UEC Actions With Regard to the FY07 Office of Science Budget
by John Hill
Both Brant Johnson and I felt that in this climate of uncertain funding for the D.O.E. Office of Science and Brookhaven Lab. there were many actions that the User's Executive Committee (UEC) of the RHIC-AGS User's Group could take to influence the funding situation in a positive manner. The 2007 President's Budget for the Office of Science was very favorable. This was partly due to the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) from the Administration and to the actions of Secretary Bodman. During that period Brant initiated a series of "three chair's visits" in Washington to officials of both OMB and OSTP to inform them of the importance of research in the physical sciences. In addition I asked a group of RHIC users to request their University Presidents to write Secretary Bodman requesting support for the Office of Science budget. Eight university presidents sent letters.
The FY2007 budget from the U.S. House was very favorable. Through the APS Office of Public Affairs we sent 50 letters (out of a total of 85) thanking House members for the favorable budget. A problem arose on the Senate side with the High Energy Density (HED) initiative that would remove $20 million from the Office of Science Nuclear Physics budget thus eliminating a RHIC Run-7. The UEC composed a letter to Senators asking them to eliminate HED. I began a series of consultations with Mike Lubell of APS Public Affairs. This resulted in conversations with key Senate staffers concerning possible damage from HED. With the result of the November elections the HED problem evaporated and no further action by the UEC was needed.
The next problem had to do with the possibility of a Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY07 that would hold Office of Science funding to FY06 levels thus eliminating any chance for a Run-7 at RHIC. Our first action was to ask key RHIC users to write or call and ask their Senators to sign the Alexander/Bingaman letter of January 2007. In a very short time 45 Senators had signed the letter. We feel this was a key factor in the good budget increases for the Office of Science. This occurred in spite of the fact that most programs were held to FY06 spending levels.
Now that funding for FY07 is favorable, the UEC is turning its attention to the FY08 budget, although we still don't know the full impact of the continuing resolution for FY07 on, for example, the EBIS and PHENIX VTX projects. However, we need to thank Congress for the favorable FY07 budget and you will be hearing from the UEC on how you can help. The next very important step will be to request Senators to sign the FY08 Alexander/Bingaman letter requesting support for the Office of Science.
A very important factor in the success of our efforts has been the good relations we have established with Steve Pierson and Mike Lubell in the APS Public Affairs Office in Washington and with Marge Lynch of BNL's Assistant Laboratory Director for Community, Education, Government & Public Affairs. I wish to thank them for the help they have given us in all of these efforts.