it would not provide any additional information. DOE, the
                                                Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-894.
                                                provided GAO with estimates of certain costs and salaries associated with
To view the full product, including the scope   the NEPDG effort, but these estimates, all calculated in different ways, were
and methodology, click on the link above.       not comprehensive.
For more information, contact Robert A.
Robinson at (202) 512-3841 or
robinsonr@gao.gov.
Contents



Letter                                                                                                              1
                         Results in Brief                                                                           4
                         The National Energy Policy Report Was the Product of a
                           Centralized, Top-Down Process                                                            6
                         Federal Agencies Did Not Track the Amount of Public Money Spent
                           on NEPDG Activities                                                                  21
                         Agency Comments                                                                        24


Appendix
           Appendix I:   GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgment                                                  26
                         GAO Contacts                                                                           26
                         Acknowledgment                                                                         26


Table                    Table 1: NEPDG Principals’ Meetings from January 29 to May 16,
                                  2001                                                                          10


Figure                   Figure 1: Structure Used in Developing the National Energy
                                   Policy                                                                           7




                         Abbreviations

                         DOE          Department of Energy
                         EPA          Environmental Protection Agency
                         NEPDG        National Energy Policy Development Group
                         OVP          Office of the Vice President


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                         Page i                                                     GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
A
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548



                                    August 22, 2003                                                                                 Leter




                                    Congressional Requesters:

                                    As one of the new administration’s first major actions, on January 29, 2001,
                                    the President created a group of cabinet-level and other senior federal
                                    officials, chaired by the Vice President, to develop a national energy policy.
                                    The President charged the group, called the National Energy Policy
                                    Development Group (NEPDG), with developing “a national energy policy
                                    designed to help the private sector, and government at all levels, promote
                                    dependable, affordable, and environmentally sound production and
                                    distribution of energy for the future.”1 NEPDG presented its final report to
                                    the President on May 16, 2001.2 The report contained over 100
                                    recommendations for executive actions or new legislation. The Congress is
                                    now considering the energy-related legislative proposals.

                                    You asked us to examine the process used by the President’s energy policy
                                    taskforce.3 Specifically, our objectives were to (1) describe the process
                                    used by NEPDG to develop the National Energy Policy report, including
                                    whom the group met with and the topics discussed at these meetings, and
                                    (2) determine the costs associated with that process. In order to close out
                                    this request, we are providing a limited analysis based on the best
                                    information that has been made available to us.

                                    To address our objectives, we followed a two-pronged information
                                    gathering effort. First, starting in the spring of 2001, we began gathering
                                    information from several federal agencies involved in the report’s
                                    development—the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of the
                                    Interior (Interior), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At
                                    each of the agencies, we interviewed senior agency officials that were
                                    involved in the NEPDG effort and received written correspondence and
                                    other materials from them providing detailed responses to our questions.
                                    Agency officials based most of their answers on their best recollections or

                                    1
                                     Pres. Memorandum (Jan. 29, 2001).
                                    2
                                     National Energy Policy: Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group. U.S.
                                    Government Printing Office (Washington, D.C.: May 2001).
                                    3
                                     In April 2001, Representatives Henry A. Waxman and John D. Dingell asked us to examine
                                    the process and costs associated with the NEPDG. Subsequently, Senators Joseph I.
                                    Lieberman, Ernest F. Hollings, Carl M. Levin, and Byron L. Dorgan, chairs of their respective
                                    committees or subcommittees at the time of their request, also requested this analysis.




                                    Page 1                                                        GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
on information reconstructed from electronic schedules. Our meetings
with officials yielded information regarding the meetings that Cabinet-level
agency officials attended and meetings that agency officials held with
NEPDG support staff (Support Group). Officials also provided us with
selected information on meetings held with nonfederal energy stakeholders
to discuss issues related to energy aspects of their agency’s activities.

Second, also starting in spring of 2001, we initiated contact with the Office
of the Vice President (OVP), as NEPDG Chair, to obtain NEPDG records
responsive to your request. From the outset, OVP did not respond to our
request for information, including descriptive information on the process
by which the National Energy Policy report was developed, asserting that
we lacked statutory authority to examine NEPDG activities. We were also
denied the opportunity to interview staff assisting the Vice President on the
NEPDG effort. As a result, throughout the spring and summer of 2001, we
engaged in extensive attempts to reach an agreement with OVP on our
information request in an effort to fulfill our statutory responsibilities in a
manner that accommodated the Vice President’s asserted need to protect
certain executive deliberations. Importantly, we significantly narrowed the
scope of our review by, among other things, withdrawing our initial request
for minutes of NEPDG meetings. We also offered flexibility in how we
would access certain documents. Despite our concerted efforts to reach a
reasonable accommodation, the Vice President denied us access to
virtually all requested information, with the exception of a few documents
purportedly related to NEPDG costs that OVP provided to us. The Vice
President’s denial of access challenged GAO’s fundamental authority to
evaluate the process by which NEPDG had developed a national energy
policy and to obtain access to records that would shed light on that
process. As authorized by GAO’s access-to-records statute, after exhausting
the processes specified in that statute for achieving a resolution and
receiving a request from two senate full committee chairs and two senate
subcommittee chairs to pursue our evaluation,4 we filed suit in the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia on February 22, 2002, to obtain




4
 31 U.S.C. § 717(b)(3) requires GAO to conduct evaluations requested by chairs of
congressional committees of relevant jurisdiction.




Page 2                                                      GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
the limited factual NEPDG information that we had requested.5 On
December 9, 2002, the district court dismissed GAO’s suit on jurisdictional
grounds, without reaching the merits of GAO’s authority to audit and
evaluate NEPDG activities or to obtain access to NEPDG records.6 After
considerable bipartisan outreach efforts to the Congress, GAO decided not
to appeal the district court decision.7 A detailed chronology of our efforts
to obtain access to NEPDG records can be found on GAO’s Web site.

