Minutes of USLUA Executive Committee Meeting, April 5, 2019


Rachel Bartek, Sarah Eno, Matthew Feickert, Harvey Newman, Briese Quinn, Salvatore Rappoccio, GianLuca Sabbi, Anthony Timmins, Michael Williams.


  1. Introduction
  2. Update on Annual Meeting
    • Can we confirm October 15-17 at Rice? [These dates were set, after the meeting.]
  3. Remarks on arrangements: local support, lunches, fees, banquet etc. Summer Party at CERN (TBC): June 19 or 20 During ATLAS Week (CMS Week is the following week).
  4. Sending our Community Letters (enclosed) to the Senate and House Appropriations Leaders
  5. Feedback from Appropriations Sub-Committees and Perspective (Breese Quinn)
  6. Feedback on the DC 2019 Trip: US LUA members on the trip who have not yet reported
  7. Follow-up with visits to district offices
  8. Discussion
  9. AOB

Minutes (note action items in bold):

  1. Introduction:
  • Harvey: we will start with planning for upcoming events (annual meeting and summer party at CERN) and community letters. Then the main focus for this meeting will be on the outcome of the DC trip, with feedback from participants, discussion and follow-up.
  1. Annual meeting organization:
  • Anthony:
    • Proposed dates are October 15-17, with our executive committee meeting and a social gathering the evening of the 15th, followed by full-day meetings the 16th and 17th.
    • Rice has been very supportive and offered to cover the rooms and coffee breaks – possibility to reduce the feeds from to 200$ to 150-180$ [Thanks to Paul Padley.]
  • GianLuca
    • Annual High Luminosity LHC meeting will be at Fermilab in the same week. This is the main meeting of the international collaboration, so it may impact the availability of AUP members and management to participate in the USLUA meeting. But it should still be possible to deliver the presentation on AUP status and have some participation from the accelerator side.
  • Harvey
    • Considering the various constraints on the schedule and good progress with this plan, we go forward with the proposed dates and location.
  1. Summer party
  • Proposed dates June 19 or 20 during the ATLAS week. CMS week is the following week so this period should be a good choice to maximize participation.
  1. Sending our Community Letters (enclosed) to the Senate and House Appropriations Leaders
  • Leland said time is now
  • [Prisca Cushman, DPF Exec Committee Chair signed the letters and we sent them
    out shortly after the meeting]
  1. Feedback from Appropriations Sub-Committees and Perspective (Breese)
  • Breese had a total of 42 meetings for the trip including 35 congressional offices and 7 with subcommittee staff. Broad distribution of hosts from both house and senate. Focus on chairs and members of appropriations sub-committees for DOE (energy and water) and NSF (commerce, justice and science) and also authorizations sub-committees.
  • Main comments, questions and general feedback from the meetings:
    • HEP is the “gold standard” on how to manage programs and held as an example to other fields;
    • many would like to know the split of funding between DOE and NSF, both for projects and university grants ;
    • questions about the next phase of program reviews, whether it is a review of P5, a new P5, Snowmass etc. – this is actually a recurring question since the last couple of years and we need to put together a response.
      • Sarah: there is an understanding that DOE and NSF are not in favor of this, was this communicated to the offices?
      • Breese: no, since delegation was not authorized to discuss, but yes for various reasons DOE and NSF are not in favor of starting this process in the near term. Nevertheless some answer has to be prepared.
    • A congressional budget agreement will be essential in order to move forward the process: community should help advocating for it
    • Many staff and members are very concerned about the president’s budget request of a 20% funding cut and would like to know specifically what would be the consequences. In this context, there are also more general concerns about how we do budget cycles: agencies have to plan to the president’s request and then later when appropriation cycle is done they have to adjust back to higher numbers and this causes disruptive program planning.
  • Specific points from individual committees
    • There is somewhat different point of view between the House and Senate Energy and Water appropriations sub-committees, which are by far the most important for us.
    • On the house side, (a) asked about the research fraction and whether it is sufficient. This not only from members who worry about support for work in their district, but also House EW staff insist on need to maintain 40% research level called for in P5. They are concerned about running the experiments and getting the science out, and also workforce development
    • Harvey: this point needs to be reported in full to the next HEPAP on May 30-31. Note that (a) looking at the budget planning presentation from Alan Stone at the last meeting, the research funding in dollars is lower than it was in 2010; (b) there are some questions on how research funding is defined, in particular new initiatives like quantum information science is considered core research; SBIR seems to be included as well.
    • Also on the house side, democrat staff wanted to make clear that there would not be significant increases like in the past few years, democrats have different priorities. Expect flat, possibly a cut or at most inflation adjustment
    • On the Senate side, very different picture mainly because of Senator Alexander (Chair of the Senate Energy and Water sub-committee) push for funding at the National Labs. However, he will be retiring in two years. But staff is more optimistic about funding. This was reinforced by Sen. Shelby (Chair of Appropriations committee) who said they would like to maintain strong support for science.
    • Harvey: in addition to the meeting minutes, it would be useful to prepare a brief summary of these points to bring to the HEPAP meeting.
  1. Additional feedback on the DC 2019 Trip: US LUA members on the trip
  • Matthew:
