Monday, February 04, 2008

Disappointing Budget Hits DOE's BES Division

If people think that the outrageous Omnibus spending budget only hits High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics, think again. This this week's issue of Science (Feb. 1, 2008), Adrian Cho lays out the effects on the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) part of the Dept. of Energy (DOE) budget.

As the largest of the Office of Science's six divisions, BES funds research in materials sciences, chemistry, condensed matter physics, and related fields. Its $1.28 billion budget also pays for synchrotron x-ray sources, neutron sources, and other "user facilities" at the Office of Science's 10 national labs. The 2008 budget will not lead to major layoffs at those labs, as have cuts to DOE's particle physics budget (Science, 11 January, p. 142). But it will mean an array of smaller cost-saving measures that will have an impact on science. For example, user time will be cut by up to 20% at BES's already-oversubscribed user facilities, which support thousands of university researchers. "Nationwide, it is a very significant impact," says Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge. "But it's not manifest in a dramatic way at one lab."
The cuts in the BES budget are also hampering plans to build some user facilities. Researchers at Brookhaven received only $30 million of the $45 million requested to design and procure parts for the $912 million National Synchrotron Light Source II, which is scheduled to start up in 2015. And researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California received only $5 million of $17.4 million requested to begin construction of a 28,000-square-meter building that would provide lab space to users of the adjoining Advanced Light Source (ALS)

So this is a devastating budget, no matter from which angle you look at it, for all of science. And frankly, I do not see a relief in sight. The president's budget for FY09, scheduled to appear today, promises to be HUGE, and is predicted to cause record US budget deficit. I can already see that the US Congress is not going to allow such spending, which means that they can easily delay this beyond the start of FY09 in Oct 1st. This means that we will continue to be saddled with the catastrophic FY08 budget as part of the continuing resolution. I am not optimistic at all....

Please prove me wrong.


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