Patricia M. Dehmer, DOE Associate Director of Science for Basic
Energy Sciences, offered a look ahead to the Basic Energy Sciences
Advisory Committee at its meeting on October 20. "Budget drives
everything that we do," Dehmer told the committee, describing the
status of FY 2005 appropriations, the forthcoming FY 2005 budget
request, and some guiding principles for FY 2006 and beyond.
Little has changed in the FY 2005 budget outlook since Dehmer's
remarks of two weeks ago. Missing the start of the new fiscal year
on October 1, Congress has kept money flowing to the Department of
Energy through a continuing resolution. The new fiscal year is more
than a month old, and congressional leaders are now talking about
Thanksgiving as a target date for the completion of the
appropriations bills. Despite one party control of both chambers of
Congress and the White House, only four of thirteen appropriations
bills have been (or soon will be) completed, which is an indication
of how difficult the budget cycle is. While Energy and Water
Development Appropriations bills have been approved in the House and
Senate, a conference committee working to resolve differences in the
two bills is at an impasse. A new continuing resolution is expected
to extend funding to late November. While Office of Science funding
will continue at its current level, there will be no new starts, said
Dehmer. She said there could be "fairly significant impacts"
eight new facilities under construction that were scheduled for ramp
ups in this new fiscal year, with likely slippages.
Not surprisingly, Dehmer told the committee that all information on
the forthcoming FY 2005 budget request was embargoed. She cited the
traditional talk of "gloom and doom" budget predictions for
years, although she allowed that "things look pretty grim"
discretionary spending. A first cut of the FY 2005 budget was sent
to the Office of Management and Budget in early September, and
meetings have been held with OMB staff. A "pass back" of this
will be made by OMB to DOE at the end of this month, with
negotiations to follow. There is "very little chance to impact
[BESAC budget request] from the scientific community at this time,"
Dehmer said. Five "investment drivers" guide DOE's budget
decisions: "outstanding science," "scientific user facilities
advanced tools for the Nation," "science that addresses the
mission," "stewardship of DOE-owned research institutions,"
"workforce development." Maintaining a funding balance between
drivers is both difficult and important, she said.
"If you don't know the budget cycle you can't impact it,"
stated. Although the FY 2005 budget that President Bush will send to
Congress next February is still being developed, work will begin soon
on the FY 2006 request. Between now and February is the right time
for this advisory committee (and by inference, other science program
advisory committees) to make recommendations about the budget year
that starts 23 months from now.
Factors strengthening the probability of future funding for research
include it being "compelling, important, non redundant, well-
justified, well-managed," with appropriate national and international
coordination, and community, congressional, and administration
support. Also required: "a lot of work, considerable luck, and
everyone pulling in the same direction," Dehmer said. "Nothing
should be taken for granted," she cautioned.
Please note this clarification to FYI #140: Harriet Kung is the
contact person for hydrogen research within the Office of Basic
Energy Sciences. Steven Chalk is the Program Manager of the
Department of Energy's Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Infrastructure Technology Program. This program is under the
Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.