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FYI Number 121: December 18, 2007

Budget Cycle Closing With Disappointing DOE Science Outcome

A budget cycle that appeared so promising for the Department of Energy Office of Science is concluding with an increase for the core research program of a disappointing 2.6%. The bill provides zero funding for the U.S. contribution to ITER.

Almost three months late, the Administration and Congress are moving toward agreement on the eleven "must pass" appropriations bills that fund the operation of the federal government. After fruitless attempts to negotiate a total funding level that would have been a compromise between what the Bush Administration and the Congress each wanted to spend, the congressional leadership agreed to the President's number. While the Office of Management and Budget states that the "Administration is pleased" with this concession, the President's signature on this bill is not assured. The House has passed the bill; the Senate will consider it today. Disagreements about war funding continue.

The eleven appropriations bills have been consolidated into a single bill that has been described as being as large as a phone book. In addition to the bill language, there is also a "Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany Consolidated Appropriations Amendment." This statement is comparable to the appropriations conference report language for the Office of Science that was reviewed in http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/060.html (House) and http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/066.html (Senate.) The Explanatory Statement, released yesterday, explains that the language in both reports is "approved" and should "be interpreted accordingly" unless the original report language was in conflict, or unless it is over-ridden by the new Explanatory Statement.

An analysis of the Administration's request for the DOE Office of Science is at http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/018.html

OVERALL OFFICE OF SCIENCE:

The FY 2007 budget was $3,796.4 million.
The Administration's FY 2008 request was $4,397.9 million.
The House Appropriations Committee recommended $4,514.1 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $4,497.3 million.

The final bill provides $4,055.5 million. However, another section of the bill reduces all figures by a 0.91 rescission, resulting in an adjusted figure of $4,018.1 million. Once earmarks are subtracted, the resulting FY 2008 appropriation for the Office of Science is $3,894.2 million. This is an increase of $97.8 million or 2.6 percent above last year's budget. It is $503.7 million below the Administration's request.

This figure is going to present real difficulties for the Office of Science. Under Secretary for Science Ray Orbach offered perspective at a fall advisory committee meeting; see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/097.html. Funding in the last budget year was shifted away from facilities construction to researchers with the expectation that it would be restored by the fulfillment of the Administration's request. The final bill is a half billion dollars less than the request.

Finally, almost everyone agrees that the budget for the Office of Science should be doubled in ten years, necessitating an average annual 7 percent increase. The non-earmarked budget increases by 2.6 percent in FY 2008.

The report language has not been printed in final form. It is available, with handwritten staff notations, at http://www.rules.house.gov/110/text/omni/jes/jesdivc.pdf See pages 39-41 for the completion text of the language; sections of which are excerpted below.

HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS:

The FY 2007 current operating plan budget for High Energy Physics is $751.8 million.
The Bush Administration requested $782.3 million.
The final bill provides $694.6 million, further reduced by the rescission to $688.3 million. This is a reduction of $63.5 million or 8.5 percent from last year.

No funds were provided for the NOvA activity at the Tevatron. Only $15.0 million of the $60.0 million request was allocated to the International Linear Collider for R&D. There was considerable language regarding the Joint Dark Energy Mission. For the complete language, see the above link and scroll to page 39.

NUCLEAR PHYSICS:

The FY 2007 current operating plan budget for Nuclear Physics is $422.8 million.
The Bush Administration requested $471.3 million.
The final bill provides (rescission-adjusted) $432.7 million. This is an increase of $9.9 million or 2.3 percent. Construction was funded at the request. See page 39.

BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH:

The FY 2007 current operating plan budget for Biological and Environmental Research is $483.5 million.
The Bush Administration requested $531.9 million.
The final bill provides (rescission-adjusted) $544.4 million. This is an increase of $60.9 million or 12.6 percent. The bill divides this account into two new accounts: Biological Research and Climate Change Research. See pages 39-40 for important language.

BASIC ENERGY SCIENCES:

The FY 2007 current operating plan budget for Basic Energy Sciences is $1,250.3 million.
The Bush Administration requested $1,498.5 million.
The final bill provides (rescission-adjusted) $1,269.9 million. This is an increase of $19.6 million or 1.6 percent. See page 40 for language permitting the reprogramming of funds.

ADVANCED SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING:

The FY 2007 current operating plan budget for Advanced Scientific Computing Research is $283.5 million.
The Bush Administration requested $340.2 million.
The final bill provides (rescission-adjusted) $351.2 million. This is an increase of $67.7 million or 23.9 percent. See page 40 for language requiring the establishment of a new Institute.

FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES:

The FY 2007 current operating plan budget for Fusion Energy Sciences is $319.0 million
The Bush Administration requested $427.9 million.
The final bill provides (rescission-adjusted) $286.6 million. This is a reduction of $32.4 million or 10.2 percent.
The language provides increased funding for U.S. Facility Operations, and $12.3 million for High Energy Density Physics.
The language also states: "$0 for the U.S. contribution to ITER, and $10,724,000 for Enabling R&D for ITER," later adding, "Funding may not be reprogrammed from other activities within Fusion Energy Sciences to restore the U.S. contribution to ITER." See pages 40-41. The FY 2008 DOE budget request sent to Congress last February stated: "The United States will be a full partner in the international ITER project, with funding of $160.0 million in FY 2008." ITER was priority #1 in the much-praised Office of Science 20-year facilities plan.

Later, the report language states regarding "Science": "Funding under this heading in the amended bill includes $125,633,000 for Congressionally Directed Projects."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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