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FYI Number 92: July 16, 2001

House Appropriators Draft FY 2002 NIST Bill

The House Appropriations Committee has just released its committee report on the Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Bill for FY 2002. House Report 107-139 details the committee's recommendation for the bill H.R. 2500. As explained below, some funding was shifted, or not continued due to project completion. House appropriators recommend "funding to maintain the current level of operations" for NIST core programs, and increased slightly the NIST STRS budgets for the Physics, Materials, and Electronics programs above the request. It agreed, however, with the Bush Administration's request to discontinue FY 2002 Advanced Technology Program funding for new grants. The report language on the National Institute of Standards and Technology follows:

"The Committee recommends a total of $488,996,000 for the appropriations accounts under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for fiscal year 2002. The recommendation is $1,549,000 above the budget request for pay increases and $108,020,000 below the current year level due to two one-time only projects and the discontinuation of the Advanced Technology Program. A description of each account and the Committee recommendation follows:

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES

"The Committee has provided $348,589,000 for the Scientific and Technical Research and Services (core programs) appropriation of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This amount is $36,660,000 above the amount provided in fiscal year 2001 and $1,301,000 above the request. It should be noted that the budget request includes a transfer of $20,000,000 and 154 positions from the Industrial Technology Services account to maintain the same level of research efforts as in the current year for NIST core research, despite the discontinuation of new funding for the Advanced Technology Program.

The Committee notes that, in an era of declining budgets, the core programs of NIST have enjoyed significant support, receiving continued program increases. Overall funding for these programs has grown from $240,000,000 in fiscal year 1995 to $311,929,000 in fiscal year 2001. The Committee understands the importance of the research done by this agency, and recommends funding to maintain the current level of operations. In addition, the Committee, by September 15, 2001, expects NIST to review NOAA's minority serving institutions program and report back to the Committee on NIST's plan to implement a similar program."

INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

"The Committee recommends $119,514,000 for the Industrial Technology Services appropriation of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This amount is $130,771,000 below the current year appropriation and $248,000 above the request.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program--The Committee has included $106,522,000 for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program, $248,000 above the request for pay increases and $1,616,000 above the current year. This recommendation includes the expectation that funding is provided for the existing centers and not for new initiatives.

Advanced Technology Program--The Committee recommendation includes $12,992,000 to fully fund prior year commitments of the Advanced Technology Program. The President's budget proposes to discontinue funding for new grants in fiscal year 2002. The fiscal year 2000 and 2001 House appropriation bills did not include funding for this program and recommended that the ATP program be terminated.

The advocates for the ATP program have always had to answer a number of fundamental questions, such as whether the program achieves results that could not be achieved through the private marketplace; whether it funded technology development and commercialization that would not be undertaken but for the existence of the program; and whether the Federal government should play a role in picking technologies to be developed and then funding that development at substantial government expense.

After many years in existence, the program has not produced a body of evidence to overcome those fundamental questions about whether the program should exist in the first place."

CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES

"The Committee recommendation includes $20,893,000 for construction, renovation, and maintenance of NIST facilities. The recommendation is the same as the amount in the request and $13,909,000 below the current year due to non-recurring projects.

This account supports all NIST activities by providing the facilities necessary to carry out the NIST mission. The Institute has proposed a multiyear effort to renovate NIST's current buildings and laboratory facilities in compliance with more stringent science and engineering program requirements."

H.R. 2500 now goes to the House floor. The Senate Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Subcommittee has not drafted its version of this bill.

Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095


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