The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed with the Bush Administration and the House of Representatives and recommended full funding of the 18.6% requested increase in FY 2007 for the National Institute of Standards and Technology's laboratory research program, and the termination of the Advanced Technology Program.
Funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology is contained in the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill, which was written by Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ranking Minority Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and their colleagues. H.R. 5672 was accompanied by Senate Committee Report 109-280, which is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app07.html. Report language regarding NIST is comparatively brief; selections follow:
The Bush Administration's FY 2007 request of $581.3 million was 22.7% or $170.7 million below current funding of $752.0 million. The Administration sought to terminate the Advanced Technology Program, reduce funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and, as is customary, did not include funding for $137.3 million in congressional earmarked projects. NIST's core research programs was one of three agency research budgets in the American Competitiveness Initiative, for which an 18.6% increase was sought.
The House Science, State, Justice appropriations bill, H.R. 5672, recommended an overall reduction of 16.6% or $125.0 million to $627.0 million. This amount included $6.4 million in earmarked projects.
The Senate's version of H.R. 5672 increased overall funding by 1.6% or $12.0 million to $764.0 million, which included $123.0 million in earmarked projects.
RESEARCH AND SERVICES:
Almost entirely the NIST laboratory research budget, the Administration requested an 18.3% or $72.2 million increase in this budget, from $394.8 million to $467.0 million. Both the House and Senate bills fully fund this request.
There is extensive House report language about this funding, selections of which can be read at http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/081.html. Senate Committee Report 109-280 (see http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app07.html) provided program funding recommendations and included the following language:
"Within funds provided for Scientific and Technical Research and Services [STRS], $16,890,000 is provided for Innovations in Measurement Science, $10,937,000 is provided for the postdoctoral fellowship program, $6,791,000 is provided for computer support and $12,191,000 is provided for business systems. Finally, additional funds of $9,450,000 are available for transfer to the working capital fund for equipment and other purposes related to the STRS account."
INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY SERVICES:
There are two major programs within this budget: the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program and the Advanced Technology Program.
The Administration, as it has done before, requested termination of the Advanced Technology Program, which now receives $79.0 million (and $140.4 million in FY 2005.) The House had agreed previously to eliminate ATP, but the Senate had resisted. That is not true in this budget cycle, the Senate report stating: "The Committee will allow for the phase out of activities for ATP. No funds are provided in fiscal year 2007 for ATP, and the Committee believes that sufficient funds were provided as part of fiscal year 2006 under this title to cover all necessary close out costs associated with ATP." This language differs greatly from that in last year's Senate report, which stated: "The ATP program is critical to ensuring that U.S. industries capture market share in the facing of growing global competition, particularly in the fields of science and technology" (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/104.html .) Last year there was an amendment offered on the Senate floor to delete ATP funding; 68 senators voted against eliminating this funding. It would appear that the current year is the program's last year, with President Bush, the House of Representatives, and Senate appropriators aligned against continued funding of the program.
The Manufacturing Extension Partnership program budget would have been cut by 55.8% or $58.4 million, from $104.7 million to $46.3 million under the Administration's request. The House bill recommends a 12.1% or $12.7 million reduction to $92.0 million. The Senate bill provides an increase of $1.2% or $1.3 million to $106.0 million. The committee report language states:
"The Committee recommends an appropriation of $106,000,000 to fund MEP centers. 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 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. Whether it is assisting with quality standards, or providing strategic planning, MEP has delivered the services needed by small manufacturers.
"Based on a sampling of clients surveyed in fiscal year 2005, MEP clients indicated that the assistance they received resulted in increased sales of $1,500,000,000; retained sales of $4,530,000,000; cost savings of $721,000,000; and the creation and retention of 43,624 jobs. These economic impacts justify the recommended funding level for the MEP."
CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES:
The Administration requested $68.0 million for projects at NIST's Maryland and Colorado facilities. The House bill and Senate committee provided this amount; Senate appropriators added another $123.0 million for earmarked projects.