OVP’s unwillingness to provide NEPDG records and other related
information precluded us from fully achieving our objectives in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards and substantially
limited our ability to answer the questions you asked and the depth of our
analysis. Yet, given the unique circumstances surrounding this request, our
protracted attempts to acquire this information, and the availability of
certain related documents in the public realm, we gathered and analyzed
available information on the NEPDG effort to provide as robust an account
as possible under the circumstances. Specifically, in order to more fully
analyze and describe the NEPDG report development process, beginning in
March 2002, we obtained, reviewed, and analyzed NEPDG-related
information from federal agencies involved in the NEPDG effort that was


5
 As authorized by 31 U.S.C. § 716(b)(1), the Comptroller General sent a formal request for
the NEPDG records to OVP on July 18, 2001. After a requisite 20-day period passed without
any meaningful action, the Comptroller General reported on August 17, 2001, to the
Congress, the President, the Vice President, and other officials, that OVP had not provided
the requested information. After a second requisite 20-day period passed, again without any
meaningful action, and subsequent to a reasonable amount of time after the tragic events of
September 11, 2001, and additional attempts to reach resolution of this matter, the
Comptroller General filed suit on February 22, 2002, as authorized by 31 U.S.C. § 716 (b)(2).
The executive branch chose not to invoke the “safety valve” certification mechanism in 31
U.S.C. § 716 (d)(1)(C) that would have precluded GAO from taking the unprecedented step
of going to court. Furthermore, the President did not seek to protect the information from
disclosure by claiming that it was subject to executive privilege.
6
Walker v. Cheney, 230 F. Supp. 2d 51 (D.D.C. 2002).
7
 Although GAO believes the district court’s decision is incorrect, as detailed in the
Comptroller General’s statement on February 7, 2003, continuing to pursue GAO’s access
request through the courts would have required significant time and resources over several
years. At the same time, several private litigants are seeking much of the same NEPDG
information from OVP that GAO sought, and we plan to obtain those records, if these cases
are successful. Moreover, because the district court’s decision in GAO’s case did not reach
the merits of GAO’s audit or access authority, the decision in no way diminishes these
authorities or the obligation of agencies to provide GAO with information. The court’s
decision is confined to the unique circumstances posed by this particular case and does not
preclude GAO from filing suit on a different matter involving different facts in the future.




Page 3                                                        GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                   released under court order in four other ongoing lawsuits filed under other
                   statutes.8 The agencies releasing documents included DOE, Interior, and
                   EPA, as well as the Department of Transportation, Department of
                   Commerce, Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Management and
                   Budget. We could not independently verify some of the information
                   contained in these documents because the agencies had redacted data from
                   more than one-third of the pages. The agencies asserted that the redacted
                   information was exempt from production under the Freedom of
                   Information Act because it reflected deliberative processes among other
                   things. For the thousands of pages that contained some information
                   responsive to our objectives, we compared and contrasted their contents,
                   sought corroboration from other sources, and pieced together a general
                   description of the National Energy Policy report development process.
                   Included in these pages were several hundred E-mails and other documents
                   generated by OVP or the Support Group. Some of these documents
                   revealed information about the process used to develop the NEPDG report,
                   but none of them contained cost information beyond that which we had
                   previously obtained.



Results in Brief   According to the best information that we could obtain, the National
                   Energy Policy report was the product of a centralized, top-down, short-
                   term, and labor-intensive process that involved the efforts of several
                   hundred federal employees governmentwide. NEPDG—comprised mostly
                   of cabinet-level officials (Principals)—and its Support Group—comprised
                   mostly of select DOE officials detailed to OVP—controlled most facets of
                   the report’s development. Officials from each participating agency served
                   on a select interagency working group (Working Group), which prepared
                   draft report chapters for the Principals’ review. Agency staff played a
                   tributary role, helping their respective agency complete its NEPDG-related


                   8
                    These suits have since been consolidated into two lead suits: Natural Resources Defense
                   Council v. Department of Energy, No. 1:01CV2545 (D.D.C.) (filed under the Freedom of
                   Information Act (FOIA)), and Judicial Watch, Inc. v. NEPDG et al., No. 01-1530 (D.D.C.)
                   (filed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and other statutes). OVP has
                   refused to produce any documents to date in either litigation and the Vice President filed an
                   action in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit seeking to have the latter district
                   court case dismissed. See In re Cheney, No. 02-5354 (D.C. Cir.). On July 8, 2003, the D.C.
                   Circuit denied the Vice President’s petition in the D.C. Circuit; the Vice President is seeking
                   rehearing of this denial. As part of the court proceedings in the consolidated FACA cases,
                   DOE, Interior, and EPA produced interrogatory responses, which were provided to us.
                   Certain documents generated by OVP personnel were produced in the NRDC v. DOE FOIA
                   cases, but these were produced by other agencies, not by OVP.




                   Page 4                                                         GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
assignments, providing draft outlines and chapters to the Working Group
and Principals, and responding to the Support Group’s subsequent requests
for information, review, or comment. In developing the National Energy
Policy report, the Principals, Support Group, and participating agency staff
also met with, solicited input from, or received information and advice
from nonfederal energy stakeholders, principally petroleum, coal, nuclear,
natural gas, and electricity industry representatives and lobbyists. To a
more limited degree, they also obtained information from academic
experts, policy organizations, environmental advocacy groups, and private
citizens. The extent to which submissions from any of these stakeholders
were solicited, influenced policy deliberations, or were incorporated into
the final report is not something that we can determine based on the
limited information at our disposal. Nor can we, because of OVP’s
unwillingness to provide us with information, provide a comprehensive
listing of the dates or purposes of these meetings, their attendees, or how
the attendees, when solicited, were selected. NEPDG held periodic
meetings and conducted its work in two distinct phases: the first
culminating in a March 19, 2001, briefing on challenges relating to energy
supply and the resulting economic impact; the second ending with the May
16, 2001, presentation of the final report to the President.

None of the federal entities involved in the NEPDG effort that we contacted
provided us with a complete accounting of the costs that they incurred
during the development of the National Energy Policy report. The two
federal entities responsible for funding the NEPDG effort—OVP and
DOE—did not provide us with the comprehensive cost information that we
requested. Instead, OVP provided us with 77 pages of information, two-
thirds of which contained no cost information or were essentially blank,
while the remaining one-third contained some miscellaneous
information—such as a meal receipt or telephone bills—of little to no
usefulness. In response to our requests seeking clarification of the
provided information, OVP stated that it would not provide any additional
information. DOE, EPA, and Interior provided us with estimates of their
costs associated with the report development process, but these estimates,
all calculated in different ways, were not comprehensive. DOE provided us
with selected cost information, including salary estimates for its employees
detailed to OVP, printing and publication costs, and other incidental
expenses. EPA and Interior provided salary cost estimates for some of their
senior officials involved in the report’s development. The precision of these
estimates varied. Although most of the identified costs were salary-
oriented, officials noted that employees did not specifically record the
amount of time spent on NEPDG-related tasks because many of them



Page 5                                             GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                        already worked on energy policy and thus would have likely conducted a
                        substantial portion of the work even without the NEPDG project taking
                        place. One agency cautioned us not to expect its salary estimate to be
                        precise, noting that it had been primarily based on employee recollection
                        and guesswork.



