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Commerce: NIST, NOAA Get Budget Hikes

by Andrea Widener
April 22, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 16

Credit: National Institute of Standards & Technology
A table shows that laboratories and services at NIST are slated for big budget increase.
Credit: National Institute of Standards & Technology

The Department of Commerce research—including National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—will get a boost of more than $1.5 billion over 2012 levels under President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget.

NIST is slated to get $1.9 billion under the 2014 request, up from $751 million in 2012. This 156.8% funding increase will primarily go to a one-time investment in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a main focus of the President’s multiagency push for advanced manufacturing.

The $1.0 billion effort supports 15 new manufacturing research hubs focused on different areas important to industry. The network was proposed in the President’s 2013 budget but never supported by Congress. However, a pilot project on three-dimensional printing has already been funded, primarily by the Department of Defense.

Beyond this one-time increase, NIST’s research labs also get a significant increase, up 22.4% from 2012 to $694 million in 2014.

This growth translates to double-digit percentage increases across nearly all of NIST’s research centers. The largest percent growth is for standards coordination, which would go up 90.8% from 2012 to $58 million in 2014. The information technology, materials measurement, and engineering laboratories would also get big funding boosts.

Manufacturing receives support across the board in the proposed NIST budget, including a $21 million investment in a new program called the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia that would provide cost-sharing grants to companies to improve manufacturing and address industry-wide research challenges.

The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a longtime NIST program that links local companies nationwide with technical experts, also gets more support in the 2014 budget, up 19.2% from 2012 to $153 million.

Cybersecurity, a presidential priority, is slated to get $44 million in additional funding in four NIST programs: Cybersecurity: R&D & Standards, the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, and Cyber-Physical Systems.

At NOAA, the President provides $5.4 billion for 2014, up 10.2% from 2012. That increase will in part support building new satellites that monitor weather and observe Earth. The current satellites are aging, and replacing them has been the subject of considerable controversy, including congressional hearings.

Basic research at NOAA also fares well in the proposed budget; its funding would increase to $733 million from $574 million estimated for 2012. The Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research, which oversees some of NOAA’s basic science and ocean chemistry research, will get an increase from $380 million in 2012 to $472 million in 2014.


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