FY 2017 Budget Request: NIST Base Budget Up 5.2%

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Publication date: 
12 February 2016
Number: 
16

The President is requesting a 5.2 percent increase in discretionary funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology for fiscal year 2017, which would raise its budget to just over $1 billion. The President also is proposing $1.99 billion in new mandatory funding, of which $1.89 billion is for 27 new manufacturing innovation institutes by 2025.

In President Obama’s final budget submission to Congress, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is one of the few science and technology-focused agencies that does not rely on new mandatory funding streams to achieve a significant funding increase. On the other hand, NIST would perhaps be among the agencies most impacted by the new mandatory funding.

The agency’s budget request contains a proposal to vastly expand the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) by 2025 via $1.89 billion in mandatory funding in fiscal year 2017. Presumably, much of this money would be carried over and spent in future fiscal years, but even so, it would represent a significant expansion of NIST’s role in supporting advanced manufacturing institutes.

Historically, most federal research and development has been supported through discretionary funding divided up by Congress through the annual appropriations process. Therefore, the President’s mandatory spending proposal represents a new strategy for supporting his Administration’s priorities while remaining within statutory caps on discretionary spending. See this FYI for more detail on the overall FY17 budget.

The two tables below summarize the funding changes for NIST’s major accounts with and without new mandatory funding.

Table 1: President's FY17 request for NIST excluding mandatory spending

Agency / Account FY15
Actual
FY16
Enacted
FY17
Request
Change
FY16-17
NIST 863.9 964.0 1,014.5 5.2%
Scientific and Technical Research and Services 675.5 690.0 730.5 5.9%
Industrial Technology Services 138.1 155.0 189.0 21.9%
Construction of Research Facilities 50.3 119.0 95.0 -20.2%

* all figures are in millions of nominal U.S. dollars

 

Table 2: President's FY17 request for NIST including mandatory spending

Agency / Account FY15
Actual
FY16
Enacted
FY17
Request
Change
FY16-17
NIST 863.9 964.0 3,004.5 211.7%
Scientific and Technical Research and Services 675.5 690.0 730.5 5.9%
Industrial Technology Services 138.1 155.0 189.0 21.9%
Construction of Research Facilities 50.3 119.0 195.0 63.9%

* all figures are in millions of nominal U.S. dollars

The NNMI program began in fiscal year 2016 with $25.0 million in funding. NIST proposes to expand the program even without mandatory funding, requesting an additional $22.0 million “to establish two new Manufacturing Innovation institutes through open competition to address industry identified research and development challenges where a collaborative effort will strengthen the U.S. Advanced Manufacturing Infrastructure.”

The budget request justifies additional investment in advanced manufacturing institutes via mandatory funding as follows:

“Federal funding serves as the initial catalyst in the formation of these public-private partnerships; the federal investment must be at least 100% matched by non-federal sources over the five to seven year institute startup period. Mandatory funding provides the planning confidence for the private sector to co-invest in these institutes. The program is designed to support institutes that would be financially self-sustaining as they demonstrate value for industry to continue sponsorship.”

Details on the proposed scope and timeline for the NNMI expansion are on pages 170 to 175 (182 to 187 in a PDF viewer) of the budget request.

Other highlights in the NIST budget request

Aside from the NNMI expansion proposal, some other notable items in the request include the following:

  • $13.6 million to expand research in measurement science research relevant to future computing technologies such as quantum computing and computers “capable of brain-like sensing” to support NIST’s prominent role in the National Strategic Computing Initiative
  • $11.1 million in additional funding for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program to raise the number of private-sector manufacturers the program services by about 60 percent over three years;
  • $40.0 million to renovate Radiation Physics Building 245, which the budget describes as a “mission critical facility” that supports services relied on by industry and federal agencies; and
  • $4.8 million for additional reactor fuel required to keep the Center for Neutron Research operational.

About the author

headshot of Mitch Ambrose
mambrose [at] aip.org
+1 301-209-3095

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