In 2001, the National Research Council (NRC) completed a congressionally mandated assessment of the benefits and costs of DOE’s fossil energy and energy efficiency R&D programs, Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? The Congress followed this retrospective study by directing DOE to request the NRC to develop a methodology for assessing prospective benefits. The first phase of this project—development of the methodology—began in December 2003. Phase two will make the methodology more robust and explore related issues, and subsequent phases will apply the methodology to review the prospective benefits of different DOE fossil energy and energy efficiency R&D programs. In developing this project, three considerations were particularly important. First, the study should adapt the work of the retrospective study. Second, the project should develop a methodology that provides a rigorous calculation of benefits and risks, and a practical and consistent process for its application. Third, the methodology should be transparent, should not require extensive resources for implementation, and should produce easily understood results. This report presents the results of phase one. It focuses on adaptation of the retrospective methodology to a prospective context.