A Vote of Thanks!
JULY 7, 2008
Thanks to very effective advocacy by Advanced Photon Source (APS) users, and the support of the U.S. Congress, the APS has received an injection of funds that will enable the facility to function normally, at least until it receives a 2009 federal budget, expected next spring.
Users and staff of the APS at Argonne have suffered pain from inadequate funding this year, a result of the unexpected cuts in U.S. science funding embodied in the congressional omnibus bill passed a few months ago. Due to the funding crisis, the APS was preparing to lay off up to 60 people in October. Operating hours for fiscal year (FY) 2008 had been reduced by 10%, but the reduction was particularly painful for APS users as it was contained entirely in the final run of the fiscal year (2008-02), which was reduced by four weeks. With expectations of a flat budget and lower staffing for most of FY2009, the APS had planned to reduce operating hours in 2009 by 20%. User frustration is evidenced by success rates for beamtime requests being reduced to 30% in 2008-02 from 50% in the last run (2008-01).
But thankfully, short-term relief has arrived. The APS will receive $7.5 M dollars from the $337.5 million in science funding contained in the supplemental appropriations bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Bush on June 30. The funding is part of a $62.5 M appropriation for the Department of Energy Office of Science, which also restored a significant portion of Fermilab’s lost funding. Argonne and Fermilab are operated for the Office of Science by UChicago Argonne, LLC, and the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC, respectively.
The funds will have immediate positive impacts on the APS. The first is an elimination of pressure to carry through with impending staff reductions. The facility also plans to return to normal operations for the fall user run (2008-03). At this late stage, it is not possible to restore the entire lost running period in 2008-02, and it would probably not be possible to ensure that it is used productively. However, five more days will be added to the current run (now ending August 12th) and time will be made available (as much as possible) to the highest rated proposals that did not get time in the 2008-02 run cycle.
While FY09 funds still remain uncertain, and the facility must continue to explore scenarios to deal with the uncertainty, the supplemental funding provides major relief. “This funding is obviously great news for our users and our staff,” said Murray Gibson, Director of Scientific User Facilities at Argonne, “and is a clear sign that both houses of Congress and the Administration are well aware that scientific research is of critical importance to our country. While this provides important temporary relief, securing long-term budget increases remains a concern.”
“We all owe a great deal of thanks to our user community, which advocated tirelessly on behalf of science funding, as well as to our elected representatives, and to the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences, for whom we manage and operate the APS.”
Argonne Director Robert Rosner participated in a lab-wide meeting held on July 2, 2008, at Fermilab to announce the restored funding. Fermilab Director Pier Oddone hosted the meeting, which also featured comments from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D.-IL) U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R.-IL), U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D.-IL), Acting Deputy Secretary of Energy Jeff Kupfer, and Rosner. To see a video stream of that meeting, click here.