Industry Headlines

Congress Approves NIST Recovery Plan

GAITHERSBURG, MD-The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has received Congressional approval for its recovery plan to create jobs, strengthen the economy and encourage innovation. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), NIST was granted $580 million in direct appropriations, along with an additional $30 million transferred to NIST from other federal agencies, to invest in construction projects, grants, scientific equipment and research fellowships.

“NIST’s investments will create jobs, revitalize the economy and advance American innovation,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke says. “The funds will help our nation transition to electronic health records, develop an electricity smart grid that will save money and energy, and pay for state-of-the-art facilities and research that will keep our nation at the forefront of cutting-edge science and technology.”

The additional $30 million transferred to NIST from other federal agencies will be covered in a subsequent spend plan.

The NIST Recovery Plan:

Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) ($220 million)

Through STRS, NIST’s funding provides for investment in “research, competitive grants, additional research fellowships and advanced research, and measurement equipment and supplies.” NIST’s Recovery Plan calls for:

$119 million for high-value research and measurement equipment to be purchased through a competitive award process.

$35 million for competitive research grants for measurement science in NIST priority areas.

$22 million to expand the NIST Postdoctoral Fellowship program to create postdoctoral fellowships for recent Ph.D.s and to extend some existing fellowships through the end of fiscal year 2010.

$20 million for a grant to one or more organizations to provide additional scientist and engineer fellowships.

$5 million in competitive contracts for small businesses under the Small Business Innovation Research program.

$5 million in competitive contracts to assist in activities associated with smart grid devices and systems.

$5 million in competitive research contracts for specific areas of cybersecurity that advance NIST’s mission and address national priorities for protecting cyberspace.

$9 million in contracts to improve NIST information technology infrastructure for improving measurements and research.

Construction of Research Facilities (CRF) ($360 million)

Of the total CRF funding, $180 million will “address NIST’s backlog of maintenance and renovation and for construction of new facilities and laboratories.” The Recovery Plan specifies:

$68.5 million to complete funding for a precision measurement laboratory at NIST’s site in Boulder, CO. This funding includes enhancements in the performance and capacity of the advanced laboratory; construction of a state-of-the-art clean room, essential for the most advanced research in nanotechnology, quantum information and ultra-precise atomic clocks; and higher-performance outfitting of laboratories tailored to individual research and measurement projects.

$39 million to carry out safety, capacity, maintenance and major repair projects that enhance the performance of NIST’s aging facilities.

$16 million for energy- and water-saving support infrastructure at NIST’s Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) Expansion Project.

$16 million to fund the design and construction of a National Structural Fire Resistance Laboratory.

$15 million to fund the design and construction of facilities across the country that will improve the synchronization to NIST time of tens of millions of consumer clocks, watches and other timepieces.

$9 million for relocation and consolidation of advanced robotics and logistics operations.

$7.5 million to fund the construction of Liquid Helium Recovery Systems for NIST sites in Gaithersburg and Boulder. These sites help conserve an increasingly scarce resource used widely in low-temperature research.

$7 million for design and construction of an Emergency Services Consolidated Station in Gaithersburg to house the NIST Fire and Police services.

$2 million for a net-zero-energy residential test facility in Gaithersburg, MD.

With the additional $180 million provided in the CRF appropriation, NIST will fund a competitive construction grants program to build research science buildings. NIST will award a portion of the grants to unfunded meritorious applications submitted under its fiscal year 2008 competition and a portion to a new 2009 competition.

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