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NIST’s FY 2009 Budget Request: What Are the Right Technology Investments to Promote US Innovation and Competitiveness?

Date: 
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - 12:00am
Location: 
Washington, DC

Opening Statement By Chairman David Wu

I would like to call the Subcommittee to order.

I want to welcome everyone to this hearing of the Technology & Innovation Subcommittee.  Today we will be discussing the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, and its fiscal year 2009 budget request.

The Science and Technology Committee has always been one of NIST’s strongest supporters.  NIST’s work on standards and technology has enabled many of the products and services in our modern economy, from semiconductors to ATMs to hearing aids.  Today, NIST is in a position to play a vital role in keeping our nation innovative and economically competitive.

Last year, Congress passed the America COMPETES Act, which put NIST on a ten-year path to doubling as an investment in our innovation future.  COMPETES included the first comprehensive authorization of NIST in 15 years.  This Subcommittee developed that authorization bill, which we believed made NIST an important component of a balanced innovation agenda.

At that time I and other members of the Committee were concerned that NIST did not have a good comprehensive plan for what its research activities would be with a doubled budget.  It was not clear how NIST set its funding priorities, and how it allocated resources among different technical areas.  Indeed, witnesses at last year’s hearing expressed similar concerns.

That is why the COMPETES Act included a requirement that NIST deliver a 3-year strategic plan to Congress with the budget request.  This plan was to include all of NIST’s programs, including the NIST labs and lab construction, the industrial technology services programs, and the Baldrige Award.

The document that NIST delivered falls far short of this mandate.  It leaves out several of NIST’s most important programs, and it does not lay out a strategic plan to ensure that NIST’s investments are suitable for the competitive challenges of the 21st Century.  I am very concerned that NIST has still not developed a comprehensive programmatic planning document.

The COMPETES Act clearly established Congressional priorities for NIST.  However, the budget request this year largely ignores any of Congress’ input.  The request is 28 percent lower than NIST’s FY09 authorization.  In fact, NIST is the only science agency included in COMPETES whose budget request is actually lower this year than last year.

COMPETES put the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or MEP, on a ten-year path to doubling, to enhance its ability to help small manufacturers modernize their operations and remain globally competitive.  I am disappointed to see that the Administration proposes to eliminate this program.

In addition, COMPETES created the Technology Innovation Program, or TIP, to provide cost-shared grants to small, high-tech companies that are working to bring new technologies from concept to reality.  TIP updated and replaced the highly successful Advanced Technology Program, and it will help reap the benefits of the federal investment in research.  I am very disappointed that the Administration wants to eliminate this key component of a comprehensive innovation agenda.

Witnesses

Panel

1 - Dr. James Turner
Director (Acting) National Institute of Standards and Technology Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology Department of Commerce
Download the Witness Testimony

2 - Dr. James Serum
Chair NIST Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology NIST Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology
Download the Witness Testimony

3 - Dr. Mary Good
Founding Dean, College of Engineering and Information Technology University of Arkansas at Little Rock University of Arkansas at Little Rock
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4 - Dr. Peter Fiske
Vice President for R&D PAX Scientific, Inc. PAX Scientific, Inc.
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5 - Mr. Michael Coast
President Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
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Witness Panel
Witnesses testify before the Subcommittee
L-R: Dr. Turner, Dr. Serum, Dr. Good, Dr. Fiske, Mr. Coast
For information on the witnesses, use the links at left
110th Congress