Sanford Lab submits $20M budget - Black Hills Pioneer: Local News

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Sanford Lab submits $20M budget

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Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2013 6:00 am

LEAD — The Sanford Lab’s $20 million budget for 2014 includes operations dollars of $12.7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, $2 million in state dollars, $3.8 million from T. Denny Sanford’s gift, and a few miscellaneous funding sources that are mostly related to ongoing or planned experiments at the lab.

Sanford Lab Executive Director Mike Headley reported that this year’s federal funding request is $240,000 less than it was last year. The decrease is mostly due to reductions in non-labor expenses and some personnel changes such as retired employees and administration shifts.

U.S. Department of Energy provides operations funding for the Sanford Underground Research Facility up to $15 million per year. Those funds are funneled through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which oversees operations at the Lead facility. Most of those operations dollars are in salaries, and Headley said the lab tries to operate as efficiently as possible.

“We did a review in August 2012 with an independent panel from the Department of Energy and they reviewed our operations costs,” Headley said. “We went through every single person of our 127 employees. We went through what every single person was doing and all of the money that we are spending on non-labor items and their expert opinion was that you are as lean as you can be, and do an incredible job.”

Headley also said representatives from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory also conduct regular budget reviews.

“The comments are always that they can’t identify any areas where there are items that can be cut,” Headley said.

The total 2014 budget includes $5.8 million in capital improvements to the Ross and Yates Shafts. The improvements have been planned, and officials say they are critical to providing personnel and equipment access into the underground campus. During the last legislative session, the lab asked the state to contribute a $2 million targeted investment to rehabilitate the Ross Shaft in order to make the Sanford Lab more favorable to larger experiments that would need greater access. Those dollars are being combined with remaining money from T. Denny Sanford’s gift to improve infrastructure at the former gold mine for deep lab access.

Of the $5.8 million total project cost for shaft rehabilitation, $2.3 million will be spent on personnel with the S.D. Science and Technology Authority. The projects to rehabilitate the Yates and Ross Shafts are currently in progress.

Miscellaneous funds that make up approximately $1.7 million of the Sanford Lab’s budget come from a variety of sources, Headley said. Most of those include compensation the lab receives for engineering, design work or operational support that it does for experiments like the LUX dark matter detector, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE), or the Dual Ion Accelerator for Nuclear Astrophysics (DIANA).

The S.D. Science and Technology Authority board passed the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s 2014 budget in June. However, federal allocations are still uncertain as Congress wrestles with its 2014 budget, which begins in October. The Senate has proposed $15 million that would go to the Sanford Underground Research Facility, including the cost for oversight by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, while the House has proposed $12 million, but negotiations continue. If Congress fails to pass a budget, as in previous years, the Sanford Underground Research Facility will still receive support as an existing project, though funding levels would depend entirely on what is defined in the continuing resolution.

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