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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Technology Innovation Program


Wendy H. Schacht
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was established in 2007 to replace the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). This effort is designed “to support, promote, and accelerate innovation in the United States through highrisk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need,” according to the authorizing legislation. Grants are provided to small and medium-sized firms for individual projects or joint ventures with other research organizations.

While similar to the Advanced Technology Program in the promotion of R&D that is expected to be of broad-based economic benefit to the nation, TIP appears to have been structured to avoid what was seen as government funding of large firms that opponents argued did not necessarily need federal support for research. The committee report to accompany H.R. 1868, part of which was incorporated into the final legislation, stated that TIP replaces ATP in consideration of a changing global innovation environment focusing on small and medium-sized companies. The design of the program also “acknowledges the important role universities play in the innovation cycle by allowing universities to fully participate in the program.”

The elimination of ATP and the creation of TIP have renewed the debate over the role of the federal government in promoting commercial technology development. In arguing for less direct federal involvement, advocates of this approach believe that the market is superior to government in deciding technologies worthy of investment. Mechanisms that enhance the market’s opportunities and abilities to make such choices are preferred. It is suggested that agency discretion in selecting one technology over another can lead to political intrusion and industry dependency. On the other hand, supporters of direct methods argue that it is important to focus on those technologies that have the greatest promise as determined by industry and supported by matching funds from the private sector. They assert that the government can serve as a catalyst for cooperation. As the Congress makes appropriation decisions, the discussion may serve to redefine thinking about governmental efforts in facilitating technological advancement in the private sector.



Date of Report: August 1
7, 2011
Number of Pages:
9
Order Number:
RS22815
Price: $19.95

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Internships, Fellowships, and Other Work Experience Opportunities in the Federal Government


Jennifer E. Manning
Information Research Specialist

This report describes Internet resources on major internship, fellowship, and work experience programs within the federal government. It is intended as a selective guide for students of all levels: high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate.


Date of Report: August 16, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: 98-654
Price: $29.95

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Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program: An Overview


Wendy H. Schacht
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The Hollings Manufacturing Partnership (MEP) is a program of regional centers that assist smaller, U.S.-based manufacturing companies in identifying and adopting new technologies. Operating under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico provide technical and managerial assistance to firms. Federal funding is matched by non-federal sources. Existing resources in government, business, and academia are leveraged while the program endeavors to build on current state and local activities and industrial extension efforts.

The MEP program has, at times, been included in the discussion surrounding termination of government programs that provide direct federal support for industry. Questions have been raised in congressional debate as to the appropriateness of government funding for this program when the technologies are available in the marketplace. Instead of the government picking “winners and losers,” opponents argue, the marketplace should make decisions regarding firms worthy of investment. However, proponents of the program stress that, to date, no direct funding is available to companies through MEP and that assistance is technical, scientific, and/or managerial. The centers facilitate the adoption of new technologies that foster competition and promote innovation. As Congress continues to make appropriation decisions, support for manufacturing extension may be discussed in the context of the role of the federal government in facilitating research and technological advancement.



Date of Report: August 1
7, 2011
Number of Pages:
11
Order Number:
97-104
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The National Institute of Standards and Technology: An Appropriations Overview


Wendy H. Schacht
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a laboratory of the Department of Commerce, is mandated to provide technical services to facilitate the competitiveness of U.S. industry. NIST is directed to offer support to the private sector for the development of precompetitive generic technologies and the diffusion of government-developed innovation to users in all segments of the American economy. Laboratory research is to provide measurement, calibration, and quality assurance techniques that underpin U.S. commerce, technological progress, improved product reliability, manufacturing processes, and public safety.

Continued funding for NIST extramural programs directed toward increased private sector commercialization has been a major issue. Some Members of Congress have expressed skepticism over a “technology policy” based on providing federal funds to industry for development of pre-competitive generic technologies. This approach, coupled with pressures to balance the federal budget, led to significant reductions in funding for NIST. The Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which accounted for over 50% of the FY1995 NIST budget, were proposed for elimination. In 2007, ATP was terminated and replaced by the Technology Innovation Program (TIP).

