The DOE’s Proactive FY25 Budget Is Another Workforce Win On the Way to Staffing the Energy Transition

The DOE has spent considerable time in the last few years focused on how to strengthen the Department’s workforce and deliver on its mission – including running the largest basic science research engine in the country, and managing a wide range of decarbonization efforts through clean energy technology innovation, demonstration, and deployment. In general, their efforts have been successful – in no small part because they have been creative and have had access to tools like the Intergovernmental Personnel Act and the Direct Hire Authority that supported the Clean Energy Corps. 

It’s no surprise then, that the agency’s FY 2025 budget looks to continue investing in the current and future science and energy workforce. The budget suggests DOE offices are thinking proactively about departmental capacity – in both the federal workforce, and beyond it through workforce development programs that actively grow the pool of future scientists.

Current BIL and IRA Talent 

As seen below, several DOE offices across the science, innovation and infrastructure domains have requested increases in program direction funding in FY 2025. Program direction funds are an under-valued but critical resource for enabling the energy transition: DOE must be able to recruit and retain expert staff with a high level of technical proficiency who can meet the multi-faceted demands of public service – reviewing proposals, building bridges with industry, maintaining user facilities, and overseeing execution of complex federal technology programs.

DOE OfficeFY 2024 Program Direction Funds (in thousands)FY 2025 Request Program Direction Funds (in thousands)Percent Increase from FY 2024-25
Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response$28,000$32,00014.3%
Grid Deployment Office$6,000$11,78596.4%
Federal Energy Management Program$14,000$17,20022.9%
Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains$1,000$20,0001900.0%
State and Community Energy Programs Office$22,000$40,00081.8%
Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations$27,500$80,000190.9%
Office of Indian Energy Programs and Policy$14,000$14,0000.0%
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy$186,000$194,7924.7%
Office of Electricity$19,000$19,7003.7%
Office of Nuclear Energy$90,000$97,0007.8%
Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management$70,000$97,00038.6%
Office of Science$226,831$246,0008.5%

These requests also reflect a larger strategy, motivated by the constraints put on federal management funding by IIJA and IRA. First, while those pieces of legislation poured resources into federal energy innovation, they also limited program direction funds to 3% of account spending, which was highly constraining from a talent perspective – even with the creative use of hiring mechanisms like IPAs and various fellowships. In the final energy spending bill for FY 2024, this was raised to 5% and extended the funds connected to IIJA funding from expiring in 2026 to FY 2029 – a much-needed adjustment to the legislation. 

Extensions to and increases in program direction funds are vital for DOE. If the levels of appropriated PD funds don’t match the programs and mandate of offices, it jeopardizes their ability to provide oversight, project management, and effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars. New program direction funding is similarly important for offices like the Grid Deployment Office, a new office formed from a combination of programs from IIJA and IRA and the Office of Electricity. The FY 2025 request includes a $40 million increase above FY 2023, including $30 million for a new microgrid initiative intended to strengthen grid reliability and resilience in high risk regions. The Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains is a more extreme example: because of its recent creation, it needs a sharp increase in program direction funds. In FY24 the office received only $1 million in PD funds, while its FY 2025 PD request is $20 million – a much more appropriate number to support the total office budget request of $113 million. These requests are important and necessary for the long-term ability of DOE to continue to fortify U.S. energy independence and innovation.

Future Workforce 

Offices are also focused on building pathways for early career scientists to grow their expertise. The Office of Science (SC), DOE’s central hub for basic science research and National Lab oversight, is a prime example. First, SC’s program direction funding is incredibly low for an office of its size and magnitude, and it has steadily declined over the past several years to less than 3% of the SC appropriations as of FY 2023. The FY 2025 request increase of 8% will help remedy this.

SC has also focused on increasing funding for their workforce development programs, and specifically the Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) and its Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) programs. Both received an increase of $1-2 million – although one of WDTS’s other programs, the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI), was reduced by about $1 million. For most of the WDTS programs, high housing and living costs are cited as a reason for the need for increasing support. These high costs have been cited as a barrier to workforce development at many of the National Labs as well. Congress should explore opportunities to be creative with stipends and program accessibility – to ensure that SC can continue to support workforce development at all levels.

Enhancing Federal Climate Initiatives: Integrating Tech-Focused Green Jobs for Equity and Innovation

Federal climate initiatives, like the ‘Climate Corps’ and the National Climate Resilience Framework, overlook the integration of technology-focused green jobs, missing opportunities for equity and innovation in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). Our objective is to advocate for the integration of technology-focused green jobs within these initiatives to foster equity. Leveraging funding opportunities from recent legislation, notably the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) environmental education fund, we aim to craft novel job descriptions, tailored training programs, and foster strategic public-private partnerships.

Methods and Approach

Our approach was based on comprehensive research and extensive stakeholder engagement, including discussions with key federal agencies and industry experts, identifying challenges and opportunities for integrating technology-focused green jobs. We engaged with officials and experts from various organizations, including the Department of Energy, EPA, USDA, FEMA, New America, the Benton Institute, National Urban League, Kajeet, the Blue Green Alliance, and the Alliance for Rural Innovation.We conducted data research and analysis, reviewed government frameworks and CRS reports, as well as surveyed programs and reports from diverse sources.

Challenge and Opportunity

The integration of technology-focused green jobs within existing federal climate initiatives presents both challenges and opportunities. One primary challenge lies in the predominant focus on traditional green jobs within current initiatives, which may inadvertently overlook the potential for equitable opportunities in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). This narrow emphasis risks excluding individuals with expertise in emerging technologies from participating in climate-related efforts, hindering innovation and limiting the scope of solutions. Moreover, the lack of adequate integration of technology within climate strategies creates a gap in inclusive and forward-looking approaches, potentially impeding the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at addressing climate change. Addressing these challenges requires a paradigm shift in how federal climate initiatives are structured and implemented, necessitating a deliberate effort to incorporate technology-driven solutions alongside traditional green job programs.

However, amidst these challenges lie significant opportunities to foster equity and innovation in the climate sector. By advocating for the integration of technology-focused green jobs within federal initiatives, there is an opportunity to broaden the talent pool and harness the potential of emerging technologies to tackle pressing environmental issues. Leveraging funding opportunities from recent legislation, such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) environmental education fund, presents a unique opportunity to invest in novel job descriptions, tailored training programs, and strategic public-private partnerships. Furthermore, initiatives aimed at reconciling concerns about equity in job creation and transitions, particularly in designing roles that require advanced degrees and ensuring consistent labor protections, provide avenues for fostering a more inclusive and equitable workforce in the green technology sector. By seizing these opportunities, federal climate initiatives can not only advance technological innovation but also promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the emerging green economy.

Plan of Action

Moving the integration of these policy frameworks internally and with an aspiration to reflect market and community needs will require a multi-faceted approach. In response to the identified challenges and opportunities, the following policy recommendations are proposed:

Recommendation 1. Restructuring Federal Climate Initiatives to Embrace Technology-Focused Green Jobs

In light of the evolving landscape of climate challenges and technological advancements, there is a pressing need to review existing federal climate initiatives, such as the ‘Climate Corps’ and the National Climate Resilience Framework, to actively integrate technology-focused green jobs. Doing so creates an opportunity for integrated implementation guidance. This recommendation aims to ensure equitable opportunities in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) within the climate sector while addressing the intersection between climate and technology. By undertaking this restructuring, federal climate initiatives can better align with the demands of the modern workforce and foster innovation in climate solutions. For example, the two aforementioned initiatives and the Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence all infer or clearly mention the following: green or climate jobs, equity, job training programs and tech and climate literacy. There is room to create programs to research and generate solutions around the ecological impacts of AI development within the auspices of the Climate Resilience Framework, and consider creating roles to implement those solutions as part of the Climate Corps (see Appendix II). 

