Today the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing to receive testimony from the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Dr. Patrick Gallagher, on the proposed fiscal year 2013 (FY13) budget and the President's priorities for the Agency.
The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a long, bipartisan record of support for NIST and its contributions. However, given the current national debt and levels of spending in the President's overall FY13 budget, Subcommittee Chairman Ben Quayle (R-AZ) said that NIST must do a better job of prioritizing investments, noting that a 14.1 percent budget increase is "simply unrealistic in our current fiscal environment."
"The President's budget includes the most government spending in history, the biggest tax increase in American history, and the biggest debt in history," Quayle continued. "While NIST is a smaller agency, this request does not exist within a vacuum and must be weighed in the context of our fiscal situation."
The FY13 budget request for NIST is $857 million, an increase of $106.2 million from the FY12 enacted level. Beyond this increase, Chairman Quayle expressed concerns to Dr. Gallagher regarding one of the new initiatives included in the Administration's request: a $1 billion legislative proposal for a mandatory account to create a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Quayle highlighted the proposal, due to concerns over charging NIST with leading a program with a proposed funding level that is greater than NIST's total budget, as well as the potential for duplication.
Chairman Quayle praised both NIST's role in supporting American competitiveness and Dr. Gallagher's leadership of the Institute, but urged NIST to better prioritize programs within limited budgets stating, "I have every reason to believe that NIST will continue to conduct innovative research while seeking ways to improve the efficiency of its programs so that this research is undertaken in a fiscally responsible manner."