FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FY 2009 House Appropriations Bill for NIST

Richard M. Jones
Number 120 - December 19, 2008  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

Adjust text size enlarge text shrink text    |    Print this pagePrint this page    |     Bookmark and Share     |    rss feed for FYI

As previously noted, the House Appropriations Committee released House Committee Report 110-919 accompanying H.R. 7322, the FY 2009 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill. This report provides the appropriators' recommendations for, among other programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation and NASA. The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-VA); the Ranking Member is Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of this legislation in June. Differences between the two bills will be reconciled, and then included in the omnibus bill presented to President-Elect Obama after his inauguration.

There is additional language in House Committee Report 110-919 regarding NIST of a generally descriptive nature that is not excerpted below; see this site for the full text.

Overall:

The current NIST budget is $755.9 million.
The Administration requested an FY 2009 budget of $638.0 million.
Senate appropriators recommended $813.5 million, an increase of 7.6 percent or $57.6 million.
House appropriators recommended $817.0 million, an increase of 8.1 percent or $61.1 million.

House appropriators explained their approach as follows:

"Investments in science and technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development is critical. The 2005 National Academies' report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, voiced concerns that the United States may be unable to compete economically with other nations in the future due to insufficient investments in science and technology research, and in STEM education and workforce development. In response, the Committee bill provides . . . [ NSF, NASA, and NOAA] and nearly $817,000,000 for the National Institute on Standards and Technology, including $122,000,000 for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships program and $65,200,000 for the Technology Innovation Program, which leverage private funds to invest in research and development and improve manufacturing productivity and job creation – both of which the Administration proposed to eliminate."

Scientific and Technical Research and Services:

The current budget is $440.5 million
The Administration requested $535.0 million
Senate appropriators recommended $489.5 million, an increase of 11.1 percent or $49.0 million.
House appropriators recommended $500.7 million, an increase of 13.7 percent or $60.2 million.

The House report stated:

"The Committee notes that several of the proposed new [Administration] initiatives are multi-year programs which add 85 new positions and cost $29,840,000 in the first year alone. Given that NIST has not provided the Committee with a strategic plan and did not seek industry input, the Committee chooses to defer funding for these initiatives to allow the new Administration the opportunity to evaluate the proposed programs, determine whether or not the significant multi-year investment involved fits within its priorities, and ensure that the proposed efforts are clearly focused. The Committee directs $36,750,000 in increased funding for the following activities:

Measurements & Standards for Climate Change - $7,500,000
Innovations in Measurement Science - $3,000,000
National Earthquake Hazards Reduction - $3,250,000
Disaster Resilient Structures - $4,000,000
Cyber Security: Technologies for Interconnected Systems - $5,000,000
Enabling the Hydrogen Economy - $4,000,000
Enabling Nanotechnology from Discovery to Manufacture - $3,500,000
Manufacturing Innovation/Supply Chain Integration - $1,000,000
Quantum Information Science - $3,500,000
NIST Center for Neutron Research - $2,000,000

"Measurement & Standards for Climate Change Program.--NIST has the opportunity to address critical gaps in climate change science that are limiting long-term climate policy decision-making by: (1) resolving discrepancies in satellite-based measurements of solar intensity; and (2) providing critical information about an atmospheric component believed to play a major role in global climate change. Numerous climate monitoring systems provide essential information for predictive modeling of future climate changes, but those measurements must be made with sufficient accuracy and precision. The 2003 Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) emphasizes this priority by directly citing NIST's role in providing national standards for instrumentation. The Committee provides $7,500,000, which is $2,500,000 above the request."

Industrial Technology Services:

There is a dramatic difference between the Administration's request and the level of recommended funding in the appropriators' bills.

