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Senate FY 2009 National Institute of Standards and Technology Funding Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 71 - June 26, 2008  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The Senate Appropriations Committee's version of the FY 2009 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill has been sent to the Senate floor. This $57.9 billion bill (S. 3182) includes funding for the National Science Foundation, NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Below are recommended funding levels and excerpts from Senate Report 110-397 pertaining to NIST. See this site for the text of the entire report.

OVERALL NIST:

The current budget is $755.9 million.
The Administration requested $638.0 million
The Senate bill recommended $813.5 million, an increase of 7.6 percent or $57.6 million

The NIST budget has three major components:

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES:

The current budget is $440.5 million
The Administration requested $535.0 million
The Senate bill recommended $489.5 million, an increase of 11.1 percent or $49.0 million

Page 20 of the PDF version of the committee report available at the above website provides the committee's funding recommendations for laboratories and technical programs, strategic and emerging initiatives, NIST Center for Neutron Research, Center for Nanoscale Science Technology, Baldridge National quality Program, and Corporate Services.

The committee report contains the following language:

"Innovation Investments -- The Committee recommendation provides for $31,380,000 in new fiscal year 2009 initiatives. Within the funding provided the Committee provides the following increases: $6,000,000 for Nano-Environment Safety and Health; $2,500,000 for Biosciences; $5,000,000 for Quantum Information Sciences; $5,000,000 for calibration support of climate change observation satellites; $380,000 for the Summer Teachers Institute at NIST targeting 5th through 8th grade math and science teachers; $3,250,000 for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program; and $9,250,000 for Strategic Measurement Partnerships

"Strategic Measurement Partnerships -- The Committee feels strongly about the benefits of a robust measurements and standards research program that pushes the frontiers of science and helps lay the foundation for innovation. However, the Committee is concerned that the insular culture of the NIST laboratories prevents it from fully exploiting outside partnerships which can provide needed expertise and help accelerate measurement development. The Committee therefore has included funding for a new Strategic Measurement Partnerships [SMP] program to facilitate cost-shared collaborative research partnerships and alliances with institutions of higher education that are focused on developing next generation measurements and standards. Funding for these partnerships will be limited to 5 years in length with a second 5-year period renewable at the option of NIST. Funding will support planning and research. Research decisions utilizing these funds will be made at the discretion of NIST and its partner. NIST is directed to provide the Committee with an operational plan for this program no later than 120 days after enactment.

"Printed Electronics Study -- The Committee believes that flexible, large area and printed electronics technology holds great promise for the competitiveness of the United States. NIST shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a study that examines the position of the United States in flexible electronics relative to efforts in other countries. The National Academies shall also consider the particular technologies and commercial sectors to which flexible electronics apply and the recommendations that must be undertaken at a Federal level for a national initiative.

"Office of Law Enforcement Standards [OLES] – The Committee remains a strong supporter of OLES and views its activities as an integral part efforts to support first responders. Therefore, the Committee continues support for OLES and provides $8,000,000 from `Laboratories and technical programs' to support this critical work."

The report also expresses the committee's disappointment that NIST did not adhere to a new budget structure in its FY 2009 request, and specifies funding levels for "congressionally directed projects" to be drawn from the funding for Strategic Measurement Partnerships. It also states: "Finally, additional funds of $12,300,000 are available for transfer to the Working Capital Fund for equipment and other purposes related to the STRS account."

INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY SERVICES:

The current budget is $154.8 million
The Administration requested $4.0 million
The Senate bill recommended $175.0 million, an increase of 13.0 percent or $20.2 million

The report states:

"Hollings Manufacturing Extension Programs [MEP]- The Committee recommendation provides $110,000,000 to fund MEP centers restoring the program to its traditional operating level. MEP supports a network of locally run centers that provide technical advice and consultative services to small manufacturing companies in all 50 States and Puerto Rico. Many of these firms lack the in-house technical knowledge and experience to implement cutting edge technologies and cost saving processes, which places them at risk from foreign competition. Since its inception, MEP has consistently been the program that small manufacturers could look to for assistance.

"Technology Innovation Program [TIP]- The Committee provides $65,000,000 to focus on developing innovative technologies that will improve the competitiveness of our nations. The Committee also provides bill language to allow TIP immediate access to prior year recoveries. The Committee recommendation will allow for approximately $40,000,000 in new project funding."

CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES:

The current budget is $160.5 million
The Administration requested $99.0 million
The Senate bill recommended $149.0 million

The committee report states:

"The recommendation funds the highest priority safety, capacity, maintenance, and repair projects at NIST.

"JILA Expansion- The Committee recommendation provides $13,000,000 towards the expansion of the building located on the University of Colorado's campus. The Committee is concerned that the proposed project, which has an estimated budget of $27,500,226, will require the Federal Government to pay over 80 percent of the total cost of construction. The Committee appreciates the great research that has been conducted through the JILA partnership, however it is unlikely that the Committee will provide more than 50 percent toward the total cost of this project unless it is convinced to do otherwise."

The committee report states specific funding levels for several NIST construction projects and $44.0 million in "congressionally directed projects." See page 22 of the PDF.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095