The National Energy     The National Energy Policy report was the product of a short-term, labor-
                        intensive process that involved the efforts of several hundred federal
Policy Report Was the   employees governmentwide. In the 3½ months between NEPDG’s inception
Product of a            and its presentation of the final report, the Principals and Support Group
                        controlled most facets of the report’s development, including setting
Centralized, Top-Down   meeting schedules and agendas, controlling the workflow, distributing
Process                 work assignments, rewriting chapters, approving recommendations, and
                        securing the report’s contents from premature disclosure. Senior agency
                        officials served on a select interagency Working Group, while the majority
                        of staff working on the NEPDG effort played a tributary role, (1) helping
                        their agency fulfill its NEPDG-related obligations, (2) providing NEPDG
                        with analytical information, and (3) responding to the Support Group’s
                        subsequent requests for information, review, or comment. In developing
                        the National Energy Policy report, the NEPDG Principals, Support Group,
                        and participating agency staff also met with, solicited input from, or
                        received information and advice from nonfederal energy stakeholders,
                        primarily petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry
                        representatives and lobbyists. To a more limited degree, they also received
                        information from academic experts, policy organizations, environmental
                        advocacy groups, and private citizens. NEPDG met and conducted its work
                        in two distinct phases: the first phase culminated in a March 19, 2001,
                        briefing on challenges relating to energy supply and the resulting economic
                        impact; the second phase ended with a May 16, 2001, presentation of the
                        final report to the President. Figure 1 depicts the top-down process and its
                        participants.




                        Page 6                                            GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                              Figure 1: Structure Used in Developing the National Energy Policya




                              a
                               All of the tiers shown here to some extent met with, solicited input from, or received information and
                              advice from nonfederal energy stakeholders.




Cabinet-Level Officials and   In a January 29, 2001, memorandum, the President established NEPDG—
Support Group Staff           comprised of the Vice President, nine cabinet-level officials, and four other
                              senior administration officials—to gather information, deliberate, and
Controlled the Report
Development Process


                              Page 7                                                               GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                   make recommendations to the President by the end of fiscal year 2001.9
                   The President called on the Vice President to chair the group, direct its
                   work and, as necessary, establish subordinate working groups to assist
                   NEPDG. The President requested NEPDG to submit two reports: the first,
                   an assessment of the difficulties experienced by the private sector in
                   ensuring that local and regional energy needs are met; the second, a report
                   outlining a recommended national energy policy designed to help the
                   private sector, and as necessary and appropriate, federal, state, and local
                   governments, to promote dependable, affordable, and environmentally
                   sound production and distribution of energy for the future. More
                   specifically, the memorandum mentioned four areas of concentration: (1)
                   growing demand for energy; (2) the potential for disruptions in energy
                   supplies or distribution; (3) the need for responsible policies to protect the
                   environment and promote conservation; and (4) the need for
                   modernization of the energy generation, supply, and transmission
                   infrastructure.

NEPDG Principals   The 14 NEPDG members—the Vice President, 9 Cabinet-level officials, and
                   4 other senior administration officials—were responsible for developing
                   the National Energy Policy report. In a series of formal meetings convened
                   by the Vice President, the group presented briefings, received assignments
                   and the latest drafts, and discussed agenda items and recommendations.
                   The following list shows the NEPDG members.

                   • The Vice President, NEPDG Chair;

                   • The Secretary of State;

                   • The Secretary of the Treasury;

                   • The Secretary of the Interior;

                   • The Secretary of Agriculture;

                   • The Secretary of Commerce;



                   9
                    In the Judicial Watch FACA litigation now pending in district court (see footnote 8), the
                   plaintiffs contend that NEPDG membership was not limited to these federal officials but
                   also included certain nonfederal parties. The court has not yet decided this issue, and this
                   report takes no position on it.




                   Page 8                                                        GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
• The Secretary of Transportation;

• The Secretary of Energy;

• The Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency;

• The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;

• The Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

• The Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy;

• The Assistant to the President for Economic Policy; and

• The Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs.10

NEPDG formally convened 10 times between January 29, 2001, and May 16,
2001. Meetings were held on the following dates: January 29, February 9
and 16, March 12 and 19, April 3, 11, and 18, May 2 and 16, 2001.11 All but
two of the meetings were held in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office.
According to OVP staff and other federal officials who attended these
formal meetings, attendance was strictly limited to officers and employees
of the federal government. These officials indicated that none of the
Principals’ meetings was open to the public nor did any nonfederal
participants attend. However, no party provided us with any documentary
evidence to support or negate this assertion. Due to space constraints, the
Principals’ meetings typically included the Vice President, the Principals
and their accompanying staff, the Support Group, and members of the Vice
President’s staff. For meetings that took place when the Principals could
not be present, or when the Principal had yet to be appointed, another
agency official would attend instead. Agency officials participating in these
meetings could not recollect whether official rosters or minutes were kept
at the meetings.


10
 The President originally named the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental
Affairs as an NEPDG member. However, because the President had not appointed anyone to
serve in this position, the Vice President instead invited the Deputy Assistant to the
President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs to attend the meetings.
11
 NEPDG Principals met one more time on July 13, 2001, after the publication of the final
report. We did not include this meeting in our total because it lay beyond the scope of our
review.




Page 9                                                       GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                                         The 10 Principals’ meetings covered a variety of topics, depending on the
                                         status of efforts on the report and concerns raised about these efforts. The
                                         Support Group developed the meeting agendas and sent them out to
                                         agencies shortly before the meetings commenced. According to the
                                         proposed meeting agendas and our discussions with agency officials, the
                                         meetings generally lasted between 1 and 2 hours, and nearly all of them
                                         included a brief update on the California energy situation. The early
                                         meetings involved more procedural discussions than the later meetings,
                                         which focused more on a discussion of specific policy recommendations.
                                         (See table 1.)



