Last Thursday Congress passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, which funds the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year. For the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds Fermilab, the act essentially allocates the same budget as the 2012 fiscal year. Once sequestration is applied, the Office of Science will receive approximately 5 percent less than it did last year.
What does that mean for Fermilab? The Office of High Energy Physics has given us an estimate of our final budget for this fiscal year—approximately $368 million, 9 percent lower than last year. The reason we get a larger-than-average cut relative to the continuing resolution is that, under the President’s budget request for FY13, we had already been cut to an expected $375 million. We have been spending at a lower level since the beginning of the year in anticipation of these cuts, proposed last February. However, sequestration has resulted in even greater cuts than anticipated, which has required some significant adjustments on our part.
To accommodate these additional cuts with minimum impact to our scientific mission and our staff, we have made a proposal to DOE to reallocate some funds from projects, which can take some delay. We expect no furloughs under this scenario and we plan to operate the accelerators beginning in June. These types of requests to DOE require high-level governmental approval, and sequestration has resulted in many requests of this kind. As a result, it may be a month or more before we know whether our request has been approved.
Until then, we will not know the final impact of this year’s budget on the lab. We hope that there will be a willingness in DOE, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress to attenuate the damage that a rigid sequestration entails and that the re-programming requests that affect Fermilab will be approved.
I will discuss the latest on the lab’s current and future budgets, projects and programs at an all-hands meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 25, at 9:30 a.m. in the auditorium. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with your questions at email@example.com.