INTRODUCTION OF THE TECHNOLOGY ADMINISTRATION AND NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY ACT OF 2004 -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 19, 2004)
HON. MARK UDALL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2004
Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Technology Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology Act of 2004.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a lynchpin to commercial activities of the private sector and the health and safety of all Americans-from its small-scale measurement activities that support the development of nanotechnology energy to its investigation of the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Lynchpins are noted for their reliability and criticality, and as such they are frequently overlooked until they break. That is the situation NIST finds itself in today. FY04 budget cuts are causing drastic cutbacks in NIST programs and causing NIST to lay off its employees. These reductions in NIST's budget and in its workforce threaten future U.S. competitiveness and the health and safety of Americans.
The bill I'm introducing today is an attempt to reverse this downward spiral. This bill would put NIST back on a positive growth track. It authorizes funding for NIST's standards support activities based on the FY05 budget request, and also includes funding for NIST's role in the implementation of the Help America Vote Act. The bill then provides a 5% increase for these support activities in FY06, FY07 and FY08. The bill also provides full funding for NIST to renovate its existing laboratory infrastructure. Many of NIST's labs are over fifty years old and are not suitable to house NIST's high-quality research equipment. This is especially true at NIST's Boulder, Colorado facility. This bill also provides full funding for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.
The Science Committee has repeatedly heard from industry about the importance of funding for NIST's laboratory
activities and for the ATP and the MEP programs. My bill is based on these recommendations.
Less than three weeks ago, the Science Committee held a hearing on NIST. Panelists included representatives from a chemical industry company, an information technology association, a biometric company, a nanotechnology company, and a fire safety association. They were all unanimous in their support for NIST and the need to increase its funding.
As one witness succinctly stated when asked about what other countries were doing in the standards area and what it meant to U.S. competitiveness: "So the question becomes where do we want to place ourselves as a nation. Do we want to be the lead dog on the sled or do we want to be somewhere else in the line? And my perspective is that our nation's interest is served better and our future is served better and our people are served better if we are the lead dog on the sled."
I urge my colleagues on the Science Committee and my colleagues in the House to support this legislation to help the U.S. remain the lead dog on the sled.