Ups and Downs: NIST Budget Would See Continued Fluctuation

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Publication date: 
20 February 2005

The budget for the National Institute of Standards and Technology would continue to fluctuate under the FY 2006 request that the Bush Administration sent to Congress this week. The overall budget would fall 23.5%, a program would be cancelled, and funding for another program would be cut by over one-half, while one program would see a sizeable increase in funding next year.

The Budget Summary prepared by NIST displays how much its budget has changed during the past few years. In FY 2003, the total budget was $707.5 million. This dropped by almost $100 million in available funding the next year. Available funding this year increased to $695.3 million. Under the Administration's request, NIST's budget would fall by 23.5% or $163.4 million to $532.0 million in FY 2006 when compared to this year.

Fluctuations in the controversial Advanced Technology Program budget are easier to explain. In 2003, ATP's budget was $178.8 million. It has been on a downhill slide since then to $136.5 million this year. The Administration is renewing its attempt to terminate ATP next year.

While ATP's fortune can be explained, that for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program is more perplexing. In 2003, it was funded at $105.9 million. Available funding the next year dropped to $38.6 million. This year it rose to $107.5 million when both the Administration and Congress agreed that MEP was a key part of U.S. manufacturing policy. In this week's budget submission, MEP funding would be cut to $46.8 million next year.

The following summarizes what the Administration is proposing for FY 2006. Readers wishing greater detail should consult NIST's budget documents at :

NIST LABORATORIES: Funding for NIST laboratories would increase 12.7% or $47.2 million in FY 2006, an increase OSTP Director John Marburger characterized earlier this week as the largest requested percentage increase in any FY 2006 S&T budget. Funding would increase from $373.4 million to $420.6 million. House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) earlier this week commented, "I was especially pleased to see the significant increase proposed for the laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology." Three research initiatives will "target pressing national priorities" with an increase of $19.6 million for Advances in Manufacturing. A key part of this initiative is $10 million for a national nanomanufacturing and nanometrology facility at NIST. $3 million more would be provided for Measurements and Standards for Homeland Security, and an additional $17.2 million for New Measurement Horizons for the U.S. Economy and Science.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM: The Administration will try again to terminate this program, for which current funding is $136.5 million. The budget document explains: "The Administration did not request and Congress did not provide funding for new awards in FY 2005. This budget proposes terminating the program in favor of higher-priority needs." The Administration may be successful this year since Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC), a powerful appropriator who was able to defend ATP during previous termination efforts, retired last month.

HOLLINGS MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP: The Administration proposes a 56.5% or $60.7 million cut in this program. Funding would fall from $107.5 million to $46.8 million. The NIST budget document states: "The FY 2006 request for the HMEP reflects tough but necessary budget decisions that reflect national priorities and budget constraints, resulting in an approximate 50 percent reduction. By emphasizing increased revenue generation at the centers without compromising the mission to serve small manufacturers, the HMEP will maintain a national network of centers, while focusing resources based on centers' performance and need."

CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES: Current year funding is $72.5 million, which would decline by 18.8% or $13.6 million to $58.9 million. As is true for other construction accounts, project funding requirements vary. This year's budget had almost $43.5 million in congressionally directed spending. NIST proposes several major projects at its Maryland and Colorado facilities in FY 2006.

BALDRIGE NATIONAL QUALITY PROGRAM: Funding for this program which recognizes exemplary practices, would increase 4.9% or $262,000, from $5.4 million to $5.7 million.

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