While much of the legislative debate has focused on ATP and MEP, increases in spending for the NIST laboratories that perform the research essential to the mission responsibilities of the agency have tended to remain small. As part of the American Competitiveness Initiative, announced by former President Bush in the 2006 State of the Union, the Administration stated its intention to double over 10 years funding for “innovation-enabling research” done at NIST through its “core” programs (defined as internal research in the STRS account and the construction budget). In April 2009, the current President stated his decision to double the budget of key science agencies, including NIST, over the next 10 years. While additional funding has been forthcoming, it remains to be seen how support for internal R&D at NIST will evolve and how this might affect financing of extramural efforts such as TIP and MEP. The dispensation of funding for NIST programs may influence the way by which the federal government supports technology development for commercial application.



Date of Report: August
17, 2011
Number of Pages:
10
Order Number:
95-30
Price: $29.95

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011


John F. Sargent Jr., Coordinator
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

President Obama requested $147.696 billion for research and development (R&D) in FY2011, a $343 million (0.2%) increase from the estimated FY2010 R&D funding level of $147.353 billion. Congress plays a central role in defining the nation’s R&D priorities, especially with respect to two overarching issues: the extent to which the federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. Low or negative growth in the overall R&D investment may require movement of resources across disciplines, programs, or agencies to address priorities.

As of the end of the 111th Congress, no regular appropriations bill had been enacted by Congress. Two of the 12 regular appropriations bills had passed the House (the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011, and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011); none had passed the Senate. To provide for continuity of government operations into FY2011, the 111th and 112th Congress passed a series of continuing resolutions that provided funding for all agencies until enactment of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 112-10) on April 15, 2011. Division A of the act provides FY2011 appropriations for the Department of Defense; Division B provides full-year continuing funding for FY2011 for all other agencies at their FY2010 levels unless other provisions in the act specify otherwise. With respect to federal R&D funding overall and to several agencies in particular, it is not possible yet to assess the level of funding provided under the act. This report will be updated as additional information about FY2011 R&D funding becomes available.

Under the President’s request, six federal agencies would have received 94.8% of total federal R&D spending: the Department of Defense (DOD, 52.5%), Department of Health and Human Services (largely the National Institutes of Health) (21.8%), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (7.4%), Department of Energy (7.6%), National Science Foundation (3.8%), and Department of Agriculture (1.7%). NASA would have received the largest dollar increase for R&D of any agency, $1.700 billion (18.3%) above its FY2010 funding level; DOD would have received the largest reduction in R&D funding, $3.542 billion (4.4%) below its FY2010 level.

President Obama requested increases in the R&D budgets of the three agencies that were targeted for doubling in the America COMPETES Act and its reauthorization, and by President Bush under his American Competitiveness Initiative using FY2006 R&D funding as the baseline. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science would have received an increase of $226 million (4.6%), the National Science Foundation an increase of $551 million (8.0%), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s core research and facilities an increase of $48 million (7.3%). P.L. 112-10 provided less than the FY2010 level and less than the President’s request for each of these accounts. In aggregate, funding for these accounts under P.L. 112-10 is less than in FY2010 and less than the President’s request.

For the past five years, federal R&D funding and execution has been affected by mechanisms used to complete the annual appropriations process—the year-long continuing resolution for FY2007 (P.L. 110-5) and the combining of multiple regular appropriations bills into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 for FY2008 (P.L. 110-161), the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8), the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), and P.L. 112- 10. Completion of appropriations after the beginning of each fiscal year may cause agencies to delay or cancel some planned R&D and equipment acquisition.



Date of Report: August 12, 2011
Number of Pages: 53
Order Number: R41098
Price: $29.95

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