The rationale behind this recommendation lies in the recognition of the imperative to adapt federal climate initiatives to embrace emerging technologies and promote diversity and inclusion in green job opportunities. As the climate crisis intensifies and technological advancements accelerate, there is a growing need for skilled professionals who can leverage technology to address environmental challenges effectively. However, existing initiatives predominantly prioritize traditional green jobs, potentially overlooking the untapped potential of technology-driven solutions. Therefore, restructuring federal climate initiatives to actively integrate technology-focused green jobs is essential to harnessing the full spectrum of talent and expertise needed to confront the complexities of climate change.

  1. Developing a Green Tech Job Initiative. This initiative should focus on creating and promoting jobs in the tech, AI, and ML sectors that contribute to climate solutions. This could include roles in developing clean energy technologies, climate modeling, and data analysis for climate research and policy development. Burgeoning industries such as regenerative finance offer opportunities to combine AI and climate resilience goals. 
  2. Ensuring Equitable Opportunities. Policies should be put in place to ensure these job opportunities are accessible to all, regardless of background or location. One example would be to leverage the Justice40 initiative, and use those allocations to underserved communities to create targeted training and education programs in tech-driven environmental solutions for underrepresented groups. Additionally, public-private partnerships could be strategically designed to support community-based projects that utilize technology to address local environmental issues.
  3. Addressing the Intersection of Climate and Technology. The intersection of climate and technology should be a key focus of federal climate policy. This could involve promoting the use of technology in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, as well as considering the environmental impact of the tech industry itself. (Strengthening community colleges, accredited online programs and other low-cost alternatives to traditional education and job training)

Recommendation 2. Leveraging Funding for Technology-Driven Solutions in Federal Climate Initiatives

In order to harness the funding avenues provided by recent legislation such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) environmental education fund, strategic policy measures must be implemented to facilitate the development of comprehensive job descriptions, tailored training plans, and robust public-private partnerships aimed at advancing technology-driven solutions within federal climate initiatives. This recommendation underscores the importance of utilizing available resources to cultivate a skilled workforce, foster innovation, and enhance collaboration between government, industry, and academia in addressing climate challenges through technology.

The rationale behind this recommendation is rooted in the recognition of the transformative potential of technology-driven solutions in mitigating climate change and building resilience. With significant funding streams allocated to climate-related initiatives, there is a unique opportunity to invest in the development of job descriptions that reflect the evolving demands of the green technology sector, as well as training programs that equip individuals with the necessary skills to excel in these roles. Moreover, fostering robust public-private partnerships can facilitate knowledge sharing, resource pooling, and joint innovation efforts, thereby maximizing the impact of federal climate initiatives. By strategically leveraging available funding, federal agencies can catalyze the adoption of technology-driven solutions and drive progress towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

  1. Comprehensive Job Descriptions. Develop comprehensive job descriptions for technology-focused green jobs within federal climate initiatives. These descriptions should clearly outline the roles and responsibilities, required skills and qualifications, and potential career paths. This could be overseen by the Department of Labor (DOL) in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the EPA.
  2. Tailored Training Plans. Establish tailored training plans to equip individuals with the necessary skills for these jobs. This could involve partnerships with educational institutions and industry bodies to develop curriculum and training programs. The National Science Foundation (NSF) could play a key role in this, given its mandate to promote science and engineering education.
  3. Public-Private Partnerships. Foster robust public-private partnerships to advance technology-driven solutions within federal climate initiatives. This could involve collaborations between government agencies, tech companies, research institutions, and non-profit organizations. The Department of Commerce, through its National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), could facilitate these partnerships, given its role in fostering innovation and industrial competitiveness.

Recommendation 3. Updating Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Categories for Green and Tech Jobs

To address the outdated Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) job categories, particularly in relation to the green and innovation economies, federal agencies and stakeholders must collaborate to support an update of these categories and classifications. This recommendation emphasizes the importance of modernizing job classifications to accurately reflect the evolving nature of the workforce, especially in sectors related to green technology and innovation.

The rationale behind this recommendation is rooted in the recognition of the significant impact that outdated job categories can have on program and policy design, particularly in areas related to green and technology-driven jobs. Currently the green jobs categorization work has been interrupted by sequestration.1 The tech job updates are on differing schedules. By updating BLS job categories to align with current market trends and emerging technologies, federal agencies can ensure that workforce development efforts are targeted and effective. Moreover, fostering collaboration between public and private sector stakeholders, alongside inter-agency work, can provide the necessary support for BLS to undertake this update process. Through coordinated efforts, agencies can contribute valuable insights and expertise to inform the revision of job categories, ultimately facilitating more informed decision-making and resource allocation in the domains of green and tech jobs.

  1. Inter-Agency Collaboration. Establish an inter-agency task force, including representatives from the BLS, Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of Labor (DOL), to review and update the current job categories and classifications. This task force would be responsible for ensuring that the classifications accurately reflect the evolving nature of jobs in the green and innovation economies.
  2. Public-Private Partnerships. Engage in public-private partnerships with industry leaders, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. These partnerships can provide valuable insights into the changing job landscape and help inform the update of job categories and classifications.
  3. Stakeholder Engagement. Conduct regular consultations with stakeholders, including employers, workers, and unions in the green and innovation economies. Their input can ensure that the updated classifications accurately represent the realities of the job market.
  4. Regular Updates. Implement a policy for regular reviews and updates of job categories and classifications, particularly in renewing and syncing the green and tech jobs.The Office of Budget and Management can offer guidance about regular reviews and feedback based on government-wide standards. Initiating such a policy may require additional personnel in the short-term, but long-term this will increase agency efficiency. It will also ensure that the classifications remain relevant as the green and innovation economies continue to evolve (see FAQ section and Appendix I).


The integration of technology-focused green jobs within federal climate initiatives is imperative for fostering equity and innovation in addressing climate challenges. By restructuring existing programs and leveraging funding opportunities, the federal government can create inclusive pathways for individuals to contribute to climate solutions while advancing in technology-driven fields. Collaboration between government agencies, private sector partners, educational institutions, and community stakeholders is essential for developing comprehensive job descriptions, tailored training programs, and strategic public-private partnerships. Moreover, updating outdated job categories and classifications through inter-agency collaboration and stakeholder engagement will ensure that policy design accurately reflects the evolving green and innovation economies. Through these concerted efforts, the federal government can drive sustainable economic growth, promote workforce development, and address climate change in an equitable and inclusive manner.

Frequently Asked Questions
How will the integration of technology-focused green jobs enhance federal climate initiatives?
Integrating technology-focused green jobs within federal climate initiatives aims to broaden the scope of these programs to include opportunities in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). This approach not only fosters innovation in tackling climate challenges but also ensures equitable access to emerging job markets. By leveraging advancements in technology, these initiatives can harness a wider range of solutions to environmental issues, thereby enhancing the effectiveness and inclusivity of climate action efforts.
What measures are proposed to ensure equitable opportunities in technology-focused green jobs?
To ensure equitable opportunities, the policy memo recommends the development of novel job descriptions and tailored training programs that are accessible to all, regardless of background or location. Strategic public-private partnerships are also advocated to leverage resources and expertise from both sectors. These efforts aim to create pathways for diverse candidates to engage in technology-driven roles within the climate sector, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the emerging green economy.
How does BLS normally update its job classifications?
The BLS uses surveys, public feedback, and labor market data to inform its classifications. It also works with state and local governments, private industry and other stakeholders. Different BLS products are released on a variety of timetables.
What are the opportunities to engage with the process?
The next update is in 2028 and calls for comments may happen sometime this year. Beside public comments, there is an opportunity for the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) to assist.OMB can enhance federal agencies’ data reporting efficiency by establishing clear guidelines, promoting the use of advanced technologies like data analytics, and fostering interagency collaboration to share best practices. Encouraging the adoption of modern technologies can automate and streamline data collection, leading to more frequent updates.
How will the recommended changes to BLS job categories impact the green and tech job markets?
Updating the BLS job categories to accurately reflect the evolving nature of green and tech jobs is crucial for informed decision-making and effective resource allocation. This change will provide policymakers, employers, and workers with a clearer understanding of the job market, enabling targeted workforce development efforts and facilitating the alignment of educational programs with industry needs. By accurately classifying these roles, the federal government can better track employment trends, support job creation, and ensure that policies are responsive to the dynamics of the green and innovation economies.


