The South Dakota Legislature created the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) in 2004 to foster scientific and technological investigation, experimentation and development. A six-member board of directors appointed by the governor of South Dakota directs the SDSTA.
The SDSTA's first task has been to reopen the Homestake gold mine to the 4,850-foot level for scientific research. The mine was closed in 2003. In 2006, the SDSTA Board of Directors accepted Homestake Mining Company's donation of the underground mine and 186 surface acres. A document called the Property Donation Agreement (PDA) dictates the terms of that gift. Also in 2006, the SDSTA accepted a $70 million gift from South Dakota philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who stipulated that $20 million of the donation be used for a Sanford Science Education Center on the laboratory's campus. Both donations were contingent upon the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) selection of Homestake as the preferred site for a national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL).
The NSF made that selection on July 10, 2007, which triggered the SDSTA's reopening of Homestake. In December 2010, the NSF decided to halt continued funding of designs for DUSEL; however, within months the Department of Energy (DOE) took over sponsorship of the project. The DOE's approach to underground science at Homestake differs signifcantly from the DUSEL plan, but it does include support for current experiments and continued study of the feasibility of longer term research. DOE began funding daily operations at the Sanford Lab in fiscal year 2012, through an agreement between the SDSTA and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), which oversees the project for the DOE.
The SDSTA completed construction of laboratories on the 4850 Level in May 2012. The Davis Campus—named for the late Ray Davis, who pioneered neutrino research at Homestake—is now home to two experiments: the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter detector and the Majorana Demonstrator neutrinoless double-beta decay experiment. Those experiments will begin taking data in 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, the SDSTA is working with LBNL, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, DOE and NSF on proposals for additional experiments at the Sanford Lab.
The SDSTA also is continuing planning for the Sanford Center for Science Education and testing pilot education programs.
The SDSTA Board of Directors meets quarterly at the Sanford Lab.