The George Washington University
Engineering Management & Systems Engineering Department (EMSE)
Environmental & Energy Management Program (E&EM)

Spring 2005 (Volume 6, Number 1)

Mike Helwig Defends His
Research Proposal

On April 8, 2005, E&EM doctoral candidate Michael Helwig defended his proposal on "The Energy Policy Act of 1992: Proposed Compliance Strategies and Process Improvements for Federal Agencies.” In his research, Mike intends to investigate potential federal agency strategies to comply with the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) as it applies to alternative fuel use and Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) acquisition requirements.

Section 502 of EPAct prescribed some very ambitious goals: alternative fuels replacing at least 10 percent of petroleum fuels that were projected to be consumed in 2000 and 30 percent in 2010. Mandatory acquisition processes required by EPAct represent an attempt to eliminate the “chicken or the egg” dilemma. That is, which comes first, a large alternative fuel infrastructure and then the production of AFVs on a large scale, or a large number of AFVs that in turn would theoretically drive demand for a big alternative fuel infrastructure?

Unfortunately, the agencies have not been very successful in meeting their assigned goals. For example, in 2000 only seven of the 18 covered federal agencies met the 75 percent EPAct acquisition requirement for FY2000. In aggregate, AFV acquisitions for EPAct-covered federal agencies accounted for 44 percent of LDV acquisition, far short of the 75 percent EPAct goal. At least 9 federal fleets actually increased petroleum consumption from 1999 to 2000, resulting in an overall 2 percent increase in federal fleet petroleum consumption from 1999 to 2000.

Mike’s proposed research will investigate the utility of a decision-aiding methodology in improving federal agency compliance with the AFV acquisition requirements of EPAct, and will assist in E.O. 13149 compliance. It is anticipated that the heart of the decision-aiding methodology will consist of a series of tiered integer programming models. The Department of the Navy will be used as a test bed to validate and verify the proposed decision-aiding model, and to measure the degree of decision-making improvement, if any, that may be facilitated by the model. It is anticipated that the research will help federal agencies determine optimal EPAct/E.O. 13149 compliance strategies, which can be compared to fleet acquisition strategies that did not use such a decision-aiding method.

Jonathan P. Deason, Ph.D., Lead Professor