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House FY 2014 Department of Energy Funding Bill: Office of Science

Richard M. Jones
Number 110 - July 1, 2013  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The House Appropriations Committee has approved its version of the FY 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.  The unnumbered bill was passed by the committee by a vote of 28 to 21.  A final version of the committee report is not yet available, selections of important language found on pages 105-111 regarding the Office of Science from the draft unnumbered report follow.  Note that the FY 2013 budget figures do not include a mandatory reduction of approximately 5 percent for sequestration.  Funding tables are provided on pages 156-159 of this report.

Office of Science:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $4,876.0 million
The FY 2014 request is $5,152.8 million, an increase of $276.8 million or 5.7 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $4,653.0 million, a decrease of $223.0 million or 4.6 percent

The report explains that the committee placed “a high priority on funding” the programs of the Office of Science, and described its concern about the STEM pipeline:

“The Science program office includes Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, Fusion Energy Sciences, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Science Laboratories Infrastructure, Safeguards and Security, and Science Program Direction. The Committee has placed a high priority on funding these activities within the limited resources available in fiscal year 2014. The private sector is not likely to invest in basic science, since the findings either have high non-commercial value or are not likely to be commercialized in the near or medium term. However, this work is very important to sustaining the scientific leadership of the United States and can provide the underpinnings for valuable intellectual property in the coming decades.”

“The Committee is concerned about the long-term science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce pipeline development for underrepresented minorities and notes the National Academies recommendation that the federal government offer support for undergraduate and graduate STEM programs focused on increasing the participation and success of minority students through engaged mentoring, enriching research experiences, and opportunities to publish, present, and network.

“Further, the Committee encourages the Department to develop and broaden partnerships with minority serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In particular, the Committee encourages programs involving undergraduate research experiences, high speed computing access and education, nonproliferation studies, and research inclusive of the social sciences. The Committee recognizes the importance of workplace diversity in the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and directs the Secretary of Energy, not later than 120 days after enactment of this Act, to provide a detailed plan on recruitment and retention of diverse talent that includes outreach and recruitment programs at HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions.”

Within the Office of Science are the following programs:

Advanced Scientific Computing:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $440.8 million
The FY 2014 request is $465.6 million, an increase of $24.8 million or 5.6 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $432.4 million, a decrease of $8.4 million or 1.9 percent

Exascale Computing. -  The Committee continues to support the exascale initiative, which seeks to develop the next generation of computing systems three orders of magnitude faster than today’s fastest systems. This decade-long effort is critical to enabling basic and energy-focused science research not previously possible and to maintaining the nation’s global leadership in computing technologies. The recommendation includes the requested level of $68,580,000 for the exascale initiative.

High Performance Computing and Network Facilities. - In addition to the long-term exascale initiative, the Committee supports continued upgrade and operation of the Leadership Computing Facilities at Argonne and Oak Ridge National Laboratories and of High Performance Production Computing capabilities at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. These systems’ capabilities are a critical component of science and industrial research and development across the nation, and they should be maintained as world leading facilities. The recommendation includes $148,500,000 for Leadership Computing Facilities and $62,000,000 for High Performance Production Computing.

“The recommendation includes the requested level of $32,608,000 for High Performance Network Facilities and Testbeds (ESnet).”

Basic Energy Sciences

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $1,689.5 million
The FY 2014 request is $1,862.4 million, an increase of $172.9 million or 10.2 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $1,583.1 million, a decrease of $106.4 million or 6.3 percent

“The program’s budget consists of funding for research; the operation of existing user facilities; and the design, procurement, and construction of new facilities and equipment. The long-term success of the program hinges on striking a careful balance among these three areas. However, the increasing level of research commitments and completion of new facilities make it difficult to adequately fund all three components of the Basic Energy Sciences program within existing budgetary constraints. The Committee strongly cautions the Department against assuming an ever-increasing budget when planning the balance among facility runtime, construction, and research funding.