The recommendations outlined in this memo represent the culmination of extensive research and collaborative efforts with stakeholders. As of March 2024, while the final project and products are still undergoing refinement through stakeholder collaboration, the values, solutions, and potential implementation strategies detailed here are the outcomes of a thorough research process.

Our research methodology was comprehensive, employing diverse approaches such as stakeholder interviews, data analysis, examination of government frameworks, review of Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports, and surveying of existing programs and reports.

Stakeholder interviews were instrumental in gathering insights and perspectives from officials and experts across various sectors, including the Department of Energy, FEMA, New America, the Benton Institute, National Urban League, Kajeet, and the Alliance for Rural Innovation. Ongoing efforts are also in place to engage with additional key stakeholders such as the EPA, USDA, select Congressional offices, labor representatives, and community-based organizations and alliances.

Furthermore, our research included a thorough analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to understand industry projections and job classification limitations. We employed text mining techniques to identify common themes and cross-topic programming or guidance within government frameworks. Additionally, we reviewed CRS reports to gain insights into public policy writings on related topics and examined existing programs and reports from various sources, including think tanks, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and journalism.
The detailed findings of our research, including analyzed data, report summaries, and interview portfolio, are provided as appendices to this report, offering further depth and context to the recommendations outlined in the main text.

I. BLS Data Analysis: Employment Trends in Tech-Related Industries (2022-2032)

This section provides a detailed analysis of employment statistics extracted from CSV data across various industries, emphasizing green, AI, and tech jobs. The analysis outlines notable growth and potential advancement areas within technology-related sectors.

The robust growth in employment figures across key sectors such as computer and electronic product manufacturing, software publishing, and computer systems design underscores the promising outlook for tech-related job sectors. Similarly, the notable expansion within the information sector, while not explicitly AI-focused due to industry constraints, signals an escalating demand for skill sets closely aligned with technological advancements.

Moreover, the significant growth observed in support activities for agriculture and forestry hints at progressive strides in integrating green technologies within these domains. This holistic analysis not only sheds light on evolving employment trends but also provides valuable insights into market dynamics. Understanding these trends can aid in identifying potential opportunities for workforce development initiatives and strategic investments, ensuring alignment with emerging industry needs and fostering sustainable growth in the broader economic landscape.

Further Analysis

This nuanced analysis illuminates the varied trajectories across different industries, highlighting both areas of growth and challenges. It underscores the importance of proactive strategic planning and adaptation to navigate the evolving employment landscape effectively.

Regarding job classifications, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides valuable insights, it may not fully capture emerging roles in next-gen fields like AI, Web 3.0, Web 4.0, or climate tech. Exploring analogous roles or interdisciplinary skill sets within existing classifications can offer a starting point for understanding employment trends in these innovative domains. Additionally, leveraging alternative sources of data, such as industry reports or specialized surveys, can complement BLS data to provide a more comprehensive picture of evolving employment dynamics.

Based on the information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the search results, here’s what I found:

Market Demand for Tech Jobs. The BLS projects that overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations from 2022 to 20321. This suggests that these jobs are being filled according to market demand but not quickly enough for market demand.

Green and Tech Jobs. The BLS produces data on jobs related to the production of green goods and services, jobs related to the use of green technologies and practices, and green careers23. Many of the jobs listed on the provided BLS links fall under tech jobs, especially those related to AI, Web 3.0, and Web 4.0. However, specific data on jobs related to regenerative finance or climate tech was not found in the search results.

Education Requirements. Most of the jobs listed on the provided BLS links typically require a Bachelor’s degree for entry14. Some occupations may require a Master’s degree or higher. However, the exact education requirement can vary depending on the specific role and employer expectations.

These industries demonstrate growth potential from 2022 to the projected 2032 data, underscoring the increasing demand for tech-related job sectors, especially in computer and electronic product manufacturing, software publishing, and computer systems design. The information sector also shows significant growth, potentially reflecting the rise in AI and technology advancements.

Appendix I.A. BLS Data and Standard Occupation Codes (Climate Corps Specific)

These job classifications encompass a range of roles pertinent to green initiatives, infrastructure technology, and AI/ML development, reflecting the evolving landscape of employment opportunities.

Intersection of Green Jobs

Here’s a summary based on the jobs that explicitly refer to green jobs and the Federal Job Codes requiring different levels of education:

Green Jobs:

Federal Job Codes/Roles Requiring Different Levels of Education:

Bachelor’s Degree

Associate’s Degree

High School Diploma

Please note that while this list includes occupations that explicitly require a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree, or high school diploma and showed up in an NLP search, it may have missed jobs that require certifications only. Additionally, other green job titles such as environmental engineers, conservationists, social scientists, and environmental scientists may require advanced degrees.

II. Analysis of EOs, Frameworks, TAs and Initiatives

This appendix analyzes executive orders, frameworks, technical assistance guides, and initiatives related to green and climate jobs, equity, job training programs, and tech and climate literacy. It presents findings from documents such as the American Climate Corps initiative, National Climate Resilience Framework, and Executive Order on AI, focusing on their implications for job creation and skills development in the green and tech sectors.

*Note about technologies use, this was text mined (SAS NLP, later bespoke app from team member) and Read (explain creating of text mining browser add on in methods overview/disclosure) using key terms “green”, “climate”, “equity”, “training”, “technology” and “literacy.”

Analysis of Executive Orders, Frameworks, Technical Assistance Guides, and Initiatives

This appendix delves into executive orders, frameworks, technical assistance guides, and initiatives pertaining to green and climate jobs, equity, job training programs, and tech and climate literacy. It scrutinizes documents such as the American Climate Corps initiative, National Climate Resilience Framework, and Executive Order on AI, dissecting their implications for job creation and skills development in the green and tech sectors.

Climate Corps:

National Climate Resilience Framework:

Executive Order on AI:

Please note that this analysis is based on provided excerpts, and the full documents may contain additional relevant insights.

Technical Assistance Guidance: Creating Green or Climate Jobs

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are poised to create green or climate jobs, strengthen equity, and bolster job training programs, signaling a concerted effort towards enhancing tech and climate literacy across the workforce and the general U.S. population.

Creating Green or Climate Jobs

Both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are anticipated to generate green or climate jobs. The BIL aims to enhance the nation’s resilience to extreme weather and climate change, concurrently mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, the IRA is forecasted to yield over 9 million quality jobs in the forthcoming decade.

Considering Equity

Both the BIL and the IRA prioritize equity in their provisions. The BIL endeavors to bridge historically disadvantaged and underserved communities to job opportunities and economic empowerment. Similarly, the IRA addresses energy equity through its climate provisions and investment tax credits in renewable energy.

Strengthening Job Training Programs

Both legislations incorporate provisions for enhancing job training programs. The BIL allocates over $800 million in dedicated investments towards workforce development, while the IRA mandates workforce development and apprenticeship requirements.

Increasing Tech and Climate Literacy within the Federal Workforce

Although explicit information on boosting tech and climate literacy within the federal workforce is lacking, both the BIL and the IRA include provisions for workforce development and training. These initiatives could potentially encompass tech and climate literacy training.

Increasing Tech and Climate Literacy in the General U.S. Population

The substantial investments in clean energy and climate mitigation under the BIL and the IRA may indirectly contribute to enhancing tech and climate literacy across the general U.S. populace. However, there is no specific information regarding programs aimed at directly augmenting tech and climate literacy in the general population.

III. Report Summaries

Insights from various reports shed light on the demand for tech and green jobs, digital skills, and challenges in the broadband workforce. Drawing from reputable sources such as Bank of America, BCG, the Federal Reserve of Atlanta, and others, these summaries emphasize the necessity for targeted educational and policy interventions.

