A total of $1.023 billion has been requested for Fiscal Year 1996
for the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards
and Technology. This is a 19.8 percent increase over the current
appropriation of $853.8 million. Consistent with President
Clinton's belief in high technology's ability to create jobs and
improve competitiveness, the Administration has regularly requested
significant growth for NIST. Congress has complied by granting
increases, although somewhat less than requested. However, some
key Republicans have opposed NIST's cooperative efforts with
The NIST programs consist of in-house laboratory research, and
technology development and outreach programs including the Advanced
Technology Program (ATP) and the Manufacturing Extension
Partnerships (MEP). A NIST news release states that the increases
will "bring its programs closer to the funding levels required for
the programs to have their maximum impact on U.S. economic growth."
A total of $490.9 million is requested for the ATP, an increase of
14.0 percent. According to NIST's budget "Highlights," the program
"provides cost-shared funding to individual companies and
industry-led joint ventures for the development of high-risk,
potentially high-payoff technologies. The program's sole aim is to
develop enabling technologies that otherwise would not be pursued
at all or in the same market-critical time frame because of
technical risks and other obstacles that discourage private-sector
For the MEP, $146.6 million is requested, an increase of 61.8
percent. The "Highlights" states that "America's smaller
manufacturers are the backbone of the U.S. economy.... The
Manufacturing Extension Partnership helps these companies succeed
in the marketplace through a network of regional and local
extension centers providing hands-on technical assistance.... The
results are stronger, more competitive smaller manufacturers
producing more exports and retaining or expanding jobs...."
A total of $310.7 million is requested for NIST's intramural
laboratory research, representing an increase of 17.5 percent. All
areas of intramural research are designated for growth, with
Physics research receiving an increase of 2.3 percent to $28.1
million, and Materials Science & Engineering increasing 9.0
percent, to $54.3 million. The "Highlights" notes that "NIST
laboratory research supplies the measurement foundation that U.S.
industry depends upon to develop, produce, and market its products
and services. Since the Institute's establishment,...it
consistently has provided U.S. industry with world-class standards,
evaluated data, and measurement methods and technologies."
In addition, $69.6 million (a 7.7 percent increase) is requested
for construction and major renovation of NIST's laboratory
facilities. The 30- and 40-year-old facilities, the "Highlights"
says, "suffer from a lack of environmental controls,...and from a
variety of safety and systems capacity problems."
NOTE: FYI #21 stated that overall support for federal academic R&D
would grow by 7% in the FY96 budget request. The Administration
has corrected that figure to 1%.