New Tools for Science Policy

Adapting Federal Programs to Evolving Public Values: Insights from the Department of Energy Recording

About the Seminar

May 10, 2024 9:00am—10:00am

Changing public values can be difficult to navigate for public funders when designing funding instruments. This is why we want to look at how federal programs keep up, assess, and incorporate changing public values and priorities.

Critics have argued that bureaucratic processes can be the ‘burial ground for public values’.* However, federal programs have adjusted to policy change by integrating new core values (i.e., public health, energy, and the environment) into funding mechanisms and their merit review processes. With the recent executive order on ‘Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad’ (EO 14008), environmental and energy justice (EEJ) have become a new set of values to be integrated in the context of the Justice40 initiative.

On May 10th, 2024, we had the pleasure of hosting Matthias Galan and Darshan Karwat for a New Tools for Science and Technology Policy seminar to discuss how program managers translate new EEJ values into funding instruments and merit review processes.I had a chance to ask them a few questions. Here are their insights.

  1. What was something that surprised you when doing research on this project?
    • “It was surprising to see how diversified the strategic responses of funding instrument managers are and how their responses chart different paths of accounting for environmental and energy justice.”
  1. Share a key insight for policymakers from your work?
    • “Bringing in energy and environmental justice (EEJ) expertise early and designing programs based on a shared framework for funding instrument managers, applicants, and merit reviewers can be crucial to successfully addressing and evaluating EEJ.”
  1. What should policy implementers do differently as a result of learning about your work?
    • “Policy implementers can benefit from applying our framework to think through how far the implementation process is aligned with environmental and energy justice (EEJ), what best practice looks like, and how different funding instruments compare to the best practice.”