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SLAC Users Organization Delegates Visit Washington, DC

(Photo - user organization delegates at the capitol building in DC)
User organization delegates from SLAC, Fermilab and the US Large Hadron Collider in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy the SLAC Users Organization.)

February 24–26, 2010, 34 delegates from the SLAC Users Organization, Fermilab Users' Executive Committee and the US Large Hadron Collider Users Organization visited 173 congressional offices in Washington, DC. The delegation also met with representatives from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Department of Energy Undersecretary for Science, DOE Office of Science for High Energy Physics, the National Science Foundation Physics Division, as well as with the Office of Management and Budget.

The 10-member SLUO delegation represented that part of the high energy physics community associated with SLAC research. Acting as private citizens, the delegates expressed thanks to the members of Congress for their past support of science and requested continued support for high energy physics research through the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Science Foundation in the proposed 2011 budget to Congress. The delegates also requested support for this year's reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, which (when first passed in 2007) authorized a doubling of the DOE, NSF and National Institute of Standards and Technologies budgets over a ten-year period. The delegates brought a message of the exciting and relevant nature of their basic research programs, the wide range of applications from the field benefitting society at large as well as the central role our field plays in educating the next generation of innovators.

"We were extremely happy with the performance of the entire delegation," said William Lockman, co-organizer of the SLUO DC trip volunteer effort. "Their message was clearly and enthusiastically delivered and well received. Essentially, we presented the case that funding basic research is a good investment of taxpayer dollars, from the advancement of knowledge to the profound applications from our field benefitting society."

Feedback from the offices visited was very positive for the most part. There was strong interest in the science research we conduct, the benefits from our research, and our role as educators, and the delegation was urged to continue outreach to Congress and the general public. The delegation recognizes that a fundamentally important aspect of the advocacy process is the relationship between the science community and the congressional office. While the main focus of this advocacy effort is the DC trip, it is truly a year round activity. In that spirit, the scientists continue their advocacy as private citizens by writing letters and visiting congressional offices throughout the year. This is important because there is an increasing sentiment in Congress for cutting back on discretionary programs such as science funding to help bring the budget deficit under control. This is one of the issues being grappled with in recent days with the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. This trip was paid for from non-DOE funds.

—Lisa Kaufman and William Lockman
SLAC Today, June 9, 2010