University Officials Call for Support of Administration's DOE Science Request With the start of the new fiscal year in a little more than two weeks, Congress and the Clinton Administration are into the final phase of the FY 2001 budget cycle. With eleven of thirteen appropriations bills not yet signed, and with Members anxious to return home to campaign, the pressure is on to strike final agreements on funding levels for the vast majority of federal discretionary programs. While there is general recognition that the President is dealing from a position of strength in these negotiations, the outcome for specific bills is unclear. One bill of particular concern to the physics community is the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.
In addition to letters now circulating in both chambers supporting DOE general science programs, there is now a letter that has just been sent to key Members of the House and Senate by 37 university presidents and chancellors. The letter cites a decline of 13% in constant dollars for DOE's Office of Science over the last ten years, and supports funding at least the President's request in full. The letter and its signatories follow:
"The Honorable Ron Packard
"Dear Chairman Packard:
"We, the undersigned university Presidents and Chancellors, write to express concern regarding funding levels currently contained in the House and Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bills for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science. If funding for the DOE's Office of Science is not increased above the levels currently contained in the House and Senate bills, we believe that some of this country's most fundamental and exciting scientific research, much of which occurs at our universities, will be slowed.
"The DOE is the largest federal supporter of research in the physical sciences. The Department is also a major sponsor of research in the biological sciences, environmental sciences, large scale computing, and engineering at our universities. DOE is unique among other scientific funding agencies in that it builds and operates major research facilities and smaller, specialized 'university-based' user facilities that are essential for work in many fields. These facilities include particle accelerators used by the high-energy and nuclear physicists; the synchrotron light sources and research reactors used by biologists, chemists, materials scientists and condensed-matter physicists; the fusion machines used by plasma physicists; and so on.
"Each year over 15,000 researchers, more than half of them from universities, rely on DOE user facilities and university-based laboratories for their research. The Department also supports more than 6,000 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. It is these major and university-based facilities, researchers and students that have made the DOE a leader in human genome research, high performance computing and simulation, nanotechnology, basic energy science, and materials research.
"Over the last ten years, funding for the Office of Science within the DOE has declined by thirteen percent in constant dollars. This has resulted in decreased operating time for DOE facilities located at both the National laboratories and universities. It has also reduced the number of university research grants that the DOE has been able to award. Further decreases in funding for DOE science, such as those currently proposed in the House and Senate bills, will have a particularly damaging impact on DOE's unique research efforts.
"As you move to conference with the Energy and Water Development bill, we hope that you will do everything you can to see that the DOE science, and in particular the DOE Office of Science, is adequately funded. We would specifically ask that at least $3.16 billion, the level contained in the President's FY 2001 budget request, be provided for the Office of Science. In our opinion, growth in funding for DOE's unique facilities and the university laboratories and research teams must be sustained, not only to advance the physical sciences, but to push the frontiers of scientific knowledge in other important fields as well."
John Westling, President; Boston University
Richard M. Jones