Friday, July 8, 2011

DESC is Dead; Long Live DESC: Congress Opens Little Energy Schoolhouse

As you may know, late last year the Defense Energy Supply Center was reflagged as Defense Logistics Center – Energy. Soon thereafter, another organization seized the acronym DESC for their own purposes. Coincidence? Or just trying to save money on letterhead?

On 11 March 2011 the Congressional Member Organizations (caucuses) approved the formation of the Congressional Defense Energy Security Caucus. Chaired by Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey of the Fighting 22nd District of New York (sorry, Mr. Colbert), the current members of the DESC are, Roscoe Bartlett (co-chair), Jack Kingston (co-chair), Gabrielle Giffords (co-chair), Earl Blumenauer, Gerry Connolly, Randy Forbes, John Garamendi, Colleen Hanabusa, Jay Inslee, Steve Israel, Adam Kinzinger, Jim Langevin, Mike Turner and Delegate Madelleine Bordallo

This week, on 7 July, alongside Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Pia Carusone, Chief of Staff for Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Mr. Hinchey unveiled DESC. The stated purpose is to “educate members of Congress and the public on the strategic value of utilizing sustainable energy sources for the U.S. military, highlight and support established and emerging defense energy initiatives, and find solutions to energy challenges facing the Department of Defense (DoD)”. School is now in session.

Also present at the unveiling was Sharon Burke, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs who spoke at the kickoff. "By forming the Defense Energy Security Caucus, Representatives Bartlett, Giffords, Hinchey, and Kingston are continuing the strong leadership the Congress demonstrated when they helped create the DoD Operational Energy office in 2009. Working together, I believe we can transform the way the Department uses energy, which will improve capabilities for our warfighters, cut costs for American taxpayers, and ultimately save lives."

I spoke with the military liaison staff of Congressman Hinchey’s office about the focus for the Caucus. They pointed out that the Caucus was bipartisan and had representation on the Appropriations and Authorization Committees. The Caucus will serve as a central hub for information and education on Defense Energy and will host briefings and tech events to bring together members of industry, academia and government. Their goal is to “give defense energy security policy an additional synergistic platform that will contribute to mission success, protect lives, save money, and safeguard the environment”.

In addition to being a central repository for all things Defense Energy, my hope is that they serve as an accountability partner for DOD energy efforts. Responsibilities must be clearly articulated, authorities must be provided appropriately and accountability must be ruthless. Having someone from outside the house (and from the House) looking in can be very helpful in making sure that there is balance AND success in achieving the very aggressive goals that have been set by legislative decree, presidential order and internal DOD policy. I wish them all success. We need it! Dan Nolan

No comments: