Moving forward despite uncertainty

Fermilab Director
Nigel Lockyer

I start today’s column by expressing my appreciation for the commitment you are exhibiting in the face of continuing uncertainty. These are unprecedented times for the laboratory, and your focus on carrying out our scientific mission is commendable.

The budgetary situation has not changed from that described in my email on Friday: Congress has not yet appropriated funds for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, and while we have been continuing to operate at a reduced level on carryover funding, we have begun to prepare for the possibility of a temporary lab shutdown and furloughs. No date has yet been set for the start of a temporary shutdown; I will let you know as soon as possible if such a shutdown may need to be implemented.

If you are on the Fermilab site or can connect to the lab via VPN, you can view the FAQ page, which has the full text of Friday’s message, along with a growing list of shutdown-related questions and answers. We’ve received many more questions and will update the FAQ page throughout the week.

In the meantime, as we wait and hope for Congress to reach an agreement, we are still working hard to move the laboratory and its research program forward. Much of my time over the last month has been devoted to working with our partners to advance the Fermilab research program as well as the program of the international particle physics community. I have communicated with the leaders of CERN, INFN in Italy and KEK in Japan about possibilities for collaboration in projects in the U.S., in Europe and in Asia. This week the laboratory is hosting a visit by members of the Italian NESSiE collaboration who are interested in partnering with us on LBNE. I will travel to Washington tomorrow to visit the DOE Office of High Energy Physics and discuss lab strategy and scientific planning, topics that will also be on the agenda for the FRA Board meeting this Thursday and Friday.

I very much hope — as I know you also do — that Congress reaches an agreement soon and that we are able to keep our momentum going. In the meantime, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me a question or submit a suggestion.