Table 1: NEPDG Principals’ Meetings from January 29 to May 16, 2001

Meeting date            Location                          Meeting agenda
January 29, 2001        The Vice President’s Ceremonial   A brief, ceremonial event at which the President announced the
                        Office, Eisenhower Executive      formation of NEPDG, its mission, membership, and chair.
                        Office Building (EEOB)
February 9, 2001        The Vice President’s Ceremonial   (1) Status report on the California crisis, (2) Discussion of Senator
                        Office, EEOB                      Murkowski’s and Congressman Barton’s pending legislative initiatives,
                                                          (3) Discussion of the seven working subgroups to be established: short-
                                                          term energy supply; programs for consumers and low-income
                                                          households; economic impact of energy; development of alternative and
                                                          renewable energy sources; conservation and increased energy
                                                          efficiency; increased production of traditional energy sources;
                                                          infrastructure investment, integrity, and safety; and national energy
                                                          security and international affairs.
February 16, 2001       The Vice President’s Ceremonial   (1) Briefing on California/Western electricity and natural gas situation,
                        Office, EEOB                      (2) Energy Information Administration briefing on its Annual Energy
                                                          Outlook 2001, and (3) Review of final report outline.
March 12, 2001          The Vice President’s Ceremonial   An Energy Information Administration briefing, distribution of final draft
                        Office, EEOB                      interim report, discussion of rollout, and status update on final report.
March 19, 2001          The White House, Cabinet Room     Oral presentation of interim report to the President.
April 3, 2001           The Vice President’s Ceremonial   Discussions of the following issues/recommendations: Corporate
                        Office, EEOB                      Average Fuel Economy standards; a multi-pollutant strategy; nuclear
                                                          energy; Outer Continental Shelf/Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; safe
                                                          drinking water/hydraulic fracturing; energy efficiency. A last-minute
                                                          agenda item was added shortly before the meeting.
April 11, 2001          The Vice President’s Ceremonial   Discussions of the following issues/recommendations: carbon dioxide,
                        Office, EEOB                      hydropower licensing, Coastal Zone Management Activities, tax credit
                                                          issues, and permitting.




                                         Page 10                                                       GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
(Continued From Previous Page)
Meeting date             Location                          Meeting agenda
April 18, 2001           The Vice President’s Ceremonial   (1) Update on California energy situation; (2) update on final written
                         Office, EEOB                      report to the President; (3) discussion of key report issues and proposed
                                                           recommendations: energy policy principles, tax credit issues, New
                                                           Source Review reform, reformulated gas, and electricity deregulation;
                                                           and (4) an executive session without staff to further discuss proposed
                                                           recommendations.
May 2, 2001              The Vice President’s Ceremonial   Agenda items: (1) Update on California energy situation; (2) Update on
                         Office, EEOB                      final written report to the President; (3) Discussion of following energy
                                                           issues: spiking gasoline prices, refineries, New Source Review, boutique
                                                           fuels, final report rollout status. An executive session followed for further
                                                           discussion.
May 16, 2001             The White House, Cabinet Room     Presentation of final report to the President.
Source: GAO.



NEPDG Support Group                       A support staff of seven—six DOE employees assigned to OVP and one
                                          White House fellow—assisted NEPDG in developing the National Energy
                                          Policy. The Support Group consisted of an executive director, a deputy
                                          director, two senior professionals, a communications director, the fellow,
                                          and a staff assistant.12

                                          The Support Group served as the hub of the overall NEPDG effort and
                                          coordinated its workflow. Among its many tasks, the Support Group
                                          assigned specific responsibilities and chapters to individual agencies;
                                          established and presided over an interagency Working Group; scheduled
                                          and attended NEPDG-related meetings and determined their agendas; set
                                          internal deadlines; controlled the workflow; served as a central collection
                                          and distribution point for participating agencies’ draft outlines, report
                                          chapters, comments, and recommendations; and drafted the final report.
                                          The executive director and deputy director also held meetings with various
                                          agency staff to discuss their agencies’ input to individual chapters, conduct
                                          peer review sessions, and discuss other issues.

                                          The Support Group did not generally discuss its activities with staff at the
                                          agencies. Instead the Support Group frequently used meetings as a forum
                                          to unveil new assignments, drafts, topics, and guidance for Working Group
                                          members to deliver back to their respective agencies. The Support Group
                                          staff, specifically the executive director and deputy director, provided


                                          12
                                           Two members of the Support Group staff joined the NEPDG effort in April 2001: a senior
                                          professional, who was brought in to help draft the final report, and the communications
                                          director, who was brought in to develop a marketing strategy for rolling out the final report.




                                          Page 11                                                        GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                            instructions to the Working Group participants and coordinated the
                            activities of each participating agency. Agencies transmitted their work
                            product to other Working Group members largely through the White
                            House.

NEPDG Interagency Working   To coordinate the day-to-day work of developing the National Energy
Group                       Policy report, the NEPDG executive director established an interagency
                            Working Group, comprised of staff-level officials from each participating
                            agency and several White House and Support Group staff. The NEPDG
                            executive director and deputy director oversaw the Working Group’s
                            activities, instructed participating agencies on their roles and assignments,
                            and facilitated communication among the Working Group participants. The
                            Working Group developed a draft outline for the energy policy report and
                            relayed work assignments to the agencies responsible for particular areas.
                            Available information did not allow us to determine the number of Working
                            Group meetings held or the number of attendees at any given meeting.

                            NEPDG members were free to assign one or more staff to the Working
                            Group. The Working Group met frequently in February and March 2001 to
                            review the latest outlines and drafts, report on the status of their specific
                            assignments, represent agency views, provide comments to other agencies,
                            and obtain further instructions. For example, the first Working Group
                            meeting held on February 9, 2001, concentrated on the group’s approach to
                            developing a national energy policy and the milestones for completing the
                            process. The second meeting held on February 13, 2001, focused on
                            determining the chapters that would be included in the final report.
                            Subsequent meetings typically involved a review of drafts in which the lead
                            authors would lead discussion on a chapter’s main points. Attendees would
                            comment on the chapters or propose new or revised text for the group’s
                            discussion. The Working Group considered various alternatives in
                            language, tone, and recommendations for the report and then decided on a
                            particular course of action to recommend to the Vice President.

                            The Working Group met often in February and March 2001, generally
                            several days before and immediately following the Principals’ meetings.
                            Most of these meetings took place in the Vice President’s Ceremonial
                            Office, although several had to be rescheduled elsewhere. Working Group
                            meetings were frequently cancelled or postponed as a result of scheduling
                            conflicts. In a sworn declaration submitted to the court in one of the




                            Page 12                                            GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                               lawsuits seeking NEPDG records,13 the NEPDG deputy director stated that
                               all attendees at the Working Group meetings were federal employees, with
                               one exception—a contractor, who engaged in providing technical writing
                               and graphic design services, worked with the group and sat in on portions
                               of no more than three of the meetings. However, attendance lists and
                               minutes of these meetings, if kept, were not made available to us, nor were
                               members of the Support Group allowed to discuss these meetings with us.
                               Thus we were unable to verify any assertions about the composition of
                               personnel at the meetings or about the general subjects discussed.

