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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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: June 12, 2012
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: 97-104
Price: $29.95


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The Project BioShield Act: Issues for the 112th Congress


Frank Gottron
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

In 2004, Congress passed the Project BioShield Act (P.L. 108-276) to provide the federal government with new authorities related to the development, procurement, and use of medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism agents. As the expiration of some of these authorities approaches, Congress is considering whether these authorities have sufficiently contributed to national preparedness to merit extension.

The Project BioShield Act provides three main authorities: (1) guaranteeing a federal market for new CBRN medical countermeasures, (2) permitting emergency use of countermeasures that are either unapproved or have not been approved for the intended emergency use, and (3) relaxing regulatory requirements for some CBRN terrorism-related spending. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has used each of these authorities. The HHS obligated approximately $2.5 billion to guarantee a government market for countermeasures against anthrax, botulism, radiation, and smallpox. The HHS allowed the emergency use of several unapproved products, including during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The HHS used expedited review authorities to approve contracts and grants related to CBRN countermeasure research and development.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act, 2004 (P.L. 108-90) advanceappropriated $5.593 billion to acquire CBRN countermeasures through Project BioShield for FY2004-FY2013. Through FY2012, subsequent Congresses have removed $1.876 billion from this account through rescissions and transfers, more than one-third of the advance appropriation. The transfers from this account supported CBRN medical countermeasure advanced development, pandemic influenza preparedness and response, and basic biomedical research.

Since passing the Project BioShield Act, subsequent Congresses have considered additional measures to further encourage countermeasure development. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (P.L. 109-417) created the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in HHS and modified the Project BioShield procurement process. Among other duties, BARDA oversees all of HHS’s Project BioShield procurements.

The 112th Congress is considering several Project BioShield-related policy questions. One question is whether the Project BioShield acquisition mechanism has sufficiently improved national preparedness relative to its costs to merit extension. If so, congressional policymakers may consider whether changes to the funding levels or how Congress provides Project BioShield funds would improve the program’s efficiency or performance. Additionally, congressional policymakers are considering whether the federal government sufficiently plans and coordinates its CBRN countermeasure efforts from basic research to distribution. Finally, Congress is considering whether changes to the emergency use authority will improve preparedness and planning.

Three bills in the 112th Congress address some of these Project BioShield-related issues, H.R. 2356, H.R. 2405, and S. 1855.


Date of Report: June 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: R42349
Price: $29.95


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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). However, no funding was appropriated for TIP in the FY2012 appropriations legislation and NIST is “currently taking the necessary actions for an orderly shutdown.”

While much of the legislative debate has focused on ATP, TIP, 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 Scientific and Technical Research and Services [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 research and development (R&D) at NIST will evolve and how this might affect financing of extramural efforts such as 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: June 12, 2012
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: 95-30
Price: $29.95


Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program


Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

In response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act, known as the SAFER Act, was enacted by the 108th Congress as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination local fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to volunteer fire departments for recruitment and retention of volunteers.

With the economic turndown adversely affecting budgets of local governments, concerns have arisen that modifications to the SAFER statute may be necessary to enable fire departments to more effectively participate in the program. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) included a provision (§603) that waived the matching requirements for SAFER grants awarded in FY2009 and FY2010. The FY2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 111- 32) included a provision authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive further limitations and restrictions in the SAFER statute for FY2009 and FY2010.

The Department of Defense and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 112-10) funded SAFER at $405 million. The law also contained language that removes cost-share requirements and allows SAFER grants to be used to rehire laid-off firefighters and fill positions eliminated through attrition. However, P.L. 112-10 did not remove the requirement that SAFER grants fund a firefighter position for four years, with the fifth year funded wholly by the grant recipient. The law also did not waive the cap of $100,000 per firefighter hired by a SAFER grant.

The Administration’s FY2012 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $420 million for SAFER, which according to the FY2012 budget proposal, would fund 2,200 firefighter positions. P.L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2012 provided $337.5 million for SAFER, and included language permitting FY2012 grants to be used to rehire laid-off firefighters and fill positions eliminated through attrition, as well as removing other SAFER restrictions and limitations. P.L. 112-74 also reinstated waiver authority for the restrictions that were not lifted in the FY2011 appropriations act (P.L. 112-10).

The Administration’s FY2013 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $335 million for SAFER and $335 million for AFG. The Administration requested that all previous SAFER waivers again be enacted for FY2013. Both the House-passed FY2013 appropriations bill (H.R. 5855) and the Senate Appropriations Committee bill (S. 3216) provide $675 million ($337.5 million for SAFER and $337.5 million for AFG). Both the House and Senate bills contain SAFER waiver language.

Concern over local fire departments’ budgetary problems has framed debate over the SAFER reauthorization, which is included in S. 550/H.R. 2269, the Fire Grants Authorization Act of 2011. Previously in the 111th Congress, reauthorization legislation for SAFER was passed by the House but not passed by the Senate. As part of the reauthorization debate, Congress may consider whether some SAFER rules and restrictions governing the hiring grants should be eliminated or altered in order to make it economically feasible for more fire departments to participate in the program.



Date of Report: June 8, 2012
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RL33375
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding


Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. A related program is the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (SAFER) program, which provides grants for hiring, recruiting, and retaining firefighters.

