As one of the components of President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative, NIST would get a substantial increase in funding for its in-house laboratories under the FY 2007 budget request. At the same time, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program would be cut by more than half, and the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) would be zeroed out. Total NIST funding would decline by 22.7%, to $581.3 million. However, the FY 2006 budget included $137.2 million congressionally-directed earmarks. To compare apples to apples, if the earmarks are are removed from the FY 2006 level, the budget reduction is 5.5%.
NIST Director William Jeffrey is quoted in NIST budget documents as saying that the institute "is positioned to play a key role in advancing our nation's innovation and competitiveness.... The research initiatives in this budget reflect that and will strongly support the President's competitiveness initiative."
Below are brief highlights of the NIST budget request. More detailed information and a budget table can be found on the NIST web site at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/budget_proposal_aci.htm. The budget documents point out that the FY 2006 budget for NIST's labs and construction included a number of congressionally-directed earmarks. The comparisons below FY06 exclude earmarked funding (of $11.9 million for the labs and $125.4 million for construction), and instead compare funding numbers for the base programs:
NIST LABORATORY RESEARCH: Up 22.3%, or $83.8 million, from $375.6 million to $459.4 million.
BALDRIGE NATIONAL QUALITY PROGRAM: Up 4.1%, or $0.3 million, from $7.3 million to $7.6 million.
CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES: Up 40.8%, or $19.7 million, from $48.3 million to $68.0 million.
HOLLINGS MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIPS: Down 55.8%, or $58.3 million, from $104.7 million to $46.3 million. According to the budget documents, "This reduction of $58.3 million from the FY 2006 level would be made in order to address the nation's most pressing needs in an austere fiscal environment. NIST will focus the FY 2007 funding to maintain an effective network of centers with an emphasis on activities that promote innovation and competitiveness in small manufacturers."
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM: Zeroed out. FY 2006 funding was $79.0 million. The budget documents state, "The FY 2006 appropriations and estimated recoveries will be sufficient to meet all existing obligations of the Advanced Technology Program and to phase it out; no FY 2007 funds are requested." Attempts to terminate the ATP have been made by either the Administration or Congress in nearly every year of the program's history, but none has yet succeeded.