What will be the FY09 budget?
That's the billion dollar question. Well, not quite. In fiscal year 2008, high-energy physics received $689 million, a reduction of 8.4 percent compared to FY07. The cuts led to staff reductions at several Department of Energy national laboratories, including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California.
On June 4, Dennis Kovar, acting director for High Energy Physics at the DOE Office of Science, spoke at the Fermilab Users' meeting. His office is working with the national laboratories and universities to mitigate the effects of the funding cuts.
"High-energy physics is at a productive and exciting period today, but the circumstances are challenging," he said. "As you know the funding has had a significant impact."
Speaking in front of approximately 300 scientists, Kovar said that the high-energy physics community must be prepared for a continuing resolution that could last six months, beginning October 1.
"The '09 appropriation is pivotal," said Kovar. "If, in fact, [the budget for 2008] becomes the basis, it will significantly affect what [research] can be done."
Kovar went on to talk about the recommendations released by the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel to the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation on May 28 in a report entitled A Strategic Plan for the next 10 years (PDF). Whether these recommendations will be implemented depends on how much federal funding high-energy physics research will receive in the upcoming years and the decisions made by DOE and NSF.
"Today, the US is one of the leaders [in high-energy physics] for sure. The opportunities for the future have been laid out in various reports. There was a need for a realistic strategic plan," said Kovar. He added, "This plan appears to be realistic and robust, with the flexibility to adapt to new information and circumstances."
Here is a link to the PowerPoint file of Kovar's talk.
See all reports from the Fermilab Users' Meeting 2008 here.