Wednesday, 24 April, 2013

House Science Committee Examines President’s FY 2014 Science Budget

Last week the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and its Subcommittee on Technology held hearings to examine the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Budget Request for science agencies and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

During Wednesday’s full Committee hearing, witness John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, highlighted the President’s strong support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), NIST, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, explaining that the three agencies are “repeatedly identified as important in maintaining America’s preeminence in the global marketplace.”  Other highlights of the President’s budget he noted were investments in clean-energy initiatives through the Advanced Research Projects Agency –Energy (ARPA-E) and the consolidation of STEM education programs.

Committee Chairman Smith (R-TX) asked Dr. Holdren about taxpayer funding for social science and political science studies at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and how research spending might be better prioritized.  Holdren cautioned against Congress micromanaging how agencies such as NSF award research grants, but added that there is “room for improvement” in how NSF prioritizes research initiatives based on potential value to the national interest.

On Thursday, Patrick Gallagher, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director of NIST testified before the Technology Subcommittee to discuss the 24 percent increase in discretionary funding and an additional $1 billion in mandatory funding requested.  Half of the proposed increased in discretionary funding would focus on advanced manufacturing research both at NIST laboratories and through a federal-state-private sector partnership and the $1 billion mandatory account would establish a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which aims to bring together researchers, companies and entrepreneurs to collaborate and develop new manufacturing technologies, he explained.

During the hearing questions, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Massie (R-KY) inquired how NIST plans to deliver on NNMI if the $1 billion in funding is not provided and if NIST would contribute any discretionary funding to the cause.  Gallagher mentioned leveraging existing programs that supports through Research and Development (R&D) in industrial science or small business program outreach.

Ranking Member Wilson (D-FL) asked him to further describe advanced manufacturing research initiatives. Gallagher outlined a strategy to improve supply chain development by closing the research gap between universities, federal labs and other entities with that of many small manufacturers and providing them with new technologies to improve their products and processes.

More information, including full witness statements and a recording of the hearing, is available at:  http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-technology-hearing-overview-fiscal-year-2014-budget-proposal-national-institute and http://science.house.gov/hearing/full-committee-hearing-review-president%E2%80%99s-fy-2014-budget-request-science-agencies.

 

Prepared for Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education by Washington Partners, LLC

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