In our continuing series on the Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) Presidential Budget request, we next come to NIST, or the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST is on the smaller size of the science agencies, budget-authority-speaking, but it is still a significant contributor for IT research.
The main part of the agency that CRA is concerned about is the Scientific and Technical Research and Services account, or STRS. This part of the agency’s budget handles the research grants, special programs, and laboratory operations of NIST. STRS is slated to receive $680 million in the president’s budget, which represents a 4.5 percent increase over the FY14 enacted levels.
The increases will go to a number of special programs that the Administration has marked as vital to the national interest. Three of these increases are in areas that are of particular concern to members of CRA. For example, the Administration is interested in increasing its investment in the “Advanced Cyber-Physical Systems for National Priorities” program. This program focuses on Cyber-physical systems, or CPSs, which, “combine the cyber and physical worlds with technologies that can respond in real time to their environments and incoming data.” CPSs were identified as a national priority for Federal R&D by PCAST. The increase in funding would be $7.5 million, bringing the total amount for the program to $11.7 million.
As well, there is a suggested increase of $5 million, for a total of $18.8 million, for the Materials Genome Initiative, “an interagency effort to dramatically influence the pace for bringing new materials to market (Found here in the Executive Summary). Through this program, “NIST is developing infrastructure to support innovation in advanced materials, including data assessment and validation, data standards and modeling and simulation tools.”
The last program of note to our readers would be the NIST’s request for $6 million to develop laboratory-to-market strategies that accelerate commercialization of federal technologies. NIST has government-wide responsibilities for ensuring that taxpayer-funded technologies are transitioned to the marketplace. Congress and the Administration have taken a particular interest in technology transfer in recent years, hoping that it will translate into jobs and economic growth.
So, on the whole, NIST is doing relatively well in the President’s Request; no serious cuts and healthy increases, for the current budget environment. We’ll have to keep a close eye on the agency as the budget process moves forward, but things are looking ok so far.