These reports collectively underscore the growing demand for digital and green skills in the U.S. workforce, accompanied by a shortage of skilled workers. Collaboration between policymakers and educators is essential to provide adequate training and education for success in the digital and green economies.

IV. Digital Discrimination Reports

This section delves into findings from reports on digital discrimination, broadband access, and AI literacy, sourced from reputable institutions such as The Markup, Consumer Reports, Pew, and the World Economic Forum. These reports illuminate the inequities present in digital access and knowledge and emphasize the necessity for equitable policies to foster widespread participation in the digital economy.

These reports collectively underscore the urgent need for policies supporting digital skill development and ensuring affordable, high-speed internet access across the U.S. Policymakers are urged to collaborate in providing necessary training and education opportunities to empower workers for success in the digital economy.

V. CRS Report Summaries

This section provides a synopsis of Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports addressing skills gaps, broadband considerations, job training programs, and economic assistance for transitioning communities. These reports offer insights into legislative and policy contexts for bridging digital divides and supporting transitions to green economies, with a focus on workforce development and economic assistance.

Overall, these reports underscore the necessity for policies supporting the development of digital and green skills, as well as ensuring equitable access to high-speed internet across the U.S. Policymakers are urged to collaborate in providing necessary training and education opportunities to empower workers for success in evolving economic landscapes.

Revitalizing Federal Jobs Data: Unleashing the Potential of Emerging Roles

Emerging technologies and creative innovation are pivotal economic pillars for the future of the United States. These sectors not only promise economic growth but also offer avenues for social inclusion and environmental sustainability. However, the federal government lacks reliable and comprehensive data on these sectors, which hampers its ability to design and implement effective policies and programs. A key reason for this data gap is the outdated and inadequate job categories and classifications used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS is the main source of official statistics on employment, wages, and occupations in the U.S. Part of the agency’s role is to categorize different industries, which helps states, researchers and other outside parties measure and understand the size of certain industries or segments of the economy. Another BLS purpose is to use the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system to categorize and define jobs based on their duties, skills, and education requirements. This is how all federal workers and contracted federal workers are classified. For an agency to create and fill a role, it needs a classification or SOC. State and private employers also use the classifications and data to allocate funding and determine benefits related to different kinds of positions. 

Where no classification (SOC) or job exists, it is unclear whether hiring and contracting happen according to programmatic intent and in a timely manner. This is particularly concerning to some employers and federal agencies that need  to align numerous jobs with the provisions of Justice 40, the Inflation Reduction Act and the newly created American Climate Corps. Many of the roles imagined by the American Climate Corps do not have classifications. This poses a significant barrier for effective program and policy design related to green and tech jobs.

The SOC system is updated roughly once every 10 years. There is not a set comprehensive review schedule for that or the industry categories. Updates are topical, with the last broad revision taking place in 2018. Unemployment reports and data related to wages are updated annually, and other topics less predictably. Updates and work on the SOC systems and categories for what are broadly defined as “green jobs” stopped in 2013 due to sequestration. This means that the BLS data may not capture the current and future trends and dynamics of the green and innovation economies, which are constantly evolving and growing.Because the BLS does not have a separate category for green jobs, it identifies them based on a variety of  industry and occupation codes. The range spans restaurant industry SOCs to construction. Classifying positions this way cannot reflect the cross-cutting and interdisciplinary nature of green jobs. Moreover, the process may not account for the variations and nuances of green jobs, such as their environmental impact, social value, and skill level. For example, if you want to work with solar panels, there is a construction classification, but nothing for community design, specialized finance, nor any complementary typographies needed for projects at scale.

Similarly, the BLS does not have a separate category for tech jobs. It identifies them based on the “Information and Communication Technologies” occupational groups of the SOC system. Again, this approach may not adequately reflect the diversity and complexity of tech jobs, which may involve new and emerging skills and technologies that are not yet recognized by the BLS. There are no classifications for roles associated with machine learning or artificial intelligence. Where the private sector has a much-discussed large language model trainer role, the federal system has no such classification. Appropriate skills matching, resource allocation, and the ability to measure the numbers and impacts of these jobs on the economy will be difficult if not impossible to fully understand. Classifying tech jobs in this manner may not account for the interplay and integration of tech jobs with other sectors, such as health care, education, and manufacturing.

These data limitations have serious implications for policy design and evaluation. Without accurate and timely data on green and tech jobs, the federal government may not be able to assess the demand and supply of these jobs, identify skill gaps and training needs, allocate resources, and measure the outcomes and impacts of its policies and programs. This will  result in missed opportunities, wasted resources, and suboptimal outcomes.

There is a need to update the BLS job categories and classifications to better reflect the realities and potentials of the green and innovation economies. This can be achieved by implementing the following strategic policy measures:

By updating the BLS job categories and classifications, the federal government can ensure that its data and statistics accurately reflect the current and future job market, thereby supporting effective policy design and evaluation related to green and tech jobs. Accurate and current data that mirrors the ever-evolving job market will also lay the foundation for effective policy design and evaluation in the realms of green and tech jobs. This commitment can contribute to the development of a workforce that not only meets economic needs but also aligns with the nation’s environmental aspirations.

Moving the Needle on STEM Workforce Development through Fellowships and Mentorship Support in the CHIPS and Science Act

The CHIPS and Science Act ushered in unprecedented opportunities for American manufacturing, science, and innovation – and yet, current underfunding leaves the outcomes at risk.

The legislation directs the federal government to invest $280 billion to bolster U.S. semiconductor capacity, catalyze R&D, create regional high-tech hubs, and develop a larger, more inclusive STEM workforce. The federal investment of $50 billion in semiconductor manufacturing is estimated to add $24.6 billion annually to the American economy and create 185,000 jobs from 2021 to 2026. However, at the current rate of STEM degree completion, the U.S. may not be able to produce enough qualified workers to fill these jobs. Left unaddressed, this labor market gap will have cascading effects on the U.S. economy and compromise the nation’s global competitiveness.

Supporting STEM Workforce Development by Expanding Fellowship and Mentorship Programs

Despite the progress that has been made in recent years to grow the STEM pipeline, STEM graduates continue to lack the opportunity to contribute to the research enterprise and are not equipped to translate their scientific knowledge into actionable policy solutions. The CHIPS and Science Act attempts to address the shortfall in the U.S. STEM workforce and create more career pathways for graduates by authorizing federal agencies to expand their fellowship programs. 

For example, the legislation directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand the number of new graduate research fellows supported annually over the next 5 years to no fewer than 3,000 fellows. This provision echoes the recommendations from a 2021 Federation of American Scientists (FAS) policy memo calling for the expansion of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program in order to catalyze and train a new workforce that would maintain America’s leading edge in the industries of the future. Another important provision has led to the launch of NSF’s Entrepreneurial Fellowships in September 2022, with the goal of supporting STEM entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds in turning breakthroughs from the laboratory into products and services that benefit society. 

In addition to fellowships, the legislation also includes federal funding for graduate student and postdoctoral research mentorship and professional development, which are critical elements to developing our nation’s research enterprise. Supportive mentors and advisors can guide career planning for future scientists and help them develop the necessary critical thinking and problem solving skills. This is also the case for students from underrepresented minority backgrounds (URMs), where positive research and mentorship experiences contribute to persistence in intention to pursue a STEM career following graduation.

While these provisions are promising, more can be done to ensure better oversight and support of mentorship programs within federal funded research programs. The GRAD Coalition, which was established to support the Congressional Graduate Research and Development Caucus, has called on Congress to expand mentorship oversight and support, specifically to: 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has long recognized the need for mentorship at the post-doctoral level. In 2023,the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Re-envisioning NIH-Supported Postdoctoral Training held listening sessions resulting in a report detailing many aspects of the postdoctoral experience in biomedical fields: lack of adequate compensation, concerns about postdoctoral quality of life and challenges with diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Many of these postdoctoral issues have been known for some time but continue to be insufficiently addressed. The report calls for increasing oversight and accountability of faculty for mentoring, specifically for NIH to: 

While boosts for science and education provisions in the legislation have been authorized, funding for the “and science” portion of the act has fallen short in several areas. FAS analysis shows that the FY 2024 appropriations for NSF are approximately $6 billion-short or 39% below the CHIPS and Science authorization levels, which has the potential to set the U.S. back in several areas of science and technology.

