The House will vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would eliminate the Department of Energy’s (DOE) wasteful and unnecessary Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) program. This is a policy recommended in The Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 and in the Trump administration’s budget submitted to Congress.
ARPA-E is a federal program designed in 2007 to fund high-risk, high-reward projects on which the private sector would not embark on its own. According to The Heritage Foundation, ARPA-E does not follow its own goals. The federal government has awarded several ARPA-E grants to companies and projects that are neither high-risk nor something that private industry cannot support as identified by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the DOE’s Inspector General, and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee staff. One study found that, of the 44 small and medium-sized companies that received an ARPA-E award, 18 had previously received private-sector investment for a similar technology.
The Trump administration also calls for the elimination of the ARPA-E program in its fiscal year 2019 budget summary:
The Budget also proposes the elimination of Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy, recognizing the private sector’s primary role in taking risks to commercialize breakthrough energy technologies with real market potential.
Federal scientific research and development funding must be rationalized to cut waste and reign in federal spending to either meet specific government objectives or contribute to basic research where the private sector is not already working. The Gosar amendment would meaningfully advance both of these priorities by eliminating funding for DOE’s ARPA-E program while saving taxpayers over $350 million.