The US Energy Information Administration is slated to have a new boss, possibly this summer.
EIA is the independent statistical arm of the US Department of Energy. Government and industry officials rely heavily on EIA, and its website, to provide timely, accurate, and policy-neutral data on a wide range of energy issues.
Earlier this year, President George W. Bush nominated Guy Caruso to be the agency's new administrator, a position that requires Senate confirmation. Caruso has spent 36 years analyzing, writing, and speaking about the international energy industry.
Caruso is already very familiar to senators, especially given his job: he heads the Strategic Energy Initiative, located at the international think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. Caruso came to CSIS in 1998 and directed a study on the geopolitics of energy that was published in November 2000 and co-chaired by Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.).
DOE and CIA
Before working at CSIS, Caruso spent 32 years as a career US government employee, working in numerous senior management positions associated with energy markets, energy security, and energy policy. These included stints at the Central Intelligence Agency and the DOE in Washington, and the International Energy Agency in Paris.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the Caruso nomination June 5. The full Senate still must vote, but the confirmation is considered uncontroversial. Nevertheless, it could be fall before Caruso is formally approved because of other, unrelated procedural logjams, say congressional sources.
But without an anointed decision maker, some analysts fear EIA remains vulnerable to political pressures it was never supposed to face. Trust and credibility of information is essential to making informed decisions on energy policy. Congress recognized that in 1977 when it created the agency?lawmakers made clear EIA should be independent of various warring factions that typically exist within the federal bureaucracy and on Capitol Hill.
The agency plays a key role in expanding the knowledge base available to industry and the general public on global energy market conditions. It has numerous benchmark publications that give energy supply-demand projections in the short and long term; experts within and outside government often cite the agency numbers in their own reports.
Prioritizing EIA's mission
Caruso told the Senate committee on May 8 that he fully supports EIA's independence and, if confirmed, will work to protect it. "The trust and credibility of EIA information is essential to the fulfillment of that mission," Caruso said.
He also detailed three areas he feels deserves particular attention: improved data quality, communicating the analytical underpinnings of assumptions EIA economists make when conducting various analyses, and increasing public understanding through education.
"During this critical time of changing circumstances in the US energy industry, there is a renewed emphasis on energy security; and continuing the need for increased transparency of energy information, which is a major role of EIA, is more important than ever."