Buckets of money
Cindy Conger, chief financial officer and head of the Finance Section, wrote this week's column.
In six weeks, the Finance Section, with the help of the divisions and sections, will be closing the books on FY2009, preparing for audit and setting up for FY2010, which will begin on Oct. 1.
One of the most important tasks in the Finance Section is to support our director and his program leaders as they formulate each year's budget. The financial planning for FY2010 began formally in February 2008, with Fermilab presenting its plans to the DOE Office of High Energy Physics. Our plans have since gone through several iterations in response to changing conditions, bringing feelings of possibility and trepidation.
The process will soon come to fruition as Congress will pass, and the President sign, the FY2010 Energy and Water appropriations bill, which will determine DOE OHEP's funding level and ultimately our laboratory's budget.
Fermilab's DOE funding comes in many different buckets, called Budget & Reporting categories. The B&R categories represent the different programs and activities of the laboratory, and also serve to differentiate operating and capital funds within those programs and activities. The 30-plus B&R categories for Fermilab include things like Accelerator Operations, Theoretical Physics, Superconducting RF R&D and NOvA.
Based on the appropriations bill, Fermilab and OHEP agree on the final-funding level for each B&R category. Each of these funding levels is a ceiling in DOE's financial system, and Fermilab may not overrun the budget for any category by even a penny. In addition, funds in one B&R category cannot be spent on activities funded by a different category unless OHEP submits and DOE approves a request to shift funding. This process can take up to two months.
Fermilab's internal budgets are set to ensure that the laboratory stays within the funding levels for all B&R categories. Throughout the year, the Finance Section's Budget Office and the financial managers in the Divisions and Sections monitor the planned budgets against actual expenditures so that we can keep management well-informed.
Everyone involved in the budget process deserves a big thank you for improving our planning and monitoring in the past year. Your efforts make sure that all buckets of money are spent the way they are supposed to be.