President’s Budget Request

Fermilab Director Pier Oddone

The President’s Budget Request (PBR) for fiscal year 2013 was unveiled yesterday. In this Director’s Corner, I describe for you what I know at this time in the spirit that I have maintained throughout this column: to share with you the good, the bad and the ugly. I remind you that there is a long time before a FY13 budget is enacted by Congress, and in that time many things can change. In the meantime we have a lot of planning to do.

The PBR reduces funding for the DOE Office of High Energy Physics by 1.8 percent from the current level. The cuts applied to Fermilab, however, are significantly greater: about $30 million or 8 percent. This budget will be very hard to manage as we transition to our new programs.

Where do the cuts fall on the Fermilab program? The first is a decrease in the funds for the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment and related support for the Homestake site. In the PBR the support for the design of LBNE is halved, from $21 million in FY12 to $10 million in FY13. This would badly hurt a flagship project for U.S. high-energy physics, stalling momentum at a time when we have defined a clear direction that is supported by all the scientific reviews and is attracting international interest. The PBR calls into question whether DOE will mount any truly large-scale, global fundamental science project as we have done successfully in the past and as our European and Asian competitors are doing now. The PBR also decreases the funding for bare-bones operation of the Homestake mine to a level not sufficient to maintain the site, from $15 million this year to $10 million in FY13.

The second cut zeros out funding for ILC R&D. ILC R&D in the United States has helped American industry come up to a world-class standard in this area that is important for the future of the country’s global competiveness. While the current phase of ILC R&D will be finished in 2012, the proposed next phase of R&D on superconducting accelerator technology would help many future scientific projects, including Project X and Berkeley Lab’s Next Generation Light Source. The PBR effectively hands the fruits of ILC research to the other countries that continue to participate, benefiting their science and their industries.

In addition to the cuts to LBNE and ILC, there are additional impacts on our budget in a stretch-out of the Mu2e schedule and in our remaining operations.

Starting today, we are working with the DOE HEP office to try to mitigate this very bad situation and I am providing information to Congress on the consequences of this budget. Clearly a debate is needed in Congress on the proper role of the federal government in the stewardship of fundamental research such as ours, and on the role of Office of Science in supporting basic research that is not only tied to short-term outcomes.