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Fermilab | Batavia, IL | USA

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Proposed FY2011 budget cut would be tough on Fermilab

 The House will vote on Thursday on FY2011 budget appropriations bill that slashes the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and thus high-energy physics funding by 20 percent, even as the President’s FY2012 budget shows support for science with relatively flat funding.

If the FY2011 cuts are enacted, they could force 400 layoffs and two months of furloughs at Fermilab, Director Pier Oddone said in a meeting with laboratory staff, which you can view here.

Several area newspapers and blogs have written about the House proposal and its potential impacts. See stories in Crain’s Chicago Business, Science Insider, Patch.com, Cosmic Variance, and Physics and Physicists

Oddone addressed the dire situation of the FY2011 budget in his column in Fermilab Today Tuesday.

The proposed cuts for Office of Science are a stunning 20 percent. Because we will be six months into the fiscal year by the time the final FY11 budget is passed, this would amount to a 40 percent cut for the remaining of the year and would be catastrophic not only for our laboratory but for all Office of Science labs. It would stop the operation of user facilities and lead to major layoffs and furloughs. We are working with our representatives to explain the consequences of such cuts on us, on the standing of our nation in science and innovation, and on how we will be viewed by our international partners.

Congressional actions so far seem to reflect a misunderstanding of the role of the Office of Science within a generally supportive atmosphere for science and innovation as demonstrated by the bi-partisan support of the America Competes Act. The Office of Science is the main agency for physical science research in our nation and indispensable in the overall framework of scientific research. It provides the main user facilities such as ours at Fermilab, the light sources, neutron sources, electron microscopes, nanoscience centers and large computational facilities that support scientific research and innovation carried out by thousands of people in universities and industries. Without the Office of Science, the scientific enterprise in our country would be crippled.

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