December 17, 1981
Last September in my economic message I announced that we would develop a plan for dismantling the Department of Energy. In the intervening months, a group led by the Secretary of Energy developed a number of proposals to carry out that commitment.
I have selected a plan that will divide the current responsibilities of the Department of Energy between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce. This would fulfill my campaign promise to make government more efficient and reduce the cost of government to the taxpayers.
Under the plan I have approved, the Interior Department will take on those functions of DOE that bear on the management of natural resources, such as supervision of the national petroleum reserves and the hydroelectric dams operated by the power marketing administrations.
The Commerce Department will be responsible for ensuring that energy is given full consideration in national economic policy; for developing plans for responding to energy supply emergencies, including our relations with international energy organizations; and for the collection of statistical data on energy.
In addition, we will establish an agency to carry out the important research programs now operated by DOE. This agency will report to me through the Secretary of Commerce and will also have responsibility for operating the atomic energy defense program that develops and produces nuclear weapons for our strategic forces.
I believe that this plan will result in a strong Federal effort in basic research in energy that avoids the excessive regulation that led me to call for dismantling DOE. Under this plan, we will limit the role of the Federal Government in energy. The government will no longer try to manage every aspect of energy supply and consumption.
I have directed that a task force composed of representatives from the White House Office of Policy Development, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Interior get to work immediately on the detailed legislation and plans needed to carry out the decision I made yesterday.
We will of course be consulting with the Congress on the detailed plan, which I anticipate submitting to the Congress with the fiscal year 1983 budget.
By dismantling a bureaucracy while keeping intact its essential functions, we are moving ahead with our promise to make government serve the people -- and do it more efficiently. This is a big step, but there is more to be done, and we are pledged to do it.