The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) acting chief of staff Mat Heyman has warned that a proposed $22 million budget cut for the agency in fiscal 2004 would force NIST to cut back on its cybersecurity projects, stop all activities under the Help America Vote Act and seriously curtail efforts under the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). NIST currently does important work to secure utility control systems and has played a “prominent role in helping state and local election officials implement new voting systems.” Under the budget cuts, these efforts, along with the MEP, would have to be significantly scaled back or halted. Members of the House Science Committee are unhappy with the proposed cuts and are looking for ways to mitigate them.
The Administration says it’s taken care of most of this shortfall in its FY05 budget request, however the numbers aren’t quite there. The Administration does include an increase at NIST in the President’s request, but doesn’t include an estimated $36 million believed to be required to shut down the ATP program at NIST as called for in the budget request.
One possibility is that the FY04 shortfall could be made up in a supplemental appropriation like the one that will be necessary to cover the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns (costs also not included in the President’s budget request).