Despite DOE's frequent leadership in science and technology (think "human genome" or winning 46 of the "R&D 100" awards in 2009), it's widely acknowledged within DOE that the public isn't particularly aware of DOE's role. Not that we in DOE are shamelessly craving a little credit, but in a representative government, an informed and supportive public is essential to sustain DOE's important programs. In terms of public awareness, it is as though the DOE program unintentionally operates in the dark.
By disseminating DOE's R&D results to the public, including those who do not customarily have access to subscription journals of science and technology ,OSTI plays a role in making such results useful and visible to the public. Dissemination to the public is OSTI's mission as defined by law. One inevitable consequence of OSTI pursuing its mission is that DOE's R&D program becomes better known beyond the inner circles of the science and technology community.
For a number of years now, OSTI's information transactions have been increasing exponentially, reaching 84 million in FY 2008 (see OSTI's web metrics ). To my way of thinking, this is tantamount to OSTI lighting 84 million candles that shine on DOE's R&D results and illuminate R&D breakthroughs for the public. This is just the beginning, we are doing everything we can to accelerate this exponential growth into the future and further increase awareness of DOE R&D results by the public. As the old saying goes, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.