Director’s Message: When it comes to budget, patience and perseverance are key
President Trump made public his first federal budget blueprint. As is typical in the federal budget process, this initial document does not contain a lot of detail but is instead an outline that enables the administration to signal their priorities and influence policy directions. Although the blueprint is the first step in a long budget process, it proposes reductions to the budgets of the Department of Energy and other agencies.
While I understand that this news can be sobering or unsettling, I encourage you to keep in mind a few things. First, as I mentioned, the president’s budget blueprint begins a multi-step process that includes the release of the President’s Budget Request in May, the U.S. House and Senate formulating their respective budget resolutions and appropriations bills, reconciliation by a conference committee and final signature by the president. It will likely be many months before we learn the final budget numbers.
Second, please be assured that Argonne leaders continue to engage with our stakeholders.
Keeping the Lab and its employees at the forefront is our number one priority as we share the story of Argonne’s important, multifaceted research and our mission to enable energy breakthroughs, solve great mysteries and empower researchers with unique tools. Since the beginning of the year, other Lab leaders and I have spent considerable time in Washington working with our sponsors in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and other programs, to understand their priorities and keep Argonne top of mind.
Via the National Laboratory Directors Council (NLDC) and the DOE Big Ideas Summit, I also have had a chance to meet new Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. In his address to employee and contractors and other public engagements, Secretary Perry has shown great support for the national labs, calling us “extraordinary resources” that can “literally change the world.” The Secretary also has asked for the labs’ ideas about maximizing the effectiveness of the DOE. A letter from the NLDC to Secretary Perry served to get that conversation started.
Finally, when contemplating our budget outlook, remember that Argonne has endured numerous changes and many scenarios over its 70 years. As in years past, the most important action we can take is to continue our important work and focus on doing it well and safely. Continuing to deliver on our mission promises is always the most effective course of action toward protecting the longevity and legacy of our Lab, and our commitment to both quality and safety underscores the value we provide.
I appreciate your support and your dedication to Argonne, and I welcome your feedback on how I am doing. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, starting next Monday, March 20, and every Monday from 8:30 to 10 a.m., you can join me in Bistro 213 for what I am calling “Conversations with Kearns.” I—and my colleagues in senior leadership who plan to join me from time to time—look forward to hearing the ideas and concerns you bring to this informal weekly gathering.