Maintaining the U.S. scientific and research enterprise requires a whole-of-government approach. Expanding fellowship programs and better incorporating mentorship in federal-funded programs can have far-reaching consequences for the STEM pipeline and maintaining our nation’s edge in scientific research and innovation. The CHIPS and Science Act provides specific opportunities for federal agencies, Congress, and the executive branch to grow the U.S. STEM workforce pipeline by expanding fellowships and mentorship support for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Our nation’s global leadership in science and technology is dependent upon the research and innovation driven by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and fully funding the authorized programs and new initiatives in the CHIPS and Science Act will help ensure that this trend continues. 

State of the Federal Clean Energy Workforce

How Improved Talent Practices Can Help the Department of Energy Meet the Moment

This report aims to provide a snapshot of clean energy talent at the Department of Energy and its surrounding orbit: the challenges, successes, and opportunities that the workforce is experiencing at this once-in-a-generation moment.

To compile the findings in this report, FAS worked with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, government agencies, advocacy and workforce coalitions, and private companies over the last year. We held events, including information sessions, recruitment events, and convenings; we conducted interviews with more than 25 experts from the public and private sector; we developed recommendations for improving talent acquisition in government, and helped agencies find the right talent for their needs.

Overall, we found that DOE has made significant progress towards its talent and implementation goals, taking advantage of the current momentum to bring in new employees and roll out new programs to accelerate the clean energy transition. The agency has made smart use of flexible hiring mechanisms like the Direct Hire Authority and Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreements, ramped up recruitment to meet current capacity needs, and worked with partners to bring in high-quality talent.

But there are also ways to build on DOE’s current approaches. We offer recommendations for expanding the use of flexible hiring mechanisms: through expanding IPA eligibility to organizations vetted by other agencies, holding trainings for program offices through the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer, and asking Congress to increase funding for human capital resources. Another recommendation encourages DOE to review its use to date of the Clean Energy Corps’ Direct Hire Authority and identify areas for improvement. We also propose ways to build on DOE’s recruitment successes: by partnering with energy sector affinity groups and clean energy membership networks to share opportunities; and by building closer relationships with universities and colleges to engage early career talent.

Some of these findings and recommendations are pulled from previous memos and reports, but many are new recommendations based on our experiences working and interacting with partners within the ecosystem over the past year. The goal of this report is to help federal and non-federal actors in the clean energy ecosystem grow talent and prepare for the challenges in clean energy in the coming decades.

The Moment

The climate crisis is not just a looming threat–it’s already here, affecting the lives of American citizens. The federal government has taken a central role in climate mitigation and adaptation, especially with the recent passage of several pieces of legislation. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) all provide levers for federal agencies to address the crisis and reduce emissions.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is leading the charge and is the target of much of the funding from the above bills. The legislation provides DOE over $97 billion dollars of funding aimed at commercializing and deploying new clean energy technologies, expanding energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and decreasing emissions in a range of industries.

These are robust and much-needed investments in federal agencies, and the effects will ripple out across the whole economy. The Energy Futures Initiative, in a recent report, estimated that IRA investments will lead to 1.46 million more jobs over the next ten years than there would have been without the bill. Moreover, these jobs will be focused in key industries, like construction, manufacturing, and electric utilities.

But those jobs won’t magically appear–and the IIJA and IRA funding won’t magically be spent. That amount of money would be overwhelming for any large organization, and initiatives and benefits will take time to manifest.

When it passed these two bills, Congress recognized that the Department of Energy–and the federal government more broadly– would need new tools to use these new resources effectively. That is why it included new funding and expanded hiring authorities to allow the agencies to quickly find and hire expert staff. 

Now it is up to DOE to find the subject matter expertise, talent, partnerships, and cross-sector knowledge sharing from the larger clean energy ecosystem it needs to execute on Congress’s incredibly ambitious goals. Perhaps the most critical factor in DOE’s success will be ensuring that the agency has the staff it needs to meet the moment and implement the bold targets established in the recent legislation.

Why Talent?

To implement policy effectively and spend taxpayer dollars efficiently, the federal government needs people. Investing in a robust talent pipeline is important for all agencies, especially given that only about 8% of federal employees are under 30, and at DOE only 4% are under 30. Building this pipeline is critical for the clean energy transition that’s already underway–not only for not the federal government, but for the entire ecosystem. In order to meet clean energy deployment estimates across the country, clean energy jobs will need to increase threefold by 2025 and almost sixfold by 2030 from 2020 jobs numbers. This job growth will require cross-sector investment in workforce training and education, innovation ecosystems, and research and development of new technologies. Private firms, venture capital, and the civil sector can all play a role, but as the country’s largest employer, the government will need to lead the way.

To meet its ambitious policy goals, government agencies need to move beyond stale hiring playbooks and think creatively. Strategies like flexible hiring mechanisms can help the Department of Energy–and all federal agencies–meet urgent needs and begin to build a longer-term talent pipeline. Workforce development, recruitment, and hiring can take years to do right – but mechanisms like tour-of-service models (i.e. temporary or termed positions), direct hire authorities, and excepted service hiring allow agencies to retain talent quickly, overcome administrative bottlenecks, and access individuals with technical expertise who may not otherwise consider working in the public sector. See the Appendix for more information on specific hiring authorities.

This paper outlines insights, strategies, and opportunities for DOE’s talent needs based on the Federation of American Scientists’ (FAS) one-year pilot partnership with the department. Non-federal actors in the clean energy ecosystem can also benefit from this report–by understanding the different avenues into the federal government, civil society and private organizations can work more effectively with DOE to shepherd in the clean energy revolution. 

Broadly, we hope that our experience working with DOE can serve as a case study for other federal agencies when considering the challenges and opportunities around talent recruitment, onboarding, and retention.

Where does DOE need talent? 

While the IRA and IIJA funded dozens of programs across DOE, there are several offices that received larger amounts of funding and have critical talent needs currently. 

A Pilot Partnership: FAS and DOE Talent Efforts

In January 2022, FAS established a partnership with DOE to support the implementation of a broad range of ambitious priorities to stimulate a clean energy transition. Through a partnership with DOE’s Office of Under Secretary for Science and Innovation (S4), our team discovered unmet talent needs and worked with S4 to develop strategies to address hiring challenges posed by DOE’s rapid growth through the IIJA. 

This included expanding FAS’s Impact Fellowship program to DOE. This program supports fellows who bring scientific and technical expertise to bear in the public domain, including within government. To date, through IPA (Intergovernmental Personnel Act) agreements, FAS has placed five fellows in high-impact positions in DOE, with another cohort of 5 fellows in the pipeline.

FAS Impact Fellows placed at DOE have proven that this mechanism can have a positive impact on government operations. Current Fellows work in a number of DOE offices, using their expertise to forward work on emerging clean energy technologies, facilitate the transition of energy communities from fossil fuels to clean energy, and ensure that DOE’s work is communicated strategically and widely, among other projects. In a short time, these fellows have had a large impact–they are bringing expertise from outside government to bear in their roles at the agency. 

In addition to placing fellows, FAS has worked to evangelize DOE’s Clean Energy Corps by actively recruiting, holding events, and advertising for specific roles within DOE. To more broadly support hiring and workforce development at the agency, we piloted a series of technical assistance projects in coordination with DOE, including hiring webinars and cross-sector roundtables with leaders in the agency and the larger clean energy ecosystem. 