                               The Working Group met with Support Group staff for the last time on April
                               3, 2001. For the remainder of April 2001, the Support Group worked alone,
                               condensing the list of potential recommendations for NEPDG discussion
                               and recasting the chapters to fit the recommendations. During this period,
                               the Support Group contacted agencies primarily to verify facts or rewrite
                               specified sections of the report. Agency officials rejoined the process after
                               April 30, 2001, when the Support Group released the draft chapters for final
                               comment.

Staff from Multiple Federal    The development of the National Energy Policy report involved hundreds
Agencies Participated in the   of staff from nine federal agencies and several White House offices.
NEPDG Effort                   Agencies had considerable latitude in determining how to staff their
                               NEPDG assignments. Most agencies developed a multilevel, top-down
                               process coordinated by the agency’s lead NEPDG contact or Working
                               Group member. Generally, the NEPDG Support Group forwarded specific
                               writing assignments, information requests, meeting times and agendas to
                               the agency contacts, who then disseminated the information to a
                               coordination team. The coordination team distributed assignments to lead
                               officials in offices or bureaus throughout the department. These officials
                               then assigned staff to complete the tasks. When the completed work had
                               interoffice concurrence, it was then passed back up the chain of command.
                               The NEPDG agency staff contact then reviewed and approved all agency
                               submissions before releasing them to the Principals, the Support Group, or
                               other agencies for review or comment. Agency staff contacts also held
                               regular update meetings with the coordination team and provided assorted
                               updates and briefings to the agency Principal. Not all agencies experienced
                               the same workload. For example, DOE, which was assigned the lead role in
                               developing multiple chapters, had greater responsibilities, more meetings


                               13
                                Declaration of Karen Y. Knutson, Judicial Watch, Inc. v. NEPDG et al., No. 01-1530
                               (D.D.C.) (Sept. 3, 2002).




                               Page 13                                                    GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
to attend, and larger efforts to coordinate than some other agencies, such
as Interior, that played more of an advisory role. Frequent interaction also
took place between agencies in developing the report chapters.

More than 80 DOE employees from eight departmental offices had direct
input into the development of the National Energy Policy report, including
science specialists and representatives with significant science expertise.
DOE’s Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary led the department’s internal
effort to develop information for an interim and final report, and to identify
policy recommendations for the report. The official joined the Acting
Director of the then Office of Policy in periodic meetings with the Support
Group staff and other agency officials to discuss drafts of specific chapters.
In addition, the official joined DOE Office of Policy and program officials to
relay comments from NEPDG meetings and to coordinate writing activities
within DOE. The Acting Director of the Office of Policy, who was
responsible for the day-to-day coordination and management of the
process of producing DOE’s contributions to the NEPDG effort, led a
coordination team of senior managers from the department’s Office of
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, Office
of Fossil Energy, Office of Policy, Office of International Affairs, Energy
Information Administration, and the Bonneville Power Administration. The
team was charged with coordinating the writing of chapters, and each
office formed a similar group within their areas of expertise to write its
respective chapters. The Office of Policy took the lead on chapter 1
(Taking Stock), Energy Efficiency took the lead on chapter 4 (Using
Energy Wisely) and chapter 6 (Nature’s Power), and Fossil Energy took the
lead on chapter 5 (Energy for a New Century). In addition, DOE
contributed draft sections to chapters for which other agencies had been
assigned the lead role. Each office developed recommendations and, after
internal discussions, forwarded them for high-level review within DOE
before they were released to the NEPDG Principals for review.

DOE staff researched historical information about energy and energy
markets; identified key energy issues; examined and analyzed the current
situation in energy markets; discussed likely energy issues, such as energy
production, conservation and energy efficiency, energy prices, renewable
and alternative energy sources, and national energy security; and prepared
issue papers, memoranda, and talking points relating to these subjects.
They also assisted with writing and reviewing drafts of report chapters,
providing supporting statistical and other information, reviewing and
responding to comments from other executive branch components, fact-




Page 14                                             GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                                 checking, developing citations and graphics, and briefing the Secretary on
                                 energy policy issues.

                                 Interior was not assigned a lead role in writing any of the report chapters.
                                 The department’s relationship with NEPDG, including the Working Group
                                 and Support Group staff, therefore consisted of the discussions at
                                 Principals’ and Working Group meetings, comments on drafts, provision of
                                 an options paper, and responses to questions from NEPDG staff. To
                                 support the NEPDG effort, Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis formed an
                                 energy task force comprised of 11 issue teams to examine opportunities to
                                 make more energy available from public lands and to streamline and
                                 improve various planning and permitting processes for facilitating energy
                                 development. Approximately 100 Interior employees, representing 13
                                 departmental offices or bureaus, helped to develop information for the
                                 NEPDG effort. These teams helped develop an internal paper that agency
                                 officials used during Working Group discussions of other agencies’ draft
                                 chapters.

                                 EPA’s general role was to ensure that environmental issues were accurately
                                 and adequately addressed and reflected in the development of the report.
                                 More than 110 EPA employees participated in the agency’s internal NEPDG
                                 efforts. EPA’s Associate Administrator for Policy, Economics, and
                                 Innovation served as the lead manager of the agency’s NEPDG activities,
                                 overseeing its role in drafting the report chapter on the environment
                                 (Protecting America’s Environment) and analyzing environmental issues
                                 contained in the other draft chapters of the report. This EPA official and
                                 two senior managers from the Office of Air and Radiation worked closely
                                 with senior staff from other offices within EPA and senior officials from
                                 other contributing agencies. The office leads circulated the draft to others,
                                 usually to staff within their particular office, as they deemed appropriate.
                                 The managers reviewed documents each time EPA staff prepared or
                                 revised them. Upon approval, EPA’s draft was then conveyed to the Support
                                 Group.

Nonfederal Energy Stakeholders   The NEPDG Principals, Support Group, Working Group, and participating
Contributed to the NEPDG         agency officials met with, solicited input from, or received information and
Effort                           advice from a variety of nonfederal energy stakeholders while developing
                                 the National Energy Policy report. According to our analysis of agency
                                 documents produced under court order, stakeholder involvement in the
                                 NEPDG process included private citizens offering general energy advice to
                                 the President, industry leaders submitting detailed policy
                                 recommendations to NEPDG, and individual meetings with Principals as



                                 Page 15                                            GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
well as the Vice President. The extent to which submissions from any of
these stakeholders were solicited, influenced policy deliberations, or were
incorporated into the final report is not something that we can determine
based on the limited information at our disposal. Nor can we provide a
comprehensive listing of the dates or purposes of these meetings, their
attendees, or how the attendees, when solicited, were selected, because of
OVP’s unwillingness to provide us with information.

