House Science Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation Reviews NIST FY 2013 Budget Request

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Publication date: 
15 March 2012
Number: 
40

“The proposed FY 2013  budget reflects NIST’s critical role in the Administration’s efforts to  strengthen manufacturing through critical investments in key research and  development areas.” – Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for  Standards and Technology, US Department of Commerce

National Institute of Standards and Technology Director  Patrick Gallagher testified last week before the House Science, Space, and  Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation on the fiscal year 2013  budget request for NIST. 

NIST is a non-regulatory agency within the Department of  Commerce whose mission is to promote US innovation and industrial  competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology to  enhance economic security and improve the quality of life. 

Since Members from both parties were supportive of NIST’s  role in research and development, much of the discussion during the hearing was  focused on whether the budget request for NIST was too high with respect to the  current US economic climate.

The Administration’s NIST budget request for FY2013 was up $106.2 million or 14.1 percent from $750.8 million to $857.0  million.  The Obama Administration’s  emphasis on NIST, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy  Office of Science continues the attention given to them since President George  W. Bush called for their funding to be doubled in his 2006 State of the  Union address.  

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Ben Quayle  (R-AZ) emphasized that he believes “we  need to do a better job of prioritizing our investments, and a 14.1 percent  budget increase is simply unrealistic in our current fiscal environment.”

Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD) supported NIST’s efforts  to advance manufacturing, stating that “since  2000, the US has lost over 650,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs.  Our trade deficit in advanced technology  products is growing and China is now the world’s biggest exporter of high  technology goods.  The truth is that our  position as a global leader in innovation and technology is being threatened as  developing countries build up their capacities to become not only the  technology assembly line, but also the creator of new and innovative  technologies.”

Gallagher’s testimony focused on NIST’s efforts in advanced  manufacturing.  He highlighted President  Obama’s actions to accelerate the pace of US innovation, better enable  technology transfer, and defined the role NIST plays in helping advanced  manufacturers test and accelerate the development of new technologies.  

During questioning time, Edwards was concerned about the  possibility of gaps in the budget caused by the canceling of the Technology Innovation  Program that would affect the development of advanced manufacturing.  Gallagher offered his reassurance that the  role of NIST is to work with industry to advance measurement capacity to move  technology to the market.

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) inquired as to whether  NIST was creating the best possible environment to attract businesses to the  US.  To this point, Gallagher replied  that NIST is an integral part in establishing and creating an economic  structure where US manufacturing efforts can thrive.  In the context of research and development,  Gallagher stated that establishing the right economic structure is determining  the best process to bring products to the market while also maneuvering issues  that arise as new innovative products create new markets, such as the cell  phone or tablet laptop markets.   Gallagher stressed that regulatory processes need to keep up with new  developments.  NIST contributes to this  effort through measurement standards such as establishing quality control  within industries to alleviate barriers on the technical side of scientific  advancement. 

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) gave Gallagher the opportunity  to comment on whether the level of funding that NIST received in the  President’s budget request was excessive.   Gallagher refuted the accusation that NIST was not prioritizing the use  of funds appropriately and added that “there  are some areas where there is push from the technology sector – what is  happening in the lab opens up opportunities that the market may not see or  understand.”