From this work, FAS has learned more about the challenges and opportunities of talent acquisition–from flexible hiring mechanisms to recruitment–and has developed several recommendations for both Congress and DOE to strengthen the federal clean energy workforce.

Flexible Hiring Mechanisms

One key lesson from the past year of work is the importance of flexible hiring mechanisms broadly. This includes special authorities like the Direct Hire Authority, but also includes tour-of-service models of employment. A ‘tour-of-service’ position can take many forms, but generally is a termed or temporary position, often full-time and focused on a specific project or set of projects. In times of urgency, like the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic or following the passage of large pieces of new legislation, hiring managers may need high numbers of staff in a short amount of time to implement policy–a challenge often heightened by stringent federal hiring guidelines. 

Traditional federal hiring is frustrating for both sides. For applicants, filling out applications is complicated and jargony and the wait times are long and unpredictable. For offices, resources are scarce, there are seemingly endless legal and administrative hoops to jump through, and the wait times are still long and unpredictable. In general, tour-of-service hiring mechanisms offer a way to hire key staff for specific needs more quickly, while offering many other unique benefits, including, but not limited to, cross-sector knowledge sharing, professional development, recruitment tools, and relationship-building.

These mechanisms can also expand the potential talent pool for a particular position–highly trained technical professionals can prove difficult to recruit on a full-time basis, but temporary positions may be more attractive to them. IPA agreements, for example, can last for 1-2 years and take less time to execute than hiring permanent employees or contractors. More generally, all types of flexible hiring authorities can give agencies quicker ways of hiring highly qualified staff in sometimes niche fields. Flexible hiring mechanisms can also reduce the barrier to entry for professionals not as familiar with federal hiring processes–broadening offices’ reach and increasing the diversity of applicants.

FAS’s work with DOE has demonstrated these benefits. With FAS and other organizations, DOE has successfully used IPAs to staff high-impact positions. More recommendations on the use of IPAs specifically can be found in a later section. Through its Impact Fellowship, FAS has yielded successful case studies of how cross-sector talent can support impactful policy implementation in the department.

DOE should expand awareness and use of flexible hiring mechanisms.

DOE should work to expand the awareness and use of flexible hiring mechanisms in order to bring in more highly skilled employees with cross-sector knowledge and experience. This could be achieved in a number of ways. The Office of the Chief Human Capital Office (CHCO) should continue to educate hiring managers across DOE about potential hiring authorities available: they could offer additional trainings on different mechanisms and work with OPM to identify opportunities for new authorities. There are existing communities of practice for recruitment and other talent topics at DOE, and hiring officials can use these to discuss best practices and challenges around using hiring authorities effectively. 

DOE can also look to other agencies for ideas on innovative hiring. Agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs run different forms of industry exchange programs that allow private sector experts to bring their skills and knowledge into government and vice versa. Another example is the Joint Statistical Research Program hosted by the Internal Revenue Service’s Statistics of Income Office. This program brings in tax policy experts on term appointments using the IPA mechanism, similar to the National Science Foundation’s Rotator program. Once developed, these programs can allow agencies to benefit from talent and expertise from a larger pool and access specialized skill sets while protecting against conflicts of interest.

DOE should partner with external organizations to champion tour-of-service programs.

There are other ways to expand flexible hiring mechanism use as well. Program offices and the Office of the CHCO can partner with outside organizations like FAS to champion tour-of-service programs in the wider clean energy community, in order to educate non-federal eligible parties on how they can get involved. Federal hiring processes can seem opaque to outside organizations, with additional paperwork, conflict of interest concerns, long timelines, and potential clearance hurdles. If outside organizations better understand the different ways they can partner with agencies and the benefits of doing so, agencies could increase enthusiasm for programs like tour-of-service hiring. At NSF, for example, the Rotator program is well known in the communities it operates within–both academia and government understand the benefits of participating. 

Although these mechanisms and authorities have significant medium- and long-term benefits for agencies, they require upfront administrative effort and cost. Even if staff are aware of potential tools they can use, understanding the logistics, funding mechanisms, conflict of interest regulations, and recruitment and placement of staff hired through these mechanisms often requires investment of time and money from the agency side and can overwhelm already stressed hiring managers. 

Congress should increase funding for DOE’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer.

In order to support DOE in using flexible hiring mechanisms more effectively, Congress should direct more funding to the agency’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer. In FY23, the office has not only continued to execute on mandates from the IIJA and the IRA, but has introduced new programs aimed at modernizing the office and improving on hiring. These programs and tools, including standing up talent teams to better assess competency gaps across program offices and developing HR IT platforms to more effectively make data-driven personnel decisions, are vital to the growth of the office and in turn the ability of DOE to follow through on key executive priorities. Congress should increase funding to DOE’s Human Capital office by $10M in FY24 over FY23 levels. As IRA and IIJA priorities continue to be rolled out, the Human Capital office will remain pivotal to the agency’s success. 

Congress should increase DOE’s baseline program direction funds. 

A related recommendation is for Congress to further support hiring at DOE by increasing the base budget of program direction funds across agency offices. Restrictions on this funding limits the agency’s ability to hire and the number of employees it can bring on. When offices are limited in the number of staff they can hire, they have tended to bring on more senior employees. This helps achieve the agency’s mission but limits the overall growth of the agency – without early career talent, offices are unable to train a new generation of diverse clean energy leaders. Increasing program direction budgets through the annual appropriations process will allow DOE to have more flexibility in who they hire, building a stronger workforce across the agency.

Clean Energy Corps and the Direct Hire Authority

Expanded Direct Hire Authority has been a boon for DOE, despite some implementation challenges. Congress included DHA in the IIJA, in order to help federal agencies quickly add staff to implement the legislation. In response, DOE set an initial goal of hiring over 1,000 new employees in its Clean Energy Corps, which encompasses all DOE staff who work on clean energy and climate. DOE also requested an additional authority for supporting implementation of the IRA through OPM. To date, the program has received almost 100,000 applications and has hired nearly 700 employees. We have heard positive feedback from offices across the agency about how the DHA has helped hire qualified staff more quickly than through traditional hiring. It has allowed DOE offices to take advantage of the momentum in the clean energy movement right now and made it easier for applicants to show their interest and move through the hiring process. To date, among federal agencies with IIJA/IRA direct hire authorities, DOE has been an exemplar in implementation.

The Direct Hire Authority has been successful so far in part because of its advertisement; there was public excitement about the climate impact of the IIJA and IRA, and DOE took advantage of the momentum and shared information about the Clean Energy Corps widely, including through partnerships with non-governmental entities. For example, FAS and Clean Energy for America held hiring webinars, and other organizations and individuals have continued to share the announcement. 

Congress should extend the Direct Hire Authority.

Congress should consider extending the authority past its current timeline. The agency’s direct hire authority under the IIJA expires in 2027, while its authority requested through OPM expires at the end of 2025 – and is capped at only 300 positions.  With DOE taking on more demonstration and deployment activities as well as increased community and stakeholder engagement with the passage of the IIJA and IRA, the agency needs capacity–and the Direct Hire Authority can help it get the specialized resources it needs. Extending the authority beyond 2025 and requesting that OPM increase the cap on positions is more urgent, but the authority should continue past 2027 as well, to ensure that DOE can continue to hire effectively. 

Congress should expand the breadth of DHA. 

Additionally, Congress should expand the authority to other offices across DOE. It is currently limited to certain roles and offices, but there are additional opportunities within the department to support the clean energy transition that don’t have access to DHA. This is especially important given that offices with the direct hire authority can pull employees from offices without–leaving the latter to backfill positions on a much longer timeline using conventional merit hiring practices. Expanding the authority would support the development of the agency as a whole. 

Beyond just removing the authority’s cap on roles supporting the IRA, expansions or extensions of the authority should increase the number of authorized positions to account for a baseline attrition rate. The authority limits the number of positions that can be filled – once that number of staff is hired, the authority can no longer be used for that office or agency. As with any workplace, federal agencies experience a normal amount of attrition, but the stakes are higher when direct hire employees leave the organization because of the authority’s constraints. Any authorization of the DHA in the future should consider how attrition will impact actual hires over the authorization period. 

