Senate Appropriators Provide More Funding for NIST than Did House The Senate Appropriations Committee has completed its version of the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations bill for FY 2001. It would decrease funding for NIST from the current level, but less so than the counterpart bill in the House. Unlike the House appropriators, who would eliminate NIST's Advanced Technology Program (ATP), the senators would provide more money for ATP than it is receiving this year. NIST's core laboratories and its Manufacturing Extension Program would see increases over FY 2000 funding, although not as much as requested, while funding for Construction of Research Facilities would fall below both current funding and the request. In all cases, the Senate Committee bill provides more than the House bill.
The Senate Committee would provide a total of $596.6 million for NIST. This represents a decrease of 6.6 percent from FY 2000 funding, and a decrease of 16.3 percent from the Administration's FY 2001 request. The House bill provides $422.9 million. Below are highlights of the bill's provisions for NIST's programs, along with quotes from the committee report (S. Rpt. 106-404) describing the committee's rationale.
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES (STRS): This account includes NIST's core, intramural laboratories, as well as its Malcolm Baldrige quality award program. The Senate bill would provide $305.0 million for STRS, an increase of 7.7 percent over current-year funding, including an increase in Physics funding for nanotechnology research. This amount is 9.6 percent below the requested level. The House recommendation is $292.1 million. The report provides the following details: "Within the amounts provided, the Committee approves the following increases: (1) $1,000,000 in the Manufacturing Engineering Program for the development of standards pertaining to the exchange of electronic data; (2) $2,000,000 in the Physics program to provide measurements, standards, and test methods for the development of advanced nanotechnologies; (3) $2,000,000 in the Computer Science and Applied Mathematics program to develop new measurements, test methods, and guidelines for the protection of the Nation's critical infrastructures...and (4) under the Wind Research Program, the Committee recommends $2,000,000 to continue funding an existing cooperative agreement between NIST and Texas Tech University."
INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY SERVICES (ITS): This account comprises NIST's extramural Advanced Technology Program and Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.
Advanced Technology Program (ATP): The bill would provide $153.6 million for ATP in FY 2001. This amount is 7.7 percent over the FY 2000 appropriation, but 22.7 percent less than requested. The House provided no money for ATP. With unused funds available from previous years, the report notes, an amount equal to the request will be available to ATP in FY 2001: "The Committee has been advised that approximately $45,000,000 in prior-year deobligations and unobligated balances will carry forward from fiscal year 2000. The recommendation, when combined with the carryover amount, will provide a total funding level of $198,600,000, the full amount requested. Within the amounts made available, $45,200,000 shall be used for administrative costs, internal laboratory support, and for Small Business Innovation Research Program [SBIR] requirements."
Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP): The bill would fund MEP at $109.1 million for FY 2001. This represents an increase of 4.1 percent over FY 2000, but a decrease of 4.4 percent from the request. The House recommended $104.8 million. According to the report, the bill "fully funds all MEP centers. No funding is provided for the Department's election commerce outreach or manufacturing interoperability programs.... The marketplace is providing e-commerce solutions at such a pace that efforts by the Federal Government in this area would be slow and inadequate. The Committee supports the efforts of the Northern Great Plains Initiative for Rural Development to expand the MEP e-commerce project to rural areas to assist small manufacturers for marketing and business development purposes."
Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (IIIP): As did the House, the Senate Committee provides no funding for this proposed new initiative. The report notes that "funding for critical infrastructure requirements are addressed by the Committee in the Department of Justice account," and states, "With no clear plan to implement or administer the IIIP the potential for mission overlap with other Federal agencies is of particular concern."
CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES: Funding for this account, which supports renovation and maintenance of aging facilities in addition to new construction, is slated for a steep decrease in FY 2001 now that full construction funding for the Advanced Measurement Laboratory has been appropriated. The Senate bill recommends $28.9 million for this account, a decrease of 19.5 percent from the request. The House bill provides $26.0 million. The report states that the bill "fully funds the highest priority safety, capacity, maintenance, and repair projects at NIST. Within the amounts provided, $500,000 is to address electrical service issues at NIST's Boulder, CO campus. In addition, $4,000,000 is provided for a grant and a cooperative agreement. [No further information is provided on this $4,000,000.] No funding is provided for the outfitting and relocation costs associated with the Advanced Measurement Laboratory. Funds for these activities will be provided when the building nears completion," which is expected in 2004.
With just over two weeks till the start of the new fiscal year, the full Senate still has to vote on the Commerce-Justice-State bill, and then a House-Senate conference committee must agree upon a final, reconciled version.
Audrey T. Leath