The fire grant program is now in its 12th year. The Fire Act statute was reauthorized in 2004 (Title XXXVI of P.L. 108-375) and provides overall guidelines on how fire grant money should be distributed. There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants—fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g., urban, suburban, or rural).

For FY2012, P.L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, provided $675 million for firefighter assistance, including $337.5 million for AFG and $337.5 million for SAFER. The Administration’s FY2013 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $335 million for AFG and $335 million for SAFER. Both the House-passed FY2013 appropriations bill (H.R. 5855) and the Senate Appropriations Committee bill (S. 3216) provide $675 million ($337.5 million for AFG and $337.5 million for SAFER).

On March 10, 2011, S. 550, the Fire Grants Authorization Act of 2011 was introduced into the Senate. Previously in the 111th Congress, reauthorization legislation for AFG and SAFER was passed by the House, but was not passed by the Senate. Debate over the reauthorization reflected a competition for funding between career/urban/suburban departments and volunteer/rural departments. The urgency of this debate was heightened by the proposed reduction of overall AFG funding in FY2011, and the economic downturn in many local communities increasingly hard pressed to allocate funding for their local fire departments.

On June 22, 2011, H.R. 2269, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2011, was introduced into the House. H.R. 2269 is virtually identical to House legislation that was passed in the 111th Congress.



Date of Report: June 8, 2012
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: RL32341
Price: $29.95

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Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program


Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

In response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Act, known as the SAFER Act, was enacted by the 108th Congress as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination local fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to volunteer fire departments for recruitment and retention of volunteers.

With the economic turndown adversely affecting budgets of local governments, concerns have arisen that modifications to the SAFER statute may be necessary to enable fire departments to more effectively participate in the program. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) included a provision (§603) that waived the matching requirements for SAFER grants awarded in FY2009 and FY2010. The FY2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 111- 32) included a provision authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive further limitations and restrictions in the SAFER statute for FY2009 and FY2010.

The Department of Defense and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 112-10) funded SAFER at $405 million. The law also contained language that removes cost-share requirements and allows SAFER grants to be used to rehire laid-off firefighters and fill positions eliminated through attrition. However, P.L. 112-10 did not remove the requirement that SAFER grants fund a firefighter position for four years, with the fifth year funded wholly by the grant recipient. The law also did not waive the cap of $100,000 per firefighter hired by a SAFER grant.

The Administration’s FY2012 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $420 million for SAFER, which according to the FY2012 budget proposal, would fund 2,200 firefighter positions. P.L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2012 provided $337.5 million for SAFER, and included language permitting FY2012 grants to be used to rehire laid-off firefighters and fill positions eliminated through attrition, as well as removing other SAFER restrictions and limitations. P.L. 112-74 also reinstated waiver authority for the restrictions that were not lifted in the FY2011 appropriations act (P.L. 112-10).

The Administration’s FY2013 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $335 million for SAFER and $335 million for AFG..The Administration requested that all previous SAFER waivers again be enacted for FY2013. The House Appropriations Committee FY2013 bill (H.R. 5855) also provides $670 million for firefighter assistance ($335 million for SAFER, $335 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Grants [AFG] program), while the Senate Appropriations Committee bill (S. 3216) provides $675 million ($337.5 million for SAFER, $337.5 million for AFG). Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee bills contain SAFER waiver language.

Concern over local fire departments’ budgetary problems has framed debate over the SAFER reauthorization, which is included in S. 550/H.R. 2269, the Fire Grants Authorization Act of 2011. Previously in the 111th Congress, reauthorization legislation for SAFER was passed by the House but not passed by the Senate. As part of the reauthorization debate, Congress may consider whether some SAFER rules and restrictions governing the hiring grants should be eliminated or altered in order to make it economically feasible for more fire departments to participate in the program.



Date of Report: June 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RL33375
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.



Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding


Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. A related program is the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (SAFER) program, which provides grants for hiring, recruiting, and retaining firefighters.

The fire grant program is now in its 12th year. The Fire Act statute was reauthorized in 2004 (Title XXXVI of P.L. 108-375) and provides overall guidelines on how fire grant money should be distributed. There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants—fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g., urban, suburban, or rural).

For FY2012, P.L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, provided $675 million for firefighter assistance, including $337.5 million for AFG and $337.5 million for SAFER. The Administration’s FY2013 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $335 million for AFG and $335 million for SAFER. The House Appropriations Committee FY2013 bill (H.R. 5855) also provides $670 million for firefighter assistance ($335 million for AFG, $335 million for SAFER), while the Senate Appropriations Committee bill (S. 3216) provides $675 million ($337.5 million for AFG and $337.5 million for SAFER).

On March 10, 2011, S. 550, the Fire Grants Authorization Act of 2011 was introduced into the Senate. Previously in the 111th Congress, reauthorization legislation for AFG and SAFER was passed by the House, but was not passed by the Senate. Debate over the reauthorization reflected a competition for funding between career/urban/suburban departments and volunteer/rural departments. The urgency of this debate was heightened by the proposed reduction of overall AFG funding in FY2011, and the economic downturn in many local communities increasingly hard pressed to allocate funding for their local fire departments.

On June 22, 2011, H.R. 2269, the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2011, was introduced into the House. H.R. 2269 is virtually identical to House legislation that was passed in the 111th Congress.



Date of Report: June 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: RL32341
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.