In order to bolster support for expanding the authority, DOE can take steps to share out successes of the program. The DHA has been a huge win for federal clean energy hiring, and publicizing news about related programs, offices, funding opportunities, and employees that would not exist but for the support of the Clean Energy Corps would help make the connection between flexible hiring and government effectiveness and would generate excitement about DOE’s activities in the general public.

DOE should highlight success stories of the Clean Energy Corps.

As part of a larger external communications strategy, DOE should highlight success stories of current employees hired through the Clean Energy Corps portal. These spotlights could focus on projects, partnerships, or funding opportunities that employees contributed to and put a face to the achievements of the Clean Energy Corps thus far. Not only would this encourage future high-quality applicants and ensure continued interest in the program, but would also advertise to Congress and the general public that the authority is successful and increase support for more flexible hiring authorities and clean energy funding. 

There are also some opportunities to improve DOE’s use of the authority and make it even more effective. With so many applications, hiring managers and program offices are often overwhelmed by sheer volume – leading to long wait times for applicants. Some offices at DOE have tried to address this bottleneck by building informal processes to screen and refer candidates–using their internal system to identify qualified applicants and sharing those applications with other program offices. But there may be additional ways to reduce the backlog of applications. 

DOE should conduct a review of DHA’s use thus far.

DOE should conduct an assessment of the use of the Direct Hire Authority in relevant offices. The program has been running for over a year, and there is enough data to review and better understand strengths and areas of growth of the authority. The review could be an opportunity to highlight and build on successful strategies like the informal process above–with program offices who currently use those strategies helping to scale them up. It could also assess attrition rates and compare them to agency-wide and non-DHA attrition rates to understand opportunities to improve or share out successes around retention. Finally, the review could also act as a resource for Congress to help justify the authority’s renewal in the future. 

Use of IPA Agreements

One of the most well-known tour-of-service programs is the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. When used effectively, it can allow agencies to share cross-sector knowledge, increase their capacity, and achieve their missions more fully. As noted previously, DOE has made use of IPAs in some capacities, but barriers to expanding the program still exist. First, the DOE maintains a list of ‘IPA-certified’ organizations, including non-profits that must first certify their eligibility to participate in IPA agreements. According to OPM, if an organization has already been certified by an agency, this certification is permanent and may apply throughout the federal government. This is an effective practice that theoretically allows DOE to bring on IPAs from those organizations more quickly – without the additional administrative work necessary to research and vet each organization multiple times. 

However, when FAS engaged DOE to expand the Impact Fellowship to the agency, FAS was asked to re-certify its eligibility separately with DOE despite already having conducted IPA agreements with other agencies. As of May 2021, DOE has only approved 22 organizations for IPA eligibility. With the clean energy ecosystem booming, this leaves a large amount of talent potential going untapped. 

DOE should amend its IPA directive.

One solution to this issue would be for DOE to amend its IPA directive, which was last updated in 2000, to automatically approve IPA eligibility for organizations that have been certified by other agencies. Agencies such as NSF, USDA, GSA, and others also maintain lists of IPA-eligible organizations, providing DOE a readily available pool of potential IPA talent without certifying those organizations independently. This solution could expand the list of certified organizations and reduce DOE’s internal administrative burden. Organizations that know they will go through an initial vetting process once rather than multiple times could redouble efforts to build that partnership with DOE. 

DOE should work with outside organizations to share strategies. 

The previous recommendation on educating eligible non-federal organizations on tour-of-service mechanisms applies here as well. Organizations like FAS with a proven track record of setting up IPA agreements with agencies can share best practices, success stories, and champion the program in the broader non-profit ecosystem. However, agencies can also develop externally facing IPA resources, sharing training and ‘how-to’ guides with nonprofits and academic institutions that could be good fits for the program but aren’t aware of their eligibility or requirements to participate.


Recruitment is another area where we learned lessons from our work alongside DOE. FAS and Clean Energy for America held recruitment information sessions for people interested in working for DOE, spotlighting offices who needed more staff. One strategy that helped target specific skill gaps within the agency was developing ‘personas’ based on certain skill sets, like finance and manufacturing. These personas were short descriptions of a specific skill set for an industry, consisting of several highlighted experiences, skills, or certifications that are key to roles in that industry. This enabled our team to develop a more tailored recruitment event, conduct targeted outreach, and execute the event with a more invested group of attendees. 

DOE should identify specific skills gaps to target recruitment efforts.

DOE hiring managers and program offices should identify skills gaps in their offices and recruit for those gaps using personas. Personas can help managers more intentionally target outreach and recruit in certain industries by allowing them to advertise to associations, academic programs, or on job boards that include potential applicants with those skills and experiences. This practice could bolster recruitment and reduce the time to hire by attracting more qualified candidates up front. It also helps offices take a more proactive approach to hiring–a difficult ask for hiring managers, who are often overworked. 

DOE should continue to utilize remote flexibilities.

Another successful recruitment strategy highlighted in our work with DOE has been the use of remote flexible positions. DOE should continue to widely utilize remote flexibilities in job opportunities and recruitment in order to attract talent from all 50 states, not just those where DOE has a physical presence. As the desire for remote employment remains high across the public and private sector, fully utilizing the remote flexibilities can help federal employers stay competitive with the private sector and attract high-quality talent.

Another area of recruitment where DOE could capitalize further is with more partnerships with non-federal organizations. Outside organizations can leverage their networks–helping expand the talent pool, increase diversity, and support candidates through the federal hiring process, competitive or otherwise.  Networks like New York Climate Tech have been tirelessly organizing the climate tech community in New York City, and even plan to start expanding to other cities soon. These types of organizing are invigorating for climate professionals; they can energize existing advocates and evangelize to new ones. Helping connect those networks to government opportunities–whether prize competitions, job opportunities, or grants–can strengthen cross-sector relationships and the clean energy workforce overall. 

Such efforts would also support federal recruitment strategies, which are often not as visible as they could be given the sheer amount of work required for proactive outreach. Earth Partners, a climate tech venture capital firm, partnered with the Office of Clean Energy Deployment to hire for high-impact positions by leveraging its own network. 

DOE should use partner organizations to broadcast hiring needs. 

DOE Office of the Human Capital Officer, hiring managers, or program offices should consider how they can partner with other organizations to broadcast hiring needs. These can be larger clean energy associations and member organizations like Clean Energy for America, New York Climate Tech, FAS, and Climate Power, or they could be energy sector affinity groups like Women In Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE) and the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE). Coordinated social media campaigns, partnered recruitment events, or even sending out open positions in those organizations’ regular newsletters could help broaden DOE’s recruitment reach. Because of the momentum in the clean energy community, non-federal organizations have built out substantial recruitment infrastructure for potential applicants and can help publicize positions. 

DOE should build a presence at campus hiring events.

Similarly, DOE hiring managers should build and maintain a presence at higher education hiring events. There are a number of ways to bring more early career staff into government, but DOE can focus on recruiting more intentionally from universities and community colleges. The agency should cultivate relationships with university networks–especially those of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)–and develop recruitment messages that appeal to younger populations. DOE could also focus on universities with strong clean energy curricula–in the form of recognized courses and programs or student associations. 

DOE should expand partnerships with external recruitment firms.

Some positions, of course, are harder to recruit for. In addition to mid-level employees, government also needs strong senior leaders–candidates for these positions don’t often come in droves to recruitment events. Some DOE offices have found success with using private recruitment firms to identify candidates from the private sector and invite them to apply for Senior Executive Service (SES) level positions in government. This practice, in addition to bringing in specific executive recruitment, also helps career private-sector applicants navigate the government hiring process. 

DOE should learn from current strategies and continue to partner with private recruitment firms to identify potential SES candidates and invite them to apply. Using recruitment firms can help simplify position description language and help guide candidates through the process. DOE currently uses this successfully for certain skill set gaps, but should seek to expand the practice for recruitment needs that are more specific. 