    • First time on the trip, everything went well and was generally impressed with the organization and the coordinated effort; the information packet was very useful, the offices were particularly interested in the district-by-district sheets on funding and purchases by the programs. Staffers said it was very useful information to them, and would go to congressional representative. For the future we should try to add as much information as possible at the individual district level including students, funding, PhD coming out of those regions will be useful.
  • Rachel
    • Also was on the trip for the first time. She agrees that the district sheets helped things go smoothly and feel prepared despite being a primary on the very first meetings. One particular challenge was that there was historic flooding in her home state of Nebraska, for this kind of situation it would be useful to get some advice on how to acknowledge the emergency while getting the points across.
  • Sal
    • Has been on many (8) of the previous trips. For the first time he was not able to talk with staffers in some of the offices, these were mostly new members and just trying to get up to speed. Also in some case both congressman and staffers were back in their districts since congress was not in session (Breese: when dates of the trip were decided congress was scheduled to be in session, it changed after the shutdown. Harvey: This was still the “right” week as programmatic requests from Congressional offices to the appropriations committees were due right after, or shortly after the trip)
    • Aside from that, generally positive feedback and support for the ask, different from what Breese reported (Breese: this is mainly due to different long standing positions from the two parties both support science but democrats give priority to applied science vs. fundamental science for republicans.
    • Sam agrees but thinks we can make progress working with individual offices, many if which are in strong support of HEP. This is of course particularly true in districts that receive strong funding e.g. New York and Massachusetts, Illinois etc. and this applies to both sides
    • Recommends more sustained discussions and interactions with the offices in between trips
  • Harvey
    • Generally supporting feedback from all meetings with the possible exception of Grace Meng (D-NY) who had some concerns about specific support to her district.
    • For the agency meetings: Steve Binkley (DOE SC Deputy Director) reiterated that P5 is the gold standard and the office of HEP does a great job of presenting P5 to the office of science. They discuss the concern about the research fraction and he is aware of it.
    • Meeting with OMB and OSTP representatives (a new OSTP director was recently appointed). Generally positive feedback; but support for fundamental science is now closely tied to applications and public-private partnerships, so that’s where the discussion needs to focus. OSTP asked about the next P5, similar to what was mentioned by Breese.
    • NSF meeting was held at the URA and was also very positive. One point to note is that while DOE has activities in 34% of the districts, for NSF the fraction is 86%. From that point of view there is a substantial benefit
    • At the DOE, Jim Siegrist could not attend but met with Mike Procario and Alan Stone. Alan had a specific comment that we are in 5th year of the 10 year plan and we should start the process toward some new project starts, but it takes several years for this to take place, and therefore it should start soon.
  • Sal: there has been discussion about having the next Snowmass in 2021-22, and this is related to the European strategy timeline; that report is planned to be out in May 2020.  [After the meeting: DPF Executive Committee is planning for the start of Snowmass for the Summer of 2021.]
  • Breese: the problem with this argument in congress is that it comes across as not leading, waiting for the international community to tell us what to do
  • Harvey: if we bring up new project, does it mean that we have a new top priority? This is not the message that we want to send as both HL-LHC and the neutrino program are 20+ year projects and still the highest priorities. The focus of the first P5 was on being able to converge on priorities and start new projects, but for the next one will have to be different. Need to transition the 20 year vision which was in the first P% toward a specific plan for the second 10 years.
  • Sal: would it be acceptable to state that the current plan is successful and propose a continuation without significant changes?
  • Breese: In principle yes but it has to come out from a formal and credible review process. The review should include some analysis of the results so far and how they are being used to plan the next steps, and also include a timeline and steps for coming up with the plan for the next phase. P5 implementation started one year after the report, so the new plan is needed by 2023. But the P5 review should happen before the next DC trip.
  • Gordon: there are three connected points being discussed, Snowmass, P5 and how to communicate with Congress. There is already a plan for Snowmass and P5 would build on that. Timing is tricky but the perhaps what’s important right now is to make sure that both HEPAP and DPF committees are informed about these concerns. Like for the current plan it is essential to build a community consensus and that requires both Snowmass and P5 with adequate time allocated to each.
  • Harvey: we need to bring these points to the next HEPAP meeting in May and this needs to be prepared with discussion with the various stakeholders between now and then.
  1. Follow-up with visits to district offices
  • We have a general action item as a follow up to the DC trip to ask members to contact their district offices. Most important will be to contact the Democrat members of the House Energy and Water subcommittee, as well as congressmen who have been traditionally supportive of science.
  • Another item will be to follow up on Dear Colleague letters. It seemed that response was very good, we should try to find out more details on how many signed and who signed.
  1. Discussion/AOB
  • Comments are included in each section