A year of budget uncertainty buys another round

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By Roger Snodgrass

It was a roller-coaster year for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s financial outlook.Coming off a season of belt-tightening under new management, the laboratory looked forward to a flat budget, at worst, for 2008.Then the situation started looking bleaker from the lab’s perspective, followed by a tantalizing ray of hope that slowly clouded over again. The drama went down to the wire.The Congressional elections of 2006 gave Democrats a reason to resist Republican funding bills until after the votes were in and the Democrats won nominal majorities in both chambers. But their margin in the Senate was only one vote, not enough to leverage major shifts in priorities.This year’s budget (FY07) wasn’t decided until the end of January. The Democrat’s narrow advantage and mutual blame for the delay reduced many issues to the status quo for the 2007 fiscal year, ending Sept. 30.There would be no need for layoffs this year, according to commitments from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., in January.In June, House appropriators fashioned a budget to fund the Department of Energy and national laboratories from Oct. 1, 2007 to Sept. 30, 2008, that yanked LANL’s chain, cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from Los Alamos programs and projects.A comment by Rep.

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