Last rounds in Washington

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

These days, as I near the end of my tenure at Fermilab, I find myself finishing up this and doing the last of that. It is no different with my interactions in Washington. Last week the Fermilab senior leadership had its yearly planning meeting with the Office of Science. The meeting, presided by Office of Science Deputy Director Pat Dehmer and attended by the associate directors of all the Office of Science programs, is a very important one for our laboratory. We present and discuss the state of the lab and our plans and initiatives of the entire spectrum of laboratory activities. Pat Dehmer was complimentary of the presentation, but she emphasized that our plans are very ambitious and that we have to execute them perfectly in every aspect if we want to see the projects through. She explained that even simpler facilities than LBNE and Project X are difficult to execute in the current environment.

During that trip I also paid my respects to staff members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the office of Senator Durbin. I have always kept the staff of these and other offices and committees abreast of our programs, and they appreciate being apprised of developments in both our current facilities and our plans for the future.

Yesterday I met with Energy Secretary Moniz and brought him up to date on the state of particle physics and the major initiatives in our program. We had a very good discussion, and he had a clear message to give us: He can and will promote our field and our initiatives, provided the physics community lines up behind a plan and defends it coherently. He gave as an example how the nuclear physics community has prospered, relative to our community, by working together in generating their plans and supporting them. In making such plans there are trade-offs, and not every initiative can be accommodated.

I also had a very good meeting and wide-ranging discussion at the Office of Management and Budget on our program in a relatively relaxed atmosphere, since many folks were on furlough. Ultimately, the OMB holds the purse strings, so it helps if they are familiar with our plans and the ways that, even in difficult times, these projects can be accommodated in phases and with the strong contributions of our international partners. In all of these meetings there was strong interest in the proposed joining of Fermilab’s LBNE and Europe’s LBNO to carry out the long-baseline neutrino experiment in the United States, as well as in our strong collaboration with India.