The underlying theme at the release of the Department of Energy's FY
2006 budget request was the need to rein in federal spending. The total
DOE budget would drop 2.0 percent under President Bush's FY 2006 budget
request, from $23.9 billion in FY 2005 to $23.4 billion. For DOE's civilian
research, the Office of Science (SC) would see its budget reduced by
3.8 percent from FY 2005 funding of $3,599.6 million to $3,462.7 million.
The FY 2006 requested amount is, in fact, also 2.0 percent lower than
the office's FY 2004 funding. According to DOE documents, much of the
reduction comes from the elimination of $79.6 million in congressionally
directed earmarks to Biological and Environmental Research, and the
reduction to the budget for core SC programs is only 1.6 percent.
In a briefing on the SC request, Office of Science Director Ray Orbach
referred several times to the "difficult budget year" and
"tight budget situation." He said that, when faced with the
need to prioritize, he had made "a conscious decision" to
"build new facilities to keep U.S. science at the very forefront"
of world scientific leadership. To this end, SC has a number of new
facilities beginning operations in FY 2006, and is reducing running
times at some existing facilities. Both high energy and nuclear physics
would see their budgets cut below both current-year and FY 2004 levels.
Also in line for cuts below current-year funding would be Advanced Scientific
Computing Research (ASCR), Biological and Environmental Research (BER),
Scientific Laboratory Infrastructure, and Workforce Development for
Teachers and Scientists. Basic Energy Sciences (BES) and Fusion Energy
Sciences (FES) would receive increases above current-year funding.
Below is a brief summary of the budget request for each of the Office
of Science program areas. More information on each of these areas is
given in the DOE FY 2006 Budget Highlights document, available at: www.mbe.doe.gov/budget/06budget/Content/Highlights/06_highlights.pdf
under Section 3, Science (starting on page 72).
HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS: Down 3.1%, or $22.5 million, from $736.4
million to $713.9 million. Run times would be increased over FY 2005
levels at the Fermilab Tevatron (6% more operating hours) and SLAC (54%
more hours). Construction funding is continued for the Large Hadron
Collider at CERN in Europe, which Orbach expects to begin operations
in 2008. The BTeV project at Fermilab would be cancelled. An amount
of $30 million would be transferred to BES for operation of the SLAC
NUCLEAR PHYSICS: Down 8.4%, or $34.0 million, from $404.8 million
to $370.7 million. Run times would be drastically reduced from FY 2005
levels at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (29% fewer
hours) and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (61% fewer hours). R&D
funding would be reduced for the proposed Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA).
BASIC ENERGY SCIENCES: Up 3.7%, or $41.4 million, from $1,104.6
million to $1,146.0 million. Construction of the Spallation Neutron
Source would be completed, and operations started, in FY 2006. Construction
would also be completed and operations started on four of the five Nanoscale
Science Research Centers, while construction would continue on the fifth.
Funding would be increased for the President's Hydrogen Initiative,
and there would also be an increase for engineering, design and construction
of the next-generation Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC.
FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES: Up 6.1%, or $16.7 million, from $273.9
million to $290.6 million. Funding would increase for U.S. participation
in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER); FY2006
would be the first year of equipment fabrication for the U.S.'s contribution.
Two of the three primary U.S. facilities (DIII-D and Alcator C-Mod)
would operate at below FY 2005 levels, while the third facility, the
National Spherical Tokamak Experiment would not operate in FY 2006.
Fabrication of the National Compact Stellarator Experiment would continue.
BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH: Down 21.7%, or $126.2
million, from $581.9 million to $455.7 million. Funding would increase
for the Genomics: GTL program, while funding for the Human Genome and
Climate Change programs would be maintained at near FY 2005 levels.
Funding of $79.6 million for congressionally-directed projects would
ADVANCED SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING RESEARCH: Down 10.9%, or $25.4
million, from $232.5 million to $207.1 million. Funding would be reduced
for the Next Generation Computer Architecture initiative, while new
activities would allow evaluation of new computer architectures as tools
for science, and two SciDAC institutes at universities.
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT FOR TEACHERS AND SCIENTISTS: Down 5.4%,
or $0.4 million, from $7.6 million to $7.2 million. The number of teachers
supported by the Laboratory Science Teacher Professional Development
program would increase over FY 2005, while the number of faculty participating
in the Faculty Sabbatical Fellowships and students participating in
the Pre-Service Teacher program would be reduced. Support for Science
Bowl Teams would also be reduced.
In discussing the budget request, new Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman
called DOE's science programs "the part of this job I find in many
ways the most exhilarating responsibility." He spoke specifically
about the potential of ITER as a project "we're quite enthused
about." He also commented that "the impact of science on our
economic well-being" is not very well understood by American citizens.
He promised to "be a strong proponent" of the science function
at DOE, and try to effectively articulate its value to the staff at
the White House Office of Management and Budget. He also cautioned that,
in the current budget situation, it will be important to find ways of
"getting more out of what we spend."