Coming into the FY 2018 cycle, the Administration sought to roll back much of the recent growth in NIST’s core research account, which was fueled in part by America COMPETES Act legislation. Additionally, the Administration aimed to drastically reduce federal support for NIST’s manufacturing programs, arguing for a greater reliance on the private sector to carry out industrial technology development. Congress, however, refused to go along with the Administration’s thinking. Both House and Senate appropriators restored much of the NIST budget gutted in last year’s request, though overall Congressional spending levels remained flat or reduced across the agency. Thanks to the additional discretionary budget boost negotiated recently, NIST ultimately came out ahead in the final omnibus.
Bottom Line: The total NIST budget is up by $247 million or 26 percent above FY 2017 enacted, with the vast majority of this increase going towards construction of research facilities (see Funding Table linked above). Core laboratory research sees a modest funding gain, while NIST’s industrial technology services account hovers around FY 2017 enacted levels.
- NIST’s core Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, which funds NIST’s seven laboratories, was increased by $35 million or 5 percent. The omnibus rejects the Administration’s proposed terminations and reductions for all STRS programs, including advanced materials manufacturing, quantum science, and semiconductor measurements, among other areas.
- The omnibus includes the Senate-recommended funding amount of $33 million for expanding the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.
- The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which was slated for elimination by the Administration, was instead given a $10 million increase above its FY 2017 enacted level of $130 million.
- NIST research facilities construction funding was boosted by $210 million to a total $319 million for FY 2018. No additional details are spelled out in the omnibus legislation; the Administration has sought to reconstruct two of NIST’s major labs, one in Gaithersburg, MD and the other in Boulder, CO, according to a supplemental budget request for FY 2018.
- Funding for Manufacturing USA, which supports public-private research institutes that collectively boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, drops by $10 million or 40 percent. As a result, the program plans to cancel an open competition for a new institute in FY 2018.
In Historical Context: The omnibus would allow NIST’s core research activities to stay ahead of the overall discretionary spending curve (see graph above). Since FY 2010, the agency’s STRS account has grown by $132 million or 23 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Meanwhile, funding for the agency’s industrial services, including manufacturing assistance programs, has stagnated during this time.
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Photo Credit: Advanced Measurement Laboratory; NIST