DOE should develop its own senior talent recruitment strategy. 

Longer term, DOE should develop its own senior talent recruitment strategy. This strategy can be developed using lessons learned from private recruitment firms or from meeting with other agencies to understand best practices in the space. SES positions require different candidate management strategies, and if DOE aims to attract more non-federal talent, developing in-house expertise is important.

DOE already has the infrastructure for strategies like this. Offices involved in IIJA implementation are building office-specific recruitment strategies. These strategies consider diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, as well as skill sets and high-need positions within offices. Incorporating senior talent needs into these strategies could help uncover best practices for attracting quality leaders, and expanding these recruitment strategies beyond just IIJA-oriented offices could support workforce development across the agency more broadly. 

The Path Forward

DOE has made significant progress on the road to implementation, hiring hundreds of new employees to support the clean energy transition and carry out programs from IIJA, IRA, and the CHIPS and Science Act. The agency still faces challenges, but also opportunities to grow its workforce, improve its hiring processes, and bring in even more high-quality, skilled talent into the federal government. We hope DOE and Congress will consider these recommendations as they continue to work toward a stronger clean energy ecosystem in the years to come.

Appendix: Overview of hiring authorities


The Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility Program that allows temporary assignment of personnel between the federal government and state/local/tribal governments, colleges/universities, FFRDCs, and approved non-profit organizations. According to a 2022 Government Accountability Office report, IPAs are a high-impact mechanism for bringing talent into the federal government quickly, yet they’re often underutilized. As detailed in the report, agencies’(including DOE) can use the IPA Mobility Program to address agency skills gaps in highly technical or complex mission areas, provide talent with flexibility and opportunities for temporary commitments, and can be administratively light touch and cost effective, when the program is implemented correctly. The report noted that agencies struggled to use the program to its full effectiveness, and that there’s an opportunity for agencies to increase their use of the program, if they can tackle the challenges. 

Direct Hire

The Direct Hire Authority allows agencies to directly hire candidates for critical needs or when a severe shortage of candidates exists. This authority circumvents competitive hiring and candidates preferences, allowing agencies to significantly reduce the time involved to hire candidates. It also presents an easier application process for candidates. DHA must be specially granted by OPM unless a governmentwide authority already exists–as it does for Information Technology Management, STEM, and Cybersecurity. For example, DOE was granted a DHA for positions related to implementing the IIJA and IRA.

Excepted Service

EJ and EK

EJ and EK hiring authorities are a form of “excepted service” unique to DOE. According to DOE, the EJ authority is used to enhance the Department’s recruitment and retention of highly qualified scientific, engineering, and professional and administrative personnel. Appointments and corresponding compensation determined  under this authority can be made without regard to the civil service laws.” The EK authority is similar, but more specific to personnel whose duties will relate to safety at defense nuclear facilities of the Department. The EK authority is time-limited by law and must be renewed.

Schedule A(r)

Also known as the “fellowship authority,”  Schedule A(r) facilitates term appointments for 1 to 4 years. This authority is especially helpful for:

Experts and Consultants

According to the department’s HR resources, DOE uses Experts and Consultants to, “provide professional or technical expertise that does not exist or is not readily available within DOE or to perform services that are not of a continuing nature and/or could not be performed by DOE employees in competitive or other permanent full-time positions.” Typically, Expert and Consultants can be used for intermittent, part-time, or term-limited, full-time roles.

Understanding and using these flexible hiring authorities can help DOE expand its network of talent and hire the people it needs for this current moment. More details on flexible hiring mechanisms can be found here.

Implementation Bottlenecks: Federal Talent will Drive IIJA and IRA Success

The past few years have seen a surge of climate and clean energy legislation at the federal level. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) have changed what’s possible for the US when it comes to fighting climate change, deploying innovative clean energy technologies, and moving towards a net-zero world. 

Of course, passing the legislation is only the first step. Since the passage of the above packages, federal agencies have been working around the clock to carry out the mandates within. Agencies like Commerce, EPA, DOE, Agriculture, Transportation, and more have been releasing funding opportunities, holding prize competitions, setting up grants and rulemaking processes, developing guidance, and trying to distribute resources as quickly and as equitably as possible. 

The federal government has been hugely successful in many ways in implementing these massive bills. But there have also been – and will continue to be – bumps along the way. As quickly as agencies have been moving, they are still bound by regulations and other constraints, and just can’t move as quickly as other sectors are able to – in many cases, for good reason. 

And time is of the essence – many of the provisions in the legislation have deadlines. Even if they’re a decade away, it still lends urgency to the situation. In addition to strict deadlines, there are also political deadlines. Congress is already moving to claw back items from the past few years, and faces a major election only just over a year away. Although the bills are law, there are multiple ways critics could continue to undermine their original intent and funding.

So implementation is critical – in order to take advantage of the current moment, resources, and crossroads, we need the federal government to act. If they’re not able to, we’ll lose out on key benefits and growth of the coming years. 

Major Implementation Barriers 

But federal, state, and local governments face hurdles when it comes to putting these laws into action. These hurdles are not unique to the IIJA and IRA, although many agencies were not organizationally prepared for the sheer amount of funding from the bills and now struggle to catch up. Some barriers, like long rulemaking or stakeholder engagement processes, ensure that agencies stay accountable and thoroughly research program impacts. But others are more bureaucratic or technical, and need institutional streamlining, innovation, or cross-sector support. 

For example, the IRA tasked the Department of the Treasury and the IRS with rolling out a number of energy-focused tax credits. Private firms, state governments, and other targets of the credits are eager to take advantage of the benefits, as the credits have the potential to supercharge clean energy industries. However, many of the guidelines are still unclear; feedback loops are slow and cumbersome, and companies and consumers are confused about what qualifies when. 

Another example is permitting. Permitting reform is not a new issue, but the demand for new clean energy projects and the potential strain on an outdated electric grid mean that the need for better processes is dire. Long timelines, major application backlogs, and struggles to get community buy-in could prevent us from seeing the full benefits of the IRA. 

While there are many possible solutions to these bottlenecks – involving cross-sector support from companies, community-based organizations, state and local governments, and more – one of the major issues underpinning the barriers to successful implementation is simply talent. 

Why Talent?

Large injections of funding like with the IIJA and IRA without the people power to deliver on legislation can result in slow implementation, undermining the intentions of the bills. It’s not just numbers – but getting high-quality employees with technical skill sets in the door quickly. It’s true for the above examples as well. Developing guidance for tax credits requires a large number of niche experts: tax attorneys with a keen understanding of a range of clean energy technologies. Similarly with permitting, regulations change across municipalities and states, and agencies don’t have enough staff to adjudicate applications at the rate the private sector is developing projects. 

FAS has focused on talent for a number of years – our Impact Fellowship helps place that type of high-quality technical expertise where it’s needed most in government. Our forthcoming in-depth report on hiring barriers within the Department of Energy details a number of strategies DOE and other agencies can use to hire more effectively. 

DOE has been a leader in hiring specifically to support the IIJA and IRA. Its Clean Energy Corps has hired over 600 people in the past year and a half, and the agency has stood up entire new offices like the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. In the report we use the agency as an example of how these flexible hiring strategies can strengthen federal talent acquisition further and take advantage of the current momentum around climate and clean energy. 

Some of these strategies ask Congress to act – like increasing human capital budgets and expanding specific hiring authorities. But others are within the agency’s control, like using remote work flexibilities as a recruitment tool and using other authorities like the Intergovernmental Personnel Act more widely. Partnerships with outside entities, like clean energy workforce organizations, private recruitment firms, and higher education institutions can all provide talent support to agencies as well. 

These strategies are directly linked to helping DOE implement legislation more efficiently and effectively–and should be used by other agencies as well. A focus on talent and strengthening the federal workforce is necessary to take full advantage of the current moment.