DOE freezes millions in awards

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Science  05 May 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6337, pp. 471-472
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6337.471

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The Department of Energy (DOE) has stopped processing research awards worth tens of millions of dollars made by its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). DOE officials aren’t saying why they took the unusual “no-contract action,” first reported by Politico Pro, last month. But more than a dozen projects across four new ARPA-E programs are now in limbo—and researchers fear the freeze could be a prelude to more drastic steps at an agency that President Donald Trump wants to eliminate. DOE has also imposed a gag order on ARPA-E program managers, leaving investigators in the dark about the status of their grants. And in a move that could affect hundreds of investigators, it has directed managers to ignore grantee requests for routine “no-cost” adjustments to current projects that allow researchers to adjust existing protocols to deal with logistical hurdles or to chase new ideas.