budgets forced some facilities to reduce their hours of operation. 2 In 1996, to increase both operating time and staffing levels, DOE received extra funding through a special facilities initiative.3 As a result of this initiative, for example, the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne National Laboratory reported that beam time available to users increased by 50%.4 More recently, strains on steward budgets have been addressed by a novel cost-sharing arrangement between DOE and NIH for an upgrade of the core at SSRL and NSLS that was the result of interagency cooperation on issues of mutual concern (Service, 1999) (see Box 4.1). However, while ad hoc solutions to recurring problems have appeared in the past, they do not resolve what seems certain to be a continuing problem.

Given the desirable characteristics of the current simple steward and steward-partner models, the committee believes their basic outlines should be retained. However, there are issues arising from budgetary constraints and changes in the user communities that transcend the purview of any single steward agency. There is, therefore, a need for stability in steward-partner agency coordination.5 In this chapter the committee articulates the elements of the basic steward-partner model, along with a proposed mechanism to enhance interagency cooperation. The committee calls this the cooperative stewardship model.


There are two components to multidisciplinary user facilities: the core of the facility and the individual experimental units, and this division leads to a natural division of management responsibilities (Box 4.2). Responsibility for the core components should reside with the steward. Responsibility for the experimental units, including the training and support of new users, could also reside with the steward; alternatively, it could reside with the sponsors of the experimental units, the partners, which could be either other government agencies or organizations in the private sector.

For synchrotron radiation facilities, the core includes the storage ring, the injector, and the buildings that house the facility; for neutron sources it includes the reactor or spallation source, the guidehalls, and the buildings; for the magnet lab it is the high-field magnets. The steward’s responsibility for the core includes construction, operation, research and development, upgrades, central support laboratories, staffing, and training.


Facility operating budgets are dominated by fixed expenses; a relatively small proportion of the budgets is discretionary spending, which affects the services users care most about. When overall budgets are reduced, user services are affected disproportionately.


DOE’s Basic Energy Sciences Division, the steward of many of the user facilities, received an increase of some $57 million per year for the facilities, a substantial portion of which went into facility operating budgets. A smaller portion was used to upgrade experimental instrumentation and to fund competitive research proposals. Iran Thomas, DOE, personal communication, June 1999.


Bruce Brown, IPNS, in a presentation to the committee.


Several recent reports have called for greater interagency cooperation to increase operating efficiency at the facilities. See, for example, Structural Biology Synchrotron Users Organization (1997) and BESAC (1997).

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