On January 4, President Obama signed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which provides several important updates to the funding, programs and leadership of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The signing of COMPETES “means more research and expanded programs to advance science and technology in the United States,” said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “These innovative programs and initiatives will help create jobs here at home, make our businesses more competitive abroad and strengthen the foundation of our economy.”
An update to the landmark 2007 law that strengthened the federal government’s commitment to science, technology and education funding, the new law would continue NIST on a 10-year path of doubling its budget for core S&T programs. It authorizes funding NIST for the next three years at $918.9 million (FY11), $970.8 million (FY12) and $1.04 billion (FY13), though the actual funding levels will be specified by future Congressional appropriations bills. The act also creates a new position for the NIST director, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology.
The new law authorizes multiple changes to the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, such as enabling MEP centers to work with local community colleges to provide information on job skills needed by local small and medium-sized manufacturers. The law creates an innovation services program to help manufacturers minimize their energy usage while improving profitability; and calls upon the comptroller general to study the cost-sharing structure between the NIST MEP program and state and local entities in the funding of regional MEP centers.
The act also:
The full text of the law can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr5116enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr5116enr.pdf.