“The Committee recognizes the critical contribution that the program’s light sources, neutron sources, and other user facilities make to scientific discovery and American industry. The United States is currently host to the world’s most advanced and productive basic energy science user facilities, and the Department is urged to develop a plan for the next generation of light sources and other user facilities in order to maintain American leadership through the next decade.

Research.—The Committee recommends $1,509,299,000 for Research within Basic Energy Sciences, $29,199,000 below fiscal year 2013 and $231,812,000 below the budget request.  The recommendation includes $24,237,000 for the fourth year of the Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub and $24,237,000 for the second year of the Batteries Energy Innovation Hub, both the same as the request. The recommendation does not include funding for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, $8,520,000 below the budget request.

“The recommendation includes not less than $60,000,000 for Energy Frontier Research Centers in fiscal year 2014, $40,000,000 below the request, but does not provide $68,729,000 for one-time funding for additional Energy Frontier Research Centers as requested by the Department.

“The recommendation provides $64,200,000 for major items of equipment, to include $39,200,000 for the Advanced Photon Source Upgrade and $25,000,000 for the National Synchotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) Experimental Tools, both the same as the budget request.

“The recommendation provides $775,003,000 for facilities operations, which includes funding for individual scientific user facilities at their finalized fiscal year 2013 operating levels and $50,000,000 for NSLS-II early operations, $29,053,000 above fiscal year 2013 and $19,000,000 below the budget request.

Construction. - The Committee recommends $73,800,000 for Basic Energy Sciences construction projects, $77,197,000 below fiscal year 2013 and $47,500,000 below the budget request. The recommendation includes the first year of construction funding for the LINAC Coherent Light Source II two-tunnel upgrade project. The Committee is aware of the Department’s Critical Decision–0 that establishes the Department’s mission need for a novel free-electron laser array light source. Should it choose to move forward with this project, the Office of Science is directed to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate on how it intends to balance these project costs against BES research and facility runtime under a flat budget scenario.”

Biological and Environmental Research

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $610.2 million
The FY 2014 request is $625.4 million, an increase of $15.2 million or 2.5 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $494.1 million, a decrease of $116.1 million or 19.0 percent

“The Committee continues to support the Biological Systems Science program, which focuses on the biology of plants and microbes with the ultimate goal of enabling future generations of biofuels from a variety of sustainable domestic biomass sources. In addition to reducing our nation’s dependence on petroleum-based fuels with chronically high prices, the biofuels produced through this program’s science breakthroughs can lower the cost of, improve the sustainability of, and ease industry’s transition to those fuel alternatives.

“The recommendation includes $75,000,000, the same as fiscal year 2013 and the budget request, for the second year of the second five-year term of the three BioEnergy Research Centers.”

Fusion Energy Sciences:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $401.1 million
The FY 2014 request is $458.3 million, an increase of $57.2 million or 14.3 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $506.1 million, an increase of $105.0 million or 26.2 percent

“The domestic fusion program is a critical component of United States science leadership and a necessary building block of any successful fusion projects, including the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The recommendation provides $288,576,000 for the domestic fusion program, $8,601,000 below fiscal year 2012 - the last time Congress set forth a domestic fusion budget - and $55,252,000 above the request, of which $22,260,000 is for operations and research at the Alcator C-Mod Facility at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fiscal year 2014.

“The recommendation includes $217,500,000 for the United States contribution to ITER, the international collaboration to construct the world’s first self-sustaining experimental fusion reactor, $93,500,000 above fiscal year 2013 and $7,500,000 below the budget request.

Ten-Year Fusion Plan. - ITER is an important international collaboration that represents a major step forward in fusion energy science, but its funding requirements will create substantial budgetary challenges, throughout the decade. The Committee appreciates that the Office of Science is grappling with these challenges, but notes that the budget request does not strike the proper balance between the domestic fusion program and ITER. The Committee recommendation restores most of the proposed cuts to the domestic fusion program while also increasing ITER funding as the project enters its full construction phase.

