FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

High Energy Physics Advisory Panel Briefing on Budget Outlook

Richard M. Jones
Number 109 - November 20, 2008  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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“It has been an 'interesting' year for DOE HEP program" stated one of the exhibits that Dennis Kovar, Associate Director of Science for High Energy Physics showed to the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel at its November 13 meeting. Kovar presented a broad overview of DOE’s High Energy Physics Program, with many of his remarks focusing on the funding outlook. Joseph Dehmer, Director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Physics, also addressed the advisory panel, updating them on several NSF projects.

Despite an initial promising outlook, last year's FY 2008 budget for the DOE High Energy Physics Program dropped by 8.5 percent or $63.5 million from the previous year, from $751.8 million to $688.3 million. The Administration requested $782.3 million. No money was provided for the NOvA program at the Tevatron, and only $15.0 million of the original $60.0 million request was allocated for International Linear Collider R&D. Despite receiving $94 million less than requested, Kovar informed the advisory panel that "most serious impacts were mitigated," and that given the context, the program had a "productive year." Additional money provided to the program through a later supplemental funding bill had been "absolutely crucial."

In February, the Administration requested $805.0 million for the High Energy Physics program for FY 2009, an amount that Under Secretary for Science Ray Orbach then said "gets us back on track." House and Senate appropriators approved this funding in their initial versions of the FY 2009 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. The final version of the bill has not yet been passed.

At present, the Tevatron is expected to run for the first six months of FY 2009 under the continuing resolution. The Large Hadron Collider project will be supported, although there will be no growth. Some projects will be delayed, including APAF, although DOE will proceed with the Joint Dark Energy Mission (a future FYI will provide a JDEM update.)

Looking ahead to the completion of the FY 2009 funding bill, Kovar said projections show that the "impacts are really significant" if Congress were to continue FY 2008 funding through September 2009. DOE estimates a reduction-in-force of 175 to 200 employees at the labs, operation of the Tevatron would be terminated at the end of six months, and the NOvA project canceled. Recent indications from Capitol Hill point to a satisfactory outcome for the FY 2009 appropriations cycle, a subject that will be covered in a future FYI.

Plans are now underway for the incoming Obama Administration. The High Energy Physics Program has prepared a transition document for the new Administration. DOE is also in the process of preparing a variety of FY 2010 funding plans.

Kovar praised the B-Factory as "a success story" and called the Tevatron's run "outstanding." The Large Hadron Collider is expected to resume its run in May, Kovar saying that the "LHC is a high priority," regardless of the program's budget. Planning is continuing for the International Linear Collider with more constrained funding. While neutrino physics funding is not at its planned level, it is satisfactory at present, with Kovar saying that if FY 2008 funding continues more than six months into FY 2009 that it would cause really significant impacts. DOE has met with NASA and the Office of Management and Budget on JDEM, with Kovar stating, the "bottom line is we have put together a plan."

Joseph Dehmer, Director of the National Science Foundation's Physics Division, also addressed HEPAP. Dehmer said he did not have any information on the budget, adding that it was "a little nerve-racking" in looking ahead to budget levels ranging from even less money than the division now has to a rather large increase. He briefed the advisory panel on the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory that is expected to be finished in two or three years, the Advanced LIGO Observatory upgrade, and the design process and water pumping status of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory in South Dakota.

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