Yesterday, the House of Representatives started its consideration of H.R. 4754, the FY 2005 Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations Bill. Funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology is included in this bill. As it now stands, the budget for NIST's Laboratories would increase by 13.5% over current funding. The numbers for NIST's Industrial Technology Services are mixed: the Advanced Technology Program would be terminated, while funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program would increase 174.4%.
It is not uncommon for there to be variances in administration and congressional budget documents. In this analysis, the Department of Commerce's "Technology Administration Budget Summary FY 2003-2005" cited in FYI #16 on the Bush Administration's FY 2005 NIST request is used as a baseline. The Commerce table may be viewed at: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/budget/2005_table.htm
Under this bill, total FY 2005 funding for NIST would be cut by $83.5 million or 13.7%, from $608.5 million to $525.0 million. The Bush Administration requested $521.5 million.
The accompanying appropriations committee report, 108-576, outlines the committee's recommendations regarding NIST's major programs. The entire report can be accessed at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app05.html Selections from this document pertaining to NIST follow:
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES: NIST LABORATORIES:
Under the House bill, funding for NIST laboratories would increase by $44.8 million, or 13.5%, from $331.0 million to $375.8 million. The Administration requested $417.5 million.
The report states:
"The Committee recommendation includes $338,657,000 and 1,831 positions to support the full base operating costs of the core NIST programs, as requested. In addition, the Committee recommendation includes programmatic increases totaling $37,181,000 for this account. The Committee expects NIST 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 Committee strongly urges NIST to give priority consideration to Help America Vote Act outreach to the election community; expediting work on a new voting standards accreditation program; and its work with the Technical Guidelines Development Committee working with the Election Assistance Commission. NIST is directed to provide in advance of the fiscal year 2006 hearings a report detailing what steps must be taken to bring its activities in line with the timetable established by the Act. Further, the Committee directs NIST to provide all necessary equipment for the Advanced Measurement Laboratory in Gaithersburg, Maryland."
INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY SERVICES:
NIST's Industrial Technology Services has two components: the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).
Congressional funding for these programs has seen significant shifts. MEP's budget in FY 2003 was $105.9 million. This was cut to $38.6 million this year. As explained below, the House Appropriations Committee wants to increase funding back to $106.0 million next year.
ATP has long been a target for spending cuts, and this year's decision by the House Appropriations Committee to agree with the White House that ATP should be terminated comes as no surprise. Expect Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC), a powerful member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to put ATP funding back in the final bill. Last year, the Administration requested only $27 million for termination expenses; the House bill contained no money. By the time the bill cleared Congress, this year's ATP budget was $169.1 million.
The committee report states:
"Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program.--Recent economic downturns have had a devastating effect on the manufacturing sector. In an effort to ameliorate some of these effects, the Committee recommendation includes $106,000,000 for this program in fiscal year 2005, which is $66,810,000 above the request and the current year. Federal support for the MEP program, combined with State and private sector funding, have translated 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."
"Advanced Technology Program.--The Committee adopts the President's request, and does not include funding for this program."
CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES
The Bush Administration requested $59.4 million for FY 2005.
The committee report states:
"The Committee recommendation includes $43,132,000 for the construction and major renovations of the NIST campuses at Boulder, Colorado, and Gaithersburg, Maryland."