As has been the case in recent years, President Bush's FY 2008 budget request for the National Institute of Standards and Technology would favor NIST's in-house laboratories with a significant increase, while minimally funding the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP) and zeroing out the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). NIST's Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS), which comprises the NIST laboratories and the Baldrige National Quality Award, would receive a 7.2% increase over the FY 2007 request. Combined with a nearly 40% increase for facilities construction, this adds up to an 11.1% increase for the NIST "Core," which Bush designated as part of his American Competitiveness Initiative.
Because the FY07 appropriations are not yet finalized, the FY08 request cannot be compared to actual FY07 funding levels. In reality, actual funding for MEP and ATP in years past has generally been greater than Bush's requests, and annual attempts to terminate the ATP, going back almost to the program's inception, have all failed. The FY07 Continuing Resolution passed by the House would, if enacted, provide $79.0 million for the ATP, $104.7 million for the MEP, $432.8 million for STRS, and $58.7 million for construction.
It is notable that, in NIST Director William Jeffrey's prepared remarks on the new request, he made no mention of either the MEP or the ATP. "The NIST increases proposed in the budget and the fact that the House joint resolution provided a $60 million increase in NIST's core - despite a severe budget climate - shows that there is broad recognition of the important role that NIST plays in supporting the innovation that drives our nation's economy and the well being of all Americans," he stated. Budget documents highlight five major areas targeted for new or increased funding within the request for the NIST labs: Enabling Nanotechnology from Discovery to Manufacture (+$6 million); Measurements and Standards for the Climate Change Science Program (+$5 million); Enabling Innovation Through Quantum Science (+$4 million); Disaster Resilient Structures and Communities (+$4 million); and National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (+$3.25 million). According to Jeffrey, each of these initiatives "helps build a missing or inadequate measurement base...that improves confidence in scientific results or improves the quality, reliability or safety of innovative products."
All comparisons below are between the President's FY07 and FY08 budget requests:
NIST TOTAL: Up 10.2%, or $59.4 million, from $581.3 million to $640.7 million.
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES: Up 7.2%, or $33.5 million, from $467.0 million to $500.5 million.
CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES: Up 38.1%, or $26.0 million, from $68.0 million to $93.9 million.
HOLLINGS MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP: Flat at $46.3 million.
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM: Zeroed out, as in the FY07 request.