The Principals met with a variety of nonfederal entities to discuss energy
issues and policy. DOE reported that the Secretary of Energy discussed
national energy policy with chief executive officers of petroleum,
electricity, nuclear, coal, chemical, and natural gas companies, among
others. The Secretary of Energy also reportedly asked nonfederal parties
for their recommendations for short- and long-term responses to petroleum
product price and supply constraints. Several corporations and
associations, including Chevron, the National Mining Association, and the
National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, provided the Secretary of
Energy with detailed energy policy recommendations. EPA reported that
agency managers—including the EPA Administrator—held many meetings
with outside parties, where the issue of energy policy was raised. For
example, according to the Administrator’s schedule, the Administrator and
agency staff met separately with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers,
the Edison Electric Institute, and a group of environmental and
conservation leaders. Interior reported that the Secretary of the Interior
and staff attended meetings with private industry to discuss energy issues,
including one meeting with Rocky Mountain-based petroleum companies
interested in leasing federal lands and another meeting with an Indian tribe
from Pyramid Lake, Nevada interested in building a power plant on its
lands. In addition, in its response to a congressional inquiry, OVP reported
that the Vice President met with the chairman and chief executive officer of
Enron Corporation to discuss energy policy matters.14 The Vice President
also received a lobbying group’s appeal to stop treating carbon dioxide as a
pollutant and policy recommendations from a coalition of utilities, coal
producers and railroads calling itself the Coal-Based Generation
Stakeholders. We cannot determine the extent to which any of these
communications with NEPDG Principals affected the content or
development of the final report.



14
 David S. Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, to the Honorable Henry A. Waxman,
U.S. House of Representatives (Jan. 3, 2002).




Page 16                                                   GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
In response to another congressional inquiry,15 the NEPDG executive
director reported that the Support Group staff held meetings with
individuals involved with companies or industries, including those in the
electricity, telecommunications, coal mining, petroleum, gas, refining,
bioenergy, solar energy, nuclear energy, pipeline, railroad and automobile
manufacturing sectors; environmental, wildlife, and marine advocacy; state
and local utility regulation and energy management; research and teaching
at universities; research and analysis at policy organizations; energy
consumers, including consumption by businesses and individuals; a major
labor union; and about three dozen Members of Congress or their staffs.
However, the NEPDG executive director did not specify the frequency,
length, or purpose of the meetings, or how participants were selected to
attend. In addition, OVP reported that the Support Group staff also met
with numerous nonfederal stakeholders during the development of the
final report, including a meeting with representatives of various utilities
and two meetings with representatives of Enron Corporation.16

Finally, senior agency officials participated in numerous meetings with
nonfederal energy stakeholders to discuss the national energy policy.
Based on our analysis of the agency documents produced under court
order, senior DOE officials, in addition to attending meetings with the
Secretary of Energy, met with a variety of industry representatives,
lobbyists, and energy associations, including the American Coal Company,
Small Refiners Association, the Coal Council, CSX, Enviropower, Inc.,
Detroit Edison, Duke Energy, the Edison Electric Institute, General Motors,
the National Petroleum Council, and the lobbying firm of Barbour, Griffith
& Rogers. These senior DOE officials also solicited recommendations,
views, or points of clarification from other parties. For example, one senior
DOE official solicited detailed energy policy recommendations from a
variety of nonfederal energy stakeholders, including the American
Petroleum Institute, the National Petrochemical and Refiners’ Association,
the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and Southern
Company. This official also received policy recommendations from others,
including the American Gas Association, Green Mountain Energy, the
National Mining Association, and the lobbying firms the Dutko Group and


15
 Responses of Andrew Lundquist, Executive Director for the National Energy Policy
Development Group, to questions from the Ranking Minority Members of the House
Committee on Government Reform and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
(May 4, 2001).
16
     Addington to Waxman (Jan. 3, 2002).




Page 17                                                GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                             the Duberstein Group. Senior EPA officials, in addition to accompanying
                             the Administrator to meetings with nonfederal energy stakeholders,
                             discussed issues related to the development of an energy policy at meetings
                             with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Public
                             Power Association, and the Yakama Nation Electric Utility. Interior told us
                             that senior agency officials met with nonfederal parties to discuss energy
                             policy or other energy-related issues, but provided us with no further
                             details about these meetings.

                             In addition to the meetings listed above, the agency documents reveal that
                             the NEPDG Principals, Support Group, and agency staff received a
                             considerable amount of unsolicited advice, criticisms, meeting requests,
                             and/or recommendations from other parties, including private citizens;
                             university professors; local, state, and international officials; regional
                             energy stakeholders; and a variety of interest groups representing energy-
                             related causes. Again, because of the limited information available to us,
                             we cannot determine the extent to which these communications affected
                             the content or development of the final report.



The National Energy Policy   The National Energy Policy report was developed in two distinct phases,
Report Was Developed in      in accordance with the general criteria defined in the President’s January
                             29, 2001, memorandum. The first phase involved the development of an
Two Distinct Phases          outline; the distribution of research and writing assignments to
                             participating agencies; and the development of narrative, topical chapters
                             that ultimately formed the basis of the final report. The first phase
                             culminated in a March 19, 2001, presentation to the President on energy
                             supply disruptions and their regional effects. In the second phase, agency
                             officials reviewed and finalized draft chapters; consolidated a list of
                             options and recommendations and discussed them with the Working
                             Group; and developed short position papers on each of the
                             recommendations that the Working Group considered to be controversial.
                             These papers served as the primary basis for discussion at subsequent
                             Principals’ meetings. After the final meeting of the Working Group on April
                             3, 2001, the Support Group took the provided materials under
                             consideration and drafted the final report. Agency officials had a final
                             opportunity to review the partial draft of the recommendations before the
                             report was finalized, published, and presented to the President on May 16,
                             2001, as the National Energy Policy.




                             Page 18                                           GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
NEPDG Drafted Chapters and       In the first week of the administration, the Vice President worked with the
Prepared an Interim Report in    soon-to-be-named NEPDG executive director to define the process for
the First Phase                  developing a proposed national energy policy. They decided that a group of
                                 senior federal officials would generate an interim report that would detail
                                 energy supply problems and a final report that would outline solutions. The
                                 President’s memorandum, released on January 29, 2001, reflected this work
                                 plan.

