The House of Representatives is debating H.R. 2862, the FY 2006 Science, State, Justice, Commerce appropriations bill on the floor today. House Report 109-118 was released yesterday with the committee's recommendations for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The NIST core research program would receive a budget increase of 6.5% under this bill written by appropriations subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and his colleagues. Significantly higher funding would be provided for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program than that requested by the Bush Administration. House appropriators agreed with the Administration's plan to terminate the Advanced Technology Program, as briefly noted in the report language on MEP (note that no closeout funding was included.) See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/020.htmlfor additional information on the Administration's budget request.
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES:
This budget would increase by 6.5% or $24.3 million, from $373.4 million to $397.7 million. The Administration requested $420.6 million. Selections from the report language follow:
"The Committee recommendation includes $390,244,000 and 1,943 positions to support the full base operating costs of the core NIST programs. The recommendation does not include a requested adjustment to base funding of $5,128,000 to restore fiscal year 2005 rescissions. In addition, the Committee recommendation includes a programmatic increase totaling $7,500,000 under this account for advances in nanomanufacturing and nanometrology. Specifically, the program increase will enable NIST to establish the National Nanomanufacturing and Nanometrology Facility (N 3 F) at which government and industry can pursue collaborative nanotechnology efforts. The Committee expects this funding to result in the creation of a measurement infrastructure that will enable United States industries to better compete by promoting innovations in nanotechnology.
"The Committee expects NIST to continue to prioritize funding for programs associated with standards and guidelines relating to the national security of the United States, including efforts relating to biometric and cyber security and programs relating to improvements to the nation's manufacturing and services sectors. The recommendation also continues funding for a telework project and a critical infrastructure program, at the same funding levels as in fiscal year 2005. The Committee encourages NIST to allocate funding available under this account to carry out responsibilities under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (Public Law 108-360). Finally, the Committee continues to support efforts to ensure that United States business interests are represented in international standards negotiations, and 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.
"The Committee directs NIST to submit to the Committee, no later than November 15, 2005, a spending plan proposing an allocation of all resources available under this account in fiscal year 2006.
MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM:
The committee's bill would reduce funding for this program by 1.4%; the Administration had requested a 56.5% cut because of "tough but necessary budget decisions that reflect national priorities and budget constraints." The report language states:
"The Committee recommendation includes $106,000,000 for Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP), which is $1,544,000 below the amount provided in the current year and $59,200,000 above the request. In fiscal year 2005, funding for MEP was appropriated under the Industrial Technology Services account. The Committee recommendation does not include any funding under that heading. The Committee adopts the President's request by not including 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 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.
"The Committee directs NIST to provide assistance to an applicant under the MEP program only if the applicant agrees to make available to the public on request their audited statements, annual budgets, and minutes of meetings and agrees to provide the public with reasonable notice of, and an opportunity to attend, their meetings. The Committee further directs NIST to provide assistance to an applicant under the MEP program only after the applicant files appropriate Federal financial disclosure statements."
CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES:
The current budget is $72.5 million; the Administration requested $58.9 million. The report states:
"The Committee recommendation includes $45,000,000 for the construction and major renovations of the NIST campuses at Boulder, Colorado, and Gaithersburg, Maryland. This account supports the construction, maintenance, and repair of NIST facilities to meet the Nation's measurement and research needs.
"The recommendation includes all requested adjustments to base, except for amounts requested to restore fiscal year 2005 rescissions. The recommendation includes program increases totaling $22,448,000 including: $9,400,000 for the Boulder Central Utility Plant; $8,064,000 for safety, capacity, maintenance and major repairs; and $4,984,000 for AML Maintenance and additional renovation and design projects in Boulder and Gaithersburg. The Committee directs NIST to submit quarterly reports to the Committee on the progress of all construction projects during fiscal year 2006."