The current budget is $154.8 million
The Administration requested $4.0 million
Senate appropriators recommended $175.0 million, an increase of 13.0 percent or $20.2 million
House appropriators recommended $187.2 million, an increase of 20.9 percent or $32.4 million

The House report states:

"This appropriation provides funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP) program and the Technology Innovation Program (TIP). The Committee recommendation includes $187,200,000, which is $32,360,000 above the fiscal year 2008 enacted level and $183,200,000 above the request. Of this amount, $122,00,000 is provided for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP) and $65,200,000 is provided for the Technology Innovation Program. The Committee does not agree with the Administration's attempt to eliminate these programs. In the current economic climate, these programs are critically important to ensure the competitiveness of U.S. businesses.

"The MEP consists of a network of centers that provide business support and technical assistance services, and helps improve the productivity and competitiveness of small manufacturers. The centers are funded from matching Federal and State or local resources and fees charged for services.

"The Committee notes that MEP leverages private resources in the creation and retention of jobs, thereby increasing economic output as well as Federal revenues. The MEP system is uniquely positioned to be the resource of choice for increasing the competitiveness of U.S.-based supply chains, and MEP is the only organization whose mission is to improve the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. The MEP nationwide network, with its direct reach to the Nation's manufacturers, has proven to be invaluable to numerous Federal government partners who utilize the network to distribute valuable, cutting-edge information and resources in areas of workforce, technology adoption, environment and energy, quality, and more.

"The TIP was established in Section 3012 of the 2007 [America] COMPETES Act. The purpose is to speed the development of high-risk, transformative research targeted to address key societal challenges. Funding is provided to small and medium-sized businesses, and institutions of higher education or other organizations, such as national laboratories and nonprofit research institutions to support, promote, and accelerate innovation in the US. These organizations research potentially revolutionary technologies that present high technical risks but meet critical national needs. TIP replaces the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) but allows for continued support for previous ATP awards."

Construction of Research Facilities:

The current budget is $160.5 million
The Administration requested $99.0 million
Senate appropriators recommended $149.0 million
House appropriators recommended $129.0 million.

The House report states:

"The Committee fully supports the final phase of construction of the Building 1 Extension in Boulder; the requested expansion of the laboratories at JILA; the third and last fiscal year of funding increases required in the five year NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) expansion and reliability improvements; and the fiscal year 2009 request for Safety, Capacity, Maintenance, and Major Repairs (SCMMR).

"Competitive Construction grants- The Committee recommendation provides $30,000,000 for competitive construction grants for research science buildings. Such buildings shall be evaluated on the scientific and technical merit of the proposed use and need for Federal funding; the quality of the design of the research science building; and the adequacy of the project execution plan. These grants shall be awarded to colleges, universities, and other non-profit science research organizations on a merit-based basis."

In the back of the committee report are the additional views of House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and the subcommittee's Ranking Member Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). They praised Subcommittee Chairman Mollohan and Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) "for the even-handed and collaborative approach taken in assembling this bill" and for being "open and responsive to issues raised by Republican Members." Regarding NIST, Lewis and Frelinghuysen wrote:

"We are pleased that the Chairman offered an amendment that was adopted by the Committee to increase the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to the authorized level of $122,000,000. The need for this increase was brought to the Committee's attention by Rep. [Joseph] Knollenberg, [(R-MI)] and is supported by many Members on both sides of the aisle. We also appreciate the small but important increases provided to the International Trade Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative and the International Trade Commission. The work of these agencies is critical to support the growth of free and fair trade, a key to our future economic well-being and security.

"We congratulate the Chairman on the strong overall funding level of $816,860,000 provided for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). However, we would have preferred to set different priorities within NIST that would more directly foster innovation and competitiveness, while at the same time require less spending. The President's Science Advisor, in his testimony before the Subcommittee, named NIST's core research budget as the top priority science investment in the bill. NIST's core research budget is funded at $34,340,000 below the request while the bill includes $65,200,000 above the President's request for the Technology Innovation Program (the successor to the Advanced Technology Program) and $30,000,000 for an unrequested and unauthorized construction grant program."

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