                                 In early February 2001, the NEPDG executive director distributed a
                                 memorandum at the first Working Group meeting detailing the group’s
                                 mission, reporting requirements, and a proposed structure of seven
                                 targeted interagency workgroups to review specific issue areas. At the
                                 meeting, the Support Group named lead agencies to coordinate the
                                 development of each of the 10 assigned chapters.17

                                 The Support Group tasked the lead agencies—DOE, DOT, EPA, Treasury,
                                 and the State Department—with developing a report outline for each of
                                 their assigned chapters to be forwarded to the White House for final
                                 approval. The Support Group instructed agencies to write chapters without
                                 proposing improvements, noting that the draft chapters would not be sent
                                 to the President, but would serve as the basis of a more detailed version
                                 that NEPDG would use when drafting the final report. While the drafting of
                                 chapters for the final report continued, the Support Group, Working Group,
                                 and participating agency staff focused much of their collective effort
                                 throughout February on developing sections of an interim report. The
                                 Support Group released the interim report to the Principals for review in
                                 early March 2001, then shifted its attention to the second phase of the
                                 process—finalizing the draft and making recommendations. The interim
                                 briefing, which took place at the White House on March 19, 2001, mostly
                                 consisted of oral presentations on the energy supply and demand situation
                                 and short-term regional energy supply disruptions.

NEPDG Selected                   Immediately following the March 19, 2001, presentation of the interim
Recommendations and Finalized    report to the President, the Working Group met to refine the chapters of the
the Report in the Second Phase   final report and to discuss potential recommendations that agencies had
                                 accumulated. The Support Group provided the agencies with a copy of the
                                 Bush-Cheney energy-related initiatives developed during the presidential
                                 campaign, asking them to ensure that they incorporated these initiatives


                                 17
                                  The number of chapters was later reduced from 10 to 8, as several chapters were
                                 consolidated during the writing process.




                                 Page 19                                                    GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
when developing their respective recommendations. They asked each
agency in the Working Group to prepare an “option paper” that included
proposals for streamlining energy production and steps to implement them.

In March 2001, the Working Group continued to develop chapters and
discuss recommendations, and pared down each agency’s list of potential
recommendations. The Support Group prepared five one-page issue paper
summaries of the recommendations that the Working Group considered to
be controversial—a multi-pollutant strategy, fuel efficiency standards,
energy efficiency, nuclear energy, and the moratoria on Outer Continental
Shelf leasing—to the Principals for further discussion. Shortly before the
April 3, 2001, Principals’ meeting, the Support Group added a last-minute
agenda item to be discussed with the other recommendations. The actual
agenda item, however, had been redacted from the documents that we
reviewed.

In early April 2001, the Support Group stopped accepting comments on the
proposals and began sorting through them, asking agencies to incorporate
what the Support Group deemed to be the less controversial
recommendations into the draft chapters. For the remainder of April 2001,
the Support Group mostly worked alone, selecting recommendations to
present to NEPDG Principals and rewriting the chapters to fit the
recommendations. The Principals met to discuss several of the potentially
more controversial recommendations and to decide which proposals to
add to the chapters. In some cases, agencies were told to rewrite sections
of the chapters to incorporate the proposed recommendations.

The agencies continued to draft their chapters and incorporate various
other agencies’ comments until the Support Group issued a deadline and
requested the final submission of chapters for editing. The Support Group
then released the drafts to all of the agencies for a cursory review,
informing agency officials that the drafts were now considered “final” and
that only high priority comments would be accepted.

The Support Group asked agencies to protect their lists of proposed
recommendations, instructing officials to hold all proposals closely and not
to circulate them. The Support Group then sent the draft chapters to the
agencies without any recommendations. On April 30, 2001, the Support
Group invited each agency’s Principal or chief of staff to visit the White
House for an on-site review of the final draft recommendations. The
Support Group continued to make last-minute alterations to the report to
incorporate revised recommendations, called on the agencies to verify



Page 20                                           GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                          facts and to provide citations, and ushered the final draft through the
                          editing and printing processes. On May 16, 2001, the Vice President
                          presented the final National Energy Policy report to the President. The
                          final report contained over 100 proposals to increase the nation’s energy
                          supply. The presentation brought the National Energy Policy report
                          development process to a close.



Federal Agencies Did      None of the key federal entities involved in the NEPDG effort provided us
                          with a complete accounting of the costs they incurred during the
Not Track the Amount      development of the National Energy Policy report. Several agencies
of Public Money Spent     provided us with rough estimates of their respective NEPDG-related costs;
                          but these estimates, all calculated in different ways, were not
on NEPDG Activities       comprehensive. The two federal entities responsible for funding the
                          NEPDG effort—OVP and DOE—did not provide us with the comprehensive
                          cost information we requested. OVP provided us with 77 pages of
                          information, two-thirds of which contained no cost information, while the
                          remaining one-third contained miscellaneous information of little to no
                          usefulness. In response to our requests seeking clarification on the
                          provided information, OVP stated that it would not provide any additional
                          information. DOE, EPA, and Interior provided us with their estimates of
                          costs associated with the NEPDG effort, which aggregated about $860,000.
                          DOE provided us with selected cost information, including salary
                          estimates, printing and publication costs, and other incidental expenses.
                          EPA and Interior provided salary cost estimates for some of their senior
                          officials involved in the report’s development. DOE and Interior officials
                          reported that although most of the identified costs were salary-oriented,
                          employees had not specifically recorded the amount of time they had spent
                          on NEPDG-related tasks because many of them already worked on energy
                          policy and thus would have likely conducted a substantial portion of the
                          work, even without the NEPDG project taking place. An Interior official
                          cautioned us not to expect a precise estimate, noting that the estimate
                          primarily had been based on employee recollection and guesswork.



DOE and OVP Were          In his January 29, 2001, memorandum that established NEPDG, the
Responsible for Funding   President instructed the Vice President to consult with the Secretary of
                          Energy to determine the need for funding. DOE was to “make funds
NEPDG Activities
                          appropriated to the Department of Energy available to pay the costs of
                          personnel to support the activities of the Energy Policy Development
                          Group.” The memorandum further stated that if DOE required additional



                          Page 21                                           GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                            funds, the Vice President was to submit a proposal to the President to use
                            “the minimum necessary portion of any appropriation available to the
                            President to meet the unanticipated need” or obtain assistance from the
                            National Economic Council staff.18



OVP Provided Limited Cost   In response to our inquiry about the NEPDG’s receipt, disbursement, and
Information Responsive to   use of public funds, OVP provided us with 77 pages of “documents
                            retrieved from the files of the Office of the Vice President responsive to
Our Request Regarding
                            that inquiry.”19 The Vice President later referred to these documents as
NEPDG’s Receipt,            “responsive to the Comptroller General’s inquiry concerning costs
Disbursement, and Use of    associated with the Group’s work.”20 Our analysis of the documents,
Public Funds                however, showed that they responded only partially to our request.

