7. The FY2006 Budget
(J. R. Beene)
The budget for HRIBF operations and for the HRIBF-based low energy research program for fiscal 2006 has proved to be much more austere than was anticipated at the time of our last Newsletter. The FY2006 budgets for Nuclear Physics adopted by the Congress turned out to be at the level of the President's Budget, and therefore well below the levels in the bills initially passed by either the Senate or the House. The PresidentŐs Budget for Nuclear Physics as a whole was 8.4% below the FY2005 budget. A 1% across the board rescission has since been added. The HRIBF budgets fared slightly better than average, but the effect is still disastrous. The HRIBF operations budget is reduced by 7.8%, while the fixed costs of operations are up more than 6% compared to FY2005. Fixed costs include staff salaries, so-called "background" power costs, and a few other recurring contract costs, and amount to about 90% of the HRIBF operations budget for this year. These fixed costs do not include the direct costs of operating the accelerators for experiments, consequently the funds remaining after fixed costs are highly leveraged in terms of their impact on our ability to deliver beam to experiments. The funds remaining for operations after fixed costs are met will be on the order of half as large as in FY2004 and FY2005. Clearly this will have substantial impact. With adequate funding we expected to continue the steady increase in RIB hours delivered to experiments that we had achieved over the last several years (reaching ~1700 hours in FY2004 before the increase was interrupted by the impact of HPTL completion and maintenance issues). That will clearly not be possible. A more realistic goal under the limitations imposed by the FY2006 budget will be ~1200 hours of RIB on target, and even that will stress us to the limit.
As bad as the impact of the FY2006 budget is on HRIBF operations, the impact on the low-energy research program is much worse. The FY2005 low energy budget was not adequate to cover staff salaries. The existence of a modest carry-over from previous years, some support from HRIBF operations as well as several small addition sources of short-term funds made it possible for us to survive the year without loss of staff. The additional cut of 7% in FY2006, together with no carry-over funds and no hope of help from the already strapped operations budget leaves us in desperate shape. We are far short of meeting even our staff cost, even if optimistic assumptions are made concerning our ability to generate additional short-term funds. This is before any expenses for actually doing research are considered. At this point, a reduction in low energy research staff at HRIBF of at least 20% seems inevitable. This will not only severely impact our in-house research programs, but will also impact the level of service we can provide to outside users of the HRIBF.