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FYI Number 140: November 19, 2001

FY 2002 Appropriation for National Institute of Standards and Technology

Late last week, the House and Senate completed work on the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Bill for FY 2002. The budgets for the physics-related in-house laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology did not increase significantly. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership program received a somewhat higher boost, while the Advanced Technology Program budget rose by almost 27%.

The Bush Administration sought an increase of 11.3% to $347.3 million in the NIST Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) budget that provides funding for the in-house laboratories and Baldrige National Quality Program. The House and Senate differed in their response to the Administration's request. House appropriators provided $1.3 million more than the request, while the Senate reduced it by approximately $4 million. The final conference report settled on a $9.2 million, or 2.9% increase above the previous budget to $321.1 million.

Within the STRS account, the Physics lab budget increased 1.1% or $359,000 to $33,054,000. The Material Sciences and Engineering budget increased 0.24% or $135,000 to $56,532,000. The budget for the Electronics and Electrical Engineering lab increased 1.2% or $489,000 to $41,286,000.

The Senate diverged significantly from the Administration and House in how it treated the FY 2002 budget for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). ATP was started during the administration of the first President Bush, and has been an on-and-off target for downsizing or elimination since then. The Administration requested an almost 92% cut in ATP, and would have suspended new awards in FY 2002 while the Commerce Department reevaluated the program. House appropriators concurred, stating in their mid-July report that the program had "not produced a body of evidence to overcome . . . fundamental questions about whether the program should exist in the first place."

This could have been the beginning of the end for ATP if it had not been for the change in the majority party in the Senate. Following Senator James Jeffords' (I-VT) decision to leave the Republican Party, control of the Senate Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Subcommittee went to Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC). Hollings was a founder of ATP, and while he was successful in preventing attempts to kill the program when the Democrats were in the minority, he also had the support of a Democratic president who favored ATP. The situation earlier this year was much less promising for ATP. Hollings' appropriations subcommittee released its own bill shortly after that of the House, and it fully funded the program. Last week, Congress voted its approval of the FY 2002 conference report, which increased the ATP budget by 26.9%, or $39.1 million to $184.5 million. With a carryover from last year, ATP funding will total $217.6 million. There is bill language designating $60.7 million of that amount "for new ATP awards."

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership program budget increases 2.2% or $2.3 million to $106.5 million, with conference report language regarding agreements with nonprofit organizations. The final bill provides the full $20.9 million "for safety, capacity, maintenance, and repair projects at NIST," as well as $41.5 million for earmarked facilities.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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