                            The documents that OVP provided contain little useful information or
                            insight into the overall costs associated with the National Energy Policy
                            development. Of the 77 pages that we received, 52 contained no cost
                            information while the remaining 25 contained some miscellaneous
                            information of little to no usefulness. For example, OVP provided us with
                            two pages illustrating a telephone template and four pages containing
                            indecipherable scribbling, but no discernible cost information. OVP also
                            provided documents that contained some miscellaneous information,
                            predominantly reimbursement requests, assorted telephone bills and
                            random items, such as the executive director’s credit card receipt for pizza.
                            In response to our requests seeking clarification of the provided
                            information, OVP stated that it would not provide us with any additional
                            information. Consequently, we were unable to determine the extent to
                            which OVP documents reflected costs associated with the report’s
                            development.



DOE Did Not                 DOE reported spending about $300,000 on NEPDG-related activities, more
Comprehensively Track       than half of which was used for the salaries of its employees detailed to
                            OVP and two designated DOE staff contacts for the period from January 29,
Overall NEPDG Costs

                            18
                                 Pres. Memorandum (Jan. 29, 2001).
                            19
                             Letter from David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, to Anthony Gamboa, General
                            Counsel, the U.S. General Accounting Office (June 21, 2001).
                            20
                                 Letter from the Vice President to the U.S. House of Representatives (Aug. 2, 2001).




                            Page 22                                                          GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
                             2001, through May 29, 2001. DOE reported spending most of the remaining
                             funds to print and produce 10,000 policy publications and graphic support,
                             pay for 16 large briefing boards, and reimburse the NEPDG executive
                             director for his lodging and per diem expenses. DOE did not provide any
                             information on the Support Group members’ requests for the
                             reimbursement of taxi, parking, meal, or duplicating expenditures
                             contained in the 77 pages of OVP documents. However, DOE officials noted
                             that the department did not pay for furniture, telephones, or other
                             expenses that DOE employees on the Support Group may have incurred
                             setting up their offices, saying that they assumed that the White House paid
                             these costs.



EPA Provided Estimates of    EPA reported spending an estimated $131,250 in NEPDG-related costs to
Its NEPDG-Related Salary     pay the salaries of the officials most involved in NEPDG activities. EPA
                             officials calculated this estimate by taking the number of full-time
Costs, but Did Not Include
                             equivalents, the officials’ average annual salaries, and prorating the amount
Its Incidental Expenses      for the 3½ months they spent working on the NEPDG effort. EPA officials
                             also reported that the agency incurred multiple incidental expenses in
                             helping to prepare the NEPDG report, such as taxi fares, duplication costs,
                             and courier fees, but they neither itemized these expenditures nor provided
                             us with any further documentation.



Federal Employee Salaries    Interior reported spending an estimated $430,000 on salary-related costs
Accounted for All of         associated with the NEPDG report development. It also reported that it did
                             not incur any NEPDG-related contracting costs. The agency official who
Interior’s Reported NEPDG-
                             provided us with the estimate warned that although it was the best
Related Costs                possible, its precision was uncertain because it had been based on
                             employees’ personal recollections and guesswork as to the amount of time
                             they spent working on NEPDG-related activities. The official then added an
                             additional 20 percent to the estimated sum to reflect the employee benefits
                             that accrued during the period. Interior did not create a unique job code or
                             accounting process to track the time that Interior employees spent on
                             developing the NEPDG report. According to one official, many of the staff
                             involved with the NEPDG effort already worked on energy policy for their
                             respective bureaus or offices and thus a substantial portion of the work
                             would likely have been conducted, even without the NEPDG project taking
                             place.




                             Page 23                                            GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
Agency Comments   We provided DOE, Interior, and EPA with an opportunity to review and
                  comment on a draft of this report. Representatives from each of these three
                  agencies reviewed the report and chose not to provide written comments.
                  Interior and EPA provided several technical clarifications orally, which we
                  incorporated, as appropriate, into the final report. We also provided OVP
                  with an opportunity to review and comment on our draft report, but the
                  office did not avail itself of the opportunity.


                  We conducted our review from May 2001 through July 2003. We plan no
                  further distribution of this report until August 25. On that date, we will send
                  copies of this report to interested congressional committees. This report is
                  also available on GAO's home page at http://www.gao.gov.

                  If you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please call me at
                  (202) 512-3841. Key contributors to this report are listed in appendix I.




                  Robert A. Robinson
                  Managing Director, Natural Resources
                  and Environment




                  Page 24                                             GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
List of Congressional Requesters

Senate                                                  House
The Honorable Joseph I. Liebermana                      The Honorable Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Minority Member                                 Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Governmental Affairs                       Committee on Government
United States Senate                                      Reform
                                                        House of Representatives

The Honorable Ernest F. Hollingsa                       The Honorable John D. Dingell
Ranking Minority Member                                 Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Commerce, Science,                         Committee on Energy and
  and Transportation                                      Commerce
United States Senate                                    House of Representatives

The Honorable Carl M. Levina
Ranking Minority Member
Permanent Subcommittee on
  Investigations
Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Byron L. Dorgana
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Competition,
  Foreign Commerce, and
  Infrastructureb
Committee on Commerce, Science,
  and Transportation
United States Senate




a
 At the time of their joint request to GAO, the four senators were chairmen of their respective
committees or subcommittees.
b
 This subcommittee was formerly called the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Foreign Commerce,
and Tourism.




Page 25                                                              GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
Appendix I

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgment                                                       AA
                                                                                             ppp
                                                                                               ep
                                                                                                ned
                                                                                                  n
                                                                                                  x
                                                                                                  id
                                                                                                   e
                                                                                                   x
                                                                                                   Iis




GAO Contacts     Robert A. Robinson (202) 512-3841
                 Peg Reese (202) 512-9695



Acknowledgment   In addition to the individuals named above, Doreen Feldman, Lynn Gibson,
                 Richard Johnson, Bob Lilly, Jonathan S. McMurray, Susan Poling, Susan
                 Sawtelle, Amy Webbink, and Jim Wells made key contributions to this
                 report.




(360086)         Page 26                                         GAO-03-894 Energy Task Force
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