Dorfan Today: A Visit to Washington
As outlined in my Today column of April 17th, last week was the time to visit the Administration and Congress to discuss the upcoming 2007 appropriations process and to update Washington on the main elements of the SLAC program.
Persis Drell, Keith Hodgson and I had a very successful series of meetings with key officials who influence science funding for the Nation. Our message was very simple; we thanked those on the Administration side for proposing such a forward-looking, 14.1% increase for the FY2007 Office of Science budget and we encouraged the Legislative side to find the wherewithal to fully fund the President's request. Our encouragement was in support of all sections of the Office of Science budget with no request for additional SLAC funding.
We had an extended audience with eight of the staff from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) along with Joel Parriot, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Examiner who prepares the Office of Science's Presidential budget. In Congress we visited with staff from both the Senate and the House Energy and Water Appropriations Committees, and from the House Science Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. We had extended discussions at the offices of Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Congresspersons Eshoo and Honda.
Those we met from Congress expressed their delight at receiving such a strong FY2007 budget request for the Office of Science. As always, there are political hurdles to clear, but they uniformly expressed their desire to realize full support for the proposal. The levels of funding in the Senate and House Energy and Water appropriations bills are not the same, so the final Energy and Water Bill will have to be worked out in a Conference process. Hopefully this can be achieved well before Congress recesses for the 2007 November elections.
President John Hennessy was also in Washington last week working on behalf of, and strongly supporting, the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) . President Hennessy, head of Government Relations at Stanford Larry Horton, and I were warmly received by the Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, the Office of Science Director Ray Orbach and his deputy James Decker in a 30-minute meeting at DOE headquarters. President Hennessy and I were able to personally thank the Secretary for his prominent positioning of science within the DOE mission and for his FY2007 breakthrough budget proposal for the Office of Science. The Secretary thanked Stanford for carrying such a strong message to Congress in support of President Bush's ACI and the FY2007 budget. Secretary Bodman and Dr. Orbach both expressed their excitement at the future of SLAC, and their deep appreciation for the outstanding manner in which Stanford operates SLAC, noting Stanford's proactive leadership in facilitating large augmentations to the DOE's investments. President Hennessy responded with generous praise for the key role played the Laboratory staff.
It was an excellent three-day visit. Most importantly, I want to leave with you the appreciation and excitement that those in Washington have for our outstanding recent achievements and for the expanded, science-driven program that we have laid out for the future.
Jonathan Dorfan SLAC Today, May 1, 2006