President’s Budget for FY2014
April 15, 2013
There are relatively few years when the President proposes and Congress - the House of Representatives and the Senate - concurs, and a complete budget for the country is passed before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) has proven to be more difficult than usual. A continuing resolution was passed for the first half of the year, through the end of March. This kept the government operating with budget allocations based on the prior year (FY12) appropriations. On Jan. 2, we anticipated and prepared for the fiscal cliff and sequestration (a mechanism for automatic cuts) and we are now in a second continuing resolution that is intended to go to the end of FY13.
Uncertainties have persisted and some very dire things have happened. There have been some very difficult reductions in some areas of the government. One example, which would be amusing were it not for the implied pain to many, is that there are fewer people available to perform security checks at the entrances to the Senate and House office buildings. The lines of people waiting to get to see the legislators, at 9 a.m., now stretch around the buildings.
As we have indicated, the exact impacts on Jefferson Lab, and what action beyond prudence with our expenditures that we might need to take, are still not known.
In more normal years, the President often uses the State of the Union address in January to feature some of his fiscal proposals for the subsequent year, in this case FY14. This is something on which we provide input a full year previously in our February briefings to the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics. This year, the rollout was delayed and it was only on Wednesday of last week that we heard about the contents of the FY14 President’s Budget. The comparisons are made with the previous appropriation, which was in FY12. (As we have just discussed, FY13 does not yet provide a base.)
What we found (http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2013/04/obamas-2014-science-budget.html#DOE2) was a proposal that the Office of Science budget be increased by 5.7 percent. Nuclear Physics would be slated to receive an increase of 4.6 percent. The number seems to correspond fairly closely with the FY14 Modest Growth scenario advanced by the Tribble subcommittee and endorsed by the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee.
Closer to home, and following discussions with the Office of Nuclear Physics, the numbers in the different categories for Jefferson Lab correspond rather closely to the guidance we were asked to use in lieu of a published President’s Budget in our Feb. 5 briefing to the Office of Nuclear Physics. The reduction in the 12 GeV Upgrade Project funding, as we pass its peak year, is offset by the recognition that we turn our hands and heads to commissioning the accelerator.
An old proverb states, “There is many a slip twixt cup and lip.” There will be many debates, deliberations and discussions before we see an enacted budget. Nevertheless, the start point is encouraging.