Prodded by savings-hungry Republicans in Congress, the colossus that is the Department of Energy (DOE) awakened in January to find itself under attack and its offspring-a cherished, $6 billion network of national laboratories-at risk of being orphaned.

Alarmed, DOE embarked upon a campaign to save the department and reshape the laboratories, by shrinking and restructuring them.

At the last moment, one day before the deadlock that led President Bill Clinton to shut down much of the federal government, he signed into law the Energy and Water Development Appropriation Act of fiscal year 1996. The measure preserves DOE at nearly 1995 funding levels.

Hazel O'Leary EMBARRASSMENT: Revelations that Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary paid $43,500 to a media consultant further lowered morale among DOE staff.

But DOE scientists, many of whom were still struggling with President Clinton's two-year-old, $1.7 billion mandate to court industry and speed technology to market, still must carry on...

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