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From the Director:  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

(Photo - Persis Drell)

Last week Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This bill is intended to provide a stimulus to the U.S. economy in the wake of the recent economic downturn. It includes federal tax cuts, expansion of unemployment benefits and other social welfare provisions, and domestic spending in education, health care, infrastructure and science. Of direct relevance to SLAC, the bill contains a $1.6 billion investment in the Department of Energy Office of Science.

We in lab management do not yet know the specifics of the bill and how the funds will be deployed, but we are hopeful that funds will be allocated to SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to support the completion of the suite of instruments for the Linac Coherent Light Source in a timely fashion, and for projects in accelerator research for high energy physics. We are also hoping to get funding for some site improvements that could be in a wide range of areas, from site cleanup to some modest space renovations and network upgrades.

It is imperative that the lab use these funds wisely, productively and rapidly, in full support of the intent of the bill. There is no question that science broadly in the U.S. and specifically at SLAC will benefit from these investments in both the near and the long term. This is very good news.

In another important event, Secretary Chu recently outlined his Goals and Targets to Direct FY2010 Budgets and Stimuluss for the Department of Energy, and he listed as his first priority: science and discovery.

The lab will have more excitement in the weeks to come. It is anticipated that we will have a fiscal year 2009 budget in the next few weeks. (The current continuing resolution extends through the first week of March.) And we should hear about the President's FY10 budget soon as well. I am optimistic that good news will follow good news as we take important steps, to quote from the President Obama's inauguration speech, "to restore science to its rightful place."

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, February 20, 2009