Dorothy Robyn

Dorothy Robyn
Senior Fellow
ITIF Center for Clean Energy Innovation and Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy

Dorothy Robyn is a member of ITIF’s board. She is a public policy expert who writes and consults on transportation, energy, and telecommunications policy, and a nonresident senior fellow with ITIF's Center for Clean Energy Innovation and Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy.


Dr. Robyn served in the Obama administration as deputy undersecretary of Defense for Installations & Environment, where she had DoD-wide oversight of U.S. military bases around the world (2009-2012), and as commissioner of public buildings at the U.S. General Services Administration (2012-2014). 


From 1993-2001, she was a special assistant to the president for economic policy on the staff of the White House National Economic Council, where she coordinated policy issues related to aviation, aerospace, defense, telecommunications, and science and technology. Her role in preventing the destruction of the Iridium satellite system following its 1999 bankruptcy is recounted in John Bloom’s award-winning 2016 book Eccentric Orbits: the Iridium Story. 


Dr. Robyn previously was an assistant professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; a principal with The Brattle Group, an economic consultancy; and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.


She is a member of two National Research Council standing boards on energy and infrastructure, respectively; the World Resources Institute’s Global Leadership Council; and the board of directors of the nonprofit U.S. Ignite. 


Dr. Robyn is the author of Braking the Special Interests: Trucking Deregulation and the Politics of Policy Reform (University of Chicago Press) and Toward an Evolutionary Regime for Spectrum Governance: Licensed or Unrestricted Entry (Brookings Press) with William J. Baumol.


She has a B.A. from Southern Illinois University and an M.P.P. and Ph.D. in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.  

Recent Publications

March 3, 2022

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) just approved plans to deploy a new delivery fleet consisting almost entirely of gasoline-powered trucks, even as Amazon, UPS and FedEx are going all-in on climate-friendly electric vehicles (EVs).

February 10, 2021

If in making its once-in-a-generation vehicle choice, USPS opts to forego the once-in-a-century innovation of electric vehicles and instead tie the agency to fossil fuel for the next 30 years, it would be a damaging lapse in a 230-year history of innovation.

January 13, 2021

As the owner of the country’s largest and most geographically distributed building portfolio, the federal government is uniquely positioned to address barriers to commercialization and deployment by serving as a test bed for and early adopter of next-generation building-energy technologies.

December 7, 2020

Presidential candidate Joe Biden regularly cited electrification of the federal government’s giant vehicle fleet as a concrete action he would take to move the country toward a clean energy economy. But an Obama-style executive order directing federal agencies to acquire EVs at some future date is not sufficient. The Biden administration needs a much more front-loaded, comprehensive and aggressive strategy.

July 17, 2020

The time is ripe for a serious reconsideration of the U.S. energy innovation system and the role of the federal government in it. An upcoming workshop series, sponsored by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Energy and Environmental Systems and open to the public, offers a valuable chance to think through many of the key questions.

July 31, 2019

In an article for Issues in Science and Technology, Dorothy Robyn and Jeffrey Marqusee explain how the Department of Defense’s research and innovation system is well-suited to advancing clean energy technologies in both the military and civilian sectors.

March 19, 2019

As Dorothy Robyn and Jeffrey Marqusee write for RealClearEnergy, many key technologies for the civilian energy sector could be advanced if the Department of Defense and Department of Energy collaborated more effectively.

March 5, 2019

The Defense Department will invest $1.6 billion this year in research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) that is directly related to energy. This report recommends how to leverage those investments for civilian energy innovation without compromising their military value.

Recent Events and Presentations

June 24, 2021

ITIF hosted a discussion about a recently released report, in partnership with Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Fraunhofer USA Center for Manufacturing Innovation, outlining policy recommendations to integrate the U.S. manufacturing innovation and competitiveness agenda with emerging national climate policies.

December 18, 2019

ITIF hosted a briefing and released a new report on using tax incentives to drive clean energy innovation.

October 30, 2019

ITIF and the Bipartisan Policy Center held an expert panel exploring the history solar energy innovations, China's role and influence on solar's diffusion as a leading manufacturer of solar panels, and the future of clean energy innovation.

March 5, 2019

ITIF released a comprehensive report on DOD’s energy innovation effort and hosted an expert panel discussion on its relevance to the fight to reduce carbon emissions, including ways civilian agencies might better leverage DOD’s investments.

April 26, 2018

Please join ITIF for the release of an MIT Energy Initiative working paper. The report’s authors, ITIF Senior Fellow David M. Hart and MIT Professor Bill Bonvillian, will present their findings and discuss policy options for grid-scale storage with an expert panel.

December 13, 2016

Join ITIF for a discussion abut the future of federal clean energy innovation policy and the release of a new report on energy innovation priorities.

January 18, 2012

With its vast holdings, the government has learned a thing or two about procurement and coordinating construction management and it plays a critical role in setting standards and undertaking industry-related R&D.

March 31, 2011

Members of Congress, senior leaders from the Department of Defense and leading thinkers in the private and NGO sectors discuss energy innovation at DOD.