“Looking forward, the increasing requirements for ITER will continue to pose challenges within the Science budget, and the Committee believes that long-term policy decisions for the Fusion Energy Sciences should be guided by impartial analysis of scientific needs and opportunities and with an eye on American competitiveness and leadership. The Committee therefore reiterates the importance of the ten-year plan for Fusion Energy Sciences directed in the fiscal year 2012 appropriations conference report; that plan’s timely delivery to Congress; and the inclusion of priorities across domestic and international fusion facilities, projects, and programs.  As the Administration formulates this plan, the Committee notes that the level of funding for fusion should not be assumed to be flat. As the Department continues to assert, ITER is one of the top priorities of the nation’s science program as a whole, and as such should require investments across all programs within science. The current estimated cost share for the U.S. portion of the project is $2,400,000,000 to achieve first plasma, with additional funding required to operate and maintain the facility over its lifespan. With this significant investment, our nation must maintain a robust domestic program and expertise to benefit from the project’s eventual operation.

ITER Project Directive.—The Committee is deeply concerned about the lack of transparency regarding the U.S. contribution to the ITER project, particularly given the scale and complexity of the project as it enters its full construction phase. The Department has yet to submit an ITER project data sheet, including a project baseline and cost schedule, both of which are instrumental to the Committee’s oversight role and consistent with all other DOE line-item construction projects. The Committee strongly encourages the Department to treat the U.S. contribution to ITER as a line-item construction project and directs the Department to submit a project baseline and cost schedule to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act.”

High Energy Physics:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $789.6 million
The FY 2014 request is $776.5 million, a decrease of $13.1 million or 1.7 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $772.5 million, a decrease of $17.1 million or 2.2 percent

Research.—The Committee recommends $729,521,000 for Research, $32,148,000 below fiscal year 2013 and $12,000,000 below the budget request, which includes activities in proton, electron, non-accelerator, and theoretical physics. The recommendation includes $12,000,000 for operations of the Sanford Underground Research Facility, $2,000,000 above the request, as the Department continues to evaluate a path forward for the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) and its alternatives.

Construction.—The Committee recommends $43,000,000 for construction, $15,074,000 above fiscal year 2013 and $8,000,000 above the budget request. The recommendation includes $35,000,000 for preliminary engineering design and construction of the Muon to Electron Conversion Experiment.

“The recommendation also includes $8,000,000 for project engineering and design activities of LBNE and its alternatives, $8,000,000 above the budget request. The recommendation includes no funding for long-lead procurements or construction activities for the LBNE project. The Committee recognizes the importance of this project to maintaining American leadership in the intensity frontier and to basic science discovery of neutrino and standard model physics. However, the Committee also recognizes that LBNE construction must be affordable under a flat budget scenario. As such, the Committee supports the Office of Science’s challenge to the High Energy Physics community to identify an LBNE construction approach that avoids large out-year funding spikes or to identify viable alternatives with similar scientific benefits at significantly
lower cost.”

Nuclear Physics:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $548.5 million
The FY 2014 request is $569.9 million, an increase of $21.4 million or 3.9 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $551.9 million, an increase of $3.4 million or 0.6 percent

Operations and Maintenance.—The Committee recommends $526,413,000 for nuclear physics operations and maintenance, $27,743,000 above fiscal year 2013 and $18,025,000 below the budget request. The recommendation fully funds the request for Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider Operations at $165,224,000 to support a standalone run of approximately 22 weeks in fiscal year 2014.

“The recommendation also includes $55,000,000 to begin construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), $33,000,000 above fiscal year 2013 and the same as the budget request. FRIB will serve as a facility with world-leading capabilities for short lived radioactive beams and remains one of the highest priorities within the Nuclear Physics program. The Committee remains supportive of the next-generation machine that will advance understanding of rare nuclear isotopes and the evolution of the cosmos by testing the limits of nuclear existence.

“The Committee encourages the Office of Science to ensure that commercial isotope producers have a direct working relationship with user facilities on day-to-day operational matters as it continues its effort to coordinate isotope production activities across the DOE complex.

Construction.—The Committee recommends $25,500,000, $24,367,000 below fiscal year 2013 and the same as the budget request, to continue construction of the 12 GeV Upgrade of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility.”

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