DOE Gives Jefferson Lab a Modest Budget Increase

The Clinton administration has proposed increasing the budget for the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, but not enough to allow the accelerator to operate full time.

The U.S. Department of Energy budget includes $70.6 million for operating Jefferson Lab next year, about $2 million more than the lab received this year, said spokeswoman Linda Ware.

The money would allow scientists to use the accelerator for 5,040 hours next year, about 75 percent of capacity, Ware said. Still, lab Director Hermann Grunder said the budget increase is essential to the lab's successful operation.

"It's still tight, but we can produce great science," he said.

Jefferson Lab's main mission is to help physicists explore the basic structure of the atom. The lab is run by a consortium of universities with money from the Energy Department. The federal government provided $551 million of the $600 million needed to build the lab; the other $49 million came from the state of Virginia and various foreign institutions.

The first laser beam was fired through the accelerator in December 1994, and the first experiments began in November 1995. The lab has never had enough money to operate at full capacity, Ware said.