Catching Up: NIST Appropriations

The House passed it’s version of the Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill on Thursday which includes funding for National Institute of Standards and Technology. The good news is that the bill includes an increase of funding for core programs at NIST — though it’s still below the President’s requested level — and includes language urging the increase to be used on programs related to national security, including cyber security and biometric work, as well as urging NIST to continue to work on Help America Vote Act work. Here are some quick snippets from the committee report:

The Committee recommendation includes $375,838,000 for the Scientific and Technical Research and Services (core programs) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is $35,095,000 above the current year, and $47,030,000 below the request.
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.
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.