Mixed Results for NIST in House Appropriators' Bill
The House Appropriations Committee on June 20 passed its FY 2007 appropriations
bill for Science, State, Justice and Commerce and Related Agencies.
According to a draft version of the bill and its accompanying committee
report, the committee recommended an FY 2007 funding level of $627.0
million for NIST. Although greater than President Bush's request, this
level is nearly 16 percent lower than NIST's FY 2006 appropriation.
While NIST's core laboratory programs would receive a double-digit increase,
as called for in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative,
funding would decline for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program
(MEP) and, once again, House appropriators have zeroed out funding for
the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). Despite many efforts by the Bush
Administration and House appropriators to terminate this program over
the years, some funding has thus far always been restored in the House-Senate
Below are highlights of the Appropriations Committee's recommendations
for NIST, along with relevant text from the draft committee report:
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES: Up 18.3%,
or $72.2 million, to $467.0 million (equal to the request).
"The Committee recommendation includes $467,002,000
for NIST's scientific and technical core programs, which is $72,240,000
above the current year and the same as the request.
"The Committee recommendation includes $395,002,000
to support the full base operating costs for core NIST programs, including
the continuation of a critical infrastructure program at the fiscal
year 2006 level. In addition, the Committee recommendation includes
new investments of $72,000,000 to support the American Competitiveness
Initiative, focusing on physical science research and standards development
that will foster innovation. Specifically, funding is recommended
for the following activities: (1) enhancing NIST's national research
facilities (+$30,000,000), including support for the Center for Nanoscale
Science and Technology and the Center for Neutron Research; (2) furthering
the work of NIST's laboratories and technical programs (+$28,000,000),
including support for developing a robust hydrogen economy to reduce
the Nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy, creating manufacturing
innovation through supply chain integration, building the infrastructure
for innovation through quantum information science developments, furthering
structural safety from hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes, and developing
the next generation of materials; and (3) opening markets for American
workers and exporters through development of international standards
and innovation (+$14,000,000), including support for developments
in measurement science and enhancements in bioimaging, cybersecurity,
and biometric identification technologies.
"The Committee continues to support efforts to ensure
that United States business interests are represented in international
standards negotiations, and also expects that NIST will collaborate
with the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the
Department of State on innovative ways to reduce trade barriers to
United States exports by ensuring that United States standards are
adopted in international negotiations."
MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIPS:Down 12.1%, or $12.7
million, to $92.0 million. The request was $46.3 million.
"The Committee recommendation includes $92,000,000,
which...is provided solely for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension
Partnerships (MEP) Program. The Committee adopts the President's request
to terminate funding for the Advanced Technology Program.
"MEP is a collaborative partnership program that provides
United States manufacturers with access to technologies, resources,
and expertise through a network of manufacturing extension centers.
Federal support for the MEP program, combined with State and private
sector funding, is intended to translate into more jobs, more tax
revenue, more exports, and a more secure supply source of consumer
and defense goods. Because the Committee recognizes the value of the
continuation of these valuable partnerships, the recommendation doubles
the Administration's request for the MEP program."
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM: Zeroed out, as requested. FY
2006 funding was $79.0 million.
CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES: Up 40.8%, or $19.7 million,
to $68.0 million (equal to the request).
"The Committee recommendation includes $67,998,000 for
construction and major renovations of NIST campuses at Boulder, CO,
and Gaithersburg, MD, and at other facilities. This account supports
the construction, maintenance, and repair of NIST facilities to meet
the Nation's measurement and research needs.
"The recommendation fully supports the requested program
increases of $32,100,000 in support of the American Competitiveness
Initiative, including funds for the following: $10,100,000 for renovations
of Boulder facilities; $10,000,000 for safety, capacity, maintenance
and major repairs; and $12,000,000 for the NIST Center for Neutron
NIST's virtues were lauded at a May 24 hearing of the House Science
Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards. Subcommittee
Chairman Vern Ehlers (R-MI) noted that NIST has produced three Nobel
laureates in "less than ten years, a truly remarkable accomplishment."
The three, William Phillips, Eric Cornell, and John Hall, were at the
witness table to describe NIST's success in supporting cutting-edge
research and to offer advise on improving U.S. competitiveness. They
praised NIST management for encouraging long-term, high-risk, creative
thinking, and taking a broad, long-term view of its mission. They agreed
on the importance of robust federal funding for basic research in the
physical sciences, and declared that the U.S. must continue to welcome
the best scientific minds from around the world. Hall also advocated
a tax structure that encourages industrial research, criticized the
system of "just-in-time" delivery, and called for greater
awareness of the impacts of offshore outsourcing on future scientists
and society as a whole.
Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics firstname.lastname@example.org