Nov 7, 2007

Budget reprieve

By ROGER SNODGRASS Monitor Assistant Editor

House and Senate negotiators gave Los Alamos National Laboratory another month’s extension on current funding levels.

Sen. Pete Domenici participated in the conference committee on the FY2008 Defense Appropriations Bill Tuesday.

He said the conferees agreed to include a continuing resolution that will extend FY2007 funding for the federal government, including LANL, through Dec. 14.

The current funding extension expires Nov. 17.

The $459.3 billion defense spending bill that contains the continuing resolution, must now be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Bush.

The bill contains funding for core Department of Defense operations, but does not include special funding requests for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chris Gallegos, Domenici’s spokesperson, said the continuing resolution sustains FY2007 funding levels for all the federal agencies and programs that have yet to be funded for the current fiscal year.

Domenici announced two extra sweeteners for Los Alamos and the laboratory that were approved in the conference committee.

One was a $4 million item, an additional $1 million over a Senate-passed bill, for a High-Throughput Laboratory Initiative for processing pathogens during emergencies.

The project is a partnership between UCLA and LANL for developing high-throughput laboratories for surge capacity in case of a pandemic or bioterrorist attack.

Caldera Pharmaceuticals of Los Alamos is also involved in a $1.2 million Battlefield Wound Treatment Medicines program, which was approved in conference.

“This program will apply high-speed medical development technology to identify previously unrecognized blood vessel formation properties in existing medicines, which are already demonstrated to be safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” Domenici said in the announcement.


Eric said...

For John Fleck or anyone else knowledgable who may be reading this,

In the land of Continuing Resolutions, where does money come from to pay for the expenditures during the resolution?

Is it just put on the government's credit card?


Anonymous said...

I am not sure that extending the Continuing Resolution is necessarily a good thing. It just prolongs the agony. AND, we are burning payroll funds as time goes on.

On the positive side, this might push the RIF past Christmas.

Anonymous said...

This is a good news/bad news thing. The good news is that apparently someone thinks there is a chance to improve LANL's dismal funding projections for FY'08..

The bad news is that if this doesn't happen, we are another month deeper into debt, spending money at '07 rates as if we had it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, great, let's prolong the agony.

And, great job on keeping us all informed about this, LANS.

Anonymous said...

Wow, $4 million in extra funding! At the rate at which LANL burns through cash for our bloated overhead that will help keep us up and running for another 4 extra days. Hallelujah, we have been saved!

Anonymous said...

$2B budget, 2,000 work hours, that's $1M per hour. $4M lasts one morning.

Typical Congress. Crow about the minuscule amounts while ignoring the gorillas.

Anonymous said...

The way it used to work was that Congress authorizes you to spend money until the actual budget appears.

Then, let's say it's March, halfway through the year, you find out that your project's budget has been cut in half. You've spent all that already because of the guidance to spend as in the year before.

But it's just not possible to fire all those people tomorrow; after all, the project goes on and results and reports are expected, not to mention the requirements for thirty days' notice, etc.

So the Lab's management has to come up with creative ways of, um, moving the money around.

Anonymous said...


We're not talking about a single project having its budget cut in half, we are talking about the entire laboratory having its budget chopped. Moving money around won't help; everybody (except management, of course) will be affected.

Is this concept really that difficult to grasp, or am I just extraordinarily perceptive?

Anonymous said...

Many of the posters here seem to get it. LANL is headed for massive problems with the budget. Playing games with moving pots of money around the lab at this point in time is not the answer. Delaying the fix on our problems for even one more month is only going to make these problems much worse.

And what to we hear from LANS about all this? Absolute silence.

They didn't fix the serious problems involving KSL overcharging and they seem unable to begin fixing any of the current budgetary problems. LANS seem intent on following the same broken record until the floor finally collapses beneath the the feet of the whole workforce.

Anonymous said...

MaRIE will save us!

Anonymous said...

MaRIE: did someone attend yesterdays townhall meeting about MaRIE?

Anonymous said...

Hey Pinkey or da Brain,

How about having a new post dedicated to giving Mikey some creative suggestions as to how to make selections for the RIF. We all know they're going to screw it up so maybe we can help 'em out a bit!

Anonymous said...

Who knows, maybe congress is waking up to what is happening in Pakistan, Iran and the world economy. Maybe they realize that now would be about the worst time in US history(since the cold war) to lower our national defenses by jettisoning our defense scientists and engineers.

It sure is a lot cheaper to just run the printing presses a little longer to keep the labs running, than dealing with the loss of security.

Anonymous said...

The MaRIE town hall meeting was basically and overview of the vision and concept for the new facility.

Double the power of the accelerator, double the number of experimental instruments in the Lujan center, build a new "materials diagnostics hall", upgrade the pRad, etc.

They want to be able to probe the interaction between matter and radiation in extreme pressures and heat at an unprecedented resolution.

This is mainly to better understand the materials that go into making nuclear weapons and the affect of aging, etc., but would also be built to allow outside users to bring science experiments in.

It all sounds wonderful! It's a billion dollar project. Maybe will be the biggest and most important science thing at LANL.

Anonymous said...

7:51, Just multiply one project by the entire Lab. Too hard for you?

Anonymous said...

MaRIE is just an excuse for keeping the beam up and running. DOE has wanted to shut the thing down for several years now and LANS is using the Signature Project as a way to keep it alive for a little longer.

It has little to do with diversifying LANL's portfolio and everything to do about protecting pork programs and the "business as usual" attitude for which LANL management is justly famous.

Anonymous said...

2:01 PM:

"MaRIE is just an excuse for keeping the beam up and running."

OK, so where is your science reason for shutting it down? If it is, or can be made. unique for some specific investigations, why not keep it "up and running'?

An "excuse" is vastly different from a "reason."

Anonymous said...

To answer Eric's original question:

The CR money comes from the U.S. taxpayers.