Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary unveiled the Clinton Administration's proposed DOE budget for Fiscal Year 1996 on February 6. Although the overall budget of $17.8 billion represented a small increase from the $17.5 billion appropriated for FY95, the Secretary called this new budget a "platform" that sets the stage for substantial reductions in the future.
"This is a big day for us in the Department of Energy and a big day for our stakeholders. We have proved we can deliver more for less, and this makes it possible for DOE to contribute $10.6 billion toward President Clinton's plan to provide tax relief to middle-income working taxpayers and to reduce the budget," O'Leary said in a prepared statement. "DOE is able to bring the largest federal agency contribution to the table because in the last two years we have shown we can work smarter, cut waste, bring down costs, and focus resources on our critical national security, technology, environmental and energy issues."
The DOE contribution referred to by the Secretary is a series of proposed reductions scheduled to take place over the next five years. These reductions would include cutbacks of $4.4 billion in environmental cleanup programs and $1.2 billion in applied sciences research, plus $2.8 billion in savings from the realignment of DOE operations, $1.6 billion from the privatization of the Naval Petroleum Reserves at Elk Hills, Calif., and $400 million from the sale of "blended down" weapons-grade uranium as commercial reactor fuel.
Given the current funding climate in Washington, the science and technology segment of the proposed DOE budget fared reasonably well, showing a $100 million increase from $2.7 to $2.8 billion. Basic energy sciences were selected to receive the lion's share of this boost, from $733,940,000 to $811,419,000 or a gain of $77,479,000.
In unveiling the proposed budget, the Secretary expressed her personal support for renaming DOE the "Department of Energy, Science and Technology." In her statement, she reiterated her support, saying: "Maintaining scientific and technological preeminence is vital to maintaining U.S. economic performance in the world economy."
Included in the proposed budget for DOE's Office of Energy Research (the primary funding agency for LBL) was a $100 million presidential initiative to increase the operating funds of DOE's basic research facilities (such as the Advanced Light Source). An additional $50 million was provided for high energy physics to help get research programs "back on course," the Secretary said, after the termination of the SSC. There was also a request for $8 million to begin conceptual design for an accelerator-based neutron source that could replace the Advanced Neutron Source that had been previously proposed for Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The proposed DOE budget for FY96 has been sent with the rest of President Clinton's $1.6 trillion budget to Congress, where it is almost certain to be modified.